Thursday, December 12, 2013

Feeling Better

I wrote a blog post about the miscarriage, but I don't think I'm going to post it.  It was good for me to write it out, an exercise I've done since I was a little girl.  I wrote about it, and now the story is out of me, and I feel ready to move forward a little bit more every day. 

I will say that it was much more dramatic than I had expected.  When I miscarried at around 5 weeks, it just felt like a slightly heavier, slightly crampier period.  Miscarrying at 12 weeks is a whole different animal.  After being in severe pain all day, pain that a Percoset prescription didn't touch, Jason took me to the ER, where I praised the staff who got me in and hooked me up to a Dilaudid IV within 20 minutes.  A miracle.  I even wrote the hospital administration an email telling them how great everyone was.

I think the experience scared Jason pretty badly - I couldn't talk, I couldn't do anything except moan.  It's made me rethink whether I'm really going to have a hippie no medication birth after all. 

It feels monumentally unfair that I went through the first trimester and essentially experienced labor, and in the end we're left with nothing.

Still, we're moving forward.  It's put a bit of a damper on the holidays.  I've been moody, as Jason will tell you.  Tears are right under the surface for the entirety of my days.  Not just sad tears, though.  As we move toward Christmas, every hokey attempt at sentimentalism that in past years I might have been able to ignore has been making me well up and think, "That's just so lovely!"

So if you see me crying, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

We got a Christmas tree and decorated it, and that helped.  Jason filled the house with poinsettias like he does every year, and I pulled out my stuffed snowmen and teddy bears dressed in Victorian Christmas garb (they're adorable!), and that helped.  A couple of days ago, I felt like myself for the first time in ages.

We're moving forward and we'll keep trying, because it would be nice to have a child or two to share this life with.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Where I've Been

I haven't written anything very substantive on my blogs for a little while now because I've been preoccupied.  I've been waiting until an appropriate time to share some news here, and in the meantime I've been drafting posts about what's been going on to post once I could talk about it.

But now there's nothing really to share except this: I'm waiting to have a miscarriage.

I've written a bit about our struggles to have a baby.  As of next January, we will have been trying for 3 years.  We've been to doctors and the problem has been figured out and essentially fixed, so we've only been really trying with everything working well for about 8 months or so.

In September we planned to do an IUI at the fertility clinic, only it seemed like I never ovulated, which is weird since I'm like clockwork.  Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when I got two positive pregnancy tests.  After all of the doctors and appointments and everything, we had done it on our own!

For the last month I've been experiencing pregnancy symptoms - all-day nausea, bloating, gas, sore boobs.  These things were irritating on one hand, and exciting on the other, because it meant I was growing a baby.

Only, no.

Thursday night, Jason and I went to the hospital for my first ultrasound.  I was 9 1/2 weeks pregnant, so we expected to see our teeny baby for the first time and to hopefully hear its heartbeat.  Instead, there was nothing.  A yolk sac, indicating that things had started out well, but no baby.  The fetus never grew.

The technician couldn't tell us what it meant, because that's not her place, but it was clear from her face, and painfully obvious that there was just no baby.

We left the hospital devastated.  At 9 1/2 weeks, I had already imagined telling family and friends in a few weeks.  I was so excited to be able to share this right before Christmas.  Based on the conception date, baby would have arrived around June 15, which meant having the summer to spend together.  I envisioned possibly, once I got coordinated enough, taking baby to sit on the beach with me.  We have had a dramatic shift in how we envisioned the next 8 months (and after) since Thursday night.

As much as I would like to close the chapter and have it end immediately, I'm just going to let nature take its course, which could take a couple of weeks. I spoke to my doctor on Friday afternoon and she was so kind.  She even gave me her cell phone number in case I need to talk.  I feel good about choosing her as my OB even though we've only interacted a couple of times.

Jason was emailing with a friend on Friday, and it must have been on his mind because she's expecting a baby, and so he told her.  It turns out the same thing happened to her and her husband.  She went in for the ultrasound at 9 weeks, and nothing was there.  I honestly didn't know this was even a possibility.  I thought if there was something wrong like that, surely you miscarried much sooner than almost 10 weeks.  I can't say that I'm glad it happened to her too, because it's terrible, but it's nice to feel not so alone.

Which is really why I am writing about this.  The more I talk about fertility issues, the more I realize we have lots of friends who have also struggled with having a baby.  And the more we discuss miscarriage, the more friends we realize have also dealt with this.  No one talks about these things, because they are personal and the hurt is deep, but it's nice to know we're not alone.  Knowing there's a friend I can email when I am sad or if things get hard over the next couple of weeks who knows what I am feeling, is really a comfort to me.

I'm supposed to be 10 weeks today, but I'm just waiting for it to end.  We're going to try again, of course, but today we are sad.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Size Deflation

I have a bone to pick with Target.  A few years ago I discovered their black tights in a roll, which gave me cheap, comfortable tights to wear in the winter with a waist band that landed somewhere near my belly button (versus right under my chest like most tights). 

Only, the last time I bought a pair, the size I bought before (and still wear) suddenly was WAY too small.  OK, fine, I've gained some weight.  I can go up a size.  Last night I bought 2 pairs of the next size up, only to discover this morning that they are both too small.  Well, one I could yank on after some effort, but there is no way the other pair is going to fit unless I lose about 40 pounds.  This is the size that's supposed to fit up to 5'11" and 230 pounds.  I call major shenanigans!

If I didn't still have a couple of pairs from past years that fit perfectly fine, in the smaller size, I would probably be really depressed and bemoaning my state of fatness.  Instead I'm just irritated at Target.  I thought everyone was complaining about size inflation lately, but Target seems to be going to other way, at least in its tights.

Now I have to find a new source for a winter staple.  Sigh.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Obsessive Much?

I don't know what it is, but lately I am obsessed with knitting.  Maybe it's the change in the weather.  Or the knowledge that I have a bunch of big things I want to get done for Christmas presents and, oh my gosh, it's almost the end of September! 

Also, sigh, I seem to have really tweaked my shoulder, which has put the kibosh on my swimming challenge.  We've gone kayaking twice this month, and that, plus the yardage I have managed to get done, plus my feeble attempts at the Cross Fit-esque workouts for my OTHER challenge have seemed to have really done a number on my right shoulder.  Basically whenever I do anything requiring shoulder movement, it hurts.  I figure I'll give it another week and then I'll go to the doctor.

Anyway, in lieu of challenge updates, I will post pictures of my knitting works in progress because that's what I've been doing this month.

A couple of gift sweaters I'm working on using Techniques!  (multi-colored knitting and cables, specifically):

And here's the hat I'm making with my new Yarnbox yarn, with a lovely cabled brim, since I lost my winter hat last year and need a new one anyway:

I'm also going to make a cowl to match the hat.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

September Update

I've been feeling down on myself because I haven't done as much as I wanted to with regard to my September challenges, but I think I need to cut myself a little slack.  So I still have 19,200 yards to swim this month.  On the other hand, I swam 5 miles last week, including a 3000 yard workout on Saturday.

I haven't been keeping up with ALL of the prescribed workouts with my challenge group and I'm in last place, but I have done a few of the workouts and challenges and I've also been kayaking and boogie boarding the last couple of weekends.

The point is, I'm not meeting all of the goals I set this month, but all told I'm still being pretty active.

This is also taking into consideration that since last Saturday my right shoulder has been really aching.   My arms and chest are no longer sore from the boogie boarding, but the shoulder pain is lingering.  Sometimes my shoulder bugs me if I ramp up the swimming too fast, so I think I just need to let it rest for a bit.  Rebecca and I are swimming tomorrow morning and I have a feeling I'll need to rely heavily on kicking drills to get my yards in.  Good thing I'm a strong kicker!

We were supposed to swim yesterday morning, but I got a mini-flu on Tuesday night thanks to the flu shot I got Tuesday morning.  I was absolutely fine all day until about 8 PM, when suddenly I couldn't walk straight and my eyes started burning like they did when I had the real flu in February, along with a solid fever.  My temperature got up to 101 on Tuesday night and I wound up not going into work until noon yesterday.  I had better not get the flu this year after that!  Antibodies, do your job!

So, not where I wanted to be as of September 19, but not terrible either.  September, I'll give you a "Not So Bad."

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Board-Related Water Sport I'm Good At!

After Rebecca and I swam 3000 yards on Saturday morning (because we're fabulous), we went to the beach so Jason, Tad and I could take a surfing lesson.  A Grouponed surfing lesson, of course, because that's how we do things in our house. 

I just have to say, it was a PERFECT beach day.  Maybe it was a little cool for some people, but as the person who is always hot, I loved it being in the 70s.  When the sun came out it was nice and toasty.  Even though the water was a little chilly at first, it warmed right up once you got moving. 

So our lesson consisted of: here's where your chin goes when you're on your stomach, here's where your feet go when you pop up, let's pop up twice, ok, let's hit the water!  Um...  I do not feel prepared...

I suppose, though, there really isn't that much to it.  You just have to go for it.  We had some nice waves due to a tropical storm passing by off the coast.  Everyone mocks East Coast waves, but there can be some pretty great surfing conditions in southern Rhode Island, depending on the weather. 

I managed to get on my board and sail into shore on my stomach twice, without it even occurring to me to try to pop up onto my feet.  Baby steps.  I spent the rest of the time wrestling my board and trying to get back out to where the waves were breaking. 

So, I know I need to lose some weight, Mr. Surfing Instructor*, but I'm still only 5' 6" and I suspect that the board you gave me was way too big.  I had the same size board as 6' 4" Tad.  Yeah.

After 40 minutes of getting dunked and rolled around by the waves, while the leash on my board chafed my ankle, I decided I had gotten my Groupon's worth and I was done.  Jason immediately snatched my board because he thought he needed a bigger one, which he did because he's six inches taller than me, and I went to go chat with Rebecca and watch the guys surf.  They did pretty well.

Back to the subject of this post though.  As you've probably guessed, the board-related water sport I'm good at is not surfing.  It's also not stand up paddle boarding, which I've tried and once I got over the weak ankles-related searing pain in my calves and finally felt stable, I enjoyed, but thought it was too slow.  We paddled on a river that we've kayaked on several times and I missed the speed of the kayak.**

It's boogie boarding!  Seriously, I'm kind of sad beach season is basically over and I probably won't be able to boogie board again, because it's awesome.  All of my summers spent wave jumping at the beach in Florida have made me pretty good at reading what a wave is going to do, and I managed to ride the crest of some fantastic big waves that carried me all the way into shore.  After church yesterday, I was kind of thinking maybe we should head to the beach for the afternoon, but I decided to be all practical and get stuff done around the house.  Lame.

I am SORE today, though.  Actually, Saturday night my right shoulder was sore, and I thought maybe I had done too much pulling when we swam that morning.  But yesterday evening I started getting really sore in my chest and arms, like I had done a bunch of push ups, and I still hurt today.  When I think about how I propped myself up on the boogie board for an hour or so that makes sense.  In contrast to push ups, boogie boarding is about seventeen million times more fun, and totally worth the pain.

*Who, by the way, had one leg and was teaching surfing, which means he's pretty much the most awesome person ever.  We decided that if it wasn't a shark, he needs to say it was a shark.

** Between the Alpine Slide and the boogie boarding, I think this summer has been about discovering I'm a closet speed junkie.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

The Camping Gods Hate Us

So this weekend we were supposed to camp Saturday and Sunday night, but we came home late Sunday.  Rained out.  Again.  We always seem to get rained out in New Hampshire now.  The giant pile of firewood in our sun room attests to the number of times we have gone to New Hampshire, bought wood at some roadside stand, and then never burned it because it rained and campfires are hard to maintain in the rain.

Anyway, we went up Saturday morning, set up our tent and sleeping bags, and spent the afternoon at Attitash Mountain, a ski resort in the winter, and fun mountain amusement park in the summer.  However, we only went on the Alpine Slide twice and the Mountain Coaster once because of, you guessed it, the freaking rain.

The second it starts raining, they have to shut down the Alpine Slide because the brakes stop working completely.  They kept the Coaster going a bit longer, while we stood in line getting rained on, until a guy couldn't stop on the slick track and plowed into the lady in front of him at the end of the ride.  Everyone was okay, but they shut the Coaster down.

Regardless, I loved both of the rides and really want to go back and do them each 7 or 8 times in a row.  I admit, I was chicken about it at first.  I'm not a roller coaster person and I hate that out-of-control feeling, but Jason insisted we go and I'm so glad he did.  The genius of these rides is that you're in your own little car and have a manual brake so you control how fast you go.  I felt much more confident the second time on the Alpine Slide and was speeding along right behind Jason, but we kept getting hung up by the slow mom in front of him.

No offense to moms, but I observed that moms traveled slowest down the Alpine Slide and the Mountain Coaster.  FYI, when we have kids, I will be the awesome mom speeding down the track. 

I'm glad we set up camp before we headed to Attitash.  We managed to get our dinner and a s'more cooked and eaten over our smoking fire, hissing with each light raindrop that hit it.  We cleaned up the food (bears!) and tucked ourselves in the tent. 

Another thing we have a knack for when we camp (in addition to being the best rain prediction tool out there) is finding the campsite right next to "The Bros."  These are the backwards baseball cap-wearing guys, who stand around the fire with their beers, getting drunker and louder as the night wears on, inserting f-bombs in place of "um" when they speak.  Charming, especially when campsites aren't really isolated at all.  So we listened to The Bros for awhile, and then I managed to drift off to sleep, only to wake up at 1 AM when it started pouring rain and didn't stop for several hours.  Good thing I can play Candy Crush without a cell phone signal.

The Bros woke us up at 6 AM as they packed up camp - loudly.  Bros do nothing quietly.  I guess they decided they would stay drier drinking their beers with their baseball caps in their apartments back in Boston.  We woke up again around 9 AM, and while the day dawned a little cloudy, it started clearing up and Jason pressed on with his hiking plans.  I had planned to go for a 6-mile walk through some wetlands and a wildlife preserve, but it was REALLY muggy, and I figured with all the rain the night before I would wind up really sweaty and harassed by bugs.  So I hit the outlets in North Conway and found some great Fall work clothes.

I picked Jason up at about 6 PM and showed him the weather alert on my phone that came in at 4:30 saying there would be flash floods and a major storm and thunderstorms that night.  Yeah, I don't think so.  Jason might have wanted to stay, but I was pretty resolute that I needed some sleep at least one night this weekend.  Also, based on the forecast, his plans for us to go rafting on a lake on Monday probably weren't happening.

We drove back to camp, threw our tent and everything into the car, and went to dinner.  I drove us home since he had been hiking all day and we hit pieces of the HUGE storm on our way out of New Hampshire.  It was seriously scary driving for a bit there, but we made it.  I haven't seen lightning like that since I left Tucson, and the Arizona monsoons, behind.

So Monday wound up being a lot more low-key than we planned, but our summer weekends are usually hyper-scheduled and it was kind of nice to have a rainy day knitting at home.

Frankly, I'm kind of scared to go camping again.  We always plan these super fun New Hampshire weekends and we wind up soaked with no campfire.  But I'm sure we'll keep pressing on.  After all, we've got all of this awesome gear!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Challenges Are Coming. Oh Yes, Challenges Are Coming

So it's September on Sunday, which...just...what?!

I can't believe the Summer is waning and Autumn is upon us.  This end of Summer period is one of my, um, 17 favorite times of year.  Actually, I figured out the other day that the only time of year in New England that I don't care for is July, because it's Hot and Muggy.

But then I remembered that July has the 4th, which is fun, and then there are also a couple of music festivals we enjoy in July and even though they are Very Hot and Very Muggy, they are still delightful.

In summary, New England is delightful.  Yes, sometimes the Winter can drag on a touch too long, and sometimes June can be a stinker with its raininess (see 2009 and 2013), but overall, I love all of the seasons and am usually ready for the next one to roll around by the time it gets here.  Today, I went to get lunch in a dress, cardigan and ballet flats and thought, "Oo, it's a little chilly!"  In just a few more weeks, I know I'll be pairing tights with this outfit, and possibly a light jacket.

Anyway, with September comes new beginnings, right?  I don't think most of us ever get out of that "New School Year" mindset even if we don't have kids in school.  August has been a bit lax in the healthiness department.  We did some traveling, I did a few workouts, I mostly ate well.  But I'm revving up for September now and have a couple challenges on the horizon.

First, my swim SparkTeam is having a KISS (Keep It Simple September) Challenge, which is very much focused on doing simple things to be healthy.  My simple thing: swim 30,000 yards in September.  I'll break it down into 3 workouts of 2500 yards per week.  This is the time of year when I often lose my momentum and wrap myself up in pumpkin bread and apple cider donuts, so this will be great motivation to keep going to the pool even as it gets cooler.

Second, my June and July Challenge group is doing a September Challenge, so I'm be responsible for doing 4 Cross Fit-esque workouts per week, plus a few weekly challenges. I've already decided that I'm going to beg off the timed mile run this time around.  I'll walk a mile and call it good, but running just isn't in my cards, and I'm not willing to get shin splints for the millionth time.

With 3 cardio and 4 strength workouts per week, September should be a great (and sore) month!

Friday, August 23, 2013

SparkPeople Meet Up

Jason calls them my imaginary friends, but they're actually real people and I got the chance to meet a few of them last week!

I've talked a lot about SparkPeople over the past few years as I've semi-diligently tracked the food I eat and the exercises I do.  Another feature of SparkPeople that I have enjoyed is the SparkTeam which is a group of people who join together for basically any reason.  Right now I'm in a knitting SparkTeam, a Rhode Island SparkTeam, a low carb SparkTeam and two swimming SparkTeams.  Really, the only one I'm active on is "Swimming for Cardio".   I joined SparkPeople probably 6 years ago - maybe more - and then found Swimming for Cardio in 2008. 

The Swimming for Cardio team is made up of a fantastic group of women and a few men, who check in with each other every day.  I've had times where I wasn't so diligent about keeping up with everyone, but I try to check in at least a couple of times a week now.  I actually don't know a lot of swimmers locally, and Swimming for Cardio was initially just a way for me to geek out on swimming talk with people who understood, and could offer advice on technique and suggest workouts and challenges. 

Turns out, though, that somehow in this particular team, not only do we all like to swim, but we have lots of other stuff in common.  Or, at least, we seem to have similar worldviews.  On our daily check-ins, not only do we talk about our latest swimming distances and goals, but we also talk about what's going on in our lives.  We all have way too many degrees than are good for us.  We support one another and sometimes talk about really personal things.  A few of the members have met previously.  A couple of years ago we lost one of our members to cancer, and we mourned her loss, though only a couple of the members had ever met her in real life.  A couple of the members work at the same company now.  All through this SparkTeam.

So a few months ago, a couple of the ladies started talking about meeting up in northern California, since 4 of them live in California.  One of the members just graduated from law school and took the Bar at the end of July (you better believe we have talked about that a lot over the last few months!), so the plan was for her to fly out to California for a post-Bar trip.  I casually mentioned to Jason one night how it would be fun to join them, but of course not really practical.  He said, "Well, we've been wanting to go visit Brandon (his brother) and Sarah.  Maybe we could plan a trip around your imaginary friends' meet up."


So we did.  We just got back from a whirlwind trip to the Bay Area, with a 3-day jaunt down to Santa Cruz for me to meet up with the swimming ladies.  It was so great to meet them finally.  I've been talking with some of them for 5 years, after all. 

On Sunday after church, we drove down to Cupertino to visit Jason's grandparents and extended family.  Then I took our rental car and drove to Santa Cruz, where one of the ladies had rented us a lovely house right around the corner from the beach.  On Monday we went whale watching, to lunch and to the aquarium in Monterey. 

On Tuesday, some of us went swimming at a local swim center (because, of course we went swimming together!), then to brunch, and then we met the rest of the group for manicures and pedicures at a local spa.

Afterward, a couple of the ladies went for a hike, one took a nap, and a couple of us walked down the street to sit on the beach for awhile.
(I heart Santa Cruz) 

On Wednesday, we had brunch and they headed to Shaver Lake for the rest of their group vacation at one woman's family cabin, and I headed back to Oakland for the rest of my trip with the in-laws (in a future post).

My one regret is that we completely forgot to have someone take pictures of our group at the swim center in our suits, caps and goggles.  Next time!

We had a great time together, and from what I've heard, the rest of the trip was lovely as well.  It was so wonderful to meet these women, and to fall easily into a natural repoire with them since we already knew each other so well.  This is one of those moments when I'm so grateful for the internet and the crazy random connections we can make with it.  Hopefully I'll be able to meet up with them again!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Bacon: Weight Loss Magic!

I've been a little lax on my blog, mostly because I haven't had much to share.  I've been swimming a bit, and going for lots of long walks, now that the weather has cooled down from the 90s to the 80s.  I've been sticking to the low-carb pretty well, with a deviation here or there (Bertucci's last Saturday, Texas Roadhouse rolls on Wednesday).

So here's the thing.  In the past few weeks I've lost 11 pounds.


I lost 4 pounds just this past week alone.  Also a few inches, though I didn't write down the precise measurements today, just did a little casual measuring with the tape to see if the lost pounds showed up in inches.  They did.

I told Jason and he asked, "What did you do different this week?"

"Nothing.  Well, I ate a lot of bacon, actually."

Apparently bacon is my weight loss secret.  See, last Sunday night I made us eggs and bacon for dinner and I have a bad habit of cooking part of a package of bacon and then never cooking the rest and throwing it away weeks later after it's turned green and disgusting.  So I made the whole package and then took some to go with my breakfast (2 eggs) for the next couple of days.  Then I liked it so much that when I stopped at Whole Foods to get breakfast a couple of times on my way into work because I didn't have time to make something, I got a little frittata and some bacon off of the pay-by-the-ounce hot bar.  Because, you know what?  Bacon is really light!


I've also noticed since my stomach thing a couple of weeks ago, I just haven't been as hungry.  And I've been really listening to my body, a la Intuitive Eating, and stopping eating when I'm full, rather than overfull, no matter how delicious something is.  Which means I've actually been eating a little more frequently in the afternoons and I have needed a snack every day this week because I get hungry in between lunch and dinner.

Bacon and low-carb Intuitive Eating and suddenly I'm losing weight for the first time in a couple of years.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Kitchen Remodel

Jason did a great write up of the kitchen remodel over on my other blog.

Monday, July 22, 2013

July Challenge: Crash and Burn!

Okay, that title is a little melodramatic.  Last week really was pretty much a bust, though, challenge-wise.  On the one hand by the end of the week, my tummy was feeling a little flatter and I went for a nice long walk in the woods yesterday.  However, the reason my tummy was flatter is because I didn't eat much all week long.  Yeah, that's not sustainable.

Last Monday I woke up feeling absolutely exhausted and a bit nauseated.  Actually, a lot nauseated. I didn't ever throw up while I was sick, but I sure felt on the verge a lot of the time.  So I ate some saltines here, drank a little ginger ale there, but basically the first time I felt like eating at all was at lunchtime on Wednesday.  I ate a couple ounces of chicken breast and it felt like a major victory.

Last week was the second and last week of Restaurant Week and I was determined to go, since we missed last Restaurant Week thanks to both Jason and I being knocked out with the flu.  I wound up with lots of Restaurant Week leftovers.

By Thursday, I was feeling almost totally normal, and by Friday I felt great.  We went to New Hampshire over the weekend for Seek the Peak, a hike up Mt Washington to raise money for the weather observatory that got delayed to Sunday due to the weather.  So on Saturday we walked to some waterfalls, played mini golf and attended the now pre-hike turkey dinner.  Jason and his brother climbed Mt. Washington yesterday, and I found a nice 3 1/2 mile walk in the woods with only minor elevation gain.  (I can walk and walk, but I hate going up).

Even though I felt better, I still wasn't finishing my meals, and I tried to keep my food on the blander side.  The bad news is, the hike down yesterday took WAY longer than they thought it would, so we couldn't stop for a real dinner, but made do with roadside ice cream and, a couple hours later, a fast food stop.  I was driving, since I doubt Jason could have pushed in the clutch with his sore legs, so I was limited as to choices.  Today my stomach is a little wonky again, and I know it's thanks to Wendy's.

I suppose getting a little nauseated when I eat bad-for-me food isn't the worst thing in the world.  Keeps me on the straight and narrow.

In the meantime, though, my July Challenge is a bust.  This is the beginning of the last week and I'm now down at the bottom of the pack thanks to no workout points and only a couple of healthy eating points for last week.  Oh well.  On to August!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sensitive Subjects

I gave myself June before I decided I definitely needed help.  In June I participated in the June Challenge, as you all know.  I stuck to the food plan (low-carb) 5 or 6 out of 7 days per week and spent those 4 weeks doing a nice mix of cardio and strength training.  I felt good, physically, and thought, surely I will see improvement either via the scale or measuring tape.

When all was said and done, no improvement.  My clothes fit the same.  My body composition isn't changing and I'm not losing weight.

Jason sometimes complains about how many vegetables we eat.  A lot of my friends make comments to me about what an inspiration I am with my diligent workouts.  But the truth is, I haven't seen the scale or the measuring tape go anywhere but up for a couple of years now.   I eat low-carb because I honestly feel better eating this way, not because I'm trying to lose weight quick.  I work out because it helps my mental well-being.  Sometimes, though, I wish I would see some physical results for all my hard work and it can be really (really, really) discouraging when I don't.

Jason started saying to me several months ago that maybe I should go see an endocrinologist or similar because no matter how sedentary my job is, something's just not right.  After my June experiment, I started looking into getting help.

I know I'll never be skinny.  I know I'll never be "Normal" on the BMI because of how I'm built.  I don't want to be skinny or normal, I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin again. 

So this week, I went to see a doctor. I did some research and found someone who is sympathetic to low-carb, and whose entire ethos, according to his website, is something I can get on board with.  He sat with me for a half hour and we talked about my background, my parents and their backgrounds and health, the things I've done in the past, what brought me to him.  I liked him a lot and we had a good repoire.

I'm not so sure about what I think he might be recommending.  I'm getting blood work done and meeting with his weight-loss specialist next week, and I already have several (skepticism-laden) questions for her.  But, as Jason pointed out, nothing I've done so far has been working, so I might as well give this a whirl, right?

Monday, July 08, 2013

July Challenges

I'm still not sure how I made out in the June Challenge because the organizer went to Spain for a month) and didn't send us the final tallies before she left.  I'm pretty positive my friend Deborah smoked us all and got first.  I'm just curious as to whether I got second place, or wound up third.  I'm pretty pleased with my progress over the month, though, of course, I didn't lose weight. 

For the month of July (well, the 1st through the 28th), the same group is doing a very mellow version of the challenge (see above re: organizer in Spain), and reporting back to the group once a week.  We get a point for each day we eat on plan, a point for 3 days of working out, a point for each additional workout day, and 5 points at the end of the month for fulfilling a challenge goal we set for ourselves. 

Last week wasn't great because of the holiday and because we went to a 2-day music festival and there's nothing but crap food there.  Seriously, by the end of day 2, I was craving vegetables.  Maybe I should have counted 2 days of wandering around between stages and craft vendors in 90+ muggy degrees with heat advisories in effect as "working out", but I didn't.  Still, I like to think I'm more virtuous because of how much I sweat this weekend.

Since I'm also doing a 10,000 steps per day challenge, my goal for the July Challenge is to walk 10,000 steps per day for 24 out of 28 of the challenge days.  I think I need to give myself 1 day a week not to hit 10,000, in case of unforeseen circumstances.  Or foreseen circumstances even.  For instance, Jason's dad is leaving town today so we went out for breakfast.  Work has been a little nutty today, so no time for a lunch walk.  And I have a meeting tonight that will probably go to 9 PM.  So I'll be happy to reach 5,000 steps today.

I've said it before, but what I wouldn't give for a Walkstation...

So that's what's up for July.  Trying to get my brain back into Challenge mode after a few days off.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Carb Hangover

Sometimes I think I'm just being a prima donna and making up this little wheat/carb sensitivity thing to, I don't know, make myself feel special?  Be high maintenance?

Well, this hangover I have this morning is definitely not all in my head.

I was on course to have 6 out of 7 days on plan for the last week of the June Challenge.  However, we wound up staying for this fundraiser at church yesterday for the Young Men's (ages 12-17) summer camp.   I thought it would be a buffet so I could load my plate up with salad and then have some turkey or something when I got home.  But they actually served us a first course of salad, then rolls and spaghetti, then cookies (and the boys were adorable!).

So I basically carb-loaded yesterday in preparation for my hard day at work sitting on my bum.

Plus, last night I discovered we still had some Dancing Deer Molasses Clove Cookies that a friend brought to a concert we went to Friday night and then gave to us, and which I virtuously did not eat on Friday, but figured last night that I had already consumed a great big carb bomb so might as well eat a couple of cookies too, right?

Anyway, this morning I was supposed to go swimming, but I felt terrible and just wanted to sleep. So I texted Rebecca and said I wouldn't make it, then slept hard for another hour and a half.  I'm still feeling pretty groggy.

The moral of the story is, even if I'm not losing weight by eating low-carb (because I'm not.  Sigh.), I feel so much better overall that it's worth it to stick to the plan as much as possible.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kickboxing No More

After getting all psyched about kickboxing, and planning to buy a whole mess of classes from the instructor, I've been thwarted. 

So I signed up for his email list several weeks ago so I could stay on top of what was going on at the gym and be aware of any specials he was running.  First of all, he sent out a couple of suspect emails about this nutrition/supplement program that he sells.  I mean, fine, if you find something you like, I guess that's okay, but this was a multi-level marketing scenario, and I'm not going to shell out a bunch of money for bars and shakes and pills, when I personally want to focus on eating whole foods, thanks.

Then we get an email out of the blue last week announcing that as of July 1, he's moving his gym.  Not only is the new gym about twice as far away from me, but he won't have storage for his big punching bags so no more kickboxing.  But he assured us he would still be putting on awesome boot camp classes.

Yeah, no.

I mean, I enjoyed the boot camp/Cross Fit aspect of his classes, but I also liked the 20-30 minutes in the second half of class when we focused on kickboxing.  Because it's just fun to hit and kick a big bag.  Also, it's the boot camp aspect of class that hurt my shins a lot.  Plyometrics are the bane of my existence.

So, I won't be traveling to his new gym.  I might be willing to, if the kickboxing was still going to be a part of it, because overall I did like him, but there's a few strikes against him, and his classes are pretty pricey for me to not get exactly what I want.

Sigh.  Now I need to find a new kickboxing class.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Is Obesity A Disease?

The AMA recently adopted a policy stating that obesity is a disease:
“Recognizing obesity as a disease will help change the way the medical community tackles this complex issue that affects approximately one in three Americans,” said AMA board member Patrice Harris, M.D. “The AMA is committed to improving health outcomes and is working to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, which are often linked to obesity.”
The internets have been all a flutter about this, if you happen to read health and fitness and diet blogs like I do.  While this policy decision has no binding authority, the opinions of the AMA are often influential in guiding government policy and insurer practices.  On the one hand, I'm kind of hopeful that maybe this means things like preventative care and gym memberships and delicate hormonal tests to show what is happening within an individual's body will receive more focus from providers and reimbursement from insurers.

On the other hand, I am really, really cynical.

First of all, there's this information from Dr. William Davis, who Tom Naughton cited on his blog:
Well, it’s hard to know how the internal discussions at the AMA went until we get a look at the transcripts. But let’s take a look at the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC). I believe it tells the whole story. 
The OAC Board of Directors is filled with bariatric surgeons, such as Drs. Titus Duncan and Lloyd Stegemann, people who make a living from procedures and surgeries like gastric bypass and lap-band. The largest contributors to the OAC? Eisai Pharmaceuticals, maker of BELVIQ, the new drug for weight loss; Ethicon EndoSurgery, makers of laparoscopic operating room supplies; Vivus, Inc., another obesity drug maker; the American Society for Bariatric Surgeons; and Orexigen, developer of the combination drug naltrexone-buproprion for weight loss, now in FDA application stage. (Recall that naltrexone is the opiate blocking drug taken by heroin addicts but now being proposed to gain approval for weight loss.)

In other words, while it is being cast as something being done for the public good, the motivation is more likely to be … money: Bariatric surgeons gain by expanding the market for their procedures to patients who previously did not have insurance coverage for this “non-disease”; operating room supply manufacturers will sell more equipment for the dramatically increased number of surgical procedures; obesity drug manufacturers will have the clout to pressure health insurers to cover the drugs for this new disease.
Second, my own personal gut reaction (Gut!  Ha!)  to all of this is that obesity isn't a disease, but a manifestation of other problems, like insulin resistance or other hormonal imbalances.  For example, excess amounts of cortisol (the so-called stress hormone) have been shown to increase belly fat.  Further, some people are more insulin-resistant than others and thus can tolerate fewer carbohydrates in their diets.  There's a whole mess of biochemical reactions going on in our bodies, influenced by diet, exercise, and other environmental factors, and one of the results can be obesity.
Another big glaring issue for me is, how are we defining "obese"?  Are we still using BMI to determine who is "obese"?  Because there are loads of articles and analyses out there about the flawed nature of the BMI.   For one, it doesn't take body composition into account, and so you get professional athletes who are "overweight" or "obese", per the BMI.  Not to mention recent reports that people who are fit but slightly overweight, per the BMI definition, actually have pretty good health markers, such as cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and resting heart rate.  Or the research indicating that overweight and even slightly obese people might  have lower mortality rates than "normal"-weight people.  From the New York Times article:
The report, in The Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that B.M.I., a ratio of height to weight, should not be the only indicator of healthy weight. “Body mass index is an imperfect measure of the risk of mortality,” and factors like blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar must be considered, said Dr. Samuel Klein, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
I'm not saying this is perfect research, I'm just saying there are a lot of factors playing into what makes someone obese, and there are a lot of unknowns.  After trying to lose weight for a few years and only gaining, I am solidly in the "obese" category.  However, I don't want to pop a pill, with whatever side effects come along with that.  I want to figure out what's going on in my body and try to work within that knowledge.  Maybe making obesity a disease means that more investigation into the complex causes of it will get funded, but, to me, labeling obesity as a disease seems way too simplistic.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Challenge Part Deux

This week is the last week of the June Challenge (since, you know, it's the last week of June).  I did okay last week, but not great.  I wound up never doing the 4th weekly workout because I ran out of time.  Technically, I could have done it yesterday, but it was hot and we have no air conditioning on the 1st floor of our house and I just couldn't work up the enthusiasm for 5 rounds of burpees and a bunch of other things that make me tired and sweaty.

Starting yesterday, though, I'm taking part in another challenge.  A blogger I read got a Fitbit a little while ago and walked a lot and lost some weight and now she's decided to have a challenge where we all focus on walking a lot and maybe win some prizes.  The goal is to walk 10,000 steps per day, which is hard when most of my day is spent sitting on my bum in front of the computer.

I still plan to swim, and if the June Challenge lady decides to do a July Challenge, I'm going to do that too, but my daily goal from yesterday until August 3rd is to walk 10,000 steps per day.

We had to send before photos and our measurements and weight.  Given my lack of success with weight loss lately (read: over the last 2-3 years), I honestly don't know if I'll lose weight or see any improvement in my measurements.  But, like with the June Challenge, I like having a challenge to make me really focus on a particular fitness goal.

So, last night, when it finally cooled down a little, I went for a walk as the sun was setting.  I forgot that's also the buggy time of the day, so I have a few new mosquito bites, and I might have swallowed a couple of gnats, BUT I got 12,000 steps.

This morning, Rebecca and I swam and I think the fact that we only swam 1600 meters proves that we talk too much and that we need to get back in the habit of walking together because when we walk, we can talk.  We can't even social kick (kick and talk) at the crowded Brown pool.  Now that I'm trying to get 10,000 steps per day, I'm going to have to rope her into going on some walks with me.

After work, I'm going to go to the gym and walk on the treadmill for awhile, since it's freaking hot again today.  To be more precise, it's 92 with a 97 heat index.  For this girl who grew up in Tucson, that means I step outside and immediately start sweating.  Pretty!

Friday, June 21, 2013

A Little Worn Out - But Strong

This morning I'm feeling a little worn out.  Yesterday I swam 2200 meters (in a long course pool!  Plus, meters are longer than yards so you should be impressed!), then last night I did 2 of  the June Challenge workouts (because I can't do one tonight and I'm running out of time this week), plus the weekly plank challenge, plus the weekly Tabata squat challenge.

I think my main issue is that I need to stop doing these workouts after dinner.  Usually by the time I get home, I'm hungry and I want to make dinner, or I've picked up dinner, and I want to eat.  Then I let my food settle, and THEN I tackle the workouts.  I did this both Wednesday night and last night.  I didn't finish until 9:20 PM last night, and then I was all full of energy and endorphins and didn't feel even a little tired until after 11, which isn't ideal when I want to get up at 6 to go swim.

So both yesterday morning and this morning I was dragging because I didn't get to sleep until late.  Today's workout was very fin heavy, to compensate, but I'm ok with that.

Have I mentioned my legs muscles are really starting to pop?  At least they are to me.  During the St. John race, Jason took a picture of me running into the surf to start my swim.  Although I'm not thrilled with the picture generally (belly rolls and overall bigness, ugh!), I did notice a line down the side of my thigh - the outline of my muscle!  There are strong muscles under this cellulite just waiting to come out.  I'm doing my best to uncover them!

Also, Rebecca and I got to feel a little superior today because the two guys she shared a lane with were absolutely dying.  I have a feeling they are training for a triathlon and this was one of their first times trying to knock out a swim.  Afterwards, I commented to her that I can't really talk since I can't run worth anything.  She said, yeah, but she doesn't think people realize how taxing swimming is, cardiovascularly.  It's true.  I may be heavy, but my resting heart rate is obscenely low.

So strong heart and strong muscles - I suppose I'll take those over being skinny.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

June Challenge Week 2: 2nd Place!

The Week 2 results came out yesterday and I'm still in 2nd place with a total of 29 points!  Deborah has shot ahead in 1st place with 32 points.  3rd place is only one point behind me so I need to be diligent this week.

I was aiming for 7 days of on-track eating this week, but Starbucks foiled my plans this morning.  I've started going straight to work from the gym, which makes cooking eggs for breakfast kind of tough.  So I've opted for Starbucks Greek yogurt.  I toss their granola and mix in my own blend of a variety of sunflower seeds, chia seeds, craisins and unsweetened coconut.  It's not ideal, but it gets me some protein and isn't too high on the carbs.

This morning they were out of Greek yogurt.  So my options were the regular high-sugar yogurt with berries; sausage, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich; or a pastry of some sort.  The sandwich seemed like the best option, since at least I would get some protein.  I'm fully expecting a carb crash in an hour or so.

The challenge organizer sent an email yesterday asking if anyone is interested in a July challenge and if anyone has suggestions.

While I used to be the sit back and let other people make suggestions and nod in agreement type of person, I've noticed lately that I'm all about giving suggestions.  For instance, my firm is redoing its website and has hired fancy designers and I'm pretty sure that they are very sick of my suggested tweaks.  They don't necessarily take my suggestions, but I always have 3 or 4 to make.

Anyway, my point is, of course I had suggestions!

First of all, I suggested adding a steps element to the challenge - 1 point for every day we get over 10,000 steps.  This is a self-serving suggestion since I'm also  thinking about joining a Fitbit step challenge next week that runs through July, so I could knock out the requirements for 2 separate challenges by walking 10,000 steps per day.

Second, I suggested that instead of a mandatory mile run every week, we be able to do comparable activity in another sport.  For instance, I could swim a 450 for time, with a goal of improving that time every week.  This isn't just about the fact that I don't like to run, although that's part of it.  But honestly a big reason why I don't like to run is because I hurt myself every single time.  I ran/walked my mile on Saturday, and then Sunday I did a bunch of jumping jacks for one of the workouts, and here it is Thursday and I'm still limping around.  My shins hurt.  They were just starting to feel better before the run last Saturday, and as soon as I started running (not walking.  Walking is fine.), the pain shot through my legs with every step.

Yesterday, not even kidding, I almost fell down the stairs because my left leg wanted to give out.  I had to grab the railing and steady myself.

So, yeah, I know I've whined about this on here many times before, but I'm just going to say it again: I'm not built to be a runner.

I told the organizer that I would be willing to forego any chance at a point for the best time for the mile run for the first week (since it's obvious I'm not winning that point anyway!) if I can swim instead of run.  We'll see what she decides to do.

Friday, June 14, 2013

And Now I Need A Nap

I knew that today would be a non-Challenge-compliant food day because I had to catch the early train to Boston for a meeting, and I like to get a scone at the train station cafe because eggs are smelly and not very train friendly.

Today I got an almond croissant, but you get my point.

Then on my way back from Boston I got an Auntie Anne's pretzel at South Station because they're amazing and buttery and I hardly ever have access to delicious giant pretzels in my life anymore.

(When I was in college, I used to get a giant soft pretzel at least 2 days a week with 3 of my fellow English-geek buddies after our Victorian lit class and we would sit in the Tucson sun on the University of Arizona mall and get nice and tan before our next class.  I miss days like that when it's rainy and freaking 60 degrees in the middle of June, Providence!)

Anyway, as I could have predicted, now, an hour and a half later, I feel a little headachey and I really want to curl up in the corner of my office and go to sleep.  But, no, I have a good 5 more hours of work to put in before I can respectably leave on a Friday afternoon.

Sigh.  Might have to go whole hog with this non-compliant day and pop open a Diet Coke.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

June Challenge: Tied for Second Place!

For a couple of hours this morning, I thought I was tied for first place in the June Challenge, but then my friend Deborah (the one who roped me into the challenge) re-sent her scores in because they got lost somehow and she leaped to the front of the pack.

Still, though, second!  Pretty pleased with that.  I'm on a good course for this week to get at least the same number of points as last week.  I've done two of the workouts, a couple of the challenges, and met my run/walk goal by swimming 3 miles already.  I'm planning to swim Saturday and do mile run #2 (bleh).  I've been taking it easy on my shins and they're feeling a lot better, so here's hoping the run doesn't kill them again.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pool Etiquette

There are signs all over the entrance to the Brown pool and at the end of each lane proclaiming, "Please Circle Swim.  6-10 Swimmers Per Lane."  The lanes are divided into 3 fast lanes, 2 medium lanes, 2 slow lanes, and 1 water walking lane.  Each lane is 50 meters long, and, seriously, at least 1 1/2 times wider than the lanes at the Y.  There is LOTS of space.

Still, you run into people who are very concerned about not having enough space.  Rebecca told me the first time she and Tad asked a girl in a lane if they could circle swim, she totally gave them attitude.  Then, last Saturday morning Rebecca and I had our own run-in.

A very buff older gentleman was not happy about sharing lanes.  Initially we stood outside the pool at the end of the lane, waiting for him to pause, which he never did.  And it wasn't like we could just start swimming because he was very definitely swimming up and back on one side of the lane.  So finally we got IN the lane and made him stop so we could ask if we could circle.

His response: "Well, we can try.  Until I have to do butterfly."

Okay, sir, this lane is very wide. I think we can avoid your massive wingspan. (NOTE: his wingspan was not massive.)

Then, after I swam a bit, I paused to put on fins.  I scooted waaaay over to one side of the lane.  Mr. Wingspan decided to do his flipturn RIGHT next to me, and after he flipped, he took the time to pop his head up and say, "ExCUSE me" in a very snarky way.

Now, at the Y, no one LIKED circle swimming.  But we all recognized that it has to happen from time to time, and reactions from people when you asked if you could circle swim varied from indifferent to extremely accepting.  Now that I've swam at the Brown pool a few times, I've determined that circle swimming is just a way of life there because a lot of people use the Brown pool.

So I was seething a little bit, but I decided to not let it bother me too much (though it kind of did.)  The next time he and I paused at the same time, he made some remark about swimming IMs and how tough his workout was.  Despite being braggy, it was verging on cordial.

By the end of the swim, Mr. Wingspan had decided that I was okay, I guess, because he got downright chatty.  We talked about how nice the pool is and I told him how I was swimming at the Y until recently.  He told me he used to swim at the old Providence Y when he was 13 in 1963.  (Mr Wingspan, I have to give you credit.  You are pretty darn fit for a 63 year-old!  Heck, let's be honest.  You're pretty darn fit for a 23 year-old!)

I attribute his attitude shift to (A) Rebecca and I totally holding our own with him in the lane, and (B) my sparkling personality.  Mostly A, though.  I have a theory that since I don't look like someone's idea of a competent swimmer, the more type A swimmer might worry that I'll just get in his/her way.  However, when I prove myself, there's a noticeable attitude shift.  This is not the first time something similar has happened.

Still, there's no excuse for rudeness at the pool, Mr. Wingspan.

Monday, June 10, 2013

June Challenge: Week 1 Complete!

I came into work this morning to find that our network is down.  We still have internet, but I can't actually do any work, so might as well post about Week 1 of the June Challenge.

By way of an update, I did confirm with the organizer that it would be okay to modify some of the workouts to accommodate my puny shins. They already feel better and I'm hopeful that by the end of the week I'll be up to doing my mile run for Week 2.  If there's not a good way to modify the leaping and bouncing and other high-impact exercises, I've been substituting in squats, since I'm still working my legs that way.  So what I'm saying is, my legs are sore.

I'm pleased with my progress last week.  Not only did I swim 3 times, for a total of 4 miles, but I did all of the weekly workouts.  We had 4 Cross Fit-esque workouts, plus challenges of a mile run, 5 rounds of Tabata squats, AMRAP push ups for a minute, and hold plank as long as possible.  I also ate on the food plan 5 out of 7 days.

So Week 1 is in the bag!  On to Week 2.  I swam this morning, so I'm off to a good start!

Friday, June 07, 2013


I think I may need to modify some of the workouts for this June Challenge if I'm going to get through running a mile every week and still be able to walk when I'm not working out.  I did Workout #2 last night, which included 5 rounds of 20 knee highs and 10 tuck jumps (among other things).  First of all, tuck jumps.  Check out this guy.

Yeah, I'm not that bouncy.

But that wasn't even the main problem.  As soon as I started that first round of knee highs, my shins started hurting.  I did a few tuck jumps and realized that my legs were not up to this.  So instead of tuck jumps, I added a bunch more air squats to the 5 rounds of those we were supposed to do.  I did do all of the knee highs because I figured those had a little less impact, but now I'm not so sure.  I limped around all last night and today my shins hurt pretty bad.

I'm going to write the organizer and let her know that I'm just going to modify things a bit.  When there's something high-impact, I'm going to switch it to something lower-impact, but still difficult.  Hopefully she'll still count my points.

Maybe eventually I'll be able to do the more high-impact stuff, but I figure I need to let my shins heal first, right?

The good news is, Workouts 3 and 4 for the week look to be pretty low impact and focused more on arms and abs.  No problem.  Well, not no problem - the workouts will still be tough.  But I'm not so concerned about injury with those.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Challenge Progress

I'm right in the thick of a working out extravaganza, and it feels pretty darn good.  Monday morning I swam.  Last night I did my timed 1-mile run for the June Challenge and did the first workout (burpees, planks, sit ups, etc.).  This morning I swam and at lunch I went for a walk up the big hill to Brown campus to run some errands.

First, about that run.  I should really say "run".  It was more a walk with spurts of jogging.  I am SO not a runner.  When I told Rebecca (aka, swim buddy and fellow Quahog) about it at the pool this morning she suggested that running a mile isn't necessarily indicative of fitness, or at least my fitness.  Maybe it should be some sort of challenge related to your particular sport, with the goal to show improvement over the course of the month.  We're not being ranked or given points based on how fast we run the mile, only on our percentage of improvement over the next 4 weeks.

So I've been thinking about that.  For instance, if a quarter mile of swimming equals a mile of running in this Challenge, then I should be able to time myself swimming a quarter mile (let's call that a 450), with the goal of improving that time over the 4 weeks.  I can still report a percentage of improvement, it will just be for swimming, rather than running.  I have flat feet, weak ankles, and a family history of terrible knees and arthritis.  I injure myself every time I try Couch to 5K.  I don't think running is in my cards.

Maybe if the Challenge organizer decides to do something similar for July, I'll make that suggestion.  But for now, I run.  Or walk.  Whatever. 

After the "run", I came home and did Challenge Workout 1, which was tough!  Kudos to the organizer for finding us some hard workouts. 

This morning's swim was a fun workout using ALL the toys.  Basically, we swam 2600 yards total, with 2100 of those yards using fins.  That on top of yesterday's run means my legs and glutes are yelling at me. And then I walked up (and down) a big hill at lunch.  My legs are tired, is what I'm saying.

I have 3 more workouts to do this week for the Challenge, plus some push-up, squat and plank challenges. This Challenge is definitely getting me to think about when to schedule in my workouts and I feel so focused.  Love it!

Monday, June 03, 2013

June Challenge

A friend of mine emailed me yesterday to see if I wanted to get in on a challenge for the month of June that a friend of hers put together.  A challenge?  With points?  Of course!

So that's what I'm doing this month.  Basically for the weeks of June there are 4 workouts to do at some point during the week, which get progressively harder as the weeks progress.  The workouts are similar to the Cross Fit idea - 5 rounds of 10 push-ups, 10 burpees, 15 squats, 3 varieties of plank for 30 seconds each, etc.

Also, there are a few other fitness challenges to get through each week for points. 

ALSO, there's a food component that basically consists of removing the heavily-processed "white" foods - sugar, white flour, white rice.   I'll do you one better, Challenge, and not even eat the whole wheat flour or the brown rice!

One thing I really like is that there's a walking/running component each week, which the organizer translated into non-walking/running activities.  So I can swim 1/4 mile and it counts as a mile of running/walking.  This week the total is 5 miles, which means I'm already finished, since I swam 1 1/4 miles this morning.  Next week it's 12 miles, so that will take a bit more effort in the pool.

One thing I do NOT like: required running.  Each week we're supposed to do a timed mile run.  Yeah, I can pretty much guarantee I won't be getting any points with that, since mine will probably be a 15 minute run/jog/walk mile.

Regardless, I love a challenge, especially when someone has already done all the hard work and organized everything and just tells me what to do.

I have a work meeting tonight, but I'll do my first weekly workout tomorrow!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Active Vacation

Well we're back home and, frankly, kind of depressed about it.  Oh well.  I guess real life has to go on.  The good news is, we're so used to hot and muggy weather that this mild heat wave Rhode Island is having feels like no big deal.

Trips like this last week really make me think that I should have thought long and hard about becoming a lawyer and being chained to a desk for most of my day. We swam and snorkeled a lot and without even trying I lost 3/4 inch off my waist and almost the same amount off my hips, not to mention decreases in my thighs and calves.  I unofficially measured myself just to see if there was any change, and sure enough.

And it's not like I was watching my diet.  There were many, many smoothies and fruity drinks this past week and brownies and big ole burgers.

It's just so easy when the weather is beautiful and there's an ocean beckoning.  On Friday we hung out at the beach and I went for a half hour swim, just because.  A half hour swim at the Y feels good, but is also kind of a chore.  A half hour swim in the ocean is no biggie, just a nice way to kill some time.

Now it's back to real life and making a point of being healthy again.  I've joined a June challenge that a friend of mine is also doing, and I'm going to swim laps tomorrow morning.  Just not in the ocean.  Sadly.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

St.John Beach to Beach Power Swim

We did it!  A 3 1/2 mile relay swim with two great teammates (Tad and Rebecca) and two great cheerleaders (Jason and Marissa).

This is going to be very long, just to warn you.  But it will have pictures and bonus guest bloggers!

Jason and I got to St. John on Friday, and on Saturday we went to the beach.  I was going to swim the second leg of the swim, from Cinnamon Bay to Trunk Bay, around Windswept Point at Peter Bay.  I wanted to get in a test swim anyway, but even more so after looking at my particular route and realizing that we would have to swim out pretty far to get around a shallow reef.  I put on my goggles and SwiMP3, and started swimming, only to realize that missing the reef was going to be tough.  I didn't really want to swim out too far all on my own since I wasn't exactly sure where the course would go, so I just swam around for awhile to get the feel for the open water.  Swimming in the clear, warm ocean with the sun on my back is so infinitely better than swimming in the dank pool at the Y.  I can't even tell you how pleasant it is.  I miss swimming outdoors so much.

Later in the afternoon, while I registered us, got our goodie bags and sat through an orientation meeting, Jason picked Tad, Rebecca and Marissa up from the ferry from St. Thomas.  He brought them back to Cinnamon Bay and we all decided to go swimming.  Tad, Rebecca and I did a little test swim, and I think all three of us felt a little more confident about the open-water part of all of this.  It's tough when it's been almost a whole year since you've actually been in open water!

Sunday morning dawned a little cloudy, but that cleared up, and despite the dire weather forecasts for the preceding few days (thunder!  lightning!  wind!), the day was absolutely gorgeous!  There was a bit of a swell, especially out around the points, probably from some storm activity in Puerto Rico or elsewhere, so the waves were a little bigger than the day before.  Still, gorgeous!
We went to Maho to get our color-coded caps (silver for relay!).   There were 6 waves of swimmers:  long swim (3 1/2 miles, green caps, hardcore people), long swim assisted (3 1/2 miles with fins and/or snorkel, light blue caps), intermediate swim (2 1/4 miles, pink caps), intermediate swim assisted (tan caps), short swim (1 mile, yellow caps), and short swim assisted (we can't remember their cap color...).

Rebecca started us out with her mile swim from Maho Bay to Cinnamon Bay.  I took the hand off at Cinnamon and swim 1 1/4 miles to Trunk, and then Tad swam 1 1/4 miles from Trunk to Hawksnest.
Here's our mighty team, waiting for the race to start:

Rebecca did a little warm up swim along the beach, then we all stood around, adrenaline pumping, for a final briefing from the race organizer.  After that the long-course and unassisted relay swimmers lined up at the starting banner, a guy blew on a conch shell, and they were off!

We watched the next couple of waves of swimmers leave and then the organizers told the relay swimmers it was time to hustle over to Cinnamon.  We hopped in the car and Jason drove us to the next beach.  I got in the water briefly, defogged my goggles, and waited at the Relay banner for Rebecca to swim ashore.

Here's an account of each leg of the swim from me and guest bloggers Rebecca and Tad.

Rebecca's Swim
Compared to my teammates, I had the easiest route by far: wait for the sound of the conch, race into the water, swim across Maho Bay, around the point, and toward Cinnamon Bay, where Kelly would be waiting.  My route was the shortest and the least choppy.  Still, this was my first open water swim, and while I was fairly hopeful that I wouldn't need to be rescued (!), there were a few unanticipated surprises.  First, I hadn't considered what it would be like to begin an open-water race.  I've only ever competed in pools, where lane lines separate swimmers from one another, keeping competitors neatly in their places.  This time, when the conch sounded, I found myself in a tangle of arms and legs, unable to move freely or breathe regularly.  We swam like that for several minutes before the faster swimmers broke ahead.  I was with the slower, and that was (mostly) fine with me.  My consciousness in the ocean, where I had to remain aware of an unfamiliar course, marked only by the occasional buoy, was very different from my consciousness in the pool, where it is almost impossible to go off course. I lifted my head out of the water every 30 seconds or so in an attempt to remain aware of the course--and as a result, I didn't see very much beneath the water.  I hadn't anticipated the sun in my eyes or the taste of salt in my mouth.  I likewise didn't anticipate the burst of energy I felt at the end of my race.  As I rounded the point and turned toward the finish line at Cinnamon Bay, I noticed a competitor in a silver cap.  My killer instinct would not be quashed!  In a burst of power, I passed her and headed toward the finish line.  Unfortunately, my power finish came to an abrupt and premature end: once standing on solid sand, my wobbly legs refused to run.  I walked across the finish line and give Kelly a tired but triumphant high five.

Kelly's Swim
I ran into the water at the same time as another relay swimmer and my competitive side took over as I tried to keep up with him.  Then I made myself slow down and pace myself because I would never make it 1 1/4 miles at that pace.

I'm on the right; the guy is on the left:

Reluctantly, I slowed down and let him pull ahead of me. I concentrated on pacing myself and breathing.  I felt on my own for most of the swim, probably, as I would discover, because I was way too close to the shore.  The day before at orientation, they had given us a landmark to site to on the way out from Cinnamon, but as I discovered, it would have worked better for me to site just to the right of that landmark.

When I finally saw the first buoy that I needed to take on my left, it was well to my right and I needed to correct by swimming almost perpendicular to the point of land on my left.  I grew to hate that buoy because it never seemed to get closer.  For a very long time.

Out  along Windswept Point, I'm not going to lie, I struggled a bit as the waves were a little bigger than I had expected.  To the point where I would occasionally feel myself lifted up on the crest of the wave, then dropped down with a little swoop in my stomach.  Course correction was even tougher as I ran head-on into some of those waves.  I felt a little justified later when I heard some long-course swimmers talking about how the surf was kind of tough around Windswept.

At one point, my energy was flagging and I thought, as I swam over the reef, it would be really neat to see a turtle out here while I'm swimming (they're my favorite).  Then about 30 seconds later, not even kidding, I saw a turtle swimming under me.  He swam right by, but he made me smile, and gave me a little push of optimism.

I kept swimming and eventually got around that first buoy, then the next one and the next.

When I finally (FINALLY) got around the point, and turned to swim toward shore I did get a boost because suddenly I was swimming with the current.  Every time I took a stroke with a wave, I felt a little push.  Lovely!  Plus, I could finally see the finish line banner in the distance!  And as an extra bonus, below me was an awesome sting ray, big enough to have its own remora.

Then some other swimmers started swimming alongside me and my competitive side took over again.  I finished my leg, huffing and puffing, ran up the beach, high-fived Tad, and he took off.

Tad's Swim
Before Kelly rounded the point and came into view, Rebecca, Jason, Marissa, and I arrived at Trunk Bay; and I started to scout my trajectory.  I knew that the first leg of my swim would cross Trunk Bay far from the shore, and I wanted to be sure that I knew where I was going.  I clarified with race officials where the first buoy was.  Feeling relatively confident, I warmed up a little and waited for Kelly's approach.

The adrenaline started pumping when I saw Kelly headed for the beach, and after our high-five I sprinted to the water and once knee-deep dived in.  I raced through the gate (ten yards out) and pointed myself in the right direction.  After thirty or forty seconds, I realized that I needed to calm down and slow and lengthen my strokes.  It was about half way to the first buoy that I realized it was harder than I thought it would be to stay on course.  And as I moved further out into the bay it got more difficult.

When I passed the first buoy, I couldn't see the next one in the swells that had grown to several feet.  Knowing that the course eventually ran close to the shore as it rounded into Oppenheimer and Hawksnest Bay, I sited the visible point.  Several minutes later an official in a kayak caught up to me to tell me that I was way off course and that the next buoy was two or three hundred yards straight out to sea.  That meant that I had to swim across the current (running right to left/east to west) with the waves running in the same direction.  In all it felt like I probably lost five or more minutes and a lot of energy before rounding the buoy and heading back with the current.

Even then my directional woes were far from over.  The next buoy had been "lost" (whatever that meant), and we were to site on a kayaker.  While it seemed to me that the kayak kept moving, I'm sure it was just my inability to swim straight.  When I got all the way around the point and into the protection of the next bay the swimming got a lot easier.  Near Oppenheimer Beach a final gate marked the turn along the shore toward Hawksnest Beach.  I was feeling good--though kicking myself for all the time I'd lost.  Shortly after making the turn, in about twenty feet of water, I swam over a nurse shark sunning itself on the bottom and cursed my luck at not having a camera with me.  With the finish in sight, it was time to see what sort of finishing speed I could muster . . . as I swam past the finish gate and had to cut back to stumble across the finish line.

(Kelly again...)
After the race was over, everyone headed to Oppenheimer Beach for a BBQ and awards ceremony.  I won an adorable glass turtle suncatcher for being the 2nd highest fundraiser (thanks so much to all of you who donated!), and everyone who finished got a medal.
Sadly, we didn't get any team awards because in the end, we took 4th place.  We finished the race in one hour and fifty-two minutes.  We were pleased with that time.  If Tad and I hadn't both gone off course a bit, we might have been able to shave several minutes off of that, but it still wouldn't have been enough to place.  We came into the race hoping to take 2nd, because last year, while the 1st-place team was super fast, the 2nd-place team had a time we knew we could beat.  Alas, this year there were 3 amazing relay teams whose times we couldn't touch and we know that.

However, if we do it again next year and we decide to do the relay, we've talked about doing it assisted.  The first place time for the assisted relay wasn't too far away from our time and we are all powerhouses with fins!

I have to say, we caused quite a splash in our shirts.  Early on, I rallied for us to come up with a team name, both for solidarity AND because I planned to make us shirts.  We wanted something ocean-related and tied to Rhode Island, so we settled on The Rhode Island Quahogs.  I checked out a couple of online shirt design places, and came up with the bright blue shirts we wore.

All day long, people were calling out, "Hey, Rhode Island!" or striking up conversations.  We met a guy from Bristol, Rhode Island.  I even heard a couple of comments about Family Guy inspired by our shirts.

The best was when a freelance journalist/photographer took our pictures and interviewed us for a human interest article he's going to pitch around the area.  Not a lot of people from Rhode Island doing the swim, especially not with bright blue T-shirts showing off their Rhode Island pride.  He took my phone number and email, and will let me know if anyone runs the story.

All in all it was a great experience!  I loved that we could do the race as a relay team, and I've had such a fun time training for the swim with Rebecca over the last couple of months.  We're already talking about what we need to work on for next year (bilateral breathing and siting).  Not that we'll definitely be back, but wouldn't that be fun if we were?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Pre-Vacation Jitters

Does anyone else have that dream where you're supposed to be on a flight in a half hour for a very important/fun/exciting trip, and not only are you not even at the airport yet, but you've completely forgotten to pack?  I put it in the same category as the dream where I realize I have a final exam today for a class that I completely forgot to go to all semester.  Usually it's a Spanish final.  Because I might be able to fudge my way through an English or History final with some good BSing, but there's no way to fake that I have no clue how to work the Spanish subjunctive anymore.

I love to travel, but I always get a little nervous beforehand because I'm convinced I will forget something vital.  Truth be told, I usually forget something, but it's usually not something vital, and I can usually buy whatever it is wherever we are.  The one time I really triple-checked the suitcase was when we went to India because I had no idea what India would have in the way of, say, Oral-B floss, and whether we would even be anywhere close to a place where I could pick some up.

My mild pre-trip anxiety is exacerbated today because the swim is on Sunday, and given that I was kind of pooped after a 500 this morning, I'm a little nervous.  However, I ate some junk food yesterday (office mid-afternoon snack break + BBQ and pie at a friend's house) and I definitely noticed I didn't feel my best this morning.  Or last night, for that matter.  Motivation to eat healthy on Saturday!

I'm also a little nervous about the yucky weather forecast next week.  Fingers crossed that it's just an island thing and while it will probably rain a little every day, it won't deter us from any of our fun plans.  Or from getting a tan. 

I miss being tan...

Wish us luck!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Review: SwiMP3

Jason gave me a SwiMP3 for Christmas 2011, and because I'm a horrible person, I just used it for the very first time a week and a half ago. 

Actually, my conundrum has been that pretty much for the last year and a half whenever I swam, I was either with the Masters team, or with a swim buddy, and it seemed rude to just flip on the music and tune out.  However, the Saturday before last I had scheduled a long swim and I knew my swim buddy couldn't be there.  So I charged up the SwiMP3, loaded it with some songs, and tried it out.

I love it!  First of all, the SwiMP3 uses bone conduction, rather than headphones.  I've heard swimming headphones can be tricky, so this seemed like a useful innovation. The only thing is, when the music is on, for some reason it really amplifies the noise of the water rushing by my ears, and the sound of blowing out water when I breathe.  Maybe because I happen to be listening harder, so I notice ALL the sounds...?  When I do backstroke, it's less noisy because there's no blowing out air prior to breathing and my head is in the water for the entire length of the pool.

That's a minor quibble, though, since I quickly adjusted to the ambient noise and focused on the music.

The two side pieces hook onto each side of your goggles, and set on top of your upper jawbone/cheekbone.  When I tried it on the night before, I was worried that the plastic would dig into my face and give me a headache after a long swim, and if I loosened the goggles anymore, I was afraid they would leak.  I needn't have worried.  I don't know if its a buoyancy thing, but I didn't even notice the plastic pieces resting on my face after a bit.   

The sound quality is a bit tinny, and I miss my bass beats, but, seriously, I'm listening to music underwater through MY BONES!  That's pretty awesome.

I definitely need to make a new playlist.  I've used it twice now for long swims (20-25 minutes) and have discovered that some songs just do not work for me and swimming.  It seems like repetitive, intricate music and beats, with simple words get me in a nice groove.  Think "Lift Me Up" or "Bodyrock by Moby, or "Right Here Right Now" by Fatboy Slim.

My conundrum now is that I really want to use the SwiMP3 during our St. John swim, because wow would that make that 1 1/4 miles go quickly!  I think I'm going to call the organizers and see if I can.

(This is in no way a sponsored post, though that would be pretty sweet if Finis decided to give me another SwiMP3.)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Shin Splints

I'm pretty positive I have shin splints, which has happened before when I've started running.  My buddy and I were still planning to go to kickboxing tonight, and I was going to tell the teacher I couldn't run, only it turns out she pulled something in her back the other night.

And she's 22 and teeny, so it's not just because I'm old and decrepit and overweight.  This is some intense stuff and we need to be careful.

Which begs the question, what kind of ridiculousness does he put his "Elite Training" class through?  I can't even imagine.

So we probably won't go tonight, which is a shame, because I wanted to get in the workout and, despite the pain, I am really enjoying the kickboxking/Cross Fit experience.

Here's a couple of questions for you:  have you had shin splints?  How long did it take you to get over them?  When you started running/walking again, did they come back?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

So Basically I'm Doing Cross Fit...

I think I signed up for Cross Fit Lite without realizing it.  Not that I'm opposed to that.  I've been intrigued by Cross Fit for a few years, but never signed up because the locations aren't that convenient, it's really expensive, and, frankly, it's pretty intimidating.

However, kickboxing definitely incorporated some Cross Fit elements last night.  We showed up and the teacher had us run around the parking lot a few times.  He got on my case for walking part of it, but, the fact is, if my shins are hurting in that splinty kind of way, I stop running.  Since I've managed to injure myself enough to have to stop working out for a few weeks each of the 4 or 5 times I've tried Couch to 5K, I'm probably excessively cautious when someone asks me to run. 

(My feet are the flattest ever (as told by a man who has fit many, many feet with running shoes).  Even in specially-fitted shoes, my alignment is just wrong.  So I walk a lot, but I don't run.)

Anyway, then he had us do sets of walking lunges and suicides and butt kicks.

Finally, we went back into the gym and had a good look at what were obviously 3 sets of stations he'd set up for us to do.  No kicking, no boxing.  For the first 35-40 minutes of the workout, we did weight lifting and body weight exercises.

First circuit:

- 10 box jumps
- 10 push ups
- 50 jumping rope (slightly humiliating fact I confirmed last night - I cannot jump rope)
- 10 100-lb deadlifts
- 1 lap around the parking lot
- 10 tricep dips on the punching bag base
- 30 rope bounces(?), alternating arms (I don't know what you call them.  You pick up 2 giant ropes like they use on big sailboats and swing your arms up and down, making the ropes bounces in waves)

Repeat.  I got through two sets of those because I was in the 2nd group to go, whereas my gym buddy only had to do 1.  Which means I'm better than her, right?

Second circuit:

- 20 step ups and toe taps (20 each leg)
- 50 bicycle crunches
- 50 jumping rope (again, humiliating)
- 10 rows per arm (picking up one end of the 100-lb barbell)
- 1 lap around the parking lot
- 5 incline push ups (with our feet up on the base of the punching bag)
- 20 rope bounces, arms together

Got through that circuit once.  Everyone was pretty dead after that, but then he rolled out the punching bags and we did some boxing, which is fun.  Though, even then, he's all about the cross training.  Because we did  3 minutes of jab-cross, followed by a minute of burpees.  Then did 3 minutes of backhand-hook-hook, followed by a minute of mountain climbers.  Which, ow.  Plus, we did a lap around the parking lot following by toe taps on the base of the punching bag, twice.

This morning, as usual, I'm not really feeling it yet, except my upper back muscles are really, really tight.  I expect the pain to show up at around 3 PM.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Not Eating Enough?

I've read a couple of posts recently about the similarities between signs of adrenal fatigue and starvation.  A lot of people are being diagnosed - or self-diagnosing - with adrenal fatigue.  Here's a tidy definition:
Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia. As the name suggests, its paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep but it is not a readily identifiable entity like measles or a growth on the end of your finger. You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of unwellness, tiredness or "gray" feelings. People experiencing adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, colas and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.  (Source)

I think I might be unwittingly starving myself, ever so gradually.  After this past weekend, these articles have really hit home as I try to figure out what the heck is wrong with me.  This weekend was ridiculous.  After 7 hours of sleep Friday night, I dragged myself to the pool and swam a crappy 2500 yards. I felt so, so very tired.  I got home and prepped some things for a party we hosted Saturday night, and then I took a 3-hour nap. 

I don't nap unless I'm sick.

Sunday I woke up after 8 hours of sleep, feeling ok.  I made it through church and then Evensong, but by the time we got home, I was dragging. I fell asleep on the couch at 8:45 PM.  Jason told me to go to bed and I protested that it was too early.  Then 15 minutes later I decided he was right.  I woke up on my own this morning at 5 AM, had a good swim, and so far today I'm feeling pretty awake

So we all know that I had the flu, followed shortly by shingles.  Suffice it to say, my body has not been at its best.  I think I'm well past the shingles fatigue period, since I think I had a pretty light case of the shingles.  I think my issue might be lack of fuel, especially as I'm starting to get more regular with my workouts (and adding more intense things like kickboxing).

My nutrition guru friend has told me before that if I'm not losing weight and I'm eating clean and working out, the problem might be that I'm not eating enough.  Logically, in my brain, I know I have to eat enough to fuel whatever I'm doing.  However, I also know that my job consists mainly of me sitting on my bum typing on the computer.  So I'm much more apt to follow the adage of keeping my calories low, even while I amp up my workouts.

That's a surefire recipe for stressing out my body and packing on/retaining weight.  I am nothing if not metabolically efficient.  On the savanna, my people could totally outlive your people.

So the other night I found this BMR calculator. I really like that it has several different activity inputs, so you can really tailor it to what you're doing each day.  I entered my stats for today, and just to stay alive (ie, my BMR), I need 1739 calories.

I've been kind of sporadic lately with logging food, but I usually eat the same general diet, and after tracking calories for YEARS, I know I average around 1400-1600 calories per day.  Including the days when I kickbox or swim.  As other people have noted, the World Health Organization defines starvation for women as 1800 calories per day. 

(Think about that if you're only fueling yourself with 1200 calories per day...)

For the next few weeks, in addition to focusing more on being active, I'm also going to focus on fueling my body.  I'm going to be more diligent with logging my food, and my goal is to eat at least to my BMR every day.