Saturday, June 2, 2012

Product review: Revisiting the MOTOACTV

For someone who doesn't love math, I am a numbers junkie. Laps, pace, distance - I want to know it all, and I want to know it NOW. It's probably why I like the MOTOACTV so much.

Wait. Stop. Liked the MOTOACTV.

My favorite piece of gear, which was sent to me for review by the company, has begun to get a bit ... well ... unreliable.

 I first noticed problems with the device in March when we had those super hot, humid days. Mark and I were on a run, and the sweat was just dripping off of me. We were slated to run 6 miles and turned around at the 3-mile mark. We got home at 5.75. Now, I know that distance can be off running tangents but if I run 3 miles one way, I expect the return home to be 3 miles.

The next run, I put a small piece of paper towel between the MOTOACTV and my wrist as the sensor is open through the band. It was fine. The weather cooled down shortly thereafter, and I went about my business.

Until this week - when, excuse my language, shit started to get effed the hell up.

Sunday, Mark and I ran another out and back where the distance didn't measure correctly on the return. Upon inspecting the map, I saw that it had us basically running on an odd tangent through people's yards and houses. I don't think Lolo Jones could even handle those obstacles.

(Note: I think I sort of hate Lolo. She's just too good looking and talented for me.)

Wednesday, I headed out for some speedwork. The goal was to warm up, run 1 mile tempo, recover for 400 and run 1 mile tempo before cooling down. I had the stroller and because of it, I decided to go by effort and not by pace. Nonetheless, I was happy to see miles that went a little like this 8:XX. However, as I began my cooldown, the GPS just sort of dropped off. I went from an 8:47 mile to running at a 38:27 pace. I know I put the brakes on but damn. Just damn.

Thursday, frustrated as hell, I decided to do a little experiment. Once a week or so, I like to plan a run (mentally and route-wise) where there are no stops - no breaking to check if Miles is sleeping or to see if Denali has to pee. I think these runs help with endurance and race pacing. Anyway, I did this run on Thursday. No stops. And while my pace will fluctuate, the chart shows that my pace dropped off nine times. NINE.

I have tweeted @MOTOACTV about the problems and they responded but did not follow through with questions. I sent a message via the MOTOACTV website and received a response seeking follow-up information as my concern was going to require "Level 2" support. I sent them the data requested but have heard nothing.

(Editor's note: Just as I was about to schedule this post - no lie - I received a DM from @MOTOACTV apologizing that they missed my original message from last week. Hmm ... I've emailed the address they sent me with all kinds of info. We'll see what happens.)

It's so disappointing because I like the features of the MOTOACTV - the display, touch screen, WI-FI workout sync and the ability to add custom workouts such as BODYPUMP. However, no matter how "cute" something is, it only matters how well it works. And it's not. At least for now.

Is anyone else a MOTOACTV user? Have you had any problems?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Food Friday: Snack attack

"I don't know how you eat so much and be so skinny."

That's what my grandma said to me on the phone this week. My daily 9:45 a.m. phone call had gotten her out of bed, and she was lamenting that by the time she ate breakfast that it would be time for lunch. I told her not to worry - I had already had a pre-run snack, post-run breakfast and would eat a mid-morning snack once I hung up with her. I had eaten enough meals for the both of us.

For some reason, she didn't think that scenario worked -- I have no idea why. My grandma, in all her wisdom, though, did hit the nail on the head - I eat. A lot. And often. In fact, I used to brag that I could eat non-stop at work and lose weight.

Recently, however, I started to consider that maybe I should switch things up and not put so much in my mouth. It might benefit me to start planning more substantial snacks instead of seeing how much low-calorie food I could throw into my purse because, let's be honest, no one has filled up on celery sticks alone.

Celery sticks and peanut butter? Now, that's a different story.

As I've been using Self Magazine's Drop 10 plan to inspire my lunches, I thought I could use the diet as a guideline for snacking. Their suggestions are more calorie dense, more filling and much more enjoyable. I've taken to packing an apple (with the core scooped out) topped with a bit of peanut butter and coconut and celery sticks filled with peanut butter. The hard-boiled egg has also been a top pick but mostly on mornings when I have oats or multigrain pancakes for breakfast.

I also packed a protein-packed treat for snacking this week - slices of turkey slathered with Laughing Cow and rolled up like a cigar. A winner if there ever was one.

The higher calorie snacks are helping a bit in terms of fullness - I am eating less frequently. However, old habits die hard and I do need to retrain myself. Just because I'm sitting at my desk doesn't mean I need to be chewing.

Or something like that.

How do you snack?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lessons unlearned: Frustrations with daytime talk

A too hot Memorial Day =  Too much daytime TV.

Monday, as I waited for the stroke of 5 to cook dinner, I found myself with a rare free moment. Miles was playing Peek-A-Boo with the 3-year-old neighbor who likes to stand in front of our front windows; Mark was grading papers; and Denali was taking a nap. I played on my Kindle for a bit, bemoaning the fact that no one was taking their Words With Friends turn, before I found myself aimlessly flipping the channels in an effort to keep myself occupied.

Dr. Oz was talking to curvy women about, well, curvy clothes and curvy exercises and a curvy diet.

The Doctors were discussing laughing your way to weight loss. And, no, I'm not joking - though I wish I were.

For an entire hour, I learned about what to eat and how to exercise in order to lose weight. What I didn't learn about was what to do once I lost the weight. These shows love to tell you the secrets to weight loss and offer tips and tricks but rarely - and I mean rarely - do they offer you a picture of what's next after weight loss.

They don't tell you about that there are parts of your old body that refuse to leave. I know I've talked about this before but this girl has got some skin - and not the good kind. I have extra skin from knee to rib cage and while it doesn't bother me most days, it does keep me from getting good race photos and wearing a bikini. Sure, neither is important but when you lose 115+ pounds, it would be nice to have both.

They don't tell you that weight loss does not equal confidence. I was watching Rachael Ray this week (I may have to check myself into some sort of program), and these teen girls who lost weight talked about how much confidence they found in their new bodies. Maybe it's related to above but I didn't feel a surge of self esteem because I looked different. Even today, I struggle with physical confidence. I only found a positive image through accomplishing goals and, mostly, running.

They don't tell you about just how hard it is to keep up the good habits. I'll be honest: If I don't track what I eat, I can easily eat too much. A Hershey Kiss here, two plates piled high at the Indian buffet there. It's like the food doesn't count unless I see it on a screen or in a notebook.

They don't tell you that, if you lost a significant amount of weight that you'll never be able to eat like other people. According to the HBO documentary, "The Weight of the Nation," if a woman who weighed 180 pounds lost 40 pounds, she would have to eat 20 percent fewer calories per day to maintain her weight than a woman who weighed 140 pounds her entire adult life. It's no wonder that people struggle to keep off excess weight.

They don't tell you that losing weight opens the door to intensely personal questions and criticism. I have a blog and shared with my story with Woman's Day so it should be no surprise that I am open with my weight loss. However, I can't tell you how many times I've had random people ask me how much I used to weigh and how much I weigh now. People often like to tell me that I was too thin pre-baby or I looked a certain way when I was heavy. While I enjoy people's interest in my story, I think there's a time and a place - and it's not usually while I'm hitting up the community coffee at work.

They don't tell you that people will always question your methods. When people hear that you have lost weight, they want to know how and usually it's because they want to know a secret. They want you to tell them that you can lose weight and eat cookies all day, every day. They don't want you to tell them that you ate less, worked out more or followed a specific program. Why? Because they hate running, they tried Weight Watchers, they can't eat a certain thing. I'll admit that I've judged people for following plans that I couldn't but I never scoff at their choices. I merely say that I admire them for doing something I can't.

They don't tell you that you can find support in the unlikeliest of places. I would have thought that my family and friends would have been the most excited and encouraging of my results - but they weren't. But I haven't been alone. I have found the blog world to be incredibly fantastic, and I thank you all - especially if you have read this far.

So ... what are your thoughts on all the "lose weight now" segments on TV?

Heart and sole

 The smell. The look. The anticipation.

There's nothing like a new pair of shoes.

Except two new pairs of shoes.

Two brightly colored pairs for my two favorite workouts - BODYPUMP and running.

With a new season upon us, it was time again to replace the good ole running shoes. My Nike Zoom Structure Triax have just shy of 400 miles on them, and I can tell. I've felt a bit more achy and had some minor foot pain during runs. It's the kind of feeling when you go, "Oh, shit. I hope I'm not injured," only to look at your training log and realize you haven't bought new shoes since you trashed them in the December HUFF relay.

While I flirt with the idea of going minimal (and regularly salivate over the Nike Frees), the Structures have served me well and I have no desire to mess with something good.  I haven't suffered any kind of pain or trouble while wearing them, and I have been able to do a variety of training with them. They offer a stable ride, decent cushioning and a low profile without being overly heavy.

I prefer to get my shoes from the local running store but I also try to keep an eye on sales when I new shoes will be needed imminently. And an online sale I found. I found the fantastically bright Structures - something I haven't seen - on Zappos for about $15 off. Factoring in they have free shipping, I snapped them up so quickly I looked like Shalane Flanagan.

I haven't worn them yet as I am saving them for June 1 to make it easier, logging wise, but I'm dying. Dying, I tell you, to lace them up.

While my running shoe need wasn't urgent, the necessity of a cross training shoe was. I've been wearing my Vibram Five Fingers to BODYPUMP because they offer more flexibility than my typical trainers (aka retired running shoes). Though the VFF allow me more stability in lunges (because I can flex my foot), they offer no cushion when executing BODYPUMP 81's famous propulsion lunge. At times, my feet felt bruised after class because of the impact.

I did some searching for a good cross training shoe but many of them are for more casual exercisers or generic activities. I was about to get real frustrated but I can across a forum where a reviewer mentioned the Nike Free trainers and using them for Zumba. The shoe offered flexibility, important in Zumba, and  support.

I turned to my best friend,, and began looking at the options. They have several training shoes under the Free line but an email about a clearance pair + a discount code had me sold on the Nike Free TR Fit 2. A $90 pair of shoes for $45? Yes. NOW. Especially when they are offensively bright.

I wore the shoes for PUMP on Saturday (had to skip last night because my upper body is crazy sore from gardening), and I was very happy with the shoes. The uppers are soft and flexible, and it felt like I was slipping on a pillow. The shoes were comfortable but flexible, and I had not a single issue performing the propulsion lunge.

Well, with the exception of my own balance and stability. Details, details.

What are your favorite workout shoes? Are you loyal to a specific brand? As you can tell I like Nike. I sometimes feel like I need to wear Brooks or Saucony to be like the cool kids but the truth is, I love Nike. Maybe it's because they were the epitome of cool growing up and we couldn't afford them or it could be because they make great functional, stylish shoes.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

We bought a zoo (membership)

There are moments. The first time your child looks at you. The first time he says mama. The first time he takes a step.

And then there's the first time he calls a giraffe "dog."

Struggling with how to fill the hot days this weekend, Mark and I decided to venture to the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo for Miles' first trip to the wild outdoors.

I have been excited for, like, ever to take Miles to the zoo - planning a membership, summer days spent gawking at monkeys - but my little man clearly couldn't handle it. He fell asleep on the car ride there and through a move to the stroller and a journey through Africa.

He did wake up in time to see the giraffes (and yes, he did call them dog) and make it through the Indonesian Rainforest. However, he wasn't so excited about the animals as much as checking out all the people. My little mover and shaker was so enthralled that he actually sat in the stroller most of the time.

We didn't see much else - it was getting hot (our high was 95) and I was getting hungry. But that's the perk of our zoo membership: we can entertain ourselves for an hour or two and leave without feeling guilty that we didn't wait for the monkeys to come out of hiding.

It was the perfect way to spend part of our Memorial Day weekend.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Digging deep

I have something upsetting to tell you: Running isn't a real workout. And neither is BODYPUMP ... or cycling ... or CrossFit ... or swimming.

Oh, no. Those are not workouts. Those are recreation.

Want a real workout? I have one for you but be warned. It involves a four-letter word.

Dirt. And lots of it.

After months of being frustrated with the state of our yard and my garden, I woke up bright and early to take care of it. OK, I woke up bright and early to take care of Miles but I was at the door of Do It Best when it opened at 7:30.

I spent $25 to rent a tiller for four hours. And in that four hours, I doubled the size of my garden (the new side is on the right) and cleared out the jungle along the back fence.

The area behind the screened in porch was taken care of, too, as was the remainders of the foundation job done before we moved in.

 Our compost corner

I spent hours tilling, raking, bagging and sweating in the vain effort of having a respectable yard. When I was finished, every square centimeter of clothing was soaked and I couldn't muster the energy to help Mark lift the tiller into the car to return it to Do It Best.

Want an ego check? Well, I had one when we had to call my father in law to help lift it. My 60-year-old father-in-law whose only exercise is a couple rounds of golf a week had to help me, who is training to teach BODYPUMP and can do pushups on her toes.

I'm a little curious to see if I'll be sore and just how badly. I have a feeling that a lot of it's going to be in the core and shoulders but only a night's sleep will tell.