Monday, January 31, 2011

Take That

Perfectionism has its good side:  there is order, there is structure, there is finishing the task at hand.  The problem lies in allowing the perfectionism to overwhelm you to the point that you actually begin to exclude experiences/things/people because of it.

We can scare ourselves into permanent disability with the question, "What if?" I say this because I am slowly realizing that the zesty life I once had is no more due to my fear of failure.  The best way example I can use to explain this is when I think about my first couple of years of road racing.  I entered just about every race I thought I could reasonably handle and train for.  Each one was a joy because I was just ignorant enough that I went, ran as fast as I could and crossed the finish line.  Every time I ran, I had just set a personal best time. 

As the years went on, I began to hesitate to race.  Suddenly the races weren't so fun any more.  And with race fees being what they are, why would I pay to not have fun?  It never occurred to me, until recently, that the reason I wasn't having fun, was that if I didn't run the race at least as fast as I had previously, or even better my time, I saw that as a failure.

Anyone who runs regularly would look and me and tell me I was being an idiot if I expressed this to them because truly there are way too many variables with running: physical condition, the weather, how you're dressed, how your shoes fit, the mental side of it.  For example, one day I could go out and with everything just about perfect, I would run a 28 minute 5K.  The very next race could be a 35 minute 5K because it was 20 degrees hotter and my shoe was rubbing a blister into my foot.  Should I see that second race as failure?  Or should I see it as different sets of circumstances?

Because I am realizing that my perfectionist tendencies are stopping me from beginning things due to fear of failure, I am now seeing many missed opportunities in various areas of my life.  The thought of not being able to do something perfectly paralyzed me.  Ironically, it also made me a complete control freak in areas where, in my mind and its standards,  I was performing perfectly.

I don't like that.  Not one bit.  And yet, I wonder why it has not translated into getting my weight/body where I'd like it to be.  Because that perfectionist streak has not extended to my weightloss efforts. I'm trying to understand why each time I reach for control with food and a healthy body weight,  a sense of complete exhaustion comes over me and I stall.  I would like to lay this all aside and just STOP with counting food and with the scale, like Shelley privately suggested to me, but I'm terrified. I'm beginning to wonder if that exhaustion is just the old "You're going to fail anyway" rearing it's ugly head up to slap me in the face.  Thyroid issues aside, based on my past failure in getting to and maintaining (for more than a couple years), I'm only guessing that's what it could be. 

Thank goodness I haven't given up on exercise, even if I am an inconsistent runner. otherwise I'd probably be well over 300 pounds by now.  Funny how easy it has been for me to say to other runners/athletes over the years, "You did the best you could in the circumstances you were in," yet have been unwilling to accept that for myself.

As you know after we had that scary random murder in my city and once the darkness set in for my early morning runs, I began to run a lot on my treadmill.  Our local newspaper's running columnist wrote an opinion piece about folks who run on treadmills.  (Yes, that is me in the comments.) Basically he said treadmill runners are not real runners.  I happen to disagree.  Anyone who runs is a runner.  Maybe treadmill runners are not "racers" because I surely cannot imagine training for road races without ever actually running on the road.  (Although I may be about to find out about that since I'd like to do a race soon.)  Just my opinion.  I'm so glad I didn't read that article before I ran on Saturday because sometimes I also let that inner perfectionist take over my brain and tell me I'm not a real runner due to the treadmill.  Had I read that article, I surely would not have run unless I could get outside.  But I am doing the best I can in the circumstances I'm in right now.  I have to let that be enough.

And the one thing I know for sure, in this the Winter of my Discontent, is that I cannot let winter be another factor for failure.  So, I put on my winter running gear, went out to my 25-degree garage, stuck a movie in the VCR and thought, "Let's see how far you can go."

When my treadmill gets to 99 minutes, it starts counting the minutes over from zero. So that's 10 miles, 1:43:56.

Am I a fake runner who had success on a treadmill?  What if I take this distance outside and run slower?  Does that then make me a real runner, but one who has failed?

Whatever.  The fact is when I got off that treadmill, all I could think was


And that's exactly what I want to feel in other areas of my life:  Take that.  I win.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

By the Numbers

Predicted inches of snow for the storm we just had yesterday and overnight: 6-8

Actual inches of snow we got: 18

How long it took me to get home from work last night (15 miles): 40 minutes

How many martinis I had when I got home: 1

How long it took me to get back in to work this morning, including driveway and car clearing and the actual drive in: 240 minutes

How many pieces of chocolate I've had since arriving at work: 2

How many times I thought employers should just automatically close or delay arrival until noon when we have this much snow: 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

How many times I actually said bad words about having to work: 12

How many times I said I’d like to win the lottery and retire myself if I have to live in this godforsaken place: 2

1 foot of frozen pipe + 1 blown gasket + 3.5 plumber labor hours and parts = $460.00

Temperature change in 24 hours = 40 degrees (from -16 to 24)

Total copayments over the next two weeks to have my physical therapist torture me with the Graston technique: $150.00

How many actual purple bruises I have from the technique done yesterday: 14 or maybe 3 giant ones as they now seem to be blending.

Number of times I woke up last night because I went to move and my stupid hip was hurting: 8

The number of comments that referenced the blueberry cake I mentioned in Tuesday Ten? 10. Out of 14.

Bloggers who read this week’s Tuesday Ten and think I need to visit and/or move to Texas: 5

How many of them thought I should bring my cake: 4

How many times I’ve thought of moving to anywhere but here in the last 24 hours: 9

Number of pounds I want to lose by the end of 2011 = 33

Percentage of chance that I’ll actually do that based on the fact that all this weather makes me want to do is drink heavily and eat chocolate: 10%

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  I am very interested in the State of our Union. I generally watch some, if not all, of our President's annual address to the nation. But why did he have to pick Biggest Loser night to do it? Messing up my TV viewing/taping and cutting this week's episode short. There are plenty of nights when TV is crappy. He should have picked one of those.

9.  This truly is the winter of my discontent.  Here was my view this morning at 4:45 when I headed out to the treadmill. Yes, that's more snow.  Even more is in the forecast for Wednesday night-Thursday morning.  You non snow people sick of these pictures yet?

8.  As soon as I got to work, our in-house weather watcher sent out an email saying that the 2 inches or so we were supposed to get were turning into another 2-4 inches because this storm has intensified.  It's true, the roads now actually look worse than when I came in.  Sigh.

7. Also wanna know why I'm hating this winter with its incessant snow and bitter cold temperatures?  Because I live in an older home and got home last night to discover a leaking pipe in our utility room. Probably froze then thawed and it caused enough damage to make a leak, which now has a bucket under it.  This also means that a plumber at $95 an hour will be coming to my house today to see what's wrong. Stupid winter making me spend my mad money on frozen pipes.

6. I've given in.  Starting tomorrow I'm going for physical therapy for my hip.  It's gotten so bad when I wake up in the morning, my left hip is at least an inch higher than my right.  Sometimes it straightens out and I'm OK, other days I'm in pain all day.  Stupid injury making me spend my mad money on co-payments.

5. Remember how I said I was looking for spring on Sunday? Well, in addition to buying those tulips, I made this Blueberry Pound Cake. It's a Cooking Light recipe with an "outstanding" rating that I've been making for years, with no changes to the recipe at all, which is unusual for me.  Every bite is worth every calorie involved. Nothing like a fresh blueberry bursting in your mouth to think "Spring, " combined with cake to think "comfort."

4. I want to spend my mad money on a trip to somewhere warm and sunny. Because while blueberries say "Spring," cake says "Comfort" and then it sneaks up on you and says "Hips." Maybe if I have to wear less clothes, I'll drop the cake part and just stick with the blueberries.

3.  I keep reading blogs of folks who are in maintenance mode - but who at the same time say, it's never over.  It makes me wonder if anything is ever over.  Are there true beginnings and endings with anything in life?  Because just as I've reached the age when I thought I'd be settled, I find I am a great big, huge work in progress.

2. I wish I could figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  Because if I could, I'd quit my job, go back to school full time and do it.  They always say you should look for a career doing something you are good at and enjoy.  I enjoy cooking and I'm pretty good at it, but have zero desire to be a professional chef .  I also enjoy running, but I'm no good at it so no chance of making a career there.  What to do, what to do.  That may be the theme of this decade of my life... and by the end, I'll be ready for retirement.

1.  In this post, Anne, around 3/4 of the way down, says something about her perfectionism keeping her from finishing. As I read it, I realized this: I generally finish what I start. I'm good at that. My perfectionism/fear of failure/fear of not succeeding 100% keeps me from starting.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sub Zero

Yes, Sub Zero is the brand of refrigerator I would have if I had a mansion but that's not what I'm referring to. 

Hello internet.  Another weekend has flown by.  It really did not start on a fun note for me.  Woke up Friday morning to the promised snow.  Gah.  I feel like I'm drowning in this bad weather winter.  Mr. Helen and I had agreed on Thursday night that if we had the 3" of promised snow that I would drive Bluebelle (which has 4WD) and he would drive Goldilocks (which does not) because I drive 15 miles to work and he drives 5.  Plus where I work is more inland and the weather there tends to be "more." Those who have come here to browse for a while know that Bluebelle is Mr. Helen's new truck that was purchased last April.  It's the very first brand new vehicle that he has ever owned and the truck that he'd been wanting for a long, long time. He loves this vehicle the way he should love me and I'm not kidding.  Here he is with her the day we picked her up:

Needless to say it makes me a little nervous to drive her but I was glad for the 4WD. He left me a note on what to do, how to drive and special foam scraper to get the snow off - no brushes they scratch! Then he called me and texted me before I could even get out the door. Alrighty then. Of course he insisted he was worried about me but I know better!

I got to work quite safely even though it still took me longer than normal because of the roads.  I told him I would text him when I got there.  Here's our actual text exchange which made me laugh out loud:

"Got here safe. Still took 35 mins roads yucky but Bluebelle handled beautifully!"

He replied:
 "U go girl.  By the way his name is Buster."

The amazing thing is, by noon, the snow had stopped, and since they had been working on the roads, when the sun came out, they were completely clear.  Here is a view from my office window looking down on the Marina that my boss owned.  The first photo was taken about an hour or so after I got to work; the second after the sun came out.  See how clear the roads got?

I was so relieved that the ride home wouldn't be hard.  Mr. Helen was very happy to see Buster Bluebelle arrive home with no damage.

Because I went to work early I was able to leave a bit earlier than normal and by 4:45ish I already had on my PJ's!  I just felt worn out and wasn't going anywhere and besides I wanted to get my toenails painted because my company holiday party was Saturday night.  I have been going to the same manicurist for well over 10 years and she is really more like a friend now.  Wednesday night when I got my manicure I told her I was going to my holiday party and wearing a black dress (what else?).  She told me to trust her to pick a great color and this is what she chose for me:

OPI: I'm Not Really A Waitress
 When she finished the manicure she handed me the tester bottle and said, "This is almost empty. Why don't you take it home and do your toes in case you decide to wear an open toe shoe."  See why I love her?  So Friday that was my mission:

Freshly manicured toes (don't look too close, I hadn't gotten a Q-tip to erase my mistakes yet!) and my Snowflake Pajamas.  How appropriate!

Saturday morning I got up and my planned long run was 8 miles.  Of course, because we can't seem to get a break from the snow, the roads are quite narrow and dangerous to run on, so it was the treadmill for me.  I had 2 shows that I had taped to watch to keep my mind otherwise occupied. I put my space heater on and went at it using my countdown from 90 minutes program, hoping I could do the 8 miles in 90 minutes or less.  When I finished, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had run 8.3 miles in 1:25:17 for a pace of 10:16/mile.  I may be chubby but I think I'm running at a pretty good pace these days... Woo Hoo!

The rest of Saturday was spent cleaning the house because we were in store for some bitterly cold weather and my master plan was to not go out unless absolutely necessary.  Which it was to go to my company's annual Holiday Party, that is held in January each year.  It's fancy, with a sit down dinner, a DJ, and of course, the obligatory company stats, etc. for the year but they've gotten better at getting that stuff done and getting the party started.

Mr. Helen was completely surprised by what I wore - for a change, I didn't share with him beforehand.  But, I can confidently say he was really happy about it and said I looked beautiful and classy.  What more could a girl ask for from her date?

The bracelet - yep, I wore the same one I wore last year.

My clutch

Took a couple shots of my shoes, just in case Mr. Helen cut them off in the long shot.
I don't know why I'm squinching my toes on my left foot?

Closeup so you can see my fabulous makeup and gorgeous earrings!

Finally, the long shot.  Yep, he cut off a foot - lol!

Here we are at the party.

We had a great time but it was a late night.  I slept until 8 AM on Sunday!  And guess what else I did?  I skipped exercise (Shame!).  This is the headline that greeted me in the Region section of our Sunday paper.  We were being warned about our temperatures Sunday-Monday.

They were right.  We had Arctic cold come through and this morning the actual temperature was 2 with the wind chill at -16. Seriously, people, I opened cupboards that were against the outside wall so that the heat from the house would get to the pipes.  

So, besides the shopping and cooking that I did on Sunday, I went looking for Spring.  Because the thought of sub zero temps was enough to make me want to pack it up and move it out. I found some at the grocery store and bought it hoping it will help get me through these next few days.  The real thing?  It can't come fast enough!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Are You Reaching For?

I don't care who you are or where you are going with your health and fitness, or even how you are getting there.  As we all know, the road to success is curvy with lots of available stops:  Weight Watchers, Low Carb, Calorie Counting, Intuitive Eating, Strength Training, Running, Exercise DVDs/TV, Walking; but aren't we all just trying to get 'there?'  Where our personal definition of success is.

I know from past experience, be it with my health and fitness or with a project I'm involved in, at some point I go from wanting success to knowing it's on the way,  because I feel 'the click."  That magic moment where it seems as if suddenly everything is falling into place and things start moving full steam ahead.

Ever since I started Doing A 180, I've been waiting for that click.  Actually, I started Doing A 180 thinking maybe it would be the clicker.  Unfortunately, as much as I've enjoyed this exercise of writing a few times a week, that click has been and continues to be elusive.

I also started taking Muay Thai boxing just a few months before I started writing Doing A 180.  I must admit since I started Muay Thai, I am definitely stronger and Mr. Helen says I've toned up. Both very good things, but still not achieving the weight loss that I'm looking for. So while Doing A 180 and Muay Thai have been beneficial they have not been the clickers I thought maybe they would be.

I am a fan of the Biggest Loser for both entertainment and the process of discovery the contestants go through.  I generally record it and watch it while running on my treadmill - talk about a show that makes you want to run your hardest and fastest ever!  Especially when there's a 450 pound man who discovers that he too can run.  This year the show has brought in two mystery trainers who were finally revealed during the last episode.  Turns out one of them is a martial artist - while his specialty is Capoeira, he also practices Muay Thai, which is the form of martial arts that I participate in.  You know for me it adds a dimension of excitement to the show this season.  Sure enough, while his group was doing their last chance workout, I was seeing some very familiar pad striking with both hands and knees - "Hey!  I do that!"  Fun to watch when you know what they're doing.

But Biggest Loser has given me some pretty uncomfortable moments in the last couple of weeks as well and started me thinking about that elusive click.

A couple weeks ago, Jillian was working with a participant doing boxing drills and she was trying to get him to extend his jabs so that he would get the most out of the drill. He kept stepping in and when he would strike the pad, his arm was still a bit bent at the elbow. Finally in frustration, she yelled "REACH!" He looked at her confused and she explained how he needed to fully extend his arm and reach for the pad. He tried again but, honestly, was doing these really wimpy punches. She stopped him and asked (paraphrased), "Have you always just half done everything? Have you ever really reached for anything in your entire life? Do you know the power you can get if you fully commit?"

This really struck a chord with me because Mr. Helen has been trying to help me in Muay Thai. I have a bad habit of stepping in and only get about 50% of the power I could be getting with my jabs. I'm learning to stop stepping towards the bag (or the person) and fully extend and REACH. Because the force of the jab is at the end of the reach.

Then this past week, new trainer Brett was working with a participant who seems to having trouble settling in and finding his way.  It's like there's so much chatter in his brain that he can't clear it enough to focus and get good results.  The participant was working out with Brett in a boxing ring doing pad striking and he would go at it and then he would just stop. Stop. Then say, "I can't."

In one of those aside interviews trainer Brett said, "I'm concerned for him because he shows these explosive moments of strength then he gets tired and he loses focus.  You've got to learn how to suck it up and focus when you're fatigued.  Just because you're having a bad day you can't just quit and go to food again."

It felt like he was talking to ME.  I got to my lowest post thyroid diagnosis weight in March of 2008.  Things were going swimmingly and then I had that thyroid freak out that made me gain 10 pounds in about 6 weeks.  It threw me for such a loop, I quit.  For the last 3 years, exactly how I've lived is to have explosive moments of strength followed by extreme fatigue and loss of focus:  sick of counting calories, sick of intuitive eating, sick of even thinking about food, sick of exercising, sick of it all dammit! I quit!

But I think I may have figured out how to stop exploding, begin to evenly measure out my strength and stay focused:  by asking myself, "What are you reaching for?"

Reaching is so much more than just being, just doing enough.  Just like reaching for a jab in Muay Thai, or running the last 3 miles of a marathon, this reaching involves sucking it up and focusing even when fatigued. There's a stretching process involved.  It's not always pleasant, but when you reach, things can be accomplished that you didn't even know were imaginable.

I can't help but think, I have to stop waiting for that click, I need to reach for it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Ten

10.  I hate winter.

9.  When I got up to run this morning and looked out my window down the hill this is what I saw:

Yes, those white dots are snowflakes.

8.  Of course it was a running day for me so then I saw

I'm getting tired of this view.  And look at poor Goldilocks!

8.  When I finished my run I decided I'd clean Goldie off so that when it was time to go to work, I wouldn't be doing it in dress clothes.

7.  Speaking of running on the treadmill in the garage, a couple of you asked me about my space heater.  Here you go:

It's that white thing sitting to the left of the treadmill.  Now you know why in yesterday's post I referred to my left leg getting warm.  Pitiful, really.  (Please to ignore all the CRAP.  Dear God in Heaven or To Whom it May Concern, puhleeze put a fire under Mr. Helen's butt to clean up the garage this spring!)

6. About 10 minutes before leaving work, I go out to start her up and get the heat circulating and imagine my horror when I saw this!

 That is ICE people.  The snow had turned to freezing rain.

5.  It took me 45 minutes to make my usual 20 minute drive to work.  The lovely thing about it?  Not one darn thing.  I drive inland, which means the drive got worse and worse.  Have I mentioned how much I hate winter?

4.  I have absolutely, positively been stuck on savory oatmeal lately.  I'm beginning to wonder if I'll ever eat it sweet again.  My version (here's your protein, Kelly) is 1 cup prepared oatmeal with 1 tsp. light olive oil spread.  Scramble 1/2 cup egg beaters, then put 1 slice reduced fat cheddar over the top.  Put eggs on top of buttered oatmeal.  Sprinkle the whole mess with hot sauce.  Here's what it looks like:

Just so you know Kelly, that meal has 5 grams of protein - until you add the egg beaters and cheese and then it bumps up to 23 grams!  It's so filling and keeps me satisifed until lunch.

3.  I saw the funniest statement in an ad over the weekend. Just typing this makes me giggle. How many times has your sweet tooth gone out and celebrated without your permission? Errrr, how about the whole month of December?  Again, why I run.

2.  Speaking of running, I get asked all the time how to start running. I say, "Buy some shoes and start running." People don't believe me but that's how I did it. I even bought cheap shoes that gave me shin splints! But I took those shoes and myself to our high school track and I'd walk a lap and then I'd run as far as I could. Then I'd walk to catch my breath and as soon as it was caught I'd run. One day I ran 2 laps in a row, then 3, then eventually 3 miles. Then I tried a race and once I crossed that finish line, the rest is history or 'my'story.

1. I'm going to link you to another great post.  People, I'm just going to tell you, if you're a struggling at weight loss, you need to read Chris. She has been on fire lately! Plus, she backs up her bark with her bite.  Here's How To Lose 100 Pounds Cheap and Easy! 

Monday, January 17, 2011


The winner of the Billy Blanks dvd never contacted me in the alloted time, therefore, the runner up commenter now has a chance to claim the dvd as their own.  The runner up was comment #11, which is

Email me your mailing address and the dvd will be on it's way to you Biz!*


I have already reached the part of winter where I feel like everything is a big giant replay and a slow motion one at that.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  Cold days, cold nights, and I spend all my free time cooking and cleaning because who in heck wants to be outside in this mess.   Usually I don't arrive to this state until around the end of February but it has been a particularly cold and snowy winter for us already and that just makes me feel like I want to stay in bed forever.

When I got up Saturday morning, I flipped the TV on to see what I was faced with for outside temperatures because I knew the treadmill area aka the garage would be somewhere in that vicinity.  This is what I saw:

Yes indeed, that says "FOUR."   Really?  That shouldn't even be allowed where I live.  I'm not in Canada for goodness sake! That is not a temperature!  That is how old Gracie is! Awww Gracie. She's so cute, she's a little ray of sunshine for me. (Only a kid could love snow this way...)

Mr. Helen has started special classes that he will do for the next year as he works towards his 3rd Degree Black Belt so he was up early as well and as he was leaving he went in to the garage and started the teeny tiny space heater we have in there.   At least my left leg would be warm while I ran.

I grabbed the camera so I could take a picture of the treadmill when I was done because I know you guys could care less wait with bated breath every week to see how far I've run.  But first I took a couple of pictures for those of you who keep saying that it looks so pretty.  Well, it does, but it sucks to have to live in it day to day!

Got to the garage and it was 14 in there.  Alrighty then.  Jumped on the treadmill and pounded out my scheduled 7 miler.  Used the countdown from 90 minutes program so here you can see I did it in 73:46, which is a pretty good pace of 10:32/mile.  Of course I was motivated to get done by the temperature!  By the time I finished, between the sun being out and my teeny space heater it was all of 20 degrees.

Ate a couple of those pumpkin pancakes I'd made on our snow day to refuel then began housework.  Mr. Helen got home and I told him that we needed to go out and do something.  That if I had another weekend of cold weather, cooking and cleaning I might actually go to bed and never get up.  I suggested we go for an early dinner.  Ha!  Like we're senior citizens going for the early bird special.  Actually I wanted to go early because our streets are still not that great and we've been getting black ice overnight.  Plus there was a football game on and we decided to go to one of our favorite local spots to get a burger and watch the game at 4:30.

I tell you, I don't think our heat shut off all day.  We sort of huddled in the family room near our cute fireplace but our regular furnace kept running too.  Since I was given that Stylish Blogger award last week, I thought maybe you'd like to see how stylish I was on Saturday:

Yes, I was wearing a fleece vest inside my house.  I was cold!  I had Mr. Helen take this photo just before we left to get our burger.  I specifically said, "I want to show what I'm wearing."  He promptly cut off my feet.  Sigh.  But trust me, I had on some cute Salomon boots, similar to these.  Because when we parked at the restaurant? The sidewalks still had snow on them.  So cute shoes would not have been good, not at all.

We enjoyed our burger and the game, but our date night turned into a reunion of sorts for Mr. Helen.  He ran into someone who he hadn't seen in umpteen years and they promptly sat there reminiscing (we were sitting at the bar).  It was actually hilarious at one point because the other wife and I had both pulled out our cell phones and were texting people.  So much for date night!

But it was salvaged by this:

That right there is a piece of chocolate mousse cake, with fresh whipped cream and a raspberry drizzle.  I got the last piece they had for sale.  YUM. And now you know why I run long on Saturday.

*If the alternate winner does not respond by Friday, January 21, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. EST, another alternate winner will be chosen.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Random Info.

Kelly over at Happy Texans gave me this award

which confuses me greatly because I'm not very stylish.  In fact, I tell Shelly that when the day comes and we finally meet in person to run, she's going to be embarrassed to run with me when she sees how non-matchy I am. But thank you Kelly!

I'm supposed to tell you 7 random things about me.  Hopefully, none of this is repeated information but if it is, blame it on the weather, OK?  Because now that we got the 2 feet of snow, it's freaking cold.  Pardon my Francais but please tell me what I'm supposed to do with 11 degrees?  Forecast for overnight tonight?  Single digits.  I have no idea how I'm going to motivate myself to do my long run tomorrow, even on the treadmill.  Which segues quite nicely into...

1.  I HATE snow and winter.  Hate it.  The only reason I live where I do is because of being married to Mr. Helen.  Otherwise I would be somewhere warm and sunny.  And no, I don't care anything about seasons at all.  Year 'round warmth would be just fine with me.

2.  I LOVE Italian food.  That means all kinds of Italian food, not just stuff with red sauce on it.  It's my very favorite cuisine and the reason why I would never go on a low carb diet.  I can't imagine my life without pasta.

3.  I was born in Louisville, Kentucky. My father was in the Navy and out to sea on a submarine. He was stationed somewhere near there, so it was easier for my mother to go to his side of the family, than all the way to hers in Maine. Thus my place of birth.

4.  My mother tells me that I walked at 9 months old and was daytime potty trained at 18 months. She was desperate to get me out of diapers because my brother was on the way (there's only 15 months between us) and there were only so many cloth diapers to go around.

5. When I was 9 & 10 years old, I lived in Smithville, Arkansas, population 75.  That was in the late 1960's.  The population of Smithville in July of 2009 was 69.

6.  You're probably wondering how on earth I ended up there.  My father was the pastor of the Southern Baptist church. So now you know I was a preacher's kid. Probably explains all the rebellious years I've had from ages 17-50.

7.  It took me 5:51 to run my first marathon.  I made my goal, which was to get in under 6 hours because they stopped timing and closed the course after 6 hours. Still, not a great time.  Three years later, I walked a marathon for breast cancer.  I finished in 5:48 and was the first walker to finish.  I was walking so fast they assigned one of the bike patrol people to stay with me at all times because they were afraid I would pass out or something.  That experience taught me an important lesson about training.  Train appropriately for the event you are participating in and you'll get your best result.

Could I have made that any more random?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What We Think: A Review

Confession time:  Mr. Helen is a terrible eater.  Or maybe he's just a normal eater. I wouldn't know, because I'm not sure what normal is.  In any case, we have a standing joke in our house about his family "stomach" which seems to be sensitive to many things, including certain combinations of foods.  Don't get me wrong, he's not a picky eater and in fact is quite adventurous, but he would never ever have a cup of coffee after eating pizza, for example.  (I would and have!)

What he often does is go for long periods of time without eating.  He's quite easily distracted from food and if he gets busy, he just won't eat.  Which then causes his blood sugar to completely crash and of course, he chooses things like Little Debbie snack cakes or a slice of white bread spread with honey, or he will sit and eat half a bag of tortilla chips.  That is not a typo.  Terrible eater.

Many years ago, when Mr. Helen first got really committed to karate, he kept coming home from his classes completely wiped out, exhausted.  Of course, that was because he ate terrible all day, or didn't even eat enough because he was either busy or afraid it was too close to his workout and that his stomach would get upset.  Then, he would go to the dojo for 3 hours.  Obviously, his exhaustion was his body was rebelling because it was not getting enough fuel. He also started dropping weight like crazy.  Trust me when I say he does not need to lose weight.

It was around this same time that I started distance running and training for my first marathon.  The first long run that we did was 8 miles.   I had never run anything more than 5 miles so that was a very scary run.  But I had experienced runners around me who told me to just run until I couldn't run anymore and then I should walk until I could run again.  As it turned out, there were two other runners who ran my pace and the three of us took off and promptly got lost.  We actually ended up running 9.27 miles that day and it took over 2 hours.  By the time I got in my car, I was weeping from frustration and exhaustion.  When I got home from that run, I took a shower and had something to eat.  Suddenly I didn't feel like I could keep my eyes open, so I layed down for what I thought would be a short nap. It was around 11 a.m.

Mr. Helen had a friend visiting for the weekend and they were off golfing.  When they arrived home, he was quite alarmed that I wasn't up and about.  He came into our room and gently woke me to ask me if everything was OK.  I told him,"No, I HATE running.  I am never running again.  I don't even know why I thought I could do this.  Probably because I'm just stupid, stupid, stupid!" Then I asked him to go away and just let me sleep because I really thought I was actually dying.  Several hours later, he came and woke me again.  I sat up and cried and cried and told him to please just let me die peacefully.  Finally, around 5 p.m. he came in the room and insisted that I get up or he was taking me to the hospital.

Once I got up and got something more to eat I was able to keep myself awake until about 9 p.m. then went back to bed and slept straight through until 7 the next morning.  When I woke up, rested and sane, I knew there was no way I was going to let running take me out.  I was going to beat it come hell or high water, because I'm stubborn that way.

The next week, when I met up with the group and told the experienced runners what had happened, they told me that was pretty common and that I would need to figure out how to fuel properly before and after my run and I'd be amazed at how much better I felt.  (Confession:  before that first long run?  I didn't eat a thing.) Thus began my quest for the perfect pre and post long run fuels and eventually, as the runs got much longer, what to fuel with during the run.

I tried everything... Gu, Powergel, Gatorade, Shot Bloks, Sport Beans, Powerade, Nuun, Accelerade, toast, bagels, bananas, oranges, pancakes, potatoes, peanut butter crackers, pretzels, oatmeal... and eventually found the combinations that worked best for me, which did not include a lot of the manufactured items like Gu.  My stomach just didn't like them and it took several long runs with stomach aches and issues afterward to figure that out.  Just too much sugar or something.  What did work was oatmeal or a couple slices of toast before the run; bananas and pretzels, and small amounts of watered down Powerade or Accelerade during;  then something like a smoothie or protein drink while I took a  post run ice bath.  Ultimately followed by some real food with a good protein-carb ratio like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread - or a Subway sandwich.

Once I figured this out, I was knocking off 15 and 20 mile runs like they were nothing. I was coming home, doing all the housework and bringing home the bacon and frying it up in the pan.  Mr. Helen noticed and began asking me what he could do to be energized for his own karate workouts.  Thus began our quest to improve his eating and also began his love affair with supplements.  Once he realized that if he tried to eat a little better (or even a little more) and was properly hydrating before and refueling after his workouts there was no turning back. The man thinks that hydration drinks like Accelerade or Nuun are better than a piece of white bread with honey on it.  He calls it "Go Juice."  Won't leave home without it so to speak. I wish I owned stock in GNC to be truthful.

So you can only imagine the excitement at my house when the shipment of Athlete's Honey Milk arrived.  They were very generous and sent me one case each of Honey, Light Chocolate, and Light Coffee! Once he was able to wrap his head around the fact that all I did was comment on Shelley's blog, and yes, the Honey Milk people just sent it for free, you'd have thought we won the lottery.  Then he opened one of the cases and said, "Gross. It's milk.  That's not going to work!"  I told him that I begged to differ, based on the nutrition facts labels alone I thought that these drinks would be great for pre and post workouts. Then we looked up the website and after we read what was there, he decided he would try the honey flavor because it was "full calorie and had more protein and besides, you don't really like honey all that much right?"  I agreed he could have the Honey but he had to let me at least take a sip of one.

Mr. Helen is using it as a preworkout drink and I'm using it post long runs.  What we've found is that Athlete's Honey Milk does just exactly what they claim it will:  helps us rebuild, refuel and recover.  It is made from real milk and honey and I think that makes it friendly for both his family stomach and my running stomach.   I also like the fact that both of us are probably getting more calcium than we've had in a good long while. 

As for the flavors?  Neither one of us is a coffee fan.  I did taste one of the coffee flavored drinks and while it tastes fine, I'm just not a coffee flavored anything fan (not even ice cream!). The honey flavor is very good, but honestly, I don't need the extra 90 calories that comes with it.  Mr. Helen would give all his props to the honey flavor, for sure.

The chocolate, on the other hand, is to die for in my opinion.  It is so good and chocolately and when it's really cold, I think I could drink it in one gulp.  I have even found myself choosing to have one in place of a dessert at night. 

What we don't like so much:  we can't buy them locally.  Boo!  Right now they seem to be sold only in these states. So if you happen to live there good for you.  They do offer FREE SHIPPING, so Mr. Helen asked me last week to look into ordering him the honey flavor but when I went to do that, they were out of stock.  Boo again!  Though I noticed today that they are back in stock so I guess I'll order them - goodness knows I need to keep him away from my chocolate.  Because I also noticed this morning that his love for the Honey Milk has driven him to dipping into my precious stash of dark chocolate.  Oh no he didn't!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Pancakes and Polenta

Look familiar?

  • Yep, those are my footprints once again heading for the treadmill.
    We are in the midst of a monster storm...
    20+ inches predicted for right where I live...
    When I got to the garage, I turned around and took this photo.

    We'd gotten about 9" overnight

    More is on the way...

    My run was GREAT!  5.01 miles in 52 minutes!!! That's a 10:22/mile pace - WOOT!

    When I came out of the garage, I saw that I had my own
    Abominable Snowman starting to clear the driveway.
    That will be his 3 hour workout today!

    So I figured he'd want carbs and comfort.

    The family room is cozy and this little fireplace lets us keep the thermostat upstairs set on 68.

    And we have plenty of comfort food.
    You know all that food I made over the weekend?
    There are leftovers! So I don't even have to do any cooking today!

    I'm going to enjoy my "bonus" day off... catch up on that magazine reading
    because I don't want Janell to think I'm hoarding!

    Did I hear you say you want to have some comfort food too?  Well then, try this fabulous recipe. I started with a recipe then changed it so much, it became a Helen original.

    Vegetarian Polenta Lasagna

    18 oz. polenta, cut into 18 slices
    3 1/2 cups marinara sauce, divided
    1 tsp. olive oil
    8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
    3 cups diced zucchini
    6 oz. part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded, divided

    Preheat oven to 400. 
    Measure out 1 cup marinara sauce and set aside.

    In a large skillet, heat olive oil and saute mushrooms, zucchini and red pepper for about 2 minutes until they begin to soften.  Pour remaining 2 1/2 cups marinara sauce over, bring to a boil, then turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

    In an 8x8 baking dish, spread reserved 1 cup marinara sauce to cover bottom of pan.

    Layer 9 polenta slices over the marina.  Top with half the veggie-marina mixture then sprinkle with half the mozzarella.  Repeat the layers.

    Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted on top.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

    Makes 6 servings.

    Per serving: 204 calories, 6.5g fat, 16.4 mg cholesterol, 537.4 mg sodium, 25g carbohydrates, 4.2g fiber, 12.3g protein.

    Notes: I used my own homemade marinara sauce to make this.  If anyone wants that recipe, email me and I'll send it to you.  Nutrition is based on using my marinara.

    I thought this was the perfect amount of cheese but Mr. Helen ended up sprinkling his with Parmesan.  You might like that too.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Ten: Love Letters

10.  I think I'm going to steal Shelley's idea of not counting fruit.  Which she stole from WW, even though she doesn't use WW as her plan (neither do I).  As I sat at my desk eating cherries the other day it occurred to me that in the evenings when I get all snacky, I should just get up and get a piece of fruit.  Yes, it would mean extra calories but probably not nearly the amount I would consume in chocolate, for example.

9.  Biz is sponsoring a great giveaway.  All you have to do is enter a favorite "lightened up" recipe.   I entered a couple, including my most requested recipe, Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf.  It doesn't even have to be your original recipe.  Everyone who enters gets a chance to win one of two cookbooks and also will recieve a copy of the E-cookbook that Biz is going to compile from all the entries!

8.  I thought it was funny that Biz (see #9) and her twin sister, Jenn of Slim-Shoppin' posted about macaroni and cheese on the same day.  I guess there really is a twin thing!

7.If you missed the opportunity to enter my DVD giveaway, Lynn over at Lynn's Weigh is giving away Julianne Hough's dancing DVD.  After all my talk about not using exercise DVD's, I'm tempted to enter -LOL!

6. Both Lori and Kate had great posts last week about gym etiquette.  Those posts made me glad I gave up my gym membership when I joined Muay Thai.

5.  Chris started 2011 with a progress blog.  Are you someone who has under 50 pounds to lose?  Are you impatient to lose it?  This is the blog for you to read.  It took Chris all of 2010 to lose 40 pounds.  Think it doesn't make a difference?  Go look at her photos.  By the way, Chris started at 262 pounds and has been working on it for a couple years.  She is definitely living A Deliberate Life.

4.  Tricia wrote a post about setting herself free from the jail that was her body.  If you haven't read it, you should.  Besides, the photo of how she looks now, with those amazing collarbones, makes it worth it just to go look, even if you don't want to read!

3,  I've spoken before how much I dislike the terms "good" and "bad" when it comes to food.  Food is neither inherintly good or bad.  Lynn at Lynn's Weigh said what I've been trying to express for years in one paragraph.  Who's your boss?

2.  Remember that guy Ben Davis - the guy who ran off 120 pounds?  His video is on YouTube if you haven't seen it.  I follow his blog, Ben Does Life.  Sometimes he posts 5 times in a day.  A lot of the blog is just random stuff.  Sometimes I don't read for a day or two and then I go back and catch up.  Every once in a while he writes where he uses a little story from his own journey to get a big point across, as in this post.  It was right on time, reminding me to never, ever quit, no matter how hard it seems.

1.  Roxie over at Gravel and Rust continues to astound me with her self discovery. This post had so much goodness in it, I bookmarked it because I feel like I need to read it over and over again to properly absorb everything that is there. Perfect Parts, indeed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Weekends Are Not Long Enough & Giveaway Winner!

Let's get straight to the giveaway winner. told me Comment #9 was the winner, and that was

Jenn send me your mailing address and the TaeBo dvd will be on it's way to you.*


It's bad enough that I am restricted to treadmill runs during the week due to darkness.  Now it seems, I have to endure them on the weekends as well because of... well, let me just show you what I woke up to on Saturday morning:

Looking out the back door.
It's pretty but it sure screws up my running plans!

View from my living room window.
The roads looked ok but had a thin layer of ice on them
plus the running "lane" was narrowed by the snow.

 Treadmill it is, but here is where I have to go...
Not shoveled yet.

Funny having to wear my boots to get to the treadmill!

There's my baby.  Yep, she gets a blanket in the winter too.
(Please disregard the messy garage.)

I decide I will try to run 10K (6.2 miles).  Had the weather cooperated I would have run longer but honestly folks, treadmill running is pretty boring, even if you have a TV show to watch or music to listen to.  I haven't been pushing myself too much because of the hip issue so I started off slow... walked for 3 full minutes at 4 mph (15 min/mile), then started jogging and increasing speed a little at a time. When the display clicked to 6.2, I cracked up laughing because I had done it in 66 minutes EXACTLY, including the walking.  Usually there's some seconds involved but not this time:

I was using a 90 minute program so the reason the display shows 24 minutes is because it counts down from 90, meaning I ran for 66 minutes.  The 660 is calories burned (according to TM); the 1.5 is the elevation I ended on (I vary it between 1.0-2.5) and the 6.2 is the mileage.  But what made me happiest of all?  I figured out that because I walked for 3 full minutes at a 15:00 minute mile, I covered .2 miles in that time.  Which means I actually ran 6 miles in 63 minutes which is a pace of 10:30/mile.  WOOT!  So happy that I seem to be getting some of my speed back.

That run was a great way to start the day.  Besides, Mr. Helen got the whole driveway shoveled by the time I was done which meant, no shoveling for me.

I spent the rest of the day cleaning and grocery shopping so that I could have a more leisurely Sunday.  If plans were dollars I'd been a millionare...

Woke up Sunday and looked out the window and we had gotten another 4 inches of snow.  Blech!  But, I did get a laugh when I looked out the kitchen window and saw this:

That is one of the patio fence posts.  It's so funny how the snow is just perched on top of it.  But that same snow put me back on the TM for my Sunday 5K.  I took part in a 5K a day challenge which went from Friday to today.  Great timing, eh?

I also managed another go at one of the strength training routines.  There is no way I will be doing those routines three times through.  I did the routine two times through and it still took me 50 minutes and a lot of positive self talk to get through it.  But I'm proud that I stuck with it and did it! I did discover that all the functional fitness from Muay Thai has been more beneficial than I'd realized.  I was able to start many of the exercises with 10 or 12 pound weights.  In the past I would have used 5 or 8 pounds. So hurray for ninja pushups and sprawls!

Spent the rest of Sunday doing some cooking and finishing up chores.  I tried a new recipe for a polenta lasagne... if it's good, I'll share it with you one of these days.  When I finally sat down at 5:30 I realized that the whole day was practically gone and I never had gotten to the stack of magazines I've been trying to get through.  Why do the weekends go by so fast?

*If the winner does not respond by Friday, January 14, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. EST, an alternate winner will be chosen.