Seeking Motivation

I started running again after a couple month long hiatus.  It was just like getting on a bike, or something.  You know, a bike without wheels.

To be honest, I haven’t been just running.  I’ve been working really hard at cross training.  One day I run, the next day I stationary bike, the next day I run, then I elliptical, then I run, then I quickly walk inclines….  I’m enjoying the bountiful options that the exercise room provides.  One of these days I’m going to pick up the weights, but I have an easier time maintaining a workout on a machine than trying to figure out what weight routine to do next.  So maybe I’ll take that leap soon, but I’ll need some research first.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying out a website called SlimKicker.  To be honest, it’s not terribly different from all your other fitness/health motivation sites.  You can enter the food you eat, you can enter the exercising you do, you can enter challenges to push you, you can join a community for encouragement….  Right now I’m kind of on the fence about the site, but I’m giving it a shot.

As for entering food… I suck at that.  I know I should probably do it.  I know it will make me more mindful of the calories I take it.  But to be honest?  I hate doing it.  And I’m not going to keep up with something I hate doing.

I’ve been tracking my exercise, and earning “points” for the exercising I do, but it’s a very limited amount of motivation.  I’m not saying that I need something for free, but the points you earn for doing things on the site (everything you do, not just working out) go toward a reward you plan to give yourself when you level up.

I know people say that rewarding yourself is important, but I can’t think of anything I’d like to reward myself with.  Food seems a very dangerous thing to reward myself with, and also a little pointless since I don’t believe in depriving myself.  I can’t really justify buying myself stuff because 1. I don’t really need more stuff and 2. I don’t really have the money for stuff.  At the moment I’m at an impasse.  I’m sure there are other ways to reward myself, I just can’t think of them.  I might consider looking in to treating myself with a massage, but I’ll have to investigate my budget.

The challenges seem the most promising.  If you haven’t noticed, I somewhat respond to giving myself short little challenges.  I also like that there are emotional health challenges as well as physical health challenges.  I think they are important and go hand in hand.  So lately I’ve been browsing the challenges trying to figure out what I’d like to try first.  I hope they come up with more variety.  Honestly, this site has a lot of room to grow.

The thing I find most disappointing about SlimKicker is you can only track your weight.  I only weigh myself a couple times a year.  I prefer to track my progress with my body measurements.  If they added body measurements to the site, I would consider it darn close to a win.

So right now?  Right now I get a little kick about adding points toward my goal every day.  Right now it gives me something to plan.  A month from now I may have forgotten about it, or moved on to the next big thing.  Maybe a massage will change how I feel and make it a forever thing.  Let’s find out.

On Running: Part One

As I’ve mentioned, I’d like to do a three-part series on running: The pros, the cons, and general tips for running.  I’ve been weighing my options, and I’ve decided to present the cons first (with my tips for how to overcome them).  I don’t want the last thing you read about running to be the bad parts about it, but you should know that it isn’t all rainbows and kittens.  Without further ado… The downside to running:

  • You’ll feel sore.  Probably a lot.  There are, unfortunately, very few days when I don’t feel sore.  I don’t have the answers to this, other than a foam roller does seem to make a huge difference.  It hurts while using it, and for a little bit afterward, but it seems like I have less soreness the following day.  I’m trying to get better at using it more religiously.  A caveat: I said you’ll feel sore.  If you feel actual pain--like need painkillers to get by pain–then rest, rest, rest.  Do not run through actual pain.
  • You might feel bad about yourself.  If you’re like me, you’ll have runs where you feel like you suck at it, that you’ll never get better, never lose weight, etc.  Recognize your feelings, but then shake it off as fast as you can.  Even if you never get faster than a 12 minute mile, even if you never lose a pound, you’re still doing something really good for yourself.  And if you keep pushing forward, you really can’t help but improve in some way.  That is the nature of things.
  • You’ll sweat.  It will be gross.  You’ll probably drip giant drops of sweat on your Android.  You’ll be afraid to sit down on your furniture before you shower.  Your sweat will make you stink.  But you know what?  Get over it.  As long as you’re drinking plenty of water, sweating isn’t going to hurt you.  Be proud of your sweat because it’s a sign that you’re getting out there and doing something awesome for yourself.
  • It’s a little time consuming.  You’ve gotta warm up, run, stretch, foam roller, shower… If you have somewhere to be, you’ll have to do something with your hair to make it look less like you’ve just gotten out of the shower.  All told, I make sure I have an hour or so in which to do all my running related stuff.  There are some days when I simply don’t have that hour, and then I just don’t run.  And that’s that.
  • A high percentage of runners get skin cancer.  This is a serious bummer.  This is something I should probably take far more seriously.  It’s really just a bridge I’ll cross when I get to it, I guess.  I’m a dumbass who doesn’t wear sunscreen.  I’ll kick myself later, I’m sure.  I’ll probably get angry comments, I’m sure.  But I’m a stick, and I love my mud.

That’s what I’ve got so far.  I was a little afraid that my cons list would be huge and daunting, but I really hope that it gives you a realistic, but overcomeable (I just made that a word) idea of what to “look forward to” when you run.  And now that you’ve made it through this list, the pros can be found here.

January Update, February Challenge

In some ways I’m starting to grow tired of the challenges.  In other ways, I fear that I am going to grow stagnant if I stop doing them.  So for now I shall continue to challenge myself to do something for an entire month.  Maybe I’ll start coming up with weekly challenges, but I’m afraid that I’ll either run out or forget to do them.  As it is, I’m having a hard time coming up with new ideas for each month, so if you have anything you think I should do, please leave a comment.

So, let’s talk exercise.  For the first half of the month, I was all about the yoga.  And then I quickly got tired of the fact that I needed to find an hour out of my day to accommodate the yoga video I was using on netflix.  I also had a hard time exercising when The Hippy was around, and there were a couple days when I just didn’t get up early and The Hippy was home in the evening, so exercise didn’t happen.

Then I read a blog post about 5 easy exercises to add to your day–every day.  Because they only take a couple minutes, you can pretty much always sneak them in.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember what blog it was, so I can’t give credit where credit is due.  But what I’ve added to my day is this:

  • 50 leg lifts, each side.  I often do these while brushing my teeth, or waiting for the microwave to beep, or waiting for water to boil or the bathtub to fill.
  • 25 waist bends–I’ll be honest, I wasn’t entirely sure what a waist bend meant, so what I do is bend at my waist, try to touch my toes, and bend back up and touch my waist.  I do this while doing all the “waiting” above.
  • 15-20 push ups–I do cheater push ups against the edge of a counter or the bar of my oven door, again during waiting periods.
  • 25 crunches–these are the ones I have the hardest time fitting it, because they’re harder to do while “waiting”.  I don’t have enough floor space in my bathroom, and the kitchen floor seems like a weird place.  Sometimes I do them in bed, sometimes while watching TV.
  • 10+ squats into toe lifts–this is another one I like to do while brushing my teeth.  Squat down, come up, stand on my toes, squat down, etc…

The fifth one was actually not specified in the original blog post–she said something about switching it up like another arm exercise or more crunches.  I chose those because they are easy to do whenever.  And I can do most of these behind closed doors, so I don’t have to worry about They Hippy catching me in the act.

Sure, they aren’t fat busters like kick boxing, but they are something I can make a habit of every day.

Now, onto February’s glamorous challenge.  Drink 8 glasses of water or tea every day.  I’m not going to super measure, but I figure two of my water bottles and 4 cups of tea should do it.  To make it easier on myself, I’m going to give up my morning matcha latte with breakfast and have just plain green tea.  I know I’ll get my liquid requirement from milk, but I’d rather stick with something more pure for the month of Feb.  I think next month’s challenge is going to be pretty cool, too, and it doesn’t require me to do something every day, but does require me to be super creative.  Stay tuned.

Whoooooooo Are You? Oooh oooh, oooh oooh

I have a confession to make.  I have been avoid this blog.  Actually, the theme of today has been facing things I’ve been avoiding, so this is fitting.  The reason I’ve been avoiding it is because November’s challenge was an absolute failure.  Okay, it was a half failure.  I believe I wrote for 18 days.  I have plenty of excuses for why I didn’t make it the whole month, but let’s just chalk it up to me giving up.  It is what it is, let’s move on.  I still do plan to post the things I did write in those 18 days, but that will come later.

I did continue challenging myself through December, and December’s challenge was to eat at least 5 servings of vegetables every day.  For the most part I’ve done really well.  I started a calendar, but after veggies became somewhat of a habit, I stopped keeping track on “paper”.

As you may notice, there’s not a ton of variety.  I’ll be honest, I don’t really have a lot of time for variety.  The Hippie hasn’t been around much–working on a business he’s determined to get running–so I haven’t been cooking much at all.  I did try to make most of my alone meals salads instead of fast food.  I really would have liked to have been adventurous and tried new veggies I’ve never had before, but this month also corresponded with a couple unexpectedly high bills, and I really need to try to keep my grocery bills at a minimum which meant more Aldi–not exactly known for its variety of produce.

What I did learn from this is a new appreciation of the veggies I already liked.  I tried to come up with newer ways to eat them (one way will become a blog post soon), and I tried not to make it too much of a chore.  I decided about halfway through that I was getting sick of eating the same stuff, and if I didn’t want to eat veggies, well, then so be it.  But to avoid not making my goal (and there’ve actually only been a few days that I didn’t hit 5  and one day that I flat out refused to eat veggies (and frankly way more days that I went way over 5, so I consider it a wash)), I made sure to eat veggies as early on as possible.

My favorite easy way to jump start veggie eating was by putting veggies in my eggs.  Here’s my method for easy breakfast eggs:

  • One mug (you can spray it with cooking spray, but I’ve found that this does nothing to make clean-up easier)
  • One Egg
  • Veggies you like: I used spinach or asparagus and mushrooms
  • Tomato sauce

If using spinach or frozen asparagus, precook it.  I loaded up the mug with spinach and zapped it in the microwave for 1 minute.  Drain the liquid.  Add the rest of the veggies, chopped, and spoon in a couple tablespoons of sauce.  Add egg and beat until everything is combined.  Microwave for 1 minute, stir, microwave for another minute.  The eggs should be set by now, so stir up and plate.  Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese if desired.  Eat with toast if you’re like me and for some reason the idea of eating scrambled eggs without bread grosses you out.  It’s a texture thing.

The way I see it, this breakfast, if done right, is around 2 servings of veggies.  A veggie snack and a serving or two at lunch and dinner and you’re golden.  I will certainly work toward keeping this up.  I am fully conscious of my veggie choices, unlike when I gave up sweets and was just conscious of the fact that I was being a mean ol’ jerk.  I do need to reign in my sweet consumption again, though.

Or at the very least up my physical activity (that was a segue, see what I did there?).  That brings us to January’s challenge.  Since January is *the* month of resolutions, I decided to tackle two challenges.  One is a challenge of omission, the other a challenge of addition.  The addition challenge is to work out every day.  I’ve got a lot of exercise videos queued up on Netflix, and I’m already used to getting up an hour early for work (during the holidays we open at 8 instead of 9, so I was going in earlier).  The omission challenge is to not buy anything except for groceries and the small handful of meals eaten out with friends.  I’ve done this challenge before, but it’s time to do it again.

Run: For Your Life

Today I ran my first 5k.  So often people say “first, and last, 5k”, but after today I am decidedly hooked.

A history:

Growing up I was the kid who walked the mile during the Presidential Fitness Test (which, to this day, I despise).  Things changed a little when I started playing volleyball in 8th grade, but I still wasn’t terribly interested in running.  I remember running the mile during volleyball, being very nearly last (okay, probably last), and having one of the girls who’d already finished cheer me on.  For some reason I hated that, and it made me think even less of running.  I used every excuse: it’s hard on my knees, it’s hard on my lungs, I have bad joints.  All of those excuses are, in some ways, based on fact.  I have crap-ass lungs and joints and always have.  But here’s the catch… Running helps, if done properly.

About a year ago, for some weird reason, I got a wild hair and went out and bought a pair of running shoes on clearance from DSW.  They were a little bit too snug, but I made them work.  I ran for a few months, nearly every morning, until I got a cold, or it got cold, or I decided I was sick of waking up at 6am.  I’m not really sure what my reason for stopping was, and it’s really neither here nor there anymore.  A friend of mine told me about the Couch to 5k podcast, and I ran it for a couple weeks before I finally gave up.

Fast forward to March.  I finally realized that I had gained way too much weight over the last two years, and needed to do something about it.  I’m not willing to deprive myself of food, though I know I definitely need to watch my snacking.  I was willing, I decided, to move my fat ass around a little more.  So, I started researching 5ks that were just slightly beyond the Couch to 5k program length, settled on the Independence Day Races, dusted off my running gear and started out.

This time, instead of running every morning, I broke it into a manageable schedule that I was able to keep up pretty well until the last couple weeks when my work schedule got blown to hell.  I trembled with fear every time Robert Ullrey said we’d start running an interval that seemed scary–5 minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes.  I thought this man was crazy.  But then I did it, and I lived.  I lived through every single one, and only gave up and limped home on one run after my IT band decided it had absolutely positively had enough.  I knew better than to push myself further than my body was able to go.

There were a few times I allowed myself to walk when I was supposed to run, but I knew it was almost certainly mental weakness instead of physical weakness.  Today, however, I refused to stop running.  I refused to stop running when other runners around me started walking.  I refused to stop running when my lungs burned a little.  I pushed through, and after the 2 mile mark I knew there was absolutely no reason I should walk at all.  I ran slowly.  I was the tortoise.  Yes, some of the runners that walked actually finished before me.  Yes, some of the people who ran the 10k did so before I finished my 5k.  But it didn’t matter.  I finished and I didn’t walk.  That was my goal.

You may have noticed that at the top of my blog is a link to Run: For Your Life.  It’s a stupid little graphic I made up with the intentions of having a QRCode lead to it (a failed Iron Craft project).  It still may, who knows.  I’m not entirely sure what my plans are for that page yet, but for now it stands for how I feel.  I will try to run for the rest of my life.  As an investment in my life.  As a dedication to not spending my entire free time sitting on the couch watching Netflix.  For at least 3 hours a week I will be active.  And I will keep improving, because there’s no where to go but up.

Motivation: Feel the Burn

I don’t know about you, but I’m not always super motivated to work, whether at home or at my job.  Sometimes there are Lifetime Movies to be watched and bon bons to be eaten.*  Let’s face it, we’re not always going to be this hardcore:

Women at work on bomber, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. (LOC)

One thing that helps keep me motivated is the reminder that any movement that gets me off my butt is, essentially, exercise.  And the more I clean, the more I move.  The more I move, the more bon bons** can eat.  Let’s go to the stats:



I put my stats into FitDay with rather conservative estimates as to how long I take to do certain activities.  Keep in mind, I have a small house.  There’s not a lot of surface to clean, which is awesome.  Even still, if I put in a few hours of work to just make my house presentable (as in, not total spring cleaning, mad thorough extravaganza), I burn 281 calories.  Just doing what needs to be done.  It’s brainless exercise because you’re mind doesn’t think it’s exercise.

One tip to spike up the calorie burn:  Turn on your favorite music and shake what ya’ mama gave ya every step of the way.  Even just one hour of slow dancing will burn around 180 calories.

Another tip: Every trip you take up a stair case is an extra 3 calories burned over just walking in general.  Doesn’t seem so crappy to have your laundry in the basement anymore, does it?

*I’ve never eaten a bon bon in my life.  I also don’t have cable, and therefore no Lifetime Movies.

**Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

Oh my life is so boring…

I wanted to blog the other night.  I’m pretty sure I had something incredibly important to say, but I might have wanted to extoll the virtues of Cheese Sauce.  Alas, I was without internet, and therefore unable to post.  Granted, I was without internet partially by choice.  I neglected to tell The Hippy it wasn’t working, and I also neglected to poke around on our network computer to see if the password was saved.  I still don’t know, to be honest, because sometimes I really need a reason to keep the computer turned off.

So instead I sewed a little (will blog about that later) and decided I would take up yoga.  I’ve had a beginners yoga video for years that I got at a thrift store.  I’m pretty sure I saw the screen that told me I would need props and said “screw this.”  But I decided there was no time like the present, props be damned.  As it turned out, I could have used the props, but I just improvised.  I may or may not look into a block, but it may also be that I scrounge around the house until I find something block-like.

Proud Warrior--harder than it looks...

Proud Warrior--harder than it looks...

I thoroughly enjoyed yoga.  Way more than I ever thought I would.  I would truly like to keep it up, simply because I have longed to be flexible my entire life.  I like to think it will also help my posture.  And it can’t hurt my bowling.  I’m blogging right now when I should be doing yoga and ball exercises–I only have so much time before The Hippy comes home and laughs at me for exercising.  But the house was too cold, and I was getting too hungry.  I will.  I promise.

But first, I still need to extoll the virtues of cheese sauce.  I made my very first cheese sauce last week.  I’ve never been one to shy away from a gastronimical challenge, so I certainly wasn’t going to allow myself to be daunted by a cheese sauce.  And I’m so glad I didn’t!  I followed this recipe and used brown rice instead of pasta.  I also used frozen peas and broccoli.  And I ate the whole damn thing myself.  Over the course of a few days, natch.  The Hippy doesn’t know what he missed.  He wasn’t home for dinner, and he has an irrational fear of leftovers.  Which works well for me.  I don’t have to make lunches anymore!

Mmmm… Cheese sauce.  (Seriously, given my love of nacho cheese, why are we surprised I loved this recipe?  Hmm, now I want a cheesy double beef burrito……..)