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The Ebb and Flow of Running

8 Mar

Me and Running. Two steps forward. One step back. That is the little dance we are doing these days.

Back in the day, when I had “free time”…you know, before being a mom happened, my whole world was running and racing. I was able to keep pretty rigid training plans, knowing exactly what combination of miles/minutes running, cross-training, and strength training it would take for me to hit my targets. I was able to religiously count and catalog every calorie that graced my lips. Yes, once upon a time I was very, VERY dedicated to My Fitness Pal. And one of the greatest luxuries I had back then that I completely took for granted was sleep.

Oh, beautiful restful sound sleep, I miss you. We will be besties again…in a few years….maybe.

Until my life returns to some normal schedule (I say this like that is really going to happen. Is this naïve of me?), I will be content to be caught up in the ebb and flow of running.

Some weeks all the planets will align, my kiddo will get restful sleep (which means, I, in turn, will do the same), he will not spit up on EVERYTHING in sight (requiring me to spend my time doing endless loads of laundry), and I will get the “free time” to get in several regular runs and possibly some time on the bike (Yes, Running, I do occasionally cheat on you with Cycling). It will be these weeks where I think, “Hey, look at me, getting back in the swing of things!” I will get all giddy and whip out my race calendar faster than you can say “fartlek.”

Then the next week will come along, Murphy’s Law will slap me right across the face and say, “You didn’t really think I was going to let you get away with all that fun, did you??” It will be on those weeks that everything that could go wrong, will go wrong. Little Nugget will not sleep, he will spit up on everything in the house…daily, the dog will throw up on the carpet, there will be a massive wreck on the interstate (turning my commute home from one hour into two hours), and I will quite literally find myself with zero minutes left in the day for regular running. It will be on these weeks that I will consider my morning shower as the day’s crowning achievement. These weeks, I will feel like all the progress I had made before was all for naught. Perhaps I will even feel like I am backsliding.

And I am just going to have to be okay with it. I will have not let myself walk around my house all pissy-pantsing because I do not get to do what I want to do. Next week will be better.

Running and I started out having a love/hate relationship. Then it turned into a love/love relationship. We don’t get to spend as much time together as we used to. We still have this awesome lifetime bond thing going on, but right now, we just have to have realistic notions about what we can expect from each other. Right now, things are rocky, but I am confident we will work it out. We always do.

How do YOU feel about the ebb and flow of running? Have there been periods in your life where you can truly focus on training and then other periods where you feel like you just cannot get it together?

“I can’t lose weight.”

25 Jan

YES. YOU CAN.

Mayday! Mayday! Its a plateau! (SHRIEK!)


The first key is to figure out what made the scale stop. Are you actually watching what you are eating? Are you exercising like you are supposed to? Are you doing your cardio in your target heart rate’s fat burning zone?

If you have been pretty sedentary, you will find it relatively easy to drop a few pounds by only adding light cardio and watching what you eat when you first get started. Eventually though, your body gets used to it and the scale gets…well, stuck. I completely understand how frustrating it can be to continue doing all the “right” things and still…nothing. I am currently at that point right now. It is disheartening…and discouraging…and it can even cause the weak-willed to give up on their weight loss goals completely.

Here is the bad news: You have to stick with it.

Here is the worse news: You might just have to try something new. GASP!

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein

Provided you really have been exercising and eating right (and, no, that late-night Twinkie you ate because you were STARVING does not count as “eating right”), you may have to break out of your comfort zone and try something different. When I first started on my journey to a fitter lifestyle, if you had told me all the things I would try on my path to improvement, I would have given you the stink eye. At the time, telling me that I would eventually try things like diet cleanses, drinking my greens, and rock climbing all seemed like “hippie” stuff and I probably would not have wanted any part of them. But when you want to reach your goal badly enough, you are willing to at least TRY new things.

Over the years, I have tried what feels like almost EVERYTHING to get my body to a point where I can look in the mirror and say, “I have worked hard and I am proud of this.” Lots of things did not work, but along the way, I found a handful of things that work really well for me. It is high time that I share them with you.

If you find yourself hitting a plateau with your weight loss, at least consider trying some of these things. You never know, you might find something that works for you!

KEEP A JOURNAL
You think you are eating well, but are you SURE? If you are not already, try keeping a food/exercise log. Write down every single thing that you put in your mouth and try and estimate your caloric intake. You might find out you are snacking a little more than you think. Also, reviewing your food choices might help you find alternatives for cutting a few more calories or incorporating a more well-rounded diet. If you do not want to do this old-school style with a notebook, there are plenty of free online tools that are available. My personal favorite is MyFitnessPal. If you sign up, look for my username (katiemkey) and add me as a friend! We can hold each other accountable and encourage each other! I have been slacking for the past…oh, several months…but I am back on the wagon as TODAY!

Don't hate. You know the wallpaper in my office is AWESOME.


MACRO GREENS
I am a steak and potatoes kind of girl. Growing up in South Louisiana, our staple dinners revolved around things served with or on white rice or with or on white French bread. Refined sugars, much? I knew I needed to balance out my diet but the thought of downing broccoli made my stomach turn. One day, while complaining about eating carrots, a friend of mine (who happens to be the founder of LiveLong Nutrition) suggested I start drinking my greens. At first I was a little skeptical, but I knew I needed the balance. I ordered some and I have now grown to love drinking my greens! I am not going to lie, it takes some getting used to. When I first tried them, I had mix them with blueberry juice and water (the blueberry juice was strong enough to “hide” the taste of the greens), but now I just mix them with water, shake, drink, and go on down the road! You get used to the taste, I promise. I find that when I drink them I have more energy and increased mental clarity. I also feel like they keep my system flushed of junky stuff.

2-PART CLEANSE AND FLUSH
Body cleanses are not for the faint of heart. Different diet cleanses effect your body in different ways and you have stomach that churns easily, you will need to choose wisely. There are all kinds of cleanses ranging from 7 days to 2 months. I have tried many of them and I have finally found one that works great for me. I absolutely LOVE the 2-Part Cleanse and Flush Detoxify and Eliminate from Smoothie King. It is a 21-day cleanse and I can absolutely notice a difference in my body when I start this program…even within the first couple of days. In fact, when I quit breastfeeding, I could not wait to get out and pick up this cleanse to help flush my system. I have tried the cleanses that are in the 7-14 day range and they are just too harsh for me. I would go into more detail here, but suffice it to say, they are ROUGH on the system. I find that this cleanse, in particular, is effective and mild on my stomach. I have done it at least a handful of times now and I am currently on it now. I highly recommend it and for less than $25, it might be worth trying.

MIX UP THE CARDIO
So, obviously I like to run, right? But did you know that I also love cycling, rock climbing, hiking, and Zumba? I did not know how much I would love these things until I forced myself to try them. In fact, after switching out one run per week with a workout on the bike, I have never trimmed inches and gotten faster with my running so quickly. Plus, the added advantage was that I was training myself for a duathlon without even realizing it! If you are in a running rut, consider adding a new type of cardio that challenges your body in a new way. Here are some things you might like:
• Cycling I swear it will help your speed!
• Zumba So long, muffin top!
• SUP (stand-up paddling) or YOLO boards This can be so relaxing and works out the core and shoulders big time!
• Boxing If you are leery, lots of boxing gyms offer at least one free class so you can try it out!
• Hiking Check out www.trails.com to find a place near you!

Looks fun, right?


GET A LITTLE INSPIRATION
If seeing the scale stuck on a number is getting you down…find something or someone that inspires you. There are stories all over the internet of people who have worked hard and lost 10, 20, 100, or even 200 pounds! Want to complain that you are too tired to push it in your work out today? Read a story about Serena Burla, a runner who defeated cancer and went on to the Olympic trials earlier this month. Or just check out the millions of YouTube clips of people competing in marathons and Ironman competitons with prosthetics. If they can overcome, so can YOU!

DRINK MORE WATER
Okay, okay, so this one is obvious. You think you are already drinking enough? Drink a little more. I cannot reiterate this enough. Water helps replenish all those fluids you lose during exercise and helps you keep your energy up. And if you do decide to do a diet cleanse, drinking water will help you see even better results. I promise.

SEE A COUNSELOR
When all else fails, seek professional help. If you really have tried everything under the sun and you feel that absolutely nothing is helping, there might be some underlying issue that needs to be addressed. A registered dietician or other healthcare professional might be able to see something that you are not and might be able to get you over the hump and moving on to a fitter YOU!

As they say on Celebrity Fit Club, the scale doesn’t lie. Calories in have to be less than calories out. That is just the way it is. However, keep in mind that the scale is not everything. In the past, I have been 140 pounds and wearing size 8 jeans and I have been 140 pounds wearing size 4 jeans. Yes, muscle is denser than fat and therefore weighs more but do not use that as an excuse. Be conscious of the scale and be conscious of how you feel.

When you feel “stuck” or that you can’t push through, how do you get over the hump? What advice would you give to someone who feels stuck? What tips, products, or techniques work for you?