What I Did in 2011

So, I’ve learned that I can’t run and run and run off the fat around my tummy and hips. I’ve earned that abs are made in the kitchen. I’ve learned the lifting weights will help tighten and tone my body. And I’ve learned that interval training–getting your heart rate up to 85-90% of max–for shorter durations can complement the weight training. And I’ve learned that long runs can stress the body out and make it hold on to fat. (At least, I think these are right. Still learning…)

I remember the spring of 2011. I was training for my first marathon. My training pretty much went like this:

-3 days of running (2 mid-week 30-min run and 1 long run) – Jeff Galloway’s training plan

-3 days of Jillian Michaels 30-Day Shred

-Occasional cross training in bike or pool

My body was transforming, though. My belly flattened and my hips and thighs got skinnier. I can see it in pictures from marathon race day. That pink shirt is tight on my belly now.

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Amanda, me and Stacie. It’s been too long since I’ve seen these two ladies.
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Marathon training partners. Me and Zoe. I miss my running buddy!
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Just a little nervous.

What was I doing then?

First of all, I wasn’t running that much. Two 30-minute runs during the week is not much. During long runs, we used Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method because I was very scared of getting injured (fractured my shin prior to my 2010 marathon and didn’t get to run it). So…I was essentially doing a type of interval training on those long runs. Running 5 minutes and walking 1. This probably kept my body from being too stressed. Plus the calorie burn of long runs over 10 miles is curazee.

Then, I was doing my Jillian DVD consistently. It included some weight and interval training. Three times per week. That’s all it was.

So, I was doing some things right back then.

My plan for the future. I have three races coming up in June: A 50-mile relay, a sprint tri and a half marathon. I am going to cut my running to 3x/week. I’m going to swim 1x/week and I’m going to bike at least 2x/week. I’m going to weight train at least 5x/week with three of those days being 30 minutes (and the others only 15 minutes) for now. This could change. But this is the goal. I’m going to eat more veggies and protein, and I’m going to keep my grains whole and in moderation. I don’t necessarily believe in cutting out foods, but I’m going to continue cut down on my dairy and see if that helps my skin even more. And I’m aiming for 100 ounces of water a day.

I’d been trying to figure out what training plan to use for my marathon in December. I’d been leaning toward Hansons, which is a lot of running. A lot. I do like the idea of that, but I also like to look lean, and I’m not going for any BQ’s or Olympic-qualifying times here, so I think I may use Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method again. It worked for me before, why not use it again? I had a wonderful first marathon experience. I want that again. And I want to look good running it. 😉

Holy Crap, I Forgot About This!

I mean, I didn’t completely forget, since we’ve been texting back and forth about what color Team Sparkle skirt we are wearing, but I kinda forgot about the running part. *gulp*

Looks like I’m Leg 2 again. Hoping it won’t be as muddy as last year since it’s been a little warmer this spring.

By the way, Leg 2 is more than 6.3 miles. Closer to 7.

Here is my Leg 2 recap from last year’s Rainier to Ruston 50-Mile Relay. We’re going back as the Honey Buckettes to defend our title (we won our division last year)!

Frustration Update: Two Things I Think I’m Doing Wrong

Please excuse the mess of a post below, but I am just throwing down everything I’ve learned in the short amount of free time I had in the past 24 hours…

In my battle with the bulge around my stomach, hips and thighs, there are two things I believe I may be doing wrong.

1. Eating the wrong foods.

2. Doing the wrong types work outs.

I am so glad I wrote yesterday’s post because a) hearing from you made me feel better and b) I learned some things. (Those are the two best reasons for having a blog, by the way.) It seems I am not the only one struggling with this layer of fat that disguises the results of all my hard work. Hours and hours of exercise and hardly any muscle definition to show for it. It makes me want to give up sometimes, you know what I mean? My friend Karla (click the link to go to her blog Running on Eagles Wings), gave me a great resource. I could barely go to sleep last night after reading it, I was so sure I’d stumbled on a possible solution my fat loss problem. (I now know my prob is fat loss, not weight loss.)

The Web site is JillFit.com and the article I am finding particularly eye-opening is “25 Insights on Belly Fat.” The article also links to a great post by Metabolic Effect on belly f at.

The Metabolic Effect article basically explains the two types of belly fat: visceral and subcutaneous. Here’s my dumbed-down version of the descriptions. Visceral is a the deep stuff that’s around the organs and is “hard.” Think skinny guy with a large, tight gut. You can’t pinch visceral fat. Subcutaneous is the kind that is stored directly under the skin. It can be pinched. This is the stuff that hangs over the waist of my jeans.

Blog author Jade writes in the ME post: “The visceral fat is more quickly stored and more easily burned.  This is because being deeper in the body it has a greater blood supply and is more sensitive to the fat burning catecholamines than is subcutaneous fat.” Go read the article. I bet you’ll have an Aha Moment.

Here’s a great point from Jill’s post:

Many people who continue to do more and more exercise hardly make a dent in their midsection. This is because belly fat is not do-more-exercise issue.

All 25 of her points are great, go read her post. As for me, I have to fix my nutrition.

I thought I was eating great, but now I think I wasn’t. Too many carbs, not enough lean protein and veggies. And, wow, have I been eating a lot of dairy. A lot. I’ve been having a cup of Greek yogurt with some other carby delight for breakfast. Then, I’ve been having a cup of cottage cheese for lunch (topped with avocados and tomatoes). Later, I’ll have a Babybel Light cheese, and then I’ll probably have some more cheese on something for dinner.

The Metabolic Effect article says about nutrition: “The fix lies in replacing the sugar and starch with fiber and raising the protein while normalizing the fat,” and OMG, “Cheese & yogurts, while high in protein, can add to the fat and sugar burden so a six pack diet uses dairy foods in small amounts only.”

Oops.

I also need to rethink my exercise routine. I have been enjoying building my running base. Well, I was enjoying it at first. But lately it’s become a bit of a burden. I just don’t have the time with my schedule right now to run 5-6 days a week. And, get this: Endurance cardio may be part of my problem. What?! Yes.

From Jill’s post: “…when cortisol is around in high amounts…the arms and legs can get smaller and the middle can get wider as a result. You’ll typically see this when someone doesn’t work out or only engages in long-duration moderate intensity cardio, like marathon runners.” AND: “Cortisol can become chronically high as a result of many different kinds of stress,” Jill writes. One of the things that can make it high: Long. Duration. Cardio. (Especially the moderate intensity kind. Fabulous.)

Hello, that’s what I do. That’s what runners do! Sure, we throw some repeats in on Tuesdays and a tempo run on Thursdays, but most of the time it’s long, slow and apparently making us fat!

The key to exercising for fat loss, according to Jill (and coincidentally what I heard on this week’s Jillian Michaels podcast) is shorter, higher intensity work outs. And lifting heavy weights. (Remember, though, you can’t exercise the fat away. You have to get your nutrition in order.)

I cannot tell you how relieved I am to hear that I can get more fat loss benefits from shorter work outs. I was really struggling to get in long runs and tons of cardio recently.

I plan to focus on intensity and less on distance during the week, but I still have to get in some longer runs in order to train for races. I still need to do some more reading on that.

I need to do some more reading on all of this, but it’s a good start. Today, I ate better, and I turned my trainer ride into 1-minute sprints. And I lifted weights while my son was in the tub.

Thoughts?! Experience with this fat loss stuff? Links to share?

Frustration

Have you noticed that long runs and long bike rides don’t seem to do much for weight loss?

I have since, you know, I’ve been at about the same weight for over a year now (nothing I do really seems to work). Like I’ve mentioned before, I’m actually fine with the number on my scale, but it’s the tummy that hangs over my pants, the blubbery looking thighs, the squishy hips, and basically the fact that you cannot see much (if any) muscle definition on my body at all despite working out quite a bit.

I exercise 5, 6 or more hours per week. What the f? I just want the way my body looks to reflect my hard work. Is that too much to ask?

I feel like if I lose about 10 pounds, maybe I’ll be able to see the muscle definition. But I don’t know. I still feel like I have these layers of fat over my muscles. Clearly, cardio isn’t working. I’ve added more strength.

I eat clean 85% of the time. I don’t buy crap. I don’t eat a lot of candy or much sugar at all (so little that as soon as I do eat it, I can feel it coursing through my body and I hate that feeling).  I don’t drink soda. I take my coffee black. I eat fruits and vegetables. I eat lean protein and whole grains. There are days that are exceptions, of course, but most of the time, I eat very well.

My work outs are almost daily. Mondays are usually an hour of swimming (or strength and biking combined for 45 minutes to an hour). Tuesdays are typically 30-40 minutes of running with 15 minutes of strength. Wednesdays are usually biking for 30 minutes and 15 minutes of strength. Thursdays: repeat Tuesday. Fridays are an hour of swimming or a 45-minute run and strength. Saturday is my long ride or my long run and Sunday is whatever I didn’t do on Saturday. Occasionally, I’ll get tired and take a day completely off. Maybe I am overtraining? I mean, I’m only training for a sprint tri, so I don’t know how I could train any less for this triathlon.

Ugh. I feel like I need help, but I’m not sure where to turn or what to do or change. I just want to look like the athlete I feel I am.

I’m Not Going to Have a Baby Anymore

My son’s school held a Kindergarten Open House last night. I did not cry. I only got misty. Win!  He was very interested in seeing the classrooms, which we got to do, and was excited about the library and all the books everywhere. The school bus ride was also a hit.

Karsen is super excited about the bus ride at Kindergarten Open House. Mommy and Daddy, not so much.

The open house was really helpful for me, and I’m sure for Karsen, too. I am having a hard time with this whole idea of him going to school. I’m very excited for him because I know he is going to love it and have so much fun learning, but at the same time, I am struggling with the fact that he is growing up. He is our only. And will always be our only. I’m not going to have a baby at home anymore! There is a pile of toys he’s outgrown in our bonus room that I intended on getting rid of two months ago. I just can’t. You know what’s not helping? I now know 10 pregnant women. Also not helping: every TV commercial with babies.

The funniest thing that happened at the open house was during the short speech in the school’s gym by the PTSA rep at the beginning of the night. She was talking about raising money and about new playground equipment that had recently been installed when Karsen turned to me and, in a loud whisper, said, “This school has a playground?!” He also got excited when the principal mentioned “running laps” as part of an exercise program they do every Monday. “How many laps?” he asked. “As many as you want,” I said. His face lit up.

Yes, my kid likes to run laps…which is why when we visited the playground, he actually only played on the equipment for about 5 minutes before asking me if he could go to the soccer field to run. “Go for it,” I said, shaking my head without shaking me head, and feeling proud at the same time. Because I love to run, too, so I get it.

Off he went. My little boy looked so tiny with his skinny arms and legs pumping as he crossed a vast stretch of green for no reason in particular other than to get that feeling that running gives you. There was no finish line. Nobody to beat. He was just running. Nothing else.

Peace and happiness washed over me as I watched him. I only hope I can wrap myself in those feelings when he runs off to the first day of school in September.