Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gandy Dancer Fly In Trail Run 5K 2013 (Flying Sh!t)

Gandy Dancer Fly In 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 9:36/mile

A few of you may be wondering by now why I run so many races on the WI side ... being that I'm from MN, and MN/WI have such a rivalry against each other and all.  And, if you're really watching my race reports, you might have even noticed the WI races all cluster around the town of Siren. 

Well, there's good reason for that: my in-laws own a cabin near Siren.  And, since I'm out there a bit in the summer, and small town races are typically way more enjoyable (to me) than big, over developed, branded races... I try to take advantage of any races I find out that way.  I mean, I'm already out that way enjoying the cabin anyway, may as well squeeze in a workout too, right!?

Anyhow, so begins my race report!

First, I should mention how I came across this particular race because it's pretty important to the over all story.  Which means I need to start this story off right.

Although I don't believe I've mentioned it here, I think some of you may already know that my husband has his private pilot's license. 

Yes, yes - we own a small plane. 

Well, technically... he owns a small plane.  I simply have worked up the courage to ride in it.  I can even manage the occasional smile mid-flight.

Like my sexy pink headphones?  Yeah, yeah - they're only pink.  I tried to find someone who sold bejeweled pilot gear, but no luck.  Would you expect anything less from a girl who runs in cheetah leggings?

Anyhow, for those of you not in the know of hobbyist pilot excitement, this week is Oshkosh week.  Which basically means anyone who's a flying nerd is either at, or dreaming of being at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  (AKA the mecca of all things air show).  From Monday, July 29th through Sunday, August 4th, people from literally around the world converge at Oshkosh to check out exhibitors selling the newest innovations, attend various demos on how to build/install/utilize airworthy items, and generally ogle each other's planes. 

People in attendance at these things literally gawk at plane catalogues like they were put out by Playboy.  I'm not kidding.

So, what does Oshkosh have to do with Siren?  Siren hosts a fly in breakfast the weekend PRIOR to Oshkosh, so that people who are on their way to Oshkosh might consider stopping at Siren along the way for a rest break, day trip or even overnight stay in the area.

Last year was the first year me made an effort to attend the fly in at Siren... which was basically just a breakfast at an airport with a lot of privately owned planes parked all over.  We (my husband) had a good time looking at planes, and we (me) enjoyed pancakes amongst the sound of backfiring engines.  It was then that I learned how the smell of jet fuel really complements maple syrup.

Of course, ever since, my husband had his eye on this year's event.  Have to keep the calendar open, you know.

So, when he found out they were expanding the event to include more activities this year, he was quite enthusiastic.  Hoping to get me more excited, one afternoon he came running downstairs from his office (gaming) room and said... "They're doing a 5K at the fly-in this year!"

Ok, ok - he got my attention.

I asked him how to register, and he was clueless.  After some googling of my own, I found a contact name for the event, and send them an email.  Literally within minutes I had a link to the official fly-in website, and found the registration form.  Whoever was organizing this thing was just as excited to have me attend as I was to run.  Score.

While I was at it, since I had invited my sister to bring her family up to attend the breakfast this year, I registered her as well.  Let's just say I neglected to ask her permission first, and uh... failed to mention later that this was technically a trail race and not a paved course.  Minor details.  Besides, she's getting a free t-shirt, so she won't mind, right?

Let's fast forward to race day, since this recap is already getting long.

On the day of check in, I noticed a few minor "first year" race mistakes.  IE, the organizers forgot to ask our ages on the registration form (which they quickly managed to fix and utilize immediately post-race for age graded placement), and they made a few spelling mistakes on my name.  No, it's not spelled Natalei.  No, I do not have an F in my last name.  Whoops!  Hahaha! 

Despite the minor mistakes, everything else ran EXTREMELY smoothly.  They had staff directing you where to park, check in was very fast, and there was even a shuttle to take us from the airport parking area to the start line.  (You can see in the map below that there is a good distance from parking lots at the airport to the start line).

And, thank goodness the check-in was at the local government center... with nice, flushing toilets!  Because, this is where the nick name for this race began.  I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say, being in a pinch for dinner and eating a pizza found in the cabin's freezer the night before a 5K race probably isn't the best idea... especially if you haven't eaten a frozen pizza in over a year.  *Gurgle*

At least I remained settled enough to not... offend... anyone on the race shuttle.

Speaking of the shuttle, my sister and I were waiting to board when I noticed a young girl, maybe 10-12 years old, nervously waiting with her dad.  I thought nothing of it until the shuttle pulled up, and the girl proceeded to board the van alone and buckle in.  She looked like she would burst into tears when her dad wished her well and walked away, and I can just about imagine how nervous she was.  I practically had an anxiety attack when I ran my first 5K, alone, when I was 30.  Poor thing! 

I proceeded to sit next to her, with my sister on my other side, and immediately began silly discussions with my sister to lighten the mood.  I think the girl got a few snickers out of our stupid talk.  And when we exited the van, I told her "just follow the person in front of you, you'll do great".  She answered with a timid "ok", but I think I saw a little more confidence on her face as we all lined up for the start...

Which is where, of course, we had a little pre-race speech.  And then bang, the gun goes off.

Amazingly, there's not much for me to talk about regarding the actual "meat" of the race.  Once I got past the gun, it was just a mediocre run for me.  The weather was ungodly cold (40-50 degrees in July?  WTF!), and I was trying to keep a pace that would get me a sub 30 minute finish (fail) without any sh!tty surprises (literally).  And, I always had one eye on the trail to ensure good footing.  Somewhere in the last mile, I was warm enough to warrant unzipping and removing my jacket.  That is the only remarkable event I recall.

Well, that, and on the final half mile stretch I realized the fact that Psy's "Gentelman" song really sounds like he's saying:

"Diarrhea!  (Something something something something something) Diarrhea!  Damn girl, you so freakin' sexy..."

Man, this race was sh!tty in every sense of the word.  LOL!

Really, besides the diarrhea song, the course wasn't to terribly exciting, as you can see on the map.  The majority of the race was run on the Gandy Dancer, a crushed gravel recreational trail for non motorized traffic that circles the airport on it's way in/out of Siren, with less than 1 mile on paved road before transitioning onto the grassy air field.  Where it got exciting for me was towards the end, at the "race enter mark":

In case you can't tell from the map, that's when you exit off of Airport Road, and actually run onto the active airstrip area.  So I went from feeling sh!tty to sh!tty music to flying

Wait... WHAT?!

Well, technically we weren't running on an active airstrip, we were just on the grassy field leading up to the airstrip.  Which means that you get an up close and personal experience with anyone flying in to the breakfast.  In fact, when I was heading down the grassy knoll, two of these bad boys flew over my head.  Pretty neat!

At the finish, they had a photo system that I'd never seen before.  It was essentially a motion activated security camera that snapped your picture as you crossed the line.  So basically I ran away from the flying sh!t and hustled my sh!tty self across that line for a
sh!tty finish time.  Then, I turned in the lower portion of my bib tag, and got my camera ready for my sister.

When I could see her hot pink jacket off in the distance, I also noticed a familiar mini van coming in to park.  Perfect timing!  The rest of our crew has arrived just in time to see my sister finish!

Realizing his mom was rounding the bend, and also slightly jilted that he couldn't race in this event, my nephew couldn't resist running along for a bit at the finish.  Not to worry, he didn't actually go more than 10 feet or so.

As my sister made it across the finish line, I noticed our little friend from the start line coming down the chute.  While she didn't make it the entire way running, she still managed to make it to the finish!  I cheered for her as my sister met up with her family, and then I hustled everyone over to the breakfast line.

I was starving despite my sh!tty stomach issues earlier, so I was excited to eat.  Runners breakfast was included in race registration fees, and everyone else paid $5.  Breakfast included wild rice pancakes, ham, milk, juice, coffee, sliced cheese (yes, this is WI and the breakfast is a fund raiser for the local dairy group)... and ICE CREAM.  Heck yes!  Ice cream at breakfast.  Nothing sh!tty there!

A few sticky fingers later, we roamed the airport for a little bit waiting for the race officials to wrap up.  Almost on cue, I found these.  How did they know I was having a
sh!tty day?

Heh.  656-POOP.

After about 10 minutes of roaming the airport post breakfast, I noticed race officials gathering with megaphones and medals.  Being that this was a smaller race, I had my fingers crossed that I would place in my age group.  But before they even hit the women's 30-39 bracket I hear my sister's name called for 2nd place in the 20-29 category!!  Shortly after that, my name was called as well.

Wahoo - we both placed!  We're #2, we're #2.  It's like the day was MEANT to be sh!tty themed!  :-)

Yeah, my niece is totally eying up my bling.  Jealous, kid? 

She should be, it was pretty cool... even had an engraved plaque on the back:

Once we finished up celebrating how awesome we were, we went back to wandering the airport to look at all the planes.  My nephew was very eager to point out when a plane had two props (since most in attendance only had one), and he also got a kick out of a plane that had the same name as my sister. 

Luckily, before the weather really went south with high winds and rain, we were able to see some aerobatic flying and a model plane demo - during which, my niece was not exactly a fan of wearing hearing protection ...

But luckily for her, finally the sh!tty day was sealed with a sh!tty kiss - the skies opened up, and unforecasted rain started to fall.  So, back to the cabin we went.

Overall, this was a really fun, but unfortunately small race.  I think the organizers did a great job planning the event, and I wish them all the best in getting a better turn out next year.

And that's the story of how race bib # 31 joined my collection.  Here's to another race soon!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Why I Hate the BMI Scale

It's no secret that I am NOT a fan of the BMI scale.

Before I go into why I dislike the BMI scale, a little information.  For those of you who are not familiar with the BMI scale, here is a basic chart to get you started:

Or, if you're a hands on type, you can manually calculate your BMI as follows:

         ( Your Weight (LBS) / Your Height Squared (IN) ) x 703

So, for example, if you are 5'8" (68") and weigh 180 lbs, you would calculate as follows:

         ( 180 / (68 x 68) ) x 703 = 27.37 BMI

The theory behind BMI is that by simply weighing a person's body mass and measuring their height, one can calculate a person's general body composition and determine their "overall health".  I use the term "overall health" loosely.  But, generally, BMI is used as an indicator of body fat percentage and the medical industry uses it to classify patients into various health risk categories.

If you research more on BMI, you will find that the formula (previously called the Quetelet Index for BMI) dates to the 19th century.  The shortened term "body mass index" or BMI, dates to a paper published in 1972.  Wow, modern science at play here. Anyone see a red flag yet?

Here's where it gets even better.  In the 1972 paper on BMI, it was explicitly cited that BMI is appropriate for population studies, and inappropriate for individual diagnosis. Hmmm...

So, why is my doctor using the BMI to assess me, you ask? 

Well, due to its simplicity, BMI came to be widely used for individual diagnosis, despite its inappropriateness.  BMI provides a simple numeric measure of a person's thickness or thinness, allowing health professionals to discuss overweight and underweight problems more objectively with their patients. However, BMI has become controversial because many people, including physicians, have come to rely on its apparent numerical authority for medical diagnosis, although that was never the BMI's purpose.  Truly, BMI is meant to be used as a simple means of classifying sedentary (physically inactive) individuals, or rather, populations, with an average body composition. 

SUPER DUPER!  The medical industry is using a tool meant for general data collection to classify me as an individual!  (*insert eye roll*)

The thing that is most maddening to me about this is the CDC website itself.  Check it out.

I could list a ton of direct quotes from that website, but I'm going to focus on this one:

"BMI is used as a screening tool to identify possible weight problems for adults. However, BMI is not a diagnostic tool. For example, a person may have a high BMI. However, to determine if excess weight is a health risk, a healthcare provider would need to perform further assessments. These assessments might include skinfold thickness measurements, evaluations of diet, physical activity, family history, and other appropriate health screenings."

Have you figured out why I'm hating BMI yet?  LOL! 

Just remember this blurb from above, it will be important soon:  "A healthcare provider would need to perform further assessments. These assessments might include skinfold thickness measurements, evaluations of diet, physical activity, family history, and other appropriate health screenings."

Before I get too far, by now, I'm hoping you've read this post.  If you haven't, swing by there and take a look.  Because sh!ts about to get real.

In 2011, after dropping my weight down from 240ish to about 190, I decided to finally buck up and go back to the doctor.  I'm ashamed to admit that I was so upset with my body weight that I stopped going for my yearly visits... and for longer than I'm willing to document here.  Yes, I deserve a swift kick to the nuts for that.  No, I am not proud of it.  But I think it says something about a doctor's bedside manners when you're so ashamed of your weight that you can't fathom going back for another visit.

Anyhow, in 2011, happy with my weight loss progress and knowing I was more than overdue, I decided to ditch my unfriendly doctor and try out a new place.  Since a new medical center just opened not far from my house, I decided to try my luck and had my medical history transferred there.

While we wait for the doctor, let's queue the standard waiting room elevator music...

And here comes the awkward height and weight measurement by the first available nurse.

Of course, at this point I'm stuffed into an exam room to wait for a doctor to come.  When she finally gets into the room, I get my standard pokes and prods. 

Now comes the fun part, the weight discussion.  I'm paraphrasing, but the conversation goes something like this:

Dr. - Well, Natalie, let's talk about your weight.

Me - Ok... (starts to nervously sweat, not kidding - I left with sweat stains).

Dr. - You could really stand to lose a few pounds.

Me - Well, actually I wanted to talk to you about that.  Because about two years ago I maxed out at 240 and...

Dr's eyes pop out of head.

Me - And so I'm wanting to know what's realistic here.  You see, I'm the most fit now that I've ever been in my life.  I've got more muscle in my arms and thighs than I know what to do with.  I go to the gym, yoga or run at least 5 times a week, if not more.  At what point do you take into consideration my muscle weight versus my body fat percentage?

Dr. - You lost this weight by yourself?

Me - Yes.  I've been doing it slowly for the last couple of years.  Mostly I try to make sure I'm eating a balanced diet, and like I said, I work out a lot.

Dr. - Well, that's good.  It's important to lose weight slowly.

Me - Yes, I understand that.  (Hiding eye roll).  So what about my ideal weight?  Because I don't think it's realistic for me to try to hit BMI's suggested 160 based on how muscular I am now.

Dr. - Do you know your current BMI?

Me - Yes.  I know even with where I am at now, I'm borderline overweight to obese.  Which doesn't make any sense to me given how active I am.

Dr. - (Noticeably surprised that I am aware of this) Well, let's bring up a BMI calculator. 

(I'm not even kidding, this doctor who is medically trained, had to bring up a calculator tool on her computer to type in my height and weight in order to see my results.  She didn't even have a chart handy or anything.)

Dr - Yes, you are right.  You are just on the edge of overweight to obese.  Your ideal weight should be in the range of 130ish to 165ish.  Keep up the good work, you'll get there.

Me - But that's not my point.  I know I am way more active than any person you could bring into this office that also weighs 190.  In fact, I'm wearing a size 12 pants right now.  The last time I wore a size 12 pant, I was in college, weighed 165, and hardly worked out.  I weigh 25 pounds more NOW at the same waist size THEN.  That tells me my muscle is really weighing me down.  How do I factor in my muscle mass to determine my true BMI?

Dr - Well, the BMI tool is pretty accurate.  Unless you are an Olympic type muscle builder or something like that, you should really abide by it.

Me - That's fine.  It just doesn't seem reasonable to me to get down to 130-165.  I'd be 5'8" and wearing a size 4.  I'd be a skeleton.

Dr - Maybe you can set your goal for 170.  I think that would be OK.


Notice the lack of caliper employment or questions about my physical activity (IE type/duration).  Even more frustrating, I straight up told her I am wearing a waist size at 190 that used to fit me when I weighed 165.  Obviously there is huge muscle mass at play.  Despite my questions and wanting a fat analysis of some sort, in less than 10 minutes the doctor has given me a standard physical and brushed me off as overweight despite the above conversation.

BMI is so maddening!  Even more so to be someone who weighs 240 and is trying to make a change.  Imagine wanting to lose weight and seeing that you qualify as borderline severely obese.  If that isn't enough to shut you down before you even try to start, I don't know what is.

At the end of the day, I don't know who to hate more... the BMI scale for existing, or the medical industry who has changed the BMI scale from "a tool meant to make generalizations" into "the gold standard for judging individuals".  BAH!

So, if I hate BMI so much, what DO I recommend?

Personally, I'm a fan of any diagnostic that takes multiple measurements into play.  Right now, I find this tool to be particularly interesting, since it tells you an estimated body fat percentage.  I'd far prefer to know much muscle I have versus fat, instead of how my overall body mass relates to my height (*gives BMI the evil eye*).

If you're curious, here's a fat percentage chart:

Fun fact - as of today, according to BMI, I am still overweight.  But, based on my height, weight, waist, hip and other measurements, my body fat percentage is solidly in the average category, not even close to bordering on obese.  Anyone see any possible problems there?

So, my parting words of wisdom are this.  BMI is a tool, not a golden rule.  If you are working out and maintaining a healthy diet, the rest will fall in line, even if it takes a little time:

Screw BMI!  :-)

Friday, July 26, 2013

About Frickin' Time!!!

I had planned out a post for today that was going to be totally different... it was going to talk about BMI and such, and I was going to mention my 5K this weekend... but then I saw this:

*insert train wreck noise*

Good lord!  Forget about my BMI and 5K chit-chat.  I have to talk about this! 

Finally someone gets it!

If you're curious about the above, you can read the source article here.  Or, you can read a more detailed article about the program here.

If you're not in the mood to read the links, what I understand to be happening is this:

     In NY, some doctors now have the option to write "prescriptions" for patients to get
     fresh produce at the local farmer's markets.  And as a further extension of the program,
     doctors can also enroll their patients in nutrition counseling.  The program is made for
     high risk, low income patients, and appears to be targeting obesity/fighting disease
     linked to obesity.  Basically, this program is getting to exactly those who need this kind
     of encouragement.

     Even better, the coupons are redeemable at local farmer's markets.  So the program is
     keeping the sales local, encouraging folks to buy whatever's freshest/in season, and
     pretty much guaranteeing the most delicious produce options are getting into the hands
     of the voucher redeemer.  While the recipients of the coupons probably don't care
     about the benefits of buying local, they are for sure going to be encouraged to keep up
     the good eating habits if they are getting trained in on delicious, in season produce.

All I can say is... it's about frickin' time!  The people who need the most education and encouragement in how to eat properly are going to get it.  And, we're not trying to "fix" things with a pill.  I couldn't be happier... well, except for if this was rolled out on a national level.

Can you blame NY for wanting to launch such a program?  "About one in 10 New Yorkers don’t eat any fruits or vegetables in a given day. But in the Bronx, that number is a shocking five in 10 adults."  Wow... this quote is just sad... but not surprising.  It makes you wonder about how the nation as a whole measures up to this statistic.

Good for NY for seeing a problem and trying to fix it the right way.

Do you have anything like this in your area?  If so, I want to learn about it!  Tell me about it below.

And, don't worry... I'll save my BMI discussion and 5K race recap for next week.  Wish me luck on course tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Summer Nostalgia

Oh man!  I don't even know where the summer has gone!  We're already over half through July, and with August just around the corner... I'm feeling nostalgic for summer already, and I hardly have a tan.

To further add to my growing frustration, I haven't had a race since 4th of July.  I feel like a woman without a purpose ... or a summer!

While a part of me loves the idea of summer forever, this time of year is such a double edged sword ... all the best races of course, but all the hottest/most humid weather, too.  Who wants to run in that?  Or, alternately, who wants to get up at 5am just to run in lower temps?

So, while I battle my love/hate relationship with summer, and also mourn it's pending doom of ending, let's review my remaining 2013 race schedule.  (At least as it stands for the foreseeable future.) 

Will I be seeing you on course?  Or, if not, where are you running?  Share your race schedule in the comments below.

     7/27 - Gandy Dancer Fly-In 5K, Siren, WI

    8/10 - Walk/Run for Education 5K, Webster, WI

    8/17 - Serpent Run (5K), Crosby, MN

    8/25 - Minneapolis Duathlon, Minneapolis, MN

    8/31 - Lake Run (5K), Shell Lake, WI

    9/8 - Chicago Half Marathon, Chicago, IL

    10/20 - Mankato Half Marathon, Mankato, MN

    10/26 - Monster Dash Half Marathon, St. Paul, MN

Monday, July 22, 2013

Snack Attack

Ever have one of those days where you just can't seem to stop eating?  Well, it seems like lately... I've been having one of those weeks!  Blech!

You know the feeling.  You've had your breakfast, maybe a mid morning snack, you ate your lunch early and as a result had a very early afternoon snack... and then, it's 3 or 4 pm and you want to snack again?!!?!

Or maybe instead of having a hungry day, you're just a snacker in general?  Rather than sit down and eat one full meal, you prefer to graze a little here, a little there?

Well, for you snackers out there, here's an interesting snippet I ran across the other day:

Yikes!  The average snack today is 580 calories?!  That's as much as most people should be eating in an entire meal.

When did our snacks become meals?


Sad fact: I tried to Google up some fun images to put in this blog.  After filtering through about 100 images that looked like this:

I only found a very, very small handful that looked like this:

But actually, this just drives home the snippet above.  I guess it really shouldn't be a surprise that our snacks have almost doubled in caloric value.  How could they not, when the average association with snack is a bag of potato chips AND a candy bar?

If you're feeling a little frustrated at this point, don't worry.  I am too.  Even this quiz makes it abundantly clear that we don't know how to differentiate meal items (like pizza and french fries) from snack items (like an apple, or a small palm full of nuts). 

So, what should a snack really be?  That's a tough one, because no one answer seems correct.

For a starting point, let's look to Eating Well.  I actually have one of their cookbooks at home, which I really enjoy... lots of fresh ingredients combined in simple but healthful ways to create delicious and satisfying meals without the piles of salt, fat and sugar.  I have "Eating Well Serves Two" since it's just me and hubs at home.

When researching healthy snacks, I stumbled across an interesting article Eating Well published about how to structure a 1500 calorie a day diet, which includes a subset of what a snack should look like.  Since I'm a fan of their cook book, I decided to cruise through their 1500 calories a day snack suggestions. 

What did I find?

Well, first off, they highlight snacks that come in at 250 calories or less.  Wow, that's less than half the calories in the snippet above.  Amazing. 

But guess what?  Read through some of the suggestions and you'll find some pretty appealing stuff.  Here's a few of my favorites:

Mediterranean Picnic Snack Cheesy Popcorn Quick Kebabs Gorp 

Looks delish, no? 

My favorite part of their article is the last page.  Because not only does it show this:

Easy Snack Ideas For 250 Calories or Less

It also lists a bunch of great snack ideas:

Easy Snack Ideas For 250 Calories or Less

• 1 small apple, 12 almonds + ice water with lemon = 170 calories
• 1 cup baby carrots + 1/4 cup hummus = 157 calories
• 1 cup strawberries + 2 Tbsp. non-fat plain yogurt = 70 calories
• 1 cup cantaloupe + 2 small gingersnaps = 113 calories
• 1/2 cup nonfat cottage cheese + 1/2 cup fresh mandarin oranges = 122 calories
• Hard boiled egg, sliced, on 1 slice whole-wheat toast with 2 tsp. Dijon mustard = 141 calories
• 1 small apple + 1 Tbsp. natural creamy peanut butter = 172 calories

I'm sure you are wondering at this point how many calories are "just right" for your snacks.  That I can't answer with 100% accuracy, since it is really based on your personal health and caloric needs.  But when compared with what I could find on meal plans for people in the 1500 calorie a day plan (above), or this 2000 calorie a day plan at the USDA, it looks like something that mimics the list above should be about right.

And, just to hit you over the head, notice how the suggestions above do not include potato chips, soda or candy?  Just sayin'...

So, go ahead.  Snack.  But snack well.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Stop Saying Naughty

So... I've mentioned a few times that I like the TRex Runner's blog.  Well, last week she posted this article on all the judgments people pass in regards to food choices.  Which lead me to wonder... how do you perceive my blog in regards to my eating comments?

I know I've mentioned food in a few posts.  Like the McRib one, the Oreo one... and even some general posts about how to easily incorporate healthier choices in your everyday diet (IE how to cut out 3500 calories, or how to make better meal choices). 

I hope it's pretty clear in these posts that I'm sharing with you that it's all about how I created my own successes in weight loss.  Or, that I'm trying to share some awareness about what's in the food you're eating.  I am not judging.

And, if you've read this blog much at all, hopefully you already know why I'm not judging. 

Because I've been there.  On both sides.

I've been the one who competed in a duathalon, ran 2 miles / biked 24 miles / ran 2 miles.  And then, the next day, being absolutely starving from the 2+ hours of exercise the day before... ordered a totally justified foot long sandwich for myself at Subway... only to be openly mocked by the old man in front of me.  I think his exact quote was "Is that all for you?  *Snicker*  Good luck with that one, it's a biggie."

I've also been the one who struggled with my weight, felt out of control with my eating habits, and totally gorged on pizza, or Mexican, or a double stack burger with supersized fries, or whatever I was in the mood for that day.  Because I was hungry, or sad, or maybe it just sounded good or something.

Anyhow, as much as I've talked about food on this blog, I don't believe I've ever explicitly talked about my true thoughts on eating in general.

So today I want to straight out say it - eating is about making choices on a daily basis.  Some will be healthy, some will be ... less healthy.  But whatever you pick, just own it and eat it.  Stop judging, and more importantly ... STOP CALLING VARIOUS FOODS NAUGHTY!!!

For example: a few months back, I was eating lunch and overheard a conversation between two women about Dairy Queen.  One commented on how it was so good, but they never go there.  The other one commented on how she went, but it was ok, because she only had a small and then made up for it at the gym.  They both proceeded to talk about how it was so naughty, and how they would/did feel so guilty for eating it afterwards, etc, etc, etc.  It was so ... "Mean Girls"...

GAHHHHHHHHHAAARRGGGG!!!!!!!!  I was *this* close to losing it.  I just wanted to scream at these women.  Especially when the conversation progressed into what everyone else had on their plate, and how badly the overweight people were eating, etc. 

Please, if you're going to eat something, just eat it.  And let other people enjoy their meals as well.  Don't sit there and dissect what you or someone else already has on a plate.  It's there, so it's obviously intended to be eaten.  Same goes for what you ate yesterday, or the day before, or last week.  Or what you might even eat tomorrow, for that matter.

What good do you gain if you create a guilt trip about food the entire time it's being eaten, or afterward?  Just enjoy it. 

And don't judge someone else, thus creating guilt for them.  For all you know, they earned that huge meal with a marathon run yesterday.  Or maybe it's the saddest day of their life, and that gooey pile of whatever is the happiest moment they are having that day... which you promptly ruined with your judging.

What I'm saying is, if you're in the mood for a cheese burger, then just eat it.  If you're like me and love any sort of cheesy fried goodness, then enjoy.  I say this loosely, of course... you shouldn't just eat whatever all the time, and obviously don't eat until you're sick, or order the triple size portion... but don't hold yourself back from something you're craving, either.  It's OK to enjoy the occasional less healthy food choice, and it's good to allow yourself to live once in awhile.

And if that food you chose to splurge on is tasty to you, you should enjoy it.  Don't ruin the enjoyment by calling it naughty or worrying about the caloric or fat content.  Don't create guilt.  As long as you work hard at having times where you eat healthy, and if you keep active, that occasional treat isn't going to do any particular damage.  In fact, it may just keep you even healthier, since you're not feeling deprived and then just totally lose it with a massive binge due to days/weeks/months of withdrawal.

The key in all of this is moderation.  If you choose to enjoy the cheese fries, offset it with a good choice too - maybe you ran a half marathon yesterday, or you ate a healthy salad for lunch and can take a little splurge with dinner.

So, now that my rant's over... I'm curious... what's your favorite item to enjoy?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Be Generally More Awesome

So... I missed my Monday AM post.  Ugh.

Did you notice?  I hope it wasn't a huge deal.  I do try to update this blog with something interesting every Mon/Wed/Fri if I can.  But, computer problems kept me away on Monday.

Whatever, I'm baaaaacckkkkk!  So let's get down to business!

I recently stumbled across this interesting snippet on MSN Now... you know, the supremely professional news place that posts headlines which are totally relevant and useful for the world to know, like corgis that balance stuff on their head, and people who dress like Darth Vader and run a mile in Death Valley on the hottest day ever (true story).

Like I said, a supremely professional news place.  Totally relevant and useful knowledge.

Anyhow, the article I read was this:

See the MSN post here.

I find it super interesting that this is still news in MSN's eyes.  I mean, most people know by now that if you have a bad day, and then go pound it out at the gym, you'll feel better... right?  And as a result of relieving that stress, you'll be calmer/more confident the next day? 

If you didn't know this already, post some feedback below.  Seriously.  Because I'm curious to know if this is news to anyone else.

I digress.

Going back to the article.  MSN did an interesting job of summarizing the source article, but left out what I thought was the most interesting points - surprise (*insert sarcastic eye roll*).  Feel free to read the source story here.

Here are the highlights of what I would have pulled from the source story for you to ponder, along with my commentary in italics:


"For some time, scientists studying exercise have been puzzled by physical activity’s two seemingly incompatible effects on the brain. On the one hand, exercise is known to prompt the creation of new and very excitable brain cells. At the same time, exercise can induce an overall pattern of calm in certain parts of the brain."

Awesome!  By working out, I get more brain cells?  Does that mean I'm smarter, too?  Because, if so, I'd like someone to explain how getting up at 4am to do a race proves I am "smarter".  And, if we are supposed to be more calm, why do we all get so stinkin' nervous at the start line?  This doesn't make one lick of sense. 

Me, 4 am, debating why I am doing Bloomington Iron Girl 2012.  Where are said brain cells?


"Given access to cages with open, well-lighted areas, as well as shadowy corners, the running mice were more willing to cautiously explore and spend time in open areas, an indication that they were more confident and less anxious than the sedentary animals."

Oh, so this explains #1 above, then.  The increased confidence resulting from my exercise, with the additional brain cells, are to blame for my brain thinking I should get up at 4am to explore "open areas".  I guess the jury is still out on the start line anxiety, though.

More willing to cautiously explore open areas... check.


"The scientists next gently placed mice in ice-cold water for five minutes. Mice do not enjoy cold water. They find immersion stressful and anxiety-inducing, although it is not life-threatening.

In both the physically fit and the sedentary mice, large numbers of the excitable cells had fired in response to the cold bath. Emotionally, the animals had become fired up by the stress.

But with the runners, it didn’t last long. Their brains, unlike those of the sedentary animals, showed evidence that the shushing neurons also had been activated in large numbers, releasing GABA, calming the excitable neurons’ activity and presumably keeping unnecessary anxiety at bay."

They find immersion in ice-cold water stressful?  You don't say.  But seriously, this is interesting.  I guess that we active folks don't automatically avoid the anxiety (nerves at the start line), but we get over it quickly (the gun shot and we're off, totally forgetting the nerves and focusing on the race).  Makes sense.

Able to keep unnecessary anxiety at bay... check.

Ok, ok!  Onto a serious note.  In reviewing points 1-3 above, it's pretty impressive to think that keeping physically active helps our brains to not only produce new cells, but also helps keep you cool and calm sooner in stressful situations.

I mean, if it didn't, would I be able to run 2 miles, bike 25 miles, run 2 more miles and then do this while laughing at myself for 10 minutes?

So... do you really need more motivation to work out? 

Like MSN says, it makes you generally more awesome.  Go do it already!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Invest In Yourself

So, I read this.

In case you don't want to read the article, the short story is that a fitness company chose a "Biggest Loser" winner Tara Costa as their rep, and now that she's gained back some weight, they're suing her for breach of contract (essentially).

And of course, I totally became curious to see if the fitness company had a right to be upset.  I decided to do some Googling.

Show & tell time!  Let's look at some pictures.

      The official pre/post photos for marketing:

      The photo I could find that most accurately seems to portray her current body type:

Well, that's too bad.  It does appear Tara Costa has gained quite a bit of weight since her "after" photo from Biggest Loser's marketing group.  Not that she's overly fat or anything, but honestly speaking... she's not what she was when she signed her contract with the fitness company.  And selling fitness products is about presenting an image, unfortunately. 

Yes, I'm sad that she couldn't maintain the weight loss.  But is her weight gain really so shocking?  Someone who lost 150+/- pounds over the course of ... what, 1-2 months maybe... can't keep it off. 

Gee, I can't imagine why.

Yanking someone out of their daily life, throwing them into a gym for 6+ hours a day, totally controlling their diet for them, and creating motivation for them... then throwing them back into their daily life, with no additional coaching, and expecting them to keep up the change.  I just can't figure out why that isn't maintainable. 

I mean, figuring out how to work out 6+ hours a day, creating your own diet and motivation, plus a work life, plus a family life, plus personal time, plus sleep... nooooo problem.  (*Insert sarcastic eye roll*)

I really hate all the weight loss ideas we have in the US.  They're all the same!  To me, the whole Biggest Loser process isn't much different than... say...


Yeah, you might get a result with these "diets".  Or you might not.  But one way or another, the true results of your "diet" won't take hold if you can't incorporate it into your daily lifestyle permanently.

And don't even try to argue with me that you are willing to do the Hollywood miracle diet on an every day basis.  Because, first, that would actually be called Slim Fast.  And, second, I don't know a single person who honestly enjoys that stuff and feels satisfied at the end of ONE day on it, let alone a lifetime.

Healthy living is about healthy choices ... all the time.  Fruits.  Veggies.  Portion control.  Working out.  Skipping the second helping, or the extra dessert.  Making small changes that add up to big results.

I know!  It's hard work!!  But it's the best investment you can make - because it's 100% part of YOU.

What are you doing to invest in yourself?  I want to hear - share with me below!