The sun was shining this morning so there was no excuse to keep me from exercising. So I pulled on the spandex and quick-dry, laced up the runners and headed out with my fellow Canuck for a looooooooong walk along a path that follows a river to Almaden “Lake” (by “lake” I mean a man-made reservoir that collects all the rain water that flows down from the foothills in the surrounding area).
Once we got there, here was the view looking back towards where we came from:
All told, we walked about 10 kilometres there and back, but I kept a running tally going for the day until I sat down for dinner and started typing this. When I checked my pedometer I was pleasantly surprised to see this:
I would LOVE to burn over 500 calories a day EVERY day! Can you imagine??? All I have to do is walk or run ten kilometres! That should be a cinch! (not)
I admit, my puppies were barking a bit after that walk. My arthritic foot with the bunion, especially. But as they say, “no pain, no gain.” Or in this case, “no weight loss.”
The only problem with that is, as I have said before, I am my own worst enemy. I got in the car and this is what I proceeded to do:
So there go 200 of those 500 calories.
But I persevered. I had healthy snacks today on my walk and I had a glass of red wine with the most amazing dinner. E.V.E.R.
That’s spaghetti with white truffle oil, roasted garlic, fresh campari tomatoes, wilted baby spinach, fresh arugula and shaved parmesan cheese. I think I could eat this meal every day if I had to. It’s the white truffle oil and roasted garlic that does it for me. I think I am part Italian or it’s somewhere buried deep in my genetic code.
Tomorrow’s project: container gardening. It might not help me burn 500 calories, but I’ll definitely get something out of it for all the effort I put in. We got all the planters, soil, fertilizer, seeds and plants. Now we just have to put it all together and we have an instant vegetable garden! I’ll post pictures soon…
Moving to the surfing mecca of the world means moving to the Land of the Beach Body, which I do not possess (yet). So I figured it was high time I got one. Problem is, it’s really, really, really hard to get a Beach Body. They are highly coveted and contrary to popular belief, require a lot of work to maintain. The amount of time and energy spent on cultivating and nurturing a true Beach Body pretty much means having no other hobbies (or a 9 to 5 job so I’m told) and following a very strict eating regimen (not the ‘d’ word). Many publications have done a fantastic sell job convincing women like me that we, too, can have a Beach Body, if we just follow these 10 easy steps in 30 days!!!! If only it were that easy, we would all have them and those publications would be obsolete.
I also heard one of the must-haves for a Beach Body is self discipline. While writing this, I scarfed down a delicious bowl of pasta with garlic, tomatoes, spinach and arugula, followed by a few freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. This Beach Body thing isn’t going to be easy to get.
And then I remind myself, “you used to be a high-performance athlete and coach. You ate self-discipline for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This should be a cinch!”
HA! No, double HA! Those were the pre-children, high metabolism, I’ve-got-all-the-time-in-the-world-and-I-can-eat-anything days.
Motherhood, gravity and a general lack of motivation have taken up residence in my body over the last twenty years. I can’t exactly evict them so the Beach Body can move in, but maybe there’s still some room in that there body of mine for a new look and feel, or so I think.
Today was my “soft launch” to getting a Beach Body. It started with a simple Yes/No decision: are you going for a run today?
It was a crappy weather day, but I said “yes.”
I managed a short and fast run…
Food is a different story. When it comes to will power the outlook is pretty grim. Why? Because I. Love. Carbs. And. Sugar.
Here’s a rundown of what I consumed today:
Raisin bread with natural peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam
Tea with honey
Vanilla yogurt with a handful of coconut cashew granola and fresh strawberries
A slice of sourdough bread with tuna, tomato and cucumber
Hummus and sugar snap peas
A navel orange
5 mini peanut butter chocolate cups (that’s like 300 calories!!!)
Spaghetti with garlic, fresh tomatoes, spinach and arugula with some parmesan
5 mini homemade chocolate chip cookies (that’s like 300 calories!!!)
Not egregious, but not exactly a lean diet either. I know I can do better. I just have to want to do better.
These pictures might just be the motivation I need. They are the unvarnished truth that I cannot deny–my mom body. It doesn’t help that my face is beet-red from running.
So here’s what I know about me: if I can train for a half marathon, then I can train for the beach. I will never deny myself foods and even junk foods that I enjoy. I had to when I was 15 and competing on the national rhythmic gymnastics team and I think subconsciously I will rebel against that for the rest of my life. Okay, not so subconsciously. I like goals; tell me what I have to do and I’ll do it: reps, weights, exercises, activities, I’m your girl. I’m competitive (no shit!). I will eat the 500 calories I burned even after I tell myself not to. I think being lean and muscular is way more attractive than being skinny.
Based on what I know about myself and my patterns of behaviour, here is the challenge I am setting for myself:
I could be setting myself up for failure here, but even if it’s a long walk or a half hour of abdominals and arms, I’ll take what I can get.
Health(ier) eating habits.
There is no sense in setting unrealistic goals so I’m not going to bother. There’s already a bunch of stuff I can’t eat (mostly dairy) because it upsets my stomach, so I’m just going to do my best to make healthier choices. A little less bread, a little more veg.
Logging my activity and eating.
This is really what will keep me honest. I will see plain as day where I am falling into old habits and what I can change.
One of the advantages of living in California is the weather. On average, San Jose has 300 days of sunshine in a year. That is astonishing to someone like me who is a weather-obsessed Canadian, used to grey, rainy, snowy days for about five months of the year.
Yesterday was a prime example of that sunny weather. It was perfectly clear–blue skies, a soft, warm breeze and temperatures hovering in the mid-twenties (it was 76 fahrenheit, but I have no idea how to convert from fahrenheit to celsius–yet!). This kind of weather makes it possible to spend a lot of time outdoors. For some that means lounging on a patio sipping a cold drink and reading a good book. For me, it means communing with nature (to a point). I met up with a friend and we decided to go for a walk. Until yesterday that meant wandering through the neighbourhood critiquing the houses and landscaping, but we decided to change things up and find a trail. Our neighbourhood backs on to the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains. These foothills are covered in hiking trails. On any given day we have seen deer, quail and wild turkeys. If you’re lucky (or unlucky depending on your point of view), you might also see coyotes, rattlesnakes, bobcats and wild pigs. We picked a trailhead that took us to the top of our neighbourhood and gave us a great view of our surroundings.
I thought it would be a quick up and down, and then we’d head back home. Alas, no, we decided to take another trail. I have no complaints. The fields and forests are all picture postcard worthy. We even saw a gaggle of wild turkeys! We didn’t actually stray that far from our neighbourhood, but the foothills can be deceiving–the ups, downs, twists and turns can take you to all sorts of hidden corners and get you so turned around you can lose your internal compass. (that’s when the sun really comes in handy!)
Our morning jaunt through the neighbourhood turned into a two and a half hour, 12 kilometre hike through the hills.
Lessons learned for next time: bring water, bring snacks and bring some pocket money–although there were no stores in the immediate vicinity! And definitely remember sunscreen and a hat, which I did.
I also think my kids would have loved this hike, even if they do complain about hiking when we have taken them. Just remember: bring food and water if you are planning on bringing kids.
I think this will become my new favourite recreational activity–it’s not too intense, it’s social, it’s great exercise and the vistas are absolutely stunning.
I have set myself a goal that I hope is achievable: 4 months to whip myself into shape (and get awesome looking arms in the process. ha!). Just in time for my oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah. The goal is this: exercise every day. Even if it’s only 20 minutes. And make it count. That means not undoing 20 minutes of exercise by mindlessly munching on potato chips while laying in bed watching Netflix. So I’ve printed out calendars to track my progress.
I know exercise is only half of the equation. Nutrition is the other half that tends to be my undoing. I’m pretty diligent about exercising. I am not so disciplined when it comes to making healthy choices. I don’t eat a lot of fast food or junk. I can’t–it would wreak havoc on my stomach. But I like sweets. Cutting out sugar–chocolate especially–is near to impossible for me. I’ve done 30 day challenges of no chocolate in the past. I’ve even cut out sugar. But I don’t believe it’s realistic for me to maintain that kind of rigor in my day-to-day life. So what it comes down to is moderation. Can I get through 121 days and be disciplined about what I do and don’t eat? I Â honestly don’t know.
My days start out well with a breakfast of steel cut oats (sprinkled with cinnamon, maple syrup and almond milk), a banana and some yogurt. But things go downhill after lunch when the 3 o’clock munchies kick in and I’m like a raccoon on the prowl for hot neighbourhood garbage.
I know my intentions are not that noble–I would love for people to show up at our family function and whisper to each other, “she looks great! she doesn’t look like the mother of a 13-year-old!” And deep down I know this is about more than vanity. This is about my overall health and well-being. This shouldn’t just be about trying to fit into a dress or impress a crowd. But hey, it’s a good excuse.
I admit I have not exercised every day in the past two weeks. I think I’ve missed three days. I’m not going to make excuses. Yes, there were reasons, but I’m not making any excuses. Instead, I am resolving to make the next two weeks epic.
We took the kids to the Mandarin restaurant on the way down from the cottage just over a week ago (I know, you’re thinking, “The Mandarin??? How is that a healthy choice???” Believe me, when you’ve got three hungry boys in the car, healthy choices is pretty low down on the list of priorities) and this was the fortune I got in my fortune cookie:
I’m taking it as a sign to do my best to be true to the sentiment that you can only have good health if you’re healthy and that means eating good food and exercising.
So I’m trying to stick to both without it being about how much I sweat and feel the burn or by depriving myself.
Exercise has entailed many activities included biking around the neighbourhood with my kids on this thing:
And I’ve even managed an early morning hike with my four-legged friend through the ravine in my neighbourhood.
Food is always a tricky thing for me. I’m battling gallstones right now, so most of the time eating meals isn’t that much fun, and sometimes I give up and grab something that tastes good, but isn’t good for me. For the most part I’ve been good, having lots of fruit for snacks like this:
Today, I managed to squeeze in a run at lunch time–half an hour and just over 5 kilometers. Not bad, eh?
I also just ordered a new bikini, which gives me even greater incentive to work on my figure for the coming summer.
Now all I need is a drill sergeant, a nutritionist toÂ make this into a reality TV show!
It’s June 1st. Today is Day One of my month-long fitness challenge. This post is my way of being accountable. It forces me to stay honest. There is no goal. No planned outcome. No guaranteed result. It is simply my way of maintaining some semblance of fitness each day. It doesn’t have to be a marathon. It doesn’t have to mean exercising to the point of exhaustion. Nor does it have to mean depriving myself of my diet. If anything, it’s about managing my expectations. I told my husband I looked at the photos from the race I was in this past Sunday and was unhappy with what I saw. Here’s what I saw:
He said, “then you have to decide what you want to do about it and make sure your expectations are realistic. And if you want a different result, you have to do something different. But remember–make sure your expectations are realistic with what you are prepared to do.”
So I’m going to be realistic. This is not about getting on some wagon that I am inevitably going to fall off. This isn’t a diet or exercise regimen that I am setting myself up to fail at. It’s about mindfulness.
So this is how my morning began: I laced up my sneakers…
I did about 3.5km. Did a bunch of sit ups–say, 80. Got on the scale. Here’s what it said:
I know it’s just a number. It’s not a bad number. I’m just keeping it real. Keeping it honest. It may not change when the month is up. It may go up. It may go down. But it’s MY number and I’m going to own it.
I made my requisite smoothie this morning (banana, strawberries, pineapple, chia seeds and a splash of OJ). Ate a whole wheat bagel with tuna and chopped egg.
It’s lunch time now and I’m having a garden salad with a hunk of salami.
I’ve got my calendar all planned out, but as my neighbour once said to me, “Man plans and God laughs.” So this is by no means the gospel (no pun intended!), but it’s a guide. (Today is a perfect example: I ran this morning instead of doing the Body Fit class at the Y).
So let’s see how it goes!!! Let me know if you have ever done a month-long challenge. How did it go? What was the best part? What was the hardest part? Would you do it again? What would you do differently?
I haven’t bothered to write about my plans to run a half marathon this Spring because…well just because. Other people write about that stuff all the time. I don’t like attracting attention to myself. And I tend not to talk about my fitness goals. But I’m going to now.
I’m on week 10 of my 12-week training program using the Nike+ Running App. I have beenÂ very religious about following the instructions on the app–running the prescribed distances, intervals and so on as laid out by the Nike Gods. But then my 40-year-old back and knees started to scream in protest. So in the last two weeks I’ve dialed it back. Instead of running upwards of 40 to 50 kilometers a week, I’m keeping it at about 30-ish.
There are plenty of people who ask the rhetorical question, “why do you even do that?” or “how do you find the time?” And to be honest, I think of the answers my dad used to give me when I was a teenager and complainedÂ about havingÂ to balance the demands of high school with the demands of my gymnastics training. He simply said, “make time or quit.” Quitting gymnastics was out of the question and the same is true for running. So that’s what I do. I make time. I believe that if it’s enough of a priority you will find the time.
Running is not only inexpensive–just strap on a pair of runners and go–but it is also the ideal tonic for stress and decompression. Focusing on an achievable goal that requires very little skill and a lot of mental strength has been invaluable to me. It has saved me from the peaks of anxiety and the valleys of what I call “professional soul-searching.” If ever I find myself in a rut, or a bad mood or anxious, my medicine has been running.
I am usually satisfied with running about 5 kilometres or a half hour run to rid myself of the hee-bee gee-bees, but I’m a sucker for goals and the Toronto Women’s Half MarathonÂ became my goal Â when I signed up back in November. Since then I’ve been focused on my training.
I am now less than 2 weeks away and just completed 21 kilometres in my training.
The last time I ran a Half Marathon was the Scotiabank Waterfront MarathonÂ about six years ago.Â It was excruciating and during the last 500 metres running up Bay Street I kept telling myself, “don’t puke and don’t pass out in front of all these people.” I crossed the finish line in 2 hours 29 minutes. My goal had simply been to finish. And that was after much needed bathroom breaks and stopping to stretch the illiotibial band that was causing unbearable pain in my right knee. Running might be simple, but easy it is not.
This time I feel like I’ve already achieved my goal. I’ve done the training. I have proved to myself that I can run 21 kilometres. And I even improved my time! My biggest fear is injury and I know I could be doing more “preventative” training and therapy in preparation.
So there it is: in less than two weeks I will join scores of women, many like me, who have nothing to prove to themselves or anyone else. They simply need to run–for whatever reason. It can be incredibly empowering to stand cheek by jowl with your fellow runner not as a competitor but as a comrade who can tell you with a quick glance and a comforting grin,Â “I know, you just have to dig deep and get it done. No judgement. No accolades. Just get it done.”
I can’t make New Year’s resolutions. I won’t keep them. I know myself well enough that it just won’t happen. I, like all humans, am a creature of habit. And breaking old habits, or creating new ones is tough. So rather than set myself up for failure (or success for that matter), I’m simply going to document myself–habits, good or bad–as a bit of a social experiment.
I’m starting with breakfast. I have aÂ new habit that started back in 2013 after our trip to Costa Rica where my girlfriend made smoothies for us every single morning. So I now make myself smoothies almost every morning for breakfast. I recently purchased a Vitamix, which is the self-proclaimed king of blenders, because I’m convinced the quality of my smoothies will improve (ha!), although the real reason I purchased it was because it can blend frozen chunks of fruit, which my previous blender could not.
Today’s blend, however, is a bit of a departure for me.Â That, my friends, is where I am a creature of habit: banana, pineapple, spinach, almond milk. Done. Today’s blend: apple, kale, ginger, pineapple, almond milk. It’s definitely not as easy going down, but I could get used to it. And I think my body could use the nutrients.
Accompanying this lovely smoothie is a homemade granola bar care of Angela Liddon’s cook book, Oh She Glows. It’s the highlight of my morning with crispy bites of peanut butter and sea salt-laced oats intermingling with chia seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and other good for you stuff. I’m trying really hard not to gobble it up.
This is not a breakfast of denial. I enjoy this and my tummy thanks me for it. But I think I will have to expand my morning meal horizon and try and get some eggs or meat in there once in a while to boost the protein quotient.
I’m open to suggestions too–any good protein-packed lactose-free meals you can suggest would be helpful!