Monday, January 16, 2012

Let the craziness begin!

So, the day has arrived - MARATHON TRAINING has commenced!  Today marks the beginning of my 18 week training program.  I am using the Hal Higdon Novice 2 training plan.  I am very excited to get going and see how it works.  The plan consists of four days of running - with one long run per week, a day of cross training and two rest days.  I suspect that I will use those rest days accordingly but may end up walking or doing the elliptical on those days - just to stay active.  We will see - Hal Higdon is very adamant that rest days are crucial and I really don't want to overdue and wind up injured before the marathon so I may just have to listen!  I still plan to continue my strength training program as well - so I will incorporate that three days of the week as well - adding some more core exercises.  My physical therapist has taken a peek at my weight training program and thinks its a solid one and has encouraged me to keep doing it. Often times runners place so much emphasis on getting the miles in that they overtrain - and that's when injuries happen.  He did say that I should run first and lift second - which is different than what I have been doing.  I often lift and then do my cardio for the day - so it will be interesting to see how changing it up helps - the concept makes sense so I will give it a whirl!

My training calendars - there is a lot of miles there!
 Oddly enough, today (Monday) is an actual rest day - I did run 6.25 miles on Saturday but ended up taking a rest day yesterday so I will probably jump on the elliptical at home tonight to get a little sweat on and then hit the 3 mile run in the morning. 

I got new shoes over the weekend.  One of the things that my therapist and I determined needed to change right away was my shoes.  I have been running in Asics Gel Nimbus for a year now - I have lost four toenails since the end of October - two were removed by my step-mom who is also nurse (super helpful!) and the other two have fallen off on their own just in the last few weeks.  It turns out that the toe box on the Asics is just not quite wide enough for me and when I started increasing my miles it ended up taking a toll on my poor feet!  So, I have jumped in to some Brooks Adrenaline 11s to see how they feel.  The toe box is definitely wider and they feel good - I will be testing them out on the treadmill for the first time tomorrow.  I want to take them for a spin indoors first - just in case they are not what I need and can bring them back!  It's too gross outside in MN right now to test drive them outdoors.  I am hopeful that they will help with my toes and overall with the added distance coming up. 

And, I have to tell you I am loving my physical therapy - I have only seen him twice but he is awesome.  I have another appt on Friday morning.  I am going to put a whole post together.  The issue with my hip is pretty common and has a very simple resolution so I want to be sure to share the complete story with you all in case anyone else is struggling with the same pain!  More on that later. 

In addition to following Hal Higdon's marathon training plan, I have also decided to go back to my running roots and add in some Galloway method as well.  Any mileage over 6 miles I will be running intervals - I will run for one mile and then take a 30-60 second walk break.  I have found over the last several months that my legs stay fresher and feel stronger when I am taking the walk breaks.  It has been a proven method for many of the runners I follow online so I am going to give it a try.  I didn't opt for the Galloway marathon training plan however because he has a very different structure than Higdon.  Hidgon's longest distance pre-marathon is 20 miles, Galloway's longest distance pre-marathon I think is actually 26 or 28 miles.  Higdon's philosophy is that training and adrenaline will carry you the last 6 miles - and I feel that will be the best for me.  But, I am staying open - who knows, I may get half way through the training and feel that I need to switch.  That's the beauty - I can do that at anytime! 

So, here goes nothing!  Fargo Marathon here I come!  123 training days remaining!

Me and the girls post Resolution Run on 12/31/11
Be happy and healthy my friends!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Weight Watchers - Because it Works!

I have been following the Weight Watchers program since September 2010.  I lost 70 pounds from Sept 2010 to June 2011.  I have now maintained that weight loss for about 6 months.  This makes me far from an expert but I would like to think I have learned a few things along the way that could be beneficial to someone else just starting their journey.  So, I have jotted a few things down that I think might help my friends and strangers that have begun Weight Watchers recently.  In no particular order:

  1. Go to your meetings.  This was key for me - I had a friend that I went with and we went to the same meeting each week, it was a routine.  And even on the weeks when I wasn't really sure I wanted to face the scale, going to the meeting and getting on the scale was always the right choice.  My leader always says - the day you don't WANT to go to a meeting is the day that you need it the most.  I really believe this to be true.  Even if you think there is going to be a gain on the scale, go, it will keep you on track and accountable. 
  2. Use your Points Plus Calculator.  In whatever form you use it - whether it be the actual calculator purchased in the meeting room or one of the mobile apps that are readily available these days.  Use it, bring it with you everywhere you go - in particular the grocery store.  In the first few weeks of starting WW I brought my calculator (which at the time was the old school slide rule on the old program) and I would calculate the points value of everything - if you do that in the store, the chances of you actually buying most things is actually reduced.  You will be able to determine just how worth it is before you spend the money on it.
  3. Go home and calculate the points value of everything already residing in your house.  There will be things that you are currently eating that you will decide are just not worth the Points Plus value but you will also find that some things are worth it and will be helpful in your journey.  One of the things I learned in my meeting was calculating the points value of things and actually writing it on the package in black marker so that it's already done and then when you are ready to eat it - you know the value before you put it in your mouth.  I honestly found this practice to be very eye opening - there were things that I was eating on a way too regular basis that were so high in points I would never consider eating them today - ie: most packaged snacky type foods. 
  4. Don't try to do too much all at once.  Make changes one at a time.  For me, fast food french fries were the devil and I had to wipe them out completely - cold turkey.  I have not eaten a fast food french fry in over a year - and the best part, I don't miss it anymore.  You will quickly figure out what you have to stay away from and what you can handle having in moderation.  If you attempt to make too many changes all at once you are certain to get frustrated and ultimately give up.  Pick something and focus on it and make it a habit and then go on to the next thing. 
  5. Drink water.  And then when you think you have drank enough water, drink more.  I thought I drank a lot of water when I started WW - boy was I wrong.  The recommendation for water intake is drinking half of your body weight in ounces.  It sounds like a lot but it really does help to flush everything out. 
  6. Find substitutes.  Find alternatives for high point foods.  One of my favorite substitutions has been for pasta - Spaghetti Squash!  You can use spaghetti squash in place of noodles for spaghetti and they are so good.  I will not lie and say they taste just like noodles but they are close enough, they are zero points plus value, filling and delicious! 
  7. Eat your fruits and veggies.  They are mostly zero points plus value so it's really a no brainer.  Fruits and veggies are good for you - we all know that, so just eat them!  Find ways to prepare them and eat them so you don't feel like you are being forced to eat them.  I frequently will dip fresh veggies in hummus - so yummy.  I have become a huge fan of roasted vegetables - toss veggies with a little Extra Virgin Olive Oil, garlic and throw them in the oven - so easy and so good.  And when you are craving something sweet - fruit can be a great alternative.
  8. Move.  Move your body.  Whatever that means for you.  We all start at different fitness levels.  Do what is right for your body.  Consult a physician if that makes sense.  When you combine a healthy diet with movement you just can't go wrong.  Again, I will say, start slow.  Don't attempt too much too soon.  Ease in to it.  Listen to your body. 
  9. Research.  At the beginning dining out can be intimidating.  You aren't sure what the points plus values are at restaurants and all of the choices can be a little scary.  The internet is a wonderful resource for this.  Before I go to a place - I look up their menu and nutritional information.  This way I have an idea of what they have to offer and can go to the restaurant with an idea of what I will have before I get there.  Also, order first, don't order last if you can help it - there is way too much time for you to second guess your decision and order something that you know you don't have the points for and aren't prepared to consume. 
  10. Track.  Tracking is so key to weight loss success - regardless of what plan you are following.  If you bite it, you right it.  At the beginning, I ate a lot of the same things simply because it was easier - I knew their points plus values and didn't have to overthink it.  Tracking is simple, if you eat it, you account for it on your daily/weekly points.  However, it's also hard - taking the time to track, having to write it down when maybe you don't make the best choice - but I promise that it is key to success.  And when you have a good week of weight loss - you can go back to your tracker and remember those choices you made and do it again! 
So, those are a few of the basics that I have taken away from my year plus at Weight Watchers.  Once you get in to the program and start seeing success it really just becomes a way of life.  It's not a diet, it's a live it.  And some days you are going to go over your points - and that's okay.  That is also why you have the weekly points - they allow that flexibility and opportunity to indulge every once in awhile.  We are human and we are not perfect.  We make mistakes, but as long as you learn from them and right the ship as soon as possible, you will be golden. 

Weight Watchers has been a great tool in my journey to weight loss.  If you have any other tips/tricks to pass along please feel free to leave a comment so others can see it - or leave a comment that tracks back to a blog post of your own. 

Be happy and healthy my friends!