June 29, 2016

Week 46 Weigh in (maintenance struggles)

I've been really conflicted about whether to write this post or not. I really don't want to write a post that sounds negative and whiny; but, readers always tell me how much they appreciate my honesty with the struggles in regards to weight loss/maintenance, instead of only writing about the successes. I've never tried to paint a picture that implies I have maintenance all figured out--I think it's something I'll struggle with forever--but writing about the struggles is hard. It's embarrassing. It's shameful. 

I'm struggling right now--a lot. I've never been one to make excuses for my weight struggles, and I won't do that now. I know exactly where I'm going wrong, and I own that. I just hope that by writing it out, I can come to some sort of solution.

Ever since I went to the Pacific Northwest for my 10K in April, I have had the hardest time getting back into a good routine. I was doing SO well before that trip! The weight maintenance almost seemed too easy, and I was just waiting for the catch. I dropped more weight, reaching an all-time low of 123, which I wasn't even trying to do. I was at a really good mental place with food, too--I wasn't thinking about food 24/7, I wasn't overeating, I was eating the foods I enjoyed. Physically, I felt like I was in the best shape of my life (and I probably was).

I crushed my goal for the 10K, and felt like I could do ANYTHING. It was awesome! Then, when I got home from my trip, I just couldn't seem to get back into that mental place I was in before my race. I'd lost my drive, my focus. It seems almost too "textbook": I was chasing down a big goal, and I absolutely killed it. Afterward, I felt an enormous sense of relief that it was over, but I had no real plan for what to do next. All of the headspace that was taken up by my race goal was suddenly empty again, and I wasn't sure how to fill it. It makes perfect sense why I'm struggling.

I wasn't expecting maintenance to be super easy, but I wish I had prepared better for what to do when it got hard. Returning home from my trip a few pounds heavier than I'd left was no big deal to me--I never intended to get my weight down that low in the first place, so I was okay with that. Seeing the number on the scale inching its way upward week after week since then, however, is a scary thing. I barely held on at my goal weight of 133 this week, and I'm happy it's not more; but, if I don't change something, I won't be surprised to see 140, 145, 150 again.

Today's "moving average weight" was up again:

My depression has made it hard to stay focused, too. I have to force myself to do things that the depression just makes me not want to do (running, cooking, taking care of the house, activities with the kids, etc.). I know if I don't fight against it, it will only get worse. I'm not going to sit back and watch all of my hard work go down the drain--I'm going to fight against this as hard as I can! My depression is always much more manageable when my eating is on target, even after just a couple of days.

Again, I'm not complaining for the sake of complaining, or trying to sound whiny--I'm just trying to write out my thoughts about all this as honestly as I can. This is the truth about my struggles right now, and I hope that they will be short-lived.

This week, I'm really going to focus on doing the healthiest things I can for ME. I felt much better about myself when I did my hair and make-up every day, but I'd stopped doing that--so I'm going to make it a point to do that again. I've written up a running schedule (not too specific, but enough to get me running 4-5 times a week) and I am going to follow that plan. I'm going to make healthy eating choices to make my body feel good. And I'm going to try to get some good quality sleep. I haven't been sleeping well at all lately, so I'll make it a point to go to bed earlier. When I eat well, I sleep better, so hopefully that will be the case.

There was something that really stood out to me when I read "How to Have Your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too" by Josie Spinardi, and I think it makes a lot of sense in this situation. Here is a quote from the book:
"Years ago, I stumbled across a study that completely changed the way I related to food (and challenges!). Sonja Stroop and her team found that people who did not emotionally eat did one thing differently than people who used food to cope with emotional distress. A single coping behavior made the difference between not using food--and using it. As if that weren't amazing enough, the people who did this one magical behavior enjoyed higher life satisfaction, attained more personal success, had more satisfying relationships and suffered from far fewer mental and physical illnesses. Whereas the people who lacked this specific skill frequently suffered from depression, anxiety, struggled with drugs, alcohol, gambling, anorexia, and bulimia. What's that million-dollar difference? 
When faced with a stressor, the "Shiny Happy People" (the non-food-users) engaged in task-oriented coping. They took direct action to resolve, mitigate, or eliminate stressors. They focused on solving. Conversely, the people who did use food engaged in emotion-oriented avoidant coping behaviors. These people were much more likely to think that they were unable to mitigate a stressor, and as a result, focused on soothing themselves--with food. Since they (often falsely) believed that they could not change the situation, they focused their efforts on minimizing the distress they experienced in response to the stressor--they tried to change their feelings."
In task-oriented coping, one alters the situation; whereas, in emotion-oriented coping, one alters the emotion (usually in an unhealthy way, such as compulsive overeating). Interesting, right? I've always been a pretty emotional person, so this makes a lot of sense to me. Based on that, I really ought to take some time to figure out what my stressors are and come up with a solution to resolve or eliminate them.

My therapist mentioned that I use something similar for coping when I make big goals to focus on, such as the 10K. She suggested that I may have been using goals like that as a way of avoiding thinking about stressors. By focusing on that goal, I wasn't resolving my stressors; I was just avoiding them. That's why she suggested that I don't make any big goals right now--I should just focus on the present. It's harder than I thought it would be! I constantly find myself wanting to set big goals to work on.

Writing all this out actually makes me feel a little better! As soon as I finish this post, I'm going to work on figuring out what my stressors are so I can resolve them. If nothing else, it will help me to be more aware when I'm eating emotionally. Right now, I just want to focus on one day at a time, making the healthiest choices I can. It's kind of amazing how a few days of eating well and exercise can completely alter my mood for the better. Yesterday, I had a great day--a really good run in the afternoon, my calories were in check all day, and then a walk at the State Park in the evening. I even slept pretty good last night!

June 28, 2016

Running and an update on Monica

Well, I knocked two more runs off of my Cookies Summer Running Checklist. The first was a run with the kids yesterday. The kids have been doing a GREAT job at following their training plans. They've really surprised me! They haven't skipped any runs, and they haven't even complained about them.

Last week, I decided to order Eli a Garmin on Amazon. Jerry and I each have one, and Noah got one for Christmas in 2014. Eli was always borrowing one of ours for his runs. I thought since he's doing so well at sticking with his training, I'd get him a Garmin of his own.

I bought him the Forerunner 10, which is the same one Noah has. At $80, it's the most basic GPS watch, but it does exactly what he needs it for--to track his time, distance, and pace. He loves to write down his time on his schedule after each run so that he can compare it to previous runs.

It arrived on Sunday, and I set up a Garmin account for him. Unfortunately, I forgot to put the watch on the charger. Yesterday, Jerry and I took the boys to the State Park for a run. Jerry was going to run one mile with Eli, and I'd run two and a quarter with Noah. Eli was excited to use his new watch--and when we turned it on, we noticed it had a low battery. Totally my fault. I just hoped it would last the duration of his run. He and Jerry headed out one direction and Noah and I headed out in the opposite direction.

It was extremely hot, and I felt like we were running about a 10:00 pace--then I looked at the Garmin, and it showed an 11:20 pace! Noah was really surprised, because he said he felt like we were going much faster, too. (He recently ran his fastest mile ever of 8:30!). I was glad I decided to bring the handheld water bottle for him, because he was struggling in the heat. I told him we'd run nice and slow the whole way.

At one point, we came up on Jerry and Eli, who were running toward us. Eli said his watch had died, which was a bummer. (I put it on the charger as soon as we got home, so it's ready for tomorrow's run).

It was a tough run in the heat, but both the kids did great! I'd wish I'd gotten a picture of all four of us afterward. I counted that run on my Checklist as the "Child's Play" run (running with a kid).

Today, I planned to do very short, very hard intervals--20 x 30 seconds with 60 seconds of recovery between. I set up the workout on Garmin Connect, but for the life of me, I haven't been able to transfer it to my watch. It was driving me CRAZY. I finally just decided to forget about it, and do a tempo run instead. I had no idea what kind of pace to run for a tempo, so I just went by feel--my effort level was about an 8 or 9 on a scale of 1-10, so it was tough. Making it extra tough was the fact that I went out at 1:30 pm, so it was the hottest time of day.

I was guessing my pace to be around 9:00, but was surprised to see it at around 8:40, so I just went with it. I wanted to slow down several times, but I knew I was capable of doing three miles at that pace. (It's kind of crazy to think that less than three months ago, I was running a 10K at a 7:55 pace!).

When I hit mile three, I was still a third of a mile from home, but I stopped my watch and walked the rest of the way. That was a tough three miles!

My heart rate was 160-169, which is perfect for a tempo run. (Thankfully, I didn't have any run-ins with birds. Hopefully they're done being mean for the year.)

My face was SO hot and red after the run--I've missed that feeling! I've been doing so much low heart rate running, that it's rare I get to feel pretty exhausted. Even after taking a cool shower, my face was beet-red. I really needed that run today, and I almost feel like it worked out for the best that my Garmin wasn't cooperating with the interval plan. I've been struggling a lot lately in regards to maintenance, which I'll write about tomorrow, but today's run boosted my spirits for sure.

So, since I started my run at 1:30, I decided to count it as the "RUNch" on my Checklist (a run started between 12 and 2 pm). I've completed five of the runs on the Checklist so far (each run that I do only counts as one item, even if it fits into multiple categories). It's been kind of fun to focus on something other than pace and mileage!

Olivia (a.k.a. Monica)--our foster cat--is doing really well! I wish I had a lot to write about her, but she's seriously SO CHILL that I have no stories. She doesn't love the other pets yet, but cats usually take a while to warm up to each other. She's super cuddly, and when she wants to be petted, she'll head-butt us until she gets attention ;)

She hid out in my bedroom a lot the first few days, but she's been venturing out more and more now. I've been trying to get good pictures of her, but she always looks so pissed off! Hahaha, she has a "resting bitch face"--she can be happy as a clam and still look like she's angry at the world.

In this picture, she was lying on my lap and purring. Anyway, she's really a very quiet, laid-back cat. She's been great!

June 26, 2016

Cadillac weekend

Well, the weekend went much differently than planned. Jerry and I had a hotel booked in Cadillac for Friday and Saturday nights, and we were really looking forward to running the 10K on Saturday. I hadn't yet registered for it, because we kept holding out hope that we could get a couple of friends to come with us and run the relay; so, we planned to just register the morning of the race.

On Thursday, I wanted to see what time the race started, and when I looked at the site, I noticed that there actually wasn't a 10K this year! There was a 5K, half-marathon, marathon, and marathon relay for teams of four people. Neither of us was prepared to run a half, so that was out of the question; and we really didn't like the idea of doing an out-and-back 5K when the 6.9-mile loop around the lake was exactly what we'd been looking forward to. I posted on my Runs for Cookies Facebook page asking if anyone would be interested in joining Jerry and I as a relay team, but that was a no-go.

We were really unsure of what to do. Jerry took two vacation days from work in order to go up there, so we considered skipping the whole trip and saving his vacation days for Tour de Troit in the fall. On Friday morning, we ultimately decided not to go to Cadillac. I was bummed, but it seemed to make the most sense. The biggest downside was that I had prepaid for our hotel room, and it was non-refundable because I'd gotten a good "blind" deal on Priceline.

All day Friday, I was feeling guilty about letting the room go to waste. I offered for my family to use it for free, but nobody was available to go up there. I offered it up online for $100 less than I paid for it, but I didn't have any takers (I wasn't surprised, considering it was so last-minute). Finally, at around 7:00 pm, Jerry and I decided to just head up there and skip the race. We could just run the lake loop on our own, and have a little getaway.

The drive is 3-1/2 hours, so we hurriedly packed some bags and headed out (my parents were already planning to take care of the kids and pets). We had a really fun drive up to Cadillac--I played DJ in the car, and we sang along to some old school songs. When we got there, it was 11:00 pm! We just watched an episode of Orange is the New Black and then went to bed.

The next morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel (it was included with our room) and then decided to walk the mile and a half to the race. We weren't planning to run it, but we thought it would be fun to watch and to enjoy the lake view. It ended up being a really nice walk--we went down a hill with 8% grade (there was a sign announcing the grade) and we knew we'd be walking back UP that hill on the way back to the hotel ;)

The Lake Cadillac Team Marathon race is made up of a series of 6.9-mile loops around Lake Cadillac--the starting lines are at various points, depending on the total race distance (half or full), and the finish line is also the start/end of the loop. So, for a four-person relay, the first person does a shortened loop, and then tags the second runner at the checkpoint/finish line. Then the second runner runs the entire loop, and tags the third. And so on.

Jerry and I sat on the curb by the checkpoint/finish line, and watched the runners go by. I believe the race director is also the running coach at the local high school (I could be wrong), but the race is mainly made up of high school kids doing the team relay together, which I think is so cool. Next year, I'd love to get a team together to run the relay.

After watching the race for a while, we decided to walk around the lake. There were a ton of buoys in the lake, which we learned was for a triathlon taking place this morning. The walk along the lake is SO nice! That's what made me fall in love with Lake Cadillac the last time we were there. It's gorgeous.

Set up for the triathlon swim taking place this morning

We spent the day walking around town, going in little shops, playing Keno in a bar called The Roaring 20's, going to see Independence Day at the theater--and then leaving after 10 minutes because it was really bad!--and finally, getting a Blizzard from Dairy Queen and walking back to the hotel. The day went by so quickly.

At around 7:00, we ended up deciding to make the drive home last night instead of waiting until morning. We both really missed the kids, and we wished we'd have brought them with us. I think we'll probably bring them with us next year (maybe we could even do the race as our own relay team). So, once again, we road tripped home and arrived at around 11:00. When I got up this morning, I was glad that we were home instead of spending the whole morning in the car. It was still a fun little trip, though! We certainly made the most of our time there.

When we got home last night, we noticed that the fish flies had hatched--they were EVERYWHERE. I really needed to get in a run today, since Jerry and I never ended up running in Cadillac (we walked a ton, but didn't run the loop). It was 95 degrees and there were fish flies everywhere, but Jerry was scheduled for three miles so I just ran with him.

Those are fish flies!

I was going to count the run as my "Buddy Run" (running with a friend) for my Cookies Summer Running Checklist, but as we were running, I found a penny on the ground--so I'll count the run as my "Penny Pincher Run" instead (finding a penny on a run).

A few people have asked about my heart rate training during the summer, and if my heart rate is up when it's hot. Yes! I have to slow my pace a lot to keep my heart rate down when it's hot outside. Today, it was 95 degrees and my average heart rate was 144 bpm--with a pace of 11:36/mile! It's a little frustrating, because my body wants to go faster, but it brings my heart rate up too high. On the other hand, it actually feels really nice to jog slowly and enjoy the run.

I kind of feel like I need to write up a summer training plan, because the lack of structure is starting to get to me. I loved it at first, but it's getting easier and easier to run just three days a week instead of five; and I feel best when I run five days a week. I won't train for anything in particular, but I like having a plan telling me what days to run and for how far.

Speaking of writing plans, I finally finished the half-marathon plan I was working on for my blog! It's a "Finish Strong" half-marathon plan, and I posted it to my Training Plans page. It's not necessarily meant for training for your best time, but rather to finish a half marathon feeling really good (and using the 80/20 Running method). It could be used for a first time half-marathoner, as long as that person has built a solid base. The first long run is seven miles, and there is a little bit of speed work, so it's not a "couch to half-marathon" type plan. Anyway, I know several people were asking about a half-marathon plan, so it's up now! (I'm going to work on a "Your Best Half-Marathon" plan as well, which will be more for bettering one's time.)

June 23, 2016

Cookies Summer Running: Rover Run

Yesterday morning, I hadn't been planning to go for a run, but I was feeling kind of energetic, so I just decided on a whim to go run a few miles. I wanted to knock one of the Cookies Summer Running items off the checklist, so I skimmed it quickly and was planning to do the "Generous Run"--where you leave a few quarters in random spots on the run for other people to find.

Then I remembered the stupid birds from Monday, and I really didn't want to go. I know it sounds ridiculous to be scared of birds, but they are terrifying when they're squawking and dive-bombing your head. They don't just do it once, either; they will follow me up to a quarter mile down the road sometimes. Running faster doesn't do anything, because they're faster than I am of course, but my heart RACES and it feels impossible to catch my breath. Then, for the rest of the run, I'm extra paranoid every time I see a bird.

Instead of giving up on the run altogether, I decided to do the "Rover Run"--taking Joey with me. I hoped that the birds would be less likely to attack if they saw a dog. Also, we had plans to pick up Olivia (the kitty we are fostering) later in the morning, so I thought it would be a good idea to get Joey worn out so he wouldn't be quite so excited when we brought the cat home. Joey saw me getting on my running shoes, and gave me his sad look, because he knew I was leaving.

I said, "Do you want to come with me?" and he definitely knows what that means. He got crazy excited, and even grabbed his collar off the table in the living room. It was SUPER nice outside--not at all humid like it was on Monday--and I was excited to take Joey on a run.

We ran down the road I thought we'd be least likely to encounter birds, because it has heavier car traffic. Joey has gotten much better on his leash, and when I tell him to heel, he runs at my side fairly well. (If he sees a squirrel or other dog, he starts pulling, but I just say, "Hey!" really sharply, and it snaps him out of his tunnel vision.)

No idea what I was saying here--probably "good boy"

About half a mile into the run, a black bird started circling overhead, making the very distinct "Get out of here!" chirping. I decided to completely ignore my heart rate training today, and just run comfortably fast (well, as comfortably fast as possible while running with a dog). Instead of doing the lollipop route I'd planned (I didn't want to encounter the bird on the way back), I decided to take him to the lake's edge at mile 1.5 so he could cool off, and then we'd go home through the marsh.

He was thrilled to stop at the lake and play in the water for a few minutes! Then we headed toward the access road through the marsh. I couldn't believe how overgrown it was--the path has gotten narrower and narrower. I let Joey off leash, and while I ran on the path, he was running through all the brush next to me, zig-zagging around and chasing after birds. There were SO many bugs flying around, and I was really sweaty, so they were sticking to all my exposed skin. But the Rover Run was all about Joey, so I dealt with it ;)

Joey looks so tiny here!

It was fun to run through the marsh, but I was relieved to get back on the road. I leashed Joey, and we ran the rest of the way home, for a total of 3.1 miles. Then I sprayed him off with the hose and checked him for ticks.

It ended up being one of my most enjoyable runs in a while! Joey couldn't have been happier to come with me, and it felt kind of adventurous. It also felt nice to run at a faster pace for the second half of the run--not "fast", really, but the pace that I used to call my "easy" pace before I started heart rate training.

Technically, I could have crossed off a few of the runs on my Cookies Summer Running checklist--Rover Run, Trail Run, Beach Run, and Selfie Run--but I decided that I'm only going to mark off ONE from the list for each run that I do. That way, it'll keep me busy all summer. Today, I marked the Rover Run.

Two runs down (Solstice and Rover), and 47 more to go! :)

Everything went smoothly when we picked up Olivia (whom we are now calling Monica). I will write more about her soon! Right now, she's helping me write this post...

Doesn't she look kind of like Estelle?
She's a very sweet kitty!

June 22, 2016

Healthy Summer Indulgence Ideas

Healthy Summer Indulgence Ideas

This past weekend was full of food: hamburgers on grill Friday, catered food at the zoo and a barbecue at our friends' house Saturday, another cookout on Sunday for Father's Day... so much food!

This is exactly why summer is so hard for me. I have no problem with the holiday season in November and December, but when it comes to food and drinks all summer, I have this summer attitude that gets me in trouble. It's not even that the summer foods are irresistible (well, except ice cream--I could live off of that!) but more of the idea of summer foods.

(This photo was taken at a beer festival in Portland with Brian and Becky in August 2015)

Fruity drinks, cooking on the grill, going out for ice cream on a hot day, getting fried foods at the fair (Lord, help me, come August!)... it all has this sort of romantic ideation around it for summer.

And it's all in my head! I know this. I could see it coming. I planned for it. It hits me EVERY SINGLE YEAR. And I still fell for it, hahaha. My weight this morning was 133--I have officially gotten back up to my goal weight, which is pretty scary, considering we are only two days into summer!

BUT. I really hate it when people complain about things and/or make excuses and then don't do anything to fix them. So, I refuse to do that. I'm trying not to panic, but it's hard not to when getting on the scale and seeing that I have exactly ZERO wiggle room for summer. Especially since Jerry and I are going to Cadillac this weekend.

So, my plan is this: Cut back on my calories to around 1,800 or less for six days this week, and then have just one high calorie day, which I'll cap at about 3,500. These numbers aren't set in stone--I do much better when I don't have an "official" calorie goal--but just something to aim for. I'd really like to get my weight back down to 128, so that I have 5 pounds of wiggle room through the summer.

There is no reason to live by my "summer attitude" regarding food each day, all summer long--that's how I always end up gaining 20 pounds. I'm going to Virginia Beach at the end of the summer, and I really want to be at or under my goal weight for that.

I'm not going to try and plan out more than just this week right now. I want to stay focused on the present, and not panic. I'm afraid that panicking would cause me to overcompensate and cut back too drastically (to, say, 1500 calories a day) and then I'd feel really hungry and deprived, and binge. So, I'm going to cut back sensibly and see what happens. I know (logically) that as long as I don't go overboard several days in a week that I won't continue to gain. I'm going to look at today's weigh-in as a wake-up call ;)

This weekend will be challenging, because I no longer have any wiggle room from my goal weight. Jerry and I are driving up to Cadillac, Michigan for the Lake Cadillac Team Marathon+. We plan to run the 10K on Saturday. Last time we were there, we only stayed one night; but this time, we're staying Friday and Saturday nights.

I already looked up restaurants on Yelp, so I know where we'll be eating. Today, I'm going to come up with a plan of what I'll order so that I can track my calories ahead of time. We're going to see if we can somehow fit both of our bikes in the back of the Jeep--it would be awesome if we could bring our bikes with us! We could ride everywhere we want to go, and the loop around Lake Cadillac is super nice. We do plan to be pretty active, even if we don't have our bikes, so getting in exercise isn't a problem.

I also started to think about what I could do to keep that romantic ideation of summer, only in a healthier way:

  Instead of sipping fruity drinks, shandy, or margaritas on the deck in the evenings, I could make a pitcher of flavored David's Iced Tea (still summery, but no calories).

  When cooking on the grill, we could make turkey sausage or chicken kabobs with lots of peppers, onions, and mushrooms instead of cooking hamburgers and hot dogs. 

  I ADORE corn on the cob cooked on the grill. I can experiment with different seasonings.

  When going to a barbecue with friends or family, I could make a fruit salad instead of homemade coleslaw (which is my go-to). 

  Instead of getting flurries at the ice cream shop, we can grill some pineapple at home and top it with a small scoop of ice cream--again, very summery, but a fraction of the calories. OR, if I really want to go get ice cream, I can't forget about my beloved cones from McDonald's! A vanilla cone is only 170 calories; and they have dipped ones during the summer that are only 270 calories. I like these just as much as an 800-calorie flurry.

I like this idea of substitutions, because then I can still feel like I'm indulging in summer, but I won't gain 20 pounds doing it! ;) Anyone else have ideas like this that scream summer but aren't too high in calories? Please share!

June 21, 2016

Summer Solstice Runs

It is officially summer!

Yesterday, I was a little torn. I wanted to get my Smashrun badge for doing TWO solstice runs--one at sunrise, and one at sunset--but when I created the Summer Running Checklist, I specified the solstice run to be at 6:34 pm EST. That meant in order to meet the requirements for Smashrun AND the Summer Running Checklist, I'd have to run at sunrise (5:57 am), at summer solstice (6:34 pm); and sunset (9:12 pm). My kids had baseball games at 5:30, so I chose to skip the 6:34 run and just do the sunrise and sunset runs.

I had my alarm set for 5:30, and I really didn't want to get up that early after having such a busy weekend! If the summer solstice wasn't just once a year, I definitely would have chosen to sleep in. But I forced myself out of bed and got dressed to run.

It was SO humid outside! I had assumed that since it was so early in the day, it wouldn't be too warm. I was totally wrong.

During my first mile, I was actually thinking about how awesome this year has been for running, because I haven't had a problem with the birds. Usually, the black birds are on full attack mode in the spring, but this year, I hadn't been dive-bombed at all! I even took a picture as I was running...

Hey, I didn't say it was a *great* pic--as I was still half-asleep, from what you can see ;)

Probably 30 seconds after I took that picture, I heard some black birds going nuts. I looked up just as one of them dive-bombed me. I started waving my arms above my head, and two birds were taking turns diving so close to me that I could feel their wings flapping. My heart rate skyrocketed, even though I wasn't necessarily running fast. I was constantly trying to stare at them, because I read that if they see your eyes, they'll leave you alone (well, that's not true, trust me). I felt like I couldn't breathe, and I wanted to stop running SO badly.

I knew if I stopped, I wouldn't get credit for my solstice run at sunrise, so I had to keep going. Also, I wanted to get the fuck away from those birds, because they were FOLLOWING ME. Finally, I got away from them, and then I just slowed to the slowest jog I could manage, still feeling like I was going to die. I desperately wanted to quit just then.

There was no way in hell I was going to go back home that way (which was my original plan--a lollipop route), so I did an alternative route that put me back at home at mile 2.25. I was fine with that. I finished my sunrise run!

The kids had baseball games that evening, and considering the drama from the situation with Eli's coach, I went to his game instead of Noah's. The game went SO well! I don't know what the athletic director said to Eli's coach, but the coach was quiet the entire game and the assistant coach did whatever talking needed to be said. I noticed that the athletic director himself showed up to the game and sat on the bleachers watching, which made me feel much better.

The kids had a blast! They swung at all kind of pitches, and several of them got good hits (which they wouldn't have gotten if the coach had been involved--he'd have told them not to swing). They actually won with a score of something like 17-2! It was a good game though--they weren't walking in all the runs, but actually hitting them.

I'd brought Joey with me to the game, and there was a little boy (one of the player's brother's) who was very interested in playing with Joey. He was petting him the entire game, and I found interesting when he said to me, "That's my dad [pointing at the first base coach]. He's nice. That coach [pointing at the head coach of Eli's team] is pretty mean!" Haha, totally true.

Whatever the athletic director said to the coach made a huge difference, and the game went so smoothly. It was fun to watch, and I'm sure it was fun for the kids to play. They seemed more enthusiastic, that's for sure.

Noah and Eli each had one mile on their running schedules last night, so I asked them if they'd want to go for a sunset run with me. Sunset was at 9:11 pm, so we headed out at 9:00 for a one-mile run. It was super humid, and my second run of the day, so I just wanted to run easy. It was nice, and the boys did great!

I made sure to keep running past 9:11, so that I would get full credit. When I uploaded to Smashrun, I got my badge!

Additionally, last night was a full moon--which is very rare to occur on the same day as the summer solstice! Now I have the Longest Day badge as well as the Shortest Day badge on Smashrun. Even though I didn't run at 6:34 pm, to mark the change from spring to summer, I am still counting it toward my Summer Running Checklist.

I just heard from All About Animals Rescue and we were approved to foster Olivia! We are going to pick her up tomorrow. She's such a sweet kitty--I am super excited to bring her home. Let's just hope that the other cats like her. If they do, and all goes well, then we can adopt her. (If we do, I'll be very tempted to change her name to Monica (or Ursula)! How can we not keep with the Friends theme? Haha, we'll have to find out if she's been "Olivia" for her entire life (8 years) or just for the time she's been homeless.)

June 20, 2016

Father's Day Weekend, part 2

...continued from Father's Day Weekend, part 1...

Yesterday morning, the kids gave Jerry their gifts, and he loved the books! It's fun to see what kids think about and what they remember. The kids went to church with my parents, and when they got home, we headed up to White Lake, Michigan for an event at Pet Supplies Plus. This sounds like a totally odd thing to do, especially on Father's Day, but Jerry was really excited about it. Purina has a new line of cat food called Muse, and Muse was hosting an event in the store parking lot called Natural Nirvana that was all about cats. As you know, we are huge cat-people, so this sounded like fun for us ;)

They had a trailer set up with "cat space" (little cubbies and scratch posts, etc) and there were three adoptable cats in there. We got to go inside and play with the kitties.

We all fell in love with a female tortoiseshell named Olivia. My kids were begging to adopt her (I knew that would happen!).

I ended up taking an application to foster her. I don't know how receptive my cats would be to a new cat (especially a female), so I think fostering with the potential for adoption is the way to go. She's 8 years old, which is perfect (my cats are 13, 9, and 7). She's also really great with dogs--they've even been using her as a way to test how the adoptable dogs are around cats, because she's very chill around dogs.

To showcase the "bliss cats feel when dining on Muse", that had a little booth for free manicures and massages, along with the adoptable cats. Again, sounds like an odd choice for Father's Day fun, but we really enjoyed it! The boys all got their nails filed and buffed, and I got mine painted. We each had a massage (except for Noah, who didn't want one, silly kid).

Then we went inside the store to play with the other adoptable cats. There were probably about eight cats in a little "cat room", and my kids loved going in there to play. The cats were so friendly! I wanted to take them all home. But I was still thinking of Olivia.

The Natural Nirvana tour ended up being a lot of fun, and I'm glad we did it. (They are going to San Diego next, if it interests any of you--they'll be in San Diego July 8, 9, and 10.) When we left, we had a long drive home (an hour and fifteen minutes!) and then we headed over to my parents' house for dinner. I'd made my dad a pecan pie (something that has pretty much become a tradition with us). Brian and Becky were there, as well as Nathan, who had to leave shortly after we got there because he had to work.

After we ate, we sat outside and chatted for a while. It had been in the 90's earlier in the day, but in the evening it felt really nice. Brian got out a BB gun to shoot at an aluminum can, and I challenged Jerry to a contest to see who could hit the can the most times out of 10 shots.

I hit the can five times, and Jerry hit it four, so I was the winner ;)  I didn't know Jerry took this picture until later, and then I remembered I had a similar picture from when I was in high school. I just found it! So here is a comparison of the two:

Age 16 and age 34... same BB gun

Today marks the first day of summer! It's the "longest" day of the year (most daylight). If you're doing the Runs for Cookies Summer Running Checklist, it starts today with the Solstice Run! Despite an exhausting weekend, I set my alarm to get up and run at 5:30 this morning so that I could do a sunrise run, and I'll run again this evening at 9:00, to get the sunset run. By doing both, I'll get a badge on Smashrun--otherwise, I would have loved to sleep in today!

June 20, 2016

Father's Day Weekend, part 1

(This ended up being a really long post, so I turned it into two posts.)

What a busy weekend we've had! It's funny--most of our weekends are pretty uneventful, but when we do actually have plans, it seems like we have things going on all weekend long. Jerry happened to be off work this weekend, so it was nice to be able to spend time with him!

Throughout the last week or two, I'd been having the kids work on a gift for Jerry. I bought these books called The Story and Me and My Dad, which are fill-in-the-blanks books about their relationship with their dad--things like his best jokes, things he taught them how to do, phrases he says often, and embarrassing moments. It was the perfect age-appropriate book for my boys to fill out for Jerry (they also have these books for moms, grandmothers, and grandfathers).

Anyway, on Friday, Jerry had to work half a day. I went for a long run while the kids were at baseball practice, and then we went to get the pictures for the gift books developed. (Choosing pictures with the boys was fun!

June 17, 2016

Baseball drama and longest run in two months

Things did not go well at Eli's baseball game on Wednesday, so I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to take care of the issue. It's a long story, but basically, Eli's coach is ALL about winning. He threw a tantrum like a two-year at the second game, and then this week, he was being kind of ridiculous in his coaching methods. My priorities for Eli's summer baseball are: 1) Have fun; 2) Play ball; and 3) Be a good sport, no matter what. This isn't a competitive league--it's just for kids to have some fun during the summer! But Eli's coach's priorities are: 1) Win; 2) Win; 3) Win.

I'd been biting my tongue about his attitude... until Wednesday's game.

He wanted to walk in as many kids as possible, because the kids at this age aren't great at pitching. He tells the kids not to swing at the pitches, and bets on the fact that they'll probably end up with a walk. Walks may get them to the base, but it's not fun for either team! He told Eli not to swing at anything, and I thought that was ridiculous. Why play baseball if you don't try to hit the ball? I told Eli just to swing at anything that looked like a good pitch, and not to worry about it.

Well, Eli swung and missed, and his coach was pissed. I saw him whispering to Eli, and then Eli came over to me with tears in his eyes and said the coach told him that he has to run 10 laps for listening to me (his mother) instead of him (the coach). My blood felt like it was boiling when Eli told me that--I couldn't believe it. I told the coach that Eli wasn't going to be running any laps, and the coach said he was going to "ask Eli not to come to any more of the games" then.

The team only has 10 players, and only 8 of them regularly show up--just barely enough to play. Without Eli, they'd have to forfeit. And Eli is their best pitcher. I called Jerry, and he left Noah's game to come over (he was furious, too). He stayed after the game to talk to the coach, who told him that he was teaching the kids discipline, and he was going to make his own son run 200 laps around their house for the mistakes he made during the game.

Say what?!

It was 85 degrees outside, and these kids are 9-10 years old. I felt really sorry for the coach's son. I decided that I was going to write a letter to the athletic director (I'm better at writing than I am explaining over the phone). I wrote down everything that had happened, and I drove it to the township hall yesterday. When the athletic director read it, he gave me a call, and thankfully, he was very concerned about the whole thing.

He said that the coach isn't allowed to "punish" kids by making them run (or anything like that) and that summer ball is non-competitive and all about having fun. He also said that the coach doesn't even have the authority to kick Eli off the team. He was very grateful for the letter, and said he was going to handle everything this weekend, so that Monday's game will be a fun one. I'm really glad to have that taken care of, because it's been bothering me ever since the first game when we saw his coach's true colors.

Noah's coach (who I really like) has been kind enough to let Eli practice with his team, which is great for Eli. Eli just wants to play baseball, and he'll take any opportunity he can get to play. This morning, they had practice from 10-12, so I decided to go for a run while they were practicing. The field where they practice is halfway to the Metropark from my house, so I dropped them off at practice and then I went to the Metropark to run on the bike path.

The bike path is three miles, so I was going to do an out-and-back for a total of six miles. It was hot and sunny outside today (80 degrees), so I decided to just run very easy, not worrying about heart rate or pace. After the first mile, I remembered a badge on Smashrun that you can earn for doing "steady" 10K's--running a 10K or longer with a pace variable of less than 5% (they also have a badge for 4% variability and one for 3% variability). I decided to see if I could get the most even splits possible.

My first mile was 10:30, so after that, I just aimed to keep a 10:30 pace throughout the run. I wasn't sure if Smashrun looked at just the mile splits or if the variability was calculated some other way--I guessed it was from mile splits. Toward the end of each mile, I'd check my pace lap pace and adjust accordingly so that my split times were as close to 10:30 as possible. I was feeling REALLY good on the run, so I decided to add another mile on the way out, making the total run eight miles instead of six.

My mile splits were almost spot-on at 10:30. When I got back to the car at mile eight, I felt amazing. It was a really good run today! My heart rate was a little higher than normal (150 versus 146 bpm), because I usually run at whatever pace keeps my heart rate low, but today, I was focused on keeping the pace steady, and my heart rate rose during the run.

My splits were super even, though!

I was excited to upload it to Smashrun, but it turns out they look at the run as a whole and judge the variability from that--so mine was 5% (good enough to count toward one badge, but not the others). Now that I know, I'll have to try to keep a super steady pace to earn the others, and not just focus on the mile splits. This was my longest run since I was training for my 10K, and I felt really good.

Despite it being 80 degrees, I was surprised that I wasn't all that sweaty. When I looked at the weather app, I noticed the humidity was only 38%--no wonder! I never would have felt that good if the humidity was the usual 80+%.

We have a very busy weekend, so I probably won't post again until Sunday or Monday. Tomorrow, Jerry's employer is taking all of the employees (and their families) to the Detroit Zoo, so we'll be going with the boys. Tomorrow night, we're going to our friends' house for a party. Sunday, we're spending the day with Jerry and then heading to my parents' house for dinner for Father's Day. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

June 15, 2016

Week 44 Weigh-in

I don't have a whole lot to say, so I'll just do a quick weigh-in and overview of this week.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a MUCH better week as far as my eating goes. I kept my calories at a decent maintenance level (although, I still haven't figured out just what the right amount is for me to maintain--I'm going to continue to experiment). I ate around 2,100 per day, with two days being higher than that (around 3,000). My weight is down just slightly from last week.

There have been a few things this week that have been helpful in stopping the overeating. Eating whatever sounds good to me in the moment for each meal has been a major key this week. I've been much more satisfied with my meals, so I don't feel the need to go back for seconds or to snack when I'm not hungry in order find that satisfaction.

Another big help this week has been staying busy with writing running plans. I've actually found it really fun to work on, and the time just FLIES by when I'm writing up a plan. (I added a 10K plan and a base building plan on my Training Plans page.) I'm working on a half-marathon plan and a generic "stay in shape" sort of plan (without a race goal) right now. (It takes much longer than you might think--I've been keeping the 80/20 ratio of easy to moderate or hard running, so there is a lot of math to work out.)

Other goals:
I stopped wearing my Fitbit when I switched to Fat Secret instead of My Fitness Pal, so I don't know how many steps I've been getting. I found that the Fitbit doesn't motivate me to move more--I just wore it to keep track of steps--so I really didn't see the point in wearing it.

My binge-free days are adding up! I am at 316 days staying binge-free as of today. There have been several times where I felt very close to a binge, but I've still managed to hold on to the self-control before it gets out of hand.

As far as my goal of cooking a new recipe every week, I'm still going strong. Yesterday, I made a Kenyan Stew with ugali. I was sent a running memoir to read and review on the blog (I'll post it next month) and it's about a woman who traveled for a year and spent time running with people from several different running cultures. She includes some recipes in the book of things that she ate, and the Kenyans she ran with taught her to make stew with ugali. It was VERY simple, but so good! I'll post more about that on the book review.

I also started reading a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo (Amazon affiliate link), after someone suggested it in a blog comment. It's SO inspiring to make you want to clean and organize. I started with my sock drawer about a week ago, which sounds very simple, but I can't believe what a difference it's made. It took me about an hour to organize it, but just seeing it nice and neat each morning actually makes my mood better.

This morning, I went to Lowe's and bought two long shelves for my closet (10 feet long each). I decided to fold Jerry's and my clothes and place them on shelves instead of hanging everything. Our closet is fairly big, but all of our clothes were crammed in there on hangers, and it just looked like a big mess. Again, I forgot to take a "before" picture--bummer!

I spent the morning hanging the shelves (I love using power tools!) and then taking ALL of my clothes off of the hangers and putting them into the closet neatly folded. It was definitely very time-consuming, but it was a great thing to do on a rainy day. I'm not totally finished (my back was killing me, so I'm going to finish it up tomorrow), but it already looks a million times better. I can't believe how much better everything fits when it's not on hangers. I kept just a small section for hanging up a few things--dresses and jackets.

Anyway, I've been doing what I can to stay busy all week, and it's worked out really well in helping my mindset get back to what it was when I felt like maintenance was pretty effortless. I'm really excited to be under my goal weight going into summer--I think this is the first time I've ever started summer under my goal weight! (In 2013, I was only a few pounds over.)

June 14, 2016

Journaling and speed work

I don't want to jinx anything, but ever since I stopped the no-grocery-shopping challenge last Monday, I've been doing really well with my eating. I've been eating what I really want, feeling satisfied with normal-sized portions, and my calories have been at a good maintenance level. (And interestingly enough, I've been craving fruits and vegetables more than ever this week.)

At my last therapy session, my therapist wanted me to start writing down the times where I feel urges to overeat or binge (or just eat when not hungry), and what I was doing before I got the urge. I've been doing it all week, and it's been very interesting, if nothing else!

Something I hadn't really paid attention to is how much cues from TV or books or radio trigger those thoughts. I always assumed my bingeing was from emotional eating, but a lot of the urges have come from seeing someone eating ice cream on a movie, for example. It's like an instant switch goes on inside of me that makes me want ice cream--and not just a small portion, but the mentality of "I'll just eat ALL the ice cream!" kind of thinking. Lesson? Maybe I should watch less TV ;)

I know keeping a diet or binge journal is something that pretty much every article you read about the subject tells you to do... but I've never actually done it, because it sounded kind of dumb. I never expected to actually learn anything new about myself. I already knew that stress and anxiety were triggers, but I had no idea that seeing someone eat or reading about someone eating was a trigger.

I also didn't expect that the simple act of jotting down a few notes (literally about 2-3 fragmented sentences) about what I was doing before an urge would actually stop the urge very quickly. Almost by the time I get done writing it down, I no longer feel like I'm fighting an urge. As cliche as the advice to keep a binge urge journal is, I highly recommend trying it for a couple of days--you might be surprised about what you find out!

Jerry started his 12-week training plan for his half-marathon yesterday. He's never done speed work before, but I included a little in his plan each week just to keep him from being bored. Today was his first interval workout, and he was SO nervous--it was funny! But I totally get it, because I get super nervous before my speed work sessions, too ;)

He did awesome! It was a mile warm-up, then 10 x 60 seconds fast, with 90 second recoveries. I knew exactly how it would go, and I even told him my predictions--he would do his warm-up too fast, because of nerves, then do his first interval too fast, because it's hard to gauge how long you can hold a fast pace. Then he would jog the first recovery, even though I told him to walk. He'd realize just how hard it was, and walk the rest of the recoveries. After I told him my prediction, he said he'd prove me wrong. Well, we laughed when he got back, because I was 100% correct! haha. When I do short intervals, I always walk the recoveries, because the intervals are much harder than they read on paper.

When he finished his workout, he said it was very difficult, but he felt really good about it. Seeing him sweaty and exhausted made me want to do a tough workout, too, so I decided to do the exact same workout. I haven't done much speed work lately, because I'm not training for anything, so I had no idea how it would go.  (I totally wasn't thinking of the fact that I just did my longest run in a couple of months yesterday--six miles--so my legs were probably tired enough.)

Well, let's just say it did not go as I'd hoped. I jogged a mile for a warm-up (too fast, because nerves); then struggled through a 6:40-ish pace for 60 seconds. (The last time I did this workout, my pace was in the very low 6:00's.) I started walking, and realized that my recoveries were set for 60 seconds instead of 90, and I really wished they'd been at 90. I made it through just three intervals before I called Jerry to come pick me up!

I was not feeling good at all. I barely got any sleep last night, so that may have been why; but it could be the fact that I haven't been training hard and my weight is up about six pounds from when I was at my peak 10K training. Probably a combination of it all. Some runs just suck, and today's was definitely a sucky one.

I don't expect to be in top running shape year-round, of course! Even elites gain about 10 pounds in the off season and slow their paces/decrease their mileage. Through the summer, my biggest priority is to keep my weight at or under 133, since that is what I have the toughest time with (weight gain in the summer). If I can do that, and I decide that I want to race in the fall, I think I'll be able to get back into racing shape without too much struggle. I think I can probably consider the low 120's my "racing weight", and the high 120's to low 130's my "normal weight"--and I'm good with that.

I'm excited to work on my Summer Running checklist this summer! It starts on Monday, and I would love for people to join me in checking off some fun runs. Amanda left a comment on the last post that I should create a hashtag for people to use when sharing their runs on social media, and I LOVE that idea! So, if you are doing the checklist runs, and you share to social media, it would be awesome if you use the hashtag #CookiesSummerRunning. :)

I was thinking this morning about how we've had Joey for almost a year and a half now--it's gone by so fast! He's such a good dog, and I never dreamed how much the boys would become attached to him.

The kids have loved playing hide-and-seek with Joey. Noah takes Joey into his bedroom and closes the door, while Eli hides somewhere in the house with a treat. When Eli yells, "Ready!" it's like watching a bull being released from his pen at a bullfight. Joey tears through the house, looking in each room, until he finds Eli's hiding spot and gets his treat. Then the kids switch, and Noah hides while Eli waits with Joey. It's so cute to watch!

June 12, 2016

Summer Running Checklist

I've been working on a project for the last couple of days, and I'm excited to share it with you! I was out for a run last week when I started thinking about how miserable running in the summertime can be. When it's 85 degrees and humid, the last thing I want to do is go for a run.

I tried to come up with ideas about how I could make running in the summer a little more fun. After I hit my big 10K goal in April, I didn't set another running goal. I worked so hard all winter to reach that goal, and right now, I'd rather just run to stay in shape and feel good about myself. So, rather than trying to stick with a training plan when I'm not really training for anything, I came up with an alternative: a checklist of fun runs.

It was easy to come up with 10 or 15 different runs, but after that, I really had to use my imagination. I got some inspiration from Smashrun's "badge" list, but beyond that, I just tried to think of things that would make a run more fun. I put the entire list into a PDF checklist, so that it's easily printable, and I'd love for people to join me in working on the checklist this summer! There are 49 items total. Here is the list... (click here for the PDF)

Sunrise Run
Start your run before sunrise, and end it after
Sunset Run
Start your run before sunset, and and it after
Early Bird Run
Start your run before 7:00 AM
Night Owl Run
Finish your run after 9:00 PM
Start your run between 12 PM and 2 PM
Evening Run
Start your run between 5 PM and 7 PM
Enter a race (any distance) and run it
Run in the Dark
Go for run when it’s dark outside (wear reflective gear and a headlamp for safety)
Map a route that you’ve never done before, and run it
Multi-City Run
Map out and run a route that takes place in two cities
Trail Run
Run on a nature trail
Park Run
Go for a run in a park
Explorer Run
Run in a city you’ve never run in before
Beach Run
Find some place that you can run along a body of water
Track Run
Run on a local track (indoor or outdoor)
Scenic Run
Choose a pretty place to run, and run slowly enough to really pay attention to all the views
Hilly Run
Find a hill, and run up then walk down 6-10 times
Treadmill Run
It doesn’t have to be boring! Hop on the treadmill and vary the speed and incline for an interesting indoor run.
Bridge Run
Run over a bridge of some sort
Aqua Jog
Run in a pool or lake (or any body of water you choose)
Opposite Run
Run your favorite route in the opposite direction
Rover Run
Go for a run with a dog (if you don’t have one, call a local animal shelter and ask if you can take one for a run)
Buddy Run
Run with a friend
Group Run
Run with two or more people
Child’s Play Run
Take your child, niece, nephew, grandchild or other child for a fun run (with his/her parents’ permission, of course)
Photogenic Run
Stop and take 2 scenic photos per mile during your run
Scavenger Hunt Run
Create a list of items you must search for on your run; then take a photo of each to document your findings.
Selfie Run
Take a mid-run selfie (carefully, so you don’t trip!)
Penny Pincher Run
Find a penny on the ground while you’re running
Podcast Run
Download a new podcast and listen to it while you run
Silent Run
Run without headphones
Stone Age Run
Run without any sort of technology (not even a watch!)
Zoo Run
See if you can spot five different types of animal species on your run
Generous Run
Leave a few quarters in random places on your run for others to find (it’s always fun to find a quarter!)
Do 50/50 intervals of running and walking
Rainy Run
Go for a run in the rain
Forrest Gump Run
Run without a predetermined distance—just run until you feel like stopping. Arrange ahead of time for a family member or friend to pick you up when you’re done.
Even Split Run
Run 3+ miles with mile splits of less than 5 seconds difference
Progression Run
Run 3+ miles with each mile faster than the previous
Fartlek Run
Vary the speed of your run by “sprinting to the mailbox”, “jogging to the tree”, “running hard until you see a red car”, etc. Make it up as you go along—it should be spontaneous and fun.
Tempo Run
Run slightly faster than your easy pace—roughly the pace you could hold for a 1-hour race.
Interval Run
Alternate running hard for 2 mins, then jog for 2 mins.
**Full Moon Run
Go for a run at sunset on the night of a full moon (July 19, Aug. 18, or Sept. 16)
**Solstice Run
Start your run in spring, and end it in summer (June 20, at 6:34 pm EDT, marks the beginning of summer)
**Independence Run
Run on the 4th of July. Wear red, white, and blue.
**Ice Cream Run
Map out a run that finishes at an ice cream stand—and run for ice cream on National Ice Cream Day (July 17)
**Beer Run
Go for a run on International Beer Day (Aug. 26) and finish with a cold beer (or buy one for a friend)
**Chocolate Run
Go for a run on International Chocolate Day (Sept. 13) and enjoy something chocolatey later to celebrate
**Fall Equinox Run
End your summer by running into fall at 10:21 AM (EDT) on Sept. 22.

With 49 runs different runs on the list, I could work on 3-4 of these a week for the entire summer! (Please put safety first if you decide to try these--if it's not safe to run in the dark where you live, for example, just skip that one or come up with an alternative.) Even if you're not a runner, nearly all of these are able to be done as a walker. 

Summer officially begins on June 20th, which is a week from tomorrow--so I'll kick off the summer running with the Solstice Run (actually, I'll do two runs that day, in order to get my badge on Smashrun). I think this will be a fun way to have a running goal without being so serious. The variety will make things interesting all summer long. Usually, I am following a training schedule, so this summer will be different for me, and after creating this list, I'm looking forward to it!

ETA: Reader Amanda suggested having a hashtag for the checklist, so that as people complete the different runs and post them on social media, we can see how others' do with their runs--I love that idea! So let's go with the hashtag #CookiesSummerRunning. If you post about your runs from the checklist on social media, please use the hashtag so we can follow along and get some other ideas! :)

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