Saturday, October 4, 2008

Yoga - Day Zero

Ground Zero in restarting this blog effort. I have to confess to being sick for a while, though, and that put me behind a lot of projects. Yet again I'm trying to resurrect this blog now. Yoga won the poll and I've put together a plan today to take that on for a week. I have a yoga DVD and a membership to a local gym with classes, so I'm going to try to use the two in combination.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hill running - Random thoughts

I'm just trying to run up and down a hill and do a pull-up.

It's not that Olympic training hill that was sorta the inspiration for this project.

And it's not like I'm attempting one of the psycho CrossFit workouts here.

I'm just a girl, standing in front of a hill, asking, "Why can't I just go up this darn thing without walking?"

Baby steps, right?

The problem with baby steps is that even if you take them, you're still a baby.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hill running - Day 1

Baby, I'm Back!

Wow, it really has been a long time since I posted here. As a self-diagnosing hypochondriac, let me say I think I have adult attention-deficit disorder.

Ok, vague excuses aside, I'm trying to hold myself to the difficult, excruciating one-week of something-something. Follow my adventures if you care to.

I was reading recently about the effectiveness of running hills - even Olympians do it.

It occurred to me that I live near a very steep hill. It's so steep, that like the infamous Olympic training hill, it has a steps section. It's much smaller, overall, though, so it's not exactly the Olympian task that the article details, which is good, because I'm just a normal person who is very lax about working out. Anyway, I decided that for one week, I'd try to run the hill every day.

Here are some tips to keep in mind getting started on hills.

This first day, I decided to start at the top, because well, that's how I roll. Dessert and easy stuff first. I set my timer and ran down the hill as fast as I could manage. I like running downhill, even though I had to be very careful because of the steepness. It's fun to go fast, though. Even with smallish, quick steps, the impact was pretty solid, however.

At the bottom of the hill, there's a little neighborhood playground. I ran over to it, because a second part of my goal for the week has to do with pull-ups. My upper body is sadly deficient. I can do pushups, but I can't manage even a single pull-up. According to Dr. Mehmet Oz on Oprah, this is not acceptable, so I'm going to try to work on the pullup.

I reached the playground monkey bars, feeling very Olympic. Running downhill will do that to me. If I could somehow tilt the world so I could run everywhere downhill, I'd run all the time, though my knees would probably be shot within the year.

On my little downhill high, full of optimism, I reached for the bars overhead, settled my grip and tried to pull up. Surely I could manage just one?

No. Nada. I did pull myself up from the ground slightly. I tried again, arms quivering, but couldn't pull my chin even level with the bar, let alone above it.

Ok, well, this was the week for hill running, anyway. I set off for the hill, with my mantra "Don't walk".

The steps came first, but I managed to keep pace, barely. The steps are a series of cutbacks and continue on for about one fourth of the hill, cutting a steeper line than the street, which curves far around and meets the steps again at the top. I was breathing hard, and already doing the drunken-master jog of exhaustion at the end of the stairs. After the steps comes the steepest non-step section of the hill. Basically, it seems like the local municipality ran out of money for steps, so they just slapped asphalt on the hill and called it a road. This is deceiving, because it's so sheer that trucks regularly topple over on trying to scale the sheer hairpin turn.

That turn was my goal as I tried to keep my jog going. I just managed it, but it was so tough for me that the mantra went from "Don't walk" to "Don't stop". I walked a section of the hill that was only easy in comparison to the hardest part I'd just finished.

As I turned another sharp corner, I could see the finish line, so I ran for it again, ending up triumphant, if also very sweaty and stumbling. I looked at my watch - 15:35. Not bad, to get so tired in such a short amount of time. I'll see if I can shave that time down as the week progresses.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Be kind, rewind

Yesh, this week was a total wash. I knew keeping a blog would make it hard to make excuses, so I won't waste time with that.
Soooo - do over!

Another week of guitar, then, this time done properly, even if not incredibly musically.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day 2 - Guitar

I've been practicing. I am pretty horrible, though. I'll perhaps post a video of myself playing to prove it. Not today, though, tomorrow. I want to be at least a little less horrible.
I think the reason that so many kids learn musical instruments when they're young isn't just because their minds are fresh and spongy, it's also because they're innocent enough to be a bit unaware of how crappy they really sound. They get past that stage of totally sucking before they're held back by their own disgust at the sounds they produce. Someone learning to play an instrument is one of the most unmusical, grating sounds possible.
Practice when one is fine-tuning is another matter. I went to a university with a decent musical program and even though I didn't play an instrument, I'd lug my books to the music hall rather than the library to study. I'd find a quiet spot in the audience seats and listen to different performances. Music majors would schedule the stage space for practice sessions. Most of the time they wouldn't even know I was there. I didn't want to get kicked out, so I made sure to stay quiet. It was inspiring to listen to the live music, even if it did occasionally distract me from my assignments.
Right now my guitar playing is the opposite of inspiring. It's downright repelling.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Week 3 - Guitar

Two people voted in last week's poll and I'm going with guitar instead of yoga - for no particular reason.
I have a guitar, actually. It's a nice acoustic named Black Betty. I can't play a single song on it - which is pretty shameful. I had intentions of signing up for a class at a local college and learning guitar that way, but that fell by the wayside.
I'm not signing up for a class just for a week, though. I'm turning to technology. YouTube, specifically.
I successfully completed Lesson 1 yesterday, which was basically about how to hold a pick. That was harder than one might imagine, because I spent a good 40 minutes looking for a guitar pick. So now I'm on Lesson 2.
Even though Danfie looks like he's stuck in a '70s time warp, I like that I can see the notes (I took piano as a kid and I still recognize notes) and I also like the two songs in this beginning lesson, so that's my goal for this week - to learn both songs.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Day 7 - Jogging

New shoes! There was a sale on Saucony, my favorite running shoe brand. Turns out when one jogs regularly, your feet swell a bit, and old shoes end up being tight. It's a good idea to buy running shoes half a size larger. Some people buy a full size larger and wear thick socks for even more padding.
I knocked off my three miles at a slightly slower pace than before, just to be kind to the still recovering big toe. It hung in there and I finished without having to walk.
Well, as the week concludes, I look back and realize that even though I complained about it, jogging is an extremely effective form of exercise. There's also something pure and simple about just lacing up shoes and hitting the road. No gimmicks, just you and the open road.
Or the treadmill, as the case may be. When I jogged before, it was never on a treadmill. Though I hated it at times, I liked how the the machine kept me honest and on pace.
Conclusion: I think I'll keep jogging, but probably not every day. I'll mix it in when I can and get good use out of my shoes.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Day 6 - Jogging

Well, perhaps the song I posted about walking 500 miles was actually propthetic. Despite the tender toe on my foot, I tried to get back to jogging again today. After a mile and a half on the treadmill, I was running funny to try to avoid the pain in my toe. I think of it as speedhobbling. It didn't help much, though. I decided to stop running and turned the dial on the treadmill to a walking pace. I did finish the three miles.

Day 5 - Jogging

Or rather, today was about not jogging. I don't know if it's something about the way I land on my right foot, but it seems I've developed "treadmill toe"- a metatarsalphalangeal joint sprain.
Of course, I could be a total hypochondriac, but my big toe is really sore and a bit swollen, so I'm giving the jog gig a break.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Day 4 - Jogging

Hump Day. Getting over the hump. Crikey, I've got to get the jog in. Wait, wait. Papers to grade. Laundry. Test to prepare.
Maybe you should just skip the jog. Who jogs every day, anyway? A lot of people skip a day.
No, no, I'll get to the jog. First I'll eat dinner, though. Then I've got to run some errands.
Running errands? Isn't that almost like jogging? Why not count it as such and call it a day?
That wasn't the deal. Every day, for one week. It's only been three days. If I can just get it done today, I've only got three days left.
Who's going to notice? It's not like anyone reads this blog.
That's not the point. The blog is here just so I can track how I'm doing.
Well, you're tired today. Take a break. Besides, it's really late now. How do you know the gym is even open now?
Um, 24 Hour Fitness? I'd think it would be open. I'll check the site. Yep.
What are all these people doing here at this hour? Oh, look, your favorite treadmill is taken. Let's go home, then.
No way; the treadmill I use isn't so important. I've just got to get this done.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Day 3 - Jogging

Ah, the great outdoors. Today I joined the natural athlete of the family, my brother, for a jog at a local park. I battled the elements and the elements won. I broke the cardinal rule of jogging - never stop jogging, even if your pace slows to the speed of a walk, you're never supposed to actually walk. That's what I did, though, and more than once. Basically, the hills kicked my butt - and my thighs and legs. It's just not the same running on a treadmill. I guess it serves me right for never touching the incline button.
I got the sympathy slow-down from my brother - where the fitter person is fine and jogs back to the person doubled over with exhaustion, then jogs little circles around them to maintain pace while the weak link totters along at a walk. Anyway, as inauspicious as it was, another three miles crossed off.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Day 2 - Jogging

500 miles is a long way. If three miles is no picnic, I have a whole new appreciation for the willingness of the guy in the song to go that far, even if he's walking instead of jogging.
Today I was sore and pretty much didn't want to go jog, but I reminded myself of the mantra for this blog "Hey, it's only a week".
So I hit the gym again and found a spot in the back row of treadmills. Once on the treadmill, same pace - I felt after one lap the way I felt Sunday after a mile.
Then this curly-haired blonde headed over and picked the machine next to mine. I was praying she'd go elsewhere, follow the unwritten rule of leaving an empty machine between runners for as long as possible, but no such luck. She was the ideal cheerleader type, toned and yet boobylicious, wearing tiny shorts and a crop top as her workout gear.
I hadn't thought it was possible to feel worse, gasping for air and struggling to stay on pace. Then her male counterpart (they were probably married, actually) showed up to claim the machine on my other side. He only wore shorts and was as tanned and tight as she. There I was in my scrubby sweats, between Mr. and Mrs. Universe.
I tried to focus on just finishing and not falling off the treadmill. Still, I couldn't help but notice that they were both plugged into iPods that apparently gave them interval training directions. They sped up, slowed down, and raised and lowered the incline of their treadmills repeatedly. It was distracting, but perhaps that was a good thing, because I made it to the end of my run and got out of there.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

One Week - Jogging

No one voted on the poll for the longest time, and I was secretly glad, because then I was going to pick the meditation option. Peaceful, quiet and easy, no? But then one person decided to choose my destiny and voted for jogging.
So be it.
Anyway, ages ago, I actually was something of a jogger. It wasn't really my idea, it was more peer pressure. Other people were doing it and I tagged along almost as a social activity. That time is long past. Still, it left me with a bit of a weird logic when it comes to jogging.
First of all, I can't consider anything less than three miles a decent jog. Granted, I know people who blow out three miles as their warm-up without breaking a sweat, but hey, I'm not up to that standard. So I set three miles as my minimum.
My pace logic was this - a world-class marathoner can churn out five minute miles, so I should at least keep within double that speed. Ergo, a ten minute mile.
So I trotted off to my local 24-Hour Fitness, where I've had a sadly underused membership for years. On the StarTrac treadmill a 10 minute mile pace is level 6. I cranked it up and started jogging. Half an hour later, I made it, finished mile 3. I'm giving myself a "yay!" there, because after mile two, I was hurting. I'm not in any kind of running shape. Looking at myself in the mirror afterwards was scary. My face was red - not cute healthy flush rosy, but oh-god-is-she-going-to-pass-out? rash-red. The trainers passing by with their clients were throwing worried glances my way. I walked an extra lap for cool-down. Still red. I went to the locker rooms, splashed my face. Still red. I walked to the car, drove home, drank iced tea. Still red. I made dinner (tortillas! carbs!), washed the dishes and finally, finally, I look semi-normal.
Undoubtedly, I'm going to be sore tomorrow. What a fun week this should be.

South Beach for sissies

Conclusion: Obviously, one week on South Beach phase 1 isn't the proper course - two weeks is what's supposed to happen. Oh, well. Not to mention that I slipped more than once during the week, which probably affected my results.
What were the results? Well, I did lose a couple of pounds. I'm now 125/6, depending on if I jiggle the scale while standing on it.
I also learned that, due to the convenience of things like chips, bread, tortillas, etc, I probably previously ate more carbs than other things that are also healthy, like veggies. I've decided a better balance is a good idea and I'm going to try to incorporate fresh vegetables more regularly than I have in the past. Other than that, though, hitting the end of this diet is a relief. What's kind of fun is that I have a new appreciation for the simple pleasures of things like toast.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Day 7 - SBD

Breakfast - scrambled eggs, Cajun Turkey sausage
Lunch - Beef fajitas with asparagus
Snack - sugar-free, fat-free fudgesicle
Dinner - Zankou! Chicken schwarma plate with hummus, turnip pickles and salad. Good stuff.

Day 6 - SBD

Carrots vs waste. I had one of those little prepackaged salads from Trader Joe's for breakfast. Mainly they serve as cereal used to when I wasn't on this diet - a quick and easy meal when I'm running late, which is perpetual. There was a small amount of shredded carrots included in the salad. Carrots aren't to be eaten in phase 1 of South Beach. They're apparently too high in sugar. I could have pushed them aside, but I didn't. I ate the carrots. Big rebel that I am, and all.

Snack - sugar and fat free fudgesicle
Lunch - Cabbage salad, pesto chicken
Dinner - Steak, more salad, beans

Friday, April 4, 2008

Day 5 - SBD

Counting down the days, though I really don't mind the veggies. I think consciously eating more of them has given me a new appreciation for them.

Breakfast - Artichoke, heart of palm salad.
Lunch - Tofu scramble, raw zucchini sticks.
Snack - French onion soup
Dinner - Veggie, cheese and bacon omelet

Carb craving - moderate. Hash browns are a longtime favorite of mine. Those were really hard to pass up while eating the omelet, but there are only a few days left of this, so I figured I should toe the line.

Day 4 - SBD

Back on track, more or less.

Breakfast - salad, black beans
Lunch - cucumber salad, kimchee, squash soup
Dinner - tilapia, cauliflower, asparagus

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Day 3 - SBD

Today sort of went off the rails, diet wise. Socially, I wasn't sure how to make it work, frankly.

Breakfast - hardboiled egg. Coffee. Half a bagel with cream cheese.

The last item isn't on the South Beach Diet at all. A coworker stopped by my office with the bagel half as a little present. She had brought it from the breakfast meeting on the other floor and I was touched by the thought. It would be rude to refuse after she'd gone through that effort, I thought.

Lunch - Cucumber with chili dip, beef and tofu soup with vegetables. Actually, lunch started off with perfect SBD compliance.But my stepdad was in town, at the convention center, as well. I picked him for a late lunch. We have a tradition of grabbing lunch together at Langer's deli whenever he is in town, and I didn't want to break it. Once at Langer's I contemplated ordering a salad, but Langer's pastrami is a reason to keep on living - it should never be passed up. Then I thought about ordering just plain pastrami, no bread, but the marriage of rye and pastrami that is Langer's sandwiches - well, it's the perfect marriage. I'm all about the family values of really good tasting food.
Half order - pastrami sandwich with half order of fries.
I met Rachel later in the afternoon, fessed up and promised to get back on track. To that end, we cooked a low-carb dinner together, followed by a lowcarb ice cream. It was tasty, but tomorrow, I'll try to maintain the diet better.
Cravings for carbs are low. Guilt- moderate.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Day 2 - SBD

I'm already bored with this diet. One way to combat this is to take advantage of the ethnic flavors that food in LA has to to offer. It helps keep things interesting.

Breakfast - Hard-boiled egg, plain yogurt, coffee
Snack - cucumber slices
Lunch - kimchee (Korean spicy cabbage) baked chicken, salad
Snack - Stir-fried octopus with vegetables
Dinner - Chicken souvlaki, Greek salad, tea

I miss chocolate. It's a wistful sort of feeling more than a craving, but it's there.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

One Week - South Beach Diet

That's how long 604,800 seconds is.
So that's what I'm committing to, because I'm not sure my discipline can hold out for much longer than that.
Basically, I like to try new things. I like to see how things turn out. I figured a blog on whatever I'm trying out could help me keep track of the results and also help keep me on track in the first place.
I'll try something for one week, as much as I can. If I fall short, then I'll be honest about it, but heck, it's only a week. I think I can hang in there for that long. If I like the results, I might keep at whatever new thing I've tried.
For this week, it's going to be the South Beach Diet, the infamous carb-restrictive Phase 1. I have to confess never having gone on a diet before. I'm reasonably healthy, and I try to eat well, but I've never followed any food rules or counted calories - other than in a general estimating form. Like most people, I've a few pounds I'd like to lose.
My friend Rachel was the specific impetus behind this week's experiment. She wanted a buddy to try the diet with and I agreed to participate - for a limited time. I also didn't invest in buying the big official South Beach Diet book. I just looked up some info on the web. Rachel has actually tried the diet before and says it works. We grocery shopped yesterday. My fridge has a lot more vegetables now. Rachel and I both ate a final cookie. "Goodbye, carbs!"
Day 1 - Weight 128 lbs
Breakfast - Scrambled eggs, turkey bacon, sliced tomato.
Snack - Celery with peanut butter
Lunch - Beef stew (beef and veggies, no potatoes)
Snack - Plain yogurt
Dinner - Chicken, vegetable frittata, salad, one serving Sugar-Free Jello
Carb craving - moderate. I do want corn chips, but it's not a painful urge.