Thursday, January 21, 2010

My history with running

If you know me, you know that I'm a bit tall. If you've known me since I was little, you know that "little" is a relative term. A substitute threw me out of class in 4th grade because she thought a high school student was having a laugh. Why am I telling you this? Well, I've always been tall, and with that comes odd injuries and very long legs.

In 6th/7th grades, I was able to run long distances (for a 6th/7th grader) with ease. My legs, being quite a bit longer than most normal-sized kids' legs, simply took me further with each stride. I certainly wasn't in better shape than any of the other kids - I just was able to do more with the same amount of effort. Of course, when 7th grade turned to 8th grade, everybody started catching up to me (I'm still tall, just not freakishly tall as I may have once been considered). Nowhere was this more detrimental to my athletic well-being than the sport of basketball, where I went from the sure-rebounder who got all of the "put back points" to being just another kid on the court. But, I digress . . . having to put actual effort into being faster than somebody was not very attractive to me - and I stopped running almost completely.

So, fast forward through the years -- in high school I played some basketball and threw stuff for the track team, and tore my ACL. College saw me put on a ton of weight, as drinking lots of beer with little exercise is wont to do. Senior year, I started working out & eating healthier, and actually lost some weight -- funny how that works.

After college, I was living on my own for awhile . . . um, yeah, that was fun. At one point I joined a gym and immediately proceeded to sprain my ankle. Well, I'm not really sure what I did -- I stepped out of bed & landed funny -- essentially, I stepped on my own foot, with only one leg. Anyway, without further describing the limits of my clumsiness1, the gym membership didn't last long. Then I met Duffy - and it was wonderful . . . I had just bought a townhouse, she moved in, and we instituted the "candy drawer", which was just that -- a drawer full of candy that we'd eat whenever we felt like it. We'd also buy those great big pretzel barrels filled with snackfoods -- and go through them a bunch.

So, my general health sucked, and then I started working out & eating this crazy diet -- I didn't really have a plan, just sweat as much as I could & eat as little as I could in order to comfortably get through the day. It worked that time, though, and I looked good for my wedding pictures. Without a plan, though, it was destined to fail, and it did as soon as I no longer had a goal in mind.

As soon as the weather got warm after my wedding, I tried running, and just never got into it. Obviously, I discovered cycling somewhere in here, but even when I tried running (6 or 7 times in the past 3 years, I've tried running), it didn't do it for me.

Then my friend Megan posted this silly Facebook status asking who would run a 5k with her -- 5k is three miles, which I can do, literally, without breaking a sweat on the bike. So I said that I'd join her . . . and then started with the "Couch to 5k" program. Thus far, I'm digging the program -- as opposed to every other time that I've tried running, the program doesn't expect the world from you right out of the bat -- warm up walk, and then running in increasing increments. The goal is to get you from "nothing" (couch) to running a 5k within 9 weeks. I'm only two weeks in right now, and am still walking more than I'm running, but I feel myself getting stronger in my strides -- by the end of the second "run" portion, I don't feel the need to head back to walking (though I do it, just for fear of burning out). So far, this gets my highest endorsement . . . though I know week three seems to be the weed-out week, so we'll see after that.

The 5k we're running will be the Susan G. Komen "Race for the cure" on April 25. If you'd like to donate to the cause, please do so here.

1There are no limits to my clumsiness.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I'm relaunching this blog -- no longer cycling only (it's not like I was actually posting to it previously, so I'm not sure why I need to state why). I just want a forum where I can hold myself accountable for my strives to make myself healthy. I've noticed little things: I might be slightly winded after walking up 3-4 flights of stairs, I've been resetting my alarm clock more & more when it goes off in the morning, I've been allowing myself a coffee roll anytime I refill my gas tank (sometimes stopping at a Sheetz or Turkey Hill when my tank is 7/8 full).

Diet Plan

I'm not doing anything like Weight Watchers. At it's core, I actually really like the Weight Watchers approach (I know many in the HAES community (and I count myself among the HAES supporters) don't think it's a good program -- but I think anything that makes you think about the food you're putting into your system is a good thing -- sure, I think there are downsides by selling processed foods & I'd love to see them concentrate less on "weight" -- but it's an easy to follow program that I believe can do anybody a lot of good if you make sure that the "points" you're eating aren't empty and you don't ever weigh yourself), primarily because I don't give a shit about my weight. If I weigh 350 pounds, so be it, as long as I can do the things I enjoy doing (walking the dogs, cycling, and I'm sure that will include playing baseball/basketball with my children once they're actually able to play) without having to take a break every few minutes.

My plan for eating is going to be quite simple:

  • As much fruit for breakfast as I want. For the most part, I'll go with in-season fresh fruit -- I love it, and to quote a line from The Biggest Loser (a show that I'm quite ashamed of myself for because I started watching it), nobody ever became obese from eating fruit & vegetables. If fresh fruit is prohibitively expensive, I'll allow applesauce. But, for the most part: citrus in the winter; berries/cantaloupe in the spring; peaches/plums/berries/watermelon in the summer; apples/pears in the fall; grapes/bananas all year long.
  • Reasonable lunches (one of the biggies at the office -- if I'm having a crappy day, I tend to take it out on my stomach): vegetables (carrots, tomatoes, celery, broccoli, peppers, cucumber) with hummus, guacamole, tuna salad, peanut butter, cheese, soup, or anything else that isn't overly processed. Here, I'll think about my portions, but I won't limit. When it's truly nice out, and I've biked to work, I'll allow myself whatever I'd like from wherever I want -- as it's a 2 mile walk to the closest restaurants (that's after biking the 20 miles to work).
  • Fruit/vegetable snacks throughout the day as needed.
  • Keep gum at my desk if I realize that I'm dealing with oral fixation but am not hungry
  • However dinner plays out, it plays out. I'll be conscious of what I'm eating -- trying to limit fats & excessive portions, always piling on veggies when possible.

My hope is that the morning fruit will curb most all of my sugar cravings, and some discipline at the office will keep me from snacking on "snackfoods" throughout the day (goldfish crackers have been my weakness thus far this year). I do not want to get into the eating plan I was in prior to my wedding (see details here). I did really, really well on that plan -- but once I deviated from it in the slightest, I had a really hard time righting the ship. My goal for the office - fruit & veggies in abundance . . . all other options should be "mostly healthy" and in moderation.

Workout Plan

Those of you who know me know that I'm not exactly a n00b to working out. I bicycle. I bicycle a lot. On a good week, I'll log somewhere between 200 & 300 miles on the open road. On a really good week, that number climbs to 500 miles. But, I'm not sure I'll be able to keep that up with an infant in the house & newborn on the way. So my plan here is simple: some measurable physical activity each & every day. Walk the dogs every morning, except when the weather says that it's not possible (don't yell at me for not walking the dogs when the weather is crappy, they want to walk in the rain & snow even less than I do). Bicycle to/from work when it's feasible. Alternate running & spinning for days that it's not . . . and for those days when my body continues to say "you need more sleep", allow the dog walking to suffice. I know that leaves open those days when my body protests & it's raining out, but I'll navigate that tripwire when the time comes.

So, welcome to the blog. Hopefully, I'll keep this running.