October 20, 2021

Wednesday Weigh-In : Week 21

I'm so happy that those pants in the above photo fit me! They don't look like anything special, I know. But I've had them for a long time because I love them so much. They're kind of silky feeling and they don't get any wrinkles, no matter how sloppily I fold them. And they don't pill on the inner thigh area! (The pilling and/or wearing out on the inner thigh is what usually causes me to replace comfy pants like yoga pants.)

I bought them at Salvation Army and the tag was cut out of the pants when I bought them--I have no idea what size they are, what the fabric is, etc. I just really liked the fabric and the way they fit, so I bought them.

As I lost weight in 2015, the pants just kept feeling bigger and bigger until they were TOO big. I still wore them with the elastic at the waist folded over on itself so they would stay up, but eventually, they literally fell down because they were so big. I couldn't bear to part with them, though! I got rid of all of my clothes that were too big, but I just couldn't get rid of these pants.

[Okay, curiosity just got the better of me and I searched for them online based on what the waistband looks like--see picture below. And I discovered that they are apparently scrubs! From HeartSoul Scrubs brand. I don't even care that they're scrubs; I now want them in every color! Hahaha. I just found them on Amazon--here is the (affiliate) link to them. I'm sure I only paid a couple of dollars for these and they've lasted a long time. I wore them a lot when they fit me.]

When I gained weight in 2018, I gained it so quickly that I didn't even get a change to wear these (again). I forgot that I'd held onto them. By the time I remembered, they were too small. Now that I've been losing weight again, I tried them on with the hope that they would fit. A couple of months ago, I could put them on, but they still looked too tight in my midsection.

Today, though, they are back to being "wearable in public" (that's my test for when I know something actually fits me--would I wear it in public?).

Every time I see mirror pictures, I tell myself I must clean my mirror. Maybe next week, you won't see spots and dust everywhere, haha.

After last week's gain, I really wanted to do well this week on the scale. And I did! I only went overboard with my calories once this week. Other than that, I was in a pretty good routine with my food.

Last week, I predicted that I would be 161.0 today. And you know what number was on the scale?

I was spot-on! (Technically, it was 160.6--but when I hold my phone to take a picture, it always adds 0.4).

My 4-week DietBet started today. I weighed in yesterday and I have to lose 6.5 pounds in the next 4 weeks. My weight loss over the last month really slowed down because I was getting lax about counting calories, so this will motivate me to stay on top of it.

Crossing my fingers that I might see the 150's next week :)

October 19, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #47

Happy Transformation Tuesday! I feel like I have a ton of "before" pictures on my phone from this week because I've been working on a lot of things, but I don't have any "after" photos yet. Nothing seems to be going right for me! The most frustrating has been the exterior door on the side of our house. What started out as a tiny 1/8 of an inch tweak has turned into a big nightmare. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish it this week. Each time I try, I run into another problem.

Anyways, I do have a couple of readers' transformations to share today! Here goes...

I have a very small and silly transformation, but it was pretty satisfying, so I'll share it. :)

I maintain the computers in my department at work. One day we were told "we need to get everyone laptops and all the cables they'll need to work from home, NOW" (Hello, Pandemic), and it was a mad rush to get everything done, digging through boxes of cables and adapters, or simply dumping them out on the floor to sift through.

Then we all went home for a year or so, and I forgot about this mess. Even when I started coming back as needed, one or two days a month, I just avoided looking at the disaster. Even when I was back 3 days a week. Then FINALLY I found inspiration to clean it up: vacation! I hate going on vacation and coming back to mess, so before I go on vacation, I always clean my office and house. SO much happier now. (I threw out a LOT of redundant cables.)

- Amy

Amy, I love this! I have a huge mess of cables that has been growing for years! Whenever we got a new electronic something-or-other, I always feel like "we might need that cable" (even if we already have 10 just like it) so I just add it to our collection. You've inspired me--I'm going to organize the cables (finally) and get rid of all the redundant ones. - Katie

We love our house, but there's an awful lot of dark brown. Rather than do a full renovation of our ensuite, we decided to give it a refresh to lighten it up a bit. We replaced the heavy mirror and dated light fixture with something a bit more modern, painted everything a nice shade of white, and added lots of greenery and photos from our travels. It feels so calm and relaxing now!!  

I've attached some before and after pictures that you can hopefully use. The lighting isn't great in the vanity picture, but you can still see how much of a difference the new round mirror makes!

- Krissie, Ontario, Canada

Krissie, it looks beautiful--like a little oasis! You must love taking baths in there; it looks so peaceful and relaxing. I think the warm white was a great choice. It never fails to amaze me how different a space can look from something as simple as paint! - Katie

Thank you so much for sharing your transformations with us this week! As always, please keep them coming so I can continue to post Transformation Tuesdays. To submit a transformation, just email a before photo and an after photo to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Include your name and a description of your transformation, and I'd love to share it :)

October 18, 2021

An Interview With My Friend Emily (who ran her first half-marathon yesterday)

What is it about driving that is so exhausting?! This morning, I drove to the opposite side of Michigan to visit my friend Emily. It's a little over a three-hour drive (each way), which I wasn't looking forward to, but she's come out here to visit several times and it was long overdue for me to go there. Besides, I hadn't seen her in about a year and a half--so it was great to catch up and to see where she lives. And meet Dexter, her nine-month old!

Emily ran the Detroit Half Marathon yesterday (her first half-marathon) so I naturally wanted to hear the details about how it went. I thought it would be fun to "interview" her for today's post. Emily is the only friend I have who also has bipolar disorder, so it's nice to talk to someone who "gets it". She started running not only for her physical health, but her mental health as well. (Here is a guest post she wrote about her experience with bipolar disorder.)

Here are some questions I had for her about her race and running...

Q. How long have you been running?

A. Since 2015. Well, actually, my first venture into running was a 10K in 2011; I did not train appropriately and it was terrible! I swore I would never run another race again. When I moved back to St. Joseph, I wanted to meet people in the area so I joined a local running group who did Couch to 5K training.

Q. So you joined for the social aspect of it?

A. Yes, I really wanted to meet people. Then in 2017, I did the Couch to Triathlon plan with the same group and just kept running.

Q. Why didn't you continue with the triathlons?

A. I hate swimming. I'm not very good at it and I don't feel strong. I get panic attacks in the water!

Anyway, I was going to do a half-marathon last year and the day that training started, I found out I was pregnant. I didn't run through my pregnancy; I just walked a lot. 

I'm in a global online running community for people who love Harry Potter--it's called "Potterhead Running Club" (PHRC). I started doing that in early 2020. I LOVE it--the community is awesome. I'm in the "Ravenclaw Tower"--a sub group of the club--and the runners from each group earn points for their own groups.

We do virtual charity runs and a 10-day event called Quidditch--every mile you run or walk earns points for your team. You aren't allowed to earn more than 15 points in one day; there are people that actually hit that cap every day!

This year, I participated in ALL of the virtual races.

Q. What made you sign up for the Detroit Half Marathon this year?

A. I had a baby in January and was struggling to lose the baby weight. I wanted a goal that I knew I could accomplish to journey my way back to health. I know I want more kids in the future and it's hard enough to find time to train as it is, so I knew that having more kids would make me even more busy. So it was now or never.

Q. How did you train for it?

A. I started training in early August. I reached out to a coach from my local running group and she created a training plan using the MAF plan with some speed work. Essentially the same sort of plan as the MAF80 plan that you made! I ran three days a week and for "cross-training" days, I would usually just go for a walk.

Q. Did you feel prepared for the race? I know you mentioned that the farthest you'd run in training was six miles.

A. Yes, I felt prepared. I ran based on time, rather than mileage; and because I was watching my heart rate, I did run/walking to keep my heart rate in the MAF zone. I felt prepared going into the race, even though my longest run was about six miles--it took me a long time to run six miles!

Q. What would you say your training pace was, while keeping your heart rate in your MAF zone?

A. I would say roughly 15 minutes per mile; on a good day, it would be 14-something. 

Q. Did you have a time goal for the race?

A. I just wanted to finish before the four-hour cut-off! Haha.

Q. Would you have done anything differently with your training?

A. No. I liked that it was "do-able" because of the MAF pacing. I didn't feel like it was something I couldn't do. I think pretty much anyone can run at a MAF heart rate because it doesn't feel "hard". It's an "easy" run.

Q. Was the race what you expected?

A. I thought there would be more spectators, but because of COVID, the race was different. They even had to change the course so that it didn't cross into Canada. The houses I ran past were gorgeous! There was some entertainment along the way, too--a drum line, and a saxophone player at one point. There was some cool entertainment along the way. Here are a couple of cool things I saw:

Q. What was the most memorable part of the race?

A. Finishing. I wanted to finish strong, so my pace increased and I started picking one person ahead of me and try to catch up to them. I couldn't believe how much faster my pace got. I was in awe of the fact that I was about to finish. I was actually kind of shocked that I finished. Even though I was prepared for it, I felt like, "Holy crap, I did it!"

Q. Would you ever do another half-marathon?

A. Yes, definitely. Now that I know I can do it, I would like to work on my pace. It felt good being able to accomplish something. Keeping the house clean is an accomplishment, but a race is much more fun!

Q. What are your running plans from here on out?

A. Today I rest--I am super sore! I don't know my future plans yet; we may have another baby in the near future. I would like to be able to run throughout my pregnancy (just not training for a race). I'm in a local running group (Sunset Coast Striders) and I plan to continue to run with them once a week. Being outside, the walks and the runs are so good for my mental health. I plan to continue something outside; I just don't know how running will fit in yet.

Running has been great for me, personally, for my mental and emotional health, and great for my family. When I'm taking the best care of myself, I can be the best version of myself--as a mom, wife, and social worker.

October 17, 2021

TRAINING PLAN: My 'MAF80' Running Plan (for beginners to heart rate training)

This post is a copy of what I've attached to the (printable) running plan as well, so it may sound a bit formal. But I've put SO much work into this plan and I hope that it works out well!

Here you can download and/or print the plan (which includes all of what is written below).

I want to start by stating that this is a trial plan—it hasn’t been tested and I wrote it based on my own knowledge as an RRCA-certified running coach as well as personal experience and reading various training methods. I’ve combined a couple of principles from two main sources to create this plan: Dr. Phil Maffetone’s MAF (maximum aerobic function) heart rate training method and Matt Fitzgerald’s 80/20 Running method. This is why I’ve (so cleverly) named this self-combined method “MAF80”.

This MAF80 training method means that you will be running and/or walking at a particular heart rate zone (called your MAF zone, which I will explain later) 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time will be spent running at a heart rate higher than that zone. I wanted this plan to be something that is do-able for beginners to heart rate training as well as for people who don’t want to do a high-mileage plan. This is not for training for a specific goal; if you are a seasoned runner and want to get faster for a 5K or 10K time goal, I would suggest my other plans called “Your Best 5K” and “Your Best 10K”. My running plans can be found here: https://www.runsforcookies.com/p/training-plans.html

First, MAF stands for Maximum Aerobic Function. The MAF heart rate is the highest heart rate you have before transitioning to an anaerobic state (a state that does not help build your endurance); ideally, you want to have a very fit aerobic system, and the best way to strengthen it is to exercise aerobically.

Note: The MAF heart rate formula was based on research done by Dr. Maffetone. The number isn’t 100% carved in stone for all people; but based on his findings, that formula works for the overwhelming majority.

When you exercise at a heart rate higher than the maximum *aerobic* function (MAF), you’re working your anaerobic system. This is also beneficial—for different reasons—but a little goes a long way. Doing too much can have the opposite effect and actually be harmful. Also, without a fit aerobic system, doing anaerobic work is pretty much pointless.

As a running coach (and runner myself), I find that the hardest thing for runners to do is SLOW DOWN during their training. “Easy runs” are the most important runs in a training plan! And most runners do them too fast, which isn’t giving them the benefits that the workouts are designed for (which is to develop endurance).

I created this MAF80 plan to force the runner to do the easy runs at a truly easy (aerobic) effort 80% of the time. The other 20% is beneficial physically, of course, but also mentally; as runners, we like to let loose and go fast sometimes! It also keeps the running from getting too boring.

(Note: Dr. Maffetone’s MAF training recommends that you do 100% of your training at a MAF level. I would suggest reading his ideas before choosing what is best for you. I believe in the 80/20 rule, which is why I combined the two.)

The end goal of running at a MAF heart rate is to be able to increase your performance while maintaining the same effort level. For example, if you run in your MAF heart rate zone (let’s say it’s 130-140 beats per minute) and your average pace is 11:00/mile when you start training, after several weeks or months of MAF heart rate training, you ideally will be able to run at the same heart rate but at a faster pace (let’s say 9:30 per mile). Running at a 9:30 pace will feel the same as running at an 11:00 pace did before.

When running at a MAF heart rate, your EFFORT always remains the same; your performance/pace varies. The fitter you get, the faster you can run at the same heart rate. (I will explain more about MAF heart rate later.)

It’s important to note that this plan is designed for heart rate training, which obviously requires a heart rate monitor. There is a huge variety online. I like to use my old Garmin Forerunner 620, but feel free to use whatever heart rate monitor you’d like.

I designed this plan with a few things in mind:

1) Variety. I didn’t want it to be monotonous.

2) Sticking with the 80/20 principle (per the principles in the book ’80/20 Running’ by Matt Fitzgerald)

3) Running for time instead of mileage. This makes it easier for runners to slow down because whether you run fast or run slow, you’re still running for the same amount of time. Might as well slow down and enjoy it! Also, the 80/20 principle is based on time spent running per week—80% at an easy effort and 20% at a harder effort. “Easy” and “Hard” are relative to the individual, so mileage doesn’t work in this case.

4) I took into account the fact that your heart rate is lowest at the start of your run and highest at the end of your run. So the order of running easy/hard may seem backwards, but I designed it this way on purpose. Your runs will start out at the MAF zone, saving the harder running for later when your heart rate is likely to be higher anyway.

5) Four workouts per week, 40 minutes each. You can add more MAF running if you’d like. There are two runs that are solely for MAF running; one day for faster intervals; and another day for longer, not-as-hard intervals (called Tempo).

6) Simplicity. There are only three effort levels: MAF (easy), Hard, and Tempo:

    1. MAF (a.k.a. “easy”). Run in your MAF zone. At first, you may feel like you’re having to check your heart rate frequently, but eventually you will get a feel for it. If you don’t want to keep checking, just run as slowly as possible! You should barely get winded and should be able to hold conversation at that effort level.

    2. Hard. Run at what feels like a hard effort—about a 8-9 on a scale of 1-10. Don’t put too much thought into it, though! You don’t need to worry about your heart rate during these runs; just run at a pace that makes you wish it was over already, haha. 

    3. Tempo. Run at a moderately hard effort—about a 6-7 on a scale of 1-10. It should feel kind of uncomfortable, where you will want to slow down, but you could hold that pace for much longer if needed.

There is also Walk, which is self-explanatory. I wrote the Walk portions in the spots where I felt it was most beneficial to get your heart rate back down to your MAF zone quickly. I always walk the recovery portion of interval training and I find I get the best results that way. Walking helps you to recover so you can push hard in the next segment.

A lot of beginners discover that running, even at the slowest pace possible, puts their heart rate over the MAF threshold. This is super common! In this case, you should run/walk (or even just walk) in order to keep your heart rate in the MAF zone. It can be frustrating (I’ve been there!) but eventually, you will notice that you’re able to run for longer periods of time before having to walk again. And one day, you’ll be able to run the entire time at a MAF heart rate. On the days where you can do speed work, run to your heart’s content!

If you want to speed up your progress, you can feel free to add more workouts or extend your workouts—at a MAF effort. You don’t ever want to do more than 20% of the time per week spent running at a hard effort (meaning higher than your MAF heart rate).

Because this plan is just a trial (I basically created it as an experiment for myself), I’ve only written 6 weeks. I will see how it goes and adjust as necessary, and if it is working out well, I’ll add to it. (Feel free to give me progress reports!) But if you want to extend it as is, you can just repeat weeks. To see significant progress (which depends entirely on the individual) I’m almost certain it’ll take at least a few months.

Finally, to calculate your MAF heart rate:

Just subtract your age from 180, and that is your MAF number! That number is the maximum of the range; the minimum number is 10 beats per minute below that. For example, I’m 39 years old, so my MAF heart rate is: 180-39=141 bpm. My MAF range would be 131-141 bpm.

Note: When you first start each run, your heart rate will likely be far below the MAF range. You don’t have to rush to get it into the MAF range. It will probably reach that range within a few minutes, so again—don’t overthink it.

I could write MUCH more on the hows and whys I’ve chosen to design this plan the way it is, but for now, I just want to test it out and see how it goes. I’m sharing it in case you are interested in trying it, too!

Again, I recommend the following reading:

- The MAF 180 Formula by Dr. Phil Maffetone (https://philmaffetone.com/180-formula/). There is MUCH more to his 180 Formula and MAF training than I could even begin to cover here. The only part of his method that I used is the 180-number. (His formula actually includes a few more steps.)

- ’80/20 Running’, a book by Matt Fitzgerald, explaining the hows and whys training at 80% easy and 20% hard is ideal. (This is an Amazon affiliate link, which just means that I may get a small commission for recommending it: https://amzn.to/3n09Hip )

Finally, make sure you read the post on my blog called “The Importance of the Easy Run”—it explains more in-depth why runners should be doing easier runs: https://www.runsforcookies.com/2016/04/the-importance-of-easy-run.html

Okay, as far as the plan goes:

- There are 4 runs per week, 40 minutes each.

- You can swap runs for others that have the same number of “HARD” minutes (for the sake of simplicity, the “Hard” runs and “Tempo” runs are both considered “Hard” when calculating the 20% rule because they both are done at a heart rate higher than your MAF zone. Each week, your Hard running (which includes Tempo) should add up to no more than 32 minutes (as the plan is written, each week has 30 minutes of hard running and 130 minutes of easy MAF running).

- You may add MAF running wherever/whenever you’d like.

I think that sums it up in a nutshell. Please feel free to give me feedback or ask any questions. I plan to make changes to this training plan as needed, based on feedback (as well as my own experience—I’m going to be doing it as well).

Happy Running! xo

Here is where you can get the free training plan and all of the explanation above

October 16, 2021

Would You Rather...?

My mood is still in a weird funk and I really just want to bury my head in the sand for a little bit and pretend life is just at a standstill. I feel very overwhelmed for some reason; I have a lot to get done, but not much more than usual, so I'm not sure why I feel this way.

I'm starting to think that I'm experiencing a "mixed episode" of bipolar, which is something that never really made sense to me until now. A mixed episode means having multiple symptoms of mania/hypomania and depression at the same time.

I looked up the criteria for it to be classified as a mixed episode and this is a summary of symptoms from the DSM-V (source):

I feel like I'm more on the hypomanic side of things right now, but I definitely have several of the depressive episode symptoms as well. I may need to talk to my psychiatrist and increase my mood stabilizer (at my last appointment, we decreased it a bit).

Anyway, I'm not prepared to write anything worthwhile at the moment, so I thought it would be a good time for another "Would You Rather...?" post. I got the questions from this site. Here goes:

Q. Would you rather be a genius and know everything or be amazing at any activity you tried?

A. This is a great question! But I really didn't even have to think very long about it. I'd rather be a genius and know everything. One of the best parts of life is practicing hobbies and finding what you're good at. I was was amazing at everything I tried, I think life would be boring. 

Q. Would you rather dine alone or watch a movie by yourself?

A. I'm assuming that this question is referring to going out--eating alone in a restaurant or watching a movie at the theater by oneself. I'm actually really comfortable with either one! I've always been that way. In college, my roommate thought it was SO WEIRD that I would occasionally go out to eat by myself. I've gone to movies alone, too. I guess if I had to choose, I'd prefer to watch a movie by myself, since there isn't much talking involved anyway.

Q. Would you rather be the richest person in the world or be immortal?

A. Honestly, I think either of these would be a curse! Being filthy rich is never something I've dreamt of. I feel like from the moment people learned of your wealth, your relationship would change. I think it would be extremely difficult to trust people--I'd always be wondering if they actually liked me or if they were just interested in money. 

Being immortal would come with its own set of problems--you'd see everyone you love die eventually; goals in life would change because you wouldn't have a timeframe to of which to base them; and I feel like life would lose a lot of purpose if you had no ending. 

But, in true "would your rather...?" fashion, if I had to choose, I would rather be rich.  

Q. Would you rather wear pants 3 sizes too big or shoes 3 sizes too small?

A. There is no way that I would want to wear shoes that are three sizes too small! Can you imagine how much that would hurt? I like baggy clothes, so the pants wouldn't be too bad ;)

Q. Would you rather go into the past and meet your ancestors or go into the future and meet your great-great-grandchildren?

A. I think anyone that knows me knows that I would love to meet my ancestors. I would particularly like to meet my maternal grandpa and my paternal grandma. They both died when my parents were still teenagers. I don't know much about my dad's mom, but from what I've heard about my mom's dad, he would be super fun to get to know.

Q. Would you rather lose your ability to speak or the ability to hear?

A. I would rather lose my ability to hear. I get overwhelmed by noises a lot of the time. I'm not saying that I would be happy to lose my hearing; but out of all of my senses, I think that would be the one I would least mind losing.

Q. Would you rather experience the world beginning or ending?

A. I definitely think the beginning would be better. Not to get too dark during a light-hearted game of "Would You Rather...?", but it's sad to see how terrible people are to each other now in comparison with just a few years ago; if it continues to get worse, I don't want to experience that. Seeing the world beginning would be pretty cool!

Q. Would you rather have more money or more time?

A. I'm assuming this means on a daily basis as opposed to the question about immortality. I would definitely choose to have more time. I don't like feeling overwhelmed (as I do now) and I wish that I could do everything at a leisurely pace. Feeling rushed is stressful! (Of course, money can be stressful, too. If we were struggling financially, then I'd choose to have more money so we could live comfortably.

Q. Would you rather only be able to whisper or only be able to shout?

A. Haha! I can't imagine shouting everything. I like quiet. I would choose to only be able to whisper. It wouldn't be ideal, because then I'd be even quieter than I already am, but it would be better than shouting!

And to end with a silly one...

Q. Would you rather be without elbows or without knees?

A. Imagining either of this is hilarious. I think it would be much more of a struggle to be without elbows--you wouldn't be able to touch your upper body at all (let alone eat). Walking without knees would look silly, but it can definitely be done (that's pretty much how I walk when I'm super stiff in the mornings, hahaha).

Okay, I'm going to write out a "to do" list right now for tomorrow. Writing it out and then (hopefully) checking it off throughout the day will help me to feel less overwhelmed. Also, I love writing lists!

October 15, 2021

Friday Night Photos

Ahh, Friday night. Usually, Friday nights are my favorite time of the week! Today, though, I'm just not feeling it. I've been feeling off for a couple of days now. I really hope that this isn't an episode of depression coming on (in the past--before medication--I would almost always cycle between hypomania and depression without a break in between).

I think I might just be hyperaware of my mood right now, considering the hypomania I've experienced recently; and with the history of depression following the hypomania, I'm nervous it will come to that. But I could also just be having a bad couple of days--that's normal! Normal people have bad days, too. (By "normal", I mean people who don't have bipolar disorder.)

I know that my sleep (or lack of) is playing a huge role in whatever is going on. I don't sleep much as it is (I'll forever be an insomniac) but a couple of nights ago, the power went out at around 1:00 AM. Then it went back on a couple of minutes later. Then off again. On and off, over and over. Each time that happened, the appliances in the house would make some sort of noise. And the street lights were going on and off, making my room go pitch black and then back to the "normal" dark.

At one point, Joey let out a half-bark; he only ever barks if there is someone here (arriving in a car or on foot). It was the middle of the night and with the power going on and off, I was a little freaked out. I went over to the window to look outside and the street lights were out so it was completely pitch black and I couldn't see anything at all. I have no idea if someone was out there, but I guess not, because he was quiet after that.

There was no storm or anything so I had no idea what made the power go out. But I absolutely wasn't going to be able to sleep during it all. At 3 AM, I looked on the DTE app to report our outage, and I saw that there was actually a pretty big outage. I sent this screenshot to Jerry, who was at work:

See how random? I think I fell asleep sometime around 4:30, and then I had to get up at 6:00. Of course, the kids slept through the whole thing! (The power was back on by morning.)

I'm hoping my body will let me catch up on sleep soon. I know I need it. I just took some of my anxiety medication, which helps my brain calm down, so maybe I'll be able to get some sleep tonight and I'll feel better tomorrow.

Anyway, I don't really have any exciting photos this week. A couple of days ago, I put together a couple of weight loss comparison photos; after seeing a gain on the scale, it helped to see the progress I've made in the last 20 weeks...

That first photo was from one of my first Couch to 5K runs (back in May). I didn't realize how chubby my face had gotten!

This is a comparison with the anniversary shirt that Jerry had made for us in 2020. I remember REALLY not wanting to post our anniversary photos because I couldn't believe how big I looked. I posted them anyway, but I was embarrassed of them. Today, I put on the same clothes for comparisons' sake and I can't believe how big the shirt feels. It's so nice to have something feel big on me for the first time in years!

These are just some views from my runs. The skeletons are back! It's my FAVORITE thing to see when out for a walk/run. I love October :) 

I made a heritage recipe for banana cake with cooked buttercream frosting, but I decided not to post the recipe. Unfortunately, it didn't turn out very good (I just didn't think that the flavors went well together). The person who submitted the recipe is still living, and I would just feel bad if they happened to see that I didn't care for it. Jerry agreed with me about the cake--he only took a couple of bites. It looked good, though!

I always feel bad when the cats get bored. Duck walks around the house just looking for something to get into (he'll jump on the table and just push things off with his paw--not to be "bad" but because he's bored and looking for something to do). When I see him doing that, I usually try to perk his interest somehow--in this case, all I had to do was put the cats' scratch pad on two chairs in the living room, and it entertained the kittens for hours. (That's Chick on top; Duck is underneath--you can barely see him!) It's so funny how making one small change like that gives them so much entertainment.

I've decided what I'm going to do with the oak boards that I milled, and I'm SO excited about it! I'm making a "cat wall"--I'll share more about it later. But it is basically going to be a jungle gym for the cats on a wall, using shelves and things. I don't want it to be a total eyesore, so I'm trying to design it to go with the decor (well, as much as it can, anyway).

This was from Eli's soccer game. He's super easy to spot on the field because he's the only one with bright yellow shoes. This is a terrible picture, but I love that I caught it just as his was mid-stride in a "floating" pose.

Since it's been getting dark earlier, they got to play under the big lights--it was so fun to see a night game! Yesterday, they won an important game which put them into some tournament in Ann Arbor. (I have no idea how the soccer associations work.) So that's exciting for him. I'm surprised (and happy) at how much he has enjoyed playing.

Earlier, Noah had to take a biology test online and he was studying for it all morning. I'm so impressed with the materials that are given in college courses today! When I took biology and even anatomy, we just had books thicker than phone books and the photos weren't great. He has this computer program with 3-D models that he can maneuver to see all the parts. It makes me want to take college anatomy all over again (I've always loved anatomy).

Okay, well that's all for now. I'm hoping I get to sleep for the next 48 hours--wouldn't that be nice?!--to catch up, but even if I can just get 5-6 hours, I'll be satisfied. Have a great weekend! xo

October 14, 2021

Still working on it...

I've been working so hard to get the post with the training plan done--my version of MAF and 80/20 combined, which I've now aptly named MAF80--so clever, I know. I thought I'd have it done to post tonight, but it's 9:00 PM and I still haven't eaten dinner and I'm definitely not going to get this done in time. Especially when I'm starving.

So, I just have to post this as a filler and I'll work on the training plan some more so that it's ready to publish this weekend. I can't remember if I ever shared this photo or not on Friday Night Photos, but this is one of the squirrels just relaxing in what looks like the most uncomfortable position ever.

It was funny--Eli told me to "come look at this squirrel!", and we were laughing at how she was lying across the posts like that. I grabbed the camera and was hoping to get a picture before she moved, and unfortunately, she saw me through the window and ran over for a nut. I assumed she'd never lie down like that again--well, she went right back to that position!

Okay, I'm going to make something to eat and work on the training plan post some more later...

October 13, 2021

Wednesday Weigh-In : Week 20

No, I did not wear this in public yesterday, haha. I went to Eli's soccer game and I was FREEZING so I wore these tights and top underneath my jeans and hoodie. (These are the black cat tights that Jerry bought me in October of last year.) I only took this selfie for today because I thought it was significant that I was actually able to wear them underneath my jeans.

I wasn't able to even fit into the jeans 20 weeks ago, so the fact that I could easily wear them over the tights was a big deal. They were loose even with the tights under them, so I'm going to get rid of them and several more pairs of jeans that are too big.

That is, of course, assuming I start consistently losing weight again! I already spoiled my weigh-in yesterday by saying that I knew I was going to have a gain on the scale today. There was no surprise there. I've had a crazy (quite literally, according to my psych chart, haha) whirlwind of emotions lately. Being hypomanic either makes me not want to eat anything at all or it makes me just think, "Eh, what the heck!" and eat everything.

I haven't been binge eating or anything like that; I just went overboard during the weekend (Friday through Sunday) and I didn't count my calories. I've been getting more lax with the calorie counting lately and now I'm clearly taking two steps forward, then one step back.

Anyway, today I was at 164, which is up 2 pounds from last week. 

I am not at the point where I'd say that I'm "struggling" or even that I'm worried I'm going to quit working on getting to my goal. I'm not feeling that way at all! It was just simply a step back and I'm confident that I'll take those couple of pounds off this week.

I'd really like to see the 150's before the end of the month! So, to get recharged and focused, and I decided to join another 4-week DietBet. I'm still doing the 6-month bet (I'm 4 months in) but I've already reached my goal for that; as long as I don't gain weight back, I've already won that 6-month bet. During my 4-week bet, I was more motivated to continue to lose weight each week because there is no time for making up bad weeks. I had to be very consistent or I would likely lose my bet.

I feel like joining another one would push me to get the scale moving consistently again, so I picked a 4-week bet and joined yesterday. (If you're interested, here is the link to it.) It starts on October 20th--next Wednesday--and ends November 16. I'll have to lose 4% of my starting weight; assuming next week will be a decent weigh-in (I'll guess I'll be about 161), then I would have to lose 6 pounds, bringing me to about 155 pounds mid-November. I'd be happy with that!

October 12, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #46

Yikes--it's Tuesday already! I've been dreading my weigh-in tomorrow (it's not going to be good) but I'll write about that tomorrow. Today, let's talk about transformations...!

First, I'll share one of my own that I've been working on all week. I've written a couple of times about the dining table and chairs I bought via Facebook Marketplace--6 chairs and a table with a leaf, all made of solid oak--for $25! Nice, right?

I was excited to refinish it, but after I started working on it, I realized it was going to entail WAY more work than I'd thought. I had no experience with spindles or legs on chairs and after watching some YouTube videos, I learned that there is way more to it than dabbing some wood glue in the loose ends. (Basically, the whole chair needs to be disassembled, all the joints cleaned and repaired if needed, then reassembled.) Totally not worth my time or the wear and tear on my body, even if it only cost $25.

It seemed a shame to get rid of all that nice oak, though. So, I spent some time taking everything apart.

I started with all of the chair seats (which I forgot to take a picture of) and then moved on to the table and leaf itself. I ran them through the planer to shave off a thin layer of wood on the top and the bottom surfaces (it also made them an even 0.75" thickness all the way through), and I used the jointer and the table saw to square up the edges. (I still have a raw edge where the curved pieces were, but I'll cut that once I figure out what I'm going to do with the boards.

When all was said and done, I now have six smaller rectangles from the seats, four large panels and two medium panels from the table. (I also have several smaller strips that I can use for jigs or when I need random pieces of hardwood here and there.) This would cost a small fortune if I was buying it as it is now. I'm excited to build something with it! I haven't decided what to build yet, though.

This was before and after running it through the planer:

I would like to think of something to do with the table stand (in the top right of the first picture). But I'm at a total loss, so if you have any ideas, please share.

Okay, here are a couple of readers' transformations this week:

This is the box of fabric I ordered online. Then the quilt I made from it. It's a jelly roll quilt with ample borders. It's for the river island cabin, hence the water lilies. The back is all moons and trees, water. It kinda makes me feel artistic.

- Karen

Karen, I'm so impressed! I always wondered what people did with those rolls of fabric (some of the color combinations are so pretty and I'm tempted to buy them, but I'd have no idea what to do with them). You did a great job! I especially love the fabric on the border. - Katie

Here is a before and after of my front porch and landscaping. It isn’t a huge change but I swapped out my summer decor for fall. More importantly but hard to see in the photos, I cleaned up the porch and washed/sprayed the front of the house. It used to be so gross and dirty and just hosing it down made a huge difference. And finally, we cleaned all of the weeds out of our landscaping rocks. I think it makes a huge difference in how well-kept the house looks!

- Beth, Minnesota

Beth, these landscaping photos people keep sharing are making me so jealous! I really love the landscaping rocks. And of course, I love the pop of orange on the porch ;)  (I know what you mean about hosing down the sides of the house--it's amazing what a difference that can make. And you don't even realize just how bad it was until you start spraying!) You did an amazing job--it looks so welcoming :)  - Katie

Well, that is all I have for this week. Thank you for inspiring us with your transformations, Karen and Beth! As always, please keep sending in the transformations so I can keep posting this series. To submit a transformation, just send a before photo and an after photo to me at: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Be sure to include your name and a description of the transformation!

October 11, 2021

A Simple Explanation of MAF Heart Rate Training (and why I love it!)

I just got back from an evening run, and I just have to write this down so I remember it: the circumstances in THIS RUN are exactly the reason I fell in love with MAF training back in 2015.

I'm going to back up and bit and just explain what MAF is and its significance to me (as well as to my running coach style). If you've been reading my blog for a long time, then you can skip over all this...

MAF stands for "maximum aerobic function" (don't worry, I'm not going to get technical about all this, even though I am a total nerd for it; I'm going to keep it very simple here). It was developed by Dr. Phil Maffetone ('MAF' and 'Maffetone' are purely coincidental). Here is how his logic works:

Everybody has a MAF heart rate. There is a formula on his website which takes into several factors, but for the general population--as well as the way I use it--you subtract your age from 180 to get your MAF heart rate. I'm 39 years old, so my MAF rate is 180-39=141. The "golden rule" of MAF training is that you don't exceed your MAF heart rate while exercising.

(Note: Your MAF rate is a single number, but since it's nearly impossible to consistently train at that solid number, Dr. Maffetone says to create a range of 10 beats per minute below your MAF rate, with your MAF rate being at the top of the range. Since my MAF rate is 141, my MAF range would be 131-141 beats per minute. )

For almost everyone, this means exercising considerably easier/slower. For runners, it can feel painfully slow and ridiculous. There is a reason for training at this pace, though, otherwise people wouldn't do it.

To keep things simple and easy to understand, I won't get into the physiology of it, but according to Dr. Maffetone, when you exercise at your MAF heart rate, your body gets more efficient and when you eventually add more stress (running faster, cycling harder, whatever your exercise is), your heart won't have to work harder to keep up. You will be putting in the same amount of EFFORT (as evidenced by your heart rate), but you will improve your fitness level.

I'll use running as an example, since it's my "thing": Let's say I run a 5K race at 10:00 minutes per mile (running as hard as I can for that race). Then I start MAF training: I do ALL of my training runs at or a little below my MAF heart rate--in this case, 141 beats per minute. While it feels like I'm not working hard, I am actually making my body more efficient.

Over a period of several months (more or less--it varies greatly), I might need to start running a little bit faster in order to get my heart rate up to 141 bpm. It will still feel just as easy--I'm still stressing my heart the same as before--but I'll be able to do more/work harder in order to get my heart rate to that number.

Then, because my body has become much more efficient over, say, six months, I might run another 5K race at the same effort as the first one (pretty much as fast as I can) and my pace might be 8:00 minutes per mile.

To put it super simply, when MAF training, you're not working HARDER in order to become more fit; your body is just becoming more efficient at the same effort.

I will use myself as a testament that it really works:

In 2015, my pace had gotten much slower than I used to run. My 10K pace was about 11:00 minutes per mile (just two years prior, I had run just under an 8:00/mile pace in the 10K). My training had never involved my heart rate--I used my pace to gauge my fitness and my training. I did my "easy" runs at a heart rate of about 20 beats per minute OVER my MAF rate!

After getting over a stress fracture, I finally decided to try something I'd never done before: running at a truly EASY pace, by the very definition.

I read a book called '80/20 Running' by Matt Fitzgerald (Amazon affiliate link) that had a huge impact on my training. I combined what I'd read about MAF training with 80/20 running (and my knowledge as a running coach) to produce my own training plan. The biggest change in my training was that I began running MUCH slower than I was used to. I did at least 80% of my training at my MAF heart rate--and that translated to a pace of 11:00-12:00/mile.

Per the 80/20 method, I also did a small amount of speed work (no more than 20% of my TIME spent running per week was done at a heart rate higher than my MAF rate). Here is an explanation I wrote about how I combined the two methods to train.

I found that I was getting faster on the days that I did my speed work and that I was able to run slightly faster while maintaining my MAF heart rate during training. There wasn't a huge difference in the training pace, but I could see progress.

I was training for a goal 10K in April 2016--which was about five months after I started running at my MAF pace. I ended up running my goal 10K in 49:03 (a 7:54 per mile pace!).

Running my easy runs EASY was the best change I could have made in my training. I have no doubt that my combination training (I really should name it something--I made the training method by combining 80/20 and MAF in my own way.)

Anyway, why am I writing about all this again now? (Because you're hypomanic, Katie!) (Just kidding.) (But not really.)

Because my run this evening brought back all the good feels from my MAF training and it makes me want to do it again.

When I first ran at a truly easy pace (my MAF heart rate), I just let go of any and all expectations of my pace (that's very hard to do as a runner--we always want to go faster.) To be successful at this training, and to actually enjoy this training, you have to set your pride aside and trust the process. Someone is giving you ORDERS to go slowly, so enjoy it!

Today, I decided to run at my MAF heart rate range (131-141 bpm) and just see where my pace was when I ran at that heart rate. At first, my thoughts were focused on how slow I was and it's going to appear to others that I am losing fitness and all those thoughts that we need to get over in order to train properly. Once I embraced the slower pace, a big change came over me. I felt wonderful!

I didn't feel out of breath and I stopped focusing on how much longer until the run is over; I started to think that maybe I'd run farther than planned. I had planned to go just two miles and I procrastinated all day long because I didn't want to do it. Once my mindset switched over to that MAF feeling, I felt like I could run for hours (which is how you SHOULD feel when you are running at a truly easy pace). I tacked on an extra mile. When I stopped my Garmin in front of my house, I didn't have to catch my breath. I felt like I'd just gone for an easy walk. I actually felt really excited!

And maybe it's just because I'm hypomanic, but I started thinking that I want to train at my MAF rate again. Not only that, I want to write a new training plan--a lower mileage plan for beginners to MAF training. I am not interested in building up mileage--I only want to run enough to stay fit, at least for the near future--so I want to keep my mileage relatively low. I want to do my own method of combining 80/20 running with MAF.

I have written a couple of plans (that you can find here--named "Your Best 5K" and "Your Best 10K") for 5K and 10K training in this way--those plans were the most challenging plans I've ever written because I had to make all of the math work! However, even the 5K plan has more mileage than I want to run.

I don't want to train for a race or to hit a particular goal. I just want to use the training method because I enjoy it. So, I'm going to work on writing up a training plan for that purpose. (Let's hope it's not just my hypomania talking--this is a textbook example of something like that!)

Since I usually write about my running on Thursdays, I will try to write more about it then. Hopefully I can get the plan done this week!

Note: Something that people always ask about when I write about MAF training is that they can't run and stay under their MAF heart rate. The only way they can stay at that heart rate is to walk (or at least take walking breaks). Dr. Maffetone would say to do whatever it takes to stay in your zone. This really sucks for people who want to run! (And this is the reason that I wasn't doing MAF training as I got back into running--I just wanted to run for the feel of running.)

The training will work if you follow it as Dr. Maffetone states, if you're willing. You will eventually be able to run and maintain your MAF heart rate; it just takes patience. I think one of the biggest factors as to how fast that works is just how much training you're doing.

To a certain extent, the more you are training at your MAF rate, the faster you're going to see progress. Doing 30 minutes 3 times a week is likely to take a lot longer than 60 minutes 5 days a week. (Keep in mind that the training is EASY, so doing a 60 minute run/walk/other exercise at MAF heart rate isn't going to exhaust or overtrain you.)

If there is only one post you read about proper training, let it be this one: The Importance of the Easy Run!

To read all of the details about the MAF method (it goes into WAY more than just the heart rate training) you can find it on his website.

October 10, 2021

Aging Humor

I just wasted a WHOLE lot of time prepping a post called, "Things That Make Me Laugh"--which was full of my most favorite memes. I have a folder on Pinterest called "Things That Make Me Laugh" and whenever something makes me legit laugh out loud, I add it to the folder. So I was going through that for a couple of hours picking out my favorites.

And then before I started adding them to this post, I did a quick search on my blog and discovered that I already made a post with the exact same title and the exact same content! As I approach 40, everything seems to be going downhill, including my memory.

So, I just pulled some fun things that make me laugh in regards to getting older... enjoy :)

(Here is the previous post I was referring to--lots of funny memes!)

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