Saturday, March 1, 2008

My inner critic has shut up for the moment

Last night I ran my couch to 5k week 4 day 3 run – I completed week 4! Woo hoo!

When Stephanie told me in my comments that the first 10 minutes of a run always sucks, she was spot on. In my case it was more like the first 8 minutes, given that I was running in 3 and 5 minute segments. The first 3 minute segment and the first 5 minute segment were so much harder than the second 3 and 5 minute segments. I guess endorphins really are our friends.

Sunday* I’m on to week 5. Yikes! (no no no, stop with the yikes. I can do this.) I mean, yay! (there, that’s better.) AND I met my exercise goal for the week! Extra-yay!

So I’ve managed to smother the inner critic for a while. While I was running yesterday I felt so good about what I was doing. I am 100% doing the best I can, and it kicks ass. What is there to get frustrated about? Nothing. So what if I finish a couple minutes after my husband in the 5k. I’m extremely happy that he’s working out. It’s all good.

Actually, I’ve realized part of what bothered me about my relative speed is that we’re doing this 5k with quite a few of our friends, and I expect all of them to finish before us. So, what I really mean is: So what if I finish absolutely dead last amongst all our friends. I’ve finished! I’m good with that. Especially since I’ve decided that I clearly need to find someone who runs more slowly than me to join us in the run. Problem solved!


No, seriously, starting out slow gives me lots of room for improvement, and getting faster will be an excellent, satisfying new goal to work towards starting in May.

*My workout with the husband/friend/trainer has been moved from Monday to Sunday because I somehow double booked myself for Monday night. Thank gawd everyone else was able to reschedule.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Telling my inner critic to piss off

I was talking to my husband yesterday about the couch to 5k program. He’s also doing the program, although he’s doing his 100% on the treadmill and I do mine on the treadmill 1-2 days a week and on the road 1-2 days a week. I’d been out of the loop on how it’s been going for him, since I’ve tried to stay out of his business about it. He’s relatively new to exercise, and I didn’t want to seem like a nag or a critic. Because of our different work schedules and his commute we’re not really doing the program together as much as we’re doing it over the same span of weeks. Over the past few weeks we’ve ended up on treadmills side by side only once or twice, and those times we each had our headphones on listening to the podcast that told us when to walk and run.

So anyway, the topic came up, and we chatted about how we’re feeling about the program. We’re both feeling good, the podcasts are helpful, blah blah blah. Then the topic turned to how fast we’re running.

Dammit! The man is running MUCH faster than I am.

For some reason I find this irrationally maddening.

He’s 6 inches taller than me so that’s a very slight advantage perhaps, but other than that it seems like I should have the advantage here. He’s been inconsistent with his training, but I’ve been on track (with the exception of one missed workout). He’s skipped parts of weeks, and I’ve been following the training program religiously and by the book. He started out at a lower fitness level than I did. When we do the personal training together weekly, he lifts heavier weights than I do, but I seem to have better cardio endurance than he has and I seem to be able to handle physical discomfort better. He’s never been an athletic person; I’ve had two periods in my life where exercise was the norm.

Right now I’m feeling annoyed at myself for running slowly, bewildered at how the realities above translate to him running faster, and, well, just COMPETITIVE.

I didn’t want this running thing to get competitive.

I’ve been surfing around online trying to get a sense if I’m at least “normal” when it come to how quickly I’m running. I’m not finding many answers – what I am finding is repeated suggestions to do it slowly and to pace yourself. Great, wonderful, I’m doing what I’m SUPPOSED to do with the program.

Why isn’t that good enough?

I need to find a way to silence my inner critic and to stop comparing myself to him or anyone else. It does NOT matter how fast I run, it matters that I run. It matters that I’m stretching myself and doing something new, something I never thought I could do. I don’t have to do it better or faster than anyone else. In my heart I know all this. And I also know that once I’ve run 5k, I can move on to building my speed, and/or building my distance, and/or move on to some other completely different goal. I know this.

So why am I having such a hard time with the speed thing? I guess I’m a competitive person – I don’t think of myself that way, but I guess I am. And I really didn’t want this to be competitive – I wanted to do this for myself. Now I’m a little worried that when we do run our 5k, I’ll be disappointed in myself when I cross the finish line many minutes after him. I hate the thought that I could let something like that take away from how I’ll feel about accomplishing this goal.

If you guys have any suggestions about how I can tell my inner critic to piss off, please, suggest away.

In the meantime, it’s payday. I’m going to head out after work to buy a heart rate monitor.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Q&A Day

I've had some questions in my comments over the past couple weeks, and I'm not sure of the best way to answer them. At risk of being tremendously boring and/or having the longest post in the history of blogkind, I'm going to answer them all at once.

If I missed any questions, let me know!

So, here goes ...

What do I do on my “intense” workout days?
For me at this point, my intense workouts happen once a week on Monday night. On Mondays, I head to the gym, do my couch to 5k run on the treadmill, and then I spend an hour working out with my husband, our friend, and a personal trainer. We save money on the trainer by all working out together. The trainer wants us to warm up before we get to her so that we’re ready to really work out by the time our hour starts – she loves that I do the couch to 5k run beforehand.

The trainer does a lot of strength training with intervals of cardio. I can’t tell you exactly what we do because the exact workout varies week to week, but by the end of each session we’ve always done a full-body workout. Sometimes we use weight machines, sometimes we use free weights, sometimes dumbbells, sometimes bosu thingies, sometimes balance balls, sometimes medicine balls, sometimes equipment-free exercises like planks and pushups etc. etc. etc. After the first couple months, she started having us work multiple muscle groups at a time. So, for instance, we might be doing bench presses while lifting our hips and holding a medicine ball between our knees with our feet up on a bosu. That crazy move works arms and legs and core at the same time. The cardio intervals could be sprints around the track, or running up/down the stairs, or jumping jacks, jump rope, etc. etc.

What strength training program are you doing?
I think “program” implies a degree of structure I don’t have! I do strength training 2x per week (or that’s my goal anyway). One day it’s with the trainer, and that’s described above. On the other day I do strength training post-running on my own. That workout could either be on machines or at home. At home I have dumbbells (5, 10, and 15 lbs), a balance ball, and an 8 lb. medicine ball. I don’t do the same strength exercises each time, but each time I try to get a full-body workout with a little more focus on abs and arms than legs (since the running is leg-focused).

For instance, last night after my couch to 5k run I worked out at home and did:

- 1 set of 20 reps of wall squats with the balance ball while holding 10 lb. dumbbells
- 1 set of 15 reps (x2 – one time for each leg) of single leg squats with the balance ball
- 2 sets of 20 reps of one-arm 15 lb. dumbbell rows with the balance ball (x2 – one time for each arm)
- 2 sets of 20 reps of 10 lb. dumbbell shoulder press on the balance ball (note that in this video the gal takes her dumbbells low – lower than a 90 degree angle. My trainer tells us not to do that.)
- 2 sets of 20 reps of 10 lb. dumbbell chest flys on the balance ball
- 2 sets of 25 reps of crunches on the balance ball, holding the medicine ball between my knees
- 2 sets of 20 reps of 5 lb. dumbbell triceps extensions on the balance ball
- 2 sets of 20 reps of 5 lb dumbbell reverse flys lying on the balance ball
- 2 sets of 20 reps of oblique twist using the medicine ball (in link, scroll to where it says “twist”)

I downloaded the workout above from – I tweaked it minimally, adding on the oblique twist and the use of the medicine ball when I did the other crunches. Sometimes I browse through a couple books I have or websites and come up with my own full body workout - but the SparkPeople site has made me a little lazy lately.

Am I running an actual 5k? When?
Yes, my plan is to run this 5k on April 19th. I don’t have a speed goal – I just want to be able to say I ran it. I’ve done 5k runs before where I walked most of the distance and ran a little, but this time I will run the whole time. (Notice how I say WILL instead of WILL TRY TO. Will Will Will. I’m working really hard to believe myself here.) I suspect I may run more slowly than some people walk it, but so be it. Speed will come later if I decide to continue this running thang.

What do you listen to on your iPod when you do your couch to 5k runs? Is it inspiring?
There are these free podcasts you can download for the couch to 5k program that tell you when to walk and when to run. They work great for me because I’d get very annoyed and probably lose track if I tried to check my watch the whole time. From what I understand I might be able to program a heartrate monitor to tell me when to walk and run, but I don’t have a heartrate monitor yet. The podcasts have music, and the music is good (not what I usually listen to, but good for running). The music does help keep me going, and it’s nice that the guy on the podcasts tells me “you’re doing great!” and “keep your shoulders relaxed and arms loose” and all. I’m looking forward to being able to run using my music though – it may help a little with the motivation, from what you guys tell me.

What do you look like? Where are your pictures?
You know, I have to tell ya, I'm a little freaked out by the idea of posting my picture on here! I have no problem with revealing my innermost self and thoughts and twisted sense of humor, and I’ll willingly share my outermost stats (like weight), but I could be in a very bad position professionally if someone I works with runs across this blog and reads about my frustrations with someone I work with, or my thoughts about possibly changing careers, etc. I don't think I've said anything that would get me fired (yet), but I’ve definitely said things that would make for a sticky situation. And better safe than sorry … being dooced is not something I want.
So ... yeah. I say “Not yet, maybe never” on the request for me to post a picture … or maybe someday I’ll post an "after" picture from the neck down (although unfortunately I didn't take a before pic). Maybe. I know the chances of any of the abovementioned folks coming across this blog are slim to none, but it is a small, small world. I've run into friends at gas stations hours away in different states, my brother ran into someone he knew when he was in London, I ran into someone I knew at an airport halfway across the country ... these things can happen!* It might be irrational, who knows, but I’m not paranoid about most things so I’m going to trust my instincts here. I don’t think my concern is unfounded. Hey, what did you say? Are you talking about me? Stop talking about me! I’m not paranoid! I’m not!

You’re almost at goal. How will going on maintenance change what you eat?
When I go on maintenance I can add a few more points a day to my daily points target. I start at 4 more points (so, approximately 240 more calories), and then experiment, gradually adding on from there if I keep losing weight (since the goal will be to stay the same weight). But from a “what exactly are you going to add,” I’m not sure. I’ve contemplated doing more to wipe artificial sweeteners out of my diet. I eat yogurt with artificial sweeteners almost every day, and ice cream bars with artificial sweeteners every couple days, and the occasional diet soda – I could switch from those products to the real deal, which will up the calories/points. It’s quite a debate, though, because being able to eat MORE food would be awfully nice. My points target right now is 20 points a day. That’s not a lot of food. So … I'm not sure. I guess we’ll see how it shakes out when it happens.

When you had the healthy-eating meltdown and ate the McDonald’s food over the weekend last weekend, was it at least good? Sadly, no. The burger was not fresh. It was a total waste of points. On the other hand, the French fries were a little bit of greasy heaven …

* Given the small world we live in, I recognize that theoretically someone I know could stumble on this blog, read it, think “this sounds just like someone I know!” and ask me about it. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Couch to 5k Week 4: It's all in my head

Today I do my couch to 5k (week 4 day 2) run. I did my couch to 5k week 4 day 1 run on Monday (and then an hour of strength training with some intense cardio mixed in – I was soooore yesterday, and I’m still recovering today!).

Monday’s run went better than I expected. It’s strange – at the end of every week I doubt that I’m ready for the next week, and so far every week I’ve been able to it. This week I have to run 5 minutes at a stretch two different times. I’m pretty sure I’ve never run that long in my life. I certainly haven’t run 5 minutes at a stretch in my adult life, anyway. And if I did it as a kid it would only have been when it was demanded by a brutish gym teacher.

I slowed my pace for the 5 minute run – I’m finding that I can’t keep up the faster pace that I was going when I was only running a minute at a time. (And my faster pace was pretty slow! Oh well.) I focused on my breathing and got through it with minimal discomfort. I was worried about side stitches, but they didn’t happen. I did have some very very slight pain in my right knee, which is new. Hopefully that won’t become a problem for me.

I am to the point where I’m starting to see that running is as much mental as physical. Running 5 minutes … well, this may sound wimpy, but it seemed like a long time. I had a lot of thoughts of “is the 5 minutes over yet?” and “why would anyone ever want to run this long?” and “if running 5 minutes feels this long, how am I going to run 30 minutes?” etc. etc. etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of positive self talk, and I told myself that I was doing great and to keep it up, and that the folks who designed the couch to 5k program know what they’re doing, and that people run 5k’s all the time and I’m no different from those people, and that I could do it.

So, I could talk myself into continuing using positive self-talk, but I also had all those other not-so-positive thoughts. I have a feeling that I’m going to have quite a mental debate on my hands for the next 6-8 weeks. If any of you guys are runners and you have any suggestions to the mental side of this running thing, I’m all ears. If I can stop those negative voices sooner rather than later it would be a good thing.

I’m a little concerned about having the positive talk, the negative talk, and the music/walk-run instructions on my iPod all happening at the same time. With all that, I’m going to be so distracted as I run down the street that I’ll get flattened by a car.

Ack! I want flat abs, but that’s not the way to get them!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Where am I? (Volume 5)

It’s Tuesday, the day to review where I am in my weight loss journey.

Where am I? Is sore a location? Because after my workout last night, I’m sore. Last night I did my couch to 5k week 4 day 1 run, and then an hour of strength training with some intense cardio mixed in. It was a great workout, and an interesting run. I’ll talk about couch to 5k run in more detail in another post, though.

Let’s talk about the weight loss part of this journey for now. Where am I in my weight loss journey? We’ll start with the data.

Weight loss since last Tuesday: 0.6 lbs (137.2 vs. 136.6)
Yay for a loss! I had a wonderful on-plan week last week until Saturday, and then I crashed and burned over the weekend. I’m glad to see the loss this week.

Weight loss since fall 2007 (most recent leg of weight loss journey): 15.8 lbs (152.4 vs. 136.6).
I got my 15 lb badge last week, so there’s nothing new to report this week.

Total weight lost (entire weight loss journey): 30.4 lbs (167 vs. 136.6)
I earned my 30 lb badge! Woo hoo!
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Exercise: Last week was the first week I’d earned my exercise badge, and I felt confident I’d earn it this week, too.

I was wrong.

I worked out Monday and Wednesday, but I dropped the ball on my 3rd workout of the week. Life got in the way on Friday and Saturday, and because of the intensity of my Monday workouts a Sunday workout is unwise.

I’m bummed that I didn’t reach my exercise goal for a couple reasons. First, I’m going to be in maintenance soon, and I’ll need to shift some of my focus from my weight to my fitness level. I don’t just want to be skinny, I want to be fit and healthy and strong. I need to ramp up the exercise, not slack off on it.

I’m also bummed because I’m training for a 5k that’s on April 19th. That should be completely doable; if I follow the couch to 5k plan by the books I’ll finish on April 4th or 5th. That means I have a couple weeks in between in case I need to repeat weeks … but only a couple weeks. I’m annoyed with myself that I gave up some of my ability to repeat weeks if I need to by missing my workout this past weekend. Life happens, I know that, but … well, I need to find a way to fit these workouts into my life.

Oh well. Maybe now that I’ve annoyed myself, I’ll be more focused on making sure I get the 3x/week couch to 5k run in, right?

My exercise goal for this coming week stays the same … 3x/week cardio doing couch to 5k and 2x/week strength training. I am going to try something different, though. I’d been doing strength and cardio on Monday and either Friday or Saturday, and cardio-only on Wednesday. Since my Wednesday evening is unscheduled, I’m going to plan to do strength on Monday and Wednesday this week, which means my Friday or Saturday workout is shorter. I can always do strength on Friday/Saturday, too, if I have time. Who knows, maybe if I do that I’ll get 3 strength workouts in, exceeding my goal. If not, maybe I’ll at least meet the goal.

And as far as a weight loss goal for the week, I’m not setting a specific goal. I’m going to stay on plan eating within my WW points, drink lots of water, and track everything I eat. If I do that, the weight will come off.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I did not have the best weekend.

I mean, from the perspective of “was it an enjoyable weekend?” it was quite nice. But from a fitness and healthy eating perspective … ugh.

Friday night I met up with some friends for happy hour, and we ended up staying for dinner. Luckily we were at an Asian fusion restaurant, so I was able to have sushi for dinner. I didn’t drink much and I stayed on plan using a few flex points. It was all-good on Friday … my healthy eating halo remained untarnished.

But then Saturday came along.

To stay on plan, I would have needed to do my couch to 5k run on Saturday, and I’d need to eat reasonably but not impeccably on Saturday and Sunday … I had about 20 flex-points left. Completely doable, right?

Apparently not.

Remember late last week when I was saying that I needed to go to the grocery store? By Saturday morning, it was a desperate situation. If you opened the cabinet door, moths flew out.* Anyway, I got up Saturday morning, did some cleaning and organizing, and then got ready to head out of the house. My plan was to go visit a friend in the hospital, then go grocery shopping, then go to the gym, then go home and have dinner with my husband. Unfortunately, by the time I got out of the house on the road, I was RAVENOUS. I’d eaten a little something, but not much. And when I get to the point where I’m so hungry I could gnaw my arm off, I don’t make good choices.

And then I saw those golden arches. And as I was driving by, somehow a quarter pounder with cheese and a large order of fries jumped through the window and into my mouth. It happened just like that, I swear! Damn you, combo #3!

Ugh. That was definitely the largest single misstep on the eating side of things. But it all just snowballed … I got back from seeing my friend hours after I expected, making my grocery trip much later than expected (yay! We have healthy food again!), making going to the gym before dinner not an option, and the Saturday gym hours making a post-dinner gym visit impossible … ugh. That meant no weekend workout, since I didn’t want to do my couch to 5k run on Sunday because I knew I’d be doing couch to 5k and strength training tonight.**

Add a couple late-Saturday and Sunday not-horrible-but-not-the-best-choice-ever food choices to the Mickey D’s fiasco, and by the end of the weekend … well, let’s just say that by the end of the weekend my points balance was waaaaaaaaaaaay into the negative range.

All I can do after a weekend like this one is get up, brush the crumbs off my sweater, and move on. I’m trying to look back and learn from the weekend, and not beat myself up about it.

What went wrong? Looking back, it boils down to priorities. Not going grocery shopping did me in. I should have jumped out of bed Saturday morning and gone straight to the grocery store rather than doing cleaning/organizing. I’ve been trying to do some de-cluttering every weekend, but the de-cluttering should have been a lower priority than the grocery shopping trip. I shouldn’t have let myself get into the position of being that hungry, because I get irrational. I don’t give a rat’s ass about healthy eating when I get that hungry.

Also, I hate to admit it, but I should have gotten up earlier on Saturday. Beauty sleep be damned - there just wasn’t enough time in the day. If I’d gotten my arse out of bed there would have been more time. If I’d shifted the hospital visit to earlier in the day, there would have been time for the workout before dinner.

All in all, though, it’s not the end of the world. The scale is up, but it will go down again. I made some bad eating decisions, but I also made good eating decisions. My “bad weekend” was nowhere near as bad as the weekends I had before I was being health-aware.

I’m not having a terribly hard time getting over the food mistakes. I’m more annoyed with myself about not doing my couch to 5k run. Not doing the couch to 5k run has set my 5k training plan back; the missed run shifts the workouts I’ll be doing for the next 6 weeks. Since I’ve got my sights set on a specific 5k to run, now I have a tad less flexibility when it comes to repeating days or weeks as the running gets more intense.

Oh well. Time to move on. Tonight, the gym and I will get reacquainted. Sorry I blew you off Saturday, gym!

* Even though I suspect moths are a low-point choice, I'm not eating moths. Period. I ate a stir-fried silkworm pupa once when I was overseas ... I'm not eating bugs again. Blech.
** Remember, Monday is always workout night - I meet up with my husband, a friend, and a trainer.