Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ending the year on a high note

I ran the Berbee Derby 10k Turkey Trot this morning. I'm pretty sure this will be my last race of the year because it's going to start getting really cold pretty soon. I was honestly not that excited about the race because I've been feeling kind of "off" the last couple days (even though I've had good workouts), but I had some friends who were racing and this was to be my 8th race of 2008 so I was committed to going and running.

Probably because my last two races didn't go very well, I was even considering hanging back and running with friends just for fun, but when the race started, something in me just clicked, and I took off. I tried to tell myself not to look at my watch until the end of the race because I was sure I would be dissappointed, but I did glance down right at the 5k mark to see I'd finished 3.1 in 23:40- a big PR for me. Unfortunately I slowed way down from there. I still finished in 50:01- a PR for sure- but still in the 50's. It wasn't a perfect race, but it was scenic, fun, successful, and a great way to start Thanksgiving.

Here were my mile splits - try not to laugh too hard to my monster bonk at the end (there was a big hill, I swear it!)- 7:34, 7:42, 7:37, 8:05, 8:22, 8:53.

It was a gently rolling course, which I liked a lot and makes me start to wonder if the Country Music Marathon is right way to go. Decisions, decisions. I really need to get an idea of what I'm going to do about this whole spring marathon thing so I can plan the rest of my race schedule.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Surveying the Literature

I haven’t posted in a few days, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it. I’ve been spending a lot of time checking out other health and fitness blogs, trying to come up with a list of “required reading.” I wanted to get a mix of “sciency” and motivational, and I think I’m accomplishing that. The problem with exploring blogs is that they link to other blogs, and I have about 100 pages bookmarked as “Oh that’s neat!” that I want to come back and explore.

However, here are a few that I really enjoyed reading and seem to come up over and over again as I explore the world of health and fitness blogging.

1.Modern Forager- Definitely sciency. He seems to be a major figure in the paleo/Crossfit world of nutrition, but he has a lot of interesting posts about the “smaller side” of dieting- ie. vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

2.Mark’s Daily Apple- About an 8 on the sciency scale. His angle is primal rather than paleo fitness. Don’t ask me the difference, but you can read about it on his website. Lots of great tips on cutting back on grains.

3.Life Remix- Basically 100% motivational. This is actually a collection of blogs that focus on personal development topics- many of them health and fitness related. Probably my favorite is The Simple Dollar. On the outside this blog seems to have nothing to do with fitness, but I’d argue that many good financial habits can be extended to personal health and fitness.

4.Caustic Musings- Motivation with info, but not too sciency. She’s a young married woman with a demanding job who still puts in the hard work to have a great bod. The best feature of Caustic Musings is that she’s tried a lot of different diet and exercise programs, and has presented her results and feelings about each of them. Want to know what’s it’s like to do Body For Life? P90X? Red Carpet Ready? Turbulence Training? It’s all there.

5.MizFit- Definitely motivational. She proves that it is possible to be a working mom with awesome biceps. Lot’s of good advice for being a super fit normal person.

6.MarathonMe- Motivational- This guy runs a marathon every month. Wow. He’s in the mix because blogs 1-5 are fairly anti-cardio. I love to run and bike, and I’m amazed at what he can do.

7.Get out there and run already- Another very motivational running blog. She’s another working mom who just happens to train hard and be really fast.

8.The Great Fitness Experiment- Looks like a mix of science and motivation. I honestly haven’t had the opportunity to read much on the site, but it seems like she tackles a lot of body image issues as well as health and fitness.

M- Spinning
T- Easy 6mi run
W- Spinning
Tomrorow- Turkey Trot 10k

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Weekend workout roundup

Now that I've got new format for the blog, I'm planning to devote the weekend to an update on running and to anything interesting going on for us in general.

This week was a pretty strong training week for me. I had a good interval workout Tuesday and tempo run Thursday. I think this was the first week where I really felt like the FIRST plan was really working as it was supposed to. Meaning that I felt refreshed and ready to work hard on Tuesday and Thursday rather than feeling like all my workouts were a steady grind. Yesterday's long run was not the best, but I got out there and did it.

But there was an important lesson in this. I had a bad workout on Saturday (at least in part) because I deviated from my training schedule. I ran on Friday even though, according to my plan, I should have swam or taken a rest day. The problem was that I let my eating habits throw everything off. We went out for pizza for a coworker's birthday on Thursday, and there was chocolate sitting around in the kitchen in the afternoon. Needless to say I overate on Thursday, and the anxiety of overeating caused me to over-exercise on Friday, which caused me to have a crappy workout Saturday.

An important part of training is keeping good notes (hence this blog and my training log) to see trends and identify what works and doesn't work. I need to keep in mind that what I eat isn't just about what seems appealing at the time, but that it can have a profound affect on my training. I need to eat in a way that allows me to be able to take my easy and rest days as they were meant to be taken. If I don't, then I ruin my hard days. Rather than trying to make exercise drive my diet and my body composition and running myself into the ground, I need to put my focus on my diet and let my training and body composition flow from that. I need to remember that, in the regression equation of what I look like predicted by what I do, r-squared for diet is .8 and r-squared for exercise is only .2. And getting that under control will let me rest and train hard without guilt.

And so begins my primal diet experiment. From today through Wednesday I'm going to experiment with not eating any grains or dairy (except for milk in my coffee). Four days was enough time to feel a big difference when I went off Diet Coke, but Thanksgiving is this Thursday, and we'll be in Chicago over the weekend so I'm allowing the experiment to end before then so I'm not setting myself up for failure. I figure one of a few things will happen.

1. I'll really feel a difference, either in my digestive health or mentally about what I'm eating, and I'll have no problem sticking with it.

2. The review will be mixed, and I'll try picking it back up again after the weekend.

3. It'll really suck, and I'll have to decide if I want to try to commit to doing it for two weeks (this was how long it took Joel Friel to feel better when he switched to paleo) to see if I can make the switch.

So even though I don't want to go on and on about it, I may put a little diet blurb down with my workout blurb if I have something interesting observation about it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I should have gone into bike sales...

A friend who does triathlons made a joke once that you can't spend less than $50 on anything involving cycling- even a water bottle.

And as far as I can tell, that's pretty much true. You'd think plunking down $1500 or $2500 on a road or tri bike would have you out the door, flying down some rural highway at 80mph, but you'd be wrong. Nooooohhhh... if you want to fly down some rural highway at 80mph without damaging your knees or nerves or getting horrible neck strain, you have to get said bike fitted (for another $300 or so, according to this NYT article).

Now don't get me wrong. I do an hour of spinning (riding on an indoor exercise bike with a group) twice a week. I know how uncomfortable a poorly adjusted bike can be. I've tinkered around with mine quite a bit this fall, and I still can't get through a ride without my knees down going numb. This does not make for a very effective final sprint.

I really really enjoy biking, but I don't have and probably won't buy (at least not until my future children are out of college) a good road or tri bike because it's just so darn expensive. The bikes are expensive, and they break, and maintenance is expensive. The fitting is expensive. The clothes are expensive. It's totally insane. I'd love to know if there's another sport out there that's more expensive than cycling. I'm having a hard time thinking of one. SCUBA? Gold collecting?

On a completely unrelated note, the high here today was 19 degrees.

On another completely unrelated note, the marching band is playing Run Around Sue, Brown Eyed Girl, and Crazy Train this afternoon.

6mi run easy
Walking to and from the meat lab

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Being different. Trying new things

As I've been searching around the internet, looking for possible blog posts, I've discovered there's a whole world of people out there dedicated to eating like early man. The idea (and it's not really a new one) is that our bodies evolved to eat lean meats and plants- not the dairy and grain we've started giving them since the dawn of agriculture. Even though we think of agriculture being around forever, there's actually even more forever in human history when it wasn't.

One of the best paleo/primal websites I've discovered is Mark's Daily Apple. Not only does Mark have great information and personal anecdotes on his site, he has a dedicated reader question section where you can ask him anything about fitness and nutrition (and he answers e-mails every quickly!)

All this leads up to the fact that I'd like to try moving toward a paleo/primal style diet. I have terrible problems with diet and strength training monogamy, but I do believe that playing around with your diet and exercise plans can help you find that "sweet spot" that really works for you. Maybe the reason I can't stick with dieting and strength training (as opposed to running and cycling which I enjoy tremendously) is that I haven't found programs that really fit my needs.

So what led me to decide to try to really overhaul my diet? And why now, right before the holidays? A few things, really.

1. It appeals to me because it's unconventional. I've started working out using the FIRST training plan. It's a totally unconventional approach to distance running- you only run 3 days and do some kind of non-weight bearing cross training activity (I enjoy indoor cycling) 2-3 days a week- but I'm having good results, and best of all, I'm enjoying my workouts even more. But the traditional approach to running says the only way to improve is to run every single day and always add more more more mileage. But that wasn't working for me. It was too hard on my body, and my hard days and easy days began to blend together into a boring sameness. So I do believe that sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and tell common knowledge it has to step aside for new thinking.

2. I gave up diet soda again 5 weeks ago. I think this is important for two reasons. The first is that, it used to be if I pricked my finger, I bled Diet Coke. I drank a ton of it, and I couldn't imagine giving it up. But I did. And even though I still have occasional cravings, I'll never go back to it again because of reason two: I found out it really hurt my stomach. It's weird because while I was drinking it, I had no idea it was causing the bloated feeling I got every once in awhile. Because I drank diet soda all the time, I didn't realize it was the cause of my discomfort. When I quit drinking diet soda, my midsection got smaller within a day or two. Even though I've gained about 5lbs and some body fat since the summer, I actually look leaner now just because I quit the soda. All this leads me to believe that I there are foods that I "can't live without" that I can live without, and I might feel a lot better without the grains and just not know it yet.

Mark's primal eating plan (see his site for the difference between primal and paleo) guides people to eat vegetables, fruits, lean protein, nuts, and oils, abstain from all grains and dairy, and keep carb grams low. He advises people, especially people who have been on very high carb diets like yours truly, to start making changes to gradually work toward those goals. This should help avoid the cloudy brain experienced by people who go low carb all at once. For athletes, it also helps to find the right amount of carbs to include in your diet (which is the fewest you can get away with while sustaining your workouts).

We still have some rice, pasta, tortillas, and oatmeal in the cupboard that need to be eaten or given away, but I'll be shopping for groceries this weekend with primal eating in mind. Thinking about it, there's a lot of our go-to dishes that would be easy to primal-ize. Two examples would be stirfry without sugary sauces or rice and fajitas without tortillas. And eating out at restaurants really isn't a big deal because the nicer ones almost always have a good salad option. Will it be hard and weird to go to Panera and not get a baguette? Will I feel like I'm missing out? Maybe at first, but I have to wonder if it will be like diet soda, and I'll feel so much better with grains out of my system that, even though I get cravings sometimes, I'll never go back to the dark side.

One final point about the diet. Mark says over and over again on his website that 80% of body composition comes from what you eat (and if you take a look at his pictures, he knows what he's talking about). I've been trying to make exercise be responsible for 80% of what my body looks like, an it just.isn't.working. Right now I feel like my diet causes me to have to exercise. What I want is to be able to say, "I think I need to take some time off. Good thing my diet will keep me from gaining weight."

So we'll see how it goes.

8mi with 5mi tempo
1 set of stairs
Upper body and abs???

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Scarlet C

Most people know that last summer New York City passed a law requiring restaurants with 15 or more outlets to post nutritional information for each menu item right next to its price. So a few months later, has the food climate in NYC changed?

This NYT story from late October gives a few anecdotes to show that it has. It describes how a mediocre seller at one restaurant became the #1 favorite once customers found out that the entree only had about 350 calories vs. the 600 or so in the former best seller. Some restaurants are switching to lower fat and calorie versions of their old recipes to prevent customers from going into sticker shock, and some are just reducing portion sizes to make their dishes seem healthier.

So is this a good idea? I think so, but probably not for the same reasons the New York City Council does. Sure educating the population is great, but this campaign taps into one of the timeless methods of changing human behavior: shame.

A Venti-size mint Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino® blended creme with chocolate including whipped cream has a whopping 680 calories and 21 grams of fat. Would you buy one if you had to see that nutritional information right next to the price? Yeah, maybe. But would you still buy one if everyone around you in line knew you were ordering a 680 calorie "coffee"? Or would that healthier 120 calorie sugar-free vanilla latte start to look a lot more appealing?

I can just imagine the battle of wills that would go on inside my own head:

Will The First: You want the chocolaty chip frozen goodness!

Will The Second: No, the barrista will judge you. She'll wonder if you can't read, don't understand Arabic numbers, or are on a suicide mission.

Will The First: But it's so much tastier than the sugar-free latte. Plus, sugar-free hurts your stomach.

Will The Second: That skinny girl ahead of you just ordered something with only 100 calories in it. You don't need more than that.

Will The First:
It's not that big of a deal. You rarely come here. You might as well treat yourself.

Will The Second: If you order that drink everyone in this entire Starbucks will know you are a fat slob with no self control.

At that point Will The First would probably give in. Maybe not to the sugar-free vanilla latte, but it could definitely compromise on something that wasn't so... over the top.

It sounds a little silly, but if you don't believe that public shaming works, just ask all the smokers who used to be cool and now have a "filthy habit."

60 min spinning
2 sets of stairs
lower body DVD, abs

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The healthiest diet in the world

Is the Mediterranean diet the healthiest diet in the world? Better than the 7th Day Adventists? Better than the diet of those 100-year-olds on Okinawa? The New York Times Health Experts seem to think so.

Writer Dr. Peter Libby, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chief of cardiovascular medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, bases this conclusion on a study released in September by the British Journal of Medicine. The NYT article says that, compared to other diets, individuals who eat a Mediterranean Diet are at a decreased risk of developing heart disease and cancer. Dr. Libby hypothesizes that the reason the diet works compared to others is that 1.It has genuine health benefits and 2.People can actually stick with it long term.

One important point: Although the NYT article makes it sound like the Mediterranean diet is being compared to other diets like Atkins, South Beach, DASH, etc., what is really being compared is adherence to the Mediterranean diet vs. non-adherence. Right now we'll have to suspend disbelief that there isn't a One True Mediterranean Diet.

Adherence to the diet was defined as doing more Mediterranean things (like eating fruits and vegetables, cereals, olive oil, a little red wine), and abstaining from non-Mediterranean things (like red and processed meats and dairy) than the average (median) person in the study. So say the median number of fruits eaten per day by study participants was 2. A person in the study who ate 3 fruits per day would earn a "Mediterranean point". If the median number of servings of red meat per week was 4and a participant ate 7, he or she would not get a "Mediterranean point". The idea is that people in the study with the most "Mediterranean points" were the healthiest.

Although the whole "studying diet as a whole rather than individual nutrients" movement is great, the part of the study design that interested me the most was its focus on compliance. One of the most difficult parts of doing a randomized controlled study on diet is figuring out what to do with the people who go off their diets- and many do.

If you randomize someone to Atkins, and they eat cookies everyday anyway and gain a bunch of weight, do you keep them in the Adkins group for analysis purposes or do you move them in the no-diet group? One argument says, "They sure weren't acting like they were on Atkins so we don't want their weight gain to mask the effects of Atkins on the people who actually complied." The other argument says, "If Atkins wasn't such a crappy diet, then that person would have complied. We need to know that there are people who try Atkins and gain weight because they can't/won't follow the rules."

All this does seem to lead to the conclusion that the benefits of the Mediterranean diet come from 1. Actual health benefits particular to the foods (from what we do know about the micronutrients, etc.) and 2. The fact that eating fruit, vegetables, cereal, olive oil and drinking wine is enjoyable, actually.

So what about the Adventists and the Okinawans? Maybe being vegetarian or eating seaweed and bean curds are just as healthy as the Mediterranean diet, but are not as easy to comply to. I don't think that's the real answer to why these diets weren't found to be the "world's healthiest", but I'll get to that in a minute.

A major limitation to the study is the way the study authors defined the Mediterranean diet. There are a lot of differences in the cultures and cuisines in that region. There is no One True Way. The authors say these regional/cultural differences wash out compared to the difference between what they call Mediterranean and non-Mediterranean.

However, when you get down to the fine print, what is really being studied here is compliance to a diet that these researchers have defined as good and have called Mediterranean. Maybe because the term is already mainstream? I'm not saying the diet of that region is didn't influence the selection of the study diet, but I am saying that those dietary practices are not exclusive to that region. If you look at other groups with low cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality rates, you see the same things: lots of fruits, veggies and grains, few red and processed meats and dairy.

So what's the healthiest diet in the world? The one you've heard about 1000 times before. Call it the no crap diet. There is a healthy way to eat, but I don't think this study shows that at any particular region "owns" it.

7mi with .75, .65, .5, .35, .25 mi intervals
2 sets stairs
upper body weights

Monday, November 17, 2008

Leave comments!

Recently I've had a couple people tell me they've enjoyed reading this blog, which is exciting because I do intend to "go public" with it (as in send out a mass e-mail to friends/family who I don't connect with via Runners World or Facebook to alert them of its existence) someday.

I've held off on doing that so far because I don't feel like the concept for the blog has gelled in my mind yet. I started it this past summer when I began doing speed training because interval feature in the training log I've been using wasn't exactly what I was looking for. I wanted more detail and fewer fields to fill out. But then I started thinking about the blog more as a way to share my life with people who are far away and also to practice writing about interesting things I've read.

Right now it's sort of a weird mish-mash of all three. Ideally it would be mostly reflection on topics that interest me with a daily update about my training and an every-so-often update (with pictures, etc) about my life. But then the problem becomes... exactly what do I write about? How do I pick topics? I'm trying to get in the habit of posting every day, and it becomes pretty tempting at 3pm to just naval gaze in order to have something to put on the page. Hence all the diet posts. But that's boring to everyone... even me!

So here is my request to anyone "out there": leave comments! Nice comments, please! Even if it's just to tell me you've read the blog. And let me know if you have any ideas about topics to post about or where you see the blog going. For example, someone asked me how I get up early every day. I could write about how I get up early and the pros and cons of being an early riser. Because there are definitely cons. I'm sure there comes a point when I blogger can basically generate his or her own ideas, but the good ones always respond to reader comments/questions. So readers, if you're out there, please say "hi."

2 sets of stairs
Lower body and core

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The weekend is always too short

It's 4pm on Sunday, and it feels like the weekend has flown by. Just when I get used to not having to get up at 5:30 and not having to be productive all day, it's time to turn around and get cranking again.

Yesterday was my long run day. I did 12mi in right under 1:48, which was exciting because it's the first time I've finished a long run with an average pace faster than a 9-minute mile. I'm still thinking about training and marathons, but I'm back to the idea of just doing Mad City in the spring. I don't see a huge benefit to any of the other marathons I've considered- or at least not one that's greater than not having to travel.

In order to celebrate fall (and push the Christmas craziness back a bit- at least in my mind), here are a couple pictures from Madison this fall. One is me right after I cut my hair, one is D. firing a gourd into a lake, and the last is our pumpkin for Halloween. Hopefully it's obvious which is which.

Friday, November 14, 2008

OMG. The weather is beautiful. Get me out of the office!

It's a quiet day at work and a beautiful day outside. You can't imagine how much I want to be out there. It has rained every single day for at least the last week, but today it's warm and sunny. And I am inside. Very sad, indeed.

I'm thinking that as long as the weather holds, ( seems to think it's nasty outside, but it's definitely not) I'm going to do another run after work and call it my long run for the week. I know that you don't get the real benefits of a long run if you split it in two, but I like to have one 12-miler in the log every week, and I don't think it'll matter too much if I fudge this one a bit. Besides, tomorrow we are supposed to be back to rainy, cold, windy, and nasty. I'll save a short run for that, thanks very much.

Also, I have so many great ideas for Christmas/baby shower gifts to make. I think from now on I'm designating Sunday as craft day. I should have my ornaments finished (or ready to be finished) by the end of the South Carolina game tomorrow so I can start on some new stuff. I can't say what they are right now, though, because someday I'm going to "go public" to friends and family with the blog, and I don't want to give away any surprises.

I'm excited because I love it when I see the perfect gift for someone and it's even better when I can take part in making it so it has that personal, memorable touch!

6mi in the am, hopefully 6 more this evening
Walk to work
No stairs (which is probably a large part of the reason I feel so antsy right now)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Big Fat Red Marks

Yesterday I had a big fat failure on my No S diet. I came home from work and the leftover cookie dough was just calling to me. It was screaming out for me to eat it. Nothing else would do. And I ate every last bit of it. And after dinner, because I’d already failed, I had a couple handfuls of white chocolate chips. After 2 weeks of compliance, I let myself say “screw it”.

So I’m going to take this opportunity to refocus myself. First I’m going to list my 5 biggest excuses and responses to them. Then I’m going to list 5 things I’m going to do to re-motivate myself.

Excuse Central:

Excuse: I’m not overweight. My clothes fit. I’m never going to be overweight.
Response: I gained 5lbs this fall with that kind of thinking. No, I don’t have a weight problem now, but I will if I keep gradually gaining 5lbs every 6 months.

Excuse: I need to fuel my runs.
Response: Taking weight off will help me get faster. Good runners are lean and they still have plenty of energy to train.

Excuse: But I like junk food.
Response: So does everyone else. That’s why I’m going to have a really great treat every week on my long run day and on holidays.

Excuse: I’m huuuuuungry.
Response: That’s why the no junk thing is so important. I don’t want to waste my calories on non-filling crap. Also, I think when I let myself eat really low fat for a long time I start to crave crap. So increase the healthy fats. Or I just distract myself until the next appropriate eating time.

Excuse: Once I’ve failed or if it’s a cheat day, I might as well go crazy.
Response: I do think it’s better for me to have just one designated cheat a week rather than a cheat day because cheat days are “go crazy” days for me.


Get the junk out of the apartment. If it’s not there, I generally don’t crave it.
Make a motivational collage I can look at in the morning and before I go to bed.
Weigh myself every day.
Track my calories on Daily Plate
Limit myself to one treat per week, but make it really really good.

8mi with 5mi slow tempo
1 set stairs
Upper body and Pilates videos

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day to everyone who is serving and who has served in our armed forces. This is the most free country in the world, and we owe a large debt to the men and women who have made that possible. Most just give the gifts of talent and time- letting the US military control their lives for a few years- but many give the gift of their lives. I guess by definition you can't be a vet and have been killed in war, but it seems appropriate to honor all of our service men and women today: both those who lived to be vets and those who didn't.

Today is also the 6th anniversary of "coupledom" for D. and I. I didn't plan anything special, but I think it's an important milestone to recognize at least verbally.

7mi with 4x800 at 6.6, and 3x6.7
As a side note: I'm trying a new experiment where I use a perceived exertion scale to pick paces when I do intervals on the treadmill (because I'm much slower on it than I am outside). So I tried to hit these intervals at a 7/10. I'm thinking 400s can be done at 8/10 and tempo at 6/10. Then, like I've been doing in spinning, I can adjust what my "7" is as I get faster. I'm actually hoping that I have a treadmill "epiphany" soon where I can run at my normal outside paces without it being soooo hard.

2 sets stairs
Walk on treadmill (it's nasty outside)???

Monday, November 10, 2008

Cost/benefit analysis

Conventional wisdom says that, to get the best value for your money, you should always buy in bulk, never buy small packages, and never never get anything out of the vending machine.

But is this always true? Can a case ever be made for buying something out of the vending machine, and moreover, is there ever a situation where it truly is the best value for your dollar?

Here’s the situation. I usually eat a carb-y snack in the afternoons, but because I’m trying to lose some weight, I don’t want to have a huge bag of pretzels or box of crackers lurking at home or in my office. So I have an optimization problem. How do I balance my desire to spend as little as possible on snack food with my desire to keep temptation at bay?

For comparison, one bag of pretzels from the vending machine costs $0.90. That’s $4.50 per week for snack food. Kind of pricy, but because of the price and the fact that I have to go all the way downstairs to get it, I only eat one a day.

A box of crackers from Trader Joe’s is about $2. It has 8 servings in it, and, in theory, should last me an entire week and has less than half the cost of a week’s worth of pretzels. Empirical evidence suggests otherwise. The last two weeks I’ve brought a box of crackers to work it’s been empty by the end of the second day. And then I bought pretzels the other three days. That adds up to $5.50. This is a bad deal for both my wallet and my waistline.

Pretzels in bulk have the same problem. It’s only about $2.50 for a large bag with about 17 servings. That’s a little more than 8 days worth of vending machine servings. Definitely a better deal, price wise, but I can guarantee you that I’d eat the whole thing in a week. So is it worth $2 for me to eat only 5 servings of pretzels per week rather than 8.5? I think so.

So using my own cost/benefit analysis, I believe that buying pretzels from the vending machine is definitely the best deal for my wallet and my waist.

Quick Diet Update- Rather than giving up pretzels and crackers and worry about what I can and can’t eat after dinner, I’ve worked out a weekday meal plan for myself. I’ll spare you the details because it’s not interesting, but I’ll be tracking compliance on my HabitCal now. And because I’m not going to track soda anymore, I’m going to start tracking No Gum. I feel like that’s a better replacement than eating after dinner, which is going to be covered under the meal plan anyway.

Recent workouts:

12mi in 1:48:28
Bikram’s yoga
Walk 2mi on treadmill
2 sets of stairs
Walk home
Upper body and core sections of DVD

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thankful Wednesday

Unlike many people, I thought both the candidates running for president would be a good choice, so I went to bed early last night knowing that I'd wake up happy with the result. President Obama it will be.

While I was walking home after a busy and productive day at work, I was thinking about all the things I'm thankful for. Here's a list of 5 big ones and 5 small ones.

Big Stuff:
1. My wonderful husband. He's always there for me through the good times and the tough times. He knows not to take me too seriously or let me take myself too seriously. And he can always make me laugh.
2. My family. Not only my parents, brother and extended family but my-inlaws as well. I'm so lucky to have people who care about me and support me unconditionally.
3. My job. Evidently a lot of people applied for this position, and somehow they chose me. Any time I think I don't want to go to work on a Monday I remember how sad and useless I felt during the long periods I wasn't working.
4. Our home. We have a warm, clean, safe place to live. Our community is really pretty isolated from the rest of the city so the only people who come here belong here. It gives a sense of safety that I doubt I'd get anyplace else in the city. No worries about leaving my clothes in the laundry room or running out for a minute without locking the door.
5. My health. Sometimes I feel down about not having a "perfect" body, but mine is healthy and strong and allows me to do things (like run 2 marathons) that many people with "better bodies" couldn't dream of doing.

Little Stuff:
1. Beautiful 70-degree weather in Wisconsin in November.
2. Being able to walk to and from work.
3. Being serenaded by the marching band each afternoon.
4. Cooking and baking, especially when something I make turns out unexpectedly good.
5. Going to bed early and reading. I love that I can do that.

60 min spinning
2 sets of stairs
walk home from work

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

No real post for me today. I'm going to watch the election hoopla and homefully do a few pushups and get another ornament finished.

I did do my first speed workout in awhile. This was workout from the FIRST marathon training program. See below for details. I didn't hit the split times, but the book says that's pretty normal the first time you do it. The first mile was kind of slow, but the second two are about what I'd expect.

7mi with 3x1mi (8:13min/mile, 7:58 min/mile, 7:52 min/mile)
Walk home

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thoughtful Monday

I was hoping that yesterday's sermon would inspire my post today, but not so much...

However, I found this post on the Carrie and Danielle that had this advice about dealing with people in everyday life: Remember that you never really know what someone else is going through. That jerk honking at you when the light turned green .005 seconds ago- maybe he just found out his wife was cheating on him. The waitress who forgot to bring you a refill 3 times. Maybe she just found out her mom has cancer.

I know I'm guilty of snap judgments when someone does something to "wrong" me, and it makes my blood pressure rise about 5 points. There are some things that a stranger (or friend or loved one) has done to irritate me or hurt my feelings that I still haven't gotten over even years later. But that only hurts me. Letting go is healing, and letting go immediately is the way to good emotional health.

So I will start trying to make my response to an irritation be, "I don't know what they're going through." Even if my initial reaction is to get angry, I'll try to stop, take a step back, and remind myself that whatever happened probably had nothing to do with me, and I should cut this person some slack. Wouldn't I hope others would do the same for me?

2 sets of stairs
Walk home from work
Home strength training

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Value of a Dollar

Whereas it helps me to write when I have a predetermined topic, and

Wereas I want not to bore everyone too much by writing about the same things over and over again,

I hereby declare Saturday's topic as Running and General Fitness and Sunday's topic as Financial Stuff.

Some ideas I'm still throwing around for Monday-Thursday are: Spirituality, health news, personal organization, being a good steward of the environment on a budget- and hey, that's four ideas. So maybe I'll work with that unless I come up with something better.

But the point of this post is how developing a budget really made me stop and think about how I value money and how I use it. Now that D. is back in school, finances are much tighter than they were when we were both working. Before saving just happened because we weren't running out and buying big screen TVs and personal watercraft each weekend. Now I'm afraid if we don't consciously put money aside each month, we just won't.

After we determined how much to put aside for savings, we had to decide what was important to us. Obviously paying the bills, but then what? Fitness is important to us so that needed to go in the budget. Some money needs to be allocated for clothing, food, household stuff, gifts (especially with Christmas right around the corner), gas, travel, and the other things that always seem to come up (like getting our electric mattress pad laundered). Not only was this a good exercise for our financial health, but it led to some major introspection (at least for me).

Here are the two major things I learned about myself while working on the budget:

1. Taking a closer look at how spending in one category decreases what I have in another really made me think about what I value.

One example is clothing. I've been trying to put together a more adult, work appropriate wardrobe now that I'm a "grown up". Both my parents and in-laws have generously contributed to this. I really started getting into waching What Not to Wear and enjoying shopping for new clothes and purses, etc.

Before, when I didn't think about where money was going, I'd buy something if I liked it because I don't have expensive tastes or shop much, and we always had more than enough. But now I really see the tradeoff. What would bring me more happiness? A new outfit or to save that money to take a trip with D? I already have plenty of clothes that I like, that fit and are appropriate for work. Why should I just accumulate more of the same when I could do something really special with that money?

Also, I've noticed is that I only want that stuff when I see it. Turn off What Not to Wear and throw away the catalogs, and I'm much more content with what I have.

2. How "expensive" a think is depends a lot on how conscious you are about how much you are spending.

I could also call this the Yoga and the Coke Machine Phenonomenon. Really what I was thinking of is Massages and the Coke Machine, but Yoga has a nicer ring to it. At the end of last month I was having a lot of pain in my right lower back and hip. This happened to me once before, and I let it get away from me and develop into a real problem. But one heavy duty massage and a lot of stretching made it go away. So faced with the same problem, I really wanted to get a massage to try to loosen it up. But massages are expensive. And you know they are expensive because you see that you are paying more than a dollar a minute for something that has a luxury connotation to it.

Contrast that with the vending machines down stairs. It's really easy to walk down to the vending machine each day and grab a soda and a snack. There's no luxury connotation, and it's easy to go down there and feed dollars in because "it's cheap".

But really, what is more expensive? The massage or the vending maching? And what has greater value? One really good massage a month costs $65. Now let's say I get 1 20oz soda for $1.50 each day and buy one snack for $1 each week day at work. How much is that? $65. The point is that I'd always assume that the massage was way too expensive becuase I knew how much it cost. The cokes and pretzels were fine because I had no idea how expensive they really were. So what would I rather have? The massage, definitely!

The same is true for yoga. The yoga studio we are going to on a trial basis has community classes on the weekends for $8 a piece. That sounds really expensive. But that's about the same price we pay for lunch out on Saturdays without blinking an eye. What is more important? What is more beneficial to us? I'd say the yoga classes, for sure.

Swiming lesson

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Well, my 5k today did not go very well. I thought I felt good and prepared. I thought I pushed myself. But I finished in a pretty abysmal 26:10ish. Even worse than the Homecoming 5k. It was on grass and they did have us run up this Indian burial mound deal, but still... I used the course as an excuse last time. It seems pretty lame to do the same this time.

It's funny because, even though I'm slightly dissappointed, I'm not really that upset about it. I guess I should be happy that I'm not ruining my day dwelling on it. I just need to use this as motivation to train harder during the week and get prepared for the Burbee Derby. I was thinking about doing the 10k, but right now I just want to do well in a 5k because I feel like that's what I've been focusing on this fall. That race is basically my last shot before the end of the year.

Well, I'm going to go watch the UF/GA game and work on some ornaments.

2.4mi warm up
3.1mi race
2.5mi cool down