Saturday, February 28, 2009

Weekend Update...

OK, I will admit it, I was a little discouraged about the 0.2 pound weight loss recorded on Wednesday. Here is the weirdness about the whole thing... I really wasn't in the FLU program to lose weight as a primary motive. I wanted to get my nutrition habits under control and also work on heart zone training. Weight loss was an added benefit. For the first time in my life, I can say that I am pretty happy with where I am at weight-wise. I was a chubby kid (not like the kid on biggest loser chubby but a little bigger than the others growing up) so it does seem odd to finally be at a place where I have a good body image.

With that said, having your weight tracked up or down each week takes you back to those days where you feel like the chubby kid again. There is something about seeing the number on the scale going down that that makes you instantly feel like you achieved something. Seeing the number barely tick down felt like a failure on some level which is sooooo ridiculous for me to feel that way. It is some kind of issue with my mind - maybe a female thing since we are so weight conscious in general as a gender.

The scale at home is going down, I can see changes in my body shape so the program is working. There is something to the idea of working in the proper zones to burn fat versus sugar. Tosha, one of the FLU leaders, did my fat measurements today and I am down 1% body fat in the last 4 weeks. I'll take it! We would have done overall body measurements again but didn't have time. I will get that done next week as well as another 30 minute endurance test to see how my endurance and speed have improved thus far. Can't wait!

I mentioned I was having issues with one of my family members this week which has occupied so much time, work has also been insane times two this week which added up to very limited time to get a work out in. Last night I got home around 9:30, tossed some clothes in the wash and made dinner. In bed around 11:00. Awake like a light bulb went off in my brain at around 6:00 am. I had intended to try and sleep in but to no avail. I needed to get 14 miles in (you know, Hal Higdon's plan...) so decided to hop up and get her done. The downside is it pretty much poured here all day and is supposed to SNOW tomorrow (we almost never get snow!). I ended up trudging through 14 miles on the treadmill at the gym. Can you imagine? I thought it would be pure torture but ended up not being that bad. I worked on my zones, two minutes in zone two, two minutes in zone three, that kind of thing and then listened to a book on my IPOD and it was not nearly as bad as I thought it might be. I was afraid it would take all my willpower to avoid stepping off the treadmill out of boredom.

Post-run, I had promised to help Tosha recruit new members to the FLU group as they are kicking off another program after we graduate. Basically, they were just trying to catch people as they were coming in to workout. There weren't many people interested in stopping to hear about it so I was recruited to work out on the Pilates reformer they had set up as a demo to get people interested in trying it out. I got a free 15-20 minute workout on that which was fun and the price was right!

and after that.... I had a frantic call from the tournament director at a tournament that needed some volunteer help. They originally said they didn't need help and then changed their minds late last week when the rain appeared to be rolling in. The director needed me at the club ASAP. Haul booty over there to be told they didn't need me until tomorrow - YAY! Naptime! And that is what I have been doing ever since... :)

Tomorrow I will be working at the tournament from sunrise until sunset and then some assuming it isn't snowing or raining (I am secretly hoping it gets rained out as I have a lot I should get done at home - sorry tennis players!). Sometime between now and then I have to pack up to go out of town for work next week. I am going to California until thursday then flying back to Daytona Beach for a brief stop at bike week (motorcycles, not the pedaly kind) and then headed to Orlando for the Princess half at Disney and back at work on Monday. Whew! I am most looking forward to the long plane ride to Cali to catch up on some sleep!

Have a great week :)

OH! p.s.... I realized this week that my first tri of the season is inching closer and closer by the day and I have not even dipped my toe in the pool this year. GAH! Must figure out when to fit that in....

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

weekly weigh in

Let me just say I am sooooooooo tired. I have literally slept 6 hours in the last 2 days. Long story involving a family member and health issues that would fill my blog for weeks to come but I will spare you.

Just wanted to pop in for a quick update.... THE WEEKLY WEIGH IN! I know you were anxiously awaiting my result. Drum roll please! According the the official FLU scale, I have lost: 0.2 pounds. What the? seriously... so I did what any self respecting weight conscious person would do and stopped by Wendy's on the way home for my cheat of the week. sigh.....

More details later. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

woo hoo! 52:07!

Normally, I wouldn't all this excited over a PR *but* getting a qualifying time for the Peachtree is a pretty big deal because you are closer to the front of the 45,000 people running the race. This is the first time I actually qualified so that adds to the excitement. I have always been right on the edge missing it by a minute or two. My last personal best for a 10k before today was 55:53 at the Peachtree last July so I shaved close to 4 minutes off that and my time at this same race last year was 57:28. YAY!

The race today was a point to point race so you park at the finish and take a shuttle to the start. It was 29 degrees when I left my house so was prepared for a chilly run. The nice thing about this race is you can kill time in the church gym while waiting for the start instead of freezing your arse off outside. A little before the start, I spotted 3 of my friends from tennis and stuck with them for the start. Three of the four were shooting for a sub-55 finish so we were trying to pace each other more or less.

The race started at 7:45 and I started the typical weave through the crowd trying to find my pace and some open space to run. I have spent so much time over the last two weeks monitoring my heart rate and trying to stay in specific zones, it was nice just to go and not focus on anything but running. I wasn't sure how my legs would do, they were feeling pretty tired from the effort in boot camp and all the other zone work this week but was hoping for the best. Once I got into the race, I didn't notice them at all.

I passed mile marker one at 8:23. Let's just pause and reflect on that - wow... I am a 9 - 9:30 girl. Another cool thing about this race is the majority of people there are trying to get a qualifying time so under the clock, there are signs that tell you what time the clock needs to say if you are trying to qualify for X time group. Surprisingly, I managed to maintain around the 8:30 pace for the entire race. I felt great for the first 5 miles and then around mile 5.5 I was starting get tired from maintaining a faster pace than normal. I did feel ready to stop at the end but was proud to be able to keep that pace for the 10k distance. I passed the 6 mile clock at exactly 50 minutes which is significant because that is the cutoff for time group 1A. (55 is the cutoff for time group 1B). Darn! A new goal... sub 50 :)

All in all, sooooo proud of my time (Can you tell?) I wonder how much of the improvement is the zone training and how much was just determination to reach that goal time of under 55 minutes? I had a great time seeing my friends get their goals as well! We were all within a couple minutes of each other on the finish. I might get friend of the day today since they parked their car at the start instead of the finish thinking there was a shuttle back to the start. ooops... the shuttles were only pre-race. Post-race, you are on your own. I became their shuttle driver which worked out perfectly and saved them from having to walk 6 miles back to their car! :)

Next stop ... Disney Princess Half!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My new fit life... week 2

I would love to dazzle you with numbers of how much weight I lost and how much fat I have trimmed from my bones this week but God intervened. He did. Wednesday is the night the FLU group meets. Depending on how you look at it, the gym is conveniently located close to work (literally 1/4 mile away) or inconveniently far from home (about 40 minutes). In the morning it is great, I can shower and get dressed after my workout and still make it to work by 8:00 assuming I don't get distracted by the call of Panera or Starbucks. I guess there is another reason this FLU thing is good, it helps me get to work on time because I no longer need to stop at those places. Anyhow, back to my story...

My Wednesday basically shapes up like this:
5:20 AM - leave the house
5:58 AM - arrive, squealing tires, into the Lifetime parking lot
6:00 AM - Boot Camp
7:55 AM - drive the 1/4 mile to work
8:00 AM to 5:00 PM - work my fingers to the bone (or at least give that appearance)
5:05 PM - drive the 1/4 to Lifetime
5:15 PM - step on the treadmill for workout #2 (since I have to be here anyhow)
6:15 PM - head to the locker room to wash the sweat off
7:00 PM - FLU Meeting
9:00 PM - HOME! One looooooooong day :)

Luckily not all my days look like this one now, just Wednesdays. When I was heavy into tennis, my tennis days looked like this more than a few nights a week. So... last night I made it to the afternoon treadmill workout. There are all sorts of tornado warnings on the TV but nothing really in my immediate area so wasn't all that concerned about being there. I was actually more concerned about Rick being at home because the path of the warning was right over our house. I was about 60 seconds from the end of my workout and getting ready to hit the cooldown button and the power goes out at Lifetime. (In case you are wondering, I did not go flying off the back of the treadmill, it spun to a stop - ha - someone in the locker room asked me that...). One of the employees came around and told everyone they needed to go the first floor. I assumed maybe there was a tornado warning but had been watching the TV so it seemed odd. I thought maybe next they were going to line us up like in school in the hallway with our heads between our knees. We always did those tornado drills and never had to use them. I just followed the mass of people downstairs and went to the semi-dark locker room to get my belongings and tried to decide if I should wait for the power to come back on since the meeting was at 7:00 or just go home. Before too long, we were told that everyone had to leave so the decision was made for me. It turned out it was a blown transformer. I never saw any real stormy weather around the gym. We had some near our house, there were lights out for a couple of blocks around a major intersection close to home but, thankfully, I didn't see any wind damage in our neighborhood.

The short version of all that is I did not weigh in yesterday and got to go home early and get some much needed sleep :) Since I did not officially weigh in, I will have to do a self assessment. Try to contain the excitement.

My goal this week was to lose 0.75 pounds. I know. It isn't much. My overall need to be part of this program is to get on track with nutrition and trying to figure out what to eat, when and how much as part of my triathlon training. Overall, I am looking at losing 6 pounds in 8 weeks and 4% body fat. The funny thing about my weight is up until the last year I could have told you on any given day how much I weigh. Part of my morning ritual was to step on the scale. Since I get ready at the gym in the morning, I rarely weigh myself. Given that, I am not sure if I lost or not. I have continued to stick to the eating plan. I did have a few more "cheat snacks" this week - if you can even call them that - they really didn't amount to much. I ate out a couple more times this week than last so was kind of interested to see how that worked out on the scale.

I am surprised that I have done so well sticking to the food structure of getting in certain amounts in each food group. I really don't find that I am craving things that aren't on the list all that much. I did have an internal conflict today at Wendy's when I knew I should order a chili and my evil twin wanted a single with fries. The chili won out. I have random cravings for apples, brussel sprouts, things like that - how kuckoo is that? I'll take it, I would much rather be dealing with that than wanting ice cream and having to fight the urge to buy it at Publix.

The other thing I have noticed this week that was different from last is that I feel more hungry. I am not sure why. My exercise level is about the same from this week to last week but am feeling hungry quite a bit.

On to the workouts... the heart rate workouts are going great. Despite being on a treadmill, they really aren't boring. You get pre-occupied with monitoring your heart rate and going between whichever zones you happen to be working on so it keeps me entertained. One bright side is that the workouts are forcing me to get my mid-week runs in which is something I was lacking in my marathon prep for Disney. I also think I can tell that I am getting stronger in my running even in the last two weeks. I am covering longer distances each time and am requiring a slightly faster pace on the treadmill to get to the target heart rate. Maybe there is something to this thing.... :)

I managed to meet the goal for last week's challenge - woo hoo! The challenge was to stay in zones 1 through 3, 97% of the time last week and burn at least 2500 calories. I ended up burning 4,935 calories for the week and came in with just enough in zone 4 to be legal. YAY!

The next challenge is 15 good form pushups in one minute, 50 squats in one minute and plank for two minutes. I am faithfully doing the hundred push up program. I am pretty sure I can do the pushups and plank. Fifty squats seems kind of fast for a minute but will do what I can to knock them out.

So there is my self assessment.... on to week 3!

For the weekend, I am doing a 10k in hopes of getting a good qualifying time for the Peachtree. My goal time is under 55 minutes which will be a personal best and will get me in time group 1B for the Peachtree. I think I can make it happen - I just need to start near the front and haul booty!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Run the Reagan

Run the Reagan was somewhat uneventful. I woke up this morning to the sounds of rain falling. I knew I would run the race either way but would prefer a light rain as opposed to the downpour I heard. Luckily the rain passed rather quickly. I live just around the corner and had picked up my number already so felt blessed to be able to leave the house around 7:15 as opposed to some of the bigger races that require crazy departure times.

This race is run on a local highway that is blocked off to traffic for the day. It is a low key event, not huge numbers of runners as compared to the ING or Peachtree and LOTS of things for significant others with kids to do while waiting for their runners to cross the finish line. There are 4 races in all - a half-marathon, 10k, 5k and one mile fun run.

I love that the race is not too crowded. I got out of my car at 7:40 and made a short walk from the Tar-jay parking lot to the porta-potties. At 7:52 at the front of the line... 7:55 making a fast walk to the start line and still have a couple of minutes to chat up fellow runners before the start. How great is that? I am not certain how many runners were participating in the half, the numbers were from 1 to 600 but am not sure they actually had that many. I was 433 so I suppose it is possible.

The challenge for me during this race was to keep my heart rate in zones 1-3. Even though it is a "race" my FLU challenge for the coveted points is to stay out of zone 4 (they can check your heart rate monitor so they will know...). Knowing this, I treated this as a training run with my 500+ friends. Based on my experience at Stone Mountain, I knew keeping out of zone four would be a challenge. For the most part, I found that I had to slow down to a snail's pace on the uphills and then could make up time on the downhills as my heart rate tends to fall on the downhill slopes.

I will say, I will be glad after tomorrow when this zone challenge is over as it is very difficult to hold back. On the flip side, I did feel like I had a lot of energy at the end of the race which I would assume is from keeping the pace down. I am not certain of my time but think I was running around 10:30 minute miles - normally I am in the 9:15 minute range. The last four miles are a slow steady uphill so had to fight to stay in zone 3 (I would not allow myself to stop and walk, I am hard on myself that way). At the end I just gave up and ran my normal pace for the last mile. In retrospect, that was so stupid. If I was going to give up on the challenge at the end then why not just run the whole race at my normal pace? Oh well :) We are given a 3% grace period on total calories burned in zone 4 as compared to the other zones so I should still make it. I only ran one mile which would be around 100 calories.

The race course itself isn't all that scenic. It is a highway after all, which I did think it was cool to run on the highway with no cars in sight. It is just an out and back with water stops and not much else. Don't get me wrong, it was a challenging, well planned run and all, I just like to have distractions along the way. A few marching bands or cheerleaders or interesting scenery. Perhaps if I didn't take this particular Parkway every single day of my life to work and the gym it would not seem so familiar. For you locals, to give you some perspective on the distance, the race was from the end of the Parkway at 124, past Hwy 29, almost to Pleasant Hill where the Parkway ends.

It started raining lightly several miles into the race and was misty all the way to the end. For some reason, I had decided not to wear a hat and am not sure what I was thinking so I was pretty much a wet, wind blown rat by the time I got to the end. I only wish I had a photo to show you of how glorious I looked (or not) :) Since I do not have a picture of my glorious bird's nest hairdo post-race, I will insert a pic of the medal. I really like the design..

Fun morning, fun race. Another training run in the books! Tomorrow, I have a bike workout followed by strength training and then I am going to try and see Confessions of a Shopaholic. I LOVE the series of books, I hope the movie is just as funny!

My new love...

In honor of Valentine's Day, I have to tell you about my new obsession. THE DAILY PLATE. I can give you many paragraphs about how cool this site is but you really have to go to the website to appreciate it. The Daily Plate is part of the livestrong website and what I love about it is you can track everything you eat and it gives you your calories, proteins, carbs, etc. for the day. They have just about every food item known to man loaded in their database, you just search on whatever you ate (i.e. Wendy's Chili), click on it and add it to your "plate". LOVE. LOVE. LOVE. it.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Week One Results!

File this under, "how did that happen?". Wednesday night was the weekly weigh-in of Fit Life University (FLU). I think everyone in the group had the nervousness equal to that of any competitor on the Biggest Loser. Perhaps not quite as much worry as there are no threats of being sent home to the real world or the possibility of losing out on $250,000 and, thankfully, we do not weigh in wearing spandex and a sports bra like they do on the show. We have our pride at stake and points which will ultimately lead to fame and fortune, personal training, massages and other prizes so there are carrots dangling to lead us to our goals. At this point, a pizza, coconut cake or Bruster's butter pecan ice cream might be more appealing than a carrot but I digress... Pardon me while I wipe the drool off the keyboard.

I have been diligent all week which is a lot for me. I only had ONE cheat food item all week! All week I have felt like I was eating a lot of food so Wednesday morning as I contemplate how little I will have lost and whether or not I might make my goal of a little less than a pound, I glance at the label on the chocolate milk I bought a few days back at quik trip and am now drinking. Wow. This is some good chocolate milk. Let me preface this to say I *DO* know how to read labels. I do. I know the label is the serving size and there can be a zillion servings in the whole container, blah, blah, blah. I clearly remember looking at the label at the QT. I saw the main ingredient as nonfat milk and somehow in my head calculated a serving as 100 calories or so. I didn't study it but I got the idea (or so I thought). Must have been in a hurry. As I am enjoying my cup of lovely, oddly creamy and fatty tasting milk. How can this taste so good? I decide to read the ingredients. 1. Nonfat milk. 2. CREAM. What the? I look at the calories again and realize I had that all backwards. It was more like 220 calories a serving. Oops! A lesson in being more careful with my label analysis. Ha.

The Wednesday night weigh-fest basically goes like this... Al (co-head honcho) arrives and plops the scale down in the middle of the room. From there we take turns weighing in while Tosha (other co-head honcho) reviews our food logs and either gives us a check mark which translates to points or tells us something like we need to work more protein in or veggies or whatever is lacking in the food log. Basically, the idea is to eat well balanced and within the recommended calories based on your goals. Even if it seems like you are eating a lot, trust the system and make sure you don't under-eat. Conversely, they are also checking to make sure no one went crazy and fell off the wagon. There are points at stake for following the food plan as well as your weight goal.

The first lady gets up and weighs in, 2 pounds lost. Woo hoo! She is pretty excited, apparently had been plateaued out for a little bit. Second lady up, also 2 pounds lost. She had been burning it up in the gym but had not been taking in enough protein. My turn. Have I mentioned I felt like I had been eating A LOT this week? Not a lot in terms of junk food but just feel like I am constantly eating. By the time I finish my meal, it seems like 2 hours have passed and it is time to fuel up again. By the end of the day, I often am still short of servings in certain food groups so I have to cram those in at night. The point is, I have been eating A LOT but A LOT of recommended foods. Going into the weigh in, I really didn't feel like I had lost anything. I was wrong. Step on the scale. Clickety, click. Wait for the number. Four pounds lost. Are you kidding me? Honestly, it was a shocker! My goal for the week was to lose 0.75 pounds. I'll take it. :)

The educational segment this week had to do with the zones. So, what is the deal with the zones anyhow and why go through this whole process and not just train as hard as I can? Here is the short version:

Zone 1: 50 to 75% of threshold. The recovery zone. Essentially used to recover from intense training. Creates blood flow and enhances coordination.

Zone 2: 70 to 90% of threshold. Training in this zone builds aerobic efficiency, increases stamina and trains the body to burn fat at a higher caloric rate. These are mostly long, slow distance workouts.

Zone 3: 90 to 100% of threshold. Training in this zone will eventually allow you to exercise longer at aerobic intensities, enhance conversion of lactate to fuel, delay fatigue and push your threshold up. Typical training is long, moderate intervals and base building.

Threshold: The line in the sand between aerobic and anaerobic.

Zone 4: 100 to 110% of threshold. Training objectives in this zone might be increasing tolerance to lactic acid or to exercise longer at anaerobic intensities.

Zone 5: 110% of threshold to peak HR. Has anyone ever been in zone 5? Of course but not for long. Training in this zone is used to develop speed and power. Think sprinting. Very intense exercise, very uncomfortable.

My random bits of wisdom learned this week:

1. Unless you do cardio for 45+ minutes you aren't tapping into fat burning. Twenty to thirty minute bouts of cardio are only going to burn sugars.

2. Strength training is not a fat burning activity. As you are doing reps, your glycogen stores are being used up. Resting in between reps allows them to go back up.

I am excited to have a three-day weekend! It is great to work for a bank and get all the banking holidays :) Tomorrow, I am doing the Run the Reagan race. Pretty cool, low key race. I did it last year as a 5k. This year I am doing the half marathon. It is cool because they block off one of the highways to traffic and we run on the parkway. As I picked up my race number this afternoon, I overheard a first time racer asking these questions to a very patient volunteer:

1. When she was handed her race shirt, she asked "do we have to wear this during the race or are we allowed to wear something else?"

2. She asked if there would be water at the race. The volunteer replied that there would be water stops every 1.5 miles. "is it free or should I bring money to buy it?"

I don't recall being that naive ahout racing but it did make me smile :)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day 6 or thereabouts...

Where is my instant gratification? Where are my results? Ha... Now I remember why I have a hard time sticking with a nutrition plan! I must have instant feedback which, in this case, would be on the scale or my clothes. Patience, grasshopper!

Not much to tell. My workout today consisted of trying to build my heart rate base. Two minutes in zone 2, one minute in zone three and repeat for an hour. This was on the treadmill as there is no way I could manage that outside.

Food-wise, it seems like I am eating a lot of food. I am eating every two hours which is pretty normal for me but I guess it is just that I am consciously thinking about what I can and cannot eat and trying to work in certain amounts of veggies, fruits. grains, etc. each day that makes it seem like a lot. So far, the veggies seem to be the one that I am lacking by the end of the day. Not surprising as they are the least convenient thing to bring with me to work. In general, they are not as portable as an orange or a banana. I have had a few moments of good Karen versus bad Karen as I look longingly at the hershey kisses with almonds in my candy dish at work. I can honestly say I have resisted - not a single tiny chocolate, almondy morsel has passed these lips! sigh.... I am allowed a cheat meal once a week. This week, I might have to go for pizza!

Tonight, the plan is to load up my calendar with my tri training plans. My first one is 12 weeks out - time to hit the pool again. I definitely have some two-a-day workouts in my future. This is where the nutrition gets tricky for me. Knowing when to eat and how much so I have enough energy to complete the workouts.

Tomorrow is boot camp in the AM and an "active recovery" FLU workout (treadmill for 60 minutes in zone 1 which basically amounts to walking slowly) in the PM followed by our weekly weigh in. I am not sure if I have lost anything or not. My goal was only to lose .75 pounds so how can you really tell?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Zone 2, Zone 2 wherefore art thou Zone 2?

The FLU challenge this week is to stay in zones 1 through 3 all week and to rack up between 2500 and 3500 calories. We are not to dare venture into zone 4 lest we incur the wrath or the challenge lords or at least forfeit points on the challenge which will ultimately determine who wins the massages, personal training, awe and admiration of the other team (or perhaps not so much awe and admiration as jealousy and disdain ...).

I have no problem at all getting to 2500 calories, I easily burn 3500 most weeks. The zone thing would prove to be more of a challenge than I thought. My initial plan was to get my weekly long run in yesterday but my quads had a different idea. I am up for 10 miles accroding to my schedule. My quads were so tight (and still are) there was no way I could run yesterday. I was trying to figure out what I did to cause them to hurt but the only thing I can figure is the extra running this week? Who knows... Either way, ouch!

The thing with being on a schedule for an upcoming race is that there is not a whole lot of flexibility. If you don't get the miles in, there is not much room to move things around and work it in elsewhere, especially if you are a 8 to 5 working girl like me. So, since I opted not to run yesterday, there was no getting out of the run today. My legs still were still tight so I contemplated just running out on some of the flatter roads around my house but ended up going to Stone Mountain as per usual.

I got an ipod nano over Christmas which I was excited to try out. I downloaded an audio book, The Heretic's Daughter, and hit the road. I do not know why it never occured to me before how great it would be to listen to a book while trying to run down some training miles. It was perfect and got my mind off the major task at hand which was ticking off 10 miles.

The secondary task at hand was trying to keep in zone 3 or below. Honestly, I thought this would be a piece o' red velvet cake whole grain low fat granola bar. Not so... Before today, I would have said that I mostly ran in zone 2. I rarely feel like I am pushing myself all that hard. I was wrong. In my run today, I ran on the top edge of zone 3 almost the entire time. I really only backed down into zones 1 & 2 on downhill sections. It was difficult the first 5 miles to keep my rate from crossing over into zone 4. A couple of the hills, I had to stop and walk to keep my heart rate down. I got a better feel for controlling it on the second 5-mile loop but was still surprised at how slow I felt I had to run to keep out of zone 4. It really was interesting to see how much harder I push myself than I thought. So, between the audio book and the obsession with checking my heart rate every few seconds I was plenty distracted to forget about the distance!

Nutrition... I am pretty proud of myself thus far. I stocked up on grapes, carrots, so on and so forth and at this point have nothing in my house that might be tempting which is an accomplishment in and of itself. I am a serious snackhound so to try and turn that part of my eating around is quite the task. So far, so good! Last night, we had mahi with jasmine rice, fruit salsa and bruseel sprouts. It was awesome if I do say so myself!

Side note, I got the best peanut butter yesterday. Holy Moly, yummmmmmmm! Naturally Nutty Foods Butter Toffee. Yes, I ordered peanut butter online. It was I saw this on another blog, Run to Finish , and could not resist. If you LOVE peanut butter (that won't give you salmonella...), this is a must try!

That is my story for this weekend, gotta run, the laundry has overtaken the living room and is screaming to be put away. Exciting stuff!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Endurance Testing

Here we are day two of my new healthy eating plan :) I do get a little hungry mid-morning and post-dinner but am hoping that is just my body getting used to my new lifestyle. I am the "keeper of the candy dish" at work (that is my official title, I am pretty sure my business cards will arrive any day now). As the keeper, there is always candy at arm's length. I think I told you that I read an article about how candy dish people got bigger raises. That hasn't really happened but I do have more visitors to my office and those visitors get surprisingly cranky if you have less than desirable candy. My goal this week has been to resist the urge to tap into the candy dish. so far, so good...

The interesting thing about my group is that if I saw them on the street, I would say they did not need to change a thing about their shape. Some are in there to lose a few pounds, others to lose body fat, and some are in there to gain muscle. It is funny how you can be in the kind of shape the majority of the population would kill for yet still have issues with the way you look. For me, I was always slightly bigger than the rest of the kids as a child so I think that image carries with me through life. (Did I tell you I quit gymnastics as a 5 or 6 year old because a fellow student told me I had fat toes? I was a sensitive little kid...) Even now that I am on the smaller side and more fit than I have ever been in my 40 years, I still feel like I could do more. This experience has been eye opening in that I am certain that 95% of us out there aren't happy with our appearances no matter how fit we are. Sad but true...

Today's workout was bootcamp in the morning and then I did a treadmill endurance test with my teammates later in the day. The purpose of the test was to give a before and after so we can see how the heart rate training has improved our speed. The test was a 30 minute run at a 2% incline. During the run, you had to be at your threshold or 10 beats below the whole time. My distance covered at the end of the test was 2.58 miles. Theoretically, if I do the training as prescribed, I should be able to cover a longer distance in the same amount of time at the same heart rate at the end of this program. We are going to do another test at 4 and 8 weeks.

After work, I stopped by the grocery store and loaded up the cart with all sorts of healthy favorites. The plan is to try and bring breakfast and lunch to work as much as possible to save some cash and have better control of my intake. I leave the house at 5:15 each morning to go to the gym and then don't get home until 6:00 or later if I have tennis so I eat most meals and snacks on the go. The trick will be getting in the habit of packing up food every night. On the up side, it should save me a bundle of cash over eating out!

What is happening this weekend... I am planning to sleep in tomorrow - WOO HOO - and then work in a 10 mile run followed by a cleaning spree at home. Sunday is strength training and then who knows?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day one is just about in the books...

I started off with an early morning workout. It really is the best time to hit the gym, very few people there, your choice of machines. In the morning most people are in a hurry trying to get a workout, get dressed and get to work. Speaking of getting dressed at the gym... Have I mentioned thong lady? Yes, she gets completely dressed from the waist up and then puts her makeup on and dries her hair whilst wearing a thong. Lets just say she isn't the body type you might expect. The funny part is that she bends over and dries her hair upside down in front of the mirror. Put a towel on sister! But I digress....

I worked on varying between zones 2 and 3 today in my run. It really is quite the art to keep the pace down just enough so you stay in zone 2 or up just enough to maintain zone 3. The bonus is the treadmill normally is a snoozer but by alternating every 2 minutes, you are preoccupied with watching the timer and before you know it, you are done! I ended up burning exactly 400 calories... Ok it was 397 so I walked until I hit 400. I am a little OCD that way. 400 calories and 4.5 miles.

On the food front... excellent work today and it was not without some effort on my part! Every blue moon, one of the local temp agencies will drop by and bring treats for me trying to bribe me into using their services. (OK, if I was in the market for a temp that ploy would work but unfortunately for them we aren't in need of temps right now). Anyhoo... these visits are so few and far between I can't even remember the last time they stopped by to see me. Wouldn't you know they popped in today, bearing gifts. Sigh.... a box of hand dipped cherries. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? YOU COULDN'T HAVE COME YESTERDAY??? What luck. I donated the chocolates to friends and ate my orange instead. I cannot tell you how hard that was to give up.

My score for day one: A+

Tomorrow: Boot camp in the AM and then a 30 minutes endurance test in the afternoon. Might go see "he's just not that into you" afterwards - cannot wait!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I have a case of the F.L.U.

Apparently, it is contagious. There are nine of us in all... F.L.U. is Fit Life University, my group that is going to take me from here to "fierce" in 8 weeks. OK, so maybe if I am not fierce in 8 weeks I'll at least have better endurance and speed. :)

The pre-work was the cardio assessment on Sunday which gave me a starting point for calorie consumption. On Tuesday, I met with the nutritionist for remedial nutrition training (yes, I am ashamed to say I met with her before and fell off the wagon - you can see why I need this group again!). My main problem was once I started adding in all the extra workouts that came with the marathon, I had no idea what to eat, when or how much. We came up with options for eating out and eating on the go and I left her office feeling confident once again!

Tonight was measurement night. The first of weekly meetings for the next two months. Everyone was weighed, measured, and calipered. While this was taking place one by one we discussed goals for the next two weeks and what might be realistic. For me, this is about accountability. My nutrition is the worst. I know this. Now you all know too. I fell into the trap of thinking because I worked out more than a typical person that I could eat whatever I wanted. Yeah, I got away with it. I didn't gain weight training for the marathon but I didn't lose it either. My goal was a little difficult to formalize as really and truly I just need to get motivation (or a butt kicking) to get on the nutrition wagon. I would like to lose some body fat and probably about 6 or 8 pounds. After all the measuring was done, it turns out I am at 19% body fat currently so we set a goal of 15% and 6 pounds.

Things I learned this week:
1. Each week you need a cheat hour. You always hear about having a cheat day. If you think about it, that is a lot of room for error. Tonight, one of my team mates (Spencer aka "puffy") mentioned that it really should only be an hour. It makes perfect sense. An hour is enough to satisfy a craving or allowing you an indulgence but not long enough to destroy everything you have done all week.

2. Nutrition is 80% of the program. If you are neglecting the nutritional side of your life, you will never reach your fitness goals. No matter how many marathons you run in a year. Really. I am living proof.

3. (This came from my risk point assessment - the blood test - and might be something you already knew but it was new to me...) HDL is driven up or down by exercise. LDL is solely on nutrition. I got my blood test back and was surprised to find my LDL was slightly high. Only about 20 points but high. I have never had that happen! It was my own version of scared straight. Seriously.

4. I figured out how much more my heart rate monitor does that I had no idea! That puppy stores my calorie burn for the past 16 weeks, mileage, hours that I worked out, heart rate zones I was in during the work out. So cool! I have had the watch over a year and had no idea.

So that is F.L.U. in a nutshell as of tonight. I have a 30-minute endurance test on Friday and then the testing is done for now. The reality of the program hit me on the drive home. I was planning my morning tomorrow thinking I could go workout earlier than normal and go to Panera for my favorite bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich. Oh. Wait a minute... I have to log my food starting tomorrow. Funny, it only took about 15 minutes to forget about my new improved eating! Ha. I probably could get away with an egg and cheese sandwich but might pass it up for a protein shake. At least on the first day :)

Today's workout was 1 hour on the stairmill in zones 2 and 3. Normally, this should have been bootcamp day but my trainer had an emergency of some sort so we tagged along with another group on their workout. It worked out for me as I rarely do the stairmill and love it as a workout.

On tap for tomorrow: Continuing with heart rate training. I have a 1 hour treadmill workout alternating 2 minutes in zone 2 and 1 minute in zone 3. Normally, I hate the treadmill but these workouts keep you motivated because you are watching the time so it keeps you from getting bored.

Challenge for the week: Burn 2500-3000 calories only in zones 1 through 3.

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Cardio Testing Results....

Today was the "mass testing" day of my new pilot group at LFT. We were each assigned a time to be at the club for resting metabolism and heart rate testing. There were eight of us to be tested in all so it promised to be a day of waiting around and I was not disappointed. The very first appointment got off to a late start and then everything just fell behind from there. It actually worked out in my favor as I was able to watch the last bit of the Federer-Nadal match while I was waiting this morning. A few of the tests took longer than expected and before you know it everything is about an hour off schedule. We were supposed to be out of there by 1:00 and ended up getting done around 3:00. The trainers who designed this program are doing this on their own without compensation so they certainly put in their volunteer work today!

First up was the resting metabolism test. Basically, you fast for 12 hours and then sit in a chair with some sort of breathing apparatus attached for about 10 minutes. Some sort of scientific stuff takes place with your breathing and the computer determines your resting heart rate as well as the amount of calories you need to just survive each day (not including any sort of exercise or calorie burn from sitting at a desk).

My resting heart rate is 53.

My calorie burn is 1526 before exercise.
This varies greatly from person to person. One person in the group has a calorie burn of 911 and some men in the group had calorie burns of 2500+.

The idea behind knowing your resting metabolism is that it is easier to figure out how many calories you need to achieve your goals. If a pound is 3500 calories, you can factor in your calorie burn through exercise and come up with a very close estimate at what you need to eat to lose (or gain) weight.

The second part of the testing today was cardio testing. You wear the same sort of breathing apparatus and go through testing on a treadmill while hooked up to a PC. You are gradually taken either faster or at a higher incline until you achieve a certain quotient in the program. Based on what your heart rate is when you hit certain target quotients gives you your heart rate zones. During this whole process, the volume of oxygen you absorb per minute and recovery heart rate are also measured. You have all probably seen the heart rate charts in the gym but these are based on your own individual abilities which, in my experience, can vary greatly from the heart rate zones for your age group. The test is over once you hit AT which is right on the edge of zone 4 in your heart rate range. At this point in the testing, some people have lost the will to live because you feel like you can't go another step.

Once you finish the test, you get a print out of your heart rate zones and in which zones you are currently most efficient in burning fat. The ideal scenario would be that you burn 50% fat/50% sugar/carbs in zones 1 & 2 and 30% fat/70% carbs/sugar in zone 3. Once you get past AT, you are pretty much just burning sugar. thus the premise of the whole program is training your body to be the most efficient in zones 1 through 3 to maximize fat burning which ultimately should make you faster without feeling like you are expending as much energy. Maybe I am a geek but it sounds cool to me...

My results were:

Zone 1: 124 - 134 bpm (base heart rate is 134 - this is where I am most efficient at fat burning - 49%)

Zone 2: 134 - 148 bpm (currently burning 35% fat in zone 2; ideal is 50%)

Zone 3: 148 - 162 bpm (currently burning 20% fat in zone 3; ideal is 30%)

Threshold: 162 bpm (the point at which I stop burning fat and just burn carbs)

VO2 (Volume of Oxygen absorbed): Peak is 40.9 ml/kg/min; threshold is 39.7 ml/kg/min (the closer the peak and threshold are is an indicator of fitness - woo hoo!). In my age group (40-49 - ha!) I am in the 90% percentile compared to others my age and gender. Your body needs oxygen to burn fat so apparently I have things covered from this end.

Recovery heart rate: Starting 151; after 1 min 115 (-36); after 2 min 101 (-50). I recover pretty quickly so that was not a surprise to me. The ideals are -20 or more after 1 minute and -40 or more after 2 minutes.

Well, that is just all scientifically interesting so now what, you ask? Based on my heart rate and where I am most efficient (which is zone 1/2), I have a series of workouts to do three times a week for the next eight weeks to try and maximize my fat burning in zones 2 and 3 to improve my overall fitness foundation which will improve my threshold, endurance, speed, and you get the picture... The workouts are basically spending certain amounts of time in zone 2 or 3 or whichever zone you are focusing on. Somes days you might spend an hour doing 2 minutes in zone 2, 2 in 3 and 1 in 4 or just a flat 60 minutes staying in zone 2.

The bonus to these workouts is that it is going to force me into a day or two of 2-a-day workouts so I can get used to the idea before I dive into training for the Ironman in May which will involve several 2-a-day scenarios. Tomorrow will be my first official "double".

I am pretty excited to give it a try. The two trainers in the group and my other teammates are very enthusiastic as well. There are a variety of incentive prizes at the end of the 2 months odyssey so I am hoping I can hang on and earn some free personal training, massages, or some of the other treats! I am all about the cardio side; the nutrition is my achilles heel so say a little prayer for me :)