Day 120 – Cut short by carbs

30 04 2010

Yesterday’s 10-mile run fell a mile short due to an experiment. I’ve been trying to find the right energy/blood sugar boost to get me through longer runs. I’m picky about this…don’t want anything that’s going to slosh in my stomach, and eating gummies, Gu, etc. makes me want to hurl. I picked up Dex4 at Target. It’s flavored glucose for diabetics packaged in a small, 2 oz. plastic bottle meant to quickly raise low blood sugar with 15 grams of liquid carbs. Seemed perfect to fit into my running skirt pocket for chugging.

At mile 4, I downed my “Berry Burst Liquid Blast” and kept moving. The taste was tolerable! But a half mile later I felt a bit nauseous. Too fruity… At mile 6 I was running by my house, where I stopped to check my blood sugar on the porch — it was just under 100 — good to go for another 4 miles. By mile 8, cramping knives hit my stomach and had me sprinting home in pain. No way was that 10th mile happening. And so much for my stomach for the rest of the day.

This is why trial and error is key to my long runs (only three left ’til the race). Now I know Dex4 is not an option. Monday’s Denver Post had a relevant article: “You can fuel your body like an athlete: Timed carbohydrates and liquids will keep you running strong”

“‘Athletes who run more than 90 consecutive minutes must continue to refuel the muscles and the brain with carbohydrates,’ says Bouquet. ‘About 30 to 60 grams (100 to 250 calories) of carbohydrates per hour from ‘go-gurts,’ dried fruit, frozen grapes, sport drinks, gels and bars, and even jelly beans will do the trick.’…Fluids are vital during a race as well to prevent dehydration that can drastically affect performance, says Bouquet. She recommends switching back and forth between water and sports drinks — 6 to 10 ounces every 15 minutes — during endurance events to supply fluids as well as essential electrolytes (especially sodium).”

I’m reminded why 9+ miles (more than 90 minutes for me) has always been intimidating. Even non-diabetics have to worry about this as the article describes:

“So it’s important not to ‘bonk’ — the term used to describe what happens when muscle fuel (glycogen) is depleted and a runner ‘hits the wall.’ The brain cannot burn fat for energy, says Bouquet; it needs carbohydrates before and during strenuous events. Otherwise, blood-sugar levels drop drastically and cause disorientation and other symptoms of hypoglycemia.”

My next experiment includes a handheld water bottle called an Amphipod that has a pouch for my glucose tablets (sticking to solid form). Thinking I’ll fill it with Gatorade to sip along the way to give me extra carbs and electrolytes. Will try to grab a few waters at the stations on the course — but I’m fearful of the “stomach sloshing” and needing to pee! Will try out the Amphipod on my planned 12-mile run Sunday — the longest practice run before the actual race on May 16.

To those readers who have done a half marathon or more — please share what you ate and drank along the way. I’m very open to suggestions… My two-mile recovery run today will be a nice break. Hands-free with no food or drink required!


Day 97 – Moved by chefs

7 04 2010

I love the Food section in the Denver Post on Wednesdays almost as much as I love food itself. It’s filled with new restaurant reviews and inspirational recipes I clip and save with best intentions to cook.

Today, I read this Associated Press story: Celeb chefs launch healthy food drive about the momentum Jamie Oliver (see my Day 88 – Revolutionary food post), Rachel Ray and others are creating to get people to eat better for a healthier lifestyle.

Another article: “Quiet chef’s book a commanding work,” ironically, opens with: “Before chefs were entertainers and celebrities, they were craftsmen…” got me thinking about how these new, celebrity chefs-on-a-mission are so brilliant for coming out of the kitchen and onto the screens to influence people.

To change the habits of an overly obese nation, you go to where the people are — to West Virginia if you’re Jamie Oliver. Then you go straight to their living rooms where they’re watching the tube: the mother of the TV dinner, fast food commercials and sedentary evenings often blamed as a root cause for our unhealthy nation.

So if they can’t pull the plug on the flat screens, at least they are creating reality shows about overweight people competing to shred the most pounds and entertaining chefs are cooking real, healthy food. Michael Pollen wrote a book about it (see Day 27 – Rules to eat by post), but I’m guessing a lot more people who needed the information saw it on Oprah versus reading the book.

It’s all fine — use the best means, including the first lady and television, to move a nation to move more and eat less junk! Ironically, I turned on the TV tonight to do Classical Stretch for arms, legs and abs. (I admit I really couldn’t live — or exercise as readily — without the idiot box!)

In other electronic-dependence news (a.k.a. my iPod)…and in honor of “40 days to go ’til my 40th,” I’m compiling a list of 40 favorite songs for race day entertainment to get me through approx. 130 minutes (that’s 10-minute miles for the half marathon if all goes well). If you have a suggestion, please send it my way…

My top 40 song of the day is “Prayin’ for Rain” by Soulhat (a favorite band from Austin that I listened — and ran — to in my Atlanta days). I’m dedicating this song to trading the inches of snow we woke up to in Colorado for spring rain showers! And you can run to this song in rain, snow or shine…

Day 88 – Revolutionary food

30 03 2010

My week started with a “just get-it-done” exercise day — fitting in a Classical Stretch on Monday. I’ve been seeing a lot of Naked Chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution and was surprised to see his reality show that started airing on CBS last Friday is based in Huntington, West Virginia — a few hours from my hometown. He put his first Jamie’s Kitchen in the U.S. there, because it is one of the unhealthiest places in the country. Community members can go there to learn about food and — very importantly — how to COOK. (In defense of WV and my loyal blog-reader friends who live there — not everyone is unhealthy, and I personally grew up eating very fresh vegetables from my mother’s garden and my grandma’s kitchen.)

In the U.K. Jamie’s similar kitchens helped change the eating habits of residents and improve school lunches. I applaud his efforts. And he’s a smart guy for building a brand out of this cause and promoting the fact that unless the government helps out with policies and funding, change won’t be in the picture.

Lots of good info. and recipes on his website — including this quote:
“We just need to rediscover our common sense: if you want to curl up and eat macaroni and cheese every once in a while – that’s alright! Just have a sensible portion next to a fresh salad, and don’t eat a big old helping of chocolate cake afterwards.”

Day 77 – My meat eater

18 03 2010

Hungry tiger at the Denver Zoo

Zach and I went to the zoo this morning while the spring weather is still here and he has his mornings free. Sadly, there is snow blowing in soon… and next year, my little buddy will go to school all day. That is starting to hit me and make me feel bad for not always making the most of our mornings.

A quick trip before kindergarten gave us time to watch the seal and tiger feedings. The zoo keeper (is that the official title?) strategically placed raw meat on logs and rocks around the tiger’s outdoor space. Then the giant was let out on a carnivorous treasure hunt! Zach watched in amazement as the tiger made his way to all the piles of hide-and-seek meat. And then he told me he could be a tiger — and just eat meat all day.

Oh my son… I have been trying so hard to stuff more vegetables and fruit into you lately. Being a tiger must sound like a dream! I can barely get you to eat one color a day, not to mention 5 servings. Even just eating fish like the seal would be better than your meat and carb diet…

Anna, on the opposite side of the garden fence, will eat almost whatever you put in front of her. She would be fine as a vegetarian giraffe — eating greens like a champ. She will snack on raw peppers, carrots, fruit of all colors and will also eat meat like a tiger.

I have made the same meals for both kids for six years. Pink and blue plates with the same choices. Are they really just programmed so differently? I was a picky eater as a kid (maybe still…), so I often wonder — is Zach the oddball, or is Anna?

I think I have to chalk it up to one-out-of-two-ain’t-bad logic and just keep slicing apples, peeling oranges and sneaking squash into the spaghetti sauce. Maybe we can have a treasure hunt for grapes and green beans?

Right now we just need fresh groceries — or we will all have to become carnivores living out of the freezer. The closest grocery store is 8 miles away, which makes it tough to fit into my day. I should have just literally run to the grocery on my afternoon run, but I happily stopped at 6 miles. There is a meeting tonight about a grocery store finally opening in our neighborhood, promising fresh, local produce and organic choices. And lucky for Zach and other tigers in the neighborhood — there will also be a butcher!

Day 60 – My real age

1 03 2010

Day 60! Whew…and another whole month behind me, even if it was a short one… Today my fascination with aging and Internet tools lead me to RealAge site with its confusing slogan: “Live life to the youngest.”

You can take a quiz about your genes, health and lifestyle to see what age your body might as well be. They added a depressing seven years to me — making me 46.8!! I thought perhaps this was the Type 1 diabetes at work, but no — it’s about me not eating 5 fruits and vegetables a day and not knowing my blood pressure, cholesterol or heart rate numbers (I know these are fine, because the doctor checks them every 3 months…I just don’t know the numbers but there isn’t a choice for that on the quiz.).

The site gives you suggestions for diet, fitness and more. For me that includes flossing my teeth more often and more strength training. Yes, some tips are easier to implement than others. Also need to add more vitamins, eat more fish, less red meat and the ever-impossible 5-a-day. Most of my strikes were in the diet category — and I really think I’m a pretty healthy eater relatively speaking.

Just a few tweaks and I should be back to my young, almost 40-year-old self in no time! Luckily I learned that having my dog is keeping me young, along with my silver SUV (50% less likely to be in a serious accident than other colors!).

There are many tools on the site to help you make changes, and I signed up for weekly emails to “Grow 10 years younger in 60 days.” Since I have exactly 76 days ’til my true 40th b’day, this should put me ahead!

All jokes aside, I am amazed at how many sites are out there with quizzes, tools, calculators, plans and trackers. Information overload for anyone trying to learn more about how to live healthier. The three things RealAge put on my personal plan are: 1) relieve stress (with yoga, tai chi, pets, friends, etc.) 2) Eat fish — more omega-3, and 3) Vary veggies to get those 5-a-day.

I’m really already working on two of these…but the fish one is tough. Not a seafood lover at all. Today I did make barley soup with tons of veggies for dinner and did two Classical Stretches with lots of tai chai plies, so maybe I can turn back the clock in time!

Day 54 – Five a day for a smaller dress

23 02 2010

Refocused myself on eating better after a weekend of cheese, cake and other indulgences. I said in early February I would track my daily fruits and vegetables for a week to see how I did — in celebration of heart health month. I knew, in my presumably healthy heart, that I don’t hit the recommended 5 a day very often. And I was right.

I averaged 2.6 a day — ranging from a measly 1 to an impressive 5 — evenly split between fruits and veggies. Breakfast is my weakest meal, with snacks leading in the fruit department and dinner, not surprisingly, winning with veggies. Conclusion: 5 a day is really tough for me on a consistent basis. And I actually LIKE most fruits and veggies.

When you are logging food, I do think you are more conscious of what you are eating. I wanted to write down more, so I probably ate more fruits and veggies than usual. Food logs totally make sense, but as I’ve said before — just seem like so much work! I might try to include sporadically just for the wake-up call.

Along the lines of eating better, I picked up a new book at the bookmobile today called “Cook Yourself Thin Faster” by Leauren Deen. It’s the second book based on a Lifetime Network show I’ve never seen… but the recipes and eating ideas appealed to me. Everyday family food — not a diet book — that you can cook quickly and consume with fewer calories. I try to do this already, making adjustments to some favorite recipes, but I am a big fan of buttery, creamy sauces so thought it was worth checking out. Even has desserts and a pineapple mojito I’m planning to try!

Tonight we tried the easy Oven Fried Chicken with Cinnamon Spice, and I used a Panko crust. Everyone liked it — although Zach added ketchup which is his common disguise for meat. Check out the recipes, book and shows at this link.

The book promises “Delicious ways to drop a dress size.” I’m all over that with a family wedding coming up in May. It has an intro with tips for “Five Big Changes You Can Make.” Number four is — you guessed it — eat lots of fruits and vegetables!

Deen’s tips for getting to 5:
– Keep a fruit bowl on the counter (check)
– Try adding a veggie to everything you’re making (easier for me in the summer when I can go to the local organic farm)
– Try a new veggie from the produce section (I made squash soup with parsnips over the weekend!)
– Try exotic fruits as snacks or in smoothies (kiwi, mangoes, etc.)
– Dried and frozen fruits count (I do love dried cranberries in spinach salad!)

So an ongoing effort that may pay-off with a fabulous, smaller new dress than I have in my closet today…and, oh, Deen adds exercise as number 6 on her “Five Big Changes…” list, so I faithfully did my 3-mile run too!

Day 39 – Can I rewind Monday?

8 02 2010

Some days just get away from you…Monday is my easier/rest day, but even my planned Classical Stretch was cut short. Does 14 minutes of stretching even count? Not unless I can also count the cherries in the Ben & Jerry’s I just ate as one of my five fruit/veggie servings for the day – think not.

All day I thought I could squeeze in the stretch video…emails and phone calls in the early a.m., making class Valentine’s with Zach all morning, cleaning the house so the cleaning lady could clean it… on and on. I thought I could fit it in while the cleaning lady was here, but she brought her husband to help today, and I just couldn’t do that. No one wants to vacuum around a crazy lady doing ballet in her living room!

And a snowy day meant no walking home from school or even a walk for Lottie. I finally hit play on the DVR while feeding my kids prior to basketball and ballet — and then had to take two phone calls. Rewind…pause…start over…I gave up!

And then, after the kids were tucked in tight and I remembered to get the groceries out of the car from earlier this evening… I sat down at the computer to get work done and I realized I can’t exercise while typing, but I can eat Cherry Garcia ice cream. This will not go down as my best fitness or nutrition day ever, so I will relish in yesterday’s long run, enjoy my scoop and work hard to get back out there tomorrow!