Friday, January 25, 2013

On making things work and being responsible

There's something going on in my house, and I am not so sure I like it.

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For the past two nights, Miles has been up several times. It's not the kind of wakings we're used to - the ones where he will stand in his crib talking or singing "round and round all through the time." The disruptions we've had the past two nights involve lots of screaming and inconsolable crying.

Wednesday night, Miles was up at 10:45, midnight and 2:30. At 2:30, as I rocked him, he pulled out his pacifier and said "cookie" through tears followed by "snack" (his word for cereal bars). He had eaten poorly that night, and I wondered whether it was just hunger. I took him downstairs, gave him a cup of milk and half a cereal bar as I changed his diaper. The cereal bar did little to dry the tears as he cried for another 5 minutes after I put him down.

Trying for a better night Thursday, we made sure Miles ate a bit better at dinner and gave him a big cup of milk before bed. There was no way he was going to be waking up hungry. Like clockwork, though, he was up at 10:45. Mark and I tried all that we could but ended up bringing him to bed. Until 2:30 when we could no longer take the feet in the groin and fingers in the eye. There was more crying but after what I'm sure was not as long as it felt, he fell asleep.

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And though we did get back to sleep, it was not enough and when I rolled over at 5:10 - the time when I was supposed to be getting up for a hill workout - I knew it wasn't going to happen. I thought I'd try again when Mark got up but the comfort of the couch called to me. As I laid there, the scenarios began to run through my head: RAW this morning, run tonight; call in late and do RAW + run at the YMCA; go to RAW and push run to tomorrow afternoon; get up early tomorrow, run and then lead BODYPUMP launch.

The ideas swirled at lightning speed - quite an amazing feat for my brain considering my fatigue - but I knew there was one option that was better than the others: skip RAW and runt his morning between dropping Miles off at daycare and going to work.

I made it with a heavy heart. Not only have the RAW workouts become a beloved part of my routine the past month but it would probably be my last class.

Our trial membership to the YMCA ends on Wednesday and after much discussion and creative thinking, Mark and I know that it's not the right time for us to add another monthly bill. It might be different if we didn't have access to a treadmill and were going to use it daily but it as difficult to justify the cost when we were using it for three group classes a week.

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It totally sucks. I love the class, the instructor and the group exercise environment, and I almost feel like I'm doing the instructor a disservice. It was also a good learning experience for me as I look toward maybe, just maybe, getting a personal training certificate. But what's a girl to do?

Well, I guess there are some things. I have Bob Harper's "Total Body Transformation," which will be good for strength training; Turbo Fire has some longer HIIT workouts that will have some of the cardio conditioning benefits of RAW; and I've put out a Facebook plea for Insanity in he event that someone has a set collecting dust.

Oh, and then there's Zuzka Light. Nothing like having a hot Russian with enormously fake ta-tas make you do round after round of burpees. Now if she could only put Miles to sleep.

Note: I don't mention finances to garner sympathy. It's just a fact that money is tight, and it's tight for a lot of people.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Outtakes, 1.0

What the kitchen really looks like when I cook ...

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What my child looks like when he puts on his hat ... Mohawk for the win!

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What breakfast looks like for my toddler ... Elmo + begging dog.

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And dinner. By the way, he's saying touchdown in the middle of our favorite family restaurant to the amusement of the other diners, all 60+.

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A bit of inspiration from the YMCA ... for some people. I was inspired to find they had free coffee.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Skinny bitching

I was perusing Pinterest for slow cooker recipes while I was eating my lunch. You know, as any office worker does. And I was supremely surprised by just how many called themselves "skinny" and/or "healthy."

The designation, obviously, is to generate more traffic and not necessarily an indication of whether a recipe is actually healthy or skinny. Because how can a recipe really be skinny? Are you just pounding out your chicken breast ala picatta so that it's so skinny, thickness-wise, that it cooks in a matter of seconds? Or, by some miracle of the universe, will I become magically skinny (whatever that means) by eating it.

As I had this internal dialogue, which happened to be far funnier within the confines of my skull, I realized that I am far too guilty of this. I made "Skinny" Taco Soup and the clever "Lighter" Chicken Parmesan, posting each on this here blog, and I label the things I eat as healthy.

Enough is enough. I barely can decide what's healthy anymore (low calorie or clean eating, sugar or no sugar or stevia) much less tell someone else what it is. So I'm not calling anything healthy or skinny. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have even seen quite the opposite.

Yes, I'm going to call recipes things like that for my own amusement. But probably just this once. Because it's only clever the first time.

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This fajita burger, clever or not, was actually supposed to be meatloaf but I was too busy (read: perusing my Kindle in the tub) to prep it Tuesday morning. Thankfully, my husband is "up" for a burger about 99.943 percent of the time and happily enabled my idea/laziness.

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Conventional wisdom might lead people to believe that this fajita burger might have sauteed green peppers and onions, maybe even some mushrooms, on top but conventional wisdom doesn't often go hand in hand with parenting a toddler. Rather, this burger has finely chopped veggies mixed in with ground meat, along with homemade fajita seasoning, as to disguise things son (and father) might pick around.

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Note: For the seasoning mix, I cut the cayenne in half as to make it more palatable to sensitive mouths. Like mine ... OK Miles'.

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To keep it authentic, especially as I am sure you can fajita burgers at any open air cart in Mexico City, we served them with cheddar cheese, guacamole (I like to have a pouch in the freezer at all times) and, gasp, sour cream. As these are fat ass fajita burgers, the patty was served on a white bun - also courtesy of my freezer.

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Of course, since all of us don't have the magic Mark metabolism, the burger can be made slightly less fat ass by serving on a bed of lettuce and adding a bit of salsa. Aldi salsa if you are feeling sassy. Either way, your mouth - and your ass - will be happy.

Fat Ass Fajita Burgers

1 pound ground beef (for a less fat ass version use lean ground beef, such as Laura's Lean Beef)
2 tablespoons homemade fajita seasoning
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 egg white, optional
Cheddar cheese (for a less fat ass version use 2% shredded cheddar, such as Kraft)
Sour cream (for a, well, you get it by now version, plain Greek yogurt)
Salsa or fresh pico de gallo
Buns or mixed greens

Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. In a mixing bowl, gently combine beef, seasoning, chopped veggies and egg white. (These burgers held together just fine without the white but it could be helpful.) Pat the meat into an even round while still in the bowl and, using your hand, score into four even sections. Form each section into a burger patty. Put the patties in the skillet and allow to cook 2 minutes; press down with spatula. Cook 3 to 4 minutes more; flip. Top burgers with cheese as the other side cooks for an additional four minutes. Remove patties from skillet, onto a towel-lined plate. In the hot skillet, put buns cut-side down and toast for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve burger with guacamole, sour cream or yogurt and salsa or pico de gallo. To save about 100-150 calories, ditch the bun and enjoy on a bed of mixed greens.

Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

You asked, 2.0

In a super lazy post last week, I asked y'all to provide some blog fodder by offering up questions.

And you did it so nicely, too.

So let's get on with it!

Kimmy asked:
Hi Kim!! I do have a question actually....or two! First I invested in the TurboFire Conditioning & Interval Training Workout in hopes that it will help with my running. I am on a 3 day a week running routine..speed, tempo, long. My question is this....would you follow the schedule provided in the TurboFire even if I have a scheduled run that same day? Also, if you only had time to either do speed or tempo which would you do?
Feel the fire! Love Turbo Fire, and I miss it now that I'm in the half marathon training zone. When I did Turbo Fire, I followed the schedule as best I could and ran three to four times a week, meaning that I doubled up on workouts. I would do Turbo Fire in the morning (M, T, R, F) and run three of those days whether it was a runch or after Miles went to bed. I rarely followed the weekend schedule as I was teaching BODYPUMP and fitting in long runs. Depending on a person's fitness level and the workouts, I see no harm in doubling up, especially in the beginning of the program when the HIIT workouts are short or on days when it's a toning session.

As for the second question, my lazy self would probably do tempo but I think it's more effective for cardio conditioning and improving performance to do intervals. Ideally, it would be once a week. I am alternating tempo and intervals each week as I prep for the half since I'm doing hill work as well. However, I did find this article to be an interesting read even if I don't plan on joining the Kenyans.

Wendy asked:
1) I am soooo slow. If the app is right, I'm actually getting slower. wth. What is something you've done to increase your speed? I don't have a treadmill and I run in my neighborhood.
2) How much water do you drink a day? How is it going with the Diet Coke?
3) While you are "training" are you eating differently than when you are in regular maintenance, everyday girl mode?
 Good questions! As far as getting faster, I was once told that the only way to become a better runner is to run more. I saw significant gains in speed and endurance when I began adding in medium distance long runs when I was training for my second half marathon. So many plans cap you at 5 miles, and I was routinely doing 7 miles or so mid-week to improve. Also, strength training is important. Your legs are your powerhouse, and strong legs make for a strong runner. The instructor for my RAW class says a lot of runners shy away from leg exercises, afraid of being bulky, when they can actually boost performance. Lunges will do great for hamstrings and squats and wall sits for quads.

Water, water, everywhere and not a drop that I want to drink. Ha! I could probably be better about water but that being said, I'm not sure how much I drink. I try to start the day off with two tall glasses of water before I eat anything, and I typically have another two tall glasses at dinner. Work consumption is a little dicey as I tend to go for coffee but I try to go for two tumblers. As for the Diet Coke, I'm still without. It's been two months, and I can hardly believe it. I still miss it, and I am tempted quite frequently. If I'm still antsy about it by the 100 day mark, I'm giving in.

As for No. 3, while I did give up dairy during marathon training, I rarely alter my eating habits. If anything, I probably use the training volume to justify a higher volume of food. I will say that after a workout, I am conscious of refueling with carbs + protein. This morning, for example, I completed a 5-mile tempo run on the treadmill and followed it up with an egg white omelet and side of oatmeal. I also try to tell myself to "eat like an athlete" when I'm feeling out of control.

Kelly (my fabulous photographer - if you live in NE Indiana, book her!) asked:
I'm wondering what your average HR is when you go for a run? I've been a runner since 2008, but my HR still seems ridiculously high (reaching over 200 on some runs). I'm always interested to hear about other people and their "norm". Someone once told me that I need to train my heart to beat slower by keeping it in the aerobic zone while I workout, but that often involves a lot of WALKING! I'd like to hear your thoughts, and how you use your HR monitor for training.
I wish I had a great answer but I have never trained with a heart rate monitor! The Garmin 305 had a strap but I never used it and though I still have a dependence on the BodyMedia FIT armband, it doesn't provide heart rate readings. I toyed with getting a HR monitor, mostly to track calorie burn, but didn't feel like spending the money. Especially because I think it would give me a lot of numbers that I wouldn't know how to use. From my limited knowledge, I feel like monitoring HR is something that one should do when working with a coach who knows what to do with the information. The "Train Like a Mother" plans suggest being in zone 4 or zone 5 but that means nothing to me because zone 4 is different for everyone. I feel like perceived effort is a good enough measure for the level of training that I'm doing.

Patricia asked:
Yay for questions! How is training for your 5th or 6th half marathon different than training for your first? What tips would you give to someone trying for their first half?
The most important thing when training for your first go at a particular distance is finishing the distance. Unless you are an experienced athlete, training should focus on building a base, improving endurance and doing what you need to get across the finish line injury free. I followed Hal Higdon's novice plan for my first half marathon, running three to four times a week. Those runs were all fairly easy - no speedwork and at a comfortable pace. Now that I'm training for half marathons six and seven, I'm still running four days a week but I'm including more quality runs and higher mileage.  My midweek runs are, for the most part, four or five miles and I'm including hills and speed work.

Mentally, I think a big difference is confidence. I feel like I could go out tomorrow and complete a half marathon. In what time I would do it is another story but there's no anxiety about whether I can do it. I think so much of training for a first race is showing your brain that, yes, you are that strong.

Bari asked:
Hi Kim! Want to make a detour to Michigan when you are in WI for your half in May? :)
A detour to Michigan? Sounds interesting ... I live so close to Michigan, though (about an hour to the border, two hours to Lansing), that I don't need a race in Wisconsin to go :) I am seriously dying to go Ann Arbor for a weekend, and I see incessant ads for Fire Keepers casino. I'm certain that those would be to different kinds of trips.

Thanks to everyone for asking questions!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Spring Training: Week 3

Spring Training posts document my training for the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon on March 30 and my "A" race, the Wisconsin Marathon half, on May 4.

The week, in training:

Monday: 5.5 miles, hill repeats
Tuesday: 45 minutes on indoor bike
Wednesday: 4.25 miles, speed (6 x 400 repeats) + RAW class
Thursday: 7 miles
Friday: RAW
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rest

◊ ◊ ◊

I thought I had everything planned perfectly. I skipped a rest day Tuesday, adding in a light cardio session; got up early to squeeze in my long run on Thursday; and hit all of my quality workouts, even the ones the universe tried to thwart. All I had to do was go for a short run after Miles went down on Sunday, and I would get everything I wanted - a solid week of training, quality time with my grandma and a limited-demand trip to Cincinnati.

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There was just one thing I didn't factor into this whole plan: traveling with a toddler is exhausting, especially when you go it alone.

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There's the  sleeping in a different bed, and the toddler who doesn't want to sleep in his different bed but your different bed. There's also the feeling a bit out of control with food consumption and, even worse, coffee. (A big thanks to my uncle who makes coffee morning, noon and night - literally!) There's trying to see everyone and be everywhere and doing it all on a toddler's schedule.

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Oh, and making sure the toddler doesn't terrorize unsuspecting nursing home patients or unplug any oxygen machines. I might have missed a steady state run but I might have managed some sprints.

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I might be whining but I promise that I'm not complaining. I designed my training plan so I could miss easy days. More importantly, I feel lucky that in our short trip we managed three visits with Grandma, three meals with my brother, a visit with my godfather, lots of quality time with my aunt and uncle with whom we were staying and short visits with another aunt-uncle pair and my mom's husband. 

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Miles also had a good time, discovering a play shopping cart in my brother's basement (he bought a battery) and scoring lots of high fives, a lollipop and stuffed frog from the nursing home residents. I scored lots of coffee, Panera bagels and a couple pounds (more than likely).

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But the best part was seeing Miles giving Grammy kisses and him bringing her a book to read.

It's been a rough couple months, uncertain of what was going on or just how serious it was, and it did me a lot of good to see her looking well and even getting a bit sassy. Let's just say she and her new roommate will not be BFFs. She seems motivated to work hard in therapy and get home, saying that by our next visit she'll be outta there.

And on that visit, we'll have the BOB because I learned I cannot run after 3.5+ hours in the car, meal preparation and cleanup. I might have thought I would be OK for "just" 3 miles on the treadmill but I was struggling to keep my eyes open at 6:45 and was in bed by 7:30.

Party. Animal.

Last week, I solicited questions about training and exercise. I am answering them this week - Tuesday or Wednesday more than likely. If you want to know something, fire away!