Friday, July 23, 2010

Your Body

Yesterday at lunch I went to see a troop of Irish Step Dancing girls perform.  I would guess their ages ranged from 8 to maybe 13.   All of the girls looked very similar to this:

These girls were a lot of fun to watch ... and if you have ever seen Irish Step Dancing, you know the thing to watch is the legs.  And man, could these girls move those legs!!  All these girls were healthy and clearly spent a fair amount of time dancing ... but that did not mean they all had the same legs.  No, what I saw was a pretty decent representation of all the adult female legs I have seen in my life.  There were, of course, skinny legs.  And athletic legs.  But there were also knobby knees.  And inner knee fat.  And cankles. 

Do you hate me right now for picking on cute little Irish Step Dancers?  Trust me, I am not.  There is a point in here.

My point is this - there are some physical attributes that we are just born with and no amount of diet and excercise is going to change that.  I have my father's legs.  You stand us side by side and it is laughable.  Thick ankles and inner knee fat ... and I have had those legs my whole life regardless of age and miles run. 

We are all born with certain attributes that are ours forever...unless we are Heidi Montag Pratt.  For instance, you walk into the hairdresser and say "I want Angelina Jolie hair."  Guess what, we all know that that is not going to happen. You are going to end up with your hair cut to somewhat resemble some actress who is probably wearing a wig.  You are not going to walk out of there looking like Angelina Jolie ... and deep down you know it. 

This same thing happens with diet and fitness.  You can read all you want about Scarlett Johansson and Jennifer Love Hewitt and their diet and excercise routines.  You can follow them to a tee.  The result?  You will still look like you.  Maybe thinner, maybe more defined, maybe healthier, but you will look like you.  I can do squats till kingdom come and  eat air and I will still have inner knee fat.  It is at this point that I think we all need to embrace that whole "shake what your mama gave you" philosophy...because we all need to embrace the body we are born with.  You can make that body more athletic and healthier, but it is still your body...and you should be proud of it.   

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Not an Expert

I am not an expert in fitness or nutrition.  In fact, I have no training in it whatsoever besides a mandatory health class in high school.  All I have is my experience.  I, therefore, find it odd when people ask me for advice.

No, not you blog friends.  I totally expect you all to ask me questions because I am throwing myself and my experience out there for you all to analyze, laugh at and learn from.  But yesterday was a little different.

I try to keep my blog life and my work life separate.  In fact, they do not resemble each other in any way.  I work in a high stress, time consuming and often nasty profession.  I try to keep my non-professional life calm and stress-free.  The only reason I even mention it on the blog is to demonstrate how I handle both a career and a healthy lifestyle.  So like I said, separate. 

I do not talk about the blog at work.  Most of my office is fairly fit and everyone goes to the gym on their break.  I am not unusual.  What was unusual was yesterday when a co-worker walked into my office and told me he was firing his personal trainer.  And he wanted to know if I could recommend a program and diet for him to follow. 


So somehow I have made an impression as someone who knows something about fitness and nutrition.  And this has come across naturally to a non-blog reader.  I have to say, I was at a loss.  I couldn't simply say "Read my blog".  I couldn't hand him my The New Rules of Lifting for Women book because, well, hes a dude.  He is not a runner and there is no way I am dragging him to a yoga class.  He is already doing the elliptical (which I loathe but I know some people love).  So instead I sent him the link for The New Rules for men.  I have not read this book, but I imagine it is as well done as the book I follow. 

This is not the first time someone has asked me for assistance - I have shown friends around a weight room in the past and I have shared recipes and calorie break downs.  But this was different - this was someone who knows me in a professional capacity recognizing that I have a ... passion for?  knowledge about? interest in? health and fitness.  Like I said, I am not an expert but it is nice to be able to help people and offer advice.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I have been meaning to write this post for awhile and, since I have recently started running again, this seems like a good time.

Once you start running, almost immediately you become part of the running community.  You will actually smile at other runners.  You will feel like you are surrounded by friends in a pre-race corral.  If you are like me, you may find yourself chatting up total strangers during a race.  The running community is a great place.

Once you start running, you will also discover the haters.  I am not sure what it is about running that angers so many people, but it does.  You will discover that one out of ... oh lets say 20 drivers will beep at you and yell at you to get out of the road.  Even when there is no sidewalk.  You will hear constant criticism for "running in the middle of the road" when in fact you are running in a breakdown lane.  You will get flipped off.  Repeatedly.

I have had a group of pre-teens throw rocks at me.  I have had a car full of adult men actually pull over and pretend to shoot me.  I had one particular fellow drive his motorcycle in my direction, do a wheelie and attempt to kick me in the head.  I have had numerous people shout what I am sure they believe are creative insults at me while they drive by at break-neck speed (FYI - I can't actually hear what you are saying, silly drivers).

Like in all other instances, you cannot control how other people behave.  You cannot control how they feel.  All you can do is control how you react to them.  I am afraid that, at times, I react just as badly to these haters.  I have flipped off countless cars while running.  I have yelled back.  I have actually hit a window of a car during a race because I was so bothered by the driver.  Ugh.  None of those reactions is pleasant.

The guy who tried to kick me in the head...I didn't even look at him.  Better.  The guys who stopped to shoot me?  I gave them a thumbs up and laughed.  Much better. 

It is hard sometimes not to react immediately and equally to bad behavior.  It is a practice.  Thankfully, all those running haters out there give me lots of practice.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stationary Bike, Lift, Chant, Breathe

A few days ago Bill suggested that I change the name of this blog to Stationary Bike, Lift, Chant, Breathe based on my lack of running and my substituted activity of peddling and reading.  And oh how true that statement was.  But as of today Run, Lift, Chant, Breathe is officially running again. 

I finished my antibiotic yesterday and my lungs have been feeling pretty okay.  Not great, not normal, but good enough to try out a few miles.  I was originally going to stick to the treadmill but the weather today is 81 degrees with only 68% humidity - a very well deserved break from the heat wave!  So instead of hitting the treadmill, I downloaded the new Stephanie Plum book, laced up my sneakers, put on my sunglasses, filled my water bottle and hit the road for 3.5 miles.

Mind you, I was dreading these 3.5 miles.  I am not a strong runner to begin with and two weeks off is a lot of time.  I used my favorite mantra to convince myself to get out the gym door.  I suggest anyone who is struggling with a run or with running in general to embrace this saying.  Ready?  Repeat after me "You can always walk."  Yup.  You can.  For all you yogis, think of this like child's or wisdom pose.  During yoga practice sometimes your body or your mind is telling you to rest...not because you are lazy, but because that us where you happen to be that day.  When that happens, you get into a brief child's pose (or a long child's pose).  You can apply this same reasoning with a walk break during a run.

If you are really struggling in a run your breathing is shallow, your shoulders are hunched, your body is tense and you are wasting a TON of energy.  A walk break will slow this down and help you regroup, gain back some of the energy and continue on.  It is not a failure, it is listening to your body.

So I started out on my 3.5 miles.  After walking up the first hill I decided to do 4 miles...not because of guilt about walking but because there are 2 less hills in my 4 mile loop than in my 3.5 mile 4 miles it was.  I did pretty okay.  I took another 5 minute or so walk break at mile 2.5 but otherwise my lungs and legs held up.  I did have a weird metallic taste in my mouth which tells me I am still a little sick and I did suck on my new inhaler after the run was done, but over all this blog is running again.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Breakfast To Go

Blog follower (and my sister) Tammy complained that there was no recipe last week.  And Blog reader Melissa asked that I do a post on To-Go or Quick breakfasts for working, no-time readers.  So here we go.

Breakfast should be your most energy (read: calorie) packed meal of the day.  Stoke your metabolism, fill your belly and fuel your day.  I mentioned before that my smoothies clock in at about 350-500 calories...same for my oatmeal concoctions and my protein pancakes.  Breakfast is for eaters.  Now, for me to make a smoothie it takes about 5-7 minutes...then I usually throw it in a dollar store plastic cup and head out the door for my commute.  But I totally get it if you don't feel like running the blender at the crack of dawn.  Oatmeal takes me about 5 minutes total to make, but because its hot, it takes longer to eat.  Protein pancakes in general take longer to make AND to eat so they are reserved for weekends.  So what do I do when I over sleep or run late in the morning and do not have time to even think about a decent breakfast?


Do you have access to hot water at work?  To cold water and a microwave?  A Keurig?  Cool.  Throw some oats, peanut butter and jelly (and Chia Seeds  if you've got em) into a microwave safe container.  Cover/seal it.  Throw in bag/brief case/purse.  Go to Work. Add hot water.  Chow Down.


Mix.  Eat.


Eat it at home or at work. Try to buy a low sugar, high fiber cereal, whole grain.  Eat it with unsweetened soy milk to decrease sugar and increase protein.  Mix in some vanilla protein powder to up your protein.


Go to your freezer aisle and find the frozen waffles.  Read the ingredients and pick something decent (Kashi anyone?).  Toast waffles.  Fry an egg (with no added fat - think Pam) and toss it inside.  Add hot sauce or maple syrup or both.  No time for an egg?  Toast the waffles and throw some peanut butter and a sliced banana in there.   Or PB & J.  Toss in some chias seeds if you want.


Get a high fiber, low calorie wrap.  Spread a tablespoon of peanut butter in there.  Add honey, agave or jam if you feel like it and have the calories to use.  Peel banana and put whole in wrap.  Wrap banana.  Squish wrap.  Eat.


Hard boil some eggs...maybe one for each day of the work week.  Throw one in you purse or briefcase.  Eat with a carb (insert waffle/toast here).

Or if you are feeling wild...make egg salad (light or real mayo - your choice).  I like to add pickle juice, celery salt and mustard to mine.  Put between two pieces of bread or toast (think something WITHOUT High Fructose Corn Syrup or weird chemicals in the ingredients...I like Ezekiel but you can do whatever..even waffles or a wrap).  Eat.  No time to make egg salad (even the night before??) - make toast or bread, slice egg or mash, butter, salt or mayo bread, throw egg on bread with hot sauce or whatever.


Get over the fact that it is breakfast.  Make a turkey sandwich (follow bread rules above).  Make a PB & J.  Grilled cheese?


I am not proud of this but it happens.  Cup of coffee.  Milk/Almond Milk/ Soy Milk.  Ice.  Protein Powder. Amazing Grass and/or Chia Seeds if you've got em.  Shake Shake Shake.  Chug.

I know that some people are going to be horrified to see frozen waffles and mayo mentioned in here.  But here is the deal - if you are paying attention to the ingredients and nutritional info of the products you buy, a frozen waffle will not kill you.  A box of Eggo's smothered in butter and syrup...well, it may not kill you but its certainly not helping you.  And mayo, like other high fat condiments and extras should be used sparingly...a little goes a long way.  Just pay attention to what you are putting into your body.

For all of the above and whatever else you come up with, here are my rules: 1) Think 300-500 calories depending on your calorie needs. No More, No Less; 2) Think High Fiber; 3) Add protein (be creative); 4) Think about what you like and what will start your day off on a happy note.

Breakfast should not be a should be something you jump out of bed for and are excited for.  Plan it like you do lunch or is one of your three meals.  Embrace it.

Have more ideas or favorite breakfasts?  Please share - I would love some new ideas!