Day 109-110 – Stepping it up after 40

20 04 2010

Depressing news story from yesterday’s Denver Post “Fitness” section — typically full of more encouraging info.

“Women must step it up as they age: What keeps the weight off at 40 isn’t enough later” I’ll let you read it, but the gist is that Harvard research suggests “women with a body mass index less than 25 (which is the acceptable BMI) needed 60 minutes of daily moderate activity to ward off weight gain.”

Nice news for a Monday morning! This is 4.5 hours/week more than the current CDC recommendation (30 minutes, 5 days/week)…just to “ward off” pounds, not lose them.

Good news for runners, though: “The report concluded that 30 minutes of daily intense activity such as running would keep women from gaining weight as they age.” Still…daily?

So I was motivated to run yesterday — just shy of 30 minutes. Today, a late night Classical Stretch. Miranda said we were doing “fake Tai Chi” moves. And, apparently, not enough of them to keep me from gaining weight after my 40th birthday next month. Guess I’ll have to do 3 Classical Strech programs in a row.

A few women in the article did not take the findings well. One said:

“I think an hour a day is a lot to ask people to do. People are busy. It’s not realistic and it’s going to turn people off.”

She’s right…but no one is asking anyone for more of their time, just sharing the unpleasant news that exercise is hard work that can’t be picked up at a convenience store. We do manage to find hours for TV shows, phone calls, reading the Sunday paper — things we enjoy. Do we give up these daily mental breaks in the name of better longterm health? Oh – aging is full of harsh realities!


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 74 – Doctor’s numerical orders

16 03 2010

Every three months I visit the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes, where they have an amazing adult clinic for Type 1 diabetes. The BDC is part of the University of Colorado and conducts important Type 1 diabetes research and clinical trials. I am so lucky to live in close proximity to their dedicated team of doctors, nurses and researchers. My doctor is especially fantastic and has seen me through 10 years and two pregnancies. He is one of the few people I will listen to without question or argument.

I was excited for Monday’s appointment because when I’ve been training for a run or a tri in the past, my numbers are usually the most impressive. My A1C level — the bellweather for diabetics that measures blood glucose average across the past three months — is usually between 6 and 7%, which is considered “excellent” and the goal for Type 1 diabetics. “Normal” people who don’t have diabetes will have a 4-6% reading.

I was expecting to come in the low 6 range today — after a 7.1 in December and then 74 days of exercise in a row on this daily exercise mission designed, in part, to keep my A1C down. I was disappointed to report a 6.9%.

And I was the SAME weight as mid-December (which was before the 5 holiday pounds came and went). That is the other part of my mission — to lose these last 5 pounds that want to follow me into my 40s.

After long discussions with the doc about my frustrations, he made me realize how hard I was being on myself — saying he has dozens of patients who would be celebrating if they could walk in with a 6.9% A1C. Looking at weight records over the past 10 years, we could see I weigh the exact SAME as I did 10 years ago — pre-pregnancies, when I also wanted to lose these 5 pounds. My lowest weight in 2005 matches my current driver’s license weight and, therefore, became the goal for me. I have to renew that license by my birthday (exactly two months away), so I would love to finally get back to that weight and stay there with daily exercise and eating right.

The moral of the story is that I have been too focused on the numbers and need to look at results in perspective. My doctor confirmed my BMI is fine and a better measure — along with fitting into your favorite size pants and feeling good — than the number on the scale. He reminded me that few of us over 30 are the same weight we were in our 20s, and that muscle weighs more than fat and increases when you are training. As a diabetic who spends each and every day analyzing blood sugar readings and counting carbs, it is good to have permission to ignore some numbers now and then in the name of the bigger health picture.

But he understands my passion is very willing to help me too. We made some adjustments to bring that 6.9 A1C down to a lower 6, and discussed ways to safely lose those 5 pounds as my mileage increases by keeping calories the same. This, of course, requires the dreaded food log I came home with and ensuring I’m not letting my blood glucose get too low.

I am going to try the log to see what calories I am taking in and using up. Not because I’m obsessed with dieting or the scale (I don’t even own a reliable scale.) But because I am just not that far from my ideal weight — a healthy number and a reachable payoff for this project. After my appointment, I did two 20-minute Classical Stretch sessions on the television beach in Mexico to loosen up from Sunday’s long run.

Day 40 – Flexibility

9 02 2010

In 40 days, I’ve logged more than 6.5 hours of Classical Stretch and Pilates. Not really an impressive number by most standards, but a huge improvement over zero.

Each time I stretch I think of how much flexibility I’ve lost over the years — recalling high school days when I could do all the splits and kick like a Rockette. I’ve been reading the Runner’s Body, and learning lots of interesting tidbits about how muscles work and the importance of remaining flexible — particularly hips for runners which tighten when you run to balance your leg movements.

I’m going to try hard to work in Classical Stretch more often — even on running days. But that brings me to the other kind of flexibility that is difficult right now…being adaptable. Work meetings three afternoons this week are taking up my running/exercise time. Working around my husband’s schedule, random meetings, kids’ day off, Zach’s birthday and misc. commitments is forcing me to improve my flexibility without losing ground in my half-marathon plan.

I found myself doing the FIRM “cardio overdrive” in the living room at 6 a.m. to replace my 2 mile run today. Never ever would have done this in 2009. But there was absolutely no time in the rest of the day to even get to the Rec center for a treadmill run. Does this really count? Probably not as an equal replacement, but still better than nothing at all.

And after picking up cases of Girl Scout cookies today, better than nothing has to do!

Day 35 – Beat from boot camp

4 02 2010

Aaaarrrgh – so tired from boot camp tonight after a long day. It’s good for me, it’s good for me…I repeated with every push up. The two best parts of my day were getting my new running shoes from the UPS man and wearing work pants! My shoes are so clean and springy – gotta love that new shoe smell! I will need to rally to break them in for my 5-mile run tomorrow.

And the good pants news… As a freelance writer, I only have face-to-face meetings 6 or 7 times a year. So I’m usually working at home in PJs, yoga pants or jeans with holes. I had a lunch meeting today – the first meeting this year – so I had to pull out a pair of black, presentable pants. I have owned most pants in my wardrobe for many many years (too many to admit), and they have seen me through many phases of fitness — pre- and post-babies included.

I was thrilled to find that instead of sucking in my breath to close the button, there was a droop at my waist! The reward for a month of exercise, when I don’t think I’ve shed many pounds, but I’ve clearly changed my post-holiday shape.

The Classical Stretch goddess Miranda talks about this a lot – slimming muscles and re-shaping even if you’re not trying to lose weight. I’m not quite jumping into a bikini, but it feels like progress — enough to get me to boot camp anyway. And maybe inspiration to finally spring for some new black pants!

Day 32 – Happy Heart Health Month

1 02 2010

Turns out February, with all of it’s heart-adorned decorations, is annually declared as American Heart Month by the President. A good thing when, according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and the greatest health threat to women in the United States. Each year cardiovascular disease accounts for one in three women’s deaths.

My dad survived a heart attack at age 49. His father died of one at age 48. Neither of them were overweight, and they ate a generally healthy diet – especially my dad who has never been a smoker. With my gene pool and gender against me, I am conscious of heart health, and have had special scans as part of diabetes research studies through my endocrinologist. My cholesterol and blood pressure are fantastic…but given my family history I’ve always been concerned about what might change in my 40s. Yet another reason for this daily exercise project! (Did Classical Stretch for core and hips today on my rest day from running…)

Daily exercise is, of course, high on the list for heart health, along with the diet changes that I’m trying to focus on — more fiber, less fat. Here are the top changes I’ve made in the last month:

1) Oatmeal for breakfast (steel-cut, real deal)
2) Agave nectar (to sweeten tea, oatmeal, etc.)
3) Less red meat (try for once per week max)
4) More fruit, less processed carbs for snacks (apples vs. crackers)
5) More skim milk (2-3 glasses a day vs. 0-1)

These changes made my list because I like these foods. I’m not trying to make myself eat raw carrots and rice cakes, because that is a huge struggle for me. But eating more food that you actually like — and trimming some things out — doesn’t seem so bad.

When I was 12 and diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, the doctor and nutritionist made me keep food logs to be sure my daily insulin dose was correct. You had to count “exchanges” for each meal based on portions – long before nutrition labels came along. This made a teenage food log rebel out of me! Adding my insulin pump in my 20s meant I could eat just about anything, as long as I calculated the carbohydrates pretty closely. But no more logs!

Looking at the American Heart Association site, I actually found this fruit and veggie log that I am going to try for a week. I especially love fruit and serve vegetables most days for dinner. (Confession: in tonight’s rush to kids’ basketball and ballet, we had tacos, and I didn’t even have time to add the lettuce or tomato…) But 5 a day? Am I getting that recommended amount? I doubt it… I haven’t tracked it in more than 20 years. So in the name of research experiments and Heart Month I’m going to – at least for this week.

Day 31 – The exercise treasure box

31 01 2010

My January prize

I wrote yesterday about not needing a star chart like my kids have had over the years for everything from using the potty, brushing teeth and cleaning their rooms… But then on today’s 6-mile run I thought — why not reward myself? If, like Zach’s kindergarten treasure box, there is a little incentive each month, doesn’t that just make it more fun to succeed? Maybe it will be a dinner out with my husband or a new skirt… For January — realizing how many miles I’ve put on my current running shoes — I let myself order a new pair of “go fasters” to see me through this half-marathon.

Shoes are supposed to last about 300 miles, and (according to my Buckeye Training log) I’ve run 62.1 in January on my trusted Brooks Adrenalines that have been with me since last spring. Time for a new pair before these are toast and I start feeling pain. I found my size on sale at Sierra Trading Post for almost half off too! Should have them by Tuesday…

So one month down – 11 more to go is a fantastic milestone. I am so glad to be heading out of January – the long, cold month with its short days and lack of fun holidays has never been my favorite. I’ve been lucky that we’ve had relatively warm weather with no real snow since December.

I have also taken advantage of slower work this month, and that needs to change. As a writer, I get paid by the hour for what I do. I’m lucky enough to make my own hours and have an extremely flexible schedule that allows me to run in the middle of the day and write at night if it suits me.

The last day of the month is always a bit of a scramble to squeeze in some more hours and wrap-up as many projects as possible. So today, running 6 miles sure sounded fun compared to writing a customer newsletter about manufacturing software tools. I will have to put in more work time the next few months, so we’ll see what that does to my exercise plan. The treasure box ante may need to be upped!