Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Runner's high (and low)

Well,I am definitely feeling the low, and it's frustrating! However, on the bright side, here are a few tips I have learned for all the runners out there.
Last summer, a few months before we moved back to UT from Boston, I noticed my knees starting to hurt when I would run. It was mostly my left knee, just below my knee cap. But, silly me just kept running on it anyway. I also started to notice a crunching sound from my knees when I would climb up and down stairs. When we moved back to UT, my mom made an appointment to see the chiropractor she goes to in North Orem. He works a lot with athletes and helps treat their injuries. So I started going once or twice a week. He recommended a break from running and doing solely cycling and working out on the elliptical. When he asked me if I was willing to stop running for a while, he said another patient of his was so addicted to running she made her family load up the treadmill on the houseboat at Lake Powell. I laughed because I could almost see myself doing that. I didn't really like cycling because it didn't burn very many calories. (although he said spinning class does!) I thought I would just walk on an incline, but that hurt my knees worse and I ended up with tendinitis in my left knee. He had me bring in my shoes to see if they were good, supportive shoes. They checked out fine. He gave me some knee strengthening exercises to do twice a day and had me ice my knees three times a day for 10 minutes.
So, after a few months of a break, I started running again. My sister has been reading a book by an expert runner. For knee pain, he recommends running 4 minutes and then walking one, repeating that cycle throughout the run. It doesn't effect your overall time and it's better for your knees. So, I tried that, and it seemed to be working really well. I had a pretty good pair of Nikes, but to my dismay, they started giving me blisters on the sides of my feet. Since it was about time to get a new pair anyway, Ron and I went to Finish Line to check out some new running shoes. Although I haven't ever had troubles with Nikes in the past, I was surprised to find out Nikes aren't the best running shoe. Kelsee, a girl that worked at Finish Line, also an avid trail runner, gave me some really good tips for looking for a good running shoe. She said Nikes are mostly for style, and looking cute. She would wear them to work, but never to run in (and she was very firm on that!) She pointed out that having shox on your shoes (like most Nikes do) just elevates your feet, and you don't need that when you are running, because it's better to run on a flat foot. She also set me up with a good pair of insoles (if you keep your receipt, you can trade them in for new ones for free, too!) She also recommended getting running socks to wear as well. I got some and they are a great added support for my feet. I tried on a couple of pairs of shoes, venturing away from Nikes to a new brand. I went with Under Armour brand. They were a little less expensive than the top running shoe they had, but Kelsee said that they were another brand that a lot of people had liked. I've loved them! I also got a band for my knee that helps keep the knee cap in place. The Under Armours are the most comfortable running shoes I have had because they don't squeeze the tops of my feet. So, I decided to cut back the running to 3 times a week. Unfortunately, my chiropractor said there is not a permanent fix for my knee problems and recommended more cross training. I alternated running 5 miles one day, 3 the next time and then 5 again. My husband warned me to be careful, and thought I should just keep it at 3. But, I got a little too overconfident and pushed it further than I should have. After a few times of 6-7 miles at a pretty high speed, my knees started to hurt again. One day this last week, I stepped on the treadmill, only to find that after 2 minutes of running, my right knee really hurt. It's frustrating because I felt I had made so much progress. This is another reason that I am reluctant to run a marathon. I don't want to damage my knees so much that I can't ever run again. This knee pain is something I will just have to deal with the rest of my running life, there's nothing that will fix it. There's a high I get from running that I can't get any other way. It's addicting, and hard to stop once you start. As my chiropractor also said, when it hurts, stop. That's your body's way of telling you it's time to stop. Hmm, what a concept. So, I almost feel like I am back to square one. I will take a break again from running and see what happens. For all you runners out there, just be careful. It's all worth it, but it catches up to you, in one way or another. I guess it's just the price we all pay.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Weight

Happy Weight-this is my reference (also a website given to me by my sis) to finding balance in your life and doing what makes you happy. The thing that came into my mind first was those weight loss commercials we have all seen. These commercials make me laugh because they make it look like all you have to do is take some pill and you will have perfectly toned abs, no "problem areas" or extra skin, or that pooch from being pregnant (not to mention,according to those girls in the commercials, not only will you be skinny, but you will also have a great tan!) This simply is not the case, it is false advertising and most likely, photo shop that gets the credit here. The sad truth is, unless you are blessed with the genetics to be naturally lean and have a high metabolism, (like the Paris Hilton of genetics,being a celebrity because you were born into this fortune and don't have to do really anything to get it) then your general body shape is going to stay the same, pretty much no matter what you do. That doesn't mean you can't look great, it just means, after you have done all you can, you have to learn to accept yourself and love yourself. I went to the gym this morning to workout on the elliptical and saw this very thin girl running on the treadmill. She honestly had no fat on her whatsoever and her waist naturally went in like she was a drawn disney princess. I found myself thinking, "Man! That is so unfair!" I had to catch myself though. I do need to remember all the work I do put it in and give myself some credit. I used to think that once I reached my goal weight, that was it and I was done with the work. But the truth is, once you get to the weight you want to be at, you have to work almost just as hard to maintain it. It's difficult to stick to it all the time, but if I don't, I end up gaining weight back. Ya, I almost always have to be careful about what I eat in order to maintain, but that doesn't mean I have to be perfect at it either. What I have learned is that, I am just happier when I am taking good care of myself and eating healthy. I feel better. I feel out of whack if I don't plan my meals ahead and stick with my fitness and nutrition plan. I also constantly try to keep in mind, every girl's weight fluctuates from time to time. Months ago, I got to about the lowest jean size you can get without being in the negative, but my body doesn't seem to want to stay there. I was there for a few months. Occasionally, they will still fit but only after atleast a week of doing a VERY strict and unrealistic diet. A diet that makes me extremely moody and tired.
It's hard for me not to constantly compare myself to others, and keep wishing I could change the things about my body that I don't like. My sister and I were talking about this a while back and she was saying how once your body is at the weight it should be, it wants to stay there. Listening to your body and what it needs, is a key factor. She told me about a website called "Happy" that she found out about. It tells you what your ideal weight range is for your height and what your healthy weight should be. She recommended checking it out. It also helps reinforce all the hard work you have put in and makes you feel better. She said I would probably be even under what my weight range should be. That, of course, does make me feel good! The toughest thing for me is being completely happy with myself. Trust me, my husband and I have this conversation much more than he wants to. I believe I will get there though, slowly but surely, I will become more accepting of myself. I am learning to try and stop beating myself up and not get so obsessed with weight that I lose sight of who I am and how far I have come. I need to also be doing it for the right reasons. Stick with what works, not only to be happy, but to be healthy too! Remember all of the other things in your life that you have been blessed with, and why those things make you happy!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My Essential Binder of favorite recipes, exercise tips and more. . .

One of the things I did as part of my "weight loss project" was to start a binder. It is something that I use all the time. It sits on a shelf with all my recipe books. If a calorie counting method is something you are interested in, I found some things that really helped. At the beginning of the binder, I put copies of my food journal that I keep every week. Every day and every meal, I put the time (since I have learned it's most effective to eat small meals every 3-4 hours) the food, the calories, and also beverage. (since it is important to drink lots of water) As you open the binder it has a list of quotes given to me by my sister from a talk she gave entitled, Just Livin' the Dream. One of my favorites:"Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty is waiting to be born." -anonymous. On the other side of the quote sheet is a list on "Overcoming the Craving to Eat Mindlessly" which I found on the Internet. I find it is good to refer to on the days I am not so motivated or am feeling burned out. A few highlights: 1. Treat your body with respect: nourish it, move it around, listen to it, and pamper it. Tune into your body to stop emotional eating. 2. Don't deprive yourself of foods you love, just don't overdo it. 3. Deal with your triggers. If you can't cut then from your life entirely, find better ways to cope with your feelings. Eating mindlessly makes things worse. Also in the binder is an "anger cheat sheet" I found in a Weight Watchers magazine: Why do I want to eat this? Is it because I an hungry or because I am angry? If I don't eat this now, will I regret not eating it later? If I do eat it, how will I feel later? Is there a healthier option? Here is a general breakdown of the binder:

Section 1: A calorie chart with most general foods I found on the Internet, for more specific foods, the website The Daily Plate is a good one.
Section 2: Tips for cutting calories, The 7 day calorie zigzag, a chart that provides the amount of calories needed per week, but "tricks" your body by constantly changing daily calories. This is great for plateaus. I found this also on the Internet.
Section 3: sample diets for 7 days of 1200, 1300 and 1400 calorie diets. I have learned that keeping it simple makes this calorie counting method easier, and these sample diets also gave me great ideas.
Section 4: A list I found from Good Housekeeping: The Best 100 calorie snacks and The 2008 healthy food awards Shopping List.
Section 5: Recipes: includes my favorites from the Zone Diet,healthy recipes from, Free Diet Menu, Food Network: Ellie Krieger's recipes, Flat Belly diet recipes, Biggest Loser recipes, Weight watchers recipes.
Section 6: Fitness tips: treadmill routines, stationary bike routines, toning, Pilates ab routines, interval routines. You can find a lot of these on the website for Fitness magazine.
As you can see, I like to mix and match and use the things I like. Many of the dinner recipes are "slimmed down" versions of my favorites. This works out great for feeding my husband and two year old, because they are easy to adapt. For example a few nights ago,I made a Grilled Chicken Parmesan with pasta. For myself, I made whole wheat pasta and I made some regular pasta for my husband. He also added more cheese to his and this comes in handy because my daughter can't get enough cheese! I will go into more depth about some of these sections of the binder as I add to my blog. I hope you like these recipes and tips as much as I did! Like I said, it's all about finding what you like and what works for you!
Grilled Chicken Parmesan
Serve this with a side of whole wheat pasta and/or a large green salad
4 (4 ounce) trimmed, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Olive oil in a sprayer (not store bought that contains propellant)
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 c. low-fat,low-sodium,low sugar marinara sauce, or more to taste (I use Heart Smart sauces by Prego)
6 Tbs. finely shredded low-fat mozarella cheese
2 tsps. grated reduced-fat Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Lightly mist both sides of the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the chicken, turning once, for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until it is no longer pink inside and juices run clear. Transfer to a baking dish.
Heat the sauce on low on the microwave until warm, Top each chicken breast with 2 Tbs. marinara sauce, followed by 1 1/2 Tbs, mozarella, and 1/2 tsp. parmesan. Bake the chicken for 3 to 5 minutes, or just until cheese is melted.
Per Serving: 169 calories, 29 grams protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 1 g fiber

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Crack the Weight Loss Plateaus

Here's the problem. You are doing great with the plan you have set up, and then you reach that point where nothing is happening. In my case, I was doing great, probably at the exact place I should be and thought to myself, "how about 5 more pounds?" Well, it's a fine goal and something you can work towards, however, I made the mistake of straying away from what was working. Instead of being patient and just following the tips I found originally for plateaus, I changed it it and screwed it all up. What worked: staggering your calories up and down, lower than higher, to trick your body a little bit. On Saturdays, I made it a higher calorie day, that incorporated a "free meal" where we could go out and I got whatever I wanted. There are websites you can find out more about the "calorie zigzag". Also, changing your exercise routine, adding to it or switching it up works. I alternated elliptical and running. Another thing, I have to say,I love Jillian Michaels, she knows her stuff! Her whole philsophy on exercise is fantastic! She has a book about conquering plateaus, and it's a good one for when you want to lose 5 pounds fast. The only problem is, there are no cheat meals of any kind for 30 days, which can sabotage you in the end. You can only deprive yourself for so long before disaster strikes! That was the problem with the book, Crack the Fat Loss Code, a book my sister told me about. Yes, the author's whole science behind it is great and I can totally see why it works. However, it starts with a carb deplete cycle the first week, where basically you can eat lean meats, veggies and cottage cheese. Oh, and no starch after 3 PM. That was tough, but I was up for the challenge and made it through, but by Thursday, you start to lose it! Then it starts an 8 week cycle. It eventually gets to where each day you alternate 2 starches before 3 PM one day, 1 starch the next. Then, 2 days a week, are your "carb up" days, the last 2 meals are ones eating things normally forbidden.(pizza, pasta, desserts) Here's the issue with that, when you deprive yourself, those two days come and you think you are home free and start eating anything and everything you want. Most nights for dinner, I was giving my husband steamed broccoli, chicken, and salad, that was pretty much it. It got old fast for him but he was trying to be supportive. There went the joy of cooking out the window for me. He was really sweet and patient about it though. I am pretty sure it was driving him nuts though. In the end of this 8 week cycle, which I repeated,over and over again, I ended up gaining weight. I call this diet, "let's suck every ounce of joy out of our lives that we possibly can." or the, "hey Rach, we are getting a pizza, no I will just have salmon and broccoli tonight, thanks" diet. (Love salmon by the way, but it's too expensive to have all the time) My husband could always tell when it was a "carb down" day because I was in a really bad mood. I also had no energy to work out. My sister tried it, saw the parts of this diet that did work,but also agreed, it just wasn't very realistic. She said her husband asked if she was ever going to eat dinner with them again. She also says she does what she can, but she also needs to live her life. I think that is excellent advice to follow. My husband is so great, and yes, let's face it,he is right 99.99% of the time. He asked when I wanted to try this fat loss code thing, "Why don't you just keep doing what your doing?" Yep, I should have. I've since gone back to the way I did things before, I've lost most of what I gained back. To summarize what I have learned from this is, stick with what works for you, have some patience with yourself and it will keep working!