Monday, December 29, 2008

Weekly update, 12/30/08 + New Year's Thoughts

We're back from our trip! Had a great time and enjoyed visiting with my mom and step-dad. It's always an adventure, balancing the need to keep the kids moving with quietly chatting with the parents, but I think we did fine this time. Brining new toys and getting some nice new ones helped, I think!

Side notes: If you ever find yourself visiting Lompoc, California with children, be sure to include a stop at the Lompoc Aquatic Center. Amazing facility, with a big water play structure for kids and 2 water slides for kids over 48" tall. (Sadly, the big slides were closed the day we went, but still much fun for Thing 1 and Thing 2.) Another nice place to visit, with or without kids, in the Solvang area is Nojoqui Falls. The Hitching Post restaurant in Buellton is tremendous, although Pea Soup Andersen's is pleasant but not a must-do unless you really love split pea soup...if you do go, it's easier to get seated in the coffee shop, the dining room can take forever on a busy day. (Hitching Post became even more popular from the movie Sideways, which was interesting to watch from a "places I know" standpoint but provoked the worst PMS reaction in me...that Jack character would have had a reeeeally long run back to the hotel in the buff, because the actual location of that girl's house is about 20 miles away!)

New Year's Thoughts, 2 Days Early (uh oh, my hypocrisy is showing!)
I was going to get all cranky about New Year's Resolutions, like I usually do this time of year. I've always felt like New Year's Day falls way too close to Christmas. I finally get the holiday "to-do" list done, and feel like kicking back to enjoy the twinkly lights a bit before charging ahead into the new year. I was going to say "but everyone's turned off their lights and packed up the tree," although that's not true. I saw lots of lights on my drive home last night, and our own tree (artificial) will be up probably into the weekend. So I need to breathe and repeat the mantra painted on Emily's Bakery in Santa Cruz (which we passed on the way downstate): "Relax. You have plenty of time."

What's different this year: I used to not be ready to stop the that's not quite so much a part of it all. Only so much sugar-free treat feasting you can do without the dreaded maltitol master-cleanse....Of course, now that I'm following health & wellness blogs, there is a lot of talk about new year's resolutions and forming new habits and the like. It started December 26, and that made me feel rushed and a little cranky. But I know it's well meant and where it comes from (and that, for many, rushing past this time of year is a needed survival tactic).

So...resolutions. I feel like my whole past 6 months has been developing new habits, and I want to get them more firmly in place before moving on to new stuff. That said, I resolved back in October to do one race each quarter this year, so that was already on the list. If I set any others, it would be along the lines of Diabetes Mine blogger Amy Tenderlich's, who resolved to "enjoy life more--while staying calm and being kind." Or to do something really fun, like go horseback riding at that place with the Tennessee Walking Horses when they reopen in April. (I've always wanted to ride one, and now I'm not too heavy to do so!) "Go to Kauai" would be a nice one, too, but looks like "Go to Michigan" will be more doable, due to airline prices and where the frequent flier miles will take us.

What did I do last year? I resolved to form 10 new habits, one each month with a couple of months off. I achieved 7, which I think is pretty good, because I usually observed the time-honored tradition of either (1) resolving to not make resolutions, (2-this one goes back aways) doing something during Lent instead or (3) make-'n'-break. The 7 habits were pretty much the goal items I list here each week, plus learning origami and walking the dog regularly.

Progress last week:
7-day blood glucose average goal and fasting numbers: 7-day average was 100; 7-day fasting average was 98, with 100% of numbers below 120. (met goals)
Weight goal: Maintained (met goal of maintain or lose)
Food goals: Didn't record, but "ate to the meter." (When not measuring, I do a combination of low-moderate carb/plate method.) Did a little too much sugar-free chocolate eating. (no goals tied specifically to food this week)
Exercise goals: Got in 4 days of activity: 2 trips to the pool and 2 runs. (Missed 5 days of activity goal by 1 day.) Did arm exercises 1 day but missed the abs part. (Met half of the goal of 1 arms+abs this week.)
Misc. goals: Was present with my family during the Christmas weekend. (met!)
Monthly measure: Since last month, I lost 1" in the bust, 0.5" in waist and hips, and 1.5" in the thighs! Woo hoo!

Goals for this week:
7-day blood glucose average goal and fasting numbers: below 120.
Weight goal: Maintain or lose.
Food goals: 4 or more meatless, low-fat meals and 2 or more fish meals. Lighter eating if dinner is after 7 p.m.
Exercise goals: At least 30 minutes of cardio 5 days; 3 days of arms & abs strength training workouts; do at least 3 runs, weather permitting (Weather-permitting=not raining and temperature over 40 degrees).
Misc. goals: 7 or more hours sleep/night.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I hope everyone reading enjoys a wonderful holiday time, whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or nothing in particular. Mr. Handsome-and-Handy, Things 1&2, and I will be invading my mom & step-dad's place tomorrow. (Muuuuah-hah-hah! Figurines, you've been warned!) But so far, we're already enjoying some AMAZING (and minor) Christmas miracles:

My dad (who lives in Tucson) surprised us with a weekend visit this past weekend! Ironically, I had just read Christie O's blog about her appreciating Christmas time with family, and I was nodding in assent pretty much as Dad pulled up our street...(AMAZING!)

I snagged the last retractable extension cord at Home Depot. It was something Mr. H&H really wanted for Christmas and was not expecting. I had checked online, and the web site did not show any being available at our local store. I went in on Friday, following a strong hunch...(minor, but still pretty cool)

...and we're all together, healthier than this time last year, and able to give our kids and each other a really nice Christmas. (AMAZING!)

So I'm feeling pretty good-humble and more grateful than I can say.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Weekly update, 12/22/08

Busy-but-fun week ahoy: Worked yesterday, working today, off the rest of the week. We're having "virtual Christmas" on Christmas Eve, because we have a long drive on Christmas Day to go to my parents' for the long holiday weekend.

This past week, I *felt* like I slacked off, although I wasn't too far off from goal. (SeaBreeze, feel free to say "I told you so." :-) Probably too many video workouts; even the ones I like tend to make me feel like I slacked. The bike worked well, has what I call "the noodge light," which lets you know when you need to work harder/less hard, and I feel like I get a good workout when I pay attention to it. Last week's run was disappointing in a way: I ran slower, and about 25 minutes in Nature called...and sometimes ya can't just let her leave a message, either. :-/ Good thing I was close to home. I've always worried about that on longer runs....On the other hand, I hadn't eaten breakfast. Today's run was right on target. (And it was nice to feel like I had the time to run "just a little longer," since I'm the only one on a schedule today.)

Oooo, and cool news! I won a prize in the "Diabetes Mine Holiday Survival Sweepstakes!" The topic last week was how to offset holiday stress. One big thing for me this year was that Mr. Handsome-and-Handy took it upon himself to do most of the gift wrapping and cookie baking. I was a little bummed to miss the baking--I was "the baker," you know? But he & the kids did a fantastic job, and it did keep stress levels a lot lower. I think he appreciated that I did most of the shopping tasks and the card assembly, which aren't exactly his favorite. (And we got our cards done before the seasonal craziness kicked in. For some reason, the prospect of doing the cards really stresses me out. And I don't know why! We have the process 95% automated, and we just do a photo card.)

Progress last week:
7-day blood glucose average: 109 (met goal of 120 or lower)
Fasting blood glucose: last 6 of 7 days were less than 120 (yesterday morning was 125; ouch!); average was 112
Weight: -1 (met goal of maintain or lose)...Wait, what's this??? I just updated my "Ticker Factory," and lo-and-behold, my BMI number just dropped into the "overweight" category! Yippeee!!!
Food: 5 meatless low-fat, 2 fish meals. (met fish goal...sort of. I read that the place we picked up our fried fish from uses rice oil, so I'm going ahead and counting last night's fried fish in the "fish meals" category...not exactly low fat, but "healthy oil," from what I've read. Next time we go, I'm asking to confirm.)
Exercise: 30+ minutes cardio 5 days, but only one run. 2 days of arms and abs strength training. (Missed running goal by two days, strength by one day. One of the days missed running was due to weather, the other was that I just felt like using the bike.)
Misc: Didn't track sleep, but I felt well-rested in general. Gym decision? Going to go for it!

Goals for this week:
7-day blood glucose average goal and fasting numbers: below 120.
Weight goal: Maintain or lose.
Food goals: Taking the week off for the non-meat/fish goals; otherwise, sticking to the plan as close as possible.
Exercise goals: At least 30 minutes of activity (walking, running, swimming, biking, or video workout) 5 days. No specific running goals; will start training for the February event the following week. At least one day of upper body and abs strength training.
Misc. goals: Be present in all ways with my family during the Christmas weekend.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Comments for charity on MizFit Online

Okay, I'm preaching to the choir with this one. But maybe, just maybe, there's some benighted soul out there that will stumble across my blog in the next day or so who has not discovered MizFitOnline, online home to the amazing MizFit and the Bumbling Band. Which means the other 99.999% of you all knew about today's item: MizFit is donating 10 cents for every comment between now and the 24th in the morning to Safeplace, a domestic violence shelter in her area.

I was happy to read that someone contacted her about anonymously matching donations. What is totally NOT surprising is that she's getting a lot of comments and is inspiring lots of local acts of goodness.

But don't wait until Christmas Eve! Get on over and leave a comment on this post: MizFit's Halfassed Friday Rhyme. (subtitle I'm emptying the wallet, People, & need your help)

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Weekly update, 12/16/08

Whew! Busy week, and it's only Tuesday night! I'm sorry I haven't responded to everyone's comments yet, but I read them and sure do appreciate the support. Thanks!!!

Today alone: we've been watching the weather, and we found out this morning that there was snow up in the Santa Cruz mountains, not too far from where we live! So we pulled Thing 1 out of the first two hours of school this morning and took a "snow detour." It was great! Thank goodness Mr. Handsome-and-Handy is originally from snow country in the midwest, I'm a total wuss when it comes to winter driving. About 4 miles up Hwy 35, the snow was falling and the towering pines and redwood trees were thickly frosted with snow.
Me: "Wow! This is like being in a snow globe!"
Thing 1 (yes he actually says stuff like this): "It's a Winter Wonderland!"
Thing 2: "We didn't bring carrots for the snowman's nose!"
Mr. Handsome-and-Handy, ever the realist: "Well, I'm not sure there will be enough to build that big of a snowman..."
But there was about 3 inches on the ground, so plenty for a little snow fun: snowball fights, eating snow, making snowmen.

Last week was kind of weird...I completed my last 2 days of the gym trial. I've been kind of on the fence about joining, frankly...would it be a good investment? Would I use it enough? Would I use it a lot at first, then let it languish? On the other hand, monthly membership is only $29.95, which is less than we pay for Thing 1 and Thing 2's monthly dance lesson bill. We could save on our water bill if I use the gym first thing in the morning before work, too. I resolve to definitely decide one way or another this week. Plus we just got an indoor exercise bicycle--I love it, since we live in a flat area and it simulates hills in the preprogrammed workouts. Generally, I've had a mental block about spending money on fitness stuff; hence working out at home and garage sale hand weights. I worried that doing so would somehow "jinx" me fitness-wise. Then I realized that sheesh, that kind of thinking after 6 months of consistency is a bit ridiculous.

I was also fighting the tail end of my cold last week, which is why I think I just didn't do any exercise on Wednesday morning...the previous day's spin class kicked my posterior more soundly than I thought! I did run on Friday, which felt good. I hadn't run outdoors for over a week.

I learned something interesting on Monday: rice, even brown rice, really bumps up my blood glucose levels. I ate a 7-ounce box of brown rice+salmon+avocado sushi yesterday for lunch, and a bunch of grilled veggies--healthy, right? And had a level of 150 2 hours later, which is a post-meal level I haven't seen in quite awhile. Rice goes back on the "handle with care" list, along with corn. Haven't had that problem with either oatmeal or with wheat items (such as my flax bread), or with potatoes.

Oh, and last night? Thing 2 suggested that we do an exercise video. Yeay! I could redeem myself after all. We got about halfway through segment 1 of the 10 Minute Solutions Kickboxing Bootcamp (aka, "The One with the Blonde Lady Who Boxes"). Thing 2 admired the instructor's well-defined arm muscles, did a few moves, then got bored and wandered off. Baby steps, friends, baby steps...

Progress last week:
7-day blood glucose average: 107 (met goal of 120 or lower, but had the one post-meal reading of 150)
Fasting blood glucose: last 7 days were less than 120; average was 107.
Weight: -1 pounds (met goal of maintain or lose)
Food: 4 meatless low-fat, 2 fish meals. (met goal)
Exercise: 30+ minutes cardio 4/5 days, only one run. 2 days of arms and abs strength training. (Missed cardio goal by one day, strength by one day.)
Misc: Accomplished about half the week on the sleep goal (4/7 days with 7+ hrs. sleep). Signed up for my Q1 and Q2 2009 races, have selected my Q4 race but not my Q3. I think I've got some time. :-)

Goals for this week:
7-day blood glucose average goal and fasting numbers: below 120.
Weight goal: Maintain or lose.
Food goals: 4 or more meatless, low-fat meals and 2 or more fish meals. Lighter eating if dinner is after 7 p.m.
Exercise goals: At least 30 minutes of cardio 5 days; 3 days of arms & abs strength training workouts; do at least 2 runs, weather permitting (decreased amount because weather did not permit for the first 2/5 days and we're supposed to have more rain. Weather-permitting=not raining and temperature over 40 degrees).
Misc. goals: 7 or more hours sleep/night. Make final decision about whether or not to join the gym.

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Quest for"...if not "Greatness" then "Motivation"

As I've blathered on about before, training for an event makes a huge difference in my motivation. So I'm really excited about Christie O.'s latest challenge on her Baby Tea Leaves web site: The Baby Tea Leaves Quest for Greatness! Her last challenge was a weight-loss challenge called "Hot for the Holidays"...which was fun and popular, but I was really amped by the new challenge's focus on fitness. However, the newly-converted fitness zealot in me is wondering: where the heck did all the HFH participants go? Christie left it very open-ended: choose an athletic event (or fitness goal) to train for, then do the training and enjoy the byproduct of better health and fitness. Not like people had to commit to running marathons or doing an Ironman...although, admittedly, it's easier to find events and to train in places like her Florida and my Northern California than in the more winter-bound places. But the "no rules" rider certainly leaves it open to looking for something in the spring....

Anyway, I've committed: I just registered for a 5K run on President's Day (2/16/09). I had decided, after running the Pumpkin Run, that I wanted to race at least once per quarter. This challenge was a nice kick in the posterior for getting me to find a race and to register. And I found one really close to home! I also registered for a race I'd found awhile ago, the "See Jane Run Half-Marathon and 5K". (Just the 5K...not quite at half-marathon level yet.) I'll freely admit that I chose it only for the slogan: "I run for chocolate and champagne." I can't wait to get that t-shirt! It's a bit of a drive away, so it sure wasn't for the location. Not sure what I'm doing for the July/August/September time frame, but definitely rounding out Q4 with the Pumpkin Run again. Maybe I'll be up for a 10K by then...we'll see!

That said, speaking of "fitness" and "motivation," I have to confess something shameful. Thing 2 wanted to do an exercise video with me on Sunday, and I flaked. My reason? Oh, this is so lame, I'm cringing as I type it: I'd showered late, and I didn't want to get all sweaty again. Yes, I told you it was lame. Not simply lame, but a horrible example for Thing 2, who proceeded to geek out playing multiplayer "Midtown Madness" with Thing 1 while I graded papers for Thing 1's teacher. I resolve to NOT flake on offspring-initiated fitness again!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Day 5: You Spin Me Right Round, Baby, Right Round...

Tuesday was Day 5, my final day of the trial offer at the gym. Analysis and decision to be posted later....

Oh. My. Aching. Quads! Here's another instance where the class name was a misnomer. Doesn't "spinning" sound so carefree and playful? Don't let the title fool you: it was intense. It was 45 minutes. My thighs may never be the same....

Random observations:
- There is no coasting in the Spin class, figuratively or literally. When you stop pedaling, you don't coast; you risk snapping off your foot.
- I liked the music. The tempo is really fast, too. Was that Alvin & the Chipmunks singing "The Freaks Come Out at Night?"
- As SeaBreeze predicted, spinning made me reeeeally sweaty. Glad I brought my towel!
- It also made my thighs burn until I realized I probably ought to slow it down just a touch if I was going to last the whole class. (I'd say that if the instructor was at 100%, I was performing at about 60%.)
- I liked how the instructor made sure everyone's machine was adjusted properly.
- Dang, those bike seats are HARD! That must be part of why there's so much standing and pedaling.
- Would I do it again? Definitely! What a workout!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Day 4: Road to Nowhere

Report from Monday, Day 4:

Today I did my workout at lunch: the treadmill. (I know, in the figurative sense, it's not really a "road to nowhere" in the fitness quest, but it seemed like the obvious-but-catchy title for today.)

I did the fat-burning program for 35 minutes, although I found using the machine's sensors a bit annoying after awhile when running (unlike the recumbent bike, on which there's nothing else to do with one's hands). I think, whatever I decide about gym membership, I'm going to have to get my own heart rate monitor. *sigh*...more gadgetry.

I disembarked with post-treadmill syndrome: the sensation that the ground was still rolling beneath me. Sort of like getting off the Tea Cups at Disneyland and having the world continue to revolve. Luckily there was not the same urge to stagger drunkenly.

I ventured upstairs into the Land of the Buff (the room with all the free weights, weight machines, and other instruments of pain and delight). There was a woman at the top of the stairs working with a trainer, and I gave them wide berth to avoid getting whacked with the ball weight thingy. I circled around and found the rack with the 8 pound hand weights. I did some of my usual exercises. I decided to skip the floor exercises until tonight. Frankly, I don't feel too keen about anyone except Mr. Handsome-and-Handy seeing me lay on the floor all sweaty and panting and flailing my arms and legs around in the air. Exercise can be so unintentionally...intimate.

One cool thing about the Land of the Buff: There are treadmills upstairs, and they overlook our nice office neighborhood rather than the ginormous TVs. I'll have to remember those for next time.

I'm not sure I like using my lunch time for working out. But it was nice to have the option.

Weekly update, 12/9/08: Walkin' in a Winter "One-derland"

Keeping this one short, since I've been blathering away about the gym in other posts. The big news: arrival in "one-derland" (weight below 200) is official! I thought I'd be spending a few more weeks bouncing back and forth across the border...and who knows, I still might, but I'm tickled because I wasn't expecting to be there until New Year's. Now, the trick is extending my stay through the rest of the holidays and beyond.

Progress last week:
7-day blood glucose average: 102 (met goal of 120 or lower)
Fasting blood glucose: 6 of the last 7 days were less than 120 (one day was not tested, since I ran short on test strips); average was 104.
Weight: -3 pounds (met goal of maintain or lose)
Food: 4 meatless low-fat, 0 fish meals. (completely missed fish meal goal by two meals-ack!)
30+ minutes cardio 3/5 days, including 2 runs. (The two days I missed cardio goal, I did 25 minutes and 20 minutes, respectively...but two of the 30+ minute days were 80 minutes and 75 minutes. One of the non-running days included the Bodyattack class, which was probably more intense than my typical run. So overall, I'm feeling okay with not hitting the goals precisely as defined this week).
2.5 days of arms and abs strength training. (Skipped abs portion and 3 arm exercises at the gym the other day and did not complete at home as planned; again, Bodyattack class included abdominal exercises, so overall I probably did more than a typical week in that area.)
Accomplished about half the week on the sleep goal (4/7 days with 7+ hrs. sleep).
Gym trial offer: I went to the gym every work day since turning in the coupon, as planned.

Goals for this week:
7-day blood glucose average goal and fasting numbers: below 120.
Weight goal: Maintain or lose.
Food goals: 4 or more meatless, low-fat meals and 2 or more fish meals. Lighter eating if dinner is after 7 p.m.
Exercise goals: At least 30 minutes of cardio 5 days; 3 days of arms & abs strength training workouts; do at least 3 runs (weather-permitting).
Misc. goals: 7 or more hours sleep/night. Sign up for a 5K race in March 2009 or thereabouts for the Baby Tea Leaves "Quest for Greatness" challenge. I *love* that Christie O. is structuring her latest challenge this way, focusing on fitness instead of dieting! And I've been wanting to race at least once per quarter in the coming year, so this is a good tie-in for my Q1 2009 goal.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Day 3: Meat, Potatoes, Gravy, and MacGyver

What do those have to do with “7 Days of Fitness and Fun” promised by my trial offer of the gym? Read on for the report of last Friday's gym day:

I arrived at the gym with only 10 minutes before my free assessment with the personal trainer. I hopped up on the treadmill and put it through its incline paces. I thought I glimpsed a co-worker behind a newspaper on the way to the locker room, and found out later that yes, I had indeed. Said coworker informed me that we have a pretty good corporate rate. If said rate is still the going one, I really have no excuse to not join--if I want to. (Side note: Yes, Microsoft Word: I AM an English major who boldly splits infinitives when I darn well please.) Heck, if it keeps me out of Whole Foods at lunch time, we might end up saving some real money here.

Free Assessment with the Personal Trainer

"You know what they say about free get what you pay for.” - Red Green, The Red Green Show

"The first and greatest commandment is: Don't let them scare you." - Elmer Davis
(This was, incidentally, Monday's randomly-received quote from a tea bag...whether one should consider randomly-received quotes from tea bags as messages from the universe is really outside the scope of this entry, but hey, comment away!)

I think the trainer and I both felt somewhat deflated by the session: he did not get a wealthy new client who wanted to spend some serious money on personal training. I did not get much in the way of concrete advice. For both of us, it consumed an hour of our time that we both undoubtedly could have spent on other things.

The meeting: I showed him what I've accomplished so far (10 minutes). He did his sales pitch, cleverly disguised as conversation about me and my goals (40 minutes). I have a pretty big aversion to sales pitches, even if I did have the money to spend on working with a personal trainer. (From the range he quoted for personal trainer, the 5-6 sessions he said people did as a start would cost AT LEAST nearly as much as a full year of membership at the gym. I know which one my Frugal Half would say is the better deal.) I'm not even sure I need a gym to reach my goals, and what I heard was that even the gym by itself is not effective to reaching fitness goals. We concluded with taking measurements and calculating body composition and fat-burning target heart rate numbers (10 minutes).

He was persuasive, in that he cited a lot of things that are near and dear to fitness bloggers I admire: core strength is king, strength training is highly effective for fat loss and fitness, you do not need to be reliant on the machines and can create an effective workout with free weights (and a medicine ball and some other ball thing I forget the name of), fat burning target heart rate is different from a cardio target heart rate, and a good trainer is gold. Salesy-feeling aside, I have a hunch that he might be one of the good ones.

I have NO doubt that if you have the resources and want professional help in developing your physical fitness, a GOOD personal trainer would be highly effective. (Of course, I also held that opinion before the meeting, so nothing new there.)

That said....

What I felt I got: Small potatoes.

- Fat-burning target heart rate. (I confirmed Mr. Handsome-and-Handy's comment: yes, there are calculators online that do this. The effective ones will prompt for your age AND resting heart rate, FYI.)

- Body comp numbers. Starting goal: decrease by 3%.

- Instructions for how the core should feel when it's activated, and advice to not sit with my back to the foot of the couch when doing seated exercises.

- Observation of what I do for strength, without the weights.

What I didn't get but hoped for: More meat.

- Getting out on the floor with weights and confirming that I doing my set of existing exercises properly. (When I asked why I was not feeling anything in my triceps when doing a seated tricep extension, he said that was not a very effective tricep exercise. Of course, the thing to do next would have been to say the *polite* equivalent of, "Well, throw me a fricken' bone here: what should I be doing instead?")

- Freebie-quality sample starting program for the beginner. Could even have been a paper handout.

- More specifics about how to achieve the body comp goal; not even a "keep doing what you're doing."

I felt unsure about writing about this experience because I found myself feeling defensive, and a bit deflated afterwards. And when I start feeling that way, I know it's time to get quiet in myself, sit with my discomfort, and think before I write. Or at least write a bit and edit extensively later.

Thoughts that ran through my mind:

- Why did I feel disappointed? Were my expectations realistic for a free assessment?

- Were I to join the gym, would it be totally worthless without a personal trainer? Or, I guess a better question is, if I spend the money and use the gym, will I achieve better results than being consistent with my workouts on my own? I can see that if one joins but does not *use* the gym consistently, one will not reach one's goals, but I'm not convinced that the gym is totally ineffective if used. It's like any other tool for fitness.

- Why am I questioning my ability to find my own way...when I feel like I've done pretty well so far? Is my ego getting in the way of a fair assessment of the experience? That is, do I feel deflated because my ability to research and create my own workouts was challenged? If so, why? I'm seeing demonstrative results in my health. Do I have an unrealistic fear of the "plateau" predicted by the trainer if I did not change up my routine every 8-12 weeks? Or was the ego-sting/uncertainty more to do with the fact that I cannot afford both gym and trainer, and I disagreed with a fitness professional about which would provide the better value for me over the coming year?

So, when I feel muddled, I often turn to a good friend. Fortunately, I have an athletic tech writer pal who is only an IM away. Whether I agree or disagree with his opinions (yes, he's always this blunt), he often has some insights for me:

Me: "What's your opinion of personal trainers? I had a free assessment with one at the gym the other day. I'm writing about the experience, and I'm feeling kind of muddled."

Friend: "I think they are pretty much pure profit for the gym, just like extended warranties at Circuit City or Best Buy. Unless you really don't know what you're doing, I don't see them as a big help; you're better off usually finding a friend and teaming up. Or if you really want to learn, see if the community college offers any sort of evening weightlifting class."

Me: "Oh, that's a good idea. That's the main area where I'm somewhat ignorant: strength training. I've read up a bit on it, and I have some exercise that I do with my hand weights, but I may unknowingly making mistakes in form. I take it slow and haven't felt like I'm injuring anything, so I figure I'm doing okay with it."

Friend: "Well, the good thing about the gym is that the machines, unlike free weights, are pretty much all designed to put you in the right form....Hey, look what's featured on jatbar's front page today!" (Yes, he is also a Net magpie.)

Me [after detouring to read their review of Harry's Hoffbrau]: "Yeah, baby! I sure do agree with their assessment."

And this of course reminds me of a long-ago visit to the Redwood City Harry's with Mr. Handsome-and-Handy. A trainee was filling our plates with all the good stuff and topping it off with a seemingly good-sized dollop of gravy. A long-time employee came over and coached him: "Hey, that's not enough gravy! Give 'em a little more!" And he grabs the label and brings on the veritable gravy tsunami. Who were we to argue with the voice of experience? Definitely time to trust the expert. (Just citing my mindset of way-back-then, of course. Gravy tsunamis are no longer on my menu. I still adore Harry's, though; like many places, it is possible go healthy when dining there.)

Locker Room Redux

Following the meeting, I headed to the locker room. Dang! I forgot my shower shoes. No WAY am I going in there barefooted, even though it is probably the cleanest public shower I have ever used. What to do...what to do...AHAH! I grabbed a couple of plastic bags off the roll (thank heaven for a well-equipped locker room), and a couple of twists and knots later, I have a pair of dandy foot covers. And thank goodness: it would've been a royal pain to dry out my running shoes before Monday. MacGyver would be proud, although he probably could have whipped up the perfect running shoe dryer out of 5 paper clips, 2 Popsicle sticks, and a rubber band.

Luck, Bad and Good

Unfortunately, Mr. Handsome-and-Handy received his shipment of a sentimental favorite food: Better Maid Potato Chips, both regular and BBQ flavored. He totally busts tail taking care of kids and home and is generally frugal to the extreme, so I didn't tease him about the shipping costing about 5 cents more than the chips themselves. Salt and crunch, exactly what one wants on a Friday night.

Fortunately, 1 oz. = 15 gram carb, and I had presence of mind to use the scale to measure out a portion.

Unfortunately, my cold peaked on Saturday: I had no sense of taste by dinner time.

Fortunately, dinner was take-out from Popeye's chicken after a big romp at Rancho Sempre Verde Tree Farm. We have an artificial tree, since Mr. Handsome-and-Handy breaks out in a rash after wrestling Christmas trees. But RSV has wreath making with these wicked wreath crimping devices, a big bonfire and free marshmallows for toasting, and crazy swings (tire and old-fashioned plank & rope) hanging from the trees all around the farm. Awesome place to spend the afternoon. So...what was the fortunate part about dinner? I could not taste the crunchy, golden, spicy/salty crust. So I stripped it off after a few bites confirmed that no, I was not going to get any flavor satisfaction there. Later, I dished out some low carb chocolate ice cream...only to toss the rest after a couple of bites.

Unfortunately: Return of the taste buds the next morning. I ate a fairly large breakfast.

Fortunately: I was on my feet much of the afternoon at a kids' birthday party, playing pirates with Thing 1 and Thing 2 for much of it. I'm just as glad they avoided the jump house, because there were over a dozen young toughs in there playing "kickboxing arena."

Unfortunately: There were Kettle Chips...and no scale to weigh out a portion. Why-o-why did I think I could eat just one?

Fortunately: I'm pretty sure I didn't eat too many. I think the veggie tray:chip ratio was about 5:1. And I didn't touch the pizza.

So while it wasn't a perfect weekend from the health standpoint, it leaned to the "Fortunately" category: Blood sugars stayed in an acceptable range, I moved around a lot, and there was no gain over the weekend.

P.S. - Mr. Handsome-and-Handy tried something that sounded weird but ended up tasting good, especially if you enjoy mixing soy sauce and wasabi at the sushi place. He mixed reduced-salt soy sauce with horseradish and used it as steak dipping sauce. Taaaaaasty!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Web album of my progress to date

I've created a web album with my progress to date. (Click the link to view it.) It shows overall starting, at the beginning of Baby Tea Leaves' "Hot for the Holidays" challenge, and at the finish of the challenge (which is just past my halfway-to-goal point). I'll be updating this periodically.

Friday, December 5, 2008


[This is the second day of my "7 Days of Fitness and Fun" free trial offer at the gym next door to my workplace. Day 2 was actually yesterday. Day 3 was today...and I'm still figuring out how I felt about it. The "7 Days of Fitness and Fun" will actually be only 5 for me, because the gym is too far from my house to go on the weekend. Hope no one feels short changed...]

The other day, I let SeaBreeze know that YES! I had set not just one, but TWO feet into the gym...and hadn't run out screaming. I walked out calmly, with slightly damp hair, following a pleasant spin on the recumbent bicycle. I told her that I was considering a class.

What gym assessment would be complete without sampling from the veritable banquet of classes? Who knew, for example, that there are at least 7 styles of Hatha Yoga alone, mixed and matched per the instructor's style? Not this former couch 'tater. Capoeira? Zumba? Did you know that you could BODYPUMP, BODYSTEP, and...BODYATTACK?


Me (asked more rhetorically than anything else; I knew she was screamingly busy): "Hmmm...spin at lunch or...'Body Attack'...? Sounds kind of scary, doesn't it?"

SeaBreeze: "If you take spinning at lunch be prepared to be VERY sweaty. I would recommend Body Attack because it will likely include weights as well."

Although, from the brochure of class descriptions, it sounded like "Body Attack" was also in the "VERY sweaty" category....

"BODYATTACK: Les Mill's high impact cardio format. Bounce off the wall athletic, continuous motion, high calorie burner. Call in the towel crew...its [sic; no, my editing mode does not have an off switch] going to get wet and wild."

Oh yes, people, there was sweat a-plenty. "Bounce" was also the operative word for this class...and not exactly the way the designer intended. Various floppy bits going one way, arms and legs flailing the other way...curious sensation at this speed.

But otherwise, I really got into the class. It was 60 minutes, and it didn't feel overly long at all. Fun music, of which I recognized some of the original pieces mixed in (which probably predated many of the participants' births). There was also much more room to jump than the tiny space in our living room, even with a full class. The instructor was exactly what I remembered of aerobics instructors: slender, no floppy bits, and perky. I liked the way she showed alternate moves (of varying intensity) for the different routines, although I felt I kept up intensity pretty well. (Back in the days when I used to take classes, there was only one speed: HIGH IMPACT, whether your floppy bits liked it or not.) Like at home, I find it hard to consistently move in the correct direction with the rest of the class at times. To my credit, I checked side and rear-view mirrors at all times, and "BODYATTACK" didn't take on any unfortunate connotations.

One thing I noticed, and this happens in workout videos, too: the instructor's exhortations to the group. Sometimes it seems effective, at other times it seems kind of contrived. I think this instructor did it pretty well, although if you wanted to lurk in the back, this was not the class...she kept us moving all over the room and was high-fiving people constantly. Is the verbal stuff taught as part of the instructor training, or is it spontaneous?

The weirdest part was the "fishbowl effect" of the studio being downstairs and pretty much ALL windows. Who knows how many coworkers walked by and saw the tech writer shakin' her cosmic thang. What I also noticed later in the class, when I was too swept up to care, was that ALL the machines along the glass wall facing the studio were full. Of men. Eh, who can blame 'em? ;-)

We ran, we kicked, we bounced, we "superman'd"...we did a little arms and a little abs...more bouncing and dashing around...a bit of stretching, and we were done.

I felt like the time spent with workout videos had prepared me well for classes at the gym. As did the running, endurance-wise. I also learned to not let a ferocious-sounding title discouraging me from trying a class.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day 1 of "7 Days of Fitness and Fun"

Or, "Fear Factor: The Gym Edition"

(Dedicated to MizFit and SeaBreeze, my MizFit's Bumbling Band motivational buddy. Yes, I did it!)

Stunt 1: Presenting the Coupon
Last night after work, I marched myself next door to Gold's Gym (yes, it's literally next door to my workplace) and presented the coupon for my FREE "7 Days of Fitness and Fun."

Gold's Gym is quite the amazing place. It's intense. And not a little intimidating. There are 3 studios: cardio, spin, and pilates/yoga. There are large, complicated, scary-looking machines. There are weights. There are mirrors. There are large-screen TVs with suggestive music videos. And there are serious fitness people there.

The front desk staff kindly recommended redeeming said coupon on the first day I wanted to work out. I told them that yes, tomorrow would be better, and did I need to schedule an appointment or anything? Nope, just c'mon in. Great!

So I prepared my kit and (thanks to tuning into Bumbling Band commentary on I-forget-which-thread) included a hand towel for wiping down equipment. I forgot flip-flops for the shower, so popped into the drugstore on the way into work. Salubriously, the last pair of summer flip-flops were in MY size. Why do coincidences often feel so contrived?

At lunchtime today, I once again marched over and presented coupon. Got a tour from a nice staff member named Joey. The trial offer included a personal trainer session, so I met one of their trainers (Dave) and have a session scheduled for Friday morning. He seemed nice, a fellow coastal resident like myself. I didn't have a lot of questions yet, but I'm sure I'll get some assembled by Friday. It sounded like he helps people figure out a good program for them, and he's one that specializes in basic newbie training programs, so I'm hopeful it will go well. I'm pretty sure they don't want to scare anyone away.

So far, so good. No one asked where I summered or told me that I could not order the duck. (References from one of my all-time favorite movies, L.A. Story, if you didn't recognize them.)

Stunt 2: The Workout
On to the locker room. Not crowded. No mean girls from Jr. High School up in there. The coast was clear. And yeay, they had some coin-locks! I didn't need to worry about anyone swiping my ever-so-fashionable work clothes. (*guffaw*) I changed and headed onto the floor.

Ohhhhh my gahd. Which of these scary-looking machines could I figure out to do a quick workout? Ah, some recumbent bikes. (I did a long run this morning, so I wasn't in the mood for anything too intense yet, and tomorrow is my strength day.) I hopped on and figured out how to get a 30 minute fat-burning workout started. Nice! I pedaled and pedaled. I liked the heart rate feedback. I think I might have done something wrong, because it said it would increase resistance to help me make my target heart rate, and I felt almost no resistance at all. I felt like I was going to take flight at times...probably would have if the pedals had been attached to rotors. Oh well, I'll ask about that on Friday, I guess.

Stunt 3: Showering in The Locker Room.
I'll save you the TMI body anxiety issue details. It was a little more crowded. And why did the towel hangers get placed so far from the shower stall? Ack! But everyone seemed to be mostly interested in their own business or in Martha and her guest gilding acorns on TV. So, with the chant "I am a growna-- woman...I am a growna-- woman" pounding in my brain, I accomplished the final stunt.

I emerged from the gym (after finding the "Out" turnstile)...heart still galumphing a bit, but standing a little taller, and about 160 calories lighter.

More later....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Weekly Update, 12/2/08 and Post-Holiday Ramble

Overall, I consider last week a success, even though I didn't meet all my goals. Funny, I didn't find Thanksgiving terribly challenging (although I sure found it hard to stop eating bits of the Lacey toffee cookies). It was the days after that were more challenging. We kept pretty busy over the weekend, but Friday? It was hard to not snack. I did pretty well with sticking to lower carb foods, but too often those looked more like nuts and salami vs. carrots and celery. Luckily we were pretty active.

It was also a time of surprises....

Surprise #1: Mr. Handsome-and-Handy went for a run on Saturday. He's been working on losing some weight before starting exercise, due to a knee injury many years ago. But I guess he felt ready, or maybe starting on his birthday felt auspicious, because he announced, "I'm going for a run!" and out he went. He ran, starting cold, the same distance in 15 minutes that it usually takes me about 17 minutes to run...but then his knee went wonky on him and he had to stop. I did tell him that I found doing intervals very effective for me when getting started...*sigh* But it looks like I'll have some competition at the Pumpkin Run next year!

Here's surprise #2: When at our host's place at Thanksgiving, our cookies were in the garage. When I went to fetch them, I had a sudden attack of home gym envy: There was a big ol' punching bag mounted to the ceiling, a weight bench, and weights. I gave the bag a few punches. Should I be disturbed that it felt really satisfying to do that? Then, later that weekend, Mr. Handsome-and-Handy mentioned that our brother and sister-in-law were looking to sell their recumbent exercise bike...were we interested? "Oh, yeah!!!" I exclaimed...then remembered how little space we have in our 960 square foot house. I guess there's always the garage. I think that it would be great, too, for Mr. Handsome-and-Handy and his knee.

Surprise #3: the big burrito. On Saturday evening, I picked up some taqueria food on the way home from the park. Mr. Handsome-and-Handy wasn't feeling so hot by the evening, though; he just picked at his nachos. So I ate most of those (scraped the toppings off most of the chips); my big al pastor burrito (except for about 4 ounces of it) waited for Monday. I plopped it up on the food scale. 19 ounces!!! Oh my. Looks like I wouldn't be knocking off the rest at lunch that day. To think I used to eat the WHOLE THING in one sitting. Wow. So I ended up eating the whole thing...all day long, divided across morning snack, lunch, and dinner. Happily, Mexican food does not spike me, and it was a nice treat. I think next time, though, I'll cut it up and freeze it in portions.

Progress last week:
7-day blood glucose average: 104 (met goal of 120 or lower)
Fasting blood glucose: 6 of the last 7 days were less than 120; average was 110. (missed goal of 100% FBGs below 120, but on average was below 120. No, the exception wasn't the big burrito. I ate a large, just-baked chocolate chip cookie and 1/2 cup of milk on Tuesday evening, which is probably why the a.m. number was up the next morning.)
Weight: -2 pounds (met goal of maintain or lose)
Food: 4 meatless low-fat, 1 fish meal. 6 of 7 meals eaten before 7 p.m., and the one meal was light. (missed fish meal goal by one meal)
Exercise: 30+ minutes cardio 4 days and 15 minutes 1 day, including 3 runs; 2 days of arms and abs strength training (met cardio goals all days except one, and missed by 15 minutes that day; missed arms & abs goal by 1 workout)
Misc: Met sleep goal of 7 or more hours/night all nights except last night. Not that I got to bed earlier, but we did a lot of sleeping in during the holiday.

Goals for this week:
7-day blood glucose average goal and fasting numbers: below 120.
Weight goal: Maintain or lose.
Food goals: 4 or more meatless, low-fat meals and 2 or more fish meals. Lighter eating if dinner is after 7 p.m.
Exercise goals: At least 30 minutes of cardio 5 days; 3 days of arms & abs strength training workouts; do at least 3 runs (weather-permitting).
Misc. goals: 7 or more hours sleep/night AND talk to the nice folks at Gold's Gym about using the one week free pass they stuck on my car.

Happy December!

Wow, it's December 1st already! I can hardly believe it. What's even more amazing? We mailed nearly all of our holiday cards this morning!!! We still have a little shopping and baking and shipping to do, but it's nice to have the cards out of the way.

I'll give the full status tomorrow, but I feel like I did pretty well during the Thanksgiving holiday. I did loosen up on the weighing and measuring, and I ate a bit more than usual, but we were also much more active than years past. I worked out on Thanksgiving morning during a slow half hour, spent much of Thanksgiving on my feet (playing ping-pong with the kids, chasing balls up and down the deck stairs, standing around and mingling), didn't overdo the main dinner (and relished every bite!), did my usual run on Friday, and took the kids on park outings on Saturday and Sunday.

So...Christmas in "one"derland? Looking more possible every day....


I entered the Mary Lou's Weigh Platform Giveaway!

Check out Roni’s Weight Loss Blog for more information.

P.P.S. New month, new photo. No mai tai in hand or lei around the neck...but still lots of great stuff to smile about!