Weekend Recap

This weekend was just what I needed. Friday night we hung out at home – got some pizza, watched a movie. Saturday was my awesome run outside, and then we packed up for a staycation at a hotel about an hour out of town.

One lame thing about Alaska is that it’s obviously really expensive to travel out of state. We try to go once a year, but the rest of the time, we try to just explore this amazing place. One of our favorite places to go is Girdwood. We stayed in the hotel, hung out, and generally had a great time. My daughter fell in love with this little ketchup bottle and insisted on sleeping with it. You know, just regular life.

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After we checked out the next day, we took the kids to the park (one of our faves – it’s so unique and has so much personality)…

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Two years ago I would never have said this, but… PLEASE SNOW! Alaska winters are ugly and boring without snow!

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Discovered some ginormous cookies at a nearby bakery….

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P.S. Shouldn’t every food magazine have a picture version of its table of contents? Food Network magazine is the absolute best.

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Anyone have any great Thanksgiving dessert ideas? I always like to step outside of the traditional a little bit…

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Where I Try to Run in the Snow But There Isn’t Any

So I set this goal at the beginning of winter (that’s October around here, folks) that THIS would be the year I started running outside in the snow. It snowed mid-October and I mentally geared up. And then…. nothing….

I’m ready to see if I can stick to my goal, Mother Nature!

Whatever. Saturday my friend and I set out for an easy three-miler. The scenery and good company started the weekend off perfectly. I dread exercising when it’s cold out – but I always come home all pumped up, happy, and ready for the weekend.

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Anyway, you know it’s gonna be a good day when you wake up to this…

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In other workout news from the week, Dylan McKay and I had a good Tone It Up workout on Wednesday. He was pretty proud of me, which meant a lot, coming from him.

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Abstainers versus Moderators

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I recently read this article by Gretchen Rubin on Moderators and Abstainers, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot in relationship to my health and goals, namely to give up candy. Basically, the gist of the article is that you naturally fall into one category or the other when trying to break a habit. Moderators thrive on being able to have just a little bit of something – a “cheat meal” during the week, a day off from tracking food, etc. Abstainers, on the other hand, find it easier to just cut something out of their lives altogether and not open the door for “just a little.”

I was thinking about candy, and why I’m doing so badly on my goal to stop eating it, and I think it has a lot to do with trying to be an Abstainer when really I am totally a Moderator. Basically what happens is that after lunch, I really want something sweet. I try to chew gum, but all afternoon I’m thinking about candy. Finally I can’t take it anymore, and my thought process goes like this: “Okay, that’s it. I am having some candy… (10 minutes later)… Well, I already ruined my “no candy” goal for today, might as well have just one more…. (10 minutes later)… And actually, I’m back on the wagon tomorrow, so I should have a few more pieces today, since I won’t have any tomorrow, or the next day, or the next… In fact, this is probably the last time I’ll have candy for a few more weeks, so I should probably eat a lot…” And then before I know it, my desk is littered with candy wrappers. *sigh*

I thought about other fitness and nutrition goals with which I have had more success. I recently gave up soda, which was HUGE for me. But I didn’t give it up completely. I still have a soda about once every week or two, I just don’t drink it daily or for fun. But if I’m out for lunch or dinner and I want something other than water, it’s not a big deal. I get a soda. I think if I had tried to give up soda completely, I would have absolutely failed. But for me, leaving the door open a little bit has been the key. I don’t have to face no soda ever for the rest of my life, just not having soda every time I go out to lunch, or every Saturday, or every afternoon.

So, obviously I’m a Moderator. I need to know that the foods and drinks I love are still going to be a part of my life. :) In regards to candy, let’s start at the beginning. What I really want is a piece of candy after lunch. One piece of candy is usually fewer than 100 calories. Really not a big deal. So my new goal is to do only that – one piece of candy after lunch.

And so far, so good. Last night we had the kids go through their candy to keep some and donate the rest, and there was a giant bowl of candy in the middle of the table. My first inclination was to grab several pieces since it was about to get donated. But instead, I made a little baggie to take to school to eat for my daily after-lunch treat. Major victory. :)

Day Two and counting…

Anyone else a Moderator?

Linking up with Jill Conyers at JillConyers.com and Jessica Joy at TheFitSwitch.org for The Fit Dish!

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Update on the Candy Challenge

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About a month ago, I decided I was going to try to give up candy for a few weeks going into Halloween. Here’s an update: I failed. Many times. Like, daily. Several times I made it for two days in a row. But that’s it.

This week I was determined to make it three days: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I had identified my biggest stumbling block, which is my urge to have a little something sweet after lunch every day. I came up with a substitute (Craisins). I made my goal realistic, and focused on cutting candy only, not all sweets (baby steps). Day One – did great. Day Two – did great. Day Three – had a pre-existing date for frozen yogurt with some friends. I came up with a plan. I’d get vanilla yogurt with strawberry sauce, granola, and some nuts. Delicious and candy-free.

So here’s how it went down. I walk into the yogurt place, and they don’t have strawberry sauce. Hmmmm… going to think of a back-up. Ooooooh, root beer float flavor? Yummy! Yep, that’s what I’m getting. Now what would be good on this? Heath bars? Yep! Oreos? Yep! Butterfinger bits? Yep! ….. pay for yogurt …. eat entire thing ….. Oh. Whoops. I am not supposed to be eating candy.

Yep. Just totally and completely forgot – so mesmerized was I by the root beer float froyo flavor. Sigh.

The good news is that I had Halloween candy tonight and it didn’t even taste that great to me. So…. back on the wagon tomorrow. Day One, anybody?

Posted in Goals, Whoops | Tagged , | 2 Comments

A Wintry Walk

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We had our first snowfall on Monday. :( It’s early, even for Alaska. Usually we don’t have snow on the ground that sticks until around Halloween. You can see the frost on the ground and the snow in the mountains. Here we go. Just a short, teensy seven months more of winter.

Tonight a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go on a walk on one of my favorite trails and I jumped at the chance. It couldn’t have been more perfect weather – sunny and about 40 degrees. Well, I mean, sunny and 70 degrees is obviously better, but we have to be realistic.

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We talked running. We talked eating. We talked motivation. We talked life. Why is it that there’s something so different and fulfilling about a long talk with a girlfriend? A few miles later we were back where we started, which is one of my favorite views in the world. Every time I’m down here I think I’m the luckiest.

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Love. Except the part on the bottom that is the water starting to freeze. But I love the rest.

 

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Studs and Snow

So I’ve been feeling a little bit aimless lately in my workouts. I thought about registering for a 4K fun run this Saturday, but $30 seemed kind of pricey for a run that involved stopping to trick-or-treat every kilometer. I love candy and all, but if I’m just going out for a 2.5 mile recreational run, I could do that in my neighborhood, you know? Plus, in Alaska, weather in late October is always sort of a wild card.

As I’m agonizing over this decision to my husband, he can’t even wrap his mind around why I’m considering the 4K, which makes me really stop and think. Why am I even considering it? And I finally realize it’s because I want a goal. I want something to work towards, even if it’s a little race. And I get this little idea… the Turkey Trot.

When we lived in San Diego, our family did a 5K every Thanksgiving. It was a wonderful holiday tradition, and just a great way to start our Thanksgiving day. But since we’ve moved to Alaska, I’ve been too chicken to do a Thanksgiving run. Or really any run in the snow.

Many Alaskans stud their running shoes to make it easier to run without slipping and sliding. But here I am in my fifth winter, and even though I’ve been meaning to stud my shoes and run outside every year, I’ve never done it. So this is the year. The Turkey Trot is only a 5K, so the distance should be super doable, even though I haven’t been running a ton, and it actually ends inside (?!?), so I won’t instantaneously freeze upon finishing. The added challenge of getting me out there and running in the snow, getting my shoes studded, finding (maybe buying!!) an outfit for outdoor winter running, etc. should make it a fun new goal.

Runners in snowy climates – outdoors or indoors?

photo credit
Posted in Alaska Life, Goals, Winter | 2 Comments

Work Wins

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Good morning from Alaska! This was my view from my backyard this morning. Love it.

This week I squeezed in a couple of workouts, and dropped a couple of workouts. As a teacher, the end of the quarter is a crazy busy time, and I had to give myself a break. I was able to get about six hours of work in on Saturday, which felt bittersweet. I was so happy to get it out of the way so that next week can feel more relaxed, but it’s hard to give up that time on Saturdays. I truly think that flexibility is the key to balancing work, exercise, and parenthood though. As much as I would love to get all my workouts in, the truth is that sometimes other things have to take priority, and this was one of those weeks. I was getting crazed and stressed, and decided to drop a few morning workouts, get some additional sleep, and see if I could return to normal and get a grip on my workload.

I did make time on Saturday to start our parent/kid dates again. This little cutie asked me if we could go to Barnes & Noble and read books in the cafe. She knows the way to my heart, for sure. How could I say no to that?

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This week in workouts:
*I tried walking on an incline at the gym for the first time. Way harder than I thought it would be.
*Did a couple of Tone It Up videos at home before work. I am telling you, those videos are deceptive. They don’t feel so bad while I’m doing them, and then I’m sore for DAYS. I did this one on Thursday, and I am still sore. For reals.

*On Friday night my kids wanted to go to the park. They’d had the day off of school and hung out at home all day, so they had a little bit of cabin fever. We bundled up (getting pretty cold here already) and went to a nearby school. We played tag as the sun was setting, and even though I’d been reluctant to take them, and super reluctant to play tag, I had so much fun. I could barely run since my legs were so sore from the dumb Tone It Up video, so the kids and I were pretty evenly matched in tag.

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This coming week I’m being featured on the Moms Make It Work series – stay tuned!

Posted in Family Fitness Fun, Finding the Time, Week in Review | Leave a comment

Back in the Saddle

I’ve been lacking in motivation lately. I had some nagging foot/Achilles/heel/everything issues over the summer, so I’ve been on a break from running. It’s been too rainy and cold for me to do much outside, and no snow for skiing yet, so I’ve just been in a funk. I’ve been doing the bike at the gym and strength training videos at home and I am BORED.

Friday I decided it was time to start running again, and boy did it feel good. I tell people all the time that I don’t actually like running all that much, I just like how it burns calories so efficiently so I can eat more, but I guess I was wrong. My body and my spirit both missed running, and I didn’t realize that until I was back to it. I did 2.5 miles on Friday and 4 on Saturday, and they both felt soooo good. I love you, running.

One exciting event over the weekend is that I decided as a reward for working out regularly for a few years now (something I had previously struggled with for many years), I would buy myself a cute new storage container for my running clothes. I went from this broken down old cardboard box….

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… to this cute new basket. Definite upgrade – makes me happy each time I look at it.

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Tonight we went over to my aunt’s to pick crabapples. It’s a yearly tradition that we raid her tree and then cozy up inside for hot chocolate, and then my husband makes apple butter and apple jam which we then share with my aunt. This year it actually wasn’t horribly cold, and we haven’t had a cold freeze yet so the apples were in great shape. My kids LOVE picking the apples (and pelting each other), and I love watching them hang out with my aunt, uncle, and grandma. Family is the best.

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Parting thought for the week – trying to decide whether to go with a personal trainer or swimming lessons to shake up my workout routine a little. Anyone had experience with either one?

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5 Ways Night Owls Can Convert to Morning Workouts!

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I know what you’re thinking, because I’ve thought it too. “Oh, maybe she can work out in the morning, but I could never do that. I’m a night person.” Well, my friends, I am here to tell you it is possible.

Last year I was so frustrated with fitting in my workouts. After being on my feet all day, I would absolutely DREAD putting on my running shoes and heading to the gym after my kids were in bed. There were constant conflict with school activities, events with friends, working late, etc. I had been debating the idea of working out in the mornings before work for several years, but always nixed the idea because I love those late night hours so much, and I just cannot seem to get myself to bed before midnight.

Finally I turned to my trusty decision-making logic of comparing myself to other people. Whenever I come to something I don’t think I can do, I ask myself if other people do it, and if so, how. So I asked myself, “Do other Night People work out in the mornings?” Of course the answer is yes. “So how do they do it?” And the answer, sadly, was just sheer willpower.

I started my morning workouts one year ago. My best workout buddy (my aunt) and I decided to work out 4 mornings a week, two days of cardio, and two days of strength training. I knew I would HATE getting up in the morning. I knew I would be exhausted all day. I knew it would be torture to drag myself out into the freezing, winter mornings when I could be sleeping. And did that happen? Of course – sometimes. But to my amazement, I also came to love my morning workouts. Me. The person who absolutely hates starting my day before 8am, and would prefer to get up at 10am if I had my way. If I could do morning workouts, you can do morning workouts.

So here are my top 5 reasons why I am now a complete convert to morning workouts. Next week I’ll share some of my best tips for maintaining the habit.

1. There are no conflicts.
In the hour before you normally wake up, you do not have any other obligations. Whereas workouts during the day or evening can be derailed by any number of legitimate distractions, you most likely haven’t scheduled anything while you’re supposed to be sleeping. If you eliminate “I’m tired” as an excuse, there really aren’t too many others at that hour.

2. Better sleep.
I have always had a hard time putting myself to bed at night. I cherish the night hours, and even though I’m exhausted, I have a hard time actually going to bed before midnight. When I get up at 6am and exercise, however, I really have no choice. My eyes are closing by 10:30 at the latest, whether I want them to or not, and I end up getting a full, restful night’s sleep every night.

3. More energy during the day.
Really. While sleeping from midnight to 7:30 and regularly drinking caffeinated soda, I was always exhausted. For some reason, just shifting my sleep to 10:30-6 (and mostly drinking water), has helped me to feel so much more awake and energetic during the day.

4. It’s precious alone time.
While I do cherish my family, from time to time I get overwhelmed and, honestly, annoyed by having another body next to me from sunup to sundown. Someone wants to follow me into the bathroom. Someone wants to look over my shoulder when I’m on the computer. One brave soul even wants to follow me upstairs at night and sleep next to me! But you know when NO ONE wants to touch me or talk to me? 6am, baby. Just me, in a quiet house. Me, getting ready in silence. Me, alone with my thoughts and able to actually complete them. It’s sacred.

5. It’s easier to make healthy choices throughout the day.
When I work out in the mornings, it’s easier for me to keep my fitness goals in mind throughout the day. I’ve already taken the first step and worked out, and it makes me want to stick with my goals the rest of the day. This actually only works sometimes. But every little bit helps. :)

I loved this quote from Michelle Obama in an article I read:

“I just started thinking, if I had to get up to go to work, I’d get up and go to work,”Michelle said in an interview for O Magazine in 2009. “If I had to get up to take care of my kids, I’d get up to do that. But when it comes to yourself, then it’s suddenly, ‘Oh, I can’t get up at 4:30.’ So I had to change that. If I don’t exercise, I won’t feel good. I’ll get depressed.”

So take it from Michelle, and take it from me. YOU CAN DO IT. Seriously. If I can, then you can. Give mornings a try.

Posted in Finding the Time | 2 Comments

Product Review: Jillian Michaels Body Revolution vs. Insanity

This post was originally written on my other blog, Simply Clean Living. However, I thought it would be more useful for this audience, so I’m posting it over here as well!

I know that many of us (myself included), make fitness-related goals around this time of year! I wanted to share a review for a product I’ve been using, Jillian Michaels Body Revolution, and compare it to the Insanity workout, which we did last year. This post was in no way sponsored by either company – I just wanted to share my experiences!

Images Via

Background

Body Revolution and Insanity are both multi-disk programs designed to last several months, which focus mainly on strength training, but also some cardio. Body Revolution is currently on Amazon for $90, and comes with 15 disks, while Insanity is $145 for 10 disks, and both have 4.5 star ratings on Amazon. They each come with an eating plan, which I did not follow for either program, so I won’t comment on that part here. I believe both are designed for people who already have a moderate level of fitness and want to focus on toning – I would not consider either of these to be programs for beginners. If you’re looking for a good beginner’s program, I would highly recommend Jillian Michaels’ 30-Day Shred.

Difficulty Level

Body Revolution starts out easy, and gets progressively more difficult. In fact, the first few DVDs of Body Revolution seemed downright simple. It wasn’t until the day after when I could feel the burn! It was really easy for me to get in a routine and stay motivated when the initial routines weren’t too challenging, but felt effective at the same time. Every two weeks you move up a level and the exercises get more difficult. I am currently on disks 9 & 10 and the workouts are HARD.

Insanity had me struggling from Day 1. In fact, my daughter walked in while my husband and I were suffering through the first day and remarked, “Um, I think this workout might be too hard for you guys.” I work out fairly regularly, and consider myself to be in pretty good shape, so I thought I would be fine. For me, Insanity was hard to stick with because it was so difficult, and I ended up giving up eventually. I think I lasted about 4 weeks.

Length

Body Revolution – 30 minutes each

Insanity – 30-80 minutes each

Results and Final Opinions

While the built-in fitness test with Insanity helped prove that I was getting more and more fit, I didn’t really stick with it long enough to see noticeable results. With Body Revolution, I did not see a significant amount of weight loss. Part of this, I believe, was due to the fact that I was not adjusting my eating in an attempt to lose weight, and part of it was because I was gaining muscle mass. However, I did take measurements before I started the program, and a month into it, and I had lost a cumulative FIVE inches off my thighs, hips, and waist! I could also see noticeable definition in my arms, stomach, and booty.

While I know there are many people who are true devotees to Insanity and other Beachbody products, to me the time commitment and intensity level did not suit my lifestyle. On the other hand, with a quick 30 minutes at a time and so many DVDs to choose from, I can see myself continuing to use the Body Revolution videos for many years to come.

Bottom Line

Bite the bullet – the $100 for Body Revolution is totally worth it!

Posted in Product Review, Strength | Leave a comment