Is the secret to losing weight and getting fit this simple?

Is the Secret to Losing Weight and Getting Fit this Simple?

Is the secret to losing weight and getting fit this simple?Do we overthink fitness?

Probably. (I’m sure I do, I overthink everything.)

But is it possible we don’t need P90X, pricey personal trainers or tricky sometimes-dangerous weights routines to get fit and lose weight?

Probably. (Hey, what do I look like an exercise scientist?)

An article in the New York Times has me thinking about it, though. (Ironic, no?) Fitness Crazed shares the story of the article’s author, Daniel Duane, and how he read every study and book under the sun about diet and exercise (sound familiar?), tried them and his body never changed (sound familiar?).

Then a trainer recommended a book to Duane. The book included a super simple strength training routine, which Duane thought looked like an over-simplified joke, but followed for a year anyway.

Guess what? It worked. Duane’s body responded and he got stronger. So what was the secret to his transformation?

It was something that most runners will be familiar with: progressive overload.

Duane writes in the article: “So if your own exercise routine hasn’t brought the changes you’d like, and if you share my vulnerability to anything that sounds like science, remember: If you pay too much attention to stories about exercise research, you’ll stay bewildered; but if you trust the practical knowledge of established athletic cultures, and keep your eye on the progressive overload principle, you will reach a state of clarity.”

So, what was the book Duane followed? “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe, a Texas gym owner. I’d never heard of Mark Rippetoe.

Until today when I heard of him twice in six hours.

Yesterday, I posted an article about CrossFit on my Mom vs. Marathon Facebook page, saying “Here’s why I didn’t use my CrossFit Groupon.” A commenter with an exercise science degree shared some more information about the exercises in that article, and later responded to concerns about getting hurt doing CrossFit.

Early this morning, he suggested some simple strength exercises (one which I already do—yay me!—jumping split squats, which leave me sore every time, try it, it’s great for runners!), and a book called…wait for it… “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe.

Of course, then I saw the NYT article a few hours later.

It was a sign.

Go read the NYT article. If you are serious about being a stronger, better runner, triathlete…or any kind of athlete, you need to read it. It’s not that long (it’ll take you about 5 minutes) and it has some good information regarding the media and fitness studies, and why progressive overload might be the super simple answer to getting fit.

Why are you still here? Go!

Do You Remember When You Were Six?

Do you remember when you were six?I don’t.

My son is six today.

I wonder if he will remember that he’s the world’s fastest runner. That he’s stronger than me and smarter than Daddy. That he’s an accomplished gymnast. That he’s ready for “big league” baseball. And that he could play for the Sounders right now.

He might remember…if this blog is still around. 😉

Happy birthday, buddy!




Unglorious Long Runs

Unglorious long runs
What happens when I try to stretch.

Do you ever have those runs that just never feel right?

That’s how my long run was yesterday. My legs were like two railroad ties and my stomach sounded like a water cooler, the kind that makes the big bubble when you fill up your little paper cup. I could literally hear it all six miles. Oh, I didn’t bring music. That helped.


I left without doing my jumping jacks/crunches/pushups routine thinking I would warm up with a slow first mile…and I never warmed up for the whole six miles.

I just felt so tight. Finally, I stopped around Mile 3 to stretch and that helped some. But man I just sucked. I have some ideas why.

  • I did weights and running strength routine Friday and didn’t stretch. I was very sore Saturday.
  • Saturday night, I ate a bunch of pizza. It was delish, but it had cured meats on it. So.Much.Salt.
  • Later Saturday night, at home, me and my husband made popcorn. More salt and carbs.
  • Also we stayed up till nearly 1 a.m. watching the really crappy Sandra Bullock/Melissa McCarthy movie, The Heat, which had sooooo much potential. I was angry when it was over. It could’ve been so great. Anyway, I’m usually in bed by 10:30 at the latest.
  • I drank a lot of water throughout the night.
  • I’m up a few pounds.
  • Finally, I wore my Brooks PureFlows.

I really hope it wasn’t the PureFlows because I thought they felt pretty good on my feet. And hey, this was surprising, my left arch isn’t sore from the long run like it usually is in the Glycerins and even in the Adrenalines (they have custom orthotics in them). Maybe those shoes are too confining.

That could also be because I ran on average a 10:47/mile pace and I normally run closer to a 10 or under on long, slow days. I couldn’t have done that if a wild boar was chasing me. Which I don’t think we have wild boars here in the Pacific Northwest so that would be verrrrry scary.

I did encounter a sort-of sketchy looking dude on the trail. Not a wild boar, but I noticed I was in the 9’s when I passed the guy, so…that was nice.

So, yeah, it was a mental and physical battle. But I’m proud of myself for staying positive 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent I don’t want to talk about. But most of the time, I just remembered to be thankful for being out there. I get to run.

And I’m happy about the Flows. I ordered a pair of Altra Intuitions to try (the older ones because they were on sale on Amazon). They’ll be here Wednesday.

Looking forward to letting my toes splay…and some better long runs.

What I Write in My Journal

What I Write in My Journal
I opened my journal two days ago and the last entry was the night before my son started Kindergarten. His last day of Kindergarten is in less than four weeks.

Of course, as a writer, I feel ashamed for not keeping up with my journaling. I always seem to turn to the journal in spurts. But that’s also how I used to write. And exercise.

But you can’t just do something when you feel “inspired.” You have to make things a habit if you want to stick with them. That’s what I’ve done with running and working out, and more recently, with writing.

Now, I’m doing that with journaling thanks to this article in Life Hacker, which helped me focus on three things to write in my journal each day. Here’s what I’ve been writing:

1. What I ate.

This is super helpful since I’m working on weight/fat loss right now. If I ever need to go back to see what worked or didn’t work, I’ll have it. There have been several times, I’ve wished I could see what I ate last summer because my body responded very well. But I have no record of what I was eating then.

2. What I did for exercise.

The first day of my “return” to journaling stung a little because I had to write “none.” It was not a scheduled rest day. Ouch. I know many of us use DailyMile or other apps to track this, but some day, you’ll enjoy looking back at this.

3. What I did with my life.

This is what the article in Life Hacker suggests, although, I’ve been writing “what I did.” I think, from now on, I will add “with my life,” because it hints at “Did you do anything toward your goals and dreams?” I don’t know that I need a record of me grazing at Costco (although, I did put that under “what I ate”!). But I do want to know that I worked on my writing or that me and my son went to the library, and read books together (which is every night, but it would be fun to keep a record of what books since his love of reading has exploded this year).

I think I will add a fourth thing…

4. What my son said.

Kids say hilarious stuff and I’m always posting my son’s quotes to FB. Those should go in my journal. Someday, he’ll love to see those.

My journal, by the way, is a real paper, bound book that I write in with a pen or pencil. Not a blog. Not a Word doc on the computer. It’s the real deal!

Do you keep a personal journal? What do you write about?

Okay, Time for a New-Old Plan

A new old plan for weight loss
Boo! I do not like how I feel right now.

I made the mistake of weighing myself this morning. I’ve been slacking off with diet and exercise because I want to write. I’m not getting enough sleep because I’ve been getting up early (and not going to be on time). And I’ve been drinking  a lot of beer because it tastes yummy.

But last night I noticed I didn’t feel real good. And this morning it didn’t feel real good to look at the scale. It wouldn’t bother me if I felt good. But I don’t. So, back to what works.


I haven’t stopped doing them, but it is most definitely time to get some heavier weights. I need 17-pound dumbbells. I still think 20s will be too much.

Metabolic Effect weights 3x per week will continue.

A little tip: If you are using dumbbells for workouts, they are cheaper at Play It Again Sports (the Goodwill store of sporting equipment). They are actually new dumbbells at the one by me, but they are metal so maybe that is why they are cheaper.


I so wanted to try Hanson’s Half Marathon training for my next half, my PR shot. But it’s too much. I just don’t have that kind of time. I, instead, will use a modified plan Mel made for me when I PR’d in 2011. It’s a good plan and it works with my schedule. I just need to adjust the training times.

I also will fit in 1-2 running-specific strength workouts per week.


I will only be able to get up early to write if I go to bed on time. If I don’t get up on time, I will have to either forgo writing and make up for it on the weekend or find 30 quiet minutes at night (challenging).


I must get 7 or more hours of sleep. That is my minimum. I’ve been getting 6.5 or less. Not enough.

I must be in bed by 9:30 p.m. on work nights.


Okay, this is where I can make the most changes. This is where the biggest changes have been happening. I read Racing Weight and it made a ton of sense…when I was planning to run every single day. I haven’t been able to do that. But I’ve still been eating like I am (more carbs). So, back to what I know works for me with some modification, since I don’t think I was eating enough carbs before:

  • Breakfast: Smoothie in the morning (protein powder, strawberries, almond milk) w/ 10 bites of carb (either a banana in my smoothie or a flax-seed waffle); 2 glasses of water
  • Snack: Protein bar or blueberries with 10 almonds
  • Lunch: BAS (Big Ass Salad packed with protein and veggies). I recently learned I’m sensitive to balsamic vinegar, so I will have to experiment with dressing. And 10 bites of carbs: a half of a sweet potato or about 1/3 cup of brown rice.
  • Post-workout: Another protein smoothie
  • Dinner: Protein and veggies. No carbs for me at dinner on 6 nights per week. And I am going to limit myself to beer once a week (shouldn’t really drink it on the week days anyway). I know I can have a small glass of red wine once or twice during the week if I want.

I know my body is super sensitive to carbohydrates. But I know I need them. So I will adjust the amounts until I figure out how much works for my energy levels and weight loss.

So…I’ve found another way that doesn’t work. I would like to lose 5 pounds of fat in two weeks. Today, I’m at 155.4. I’ll let you know how my new-old plan works.

I don't always drink beer, but when I do I chase it with a glass of wine

I Need More of Monday


Get me a case. A case full of Mondays.

Monday afternoon, I zipped through a Metabolic Effect workout, including super sets of pushups and rows, and then completed a running-specific strength workout that left my glutes shaking in their britches. Later on, I added an easy two-miler on the treadmill.

Yesterday, I had a beer, followed by a glass of red wine and then a headache.

I don't always drink beer, but when I do I chase it with a glass of wineHere’s hoping today is more like Monday.