Change of pace

So, it is 7:42 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I should be outside running right now. Why, then, am I sitting here in my pajamas, sipping coffee, writing this blog post? I’m glad you asked!

It has been brought to my attention (by my body) that I am injured and need a rest from running.
I am quite disheartened by this news, but am trying hard to stay positive and be creative about other ways I can stay fit and keep burning calories.

Time for one leg squats?

better one leg squatA few weeks ago I remember teasing with the girls in my office that I must really have one dominant leg when I run because it seemed like I had built up the muscle in one leg significantly larger than the other.

I was frequently noticing while wearing capri-length pants that they would be very tight around my left calf, to the point of discomfort. But they fit just fine around my right calf.

One gal suggested it wouldn’t be that unusual to have one foot that I always lead with and that I could actually build up more muscle in that leg than the other. She thought maybe I should consider doing some exercises specifically with the other leg to try to even them out. It sounded somewhat logical, and I didn’t do any further research on the subject.

Over the last few weeks I’ve frequently found this situation to be very noticeable and sometimes uncomfortable, but then other times I didn’t notice it at all and it would just slip from my mind. I would occasionally notice tightness in my calves, that one side in particular, and a little tingling and a lot of muscle twitching. I assumed this was just the results of working the muscles hard when I run.

Not your ordinary soreness

This past week on Monday, my left calf was really bothering me while I was at work. It seemed like as I sat at my desk, with my legs dangling down to the floor, my calf was swollen. I kept trying to prop it up on something under my desk, looking for some relief from the discomfort caused by swelling. On my lunch break I even sat out in my car, with my foot propped up on the dashboard for elevation, just trying to get some relief.

By Tuesday I started to realize some thing was really wrong here. This was not just muscle soreness from vigorous exercise. My left calf was swollen to nearly twice the size of the right leg! And it just felt so tight, and uncomfortable and constant twitching of the muscles. I decided it may be time to see my doctor. To be honest, my mind was zeroing in on ‘worst case scenario’ and I feared it may be a blood clot. I just wanted to hear my doctor say that it wasn’t that.

As it turned out, my doctor, upon seeing my swelling and hearing my symptoms, immediately became concerned about the same thing. She told me it was most likely that I had a sports injury, but that the symptoms and risk factors also pointed strongly towards deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) and she wanted to rule that out before pursuing any other options.

She ordered me over to the hospital for an ultrasound “stat”! It always worries me when the doctor actually seems anxious and in a hurry for a test. Her staff called the hospital and explained they needed this test done right now, and they sat on hold while the hospital admin made calls to rearrange their appointments to fit me in. Then I went straight over there for the ultrasound.

The ultrasound was an interesting process and I have to tell you, it looks a little bit like the moon – inside my leg. 🙂 At the end of it, the technician told me that she cannot give me any results of the test, that the doctor would have to review it and go over the results with me. However, she could tell me that if she had found a blood clot she would not be allowed to let me leave the hospital. Then she smiled and said “And you are going home now”. Enough said, I finally exhaled with relief.

Time for a change of pace

A few hours later my doctor called with the official test results saying that the ultrasound was normal and there was no blood clot. That leaves us with the most likely culprit being some sort of tear, strain or other type of sports injury. She referred me to an orthopedic sports-medicine specialist. That was Wednesday afternoon, and with Thursday being the July 4th holiday, I had to wait until Friday to even call them for an appointment. Now I’ll be going in there on Monday to see what they have to say about the situation.

At least now that I know I am not dealing with anything life-threatening, I could start treating this like a soft tissue injury even though I don’t know exactly which muscle it is or the extent of the injury. I started immediately on Wednesday afternoon with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation), coupled with a few doses of Tylenol to help bring down the swelling.
RICE

Being the fitness addict that I now am, my mind is already reeling with thoughts like:

    How bad is this injury?
    How long will it take to heal?
    When will I be able to run again?
    How much more damage did I do by continuing to run long after being injured without realizing at the time that I was injured?
    What sort of rehab will I need to do to heal and rebuild my strength?
    How will I continue my quest for fitness and burn the calories I need so I can keep eating a decent amount without regaining the weight I’ve lost?
    What kind of exercise can I do that won’t continue to make matters worse in my leg muscles?

My biggest fear is that I’ll get lazy and completely fall off the wagon of exercising and end up gaining back the weight and losing the strength and fitness level I’ve worked all these months to gain.

My biggest sadness is that I’ve begun to genuinely enjoy my running and I’m already missing it. My husband is getting ready right now to head out for “our” early Saturday run and I am sad that I will be sitting here while he is out in the fresh air pounding the pavement.

The next step

I guess I will know more after I see the ortho-specialist. But for now I’ve begun formulating a plan and it goes sort of like this:

I know for the time being I need to drastically limit the exertion I put on that leg. I finally have the swelling down a bit and don’t want to aggravate it again.

There is a fitness-minded motivation group I am part of on Facebook, and one of the gals had recently posted a 30 Day Arms Challenge. I decided I’m going to give this a try, now is a good time to focus on my upper body strength and I should be able to do this without much impact to my legs. This is the challenge, I am only on day 3 and I am already feeling challenged, lol!
armchallenge

In addition to this, I’ve been doing some research on Runners World and found what looks like a pretty good plan for a core strengthening routine which I’ve now begun to follow. Core Strength Training

For more of a cardio type burn, I think that swimming will be my go-to for a while. However, until I see the doctor and know exactly what type of injury I’m working with, I’m reluctant to even work those legs in the water. Thursday morning I went for a swim and put a floaty-noodle under my chest and another smaller one under my ankles and did my laps with just my arms.

I may have to put running on hold for a few weeks but I’m going to have some tremendous upper body strength when this is done! 🙂

The key I am trying to remember is that I made a decision to change my life, to become healthier, fitter, stronger and happier. I am NOT going to let a road block stop my progress, it will just send me down a different path for a while where there is still plenty of room for growth.

small changes

June 2013 – Monthly Fitness Stats

Review Time

June ended up being a whole different kind of month in regards to my fitness activities.
In previous months, I had been mostly walking on my treadmill and was tracking and tweaking each month details like my starting speed, max speed, duration, and adding in small amounts of jogging intervals – each month slowly increasing the duration of those intervals and slowly increasing the speed as well.

Over the last nine months this has been a slow and steady transformation of my workouts from very basic, slow walks for short durations to longer walks, more speed, more incline, more calorie burn, etc. But the overall goal was to keep the progression very slow for the purpose of avoiding injury. (Because I have proven to myself over and over in the past that I am very prone to injury if I just jump full force into a running program.)

So how was June different?

Crossing the finish line - Kona Run 5K (time 38:14)

Crossing the finish line – Kona Run 5K (time 38:14)

June was kicked off by running the Kona Run 5K Race. This was a big goal for me. I had completed a 5K once before, in 2012, and I mostly walked it, finishing in just over 47 minutes. This time, I ran just about the whole 3.1 miles. I did take a few short walk breaks but for the most part I ran the whole thing. (Well, maybe jogged would be a better description.) My finish time was 38:14 which to me, is amazing!

This was a real eye opener to me, that I was ABLE to run over 3 miles. And this changed the dynamics of my workouts in the month of June. My scheduled walk/run days turned into more running than walking, and further distances than I did in the past.

With the recent acquisition of my Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch, I also did a lot more of my workouts outdoors. What I found that was really different about this was my pacing. On my treadmill, I have full control of my pace. I set the speed on the treadmill and go, and my speed only changes if I adjust the speed of the treadmill. But on the street, I go…well…however fast my feet take me.

Granted, I can use some tools on my Garmin to set a pace and be alerted if I am going above or below it, but for the most part it is much more difficult to control my speed. Consequently, I ended up walking and running much faster on my outdoor runs in June than I had been doing previously on the treadmill. Being outdoors often pushed me to also increase my distance/duration. The further you get from home, you still have to go that distance to get back. It’s not like being on the treadmill where you can just press the stop button and step off.

The Mix

In previous months, I pretty much just walked on the treadmill. With the tiny intervals of jogging. But for the most part treadmill was what I would do, and I would do it 3 or 4 days a week.

This month I was actually trying to follow both a walking/running training program and also a strength training program. These were guides that were included in that book I had been reading, The Salt Solution.

The walking/running portion of the plan was a 6 days per week plan and was broke down like this:

    35 minute Interval Walk
    40 minute Steady-State Walk
    35 minute Interval Walk
    30 minute Power Walk
    35 minute Interval Walk
    50 minute Recuperative Walk
    Rest Day

The interesting part was that each week the duration times were increased, to the point where it was 45 minute intervals, 50 minute steady-states, 40 minute power walk, and an hour and a half recuperative. I had a hard time keeping up with the duration increases and found myself modifying this as the month went on.

The strength training was a 3 days per week program. It was a routine of 7 exercises and the program called for a certain number of reps and sets. For example, week 1 was one set of 10 reps of everything. By week 5 the first day you’d do 3 sets of 15 of all the exercises, day 2 was 3 sets of 12 reps, then 3 sets of 10 reps. The exercises were things like squats, chest press/fly with small hand weights, lunges, bent-over rows with the hand weights, dead lift curl presses, bicycle crunches and planks.

I followed this plan pretty closely all month so I was working out an average of 6 days per week, some days were both running and strength training. And I got in a good swim also about 2 days per week.
Pretty intense this month!!

With the addition of the Garmin to my fitness toolbox, I am now able to more closely track and report on my fitness activities. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until close to the end of the month that I could manually log activities that I didn’t use the Garmin for. So here is a glance at how this tracking looks, minus some activities like the strength training and early month treadmill runs.

Garmin Activity list June 2013

Garmin Activity list June 2013

BASIC STATS:

My treadmill stats were:
2.8 mph starting speed (up from 2.4 in May)
3.4 mph walking speed (up from 3.2)
4.2 mph run speed (up from 4.1)

However, my street running was more like an overall average of about 4.5 mph and this included my walking. I was typically walking at just over 4 mph and my running was a little over 5 mph.

I logged a total of 42.47 miles in the month of June, averaging 10.5 miles per week.

Average calorie burn: 220 per workout
Ending Weight: 121.6 lbs (down 2 lbs from the end of May)
Garmin June 2013

My whiteboard calendar in my workout studio - the purple entries are mine (green is Jim's).  June was a very FULL month of training!

My whiteboard calendar in my workout studio – the purple entries are mine (green is Jim’s). June was a very FULL month of training!

Was kind of surprised to see my weight keep going down this month. I was actively working to adjust my calorie intake to a higher level for “maintenance”. But it really wasn’t until the end of the month that I started taking in much more calories than normal, so with all that activity it’s no wonder I kept losing weight. Technically I did want to get down to 120 lbs, but had been thinking I’d save those last few pounds until after I stand up in Terri’s wedding in July. I don’t have much room to work with to maintain the perfect fit on that bridesmaid dress. But I guess a pound or two one way or the other won’t make much difference.

Weight Log June 2013

CC Weight Log June 2013

Restless rest day

Resting is hard work. Mentally, it can be challenging to shut down the momentum of several days of great workouts just to let your body rest. I have a real struggle with this at times.

Two thoughts I’d like to explore on this topic:

  • Scheduled Rest Days
  • Intuitive Rest Days

Intuitive rest days are easy for me. Those are the days when I absolutely feel like I need to rest even though there is a workout on my “schedule”. The days when I am not feeling well, or have an injury, or for some reason just do not feel like I am going to be able to do the workout I had planned. I’ve become very flexible and forgiving with myself when I feel like I need rest. Listening to my body has become a bit easier for me than it used to be.

Scheduled rest days are where I have the most trouble. Monday is my scheduled rest day. This is largely because I don’t work weekends, so it gives me lots of time to get really good workouts in. By the time Monday comes around, I have often worked out 3 or 4 days in a row, and my body truly needs rest time to recover.

The problem is that I seem to build momentum, the more days I workout in a row, the harder it is to put on the brakes because I get “on a roll” and don’t want to stop.

Last Monday was a perfect example of a restless rest day. I had all kinds of energy Monday night and got it in my head that I’d like to go for a swim. I knew darn well that if I got in the pool I was going to swim laps and not just lazily float around and relax. My husband tried to remind me that it was my rest day and it would probably be a better idea for me to, well, you know….REST!

In my stubborn little brain I managed to rationalize it like this: if I am in the mood to do an activity that sounds like fun and I just want to do it, and it is not a specific training that is on my schedule, then I should go ahead and do it right?

Resting is just taking a break from my scheduled training right? Wrong. Rest is giving your body time to recover and rebuild from all the exertion you have put it through in your days of training. You cannot keep tearing down your muscles and expect them to keep performing if you don’t give them time to rebuild.

Resting should look something like this! :)

Resting should look something like this! 🙂

The night my husband saved my life
(Or at least that’s the title he would give it!)

So on my “rest day”, I decided to head up to the pool around 8:00 p.m. Against my husbands good advice.

I had been swimming laps for about 10 minutes when I started hearing loud rumbling coming from the sky. I looked up to see the sky filling up with thick grey clouds punctuated with quick flashes of lightning. There was, however, a nice little patch of clear blue sky directly overhead – which my stubborn brain used to rationalize that there was no reason to get out of the pool.

A few minutes of swimming under the sounds of rumbling in the sky and a concerned neighbor came up to the fence. She asked how the water was. And as we made small talk she kept glancing at the sky, then back at me. Finally she asked if I’d noticed the lightning. I assured her if I saw much more of that, then I would get out of the pool.

Shortly after this I looked up and saw my husband Jim standing at the gate of the pool looking at me with concern on his face. He thought the threatening weather might be a good reason for me to get out of the pool. “Just 4 more laps and I’ll be done”, I told him. I felt like a child begging for more play time from a concerned parent.

As I came back to that side of the pool from the next lap, I looked up and found Jim still standing there. With so much concern on his face, I don’t think I’d ever seen him look at me like that before. So I got out of the pool.

lightening
Walking back to our condo, we joked a little about how would he explain to people if I had been hit by lightening in the pool just minutes after he asked me to get out. I teased that now I would only get to log that I did 28 laps instead of a nice even 30. His reply was “Go ahead and log your 28 laps, but make sure to tell the whole story of how your husband saved your life tonight!”. So here is my tribute to my loving husband, who saved my life on my restless rest day.

Now, clearly you could construe this post as being about the perils of swimming during a lightning storm. But no, that is actually not my point here.

My point is that I really needed to rest my body on that day (even though I didn’t feel like I needed rest) and instead I allowed myself to be foolish just to, what? I don’t know, prove that I could keep going day after day after day? I don’t know what I thought I was doing. But I do know that I woke up the next morning with an overuse injury in my groin muscle and my right calf. And I couldn’t do my scheduled run that night and was forced to take a rest day. And another the day after that.

In the end, my restless rest day cost several days of training from my week and a fair amount of needless pain from overexertion injury that could have been avoided by giving the Rest Day the respect it deserves.

Related articles

Right tools for the job

My dad taught me the importance of having the right tools for the job. This holds true for fitness as much as it does for any thing else.

Now that I’m doing more running outdoors, I decided it was time to invest in a summer running outfit. I had a total of two outfits for running. One long sleeve, hooded Tek shirt with mid-calf capris that I bought to do my first 5K. That race was in March and I was expecting it to be quite cold. The other I picked up on sale at the Running Fit store and it is a fitted tank with knee-length capris.

This summer I decided it was time to invest in a lightweight running tank made of wicking fabric, and I wanted some running shorts (now that I actually have some shape to my legs that I don’t mind showing off a bit!). I had a lucky break in that I finally got a 30% off coupon for Kohl’s, and they had their Tek Gear marked down 40% off.

My new summer Tek Gear, along with some fun running gadgets!

My new summer Tek Gear, along with some fun running gadgets!


Here is what I got, and I really enjoy having this now that I’m running outside in hot, humid weather.

I’ve also recently acquired a Garmin Forerunner 10 so I can track my miles, pace, time, and calories burned – and when I come back in I can upload it and see my run on a map with elevation and all kinds of cool charting and tracking info. Finishing touches for the perfect outside run include an armband to hold my iPod and a little pocket attached to my shoelaces to hold my house key and anything else I may feel the need to take with me on a run.

These little additions to my fitness wardrobe have made my outdoor running experiences MUCH more enjoyable!

Do not underestimate the value of having the right tools for the job.

Finally a swimsuit that keeps everything in place, without making a full transition to the 'granny suit'

Finally a swimsuit that keeps everything in place, without making a full transition to the ‘granny suit’


In keeping with this concept, I also purchased a new swimsuit.

I have rediscovered my love of swimming and am making more and more use of the pool at our condo. The problem with this was I had a drawer full of old swimsuits and they pretty much all fell into two categories.

  • 1. The skimpy bikini’s from when I was twenty which I now have enough sense and modesty to know there is no good reason for me go out in public in these suits! Not to mention, they pose a constant risk of ‘wardrobe malfunction’ while swimming laps in the pool, lol!
  • 2. The “fat-suit” variety which are the couple of suits I bought to try to wear when I was much heavier and they were designed to cover as much as possible and are all too big for me now anyway.
  • The idea of going shopping for a new bathing suit was not one I looked forward to. I ended up being very pleased to find EXACTLY what I needed, at Kohl’s, where I was also able to use my 30% off coupon and it was on sale! This suit is by a brand called Zero Xposure and it is very sporty/athletic – just what I needed! The top is guaranteed to keep everything in place, and the bottoms have a regular bikini bottom but then have shorts over it that are like little Nike type shorts. I realize this picture did not come out as the most flattering one ever taken, but this suit actually looks really cute on me and covers everything it should, and stays in place really well while I do laps. I love it!

    Having these new additions to my fitness “toolbox” really motivates me to get out there and stay active! As you’ll read more about in a post coming soon called Restless Rest Day.

    Lastly, I wanted to include a little cuteness factor in this post to ease the pain of having subjected you to seeing me in my bathing suit! 🙂

    This is my cat, Patches, scoping out my treadmill the other day while I was in my workout studio doing my strength training.

    It is very rare that I let her come in that room while I am working out, normally she sits by the other side of the door crying and poking her paws under the door trying to find me. This time I let her hang with me while I worked out, and she seemed to be trying to tell me that I needed a few miles on the treadmill…

    This got considerably more cute after Jim came in the room, and turned ON the treadmill, lol!

    This got considerably more cute after Jim came in the room, and turned ON the treadmill, lol!

    And this I just had to snap a picture of because it was so funny. My husband, Jim, is doing a 30 day Ab Challenge this month and has recently started using the mat that came with my AeroPilates machine to do his workout on.

    Within seconds of him laying out this mat, our cats come running and are drawn to it like a magnet. I mean seriously, the cats can be anywhere in the house but somehow they sense that he put this mat down and they just have to come and get on it!

    It certainly wouldn't hurt these two to join the 30 day Ab Challenge!  They are clearly not underfed, lol!

    It certainly wouldn’t hurt these two to join the 30 day Ab Challenge! They are clearly not underfed, lol!

    The Perfect Fit!

    Saturday I took my best friend Terri out for brunch at The Breakfast Club in Farmington for a little treat before we went for the final fittings on our dresses for her wedding.

    It is so nice to spend time with Terri, the two of us just really click together like sisters and it is a great time every time I see her! The Breakfast Club has such good food, it is a favorite spot of mine and Jim’s. I was very excited to take Terri there and introduce her to this place. She loved it also and suggested that sometime Jim and I should meet her and Scott there for breakfast, which of course is a great idea! I will never pass up any opportunity to enjoy the sumptuous food at this place!

    Good food and great company!

    Good food and great company!

    I had made a little book for Terri called “Before the I Do” which was a keepsake of pictures from her bridal shower and her bachelorette party. She really liked it and it made me so happy to do something nice for her and to see that it meant a lot to her.

    Once we finished up with brunch, we headed over to David’s Bridal to have our final fitting of our dresses for her wedding. This was one of the challenges I had been worried about. Part of my weight loss plan was that once I took that dress in for the first fitting I would need to switch gears from weight loss, into maintenance mode; so it would still fit me for the wedding. So far it’s been about a month since I had taken it in for alterations and when I went back Saturday it fit me like a glove! 🙂 So now I just have to maintain that for 3 more weeks until the wedding and everything will be perfect.

    After that, I will need to a new plan. I haven’t decided yet if I want to stay in maintenance or perhaps lose a few pounds. I am only about 2 and half pounds away from the second goal weight I had set for myself. First goal was 130 lbs. in time for our cruise in March. I met that goal the week before we left for the cruise. Second goal became to lose another ten and get down to 120. I didn’t really put a time frame on that one but was hoping maybe I could do it in time for the wedding. I still might be able to pull that off, being so close now, but I’m trying to hold really steady weight so the fit of that dress doesn’t change.

    Ok so here we go with some pictures! If you recall, in one of my earlier posts I used a picture of the day I initially tried on this dress last November as my official “Before” photo. So now it is time to unveil the “After” photos! 🙂

    The "After" pic June 2013, down 23 lbs from the initial purchase of this dress in November.

    The “After” pic June 2013, down 23 lbs from the initial purchase of this dress in November.


    Showing off my "Hot runner's legs" as my bestie calls them!

    Showing off my “Hot runner’s legs” as my bestie calls them!

    And here is the side by side Before & After:

    Before& After Nov. 2012 at 145 lbs., vs. June 2013 at 122 lbs.

    Before& After
    Nov. 2012 at 145 lbs., vs. June 2013 at 122 lbs.

    Doesn't Terri just look SO cute?!

    Doesn’t Terri just look SO cute?!

    It is really amazing what 8 months of hard work and dedication can do! The funny thing is while I can see a big difference in my face, shoulders and arms, and a bit of slimming down and a lot of toning up in my legs…in these pictures you really can’t even see the difference in my midsection. In actuality my waist is considerably smaller now than it used to be. You can tell in this pic of Terri and I that I finally have a waistline! Yay me!! 🙂

    Hard Work + Dedication

    More and more, people ask me questions like:

  • What have you been doing to lose all that weight?
  • What diet are you on?
  • How Do You Do It??
  • My answer is simple.

    Hard Work and Dedication

    Hard Work and Dedication go like this:

      It takes a lot of WORK to lose weight, and to keep it off.
      Most of the time, that work is HARD.
      Often it is hard to convince myself to do the work
      Because I usually don’t “feel like” doing it!
      Doing it anyway, is where the DEDICATION comes in.

    should i work out

    Beyond that, if you want to know more specifics I’ll tell you what I do.

    I count my calories and I exercise. It is really just that simple.

    It is a simple formula for success which is foolproof if followed precisely. But it requires a change of lifestyle, a different mindset, and commitment to a different approach to living.

    I am not on a diet. There is no program or weight loss group that I’ve joined.
    Math is the biggest tool that I use. Burn more calories than you take in on a regular basis and you lose weight. Balance the amount of calories you burn with the amount you take in, and you maintain the weight. I think the biggest challenge most people have to making this concept work is that they aren’t really keeping close track of calorie intake and calories burned. If you don’t know the numbers you have no way to know if you’re on track or not. Just because you feel like you cut back on what you ate, and you think you got some exercise does not guarantee the math will come out in your favor.

    A good calorie counting tool is invaluable, I personally like to use www.caloriecount.about.com to log my calories and that is also where I log my activities so I can monitor my daily net calories.

    Learning to live on a “Calorie Budget” is the first key to success.

    Compare this to your personal financial budget. You bring home a certain amount of money, so you can only spend a certain amount or you go into debt. If you keep spending more than you have earned you go further and further in debt and it becomes harder and harder to get out of debt.

    Same thing with calories. Each day you start out with a certain number of calories to use for the day, your “daily budget”. With each meal you make choices on how many calories to spend out of your budget, and what to spend them on. Once you’ve used up your budget, if you continue eating more calories you go into debt, so to speak, but that debt takes the form of fat on your body. And the more of it you accumulate, the harder it is to get rid of.

    If you spend your calorie budget wisely, and “save” some of it each day – that savings is your calorie deficit and that is what creates your weight loss.

    Taking this a step further is giving thought to how you want to spend your calories.
    Compare this to making your money work harder for you:

  • Like clipping coupons to trim your expenses, try clipping your portion sizes to trim calories
  • Similar to spending the time to figure out where to put your money to make it grow and work hard for you, spend time considering what things you’ll spend your calories on that will give you the biggest payoff. This is where nutrition comes into play.
  • Getting the most bang for your buck – make every calorie count by investing it in foods that really fuel and nourish your body and not just satisfy a craving or a whim.
  • If you can accomplish these things even 60-80% of the time you are well on your way to success.
    images

    Getting your body moving and burning calories is the second key to success.

    Technically you can lose weight by cutting calories alone. It will take a lot longer to do, but it can be done. You can greatly accelerate this process by adding physical activity to your lifestyle.

    You do not need a gym membership or a lot of fancy equipment or even a ton of extra time. But you do need to be willing to make an effort, exercise is hard work and it does take effort on your part.

    For every calorie you can burn by exercising, you get to deduct this from your incoming calories and this makes it much easier to create that daily calorie deficit needed to lose weight. Once you’ve lost the weight you want to, continuing the exercise allows you to eat a well-balanced diet and still maintain the weight loss you’ve achieved.

    Don’t let the word exercise scare you. This can take whatever form you most enjoy. You may end up trying several things before you even figure out what sort of activity you can do on a regular basis that you don’t end up dreading. This is important because you have to at least somewhat like or be able to tolerate the exercise or it becomes very difficult to stay dedicated to doing it.

    Burning calories can come from walking, on a treadmill or outdoors, at the mall if the weather isn’t cooperating. You can do calisthenics in your living room, use an exercise DVD, go to a gym, participate in a sport you enjoy, ride a bike, go for a swim, the possibilities are truly endless!

    You just have to pick something, and do it! And do it again the next day. And the day after that. By all means, give your body a rest a few days a week as needed, but you just have to keep finding ways to move your body and exert energy.

    The great thing is that this can really become addictive, the more you work out the more you want to work out. So the process actually gets easier the longer you do it because it becomes less of a chore and more of something you really want to get done.

    So, this is my roadmap in a nutshell folks. Eat less, eat better, exercise more, burn more calories than you take in. Rinse, repeat.

    Sink or Swim

    What better way to start a Saturday morning than a 3.50 mile run before breakfast!?

    I really love the weekends when I can get my run in early in the morning. (I’ve yet to be able to get up early enough to do that during the work week.) It gives me a burst of energy to power through the day, and I like having it done and over with so it’s not looming over my head all day like an unfinished chore.

    Run Summary
    Distance: 3.50 mi
    Time: 46:39
    Avg Pace: 13:20 min/mi
    Elevation Gain: 115 ft
    Calories: 285 C

    Moving Time: 45:26
    Elapsed Time: 46:39
    Avg Pace: 13:20 min/mi
    Avg Moving Pace:12:58 min/mi

    It has become habit for me now on Saturday and Sunday mornings to hit the treadmill around 7 or 8:00 a.m. before I even make breakfast. It’s funny how at later times in the day, I need to time my workout well within a certain range after a meal or else I end up running out of fuel for the workout. Yet, first thing in the morning before eating anything I can power through just about any workout as long as I do it very soon after waking up (usually within 30 minutes of getting out of bed.) If I wait much longer than that, I start to get hungry and don’t have quite the energy-fuel my body needs for a good run.

    My husband has often commented that he doesn’t know how I can work out first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. But this weekend he decided he wanted to give it a try, so we laced up around 8:00 a.m. and headed outside for a good run together. Today was my “long run” so I decided to go 3.5 miles, which so far is the longest I’ve ever run. And I actually RAN pretty much the whole way. I did allow myself a 1/4 mile brisk walking break after about 1-3/4 miles while I was heading up a big hill. And on the last mile there were a few uphill stretches that I walked. But for the most part I ran it!!

    When we got home, Jim suggested we head to the pool to cool off. There is a nice pool at our condos, but we don’t typically use it much. Most of the time that I consider using the pool, it is either not open, or is filled with children. This morning we had the whole pool to ourselves and we did 30 minutes of laps.

    The water felt so refreshing after that run! I really liked the idea of adding more workout to my day, while doing what actually felt like a cool-down to the run. It was nice and low-impact on my knees, yet was strenuous and challenging and I ended up burning almost as much calories swimming for 30 minutes as I burned on my 46 minute run!

    To my surprise, within a few hours, I became very sore. I mean, really, really sore. My arm and chest muscles, basically my whole upper body, was screaming at me! I hadn’t fully considered what a strong upper body workout it was to swim laps and apparently the small amounts of strength training I’ve done in the last few weeks has not been enough to prepare me for swimming laps.

    But, I was determined to be in full “beast-mode” today and I still stuck to my 25 minutes of strength training that I had planned for this evening. It was hard, but I felt very accomplished after completing it.

    There is something that just feels so good about doing something physically challenging, especially when you don’t feel like you can do it. Getting it done feels like a big win!

    My eating was a bit off the charts today, but I did use a certain amount of restraint. After all this running and swimming we cleaned up and headed out to see a movie at the theater that we’d been wanting to go see (the new Star Trek movie, was really good – I highly recommend it!) and we were both so hungry we knew we needed to grab lunch somewhere before the movie.

    Opted for Panera Bread since it was on the way and they have fairly healthy options on the menu with several good choices for lower calorie meals. I got the “You Pick Two” deal where you get half of a cafe sandwich and half of a salad. I chose the Turkey Bacon Avocado sandwich (which is my absolute favorite!) and the Strawberry poppy-seed salad with chicken. The salad had so much good stuff in it! Strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, roasted chicken and pecans, it was fabulous! Lunch came in at about 425 calories and between all that fruit, the protein from the chicken and turkey, and the healthy fats in the avocado, I felt very good about the nutritional content of my choices. The worst part was the high sodium, even now several hours later my face is still flushed from the elevated sodium! (My weird physical reaction to high sodium meals is something I guess I’ll have to cover some day in another post.)

    The eating went a bit downhill from here. At the theater I indulged a bit because, well…just because part of the “going out to the movies” experience is eating junk food! But I kept it in check for the most part, I got some water instead of soda (I don’t normally drink soda anyway, but it seems more tempting when I’m out somewhere like that), and I got a box of chocolate covered raisins (my favorite movie snack!). Before even opening the box I checked the nutrition facts label and sure enough they claimed there were 2.5 servings in the box! And each serving was 180 calories. So I was careful to only eat what I believe was about 1 serving and left the rest in the box. Said box of chocolate covered raisins is currently sitting on the desk next to me testing my resolve. I expect that box to land in the garbage soon before I am tempted to finish it off.

    On our way home from the movie, we grabbed some sandwiches from Subway to have on hand for dinner. It really is nice every now and then to take an entire day off from cooking! And again I went for their Turkey Bacon Avocado sub on 9 grain whole wheat bread. I really love that combo of flavors, and I realize I could have saved substantial calories by skipping the bacon on both sandwiches but come on, every one loves bacon right!?

    After dinner we were craving dessert, I did indulge but was careful on the portion sizes. I had 1/2 a Vitatop deep chocolate muffin top. (These things are seriously delicious, taste like a chocolate brownie, but they are PACKED with vitamins and nutrition and they are only 100 calories!) And we still had some ice cream left in the freezer that my mother in law had brought over when we celebrated Jim’s birthday a couple of weeks ago. So, I had 2/3 of a serving of the ice cream with it. So just by only having partial servings of each of those I shave off about 100 calories from dessert from the standard serving size. And considering most people typically serve themselves much more than what the product describes as a serving size, I think I did really well.

    I’m only including all this detail about the food today because of my last post where I talked about my struggles with sweet treats. I’ve decided that if I really want it, I’ll let my self have it and I’ll enjoy it. BUT with that comes some responsibility on my part to closely monitor my serving sizes, and to make sure I am burning the necessary calories to balance it out. My normal daily calorie target is 1350 and today I ate 1708. However, I did so much exercise, that I burned over 600 calories. I closed out the day with a -197 calorie deficit, so I do not feel one ounce of guilt over today’s eating.

    Tomorrow I will probably be very sore from that swimming. But I enjoyed it and I am so proud of myself for getting in so much activity today! Luckily I have an 80 minute massage scheduled in the morning, that should help quite a bit. Tomorrow is a 55 minute recuperative walk, I think I’ll try to get that in early so that after my massage I can completely relax for the rest of the day! 🙂