Tuesday, September 28, 2010

That Darn Reality


Okay it's time for me to face reality: in three weeks I am going up north, where I will not be able to get away with wearing my usual uniform of baggy men's shorts and t-shirt, and will be required to actually fit into a pair of pants that I wore last winter.

I'd be lying if I said that didn't terrify me just a tad.  Yeah....its been a long summer and I have landed at the end of it with five or six extra pounds around my middle that need to make like a tree and get outta here.  Yeah yeah, poor me, six pounds, wah wah.  But you know six pounds can make a big difference on a shorty like me!  So I'm sucking it up and facing the reality of what I need to do to make everything right again:

Stop eating so dang much.

Even healthy food has calories, friends!  When I sat down to evaluate my current nutrition, there wasn't much I felt needed to change. I have a pretty darn awesome diet!  It's just a little closer to the maintenance end of my calorie range too many days out of the week for my brown corduroy pants to be a viable option for fall.  I've become one of those people who eat at a deficit all week long, and then make up the difference on the weekend, coming out at maintenance.  And most of that time that's fine. 

Until I try on my winter pants. 

Then it is not fine.  Then it is soooooo not fine.

So!  Six pounds! Bye-bye! And.....we're off!

Good day!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Accidental Workout

My husband pointed out to me how
this time-honored trail sign kinda looks
like two hikers giving us the finger.
Thanks, babe. Now that's all I see.
I love it when fitness sneaks up on me. 
This past weekend my delightful husband and I were lucky enough to get my mom and sister (and my beautiful nieces) to stay with our kiddo so we could get away for a couple of days.  We headed without delay to our favorite state park, where we could read, relax, and sleep in to our heart's content, all the way until 7:30, which is as long as I can sleep.

To be honest, as much as I was looking forward to the break and time with my hub, I was sad that I'd be missing my Saturday morning running group.  I had done a really great 10 mile run Friday morning and was craving a good bike-run-bike workout to go along with it.  But, I'm pretty sure that in the grand scheme of the world, marriage comes before workouts so I kept my grumblings to myself and left my running stuff at home.

Luckily, the exercise gods smiled on me anyway!  We slept in, had a leisurely breakfast, took a little walk, and then settled in with our respective extra-curricular activities: some vampire fiction reading for me and some circuit-board-drawing for him.  It's his thing, whatever.

And then my beloved said to me, "why don't we take a little walk on the trail?"

This would be a good time for me to point out that my family is a little bit famous for our "walks."  Anyone who has vacationed with us can attest to hearing about a family "walk" that took them over the continental divide, through ravines, up the side of a mountain, and back again over the span of a day.  So I chuckled a bit to myself when he suggested a "walk."  Little did I know.

15 minutes later we were at the trailhead looking at little sign letting us know the walk was 6 miles. No sweat. We took off smiling, chatting, solving the world's problems as usual.  We saw an otter at the 2-mile mark.  Cool!  On we went, even as the trail became less-traveled-by and more rugged.  The 3-mile mark was at a bridge over a little creek that you could see straight to the bottom of.  How lucky we were to be enjoying all of this beautiful nature!  The shady, wooded trail gave way to tall grasses, and while this wasn't our favorite hiking locale, we happily stomped past the 4-mile mark, pausing briefly to debate which fork in the trail to take.  Around mile 5 we discovered our first tick, as well as some fallen trees that had to be climbed over and under.  My husband's inner outdoorsman began to fade, but I rallied him with cheers that we had just one mile left!  Think of the great cardio we were getting! 

We came to mile marker 6, only to see vast wilderness, not the end of the trail as we had expected.  Hm. Interesting.  My husband's inner outdoorsman began to use some language he picked up in the Navy.  I tried to stay upbeat, and pointed out that we had surely burned off our breakfast by now! He didn't care.

To be frank, we were kinda done with the hike at this point.  We were hot and thirsty.  We hadn't brought any water or food, or even a watch.  We weren't sure how much further we had to go, and now we had two big ticks.   But what were we gonna do?  We kept walking.

About a half mile later, we found ourselves back at the fork in the trail.  We had made a loop.  We knew exactly where we were: 3 1/2 miles from the trailhead.  All I could do was laugh.  I was grateful for the workout and happy that I had managed to get some exercise on a day when I didn't expect it.  9 1/2 miles hiked, we found ourselves back in the air-conditioned lobby of the lodge, pulling ticks out from our ankles with duct tape and laughing about our Murphy's Law brand of marriage. 

We made reservations for next year as we checked out, and now that the Truth of the Trail has been revealed I am sure we'll stay inside the lodge and read all day.  But I'm grateful for my accidental workout.  The fitness gods took care of me this weekend! 

Oh, and by the way, we examined the trailhead sign when we finally got back to see how we could have misunderstood the length of the trail.  And sure enough, clear as day, the words "one way" were carved right under "6 miles." 

I guess we see what the fitness gods want us to see. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What's in YOUR Energy Bar?

Okay okay, it's nothing new for me to be ranting and raving about how you should forget about trying to figure out this diet or that diet or whether to go low carb or high protein or low fat and just EAT CLEAN and not worry about it.

And that's what I am doing today. Today my target is energy bars, which so many people think are good for them and use for fueling in races or post-workout and which I generally get all holier-than-thou over.  And since my race fuel conversation yesterday, energy bars have been on my mind. 

I really really really don't want to eat one.  I faced this same issue during the triathlon I did in the spring: those bars just are NOT healthy and eating them just makes me feel like I am undoing all of the goodness I do for myself all day!  Check the label of your favorite bar and look for these ingredients:

1. Palm Kernel Oil
2. Soy Lecithin
3. Calcium Caseinate
4. Canola Oil
5. Malitol
6. Tricalcium Phosphate
7. Sugar Alcohols
8. Calcium Carbonate

Then read this article on www.blisstree.com about why you should not eat them. 

I went ahead and looked up the ingredients of the two fueling products I mentioned yesterday: Shot Bloks by Clif and Gu by Gu Energy

Clif Shot Blok Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Brown Rice Syrup Solids, Pectin, Citric Acid, Green Tea Extract, Colored With Black Carrot Juice Concentrate, Natural Flavor, Organic Sunflower Oil, Carnauba Wax.

Lots of sugar, but that's understandable. 
 It's called a Shot Blok for a reason.


Yeah I won't be eating that.

And here are the ingredients for what I ate during the triathlon and will likely eat during the half-marathon:

Banana Ingredients: a banana

Apple Pie Lara Bar Ingredients: dates, almonds, apples, cinnamon, walnuts, raisins

They served me just fine last time, and if it ain't broke, why fix it?

Please, please, I am begging you here - PLEASE look at the ingredients of the "healthy" food you eat before you assume that if there is a picture of a person exercising on the package, it must be good for you.  Or, even better, skip the packaging altogether and stick to actual food that grew in the ground or walked the Earth. 
Thanks @LisaBorden on Twitter for the link to this article!  Please share it - spread the word about how to REALLY be healthy!
Good day!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

To Fanny Pack or Not to Fanny Pack? Race fueling.

So my half marathon is about three weeks away and I'm starting to think strategy.  Up to this point my strategy has pretty much been to start running when they fire the gun and stop running when I cross the finish line.  But apparently, competing in races of higher mileage are a little more complicated than that.

There are accessories to be bought.

I have only dabbled in the world of running-gadgets, and it shows: I usually head out for runs completely unprepared for anything that may befall me.  I have an iPod and headphones, and sometimes a watch. No Garmin, just an old-school watch with the old-school time.  It does have a little button I can push to make it light up, though, so....there's that.

Anyway, this morning on my training run I asked my lovely running lady friends whether they thought I needed a fuel belt for the half marathon.  If you're not familiar with fuel belts, they're pretty much fanny packs that have little pouches for water, food, your keys, whatever.  I have never had a need for one because honestly, I rarely ran far enough to require mid-run refueling.  But now I do, and since I will be running in the daylight and with other people, I'm guessing that stuffing it all into my sports bra (my usual modus operandi) may not be the classiest move. 

Oh calm down, you've done it too.

SO ANYWAY... that launched a whole conversation about fuel belts versus race ready shorts, Gu versus Shot Bloks, sipping water versus gulping it....which left me thinking that my original plan of "start running, then stop running," wasn't gonna cut it on race day.

So, what is your experience, fellow long-distance runner types?  Fanny pack? No fanny pack? Shorts? Lumpy bra?  What are the cool kids doing these days?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Wuv, Twu Wuv

Thirteen years ago today, against his better judgement, this guy:

promised to love me forever and ever no matter what.  

Thanks, babe, for putting up with the manic training schedule, wacky nutrition experiments, long waits at the finish line, early-ringing alarm clocks, stinky workout clothes, and most of all for pretending to be interested in all of it.

You're awesome.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Holy Major Muscle Loss, Batman!

Well folks, it's been a busy week in Healthy Heather Land. Between work, the mom/wife thing, speaking, and training, I've been as antsy as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.  So it is glad to have a few moments to sit here and write to you.  Ahhhhh.......

But what's been really nice is that throughout all of this craziness happening during the daylight hours, my early am workouts have been stupendous.  Great running, great plyometric training, great interval traininer, just great!  Until I go to lift weights. 

And then....not so great.

In the past few months I have focused so much on endurance training, plyo, agility, etc. that my weight training has really suffered.  I had noticed (and mourned) the lack of definition in my arms and made a mental note to do something about it, but until I actually started incorporating more weights into my workout, I didn't realize how weak I had really gotten.

I am proud of how much I can lift!  I am not super-strong, but I have always gotten a kick out of being able to out-lift the guys and go low reps/heavy weight.  It's fun!  But this week I've had to consistently drop my weight down a notch or two.  Not fun! It has been humbling, let me tell you.  It was a wake-up call that while I've been gallivanting around town running and cycling and whatnot, my muscles haven't exactly stood around waiting for me to get back.  How rude.

So I pretty much have my work cut out for me: hit the weights.  After the half-marathon next month, the weights and I will be making up for lost time.  Dead lifts, squats, pyramids, 21s, shoulder presses....I'm getting all nostalgic just thinking about it.

One of the coolest things about fitness is that there is always a new project, a new goal, a new milestone.  I can't wait to have my bodacious arms back...and then I am going to give them a good talking to! :)

Good day!  And good weekend!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Clean Eating, and what it is NOT (this got long)

Thanks to my friend Tiffany at The Gracious Pantry (@GraciousPantry on Twitter), a recipe website chock-full of great clean-eating ideas, for sending me the link to this article. At least....I think thanks are in order.  The article pissed me off so much that I honestly needed to walk away from my computer and do a little internal screaming.  But it was an interesting perspective to read and one that I definitely feel needs a rebuttal.

The writer contends that clean eating, the practice of avoiding processed foods and eating clean and natural foods from the Earth, is a scam and should be abandoned because it is too rigorous and leads to disordered eating patterns.  And as he tells his story, I can see why.  Anything taken to an extreme - which it appears that he did - can be destructive.  I've been there too; I've been burned by my own extreme behavior and have learned from those mistakes.

But just because you went on a crash diet that someone sold you as "clean eating" does not mean that an entire philosophy, one that is not about weight loss or sports nutrition or strategic body manipulation, is flawed. 

In the article he maintains that people who engage in clean eating are purists who would not, for example, eat pizza...but would eat the individual ingredients in pizza.  Clean eaters, he says, would not eat fried rice, but would eat rice, egg whites, vegetables, and other components of the food they shun.  He eschews the lack of socialization that clean eaters have in recreational eating events, such as traveling or going out to dinner with friends.  His personal experience with clean eating was bad, that much is clear.  But please remember these important lessons from his experience:

1. Clean eating is a personal journey.  I know clean eaters who eat things I don't, and I eat some things that other clean eaters won't eat.  I see recipes in Clean Eating that I would never make because they include artificial sweeteners, which I do not consider to be "clean."  It's about setting personal boundaries for what you want to use as fuel for your body.  The only real qualifier in my mind is that the food be un-fooled-around with, simple in its ingredients, and actually healthy. A quick look at the list of ingredients on a food should clear that up right away (hint: it should be short and composed of actual foods).

2. Clean does not automatically equal healthy, and clean does not mean you can eat unlimited quantities of food.  Even healthy food has calories, and they add up.  Even clean food can have unhealthy attiributes (beef, for example, can be perfectly "clean" but still has a lot of saturated fat).  Just because something is natural does not mean it is good for you.  Use your noggin, people!

3. Anything taken to an extreme is going to bite back.  He complains that he was eating clean and working out...and that when his "best body competition" was over and he went to Denny's and binged on an enormous meal of processed meats, pastries, and other food he was dismayed that he had seemingly undone his hard work.  Clean eating did not do that to him.  His binge did that to him, and people can binge after any extreme behavior, not just clean eating.

In short, I can tell that this guy feels cheated and angry because the diet he went on betrayed him in the end.  I have to believe, however, that clean eating is about more than dieting yourself down to win a bodybuilding contest (which he does admit, he placed second in thanks to his clean eating).  As you've heard time and time again, being healthy is a lifestyle, not just something you do on the weekends.  Eating clean is a mindset, a commitment to yourself, and a plain and simple way to fuel yourself every day, not just when you're wanting to shed a few pounds.

If you want to eat clean to lose weight, go ahead, but if you treat clean eating like a diet, it will act like one.  Instead, eat clean because it is a smart way to eat. 

And by the way, this clean eater eats pizza
at least twice a week.  So there! :)

If you have clean eating questions, let me know and I would be glad to discuss with you.  And if you want to see how some real clean eaters cook and eat real food, visit the Gracious Pantry for oodles of recipes!

Good day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Raise Your Hand if You're a Not-Skinny Runner

One of the benefits of running in a group is the extra accountability, but an even greater one is the extra perspective.  A couple weeks ago, as I ran through the wee hours of the morning with a new friend, we launched into a conversation about - what else? - body image, body dysmorphia, and the societal stereotypes and expectations of women in fitness.  Chief among them was our annoyance with the perception that a woman involved in a sport should automatically display the body of a supermodel.

It's just isn't so, friends. 

Plenty of women (and men, mind you) who are physically active on a regular basis have bodies that fall far from the waif category.  I'm one of them.  I work my butt off in the gym and eat super clean, but I still have the mom bod.  It's a muscular, strong, and fit mom bod that I am proud of, but my body has always been more utilitarian than bombshell.  I'm not fishing for a compliment, it's just true! 

Anyway, what I'm getting at is that sometimes I'm ashamed that I am surprised when I see not-visibly-fit people out at races, or read about the workouts of my friends on Facebook, or sit in awe at the distances run by women who don't look like they should be able to do that. I'm human, and I am just as guilty of the "SHE'S a RUNNER?!" reaction as you are.  Come on, you think it too.  

But let's evolve, friends.  Raise your hand if you're an athlete in a non-athletic body. 

My lack of bombshellness is something you will just have to come to grips with, people.  If you don't like it, kindly avert your eyes to Faces of Beauty, the section of a fabulous food blog focused on women in their most beautiful state - perfectly natural - that inspired my challenge to you. 

This is me as an athlete in a regular-person bod.  

Send me your pic, too. heather @ wellnesswithoutpity (dot) com. 

Let's see what we can do to change some perceptions, shall we?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Leaps and Bounds: Functional Training

Not me. Please. My hair is WAY shorter.
One thing I can really appreciate in the gym is functional training.  Luckily, my new trainer Justin has loads of it.  Today's workout was a perfect example of the kind of functional cross-training that is needed for...


Yay! Plyometrics! 

If you're not familiar with tri-fit, its a sport that combines strength, agility, speed, and bedazzling, all of which convene in one weekend of endorphin-fueled competitions of skill and endurance perfect for ADD athletic types everywhere. You can read more here.  I suck at pretty much all of it but dang, it sure is fun!

ANYWAY, today's workout was a great tri-fit workout.  I started out with some sprint intervals, and then we moved on to some compound exercises, which was a nice break.

Then we went totally old school with a bunch of drills:

jumping split squats (I haaaaaate these)

and these little "three forward jumps, one big backwards jump" things that we did both forward and laterally. That was fun as long as I didn't look in the mirror and lose my balance.

All in all, it was a great start to the weekend!  Check out the links above and give some of these exercises a try, or visit this website for lots of good video examples of plyometric training.  If you like them, do some more!  It's just that easy, folks.  You just DO IT.

Good day!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Little Perspective for Thursday

Liposuction and diet pills.
Just sayin'.
A little perspective for your workout today.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Ode to My Sister

My sister is uaually game to
pose for ironic pictures,
which is fun for me.
Sisters are interesting.  At least mine is.

We have almost nothing in common, yet everything in common.  Growing up three years apart, we were close enough in age to annoy each other and our very different personalities clashed in some pretty stereotypical ways: she was popular and had 40 best friends, I stayed on the fringe of a smaller group of friends and worked on my angst.  She was a cheerleader throughout high school, I was in the choir and had unfortunate haircuts.  She went to the big state university, I went to the small liberal arts college.  We're like a Lifetime movie, but hopefully without the philandering husbands and/or neighborhood crime-solving. 

And thank God, because I really do not have time for crime-solving in my life right now.  If my husband decides to have an affair or a mystery involving my neighbors needs to be solved, everyone is just going to have to wait for me to deal with it because there is only so much I can do at once.

Well anyway, naturally over the years we've gotten older and wiser and realized that the other is actually a pretty cool person.  Recently, this discovery has been through our shared tolerance of running. Over the past year we've started running together and while she is way faster than I am, it's been a nice shared interest.  We've even registered for a half-marathon and will complete it next month!  This past weekend I was home visiting and it was really nice to have her for a running partner, both for the accountability and the company. 

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a sister at all, much less one that they actually like running with.  I'm thankful to have both.  If we were actually a Lifetime movie, this would be the part where we're leaving the court room, having just ensured the life sentence of the crazed woman who had drugged and seduced our brother so she could make him fall in love with and marry her, ultimately confirming her deluded belief that she was the psychotic mother of his children.  And we would say something cliched about how for two people with almost nothing in common, we really do make a good team.  Then we would laugh and go have coffee together.

But since this is a blog and not a movie, I'll just say thanks Betsy for becoming enough of a dork over time to go running with me and for running slow enough for me to keep up.


Friday, September 3, 2010

*ahem* It's time for FOOTBALL!

Hey yall, I don't know if you noticed or not, but it's FRIDAY!!!!  We made it!  I swear this has been the longest week and I think the entire city is celebrating because:

1. It's Friday, duh.
2. It's the Friday before a long weekend.
3. College football finally kicks into high gear.

All good reasons to celebrate.  Also all very legitimate ways that your nutrition and training plans can get off-kilter if you're not paying attention.  Please please please do me a favor this weekend and

treat yourself right, yo.

Remember, a cheat day only cheats you!  If you plan to tailgate, pack an ice chest of clean eats to munch on in between the occassional chicken wing or bratwurst or burger.  Drink a bottle of water in between each beer to stay full but keep the calories at bay.  And just for good measure, get out there early and run a few miles, take a spinning class, do Zumba, do SOMETHING to kick your metabolism in the rear and off-set some of that game food!  ESPN College GameDay doesn't start until 9:00 am.  You can burn a crapload of calories before then.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and stay healthy!  Remember, you want to still fit into your favorite team shirt by the end of the season!

Good day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

This just in: woman mourns wasted calories.

Eater beware! 
My husband likes use cliched corporate terms in everyday language.  He thinks this is soooo funny.  One of his favorites is asking if "the juice was worth the squeeze."  Meaning, was the result worth the effort it took to get?

And yesterday, it was not. Ugh!

I saw a billboard recently for whole wheat pizza crust at a local place and suggested we try it for dinner one night.  I love me some pizza, and whole wheat crust is one of my favorites.  But pizza is high in calories and I knew I needed to bank some energy if I wanted to eat any.  So yesterday I went to the gym and CRANKED IT OUT, BABY!  I burned so many calories in an hour I thought my GoWearFit was going to explode.  It was such a fantastic workout and I totally wasted it on this pizza.

The pizza crust?  Great!  The rest of it....eh.  It took three napkins (THREE NAPKINS!) to sop up the grease from one piece.  It was such a shame that all of the nutritional goodness of the whole wheat crust was cancelled out by the lackluster toppings.  The pizza I make at home, on a whole wheat crust and full of fresh, delicious veggies and feta cheese, is way way way better and doesn't require an hour of sprint intervals to burn it off.

I love doing sprint intervals, and I love the intense payoff in calories burned as a result.  It's a win-win: I get some major endorphins pumping through my blood, and my body creates a little stockpile of burned energy that I can use later if I need it. But I work hard for that stockpile, and I guard it closely.  I don't like to waste stored energy on inferior food.

So I am mourning that energy today.  I could have used it for something really incredible, something really worth it, and I wasted it on greasy pizza.  Bah. But I did have a fantastic workout and am still high on endorphins and totally want to go do it again today so its not a total loss. 

I guess maybe I need to reconsider the definition of juice.  I regret wasting those calories on that greasy pizza, but the high from a great workout...definitely worth it! 

Have a great day everyone!