Thursday, August 25, 2011

An Ode to the Farmer's Market

There are so many things I love about where we live now... it's hard to believe that I once tried to flee to the other side of the globe to get away from all things familiar.  Youthful rebellion, maybe?  Or the fact that I actually "grew up" in the next town over, which is not so nice?  Either way, this week I've been full of gratitude that, at least for now, we live in such a quaint little corner of the world.  Technically we're right in the middle of the Inland Empire sprawl, but Redlands is like a little oasis, in a way.  So here are a few pictures in tribute to my favorite Thursday night activity: Market Night!

Is it sad that I get so excited over fresh produce?

There's just something so beautiful about all the different shapes and colors of veggies on display.

And the flowers....

Oh, the flowers....

However, tonight I will NOT be attending Market Night, since I have managed to talk the Husband into going out for Indian food (because the thought of cooking, or even being, in a 100 degree house with no AC is unfathomable).  Hooray for spontaneous date nights!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

08/15 - 08/21 - A Somewhat Cautious Week

Workouts for last week:

8/15 (Monday) - Yoga - 1 hour
8/16 (Tuesday) - Body Pump - 1 hour
8/17 (Wednesday) - Run 1.82 miles - 21 minutes
8/18 (Thursday) - Run 3.12 miles on treadmill - 33:35 (pretty fast, for me, and I paid for it)
8/19 (Friday) - Walk 1.41 miles to the Redlands Bowl (orchestra and fireworks!)
8/20 (Saturday) - Walk 1.68 miles around town with the Husband.
8/21 (Sunday) - Run 2 miles - 24 minutes; Body Pump - 1 hour

Subtract the smile and chiseled arms, add in a grimace of pain, and that's me!
Though I was active every day, I was really taking it easy last week.  I feel like I've been on the verge of injury for a couple weeks now; oddly enough, my legs are doing okay, but my upper body is plaguing me with cramping muscles, nerve pain, etc.  I took it easy in Body Pump (though it's hard - my not-so-inner competitor finds it difficult to watch people lifting more than me), and didn't challenge myself in yoga, opting for gentle stretches instead (I have no inner competitor in yoga, due to accepting my total lack of flexibility).

I intended to run 3 miles on Friday, but when it became clear that work explosions would necessitate me doing some overtime Friday morning, I opted for a 5K on the treadmill out of utter frustration.  I should never run out of utter frustration.  I averaged a 10:40 pace for the entire run, which is pretty fast for me.  That evening was fine, but the next day I was having sciatic nerve pain (I think?) down the back of my legs and through my bum.  Not horribly painful, but sitting was uncomfortable, and the wooden benches at the Redlands bowl almost killed me!

1812 Overture... with fireworks!

I know that a certain level of discomfort is inevitable.  I'm challenging my body to do things that it's never done before, and I've upped the intensity of my workouts substantially in the last month.  So I'm rolling with the pain and just being careful - the thought of getting injured is scary and discouraging, so I am trying to strike a balance between being cautious and pushing myself every day.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Let the training... begin!

I've always been an independent sort of person.  Well, some may say "loner," I choose to say independent!  I love new experiences and don't mind seeking them out on my own.  I don't let myself rely on the support of loved ones and would never NOT go somewhere/do something just because no one would come with me, or because someone told me it's "not a good idea."  I've always considered this a good quality, but honestly.... kind of a lonely one.

Running, and becoming more athletic in general, has taught me so much about mental fortitude, and what it takes to push past negative self-talk and self-imposed limitations.  When your brain is screaming at you that something is too hard, insurmountable, impossible, and yet you are able to shut it down and let the strength of your body carry you through.... that is an amazing feeling.  I'm sure this is something most people learn earlier in life, through being active, playing sports, engaging in healthy competition... but I'm a late arrival to the world of athleticism, and every run is like a revelation to me.

The problem is, I don't trust it yet.  I want to increase my mileage and am looking towards some long runs/races in my future (bucket list!) but honestly, the thought of running 6, 8, 10 miles by myself is daunting.  I think I can get my body trained to the point where I can handle it, but on the mental side, I'm ready to admit for the first time in my life that I just MIGHT need some help.

But that's why god made running groups!

I've joined a half-marathon training program with this group in Loma Linda.  They meet at 6:30am every Sunday morning (dios mio...) and do their long runs together.  I'm a little bit nervous, to be honest (confession: a slight issue with social anxiety is partly responsible for my independent, go-it-alone tendencies).  I'm taking the plunge though, and I think it will be good for me.  The older I get, the more I realize that I need to expand my social circle and start actually relying on people now and then.  I'm trying not to let the fact that I've chosen an inherently solitary sport hinder me in that respect.

The first meeting was Sunday morning, and I really enjoyed it!  There are a ton of people (200, easy) of all fitness levels.  We signed up, collected free stuff and our shirts (bright Pepto pink, bummer), attended an orientation, and ran a timed mile so they can put it in pace groups.  I've ended up in the 12 minute group, with the option to drop down to 13 if I find myself dying on the road.  Hopefully that won't happen!  But we'll see  :)

I'm excited.  This is the start of something good.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My Healthy Self - Part 1

Sometimes I look at where I am in life, relative to where I came from, and I am just... I don't know.  Wondrous?  Confused?  Maybe.  Mostly grateful, though.

Me at age 19, smoking a cigarette in the parking lot, thinking I was cute...

If you had shown my 19-year-old self, at one of the lowest points in my young life, a picture of me today and of my life and interests, she would not believe you.  She would not think herself capable of becoming the person I am today - a person who cooks, who runs 3 days a week, who can get to work on time at 7am.  A person pursuing an MBA and who really enjoys her accounting classes.  A person who spent two years as a vegetarian and would one day say goodbye to gluten forever.  A married person; a mother, one day soon I hope. A person who's ideal Friday night is spent reorganizing dresser drawers, talking with her spouse, eating kale chips, and hydrating for a hard workout the next morning (don't judge me).

First and foremost, she would never believe that she could look and feel the way I look and feel today.

May 2011

I have lost 80 pounds.  The looks I get from people when I say that are incredulous.  They want to see pictures.  Honestly I seldom think about "the number," and how it sounds to others when I say it out loud. I admit that I am amazed at how hard it is to lift an 80-pound barbell, yet I used to lug that much extra poundage around all the time; I also pause in wonder when I see full-page articles in magazines highlighting women who have lost 30, 40, or 50 pounds.  That's me.  That's me PLUS 30!

Christmas 2004.  That's me on the left at my heaviest, one month before I cut out meat and started exercising (and taking time to straighten my hair before work).

Maybe it doesn't seem very drastic to me because it was a very slow process.  I made a life-changing decision to become a vegetarian on January 13, 2005; that was the first in a long series of steps towards good health.  I also never "dieted."  It always seems like people make a bold declaration to the world: "I am on a DIET!" and from that point on the clock is ticking and it's all about how successful the diet is, or how much of a failure.  It took me a long time to educate myself on eating right and exercise (I have a shelf of For Dummies books as evidence!), and each of the changes were gradual and based on my expanding knowledge base.  Being diagnosed with Celiac was certainly a big turning point for me, but I can honestly say that it came at the best possible time in my life.  Any earlier, and I would have been terrified.  Defeated.  I would have found it to be an impossible life sentence, and my health would have suffered.  Instead, the diagnosis was my personal tipping point.  The disease provided me with a powerful motivation to clean up my act once and for all - to take charge of my body, to not let peer pressure or advertisements or my own inexperience decide how active I should be or what I should put in my body.  And you know what?  I have never felt better.

I want to write a series here (hence the "Part 1" in the title) on where I came from, and where I'm going, in terms of my health, activities, body image and journey to self-love.  First and foremost I'm writing it for me, because I still need to wrap my head around this aspect of my life.  I mostly need to reflect, not just on how much better I feel now, but on why I let myself get to such an unhealthy state before.  A lot of it was environmental, societal... but a lot of the blame lies on me, and my own lack of empowerment when it comes to my own health and body.  I need to fully understand how I lost that power and sense of self, so that I can be sure it never happens again.

So stay tuned....