Monday, March 29, 2010

The Longest Run of My Life!

I ran 8 miles yesterday as part of my 1/2 marathon training. I don't think I've ever run farther than that in my life, and it's certainly been since high school since I've run that far!

I felt good throughout the run! I felt better running 8 miles than running 6.5 miles two weeks ago! Why?
  • Was I better rested? Hmm, I don't know.
  • Was I better hydrated? I made sure to take a sip of water at every drinking fountain I came across. 
  • Was I better fueled? (My last post was about fueling your body before and after exercise.) I made sure to eat a good breakfast so that I'd have the energy for such a long run.
  • Was I simply in better running condition? It was my 5th run in 2 weeks; all of them were only 3 miles.
  • Was I more relaxed and less stressed? Hmm, I don't know.
It's  always something related to the SWEET Life! (Sleep, Water, Eating, Exercise, Tranquility) It was probably related to all of those, and I ran a different route, which was interesting, too.

Afterwards, I stretched, drank water, ate & showered, in that order. I felt great!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Fueling Your Body

In last weekend's Food & Wine section of the SF Chronicle, 3/21/10, there was an article, Ready, Set, Eat,
about how to properly fuel your body, pre- & post-exercise.  It discusses how important it is to eat before and after exercising, and that many people don't do it!

People say they can't eat before a workout or that they just wake up and go. Afterwards, they shower and head off to work. Evening exercisers go straight from work (i.e., before dinner) after not having eaten for 4-5 hours. Whatever reasons people have for not eating before and after exercising, your body will pay you back for it, in a variety of ways. You might feel unfocused, forget things, feel lethargic, light-headed, tired, sore etc. Even worse, later, you might feel starving and overeat!

Our bodies need fuel to burn off in exercise, so it's important to eat a high-carb (read: high energy) snack of 100-200 calories before exercising. Otherwise, your body will burn what it has that it can convert easily to energy: muscle. No, not fat. Fat burns slowly, not during intense exercise. Your body needs easily digestible carbs before you work out, like a banana, yogurt, bread, etc.

Within 30 minutes of exercising, your body needs refueling to replenish what it has lost in exercise. Within 30 minutes! That's very soon after a workout! You need a good, nutritionally balanced meal afterwards. If you don't have time for a meal, try a banana sliced the long way and stuffed with peanut butter. Smoothies with added protein are another good snack option. Cottage cheese with pretzels is also good. Greek yogurt with granola and berries is quick and easy.

Many women don't eat enough protein, despite its importance in building and repairing muscle tissues. Some easy options are low-fat cottage cheese, a handful of nuts, small quantities of peanut butter, and Greek yogurt. However, read the labels because Greek yogurt varies considerably in its protein content and added fillers. Get the one with the most protein and the fewest ingredients.

Another problem is dehydration; people forget to drink a big glass of water after exercising. Water is the best because it doesn't have sugar, caffeine, calories or other added ingredients. However, you can kill two birds wtih one stone if you make a homemade smoothie with added protein. It's fast-food-and-drink-in-one for people in a hurry. Do consider it a meal replacement because it has enough calories to be considered a meal, and do make it at home, so you know exactly what's in it.

The articles states, "if you're trying to lose weight, don't try to cut calories - especially  carbs - around exercise times." Control your calorie intake throughout the rest of the day instead.

The final word is: EAT! Your body needs fuel before and after exercise.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Let’s Play in the Park!

Spring is springing. The weather is getting warmer and lighter. Makes you want to get outside and run around and play!

If so, come join us at GO Fitness! We meet outside at Krusi Park, run around the baseball fields, “play” in the various park areas, get toned, make friends, play with our dogs, and have fun.

Oh yeah, and it’s a goal-oriented program, so by the end of next month, you’ll have achieved a fitness goal as well.

Sounds like fun! Sounds like kids’ play! But actually, it’s for adults. (But babysitting is available, TuTh 8:30-9:30 am, add’l fee.)

The next GO Fitness program is starting earlier than usual: March 29. That’s only 2 weeks away! But we’ll take off Spring Break.

MWF 6-7:00 am,  March 29-April 30,  10 classes, $150.
TuTh 8:30-9:30 am,  March 30-April 29,  7 classes,  $105.

10% discount if you register by the 24th.
20% discount if you pay for 3 months in advance.
25% discount if you refer a friend who pays for the month.

Come play in the park with us!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Walk/Run Success!

My 6.5 mile walk/run was successful this beautiful morning!

I figured out how to program my workout on my Garmin Forerunner, so it would count down my intervals and tell me when to switch between walking (1") and running (4"). The only problem was that I couldn't tell it to repeat the intervals until I'd hit 6.5 miles; I had to tell it how many times to repeat. So I guessed: 12 times.

I missed the count down beeps once (to switch modes) so after that, I started looking ahead to predict how far I could run in 4 minutes. That added some interest to the run. I was surprised to find that I was often running 30 seconds faster than usual during the running portions! I also found that I focused more on my running FORM because I was restarting my run so many times. About 4 miles into it, restarting the run became more difficult.

About 5 miles into it, I started feeling it in my glutes, which was strange because I was focusing on leaning forward and landing on my forefoot with my ankles, knees & hips bent to absorb the impact. I was NOT focusing on pushing off my foot in the back, which would work the glutes more.

By the end, I was pretty tired out; it was a big workout for me. I stretched a lot and hope I'm not sore tomorrow. But it was great to see that I could eat 650 calories for breakfast!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

First Attempt at a Walk/Run

My 1/2 marathon training has me running 6.5 miles this weekend, longer than I've run in years. That's 1/2 my race length! Because of its length, I'm going to try the run/walk method, which has me running 4 minutes then walking 1 minute. It seems like a lot of watching the clock. If I could run it all, at my average pace, it would take about 58:30, so I'll see how much longer it takes if I walk 20% of it. I'm estimating: walking 16 minutes, running 50 minutes, total 66 minutes. I'm excited to try this new method. . .

More afterward . . .

Friday, March 5, 2010

In Trying Times . . . Live the SWEET Life!

I seem to know many people going through trying times right now. Some of the most stressful times of our lives, with exception of surviving a natural catastrophe, are birth & death, wedding & divorce, and changing jobs or houses. I seem to know people going through each of these stressful experiences right now!

When I have times of great stress, like above, I really focus on living the SWEET Life because it helps me get through the tough times.

SLEEP: In trying times, you are probably not sleeping enough because your mind is overflowing with ideas and you are too busy to go to bed at a decent hour. However, the busy-ness and overflow of ideas is exactly why you need ample sleep! Your mind needs time to assimilate all these concepts, which is what it does while you sleep. Sleep will help solidify your ideas and refresh your mind and body for the next day.

WATER: When you are stressed, you are probably thinking about drinking either coffee or alcohol rather than water. However, stimulants and/or depressants are NOT what your body needs in times of stress. These beverages also dehydrate you. Even mild dehydration causes fatigue, irritability, and loss of focus, three things that you already have plenty of if you are stressed and certainly don't need more of! What your body needs is the plain hydration that water provides, to dilute toxins, keep body systems running smoothly, maintian mental clarity.

EATING: Who thinks about what they eat when they are stressed? Even the healthiest of eaters will grab whatever comfort food is closest in times of stress. Some of us eat more when stressed, and some of us eat less. In either case, your body needs to be properly fueled to combat stressful times! To get through your day, to accomplish what you need to accomplish, your body needs the energy that healthy food provides in order to function, physically, mentally and emotionally.

EXERCISE: Exercise is amongst the first things to go when we are overly busy or stressed out. However, exercise releases "feel good" hormones, along with giving you strength and stamina to help your through the trying times, physically. Even a 30-minute walk can help relax you, take a break from all your stress, and let your mind wander, all of which are needed.

TRANQUILITY: How is it possible to have tranquility when you are stressed out!? Well, that's exactly why you need to focus on getting some tranquility, at least 30 minutes a day. Exercise is a great form of tranquility. So is chatting with a friend. Reading a good book can help distract you from your stress for a little while. Taking a bath instead of a shower might help you relax for a bit.

Cortisol is the stress hormone that your body releases. Human bodies are not designed to withstand long periods of stress; we are designed for short bouts of "fight or flight". When we are too stressed for too long, we gain weight, lack focus, lower our immunities, and get out of shape. All of these effects are negated by living the SWEET Life.

Live the SWEET Life for just one week . . .
  • Sleep - 7-8 hr/night
  • Water - drink 8-10 cups/day
  • Eating - a variety of nutrient-dense foods in small portions
  • Exercise - 30-60 min/day
  • Tranquility - 30-60 min/day
. . . and see how much better you feel!

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Month = time for a New Goal

So what's your goal for March? Good goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Timely. "Lose weight" is always a bad goal because it's NOT Specific, Achievable, Relevant or Timely. Some examples of good goals are frequencies and aptitudes.

Frequencies are things like: run 3x/week or live the SWEET Life 5x/week. They give a Specific, Measurable number of times and that number of times should be Achievable (otherwise, you need to set it lower). Just make sure the goal is also Relevant and Timely.

Aptitudes are things like: be able to run a 5k or be able to wear my skinny jeans comfortably. I sometime call them BAT goals because they refer to something you will Be Able To do by the end of the month. Because they are aptitudes, they are necessarily Specific and Measurable. Again, you have to make sure to set an Achievable goal that is Relevant to you and Timely.

My goal for February was to start my 1/2 marathon training habit. As a frequency goal, it's Specific and Measurable (30-minute runs Mondays & Wednesdays, an easy walk Thursdays, & a longer run on weekends). Since I'm registered for the See Jane Run 1/2 Marathon in June, my goal is Relevant, and the training program I'm using had me start 17 weeks ahead of time (Feb. 9), so my goal to start training is Timely. After 3 weeks I can say I "started" but it's not a "habit." I have to force myself to do it most of the time. I've run 1-2x/week; I've walked a couple times, and I've done a longer run every weekend. It took a week or two to work out the kinks in how the training schedule would fit into my own schedule in order to make it Achievable. That's always an issue with setting a goal: how to make the time needed to accomplish the goal, fit into your already-busy schedule. For March, of course, I'll need to continue my training.

After a weekend of over-eating and drinking on President's Day weekend, which followed 2 months of holiday over-eating and drinking, I set a longer-term SMART goal of fitting back into my clothes again. As an aptitude goal, it's Specific & Measurable: Do my clothes fit comfortably? Considering I gained the weight in 2 months, I should be able to Achieve my goal of losing the weight in 2 months. It's Relevant and Timely because I want the clothes I own to fit and now they don't. So, for the past 2 weeks, I've been tracking my calories on Lose It! and tracking how well I live the SWEET Life. Hmm, accountability always seems to work! Studies show that the more accurately people track their calories, the more weight they lose. I figured out a way to get around two obstacles of the Lose It! application. I try really hard to stay under the program's calorie intake because (1) it gives a bright red line for eating even one calorie more than the specified calorie intake! Then, at the end of the day, when I've eaten more calories than it says I should have, I add in my exercise for the day, which almost always takes me down below the specified calorie line because (2) it subtracts calories burned in exercise. After 2 weeks, my clothes fit better, but not great yet. My long-term goal date is April 5, the day we leave for Hawaii.

So the results of my February goals are:
  • I'm not as tired during the day as I used to be.
  • My clothes fit more comfortably
  • I see the beach more often by running along it.
  • I'm enjoying endurance cardio (running), which is different from the exercise I usually do.
  • My body's adjusted to eating smaller meals & feels more comfortable with it.
  • I have a better understanding of how many calories are in the foods I eat.
 Now, for March . . . What's your SMART goal?