What About the Kids?

Mike pointed out to me the lack of attention I’ve given to the mom-related stuff in my writing.

That’s because being a mom is SO easy! Or is it because I don’t pay much attention to them? Or, maybe I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Here’s a quickie on my “mom” style: I value my own independence, so I hope to foster that in my children. This doesn’t mean I don’t provide lots of guidance and love, but I am not the mom that enjoys a clingy kid (unless it is for brief periods of time, usually between 7 and 8 pm). Hug and release, please!

I am not (usually) afraid of missing out when I am at work. When I travel, I feel guiltier about leaving Mike alone with the kids than leaving the kids.

I have determined I am not much of a baby person. I LOVE 2 and up! Ask me again when they hit puberty.

I believe I mentioned that my biggest motivation for changing my eating habits and becoming more physically fit was to keep up with my 3 angels, and to be a positive role model. In addition to modeling, I hope to incorporate some opportunities for my children to build their own physical and health esteem (the intellectual stuff is a given, of course!). I’ll be writing some more about activities I am introducing this spring.

We have been struggling with the kids’ activities. We get home at 5:45 every night as it is. They all seem to have little interest in the YMCA’s organized preschool sports. Must keep trying!

Happy Friday!

Conquering the Day Trip

I set off for a day trip around 7:00 this morning. Nothing too stressful on the schedule – just a few mid-afternoon group meetings, then an evening return. The benefits of same-day travel include no need for packing and the opportunity to sleep in my own bed. Dangers include overscheduling, flight delays, general exhaustion, not amenable to fitting in exercise, failing to plan ahead for meals.

Here are my best practices for day trips:
– don’t over schedule! Count on delays, long meetings, and traffic.
– pack food from home
– plan your workouts for the week around the day trip
– plan where and when you will eat while on the road.

Here is how I applied my strategies for today:
– First meeting schedule for 2:00 pm: I booked a 9:30 flight, arriving at my destination by 11:00 (padded for flight delays and lunch).
– Packed 3 fruits (orange, apple, banana), breakfast bar, and pretzel thins.
– Scoped out a spot for lunch and decided what I’d eat.
– Planned a pit stop at the YMCA for a short run before heading home.

It is now almost 5:00 pm. Here is my update, with the necessary adjustments (because life doesn’t always happen according to plan):

– Ate the banana and breakfast bar em route to the airport.
– Flight delayed almost 1 hour (good thing I brought the laptop).
– Co-worker asked to meet for lunch and chose a different restaurant than I’d planned for. I ended up ordering a similar choice – Greek salad and grilled chicken wrap, with fruit instead of fries. I ate half and saved the rest for dinner.
– Vinaigrette dressing leaked in the doggie bag, but tried to salvage my meal.
– Meetings as planned
– Apple at 3:30
– Removed excess oil from chicken wrap and ate it for dinner (early).
– Probable return flight delay due to weather. May be forced to forego the run, but still holding onto hope.
– Still have an orange and pretzel thins in case of emergency.

Next week: 5 long days away from home at a corporate event featuring information overload and nightly mandatory fun.

Winter Doldrums & an Oatmeal Recipe

Another rough morning has been conquered. It wasn’t easy. Scheduling exercise first thing in the morning requires strong will for execution. I hit snooze this morning, and the rationalizations began. Here are the top five:

1. I am so tired. This must mean my body needs sleep. Yes! Sleep is more important than exercise.
2. I can afford a day of rest.
3. There is room in my schedule to do the workout later.
4. I’m sore.
5. I should spend my time doing something else.

The internal argument lasted 10 minutes, and the alarm rang again. GO TIME. I’d arrived at a critical moment. If I didn’t take action it would be too late for exercise. I rose from bed, still unsure of my decision. Perhaps I’d just get some coffee and sit down at the computer. I pulled on the workout gear, and headed downstairs in the dark. Sneakers on? Check. Water? Yes. Just. Push. Play.

And so began my interval workout. I was still feeling ambivalent. Cardio just feels harder first thing in the morning. My muscles were tight. I wasn’t having much fun. Then, I noticed I was halfway done. The muscles were warming up. I no longer felt tired! Yay! Pat myself on the back! I did it! Oatmeal and coffee as my reward!

I’ve added my favorite oatmeal recipe below.

Transition

tran•si•tion (trn-zshn, -ssh-)
n.
1. Passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.

I just finished a 3-month fitness program this weekend, so it is time to transition to something else. This is an interesting parallel to what may happen soon in my professional life. Both situations are rife with possibility and somewhat anxiety-provoking.

Last year I committed to about 4 different fitness programs, ranging in duration from 5 weeks to 4 months. There is real benefit to following a set fitness plan. First, you have a built-in schedule. It takes the guesswork out of the workout. No, “what do I do today?” moments. Fitness plans often allow you to see progress in the form of fitness level or strength, if not changes in physique. Sometimes there is a goal, like running a 5K.

I have only given some thought to my next “plan.” I know I have some speed goals for 5K and 10K this Spring and Summer. I also have the Spartan Sprint in July. It is a bit soon to start training for these events, though. I can “free form” the fitness for awhile, but the dangers there include slacking off with no real goal in mind, injury, and not knowing what to do.

I think I could have slept until noon today. I felt so tired this morning. Surely it had NOTHING to do with the nutritional deficiencies brought about by Sunday’s back-to-back birthday party pizza, cake, sandwiches, and more cake extravaganza. I dragged myself out of bed and started contemplating my workout plan for the week. I had loosely committed to a 5-week 5K plan. Today’s workout would be 10 min run; 2 min walk x 3 – pretty easy if I could just make it to the YMCA indoor track. My inner lazy girl started nagging, “You should just take it easy this week. Just do some yoga.” Or, “You can push off the run until tomorrow.” I brushed her off, and dove into 3 cups of coffee, watching snow fall outside. Somewhere between the first and second cup, I committed to actually following my plan. Now I’m on the other side of the day’s workout and feeling relaxed.

What is your “transition” challenge? Do you have a plan?

Travel triumphs and testing my pizza theory

I am happily back in my home office, with a 2-night business trip fading from memory. Before I forget, here were some highlights related to planning and keeping on track:

At the airport Wednesday night – As I stood in line at Au Bon Pain with my bottle of water for the plane, all those gooey baked goods and chocolate treats called my name. Three years ago, most of my airport encounters included some kind of comfort food or drink. Not any more! I clutched my water and reminded myself of the chocolate peppermint stick Luna bar on schedule for 9:00 snack. First challenge won.

Thursday morning – with anxiety regarding internal job interviews nagging, I pulled myself out of bed at 5:30 (ok – it was Central time, so really 6:30), geared up, and hit the hotel gym treadmill for a 25-minute run. Thank goodness for Pit Bull. That man might be ugly, but he sure can make a dingy hotel gym feel like Studio 52 at 1 AM! I stopped in the hotel restaurant on the way back to my room and was met with an envious, “You ALREADY worked out!” from a complete stranger in the buffet line. I tried a few reassurances to relieve her of personal guilt, like, “well, I had the time zone change working in my favor.” So did she. Then some friendly guy in the elevator also noted our exercise gear. Again, strange woman lamented that only I had already exercised. For that, I got a “great job!” Haha!

The danger of work meetings is that one might get caught up, stressed out, etc…I completely forgot my 3:00 apple on Thursday. I was so engrossed in our discussions and additional caffeine. By 5:30 I was starving and jittery. Bad set up for dinner.

Thursday evening – OK, so I am not perfect. I was tired, hungry, and stressed about an impending presentation. I didn’t get too crazy, but dinner did include 2 glasses of wine and some bread dipped in olive oil. At least I stuck to soup and salad. No dessert. I might add that past trips included burgers, heavy pasta dishes, or steaks. I still do the occasional steak, but rarely order the burgers and pasta.

Friday – am Yoga sure helped with the pre-presentation jitters. Lunch was slightly beyond my control (pizza and salad). The presentation went quite well, thanks to my positive self-talk. The return flight was at an awkward time – too early for dinner, too late for the snack. In a last-minute decision, I bought an emergency KIND fruit and nut bar. Thanks to flight delays, this became my dinner. Joy.

All in all, the nutrition wasn’t awesome, but I maintained my composure.

With regard to the pizza theory, I did have some for lunch on Friday, but no bloat so far!

Modified Insanity: Yes, You CAN!

After seeing my initial results from Insanity last year, several of my friends and family members have given it a try. I think just one of them made it past the first month. Mike made it through the entire 60-day program, but was irritated by his 8 lb. weight loss. He was expecting more for all of his perceived suffering.

The Insanity program lives up to its name. It is intimidating. It is probably the hardest workout I’ve ever done. But I (and many others) am living proof that it can be done.

My little bro is giving it another try in anticipation of our Spartan Sprint in July, and because he ate too much last weekend. Apparently, the Fit Test kicked his butt.

For my brother and anyone else interested in rising to the challenge, I give you Modified Insanity tips:

1. When in doubt, MARCH IT OUT.
a. Marching is a great modification for HIGH KNEES, JOGGING, etc….

2. It is perfectly acceptable to SLOW DOWN the exercises in order to FOCUS ON FORM.
a. You probably shouldn’t be able to keep up with Shawn T. unless you have a body like him.
b. 2 perfect push-ups are better than 4 crappy ones.

3. Watch out for the WARM-UP!
a. Don’t go all out during the first 10 minutes. You won’t make it through the rest of the workout!
b. “Mark” some of the exercises – high knee march instead of jumping high knees; step-touch instead of mummy kicks; squats instead of jumping jacks, etc…

4. Don’t stop MOVING!a. See #1

5. SKIP the JUMPS
a. Instead of tuck jumps and jumping jacks, try squats and lunges.

6. Monitor your Heart Rate
a. You should be out of breath.
b. You will get breaks.
c. You shouldn’t pass out.
d. You might throw up.

You WILL feel like a WINNER when you complete the program!

I still aspire to put these tips in video form, but my camera man has a day job. And I want my bro to make it through the first workout tonight!

Business Travel

I mentioned earlier this week that I’ll have some upcoming travel. Tonight I’ll leave the frozen Northeast and head for the even more frozen Midwest. Awesome. I really need to rethink my latitude and longitude.

Aside from planning for the actual work I need to do while away, I’ve also considered eating and exercise.

Here’s the deal:

I’ve been possibly holding onto that “pizza bloat” for longer than desired. I say possibly because I can’t figure out if the intense strength training has resulted in some muscle gains, complicating the picture on the scale. Overall, I was up nearly 4lbs since 10/14, which is when I began my most recent training plan. I had reached an all-time low for weight on that date as well. (Perhaps because I didn’t eat pizza that week!) Anyhow, Mid-Oct to Jan would be the most challenging time to lose or maintain weight, given all the holidays and my love of cookies. I tried to get a better idea with some rudimentary body fat testing this morning and the device gave me several readings, ranging from 16% to nearly 26%. Not helpful, aside from being similar to my last check in October. Unreliable data. Hmmph.

Regardless of my data analysis issues, I’ve been careful with my food intake from Sunday to now. I’ve been maintaining my exercise regimen, and I have already planned when and what exercises I will do in the hotel gym. My office cafeteria is pretty well-stocked, so no issues there. Thursday night may involve eating out, so that will be the only real “challenge”. I’ll probably miss pizza night due to travel. Then there is an indulgent dinner planned for Saturday. One might imagine that I am banking on exercise to support my intake of Yuca fries with red pepper aioli! Yum! And wine, of course.

Sunday Calories: 1367 net (did Yoga and had my first spin around the Pole)

Monday Calories: 1714 net (exceeded target by 104 calories, according to the estimate of my workout burn. I don’t do the HR monitor, so no idea if this is accurate. I did 45 min. strength training and 20 min HIIT)

Tuesday Calories: 1843 net (480 remaining due to my long run. No wonder I was STARVING!)

High Maintenance

main•tain www.thefreedictonary.com
tr.v. main•tained, main•tain•ing, main•tains
1. To keep up or carry on; continue: maintain good relations.
2. To keep in an existing state; preserve or retain: maintain one’s composure.
3. To keep in a condition of good repair or efficiency: maintain two cars.
4a. To provide for; support: maintain a family.
4b. To keep in existence; sustain: enough food to maintain life.
5. To defend or hold against criticism or attack: maintained his stand on taxes.
6. To declare to be true; affirm: maintained her innocence.
7. To adhere or conform to; keep: maintain a busy schedule.

Struggling to achieve a tangible goal is hard, but is often exciting. Achieving a goal is a reward for all that hard work. Once the initial high wears off, maintaining whatever it is you have achieved is rarely easy. Nor is it exciting. In fact, maintenance can be tedious and even more difficult than the process of achieving the goal.

How do we mortals cope? Well, some set new goals. New goals give us direction and motivation. However, the loftier the goal, the more challenging it will be to maintain what has been achieved. Others allow whatever they’ve achieved to slip away into disrepair. Then, some time later, they refocus on the same goal that was previously achieved and experience the rewards of getting back to goal. This fulfills the excitement factor, but said goal may become more and more difficult to achieve.

When it comes to weight loss, I can tell you that it certainly is not as exciting to see the same weight on the scale week over week as it was to see it consistently moving down. I am trying to combat this with focus on the continuing rewards of a new lifestyle.

Master Planning and Some Philosophy

I have a few challenging weeks ahead, fraught with business travel, pressure situations, birthday party temptations, and mandatory fun. Let’s face it – most days present at least minor challenges and obstacles. Life ain’t easy.

First, a quick reframe: remember the whole spoiled American kid mantra, “life sucks, then you die”? Guess what? First world problems, people. If you are reading this blog, you have electricity and access to food on a daily basis. There’s also probably hot (relatively clean) water and indoor plumbing. You might even have a shiny gun to clean. Life does not suck for you like it does in a third world country.

I’m a big fan of existentialism. If you aren’t familiar, pick up some Camus. “The Stranger” and “Metamorphosis” are two of my faves. Two of the tenets of existentialism include the human condition of loneliness and the concept that freedom and responsibility are inextricably combined. The “master planning” concept relates to the latter.

Stepping of the philosophical soap box…..

Why plan? I know some people who are terrible planners. They hate to make plans. Perhaps planning leads to feelings of obligation, or even failure when plans don’t work out. If this describes you, consider some words from highly influential people:

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
― Warren Buffett

OK, I left out the ones about planning being useless and stifling creativity. Selective bias. My point is, making plans should provide structure and serve as a map for goal-directed behaviors. Just keep in mind that it is totally OK to reorganize the structure, suddenly change routes, make a detour, or pit stop.

In preparing for my challenging week, I am considering what the heck I’m going to eat, when and what types of workouts I’ll do, what information is essential to this week’s professional endeavors, family, home, and social life. Will I tweak my plans this week? Most certainly. Is it worth planning when I know my plans are bound to change? Yes! If I don’t put intention into what matters most, meaning don’t commit by making plans, then how can I ever be successful in achieving goals? Refer back to Freedom and Responsibility.

The REAL reason I got in shape was….

so I could shop at places like Athleta and Lululemon and actually feel like I belong.

Ok. Ok. This was not in the top 3 reasons.

However, I must confess that I have been sucked into the marketing engine targeting women like me who like to turn exercise into another opportunity for fashion. I also love hanging out in stretchy pants.

This LA Times article sums it up:

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/13/business/la-fi-lululemon-athleticwear-20110713

I remember the day I received my first Athleta catalogue in the mail. I was instantly enamored with all the beautiful designs and lovely images of athletic (not skinny) women. And the selection of stretchy pants….to die for! The company drew me in. $84 for lounge pants? Free shipping? Sure! Why not?

My first Athleta purchase (in black) = True Love!

My first Athleta purchase (in black) = True Love!

The first Athleta store in Philly opened well over a year ago. I had to check it out. After circling the storefront for 20 minutes or so in search of street parking, I stepped into a 3D version of the Athleta catalogue. The store design felt like a ski lodge / spa. The bright colors and zen designs surrounded me, calling out for me to touch them.

I forget if it was during that first visit or the second, but I distinctly recall the moment when I realized I had no business shopping there. I aspired to be as active and fit as the women in the catalogue, but the reality was that I hadn’t exercised in months. My ass was not worthy of those $89 workout pants! Psshht, parking there sucked anyway.

The catalogues kept on coming. I wore the pants as often as possible while I sat at my computer for hours, day after day.

That was then. These days I walk into the store with confidence. I belong. Those Maha pants are super loose now. I still wear them, but not as often as my new Yoga pant soulmates:

Hannah

Watch out, Athleta and Lululemon! Target is catching on. They’re new “premium” brand active wear is half the price and, well, almost as nice. I do love those Hannah’s, though.

hannahme