Something Is Not Right

Today’s Happy Note: Catching up on most of my schoolwork.  Okay, so the actual act of doing the work isn’t “happy”, but having it done makes me happy.  So there.  I deem it worthy of a happy note. 🙂

Sorry to have disappeared on you friends!  I truly wish I could blog every night and it makes me sad that sometimes I have to hit the books instead. I have quite a lot of reading this semester, but not a lot of assignments.  This means that it is quite tempting to put off the reading, but then when the assignments come around, I would be screwed.

I know I have talked about priorities before (blah, can’t find the post), but I have been reorienting myself the past few days.  School already was a priority, but it needs to be even more of one.  I just kind of need to grit my teeth and get it done.  Meh.

Anyone else out there feeling mid-semester blues/overwhelmed?

I saw something fun on Angela’s Blog today!  Apparently, it is National Love Your Body day today.  I’ll get to that in a minute…

First, I have some training notes to catch you all up on!

1. Monday: I did an easy 25 minutes of weight lifting followed by my easy yoga class (it’s for school).  The instructor wears sweatpant booty shorts.  He is a man.  That is all.  My body was grateful for the easy day.

2. Tuesday: Was supposed to be nine miles of speedwork.  I really didn’t want to do it during the day and finally set out around six, planning to stay on the streets.  But it just didn’t feel right.  My body was moving in all the wrong ways — my lower legs seemed to be doing something completely different from my knees, which were doing something completely different from my quads.  You get the picture.  I listened to my body!  This is something that I have really struggled with in terms of exercising, so I was proud of myself.  I cut the run short and did four miles, with 5×100 strides in the last mile.

3. Wednesday: I figured I would just get in my nine miles today.  But.  Again, something wasn’t quite right.  Mostly, I was terribly tired.  I couldn’t seem to get out of bed in the morning or after my afternoon nap.  So I just did my easy yoga class. That was it.  Taking it this easy is hard for me!  I feel a lot of guilt.  But I know that taking the rest is a good idea.

I think there are three reasons why I struggle with guilt when I don’t workout hard everyday:

1. I tend to have an all-or-nothing mindset.  I feel like I’m either completely sedentary all day (in reality, this isn’t true) or insanely active.  I struggle to find an appropriate balance.

2. I overexercised at an unsustainable level for years — I think this is tied to the ways in which I was active as a child and adolescent.  From when I was four until I was fourteen, I was a gymnast.  The last few years of that, I would practice about 20 hours a week.  Then in high school, I did diving, track, and swimming (sometimes at the same time).  I would often be working out for hours a day — senior year, I swam for 3-5 hours a day during the fall season.  Thus, my expectations for physical activity were shaped unrealistically at a formative age, and thus it is truly difficult for me to understand that not working out that much is okay — normal people in the real world do not typically work out for more than two hours a day.  Even an hour is more than enough.  I think that, for me, mentally, moderate exercise is actually best.

3. I still feel the need to “make up for” everything I eat.  I probably eat slightly more than the average 20 year old female college student (although really I have no way of knowing this).  But I really am running a lot, and I also have a significant amount of muscle mass.  Regardless, I feel like if I don’t run 6+ miles a day, I am just another slovenly, greedy American who overeats and doesn’t move.

A few weeks ago, L pointed out to me that I would never say the things I say to myself (in my head) to another person. I would never, ever be that cruel to someone else.  So why do I do it to myself, over and over again? I don’t know.

I think this post is going in a slightly different direction that what I intended.  That’s okay though, since these are the things I need to talk about.  FYI: the rest of this post is about weight and related health concerns/body image issues. Please feel free to skip this part.

I typically weigh myself every 1-2 weeks.  Sometimes I go even longer, maybe every 3-4 weeks.  I am not obsessive about it and don’t record it or anything.

But.

I did weigh myself this Monday and a pattern clearly emerged. Or maybe the pattern has been there for a while but I just noticed it.  Whatever.  Thee point is simple: I have been gaining weight at a rate of almost exactly 1 pound per week since leaving the hospital.  It’s been just over three months, so approximately twelve weeks.  I have gained 12-14 pounds.  I was already a few pounds over my “happy weight”; I would estimate that I have about 17 pounds to lose at the moment.  This is very scary for me.  Very scary for me.

The reason it is so terrifying is that, as far as I can tell, it is something that is either largely or entirely out of my control. Something is wrong in my body.  I know my body and I know when something isn’t right.

Well, something isn’t right.  This weight doesn’t make sense.  I should not have gained 14 pounds since I left the hospital.  Not only have I been training for a marathon, but I have also been fairly careful to keep my eating in check.  I stopped taking birth control as soon as I was diagnosed with my pulmonary emboli. I am not a doctor (in fact, I pretty much suck at science in general), but to me, it seems like the birth control was doing something in my body that was good, and now that it has been taken away, something is going unchecked and rampant in me.

I saw the women’s health Nurse Practitioner at my school a few weeks ago (is it weird that there are a grand total of zero gynecologists for a college student/grad student population of like 30,000 students????).  I basically told her the same things I am telling you guys.  Something doesn’t make sense.  I want to know what is going on.  And, unlike many health conscious young people, I have no aversion whatsoever to medications.  I would happily take several medications, daily, if it would fix this.  I already take about four medications a day — I have several more types too.  I joke to people that I have my own pharmacy.  Taking pills really doesn’t bother me, nor do I feel like I’m somehow polluting my body. They’re pills. Scientists made them to help us, for the most part. It actually kind of bothers me when people get all purist and shit and say “oh, I don’t take pills, I don’t put chemicals in my body, I treat things naturally.”  Great — it’s really nice to know that you have never been burdened with serious medical conditions that require drugs.  I am so happy for you.

Okay, so that was completely tangential.  I’m a writer.  What can I say.  I like talking.

Getting back to the main storyline here.  The NP I saw referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist.  I called her office a week or two ago and she isn’t taking new patients until January.  I am not trying to wait that long, so I got a referral to someone else.  I will schedule the appointment tomorrow.  Hopefully, it will be in the next few weeks.  This is causing me a lot of anxiety, as you can tell.  I want to get to the bottom of it.  Fast.

Unfortunately, medicine doesn’t always work that way.  Our bodies don’t always work that way.  Sometimes they do not want to reveal their secrets, even when their secrets are hurting us.  I hate how medicine is simultaneously so scientific and so unpredictable.  Anyone else find this duality unsettling?

My guess is that, starting after the marathon, we are going to have to do some serious screwing around with my diet and medications.  Probably accompanied by some serious blood tests.  I may have a weird adrenal disorder.  I may have PCOS.  I may not have it.  I may have pre-diabetes.  I may have some bizarre hormonal problem.

So, things are complicated.  I know that’s a really lame conclusion, but it’s all I have for now.  And I need desperately to share my struggles.  Thank you for listening! 🙂

One other note: Any inquiry into/treatment of my hormonal/adrenal/endocrine problems is severely constrained by my history of PE and accompanying clotting disorder.  I cannot take any hormones.  I cannot take anything that might interfere with my Warfarin.  I cannot take anything that  might predispose me to further clotting.

I truly am sorry for unloading all of this on you guys.  But I just need to get it out there.  USB has been amazing about it all — I never would have thought a love interest would be interested in my bizarre medical problems.  Especially not when they make me fat.  But he listens to me and soothes me and tries to help me in whatever way he can.

So.  The Love Your Body post shall be saved for tomorrow, I think.

I’ll leave you with my latest purchase!  I’m going to be wearing these on marathon day!

Katie is giving away a massive amount of Artisana. I want it.  Bad.

Anyone out there, by any chance, happen to have a simultaneous history of PE and PCOS/unidentified endocrine disorder? I know it’s a long shot — I haven’t met anyone else with this combination of problems.  But if you have had similar experiences, I would be thrilled if you would let me know your story!

For everyone else, what is the most frustrating health experience you have had?

What are you grateful for about your health?

I’m grateful for my body’s tremendous ability to untangle its clots.  Seriously.  The clots are long gone by this point.

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It’s All Mental (And Physical!)

Today’s Happy Note: Sunbutter.  I know that sunflower seed butter is made from a kind of a modified sunflower seed and has some added sugar and oils.  But I. Don’t. Care.  It is my new favorite nut butter and I am in love.  Nut butter heaven.  If that is a real place, I am so going there.

Marathon Training: Yesterday was a day off running.  I did about 15 minutes of yoga then lifted my beloved weights for 45 minutes. I really do love weight-lifting.  It’s oddly relaxing.  Anyone with me on this?

Today was a speed workout day.  It may officially have been the longest speed workout of my life:

2 mile warm-up

4 x (2 mile @ Tempo pace, 1/2 mile easy)

2 mile cool-down

It ended up being a whopping 14 miles! That’s longer than my long run on Sunday.  It was a really good workout — I felt strong and fast, but not too fast; I think I paced myself pretty well.  I definitely needed a succesful workout, mentally.  I was super anxious to get started and have been feeling a bit down about running lately.  This brought my spirits back up! I estimated the distance for the fast portions using the street numberings on lamp posts in CP (a well-kept but amazing secret — the first two numbers on any lamp post correspond to the street cumber you are at, and there are 20 blocks to a mile).

An awesome mid-week workout, although 14 miles is kind of a time-suck.

All-Around Health

I want to talk a little bit about the intersections between mental and physical health today.  I think that it’s easy to become too focused on the physical aspect of health: mainstream media frequently portrays a narrow, singular conception of health which is framed largely around the exclusion of non-physical elements.  For example, you see advertisements at drug stores with people working out at a gym and eating salads and taking supplements.  Or there are segments on news shows telling us “how to get healthy” by doing this new exercise or eating this new superfood. One of the reasons I think that Caitlin’s book, Operation Beautiful, is wonderful (and has been so successful) is because it addresses a legitimate need for emotional health information and empowerment, both amongst individuals who already consider themselves to be relatively healthy(e.g., bloggers) and amongst those who don’t know where to start, physically or emotionally. I try to deal with things holistically, although I am not always successful.  But the fun part is the journey, not perfection.

In the last two years, I have had a physical health crisis and a mental health crisis.  My experiences with each were very different, but both were powerfully formative for my conception of myself — I learned so much about my unique strengths and talents from each.  I began to understand my way of seeing the world; where I fit into things.  I think these crises helped me to figure out love — how to love myself and others.  I am not saying that you need to have a crisis in order to take care of yourself though!  There are simple things that we can all do, everyday, to make our lives the best they can be.  After all, I think that’s what health is about: living our happiest, most vibrant lives.

If my years in college have taught me anything, thus far, it is that I need to take the time to be healthy.  Taking time for myself has saved my life.

Before talking about the spaces between emotional and bodily health, I want to share some research/articles on the matter.  Some of these are more scientific than others, but I think that they all involve a good overview on the relationship or specific facets of the relationship.

How Does Exercise Improve Mental Health?

Psychoendoneuroimmunology — relationship between stress and mental coping skills and somatic illness

Meditation Can Boost The Immune System

Exercise As an Antidepressant

Finding Thinner Peace II — eating right for our mind and body

Exercise, Mental Health, and Mental Ability

The Connection Between Mental and Physical Health — great roundup of articles

Improving Emotional Health — a more general but still useful overview of emotional wellbeing and its intersections with physical indicators

Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health — this has almost nothing to do with bodily health, but is a comprehensive overview of mental health (including disorders)

Most of these articles focus on the relationship between mental health and exercise.  I think this is certainly important, but it would be shallow to consider it the only significant aspect of the way our emotional and bodily health intersect.

For me, physical health means a constellation of things: regular exercise/movement (running, yoga, and weights), a good diet full of lots of plants, protein, and healthy fats, regular communication with my doctors, management of my clotting problem and my hormonal/endocrine disorders, and generally taking care of my body — proper rest, attention to appearance, stretching, etc.

Mental health also means a variety of things, for me: managing my depression/anxiety/mood, actively seeking happiness and contentment, healthy social relationships and connections, a sense of calm/inner peace/spirituality, and a general awareness of my place in the world.

By no means do I think that people conceive of physical and mental health in the same ways.  Even a more generic inquiry into “health” would yield vastly different responses from similar individuals.  My point here is to notice and acknowledge what being physically and emotionally healthy means, for me, and to think about how these definitions relate and overlap and inform one another.

There is a certain calmness that washes over me on occasion.  It happens when I feel best about my body and content with my life.  It represents my ultimate healthy state. In it I feel alert, safe, and well.  I notice what my body is thinking and wanting and what my mind is thinking and wanting.  Sometimes these things are different, and that’s okay.  I accept myself for where I am at in that moment.  I am exquisitely attentive yet also tuned out from the rest of the world.  My body has moved sufficiently and been well-fed, and my intellect has been active and my emotions have been even-keeled.  This is, I suppose, my ideal intersection point.

Of course, this is not my everyday reality.  No one who knows me well would ever think to describe me as a calm or collected person.  I can be hysterical or just plain crazy.  On a regular basis.

My thought patterns have a huge effect on how I feel, physically.  When I notice that I am harshly judging myself and hating my body, I tense up — I can feel the pit of my stomach clenching and my shoulders hovering up by my ears.  Or, for another example, when I hear from my doctor that my INR is too low (for the third time in two weeks, as was the case today), I start panicking.  My thoughts race, I can’t do school work, I am suddenly unhappy.

I wish I had a graph or something scientific whereby I could chart the precise overlap of my mental and physical health over a given period of time.  For now, vague descriptions like this will have to do.  All I know, in conclusion, is that there is a connection between my body and mind beyond my spinal cord: yes, my spine runs into my brain stem which opens up into the cerebrum.  But something more is happening here.  I have a sudden change in mood after a quick, sweaty run.  I feel different sensations in my chest and lungs and stomach when I have more fulfilling interactions with those around me.

I think the conclusion is that I don’t know precisely what is going on.  Rather, I am attuned to the patterns and the existence of the connection.  And I think that the details of this connection are probably different for different people.

And that’s okay.

How do mental and physical health intersect for you?  Or you more appreciative of one over the other?  How do you balance the varied roles that they play in your life?  What would you change, if you could?

Marathon Training Thoughts + The Best Thing I Ate Today

Today’s Happy Note: Rain!  I love rain — my favorite type of weather by far.  It makes the air cool and grey and calm and lovely.

Marathon Training: So.  My alarm went off at 6:05 this morning.  I felt like a slab of concrete — there was no way my body was getting any further than the end of my bed to turn off my alarm.   I figured I could sleep another two hours and then do the 12 miles after work.  Got home from work and listened to my body, which wanted a snack and a nap.  I rarely genuinely feel like not running.  A lot of times I am just being lazy, but I really don’t think that was the case today.  I just could not move.  I ended up sleeping for another two hours and woke up still exhausted.  My body was telling me something.  I still wanted to move, just not run.  I headed to the gym in the late evening for an hour vinyasa yoga class and a half an hour of arm weights. It was exactly what I needed.

Do you get obsessive about exercising a certain way everyday — like if you don’t follow whatever is on the “plan”, something terrible will happen? I used to be like that but realized how unhealthy and restrictive it was.  Not to mention that it was just annoying and boring to feel like I had to do a certain thing for a certain amount of time on a certain day.  There is a fine line between following a training plan for a race (in my case, the NYC Marathon) and becoming obsessive about things.  It can be a little hard to figure out what works, but I think I am getting there by both listening to my body and making sure that I keep my training plan in mind.

Thoughts?

I have decided that, for my mental and physical sanity, I am going to take a macro-view of my marathon training plan, like Caitlin. I still fully intend on getting all of the runs I have planned for any given week done, I am just going to be flexible about it.  If I need to switch things around a bit, it is not the end of the world.  As long as I don’t end up with two long runs in a row I will be fine.

I do fully plan on attacking this baby tomorrow though!  Wish me luck — this will be the longest I have run since before I was in the hospital the first time.

Just realized none of my pictures from today uploaded.  Grrrr.  I am far too lazy (and tired) to do it again.  Which means this post is officially pictureless.

I will tell you about the best thing I ate today though.  Because I can do that.

Fage 2% yogurt (NEVER going back to the fat-free version again; low-fat Greek yogurt will change your life, if it hasn’t already) with a spoonful of honey, cantaloupe and a drizzle of Justin’s cinnamon peanut butter (I think it has been discontinued — this was an old packet).

I used to not use honey that often.  But I think it might be my favorite sweetner.  I’m pretty sure it isn’t going to kill me.

Fun Caronae fact: I am actually deathly allergic to bees/hornets/wasps/yellow jackets.  But I could eat honey all day long!  Other allergies: mollusks (NOT shrimp), nickel, and narcotics!

What are you allergic to?

Alright.  I’m going to sign off before this post gets any more random.

Workout/Eating Habits

Today’s Happy Note: I’m in tune with my body!  I noticed a lot of other women in yoga class really struggling to connect with their bodies and realized how close I am to my own body.  I wasn’t judging them or anything, just noticing.  I know where my joints are, the way things move.  I have years of gymnastics, running, swimming, and now yoga to thank for this.

Workout: Thought about kick-boxing, but my heart wasn’t in it, so I skipped it and did 30 minutes of seriously heavy arm weights and an hour yoga class at the gym.  I really enjoyed the yoga class at the gym, actually.  Sometimes the studio feels a  little pretentious and tiresome and elitist.  Also walked a mile or two.  I have a hard speed workout for tomorrow so I’m conserving some energy. 🙂

Workouts are not always going to be joyfully fun, but you shouldn’t ever force yourself to do something that you just don’t want to do.  I have so many friends who ask me things like, “how are you so healthy when you’re so busy?” or “how do you make yourself workout all the time?”

Well, first of all, I think we need to change the way we look at “working out” or “exercising.”  For me, it is not an hour of my day where I drag myself to the gym, force myself to get through a boring routine, and then come home and watch TV.  Working out is a part of my life.  It’s as integrated into the way I live as eating or writing or going to class or work.  Further, I would get pretty tired of working out too if I spent an hour on the elliptical at the gym everyday. I think it’s actually pretty easy to work some movement into your day: it might be an hour and a half walk in the evening or an early yoga class or half an hour of dancing in your room.

It takes anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to form a habit.  I am lucky in that I was very active in high school and carried that pattern relatively easily into college,so I didn’t have to start from scratch (like I have had to with my emotional eating patterns).  Many people struggle to workout in college — but I think of it as a little escape from the schoolwork.  When you look at it as an important part of your day that will help you focus better and think more clearly, you’re less likely to skip out.

Eats:

Look!  My lentils are crawling on my tofu like ants.  I couldn’t help but share my adorable lunch find with my coworkers.

Probably didn’t need the small bowl of granola pictured above right but whatever.  I have found that eating 4-6 (depending on my activity level) meals of about 400 calories each.  A 100-200 calorie snack is always too small for me, while a 600-700 calorie lunch or dinner feels too big.  I am really enjoying this way of eating — I don’t follow any rules or plans and don’t deny myself if I’m hungry.  This just seems to work, for now.  And when it doesn’t work, I’ll change things up.

Goodnight goodnight goodnight!  Time for me to sleep.  Even though I took a nap like five hours ago.  Don’t judge.

Happy Tuesday!

Recommitting

Today’s Happy Note: It’s the weekend.  Somehow, four day work weeks always feel especially long.  My body never quite gets into the right rhythm.  I haven’t been this excited about a weekend in a long time.  With that said, I am feeling 95% better and am planning on enjoying this weekend and cramming it full of goodness and such.

The combination of recovering from a serious illness and the unbearable heat/humidity has left me exhausted. If I had to draw a picture of the way I feel right now, it would be a maple tree being tapped for syrup.  Endless syrup would be flowing out of an open gash in the tree until it was sucked dry.   I am the empty tree.

Bad tree metaphors aside (I have a minor obsession), I. Hate. Summer.  I am ready for it to be over.  My favorite season is fall, followed by spring, winter, and summer, at a distant last.  I overslept this morning, was late for work, and was still too drained after work to do anything besides collapse on my bed and sleep for three hours.  I had made plans for a quick run, yoga, and a meet up with a friend. Tired Caronae=Weakling Caronae=Anti-Social Caronae=Frustrated Caronae. Therefore when I am tired like this I end up frustrated.

I can’t even describe to you the amount of guilt I feel after a few days sans exercise.  I walk about two miles every day getting to/from work and doing errands.  But in my mind, it doesn’t “count.”  Regardless of whether it counts, I want to be moving.  It’s a healthy outlet that relieves my frustration.

So I am making a recommitment to my health. Less mindless eating, more fun exercise.  More fresh fruits and veggies (although my digestion is still not back to 100%, so this will happen slowly), less lying on the couch in a half-dead position watching TV.  Pretty simple.  This is NOT an obsessive goal or a calorie-counting goal or even a weight loss goal (although that might be nice since I did gain weight while sick).  This is just me consciously recommitting to the healthy lifestyle that I know I truly enjoy.  I am giving myself guidelines, not rules.  My goal is to have more energy and to feel better about myself.

Guidelines:

  • Water.  Drink it.  A lot.  I have a 32 ounce bottle and would like to get through it at least twice a day.
  • Strength training: 2-3 times a week.  Lifting makes me feel strong and toned and is, quite simply, fun.
  • One exercise class a week: this is a nice way to switch things up.
  • Cardio: 4-6 times a week.
  • Yoga: 1-2 times a week.
  • Positive self-talk (“gee  Caronae, you look great in this dress today!”): infinite times per week.
  • Real meals: no picking.  Sit down and eat the damn meal.  More veggies and real food in the evenings (this is where I really struggle).
  • Take advantage of the weekends: come up with some new, awesome, longer workouts.

So that’s the plan, roughly.  I might add more guidelines as I go along.  We shall see.  If any readers want to join me, that would be fun! It’s always nice to feel like you are doing a challenge with a friend.

Anyone have any recommendations?  I am certainly open to your suggestions!  What are your favorite ways to “get back on track”?

Okay.  Enough boring stuff.  Onto more important things:

Like blueberry banana smoothies:

And Mr. Softee ice cream cones (this was my Cookie Friday, although really, the whole rest of the day ended up being a Cookie Friday of sorts.  See recommitment plan above.)

Cherry-dipped ice cream cones is one processed thing I will never give up.  Another thing: the occassional goldfish (not the swimming kind, the cute little snacking kind).  Someone had these in our office today and my hand kept sneaking into the bag.  I’m sure they can’t be that bad for me.

The up-closeness of this photo is cleverly designed to disguise the size of my portion.  Which was big.  But I was feling genuinely snacky.  I balanced it out with a power lunch!

Delicious salad beast with spinach, peppers, carrots, plain raw tofu (surprisingly yummy) and sweet poppy seed dressing.

What was your Cookie Friday treat today?

Off to write!  Goodnight and happy weekend!

April Fitness Fun

Today’s Happy Note: Coming home after work and class and not immediately passing-out or eating carbs!  Normally this is a bad habit for me on my longer days (I think it’s a sort of stress-induced exhaustion), but today I did my workout instead, then cooked a nice dinner and savored it!  Score one for stress management.

Exercise: I did levels 2 and 3 of the 30 Day Shred this evening.  Doing more than one level at once is actually really hard!  I was screaming at miss Jillian and dripping with sweat by the end.  I used to scoff at the idea of having a good 45 minute workout, but this felt really effective.  I was planning on doing half an hour of strength followed by six miles of speedwork at the gym, but I wasn’t feeling it.  Does anyone else really hate the gym?  Maybe it’s just because mine is crowded, dirty, smelly, and not that great.  And there aren’t any cool classes.  Blech.  I can’t wait until I’m in the “real world” with a real job and can have a real gym membership.  Scary to think that all of that is only a little over a year away from now!

April Fitness Goals: While I certainly get plenty of exercise, I want to spice up my routine a bit!  Running 40 miles a week with the occasional yoga class get’s boring.  And my muscles are ready for something new…

1. Strength training twice a week for half an hour.  This should be manageable; I’ve already done more strength since the half than I have all year (hahaha) and I feel so much stronger!  Plus, I like feeling like I can keep up with the boys in the weight room, and that I’m just one of those silly cardio-only girly girls.

2. HIIT twice a week for half an hour.  Old, body dysmorphic Caronae would have said “only half an hour; yeah right, that’s nowhere near enough cardio!  Don’t even think about it!”  New, happier Caronae says “sometimes a 30 minute interval sesh can be really effective and makes me feel strong and fast!”

3. Continue tracking calories and not mindlessly snacking in the evening.  I’ve been doing well with this lately and have noticed that a lot of times when I reach for something tasty to munch on, I’m not really hungry!

This is my version of an April shape-up plan.  I want to feel even more confident than I already do when I go swimsuit shopping and go to the beach.  I want this spring and summer to be the happiest time of my life, and taking care of myself physically is one of the best ways to achieve that.  I think I’ll include some mental health goals tomorrow!  Other things I’m going to focus on include drinking more water and getting more protein.

Gotta make this post short and simple so I can get to bed.  I am going to try to wake up early for a long run tomorrow morning.  I want it to be far enough out from my ultra that my legs are well-rested!

I’ll leave you with pictures of my Trader Joe’s goodies that arrived today (I sent some to myself when I was home for spring break).  It was a nice little surprise 🙂

I’m most excited about my Naturally Nutty honey cinnamon pb (not from TJ’s), chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate raspberry trail mix.  Yum!

Do you have a favorite grocery store?  Local or chain?  Specialty or discount?  Around the corner or a long drive away?

Good Old Sunday Exercise and Eats

Today’s Happy Note:

This is a black cherry steaz bottle cap.  My last one said “I am powerful.”  I think they’re kind of great, and they make me feel happy and strong and unique.  What more could I ask of a bottle cap?  Thank you, steaz!

Workout:

I listened to my body today and she said she did not want to run.  So I didn’t!  I headed to the gym and did 25 minutes of serious weight lifting followed by 30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training on the elliptical.  I first heard about HIIT a few years ago and then was inspired to try it by Janetha.  Basically, HIIT involves a brief warm-up followed by 15-20 minutes of intervals that alternate from easy to, well, high intensity.  Pretty self-explanatory.  You can vary the ratio of hard to easy depending on how you feel; wikipedia suggests 2:1, I have seen 4:1, and currently, I’m at 1:1.  I would do a minute relatively easy (think “jogging” pace) followed by a minute of everything I’ve got.  I kept this up for 20 minutes, followed by a five minute cool-down.

This sounds easy, and the concept certainly is, but let me tell you it is KILLER.  The sprints make it feel like a great workout (and it is) in a small amount of time.  It is, I believe, supposed to burn more fat and be good for anaerobic capacity.

I like to do supersets when I strength train.  This means I pick a group of four to five exercises, and I rotate through them.  So round one consists of, for example:

Superset 1:

12 captain’s chair crunches

6 pull-ups (I can only do 6, even with plenty of assistance)

12 V-ups

12 real-delt rows

I then rotate through the set three times.  I like to alternate arms, abs, and legs so that each muscle group gets a little rest but then has to work again.  I am not sure how scientific this is, but it works for me.  I usually do 3-5 supersets like the one above.

After my power hour at the gym I went to a yoga class at The Shala.  I wasn’t trying to be exercise-obsessive; this is the only time of week for the donation-based (read: inexpensive) class and I like to take advantage of my weekends to do actual yoga classes.  By the end of class, I was exhausted.  After lunch  I took a nice long nap instead of being productive. 🙂

I saw this wonderfully concise and truthful quote in Oprah magazine today and wanted to share with you guys:

“Exercise should be a habit, like brushing your teeth.  It wouldn’t cross your mind not to brush your teeth, and physical activity should be viewed the same way.” – Bob Greene (Oprah’s trainer)

For me, and probably for many of you guys, this is obvious.  Whether it’s twenty minutes on the yoga mat, playing in the ocean with friends, or a marathon; we get it.  But not everyone approaches physical activity this way.  I like to think of my exercise time — my 30-120 minutes a day, typically — as primal: the urge to move feels incredibly natural and human to me.  I think that deep down, this is true for most people, it’s just that many Americans have gotten out of touch with this.  Sometimes my friends question my dedication to running or yoga or laugh when they see me doing a half hour workout dvd.  But my body and mind need this time.  When I exercise, I actually end up having more energy, I’m happier, and, I think, kinder.  It really is like brushing my teeth.  Outside of the occasional rest day, I couldn’t not do it.

How do you guys feel about this?  Is this approach obsessive or just natural?  Do you feel better when movement is a part of your daily routine?

Eats:

I have been consciously trying to eat every three to four hours, and to include plenty of protein and fats.  And I’ve been feeling more satisfied!  Go me!

This is Three Sister’s Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal with a half a serving of Tera’s Whey vanilla protein powder (which was not gritty and tasted nice and creamy!  Yay!).  I can’t wait to try the rest of their oatmeal varieties.  I am really liking this company so far, go check them out!

This was one of the best weekend brunches ever.  Well okay, it was three o’clock so I don’t know if that’s really brunching hour.  But whatever.  Two eggs, white cheddar, and spinach on whole grain bread, broiled for five minutes (I have no toaster and the broiler is a decent substitute).  Three large carrots sliced up with two tablespoons Justin’s maple almond butter.  This meal was mountains of delicious.

Dinner: veggie stir fry (swiss chard, peppers, baby bella mushrooms cooked in coconut oil), steak, and hummus.  With steaz on the side, of course.  I marinated this steak overnight in maple syrup, soy sauce, and ginger.  Um, YUM!  This was a bottom round cut from the farmer’s market.  It is a tougher cut so the texture was a bit chewy (I also overcooked it a bit), but the flavor was wonderful.  I won’t lie: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love red meat.  This is not something that I would ever skip out on.  I also believe that meat can be a healthy part of a plant-rich diet, for many people.  That’s my meat philosophy in a nutshell!  Agree or disagree?  Or do you just not like meat? Regardless, I respect everyone’s individual dietary choices; I promise I’m not judging you. 🙂

Triple chocolate hot cocoa.  Dessert is my favorite part of the day!

Minus three ginger cat cookies (tiny) and a similarly small square of cherry dark chocolate, I think that’s everything I’ve eaten for the day!  I’ll probably do full day eats once or twice a week, since I like to have a visual record, but don’t want to bore you.

The end!

Have an excellent week!  Make sure to smile and think positive; this will improve everything, I promise.