Friday, May 26, 2017

Memorial Melt: Results Not Typical

On May 1 I started a limited time program at a local training facility.  The idea of the program was to lean my body out by reducing fat and building muscle.  When I went in for the initial assessment, several measurements were taken including weight, body fat percentage, muscle percentage, and visceral fat - that's the one that lays over your abdomen and is the one doctors tend to be most concerned about.

None of my numbers were good.

The program consisted of 8 small group personal training sessions, unlimited use of the facility and the large group conditioning style classes offered, as well as an eating plan and unlimited support from the staff.

When I looked at the eating program and began meal planning, I realized I already eat the way they were asking - whole foods vs. processed - so I knew I'd have no issue with that.  They also wanted us to remove alcohol and as much added sugar as possible. I knew this wouldn't be a problem for me, all except for 2 days - my anniversary and Mr. Helen's birthday which both fell during the program. But, I also knew that if I didn't adapt this a bit for my own real life, there really was no use.  And so, I began.

I really enjoyed the personal training sessions.  Though there could be up to 4 people that the trainer was working with, at least 5 of my sessions, I was the only person! For my personality, having an appointment where someone was waiting was just the thing I needed - in addition to the fact that I could make the appointments to fit my very busy life. That's not always easy with a full time job, a part time job, and a household to run.

They had straps and bands and items that were used to get around the arthritis in my knees and hands and I was able to do some things like deep squats and lunges for the first time in several years.  While there was a bit of actual weight lifting, it was miniscule in comparison to the other types of strength training I was doing.  In short, I loved it and began to look forward to my sessions each week.

I tried every type of class they offered and while they were fine, I wasn't enthralled with them like I was with the small group personal training. I could easily see myself just not going. The times of the classes weren't necessarily convenient either, but I wanted to try everything they had to offer. With everything I did, except maybe Saturday morning, I was working out at my lowest energy point of the day - between 4 and 6 p.m.  When my energy is like that, it's really easy for me to say I don't feel like going to a class, especially if I've already run in the morning.

So for the last 25 days, my schedule consisted of running 5-6 days a week, 2 personal sessions per week, and 1 extra class.

I want to say up front, I wish I had taken actual tape measurements because I definitely feel thinner through my upper abdomen area (i.e. from the bottom of my chest to my waist).  Especially in the last few days, my shirts were feeling looser, and in fact, two people said something to me yesterday about me looking like I was losing a bit of weight.

I was looking forward to seeing the results of my hard work in black and white and yesterday afternoon I went to get them.

Let's just say, for whatever reason, I am an anomaly when it comes to this sort of thing.  My friend joined this program a while back (her program was 21 days) and lost 10 lbs..  She ended up joining for a year because she was so pleased.  I wasn't expecting that sort of weight loss at all (dumb thyroid) but I also wasn't expecting what I got either.

I lost 3 pounds.  I wasn't thrilled as I was hoping for at least 5, but again, with my history 3 pounds is still 3 pounds.  But even the head of training was stunned when he looked at the rest of my numbers. Not only did I NOT lose any body fat, my percentage went up by .7.  Additionally, my muscle mass went down.

This is pretty much the exact opposite of what they want to see.  He was so shocked that he was almost speechless though he did manage to sputter that my diet probably needed adjusting and that I should have been eating more protein and less carbs (they include fruits and vegetables as carbs). Normally I do eat less carbs, i.e. especially fruit, than what they asked so hey - maybe I know my own body better than they do!

They had asked us to keep a food diary - not counting calories or anything, just write it down.  I did that and turned it in.  The nutritionist emailed me early evening and said my food had been spot and and that even on the two "indulgence" days the only thing she would have picked on was the wine I drank and the cake I ate.

This was a money back guarantee program and I have been mulling over writing them and asking for a refund - or additional classes at no charge, because I really did like it and I'm wondering if, with consistency, those stats could change.

I am also mulling over joining.  The program I was on cost twice what I paid and I cannot afford that at all.  Even the next level down with 4 personal training sessions is more than I can swing right now. The least expensive option does include them designing a program for you that you do on your own.  I just need to think hard about if I would actually do it on my own.

Many of the things I learned I would need to have some equipment to do and looking into that I estimate it would cost about $500 to buy the things I would need to be able to continue.  That might be an option but again, I would run into not being able to do anything in the coldest months as there is no room in my house - our garage is our workout area.

Such a conundrum.

At the least, what I have learned or maybe had reinforced is FOR ME, being the anomaly I am, I cannot concentrate on stats, numbers, scales or any of those things.  I have to concentrate on just eating as clean and healthy as possible and to continuing exercise because it makes me feel better.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Memorial Melt

As long time readers of this blog know, I have a terrible time losing weight due to my wonky thyroid, which has once again decided it doesn't want to work properly.  I just had my blood work done again and it is STILL not where it should be after last fall's malfunction.  Honestly, I can't think about it because it literally makes me want to me cry.

But what I can and do and usually think about is just being as healthy and fit as I can. I have always loved exercise and how it makes me feel so really I have no problem at all doing something in the form of movement every day - except that darned strength training which I'm just not motivated to do. Call me the cardio queen.

Around here we have a well-known training group that built a brand new state-of-the-art facility about 18 months ago. Using smart marketing, they have specials that show up in just about everyone I know who exercises Facebook feed. I actually know someone, around my same age and status (50's, menopausal, tries to eat and be healthy and work out but couldn't seem to beat the midlife weight and spread), who did a 21 day program with them.  She enthusiastically goes on and on about how great the program they gave her was.  She loved the facility and the staff so much, she decided to stay on with them for a while using the facility as her gym in addition to group training.

Recently something called the Memorial Melt kept popping up in my news feed - with the catch phrase, LOOK GREAT NAKED IN 25 DAYS - EVEN IF YOU HAVE TRIED AND FAILED IN THE PAST - OR YOUR MONEY BACK!

Normally, that sort of thing would turn me right off, but his is a local, well established business that has a good reputation. Plus I'd like to look better in clothes, never mind naked. Plus a money back guarantee? That was enough to get me to contact my friend to talk with her a bit more about her personal experience.  Then I decided to go ahead and contact them and set up an initial appointment to discuss their processes more.

The program consists of a food plan (if you want to use it) designed by their on-staff nutritionist, a custom training program designed by the head of training, 8 personal training sessions, and unlimited group training and use of the facility for the 25 days. (A locker room with heated floors!)

The experience was all at once disheartening, fascinating, and enlightening.  I had to fill out a large questionnaire, which was discussed with me by the head of training, and then I was put on a machine that measured muscle, body fat, hydration, and calorie burn.  Finally, I was put through a series of moves to determine my ranges of motion, flexibility, and weak areas.

Much of what he found didn't surprise me at all - the left side of my body is a mess and I have been compensating a lot for that foot I fractured in 2012.  In fact, there was one movement I was supposed to do without lifting my heel and I am incapable of doing it even though there is no pain.  He said my brain is simply in overdrive thinking the foot needs protection. Sort of crazy that it's 4 1/2 years later and this is still happening!  He also found my hip rotation wasn't at all as bad as I'd been thinking and even he said I was remarkably loose in the hips for a runner.

Let's not even discuss the body measurements mmmmmkay? Though I wasn't really surprised, seeing everything in a black and white printout was no fun. Well, except the hydration.  I was wonderfully hydrated as I should have been since I drink about a half gallon of water a day while I'm at work not to mention the sparkling water, unsweetened iced tea and more water I drink at home - now infused!

What did upset me was the calorie burn measurements.  Evidently, if I eat more than 1572 calories in a day I will gain weight as that's what I need to just maintain my current weight and state.  Of course this has to do with the current muscle vs. fat composition of my body. This means in addition to metabolism issues being caused by my thyroid, I've also got issues due to poor muscle mass.  Perfect!

When he saw how upset I was getting, he gave me the pep talk that with increase muscled mass the calorie burn will increase which means either more food, or weight loss if I don't eat more food.  I swear at one point I was in a daze and wanted to look at him and say, "blah, blah, blah." Honestly, though intellectually I know this to be true, I don't trust the process -  I feel like the thyroid issues affect everything and give different results, which is why I attempt health and fitness over weight loss.

Interestingly enough, I already eat exactly like they recommend. Even the nutritionist was surprised when she asked me to describe a typical day of food.  Pretty much they recommend eating your carbohydrates (starches and fruits) before mid-afternoon, then dinner should consist of protein and vegetables.  When I glanced at the food lists, I didn't see anything forbidden other than the usual culprits: alcohol and sugar. She said, if anything, she'd like me to try her recommended portions to see what happens.

I decided to sign up simply for the fact that the 8 personal training sessions and custom program are worth more than the price they're asking. He already told me that my program there is not going to have sustained cardio (i.e. no running or elliptical or anything like that) and I should keep doing my run in the morning. I'm hoping in the 25 days I'll get a bit attached to strength training and get myself in the habit of actually doing it.  I'm also hoping for better movement and flexibility.

This also means that between 2 jobs, regular household chores, and family obligations, May will be a crazy month for me.  But if I can manage to "Melt" a bit so that I look better in a bathing suit on my upcoming vacation, and feel better and stronger, I can sacrifice time and almost anything for 25 days. It's only 25 days.

Today is Day One, my first personal training appointment is at 4:00. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Stuff News

I have been an avid Fuel Belt fan since I first learned about them while training for my very first marathon back in 2003.  Every runner has their preference and mine is to not carry anything in my hands, so a belt that let me carry water and/or a hydration drink was the perfect answer.

A couple weeks ago, when we finally had nice enough weather that I didn't need a jacket (therefore had no pockets to stash water in), I grabbed my Fuel Belt and realized it was worn out and I'd need a new one before full on summer set in. Of course, I went to their site and... they've discontinued making the belt I like.  Sigh.

This sent me to Amazon where I searched because I knew a bunch of different styles and brands would come up. I actually found the same belt I have now and put it in my cart as I continued to look. Then, I found a different one at 1/2 the price of the Fuel Belt.  I figured what the heck, I'll order and if I hate it, return and get the Fuel Belt.

I had a chance to use it over the weekend. Made by Adalid, it only has 2 bottles but they are 10 oz. bottles and the pocket on the front is large enough for my phone, plus keys or whatever. It has a clip closure that is adjustable for waists from 27" to 40" (instead of velcro like Fuel Belt). It also came with toggles to attach a race bib to - removable when you're not using them. My verdict is that I love it.  In fact, I like it better than Fuel Belt.


Of course, last Monday morning I ran in shorts and a tee with my old belt and this past Monday, I had to drag my jacket back out as it was only 40 degrees.  Spring in New England. By the way, Adalid has not compensated me in any way, I just really like this product and wanted to share.

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Last Saturday, I did something I haven't done in forever:  no laundry, no housekeeping, no grocery shopping, no chores.  Instead I went with my friend to a large mall that's about an hour from my house to shop and have lunch.  She was looking for a dress for her niece's upcoming wedding and I was just going along to have a fun day.  And we did!  Though I didn't go with plans to buy anything, I ended up buying a couple cute tops for the summer and my upcoming vacation:

(Not me, but this is one of the shirts)

We ate lunch at Cheesecake Factory where I had a lunch-sized portion of their Cobb salad.  I love the way they chop their Cobb salad up and since there is no Cheesecake Factory nearby me, this is a real treat.  We both bought a piece of cheesecake to take home - mine was white chocolate raspberry truffle - and that ended up being my dinner. Yummy.

After lunch we decided to go look at the non-clothing areas of the store to walk off our lunch.  As we were headed to the bargain/outlet section I spied a comforter set that I liked.  About a year ago I changed the color scheme in our bedroom linens to navy.  You would not believe how hard it was to find a navy-ish comforter.  I finally found one on Amazon and not even a year later, it was falling apart.

As I went to look at it my friend said she'd been looking for something just like it for her remodel (she did the works - new furniture, paint, etc.) so I told her to take it because I couldn't afford it anyway - it was $360.  She replied that she thought it was on sale for $149, so when I said, "Oh!" she said she'd find a sales person and see if they had another, if I didn't mind us having the same.  Of course I didn't mind, it's not like we're showing up at a party in the same dress, right?  They did have one and we both ended up buying the set - which had 14 pieces, including a set of sheets!

(Stock photo, not my bed)

Best of all?  When we got to the register, it was marked down even more and we paid only $100!!!  I put it on our bed yesterday and I'm just going to say I see why it cost $360.  The quality is amazing and it made the whole room feel rich. It's probably the nicest comforter we've ever had.

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There is a local restaurant we love to go to for breakfast or lunch.  It's the type of place where you put your order in at the counter then go sit down somewhere and they bring it to you.  On the counter, they always have a huge dispenser filled with infused water that is complimentary.  It's usually infused with cucumber, lemons, and limes.  It's so refreshing.

I was on Amazon looking for something else and a water bottle with a built in infuser popped up in my recommended items. (I swear, it's like they read your mind).  I bought it and now am enjoying something other than plain water.  Best of all, it has a lifetime warranty and when you register it, they send you a free ebook with infusion recipes.  It's made by Danum if you'd like to search for it. Again, I was not compensated for this, it's just a new thing I'm enjoying.


What's new with you?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Catch Up and Crankiness

Things have simmered down a bit finally.  I have been sort of MIA because four days after Mr. Helen's mother was buried, his uncle died.  That means my FIL lost his wife and brother within about a week of each other.  With his uncle's death, that is 5 deaths of close relatives in the last six months. Grief exhausted might be an understatement.  Really, it's too much in what feels like a short time.

I found this beautiful rose plant that we put at my MIL's grave on Easter.  It made us feel better to see something pretty there.


Our weather has finally gotten nicer so that means semi-opening the patio.  At least we get the table and chairs set back up and move the grill to its regular spot - and more grilling happens.  I've actually been cooking a lot of good food lately!


Ribs!

I called this rotisserie chicken cheat:  heat the rotisserie chicken on the grill while you grill the sides.

The best chicken shawarma I've ever made - I'll never make it any other way.

We feel like spring has really arrived when I make curried chicken burgers with avocado and serve with chop salad.


The recipe I developed of that really expensive Detox Salad I used to buy in the Hamptons.  We like this every bit as much and it's a fraction of the cost.

I had my first shorts and tee run yesterday morning.  Of course this morning it was back to long sleeves and pants, but at least I didn't need a jacket.  And no more headlamp as dawn breaks while I'm out.  I love running this time of year!





And now for the crank you've been waiting for.  

Let me first say that my food processor is the most used appliance in my kitchen.  I'm probably not exaggerating when I say I use it about once a day at least and several times in a day when I'm really cooking.  

For 20 years I had a KitchenAid food processor that I loved.  It had small bowl inside the bigger bowl so if you wanted to chop just 1 onion, you only had that small bowl to clean.  When it finally died a natural death a couple years ago, of course I wanted another.  Needless to say the models had changed a bit but I found one that was similar and Mr. Helen gave it to me as a Christmas gift.  

I HATE IT.  I have been taking photos of the issues with it and plan on telling KitchenAid how disappointed I am in this product.  Also, Ima find me a new food processor because I literally cannot take it.

When I use the small bowl, it whirls stuff up and out into the big bowl, thereby defeating the purpose of the small bowl.  It also catches stuff up in the lid and I constantly have to stop it and scrape it down.  And don't even get me going about how bad it is to grate cheese with gobs of it ending up under the lid.   Here is some of my evidence.



Finally, I can't even express how annoyed I am with my grocery store bakery.  I will confess that I love a good cinnamon twist, and they make a good one.  It's not something I buy often, but it is something I will buy as a treat - generally on a long run day. There are two kinds - one with sugar sprinkle on it and one with glaze over it.  I prefer the glaze.  I actually hadn't had one in a good long time and while I was grocery shopping swung by to see if there were any left.  There weren't but much to my dismay, the entire case was filled with signs like this:


Above you can barely see a sugared twist and below are scones.  But WHYYYYYYYYY?!!!  Every single thing in the pastry and donut case now has a sign like that.  I don't want or need this information in any way, shape, or form. I swear it took everything I had not to rip it down.  As I stood there saying aloud, "Why would they do that?"  A woman next to me said, "Will it really stop you from buying what you want?" As I took this picture, I huffed that I didn't know, it might.  She asked me why I was taking the picture and I replied that I was taking it to send to my cinnamon twist loving friend in Texas so that she could be indignant with me.  (Thanks for sharing my pain Shelley.)

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I Wish... A Different Tuesday Ten

In 2008 when I was 48 years old, I ran a quarter marathon race with a friend.  I actually ended up being a bit faster than her that day and she told me to run on.  As we were standing around post race, eating some cookies, I thought I heard my name off in the distance but sort of ignored it.  Then I heard it much louder and my friend was saying, "You won the Athena division, go get your prize!"  I was so stunned that I stumbled my way over to the podium and accepted the crappy prize - a visor with a sponsor's name on it. What is even funnier about this is that it was a fairly new race - this was only their second year - and they had not expected as many runners as showed up.While they promised each finisher a medal, I didn't get one and was told it would be mailed to me.  So I stumbled on home, still stunned that I had actually won that division. Not only that, I beat 8 other women, all of whom were in their twenties!  So I was an old Athena on top of everything else.

For those who don't know, Athena division is for females who weigh more than 150 lbs.  The issue with this division is there is no height requirement, therefore you could have a 6-foot woman running at 155 lbs. At that height and weight that woman would be quite thin.  Which to me doesn't even the running field as is intended (i.e., bigger people run slower), but whatever. I am 5'6" and I distinctly remember I weighed 157 - and was quite unhappy with that.  It was the one and only time I've gotten my weight below 160 since my thyroid diagnosis, and I didn't appreciate it, because it wasn't quite good enough in my mind.

I was thinking about this last Saturday afternoon. I was supposed to have run that same quarter marathon that morning, but as I mentioned before the circumstances and timing turned out to be off due to the death of my mother-in-law. At the end of the afternoon, I sat down and started looking at Facebook and saw that the results of the race had been posted.  I knew several people running to I went to see how they'd done, considering it had been raining and sleeting that morning. I really wanted to see how my 40-year-old friend who I was supposed to have run with had done, more specifically because she had registered as an Athena (she's one of the tall Athenas).  In the past, I have felt jealous of her running capability, to the point where at one time I stopped looking at her running posts because I needed so badly to stop comparing myself to her AND comparing my former running self. Based on how I know she runs I was pretty sure she'd snag a prize in that division. Turns out she came in fourth and it seems she ran a bit slower than normal - maybe it was slick from the sleet?  I haven't spoken with her yet so I'm not sure what happened.

In any case, I had this sort of lightbulb moment where I realized I've lived far too many years in a negative thought pattern - most everything about me personally is never quite good enough.  To the point where at 48 years old when I ran that race and won that division beating women half my age, I never really appreciated it or accepted that I was a pretty good runner.  Because I never thought I was fast enough, or thin enough truth be told.

I want to change that because I've also realized that at the age of 57, it's time to stop having regrets all the time.  My life is more than half over at this point and wouldn't it be nice to just live in acceptance of what is and feel joyful about where I am, how my body functions, and the fact that I still attempt running - no matter the pace!

This got me thinking about things I wish for, and things I wish I could tell other young women.  So, I wish...
  1. That I had enjoyed my daughter at each stage of her life more.  That I had slowed down and not been so stressed all the time, thus making me miss some important stages in her life.
  2. That I had cleaned my house less, and played more.
  3. That I'd been better with money and thought about retirement in my twenties.
  4. That I appreciated my former running self and enjoyed it more instead of always stressing and trying to be faster.
  5. That I appreciated the lean muscle mass and agility I had when I was younger.  I took it for granted and didn't nurture it.
  6. That I had started strength training when I was younger so that maybe I'd be stronger now - and more inclined to spend some time maintaining my strength.
  7. That I hadn't taken my metabolism for granted and that I had started eating healthier food consistently much earlier in life.
  8. That I had moved south and/or west when I had the chance.
  9. That I'd finished up college and chosen my profession, instead of just landing in the career field I've had and not enjoyed very much.
  10. That I'd followed more dreams and tried for fulfillment, instead of always feeling so responsible for everything that I always did what had to be done but never, ever looked towards what I really wanted.
If comparison is the thief of joy and it's never too late to be what you might have been, the deaths of my brother and my mother-in-law have driven the point home that now is the time to work with what's there so I stop living a life of always wishing and start living one of joy.

What do you wish?



Monday, March 27, 2017

Running Shoes and Vegetarian Jambalaya


Ever since I quit racing regularly (which means I'm not 'in training' all the time) I don't pay as much attention to my running shoes.  A couple weeks ago while running my shins and left knee started aching, which is a pretty good sign I need new shoes.  When I got home I took them off and turned them over to look at them.  I was shocked to see how worn they were.  My left shoe, which is the side I pronate more (also the foot I fractured), had a spot on the bottom where I think I could have punched through with my finger. Oops!  I started looking for new shoes, specifically looking outside of Asics because I wasn't thrilled with the last iteration of the Cumulus.  I don't know why shoe manufacturers have to constantly tweak good shoes - it's very annoying.  After trying several different kinds, I still ended up with Asics, but this time I chose the Nimbus 18.  I used to wear Nimbus when I marathoned but they're expensive and once I started running less, I went down one notch to the Cumulus, which were not quite as expensive and were fine for the running I was doing. When I went out for my first run in them Sunday, I was  delighted at how cushioned and supportive they were.  I'd forgotten that Nimbus are so much more cushioned (thus more $).  My whole run felt fabulous.  I love getting new running shoes! Also, I have now activated the gear feature on my Garmin so I can keep track of the mileage.



Our weather has remained unseasonably cool and gray.  Over the weekend it rained off and on as well and felt really raw.  When the weather is like this I don't love to eat salads which are sort of a staple lunch for me so I'm always looking for ways to fit in more vegetables.

I went through my "recipes to try" file and found one for vegetarian jambalaya, looked at it quickly and thought I had most of the ingredients so decided to make it for this week's lunches and/or a side dish for dinner.  Once I got into making it, I realized some of my ingredients were frozen where they called for fresh and vice-versa.  I also forgot one thing completely, but no matter this came out absolutely delicious!  Probably my favorite thing about this recipe is that you don't have to finely dice anything, all the vegetables are chunked!

Helen's Vegetarian Jambalaya

2 tablespoons olive oil
3 stalks celery, cut into chunks
3 carrots, cut into chunks
4 shallots, peeled then cut lengthwise into quarters
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 1/4 cups converted white rice
1 1/2 cups canned black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
8 ounces frozen okra, cooked for 3 minutes in the microwave, remove and drain


Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the celery chunks, carrots and red onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper, thyme, paprika, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the paprika is toasted, about 1 minute.
Add the rice to the skillet and stir to coat. Add 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer until the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
Lift the lid then scatter the black-eyed peas and okra over the rice. Continue to cook, covered, until the rice is cooked through, about 5 more minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, 3 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork stirring in the okra and black-eyed peas. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 8 generous 1-cup servings: 129 calories; 4 g fat; 63 mg sodium; 20 g carbohydrate; 7 g fiber;  4 g sugar; 4 g protein
Notes:  I used my enameled cast iron dutch oven for this recipe. Make sure to use converted rice (like (Uncle Ben's).  Using regular long-grain rice will cause it to be sticky and not a nice fluffy mixture. The original recipe said this is four servings which I guess might be true if this is all you're eating.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Everything Imploded But It's a Relief

You know that saying about the best laid plans, right?

A couple weeks ago, right after I put my goals out into the universe, my weight had a huge upswing, which really messed with my head. I griped in an email to Shelley, who acted like the BIF that she is:  supportive and sympathetic.  She also restated why she gave up the scale several years ago.  Which I totally get... and which I have now done, at least for a while.  Because followed by the huge upswing, I lost a tiny amount and then had another big gain.  That's my wonky thyroid.  This is a been there, done that situation for me and I know the best and kindest thing I can do for myself is to stop trying to track my progress via the scale.  I am continuing to eat well and exercise regularly and eventually my thyroid will simmer down and I can go back to using the scale should I choose.

Those few weeks were so stressful and I began to dread my weigh-in.  Honestly, it has been a huge relief to just let it go.

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My mother-in-law died this past Tuesday after a 22-year diagnosis of Alzheimer's.  Her type was slow moving and she was able to be at home until 6 years ago.  Over the last 6 years she degraded much more quickly - ultimately not remembering anyone and becoming mute and still.  A few weeks ago, she stopped chewing so there was no more feeding her.  She was quite willing to drink so she was fed high calorie drinks until this past Friday when she just stopped swallowing.  By Sunday, Hospice had been called in to keep her comfortable and she died very early Tuesday morning.

While the family is grieving, they have really been grieving for years. So, in some ways, her death is a relief.  It is truly inexplicably horrible to have a person you love there in body, but not in mind or spirit - to watch them slowly devolve into nothingness.  I wouldn't wish 22 years of that on anyone.

Because relatives are traveling from down south, her service won't be until a week from today. Several people have mentioned how long that is to wait, but for this family, in the scheme of things, it's not long at all.

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I know I also mentioned about a couple races I'd decided to sign up for, the first of which was a quarter marathon.  Well, just as I needed to ramp up my mileage to prepare to run that distance, our weather became completely uncooperative.  Winter, which should have been over with roared in at the end of February and has stuck around.  We should be having temps in the 50's right now and it has been in the 30's along with relentless winds that have given us feel like temps in the teens.  Oh, and we had several snow storms.  Which meant my longer runs have had to be done on a treadmill.  Not the best way to train for a road race.

Even though I started thinking I should maybe just not run this race as it seemed like the training for it was just stupid hard for no reason, I just pushed through and kept on.  At one point a couple weeks ago I mentioned to some friends that this race was allowing a deferral or transfer if you requested it by March 24th and of course they all cheerleaded, "You can run this no problem! Who cares if most of your longer runs have been on a treadmill!" Etc., etc. You'd think at my age I'd have learned by now to pay attention to possible warning signs but nope, I just barreled on ahead.

When my mother-in-law died, the decision was made for me.  Because of the timing of her services, I will have a house full of company and many family activities Wednesday-Sunday of next week and the race is Saturday.  Yesterday I contacted the race director to find out what my choices were:  Defer to 2018 , or run a 5K or half marathon put on by this same race director. The 5K will be held when I am on vacation and I have no desire to run a half marathon at this time, so I deferred until 2018.  Who knows if I'll even want to run it then but that was basically the only choice except just not running, which might still happen in 2018.  We'll see.

But here's the thing.  As soon as I had deferred that race, I felt a huge surge of relief.  I can't even explain it properly but I suddenly felt free.  I still have the 10K in May so let's see how that goes.

It's odd how life is sometimes - you make your plans then everything changes.  I think that's one reason why I generally don't put goals out in the universe.  My experience is that once you do that, God laughs.  This time around, it's all a relief.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Workouts, Steps, and What I Ate in a Day

Just for something completely different, I thought I'd share last week's movement/exercise/workouts and I also photographed what I ate on one day.  I always like seeing what other people eat and now that I've done it, I have to say I admire bloggers who document all their food this way!

Sunday:
It was 57 degrees outside and I'd been to brunch so I figured taking a nice walk couldn't hurt. Because this is technically a rest day for me, I didn't walk for speed or for distance, just went down to the beach and started walking.  Ended up doing 2.6 miles.  Total steps for Sunday: 10,023

Monday:
Woke up at 4 a.m., got dressed to run and had a cup of coffee before heading out.  Lots of melting over the weekend plus the temperature not dropping to freezing meant I could try to run outside and run I did.  Had one of my best runs in recent memory - best for overall feel and a better pace as well. 3.09 miles done.  Total steps for Monday: 10,083

Tuesday:
Hit the snooze too many times and didn't drag myself out of bed until 4:20.  Got dressed and had a cup of coffee.  It was only 26 degrees with a 24 windchill so I figure this would be a good day to start with some strength training/toning type exericses:

I did 2 sets of 15 of each exercise: Chest Press 15#; Seated Upright Row 15#; Lateral Side Raise 5# (I'm being very cautious with this exercise because my left arm still twinges from when I fell last September); Stability Ball Crunches (2x25); Standing Bicep Curl 12#; Tricep Kickbacks 10#; Doggy Leg Raises; Donkey Kicks; Outer Thigh Leg Raises; Inner Thigh Leg Raises, Squats, Raised Hamstring Bridges; Standing Calf Raises; Stability Ball Jackknife

That took me 25 minutes because you do them as supersets; then I took off and walked for 30 minutes.  Total Steps for Tuesday: 8584 - a perfect example of what happens when I run or walk shorter and end up sitting and/or standing still a lot at work, followed by not much movement when I get home.

Wednesday:
Outside for a run as it was 40 degrees at 4:45.  Unfortunately, had a truck drive straight at me, yell at me to get off the road, and I had to jump into a snow bank.  People are stupid. BUT, you can see I stuck my landing lol! And I got 3 miles done even though I was shaken up.


After my regular job, I went to my part-time job where I stand the entire time but don't do much moving around. Total steps for Wednesday: 10,903

Thursday:
Had the usual 4 am wake up.  Gave myself a manicure and had coffee and finally got out the door just before 5.  It was weirdly super foggy but chilly (38 degrees).  My legs felt like they needed a break so I did 2 minutes of walking/1 minute of running for 45 minutes.  Work was its usual sedentary self, though I am making a conscious effort to stand 4-6 hours every day.  Thursday evening is when I try to do all my vacuuming and clean the wood floors, and dust throughout the house.  Total steps for Thursday: 11,172

Friday:
No workout today - just needed a rest day. Stood for most of the day at work and also went to part time job for another 4 hours after work. This step count shows exactly how sedentary my work days are, even though I stand a lot. Total steps for Friday: 5,070

Saturday:
Finally got a longer run in - 5 miles.  Finished it off by doing 4 sets of 25 each of pushups, squats, lunges, stability ball jackknives, and stability ball crunches.  This was actually a more sedentary than usual Saturday for me - went to brunch, grocery shopped, then came home and sat around while watching TV and doing some laundry.  Total steps for Saturday: 14,074


What I Ate on Wednesday:

At 7:45, once I was settled at work, breakfast was a mushroom omelette topped with feta cheese and chopped tomatoes.

Around 10:45 I was wanting something so I ate some fruit:  1 banana and 1/2 cup of blueberries.  I'm super picky and weird with fruit, but I like this combo and it tasted delicious!


Lunch at 1:00 was leftover chicken and rice with some roasted broccoli. Normally I would have something like a salad or sandwich but didn't have time to put it together as I was running late.  This is when the individual freezer leftovers come in very handy - just grabbed this and added the broccoli, which was a fridge leftover.

7:30 dinner was sliced leftover rotisserie chicken breast on multigrain bread and a few Terra Vegetable Chips. I seriously would like to eat earlier (because I head to bed between 8-8:30) but it's hard on days I work my second job.  It's also hard when Mr. Helen is home.  He doesn't eat lunch until about 2 p.m. every day which means he's not hungry at 6-6:30.  Sometimes he's not even hungry at 7!  I'm hoping that changes when he retires.


After dinner I ate 2 pieces of candy from my Russell Stover Valentine Heart.  I probably didn't "need" this, but wanted a little something sweet.


As far as drinks go, I had two cups of coffee in the morning and then drank water the rest of the day, including with meals.

This is pretty much how I workout and eat day in and day out (with the exception that my salad game ramps up in the summer - sometimes I eat a salad for lunch and another for dinner). So, nothing special, no secrets, tips, or tricks, just grinding it out day after day in hopes of being healthy and staying active to keep the family aches, pains, and arthritis at bay.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Put It Out There

My weekend started off with me feeling a bit discombobulated but ended with a better outlook.

I got some discouraging news on Friday - my thyroid still is not where it should be, but "might be" getting better.  As you can imagine, that makes me want to lay down and put the covers over my head as I wonder if I'll ever catch a break.

Last week we had warmer than usual daytime temperatures, even though it was refreezing at night.  I haven't been able to run outside since we had the 3 snow storms in 4 days so I was quite excited to get up and run Saturday morning, in the daylight, because even if there was a bit of ice, I could see it and maybe get around it.

As it turned out, temps were above freezing but what I wasn't prepared for were the still unshoveled sidewalks and 6-foot tall mounds of snow at the end of sidewalks where the intersections began.  I had intended to go out and run 5 miles but was so discouraged that my run was turning into a frustrating crawl that I cut it short and came home at 3 miles.

WHYYYYYYYY?!!  Why can't my thyroid work and why can't I have a good run and why does everything have to feel so damn hard?

The temps went up to about 50 so there was more melting, which is a good thing though the piles are so deep that it's going to take some time to get rid of them.  If I was a good blogger I'd have gone out and taken some photos so you'd understand what I'm talking about. I still had a busy day and got quite a bit of movement in so I was happy about that since I didn't know what would happen on Sunday.

Sunday the forecast was for even warmer weather - exciting - but I had plans to meet my friend Em for brunch.  Though we keep in touch and live only an hour apart, it has literally been a year since I've seen her and her son, who is now 2.  We had a lovely brunch at Rooster Co., which while not quite farm-to-table, heavily sources ingredients from local farms.  They put a list of the day's farms up that you can see when you walk in.  I had the Eggs Benedict - worth every calorie and some of the best I've ever had.  Maybe it was the crispy pork belly in place of the Canadian bacon!

After brunch, when I got in my car to drive home, the thermometer said it was 64 degrees where I was.  Right then I knew I'd get home, change, and go for a walk even though the temp at home would probably be 10 degrees cooler, especially with the breeze.  It actually was 57 degrees!  On February 19th!

I drove down to my beach and believe it or not, the boardwalk had entire spots still covered in snow. I walked a bit then headed out out of the beach into the neighborhoods since I wanted to walk a couple miles.  While I walked, I listened to Runner's World podcast episode 41: Dreaming Big.

The episode is about Matt Llano who as a 28 year old runner who, after running a 1:01 at the Houston Half Marathon in 2014, boldly pronounced that he was going to transition to marathon running and would beat the record for a debut marathon (2:08).  It didn't happen but the following year he set his (so far) PR of 2:12 and continues to work at that 2:08 time.  The episode also features an installment on David Willey who is Runner's World Editor in Chief and has been trying for decade to qualify to run the Boston Marathon.  He has an opportunity to work with an elite team of trainers and is being poked, prodded and tested and being given a customized training plan.  He calls it his moonshot.

The whole point of the episode is that sometimes we just keep our dreams and goals to ourselves - afraid of failure, or rather having to admit failure.  Matt Llano says he feels when you put it out there it chemically changes your approach to how you're going to make that dream or goal come true. Besides, people are not looking at him and thinking he's stupid because he didn't make the 2:08 - in fact people are admiring that 2:12. He also believes if you don't make the goal right away, something inside you just keeps working at it because you've put it out there.  David Willey says the reason he's even talking about his moonshot is because he believes it will keep him on track. He now believes several of his past attempts were just half-hearted because only he knew, therefore he didn't work hard enough at it.

That really spoke to me.  As a type A personality, I often don't talk about my dreams or goals because I am afraid of failing and everyone knowing it. Of people talking about it.  I'm not sure why it bothers me so much because in general I could care less what people say or think.  They aren't walking in my shoes or living my life.

But, after listening to that podcast, I came home from that walk thinking I should share some of the things ruminating in my mind. Because honestly, just admitting this stuff is "dreaming big" for me.

  • I have 6 weeks until I run a quarter marathon (6.55 miles).  My only dream of this is to finish.  As I mentioned in my last post, all the indoor running (or outdoor with snow piles) this time of year makes it tough for me to even set a time goal.
  • But my other goal attached to that is that I want to weigh 8 pounds less than I do right now.
  • When I got home, I went online and signed up for a 10K on May 21st.  It's a fairly new local race that I have hesitated to run because I'm not the runner I used to be and I will know a lot of the runners there.  But guess what?  Now I don't care.  My dream for this race will be to run it at a faster mile per minute pace than I do the quarter marathon.  I'll let you know what that pace is once I've run the first one.
  • Also attached to that, and also due to the fact that shortly after the second race we will be going to St. Martin to celebrate our 25th anniversary, I want to lose an additional 20 pounds before we go.
It's out there.  Now let's see how I do.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Tuesday Ten: Things My Garmin Taught Me

1.  I am way more sedentary than I think I am, especially during the week.  If I have a day when I do not exercise, then go to work, I am lucky to have 2-3,000 total steps during the day.  Believe me when I say, in my head I'm much more active than that.

2. Even on days when I run or walk only a couple miles, I struggle to get my step count anywhere near 10,000 steps, which I guess is what is recommended as a minimum. (Who came up with that anyway?)

3. When I have a sedentary day (i.e., under 5,000 steps), my TOTAL calorie burn is somewhere in the neighborhood of 1900 calories

4. On busy weekend days, even on days I do not exercise, I easily make 9-10,000 steps and with added exercise I easily make 16,000.

5. On active weekend days my calorie burn is somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,900!

6. Sunday during our third snow storm in four days, I made myself go outside and walk on my treadmill for 3 miles because I knew I'd be stuck in the house all day.  Because I was just hanging around my house cooking and sitting and watching TV, I ended up with only 7,800 steps. I can only imagine what it would have been had I not walked.

7. Interesting resting heart rate info.: as the week goes on and I exercise more, my resting heart rate goes up, which indicates that I probably do need a rest day each week.  But how restful do I need to be?

8. While not every day has be a high intensity exercise day, on most days, because of my super sedentary job, I really do need to try to move in some way for 30 minutes, which means I'm going to have to suck it up and get out after work if I plan on using my morning exercise time to do some body weight and strength training workouts, which are important too.

9. I definitely need to utilize my stand-up desk at work and not sit so much.  I think standing builds in some natural moving around that just doesn't happen if I'm sitting for hours.

10. The biggest thing I've realized is how easy it is to maintain and/or gain weight if sedentary.  I mean, I knew this in my head, but these stats are driving it home.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Keep Walking

I spent most of January sick as could be with a short reprieve towards the end of the month - only to have it come roaring back.  By Thursday of last week I was so sick I decided to stay home on Friday.  My job offers the call-in doctor service Teladoc so at 5:30 a.m. on Friday I called.  The doctor I spoke with said he would call in a prescription for me but told me if I felt any worse at all I should go to my primary care physician.  I went back to bed with the intention of getting up later to pick up said prescription, but when I woke up, I felt like my chest was compressing my lungs and as if I was going to choke. So I called my regular doctor and they told me to come in at 1:30 and they'd fit me in. The verdict was mycoplasma infection aka walking pneumonia.  So, I did get antibiotics after all, just not the ones the Teladoc doctor prescribed.  I'm still pretty bronchial but feeling a bit better every day.

By Monday, my brain was in full on rebellion because it had been7 days since I did any sort of exercise.  It was 40 degrees and sunny when I got out of work so I went for a walk; just an easy walk, to see how my breathing would go.  It felt beyond good to move and I slept like a log that night. This morning, I decided to get up and go back out as the temp was still 37 and the forecast for Wednesday and Thursday was showing rain and snow.  I walked as fast as I could and threw in some jogging, which immediately brought on coughing spasms.  So yeah, not quite ready to run it out but again it felt good to get out there.

What was fascinating about both those outings were the Garmin stats.  VO2 Max is a measure of your maximum oxygen intake and output.  The higher it is, generally the faster you are and the more endurance you have as a runner - elite runners have VO2 Max levels that other runners dream of. Mine is usually just average.  Sometimes if I have to use my inhaler because I'm worried about the cold causing some asthma, it goes to the higher end of average but it never goes high.

On both those outings my VO2 Max was below normal - not surprised - but my heart rate actually got as high as when I run.  So, even though I was much slower, I was actually working just as hard as running.  This explain why coaches will often tell someone who is in recovery to work at a "perceived exertion" rate:  depending on what is going on with your body, a walk can be just as hard as a run.

This week, I should be starting my 8-week training plan for the quarter marathon I'm running April 2nd but I haven't run since last Tuesday.  Too sick to run is pretty sick for me but I do know when to say when.  

Of course the timing of all this also reminded me exactly why I prefer not to train in winter for races - even though it's hot and humid, I'm rarely sick in the summer.  Besides, the cold conditions and all the clothing I have to put on in winter just make it feel cumbersome.

Thankfully as an experienced runner I know I can modify said plan and honestly, if push comes to shove, I could probably walk the thing in about 1:40 or so and looking at past race results, it seems there may be plenty of folks who have done just that.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

This is What Democracy Looks Like

*Warning: This is a long and photo-heavy post*

This past Saturday, January 21st, I participated in the Women’s March on Washington.  I did so for a number of reasons, the main one being that it is far beyond time for me as an adult to stand up for what I believe in.  I have had a tugging and pulling at my heart and soul over that last 15 years or so that I often tamped down because it felt overwhelming to be a participant.  But what I have come to realize is that while in my own immediate circle, I may be equal and there might not be prejudices, we are far from truly overcoming those things.

The fact is over all, women are not equal – we still make less than men for doing the same work – and that includes CEOs, doctors, athletes, and tech – areas where you’d assume the playing ground is level. I know and have experienced personally being paid less than a male subordinate. Yes, I have been paid less than a person working for ME.  When I found out and questioned it, I was told it was because he was a young man with a family and needed to make more.  At the time, I was a single parent, not even receiving child support because my ex-husband left the country.  Let that sink in.

Men continue to debate the rights we should have over our own bodies, including if we should have free or inexpensive access to birth control, gynecological appointments and even prenatal care. Nor do we have paid (or sometimes unpaid) maternity leave as a rule.

As a runner, I have to be careful when I run in the dark – because if I suffered violence at the hands of an evil person, it would be considered “my fault.” I must also be careful that the running clothes I wear are not considered too provocative.   Even when I am covered neck to toe I am often subjected to being catcalled and objectified.

Women are constantly being told they are too old, too fat, too unattractive, to dress like a lady and make sure we have the correct designer clothing and accessories.

Now, imagine all of this plus being an immigrant woman, gay woman, transgendered woman, or woman of color. 

I marched.

My personal trip to DC actually was a 24 hour adventure, 14 hours of which were spent on a bus.



We left from a mall parking lot at 1:30 in the morning on Saturday and arrived in DC at 8:30.  

My amigos for the day

Immediately upon exiting our bus, we all started walking towards the metro then quickly decided it was probably going to be too packed.  We decided then to walk to the starting point which was about 2 miles away – it was a literal sea of bodies on both sides of the street. Right from the beginning we saw so many clever signs and expressions of what people were feeling.



We walked through the Capital Hill neighborhood and were cheered by the residents along the way.  Every single yard in that neighborhood had signs with Martin Luther King, Jr. quotes which were just all the more appropriate that day.

Look closely and you'll see the lady on the right is holding up her walker.  Love.





The Connecticut group was having a pre-rally at the Museum of the American Indian and we went looking for that but never found it because even before the official program began, there were people as far as the eye could see. 




Suddenly we heard a roar and figured the official program was beginning but couldn’t hear anything and so began to shuffle around trying to figure out where it was and how close we could get.  We were not successful and it became apparent that this crowd was much, much larger than the organizers had expected.  Everything, including the porta-potties were overwhelmed by the end of the day. We couldn’t even watch it on our phones because there was absolutely no service of any kind.

A friend asked me if I was disappointed about not hearing the speakers and I honestly answered no as I knew I could probably YouTube the entire program once I was home (and I have done that).  But also I wasn’t disappointed because wherever you were in the crowd, there were mini celebrations of various causes going on and it felt like a sisterhood of humankind.

About an hour before the schedule March time, the crowds really began to swell and suddenly my friends and I were so surrounded that we literally could not move one inch.  It was like a slight pressing in that kept getting tighter. One of the ladies I was with is fairly short – maybe 5’2” and I took one look at her face and knew I had to figure out how to get us into more open space – if that was even possible.  I actually have claustrophobia myself but I think my brain switched into survival mode and didn’t allow me to panic.

I got one of the other ladies, who was a bit taller than me to lead the way and we formed a human chain holding on to each other and began to inch our way toward the mall area that is surrounded by the Smithsonian museums.  It took us approximately an hour and 15 minutes to get a quarter of a mile!  And that was when we knew once and for all, we were at a history making event.

Finally out where we had some room.  Our favorite shirt on a man.
"This is what a feminist looks like"
What you can't see is how muscley this guy was!



At this point (1:30) most of us had been wide awake since 4:00 am.  Two of us who drink coffee hadn’t had any and had splitting headaches and we all were feeling like we just wanted to sit down for a minute.  The speakers were still going strong and the march was nowhere near started (plus we were hearing they might not let us actually march because the crowds were bigger than the march route) so we decided to see if we could find a place to sit and have some lunch.  I took the group to a street near the mall where I know there were lots of restaurants and we began to go into each one only to be told from a 45 minute wait to they weren’t accepting any more walk-ins.  We finally decided to just put our name in and wait and much to our surprise 10 minutes later we were seated.  (We think others who had put their names on the list just left which moved us up quickly).


This was a much needed break and we enjoyed bathrooms with running water, a lovely lunch, and simply exhaling for a minute.

Once lunch was done we walked back towards the mall to see what was going on and were delighted to find that the march had started and we jumped right in and walked towards the White House singing and laughing and chanting along the way. We kept thinking that we'd run into someone one of us knew, but never did.  Little Helen was there with her husband and sister-in-law but I never saw her!





As we neared the White House, we noticed the reviewing stands that had been put up for the inaugural parade were still up but instead of being empty, that day they were filled to the brim with supporters.


It was truly an amazing, life-changing experience – even though they did shut the route down and wouldn’t let us anywhere near the White House - we knew we were part of the beginning of a movement.  It was overwhelming being a part of a group of half a million people – all ages, colors, sizes, genders, races and ethnicities who are committed to upholding the guiding principles of our nation as well as our more modern principles of inclusivity.  In this huge, diverse group where we were all crushed together, as we made our voices heard, we did not see anything but kindness.  I was delighted to read the next day that not one single arrest was made.




You don’t have to agree with me and whether you do or not, I marched for you too.  Because THIS is what democracy looks like and I can't keep quiet.

This song was sung by women who had never met each other, and practiced via Skype. Alma Harel, a filmmaker happened to walk right into the group and capture it for us all.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tuesday Ten Things that Have Changed

1. Debby's post got me thinking about how I've gone back to whole foods, all natural, full-fat style eating.  I credit my experimentation with Paleo-style eating for this.  I found out I could eat nuts, avocado, and even full-fat cheese and the world wouldn't come to an end, nor would I immediately gain a bunch of weight.  I believe this is because I'm ultimately more satisfied with a little of certain things than I ever was with a lot of "diety" foods.

2. I no longer run 1200-1500 miles a year. The years that I quit racing I've seen that go right down to between 800-900 miles a year. I still love to run, but I've accepted that I'm going to run shorter distances and enjoy it rather than be in constant "training for my next race" mode, therefore I don't need to run so much.

3. I've stopped being so all or nothing in various areas of my life.  For example, all through the holidays I enjoyed many treats, both of the sugary type and the adult beverage type.  There was a time come January 2nd I would have made myself stop everything all at once therefore creating a monster to live with.  This year, I decided to attack it in increments:  January 2nd I stopped the daily glass of wine. January 9th (well really January 6th when I grocery shopped) I started working on better balance to my meals - you know making sure there's a protein AND a vegetable on my plate. The next step will be to cut my portions back a bit to see if I can get some more weight off.  I actually think this approach works better for me than trying to do it all at once - and it doesn't feel so punishing.

4. After literally spending 50-ish years of my life attending church (often going several times a week), when Mr. Helen's work schedule changed and he started working on Sundays, I tapered off of all the church going then eventually quit going altogether for the most part.  This might sound terrible to some but I actually don't miss "church." When I feel in need of spirituality, I find a way to have that - and I occasionally go to a church service but without feeling like I "have to" be there.

5.  I no longer say yes to things just because it's a family member asking.  If I don't want to do/participate/attend, I'm just saying no and finding I'm happier for it.

6. I no longer feel like I need a full face of makeup and hair done to go out and run an errand.  I often throw on yoga pants, a jacket, and a hat and go get it done.  Some of this has come about because I have to do the makeup/hair thing every day for work and sometimes I just want a break.  The rest of it has come about because...

7. I no longer give a crap about what people think about me/my looks/my ideas/my politics, etc., etc.  This is a huge freedom that has been given to me in mid-life.

8. I'm discovering I no longer have the need to be right.  For all my growing up years my mother would say, "If you're right, you don't have to prove yourself right."  It's only now that I'm actually understanding that.

9. Even though I'm quite assertive, in the past decade or so, I've learned to hold my tongue. It's just not necessary to say every single thing I'm thinking, even if it might deserve to be said! Along these lines I'm really understanding that the way people act often has to do with things I have no idea is going on in their lives.  So, first compassion, then assertive honesty if things get out of control.

10. I don't feel the need to be attached at the hip to Mr. Helen.  While I very much value our time together and don't have a problem saying it if I feel we've been neglecting our relationship, I don't need to be with him every free minute.  I guess that's maturing in a relationship.

What about you?  Tell me something(s) that have changed for you.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year Tuesday Ten

1. I had the loveliest New Year's weekend.  Lori and her husband came to Connecticut to celebrate the end of her old job and Mr. Helen and I got to spend some time with them.  The four of us went out to eat on Friday evening and when I tell you the two men talked like old friends who'd known each other for many years, I'm telling the truth!  Lori and I both were fairly shocked.  And this is really sad, but the only photo I took that evening was of my food, even though I had the best intentions of having someone shoot a picture of all four of us.  Oh well, enjoy this picture of my Drunken Noodles.



2. While John went off to tend to some business on Saturday, Lori and I spent the day together exploring Mystic.  Mystic is fairly well known as a tourist area, but I rarely go, except maybe to a restaurant.  So, it was super fun to me to spend the day walking around the shops and having lunch with Lori.  We had lunch at a place called Bleu Squid which specializes in gourmet grilled cheese and CUPCAKES!  Which Lori loves and is why I suggested it.  And of course, we ended the afternoon with a Latte.  It was a wonderful day and once again I was reminded why women need other women to spend time with.

A four cheese grilled cheese with applewood smoked bacon and tomato - delicious!


We tried to take our photo with Mystic Seaport in the background but it was blowing our hair the wrong way so like true women, we turned around.  Also, I am incapable of handling "selfies" so Lori had to master this shot lol!



4. Because I'd been fighting an awful cold/flu of some sort for several days, we made plans to stay home for New Year's Eve. I made a seafood dinner for us and enjoyed a glass of Prosecco atop the cute beverage napkins Little Helen had given me as a stocking stuffer,




5.  We tried desperately to stay awake until midnight by eating later and having dessert even later than usual. We enjoyed two of these yummy cupcakes.



We actually made it to about 11 then decided to go to bed and watch the rest of New Year's Rockin' Eve - not a good idea as by 11:30 we both had fallen sound asleep.  I must have woken up at some point and been annoyed by the TV noise because it was off in the morning.

6. New Year's Day I slept in until 8 o'clock!  And woke up feeling like death warmed over.  So I took an Aleve Cold and Flu, had some coffee while waiting for it to kick in a then went out to run the last run of the Runner's World Streak I'd started on Christmas Day. The goal was to run at least 1 mile every single day between Thanksgiving and New Years - 39 days in all.  35 of those days I ran outside and 4 of the days I ran on my treadmill due to pouring rain, an ice/snow/rain storm, and two mornings where it was all black ice on the roads. I ran 122 miles in all - averaging a little over 3 miles a day. I'm proud of myself for sticking to this challenge, which became especially challenging after my brother died. But, I was thinking this morning, because I tend to stick with things once I start them, this challenge really kept me moving during a time when I probably would have quit exercising at all for a while.   I decided to run 2.17 miles for 2017 and also because I really was not feeling well. I was happy with the run considering how yucky I felt.


7.  When I got home, Mr. Helen and I started taking down all the Christmas decorations.  This ended up being quite comical - he was tired by the time we got finished and kept saying he couldn't believe how long it took.  I told him that he'd been spoiled because I generally did this by myself and that's why I would say it took the whole day.  He promised to help me from now on.

8.  We had our Hoppin' John, cornbread, and Mr. Helen's super delicious pan fried chicken for dinner. This is sort of a traditional meal for us though the meat changes from year to year. I make the black-eyed peas in the crockpot. For several years I've used this recipe from Plain Chicken - easy because I use leftover Christmas ham, and the beans come out so delicious!


9.  As usual, I did quite a bit of reflecting on New Year's Day as I putted around. Like I said before, 2016 had it's ups - me doing the Army 10 Miler after 6 years of not racing, and of course ending the year by getting to meet Lori!  There were also downs - my thyroid getting out of whack and stalling any progress I'd made on weight loss, falling just before my race, the lack of a proper vacation.  Of course it all got put into perspective by the worst down of all when Joe died.

10. I usually weigh myself on New Year's day, and if you remember last year when I posted about this, I had gained 7.2 lbs. and I had the thought that if I could just lose 2.2 ounces a week, I'd have that off by New Year's Day of 2017.  As I tried to decide what to do about it, I came up with the $5 bet between Mr. Helen and me that went swimmingly until the above-mentioned thyroid malfunction, followed by my brother's going downhill to death.  Honestly, I didn't care what I ate meaning, while I had never "dieted", I had always worked on putting together nutrionally sound meals, and for the last couple of months of 2016, I just didn't give a crap.

I had reset my zero scale when I started the $5 bet because while I knew things would fluctuate from week to week, I wanted to see at the end of the year, what I'd managed.  While I hadn't looked before and had let Mr. Helen take the pictures and either pay me or not, I wanted to know now.


That is a net loss of 17.8 pounds!  So I lost my 7.2 plus more all without dieting, which is the most exciting thing of all.  Mr. Helen said I had gotten up to 26 pounds lost before my thyroid went nuts - but I'm not letting that get me down.  In fact I feel encouraged that once my levels are good again, I will be able to lose that and more as I seem to have figured out a way to eat that is comfortable for me.  And for the first time in years, I'm not obsessing over food - just enjoying it as it comes.

All in all a good start to 2017.