Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sometimes it's the little things ...

It was one of those days today. I hit the ground running and had high hopes and a plan of attack for my ever-growing mountain of responsibility ... I had a GREAT workout to start my day ... had a great lunch packed that I made overnight in the crockpot, packed my iPod full of Podcasts and was ready to dig in ...

And then unexpected pleasures that are I.T. Where things go wrong and every phone call I took led to a solution that unveiled new problems and it spiraled and spiraled ... I was on the verge of stress hyperventilation multiple times today ... and I actually started to tackle my planned tasks at 5:30 pm today. UGH.

But I still had a few moments of pleasure:

There are some minor grammar errors on an application on our website and we received an email SCHOOLING us on needing to check our grammar. But of course, the email had a spelling error/typo. *sigh* is it wrong that I receive pleasure from someone failing while showing such attitude? I don't care if it is.

This email from my friend Brian (Hi CheapBlueGuitar!):
(I know it's silly - it really made me giggle)

And an amazing Paleo dinner leftover from last night: Sun Dried Tomato Baked Chicken with Turkey Bacon Brussel Sprouts (Thanks Every Day Paleo!) with a glass of sparkly water made in my Soda Stream.

Life is still good - and tomorrow. Tomorrow, I'm going to kill it. (I have to!)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Paleo is doin its thang - scale headed DOWN!

I'm happy to report that on Day 28, I have stepped on the scale and I'm down 7 pounds from where I started 28 days ago -- woo hoo to that!! Now I'm at the number where I needed to lose weight before - lol. But still - progress. I see progress.

I'm in the range where I always seem to stall in the past  but I'm going to continue to push forward with this Paleo clean eating and see where it takes me! It's not stopping when I hit my 30 days!

I feel good. I feel in control in this area of my life and that's a good start.

MAYBE though I have to give some weight loss credit to this week's hair chop ...

Here's me last weekend making a maniacal joker face hanging out with my friend Brian. With my hair:

Here's me Wednesday night after the big chop and after what seemed like hours of blow drying and tons of product (and I couldn't see through my hair driving home):

And here's the normal sweaty face new me without all the salon-stylin':

I like it - pretty easy to manage and FAST to wash! The simplification of life begins?

Gettin' Creative with my Meat

(Did that make you giggle like it did me?) Doing this whole Paleo thing (Day 28!!) means a lot of meat and veggies. I've been experimenting with different things to mix it up a bit. Friday I bought some poblano pepper pork wheels from Fresh n Easy. I think pork probably isn't my best choice over lean chicken or turkey but sometimes I want a change ... they looked weird. Kind of like a cow patty.

Someone at a party told me the other night how easy it was to grill veggies (specifically eggplant) on the George Foreman grill and since I'm also looking to mix it up in the veggie department, I tried that as well. A half of zucchini (quartered) and some eggplant slices, rolled in some olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt on the George Foreman grill. Super simple - super yummy!

The cow patty review? Decent but not as spicy or as tasty as the label implied. I probably won't go back to get some more. But a pretty hearty lunch! (Obviously food photography isn't my specialty!)

Admission: while I haven't completed my 30-day "hard core paleo" challenge, I decided to make Saturday night a cheat night. The plan wasn't to go crazy with my cheat but to venture off plan just a titch. I won tickets to the Diamondbacks game at the TGIFriday's tables. We got these awesome seats and $90 in food & drink for the table! A pretty sweet win! The planned cheat? Beer. Beer at the ballpark - come on, I had to!!

I pre-studied the menu online so I would be prepared with healthy food choices. I felt confident I could go with minimal damage to my plan. Small snag - they post their menu online for the ballpark but during game time, they feature a smaller menu -- with none of my choices I had planned for. Then my table mates started talking appetizers and NONE were healthy. It sounded like I was going to have a plate of loaded potato skins in front of me ... uh oh. But after thinking about our $90, and the mystery price of the cocktails (Friday's also changes the prices of their drinks during game time to a higher cost and so the menu has no prices and when you ASK the price the waitress says "about $5.75" in a guessing voice ...), we opted to each get our own dinners and no apps. After some hemming and hawing, I came up with a turkey burger, no bun, avocado and a small side salad in place of the fries. Victory! Great game (Diamondbacks win!), great company and minimal damage and guilt. Happy Amy.

(Little whine to TGIFriday's - I get the limited menu so you can pump out food for the larger crowd in a quick time, but the mystery drink prices? Do you really have to jack those prices up too? Also, I ordered a soda water - most places treat it like a water because it is water with bubbles and a button right next to water on their soda fountain - they charged $3.88 for one glass of soda water. Lame.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Running with purpose

I found out today that a woman on our city's police force passed away yesterday of breast cancer. She was young. Too young. She was diagnosed in July of 2010 and I think at some point the doctors had given her a month to live, but she passed their date and came back to work while continuing to fight for her life.

This spring her fellow officers put together a 5k to raise money for her mounting medical costs. She participated in the 5k and her family flew out to participate. You could feel all the emotions as they spoke to the crowd - hope for the future, gratitude for being there that day, gratitude for the support of friends ... it was a good day. I ran in the 5k and was happy to be a small part of this event. While I didn't really know her, I heard great things -- and was very saddened to hear the news today. My heart goes out to her friends and family.

I've been struggling with my training this year and the Arizona heat has really gotten to me. Tomorrow my plan is to run 14 (or maybe 12) miles. It's supposed to be 113 degrees. I've been kind of dreading it. And then I thought of Julee. I CAN run tomorrow. So it will be a little hot, so I'll be a lot tired, so what. I need to remember to be grateful that I am healthy enough to do it - and to embrace every moment. It may be a somewhat corny saying but my mantra tomorrow is: Today is a gift, that's why it's called the present.

Have a blessed day - no matter what you do!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy FOUND Day to Mehmet

One year ago today I was up in Flagstaff hiking Mount Humphreys with some friends. It's a difficult hike - mostly due to elevation - and we were all tired. We drove home in the pouring rain and I went into my house with the top priorities of taking a shower and getting a good night's sleep. It was really raining with a major thunder & lightening show. As I walked through the living room, I heard the dog across the street bark and I could tell - he was barking at another dog.

I groaned, paused a few seconds and thought to myself: "If I don't look outside the window, I don't have to do anything." You see, I know that bark because since I moved into my house about 6 years ago, I've had over 10 dogs end up on my front lawn. Somehow they just seem to know this is where to go to get help!

Needless to say, I looked out the window and there was a little black blur streaking through the rain and flashes of lightening. Two plus hours of running through rain, sitting on a curb while he hid under a parked car (I'm in running gear and flip flops and freezing), I eventually called my neighbor to come help. She brought her car and we used her trunk liner to slide him out, I caught him in a blanket and this little guy came home with me:

Polly & Anna have had issues in the past with other dogs and so I never intended to keep him. I put his crate in my bedroom bathroom, put up a baby gate and put a sheet over it so he wouldn't have to spend the night with two strange dogs peering in at him. But Anna moved the curtain and spent the entire night looking over him.

I took him into a vet the next day - no chip. I spent a week putting him on every website I could think of and then pasted posters throughout the park. I drove to every apartment complex and condo complex up and down the Greenbelt (the park I live off of). Nothing. No one called. It was clear he needed a new home. I started that search - he went on two play dates for potential homes. The first one was another puppy his size and they fought violently. Then we went to another home who already had 5 other little dogs and he cowered in my armpit the whole time and I cried the entire time. He had already worked his way into my heart. He chose us as his new family.

His first bath:

His first haircut:

Polly and Mehmet - buddies at last!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ch-Ch-Ch-CHIA! Energy for you!

I recently discovered chia seeds and learned how GOOD they are for you (more antioxidants than a cup of blueberries). Before I went Paleo and when I had vowed to eat a regular breakfast that was NOT a Starbucks breakfast sandwich, I was making an overnight oats recipe which included chia seeds. I didn't know what ingredient was working for me - the oats, the banana or the chia seeds - but something was good about that combo and if I could get some down on race day, seemed to really sustain me.

Now that I'm off the oatmeal, I had sort of let the bag of chia seeds just sit there. But then my friend Mandi with an I sent me an article by Blogger Ironmom that talked about all the artificial ingredients otherwise healthy runners consume each year in energy gels and Gu's and snacks. I hadn't thought about that yet - what was I going to eat while doing my long training runs? I've only recently tried and become a fan of coconut water, which replaced my post-run Gatorade. (It took a few times and a heat exhaustion moment before I became a fan, but now I'm cuckoo for coconut!)

The article mentioned making your own energy gel out of chia seeds and coconut water. There wasn't a recipe, so I just sort of made it up and added a dash of natural agave nectar for a sweetener. (I've since read a recipe that says 1 part chia seeds to 9 parts water). You can use normal water as well, I chose the coconut for the extra potassium and electrolytes. I mixed it in a small tupperware and set it in the fridge overnight and then in the morning, I spooned it into a baggie to carry in my Camelback.

It's not the most appetizing-looking concoction -- it kind of looks like caviar. And eating some from a baggy is not as convenient as tearing open an energy gel and sucking it down. But if you don't stare at it and spend a lot of time thinking about the things it looks like and whether that's gross or not ... it's not gross. I'm kind of a conceptual eater so if my mind wanders I can easily gross myself into gagging. This did not happen this weekend. I liked it!

If I keep this up, I think I'll buy some refillable tubes like this: http://www.coghlanscampinggear.com/coplsqfotu.html

Did it work? I'm not sure. I only tried a little bit and quite frankly, I've had such a hard time lately with energy on my runs, I don't think I would notice if this gave me a boost or not. I plan to make more and give it a solid "go" on my next long run. I think my body is actually starting to turn around a bit and embrace this Paleo thing and so maybe I can feel some of that energy people who go Paleo keep talking about!

Health benefits of chia seeds:

  • Good source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids (more than flax seeds), fiber, protein and phytonutrients
  • Good source calcium, protein and are rich in boron (which helps the body assimilate & use calcium)
  • They absorb water so when consumed the chia seeds can help you stay hydrated and retain electrolytes
  • Easily digestible
  • Increase stamina and endurance
  • Help to slim you. They are filling but also bulk up and help cleanse your intestines of old "junk"

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've got the POWER!!

I have to say on this 30-day Paleo challenge/journey/detox/body reset (whatever I'm calling it today!) that once I got into the rhythm I realized I'm feeling way more EMPOWERED than deprived.

It feels good to make decisions that I know are good for me. It feels like I'm reclaiming my life and my body when I think long-term and not instant gratification.

I had some big hurdles this weekend. On Saturday I was meeting up with a friend for lunch and to see his new twin girls (who, by the way, both screamed with angst every time I looked at them like I was the boogey man - it made me wonder if this "diet" was making me look hungry and perhaps I shouldn't show quite so many teeth when I smiled at them).

We met at a rental property he was working on and his wife brought the babies. When it came time for actual lunch, he sent us off to pick up a pizza and soda. There weren't many choices at the pizza place and so I picked up an antipasto salad as my choice. We sat around the living room, while they chewed on gooey-looking, heavenly smelling slices washed down with bubbly goodness and I picked at (they forgot to give me a fork) the lamest salad of all time: squares of iceberg with a couple pieces of salami thrown on top and drank my room-temperature water. Later, I thought about it, gave myself a pat on the back and then a touch of reality: I was sad for about 5 minutes feeling "deprived" but how long would I have held that feeling of defeat if I caved? *HIGH FIVE* to me!

The next day was a birthday dinner at a friend's house. I heard about the "delicious" bread and other items I couldn't share. But when it came time to load our plates, made acceptable choices and still sat down with a full plate of veggies, salad and pork loin. Not so deprived really!

Now birthday cake time -- I'm not going to lie -- that layered chocolate cake looked heavenly and resisting that was pure TORTURE. (In fact I'm still thinking about how delicious it looked ...) But I poured a cup of coffee and wandered off to the living room and focused on the conversation. Again, it was difficult but my feeling of triumph over that temptation is lasting way longer than the experience of eating that cake would have given me. It's moments like that I need to hold onto and remember in moments of weakness.

But enough about what I can't do ... let's get back to the good stuff: Empowerment and Support!

I am truly blessed to have some amazing people in my life and I need to spend more time with my head UP appreciating all the blessings I have. (It's up right now, I promise!!)

Saturday morning was a short group run followed by a breakfast at the home of our fearless leader of the Cholla Chicks (our self-named running group). We had fruit, coffee, mimosas and frittata and good conversation and laughs. It is so nice to be surrounded by healthy, active and encouraging people! And the menu was no accident ... ever since I started this journey, Waytress has made SURE there is something there I can eat (and our other friend L has to steer clear of glutens as well) and she always makes sure I know just what is available -- so so sweet! (*hugs!*)

The fabulous Mandi with an I sent me an article about all the sugars and chemicals we intake when using running gels and energy foods and so I MADE my own energy gel for the long run on Sunday (more on that and a picture in a separate post) - that felt pretty empowering as well. I'm in control of what goes into my body - wow. That's a pretty cool realization that it IS possible. Love it.

Little peek at how I'm livin' large on Paleo ... today's menu:

  • Turkey bacon/Scrambled Eggs/Black coffee - breakfast
  • Leftover Turkey burger (cold) with spinach/grape tomato/cucumber/carrot salad with a Blood Orange Olive oil/Pomegranate balsamic dressing - lunch
  • White nectarine - snack
  • Spaghetti squash with homemade paleo approved marinara with spicy Italian chicken sausage - dinner

Some diet, huh?

Paleo Update - Day 17

I've been GOOD. So good. So good I should have a reward! What's the reward? I don't know. I'm supposed to say my health and happiness, but I've had a hard time pulling that out of the bag these days. BUT it's getting better.

I mentioned last week that I've been having a lot of trouble working out. I feel like I'm getting slower and slower even though I'm putting 3x the effort I did last year. I had a mini meltdown at the top of the mountain -- it was a tough climb only to discover I was minutes slower than ever.

When I work out I have trouble catching my breath and I just feel like I have NO energy. You know the "my legs feel like logs" feeling? I feel like that most of the the time.

Last week I got frustrated and went into the doctor and told her to test me for everything: Thyroid, hormones, iron, breathing, the gamut. I took a breathing test and the machine said I have the lungs of a 44-year-old (I'm 41) and I thought that wasn't bad for someone who used to smoke and lead a very unhealthy life.

She said she hoped it was something easy like thyroid that she could easily treat but also warned me that it could simply be stress and overtraining.

Today GOOD NEWS! I went back to "Brokedown Mountain" this morning and made it up to the top in 20:45 which is a solid 3+ minutes faster than my mini breakdown last week and a PR (personal record) for me. My goal last summer when running/climbing this trail was 20 minutes and now that goal is finally within reach. YEA! We did a little extra trail running after that and I managed to stay on the heels of the other girls (I'm usually falling pretty far behind) and so I FEEL GREAT. Maybe I'm finally turning the corner and my body is going to start figuring out how to use the simple foods I'm putting in it and convert it to actual normal energy.

Then more GOOD NEWS (I think)! The doctor's assistant called with my lab results and told me everything looks normal: hormones, thyroid, iron, RA, celiac, etc. I have an elevated white blood cell count from some sort of infection but that's it. It's great news and yet ... if nothing's wrong with me, what's wrong with me??

Who works out as much as me and doesn't lose weight? Why am I so tired? Why don't I feel like I can push through? I'm hovering between two mentalities at this point: 1) Nothing's wrong with you - suck it up and keep pushing! 2) It must be stress and overtraining - I need rest.

I don't think I'm in a position to scale back and really embrace the "rest" concept. I'm committed to some races and I need to keep training. But I don't want to risk injury either.

I'm going to have to TRUST that the Paleo thing will eventually start doing its thing and keep going with it. My body has proven time and time again it is stubborn in many ways and I'm impatient for results. Patience. Press on.

I NEED to find a way to get more sleep and balance. This has to be a focus for me the next two months - so I'm scaling back on anything not work or training. This means the Charity Chicks 5K I was hoping to throw together might become a late winter/early spring idea.

I'm going to UP the miles slightly during the week to work on a consistent base and not drastically increase my weekend long runs like I had planned. I'm going to have to trust that I can use that base to push through the long distances on race day rather than forcing myself to do those distances. This goes against most training plans I've been trying to follow, but it will have to do.

I have to STRETCH. I need to use my foam roller every night. I need to use my massage credits and get my butt in for more massages as I continue this training. I know - crazy goal to have to make, huh? But getting a massage is HARD for me. I have to find a blank night to schedule it. I have to remember to make the appointment. It's now almost 2 hours (drive, check in, wait, get massage, drive home) that I can't do anything else AND I usually get the sniffles after massages which means I do little else when I get home. But I have credits - I will use them!

I have to keep pushing and stop stressing. What's the point of running if it's causing me stress?

Why do I run? I love the company. I love doing something good for me. I love doing something hard and accomplishing it. I love that it is me time to not be working. I love that I can sweat my stress away. I love the feeling when I'm done. I love feeling alive. That must be my motivation! (Well, that and the Tiffany necklace at the Nike Women's finish line in October!)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Brokedown Mountain

Met some of my Cholla Chick friends at the base of one of our trail runs this morning and had yet another difficult workout. I'm getting slower and slower it seems the harder I work and the more I pay attention to being good to my body. WHEN DO I GET MY REWARD?

I got to the top minutes slower than ever and just broke down and had a small bawlfest. I wonder what the point is of missing all this sleep and working through all the pain if there isn't going to be progress? My wonderful wonderful friends continue to point out the progress that I can't see and I know I need to be a better friend and not such a Debbie Downer. My knees hurt, my calves hurt, my house is messy, I'm behind at work ... Must. Keep. Pressing. On.

Maybe a simple goal this week would be to get at least 6 hours sleep 2 nights in a row. Screw the running times, I should count sleep hours?

Off to another crazy day at work!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Still going ...

It's already Day 9 of my 30-Day Challenge and I'm still going strong. Despite the stress at work and despite the fact that my neighbor office has a giant bag of Peanut M&Ms that calls out to me every single time I go in and out of my office, I have not had chocolate NOR Diet Coke for the past 9 days ... pretty amazing!

Good things:

  • I'm proud of myself for remaining strong and on-plan.
  • I haven't been hungry or feeling seriously deprived
  • The Diet Coke thing hasn't been as hard as I thought it would be. Sparkling water gives me happy bubbles and that is getting me through it.

Tough things:

  • Convenient food is off the list. I have to be prepared.
  • My body needs to learn to create energy in this new food plan. My run on Saturday SUCKED. My hike on Sunday SUCKED. Perhaps it was due to some other things going on with my body (aka female stuff)
  • Nothing on the scale has changed - really? Not ONE chocolate - running for miles, a 7 hour hike?? *sigh*
  • My stomach still hates me and still feels bloated

And I'm enjoying my meals. Tonight: Turkey burger with Guacamole and steamed asparagus. The turkey burger: ground white meat turkey, egg, almonds ground in the food processor, chopped onions, chopped sweet peppers and a little ranch seasoning. YUMMY.

I think I might have gone a little too heavy on the fruit and nuts and not heavy enough with the vegetables. So this week I'll be adjusting it a bit. It's all a learning curve! Pressing on ...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Why Am I Living in a Cave? -- Gone #Paleo

Okay, I'm not really living in a cave, I've merely committed myself to a personal challenge to follow the Paleo Diet for 30-days.

What is this crazy diet, you ask? Well, the Paleo Diet, otherwise known as the Caveman Diet or the Hunter-Gatherer Diet, is all about eating the way the cavemen would have before they invented McDonald's and figured out how to mill grains and make processed foods.

The "contemporary" Paleolithic diet consists mainly of grass-fed pasture raised meats, fish, vegetables, fruit, roots and nuts, and excludes grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils. Sounds pretty simple doesn't it? And a little restrictive if you're a Diet-Coke-guzzling, convenient-food-eating, chocolate-makes-my-afternoon-complete kind of girl!

But then again I always remember when I take the time to buy and prepare foods, I LIKE chicken off my grill! I love me some steamed vegetables. Fruits, nuts? Yes, please! I can do this!

But why? And why go hard-core right out of the gate? Don't many books/sites/blogs recommend easing into it? Sure, many do and that might be a recommended approach for many - BUT I'm kind of an addict by nature. If you let me continue with some things it gives me too much room. I know myself. If I can prove to myself I can make it through 30-days, then I can find a way to continue while balancing in other kinds of food as well.

And if I don't commit to go all the way, there is an excuse every single day. Birthday lunch here, going away party there, happy hour with old friend here, luncheon there ... there's nothing to stop me from making the whole month a cheat day if I didn't fight ALL temptations.

But why consider this as a diet option at all? Yes, I'm kind of following a trend. I started doing Crossfit workouts late last year and the Paleo Diet is something that community embraces and supports. The more I've read about it and the more success stories I've heard (more energy, skin better, allergies better, sleep better, waist fat reduced, etc, etc.) the more I realized it wouldn't hurt to give it a go.

I'm 41. I've been on and off from running over the years -- more injured than not the last few years. The magic of Crossfit gave me strength and self-healing enough to return to running. I'm running with new friends and going faster and doing more training miles than I ever have. I'm doing yoga or walking or biking or Crossfit WODs when I'm not running (sometimes sweating 2x a day!). And yet, I'm continuing to struggle with my weight - particularly belly fat.

I'm not smoking and I cut back on my Diet Coke and yet I still have trouble breathing sometimes when I'm running. My allergies have been driving me crazy from sinus pain to itching skin. I'm tired. My digestive system -- as it always has been -- is completely out of whack. I've gone on a few diet plans and lose a few pounds and then I'm stuck. And then I feel bloated. My body is driving me crazy.

So why not? I'm going to give this a go and see how I feel in 30 days. If it's working, I keep going. I determine what compromises I will allow myself so I can eat out occasionally or how frequently I allow myself a "moment". Maybe I slowly introduce a few things in that I felt I was missing and see if that changes anything? I don't know yet. First I need to climb this mountain.

I'm on Day 3 of my 30-Day adventure. No miracle cures yet! My skin is still itching ... I'm still having trouble with focus. But I just started.

I'm not hungry. I haven't had any major withdrawal problems yet. Yesterday was a rough day for me - completely overwhelmed with work and having trouble keeping myself focused and really wanted my 3 pm pick-me-up in the form of a silver and red frosty can. I listened to the office next to me as they opened the giant bag of peanut m&ms and talked at great length about them. But I did okay. I'm even off gum and mints right now too which is somewhere I might turn if I having a craving and interestingly enough, I'm okay there too.

I think I need to remove cashews as an option for me. In the pyramid of foods, lean protein is the base (and what I should eat the most of) followed by vegetables, then fruit, then nuts & fat. I might have been a little off-proportioned with the cashews yesterday and will watch that. Very important tool: sparkling water. I get the bubbles without the junk. Nice to keep on hand: lemons, jazzes up the constant stream of just water all day and makes a good flavoring on the steamed vegetables instead of butter. I'm happy to report it's going well.

P.S. according to my readings WINE (in of course appropriate quantities) is OKAY. Wine & Gluten-free beer - yippeee! Grok totally could have picked grapes and put them in a skin sack and made himself some tasty vino so why not me too?

Captain Cavewoman ... over and out on Day 3!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Today, I enter the cave ...

Today is Day One of my 30-Day Paleo challenge and I'm already unprepared! I've done the reading, made the lists and got wrapped up in too many weekend tasks to do the shopping. But I'm starting anyway. I sent Brad home with a bag of non-paleo temptations from my fridge and cupboard and I'm left with fruit & nuts.

The plan: fruit for breakfast. Almonds for snack. Subway salad for lunch. Shop straight after work. I will report my progress and sins (which I hope not to have) on this very blog spot!

If I go Cavewoman, should I stop shaving my legs?