two weeks: a summary

I don't know what happened but suddenly, it's been almost two weeks since I've updated this! Well, I've been writing a lot in my sparkpeople blog so there's that. But here are some quick updates:
  • Weight loss has been slow, for a number of reasons. Water retention [due to starting P90X, etc.], a week where I ate kind of crappy [within my nutrient ranges but brownies and stuff instead of fruits and vegetables], and then my body just not letting go of weight despite doing everything right. So in the last two weeks [not counting this week], I only lost 1 pound total. A 0.2lb loss one week and 0.8 the other. Thankfully, this week is looking MUCH better.
  • Still, I'm about to cross 40lbs lost/into the 170s which is VERY EXCITING. Also, this will mark halfway to my free lifetime range at Weight Watchers [my goal weight there is 140, so I can be up to 2lbs above that without having to pay to attend meetings].
  • My 5K is in TWO DAYS. Actually, about 36 hours at the time of this writing. I'm really excited and training has been going great! Well, last week wasn't so great but that's okay, I made up for it this week.
  • I've been doing regular outdoor running and it's much easier than the first couple attempts were. I've also moved to the bike path, instead of doing endless loops around the track, and it's mentally easier as well since I'm actually going somewhere.
  • Today, I ran a full mile without stopping to walk for the first time in... years, I guess. 9min, 12sec. Pretty great. Remember two months ago when I could barely run for 30 seconds?
  • I started P90X a few weeks ago, and I love it! I put it on hold for this week, though, because it was wearing me out a little and I wanted to put all my energy into getting ready for the 5K. I'll pick it back up next week.
  • I officially passed the 6 month mark of being committed to this healthy lifestyle. It feels great!
  • My ankle also feels great and I think it's safe to say that, six months later, it is finally fully healed.
Tuesday's run out on the bike path looked like this [5k in 34:15]: 

So, yeah, that's what's been going on. Sorry for the lack of updates [but feel free to go through my sparkpeople blog if you really want to get details]. Saturday after the race is looking like it'll be pretty busy with no time for blog writing but I promise to get a post up about it as soon as possible! 

I'm super excited for the race and 90% sure that I'll finish under 35 minutes [my training runs this week have ranged between 32 and 34 minutes for 3.1 miles]. Not too bad, considering I'm still walking some. And after Saturday, it's onto training to run the entire distance without walking breaks! I'm looking at another 5K in the beginning of October so I hope to run that entire race. [Meanwhile, my friends are looking towards winter so I stop talking about running all the time! Little do they know, I have plans for winter running as well.]

Yay, running!

I wasn't feeling motivated to do much of anything today [even skipped the bike ride with my meetup group this morning] but I'd promised that I would go out for a run today due to skipping the bike ride. I wasn't aiming for an intense run, just a few laps around the track to continue getting my ankle used to outdoor running. Well, once I start, I can never do anything halfway so I ended up doing an "extra session" of last week's 5K training plan. Six intervals of 3min running, 2min walking. Since I didn't quite complete the training on Wednesday [my first attempt at running outside], I figured it made up for that.

I used a new app on my phone, since I've been having issues with MapMyFitness. I tried out RunKeeper this time because I noticed that I can set my own interval training and it'll prompt me when to start running or walking, without needing to constantly look at the time. This is awesome! [The other app I'm going to try out, Endomondo, also has this feature but only with the paid app. Which I can't buy at the moment and don't want to buy without first seeing if the app otherwise works well for me.] So I loaded my new running playlists onto my phone before leaving the house and got to run along to my music with occasional, integrated reminders to start running, or that I'd ran another half mile, or such. The "coach" talked over the music, which was great because having my music be interrupted always messes up my beat a little. But not with this app!

The GPS and pace estimates were way more accurate than I'd been experiencing with MapMyFitness, so that was good to see. I kept pretty much on pace during the runs [with the exception of the last interval where I was feeling reeeeeally worn out all of a sudden], my pace stayed between 9 and [about] 10min/mi, which is very close to my treadmill running speed. Not too bad for feeling like I wasn't moving at ALL! [I'm used to the speed of bikes, okay?] When I got home and uploaded the info to the RunKeeper website, I was pleasantly surprised to find that they gave me a breakdown of my pace per interval! This really helps. Okay RunKeeper, you've made me fall in love with you [for the time being, at least].
[And then when I saved the data, foursquare gave me a 5K badge! Totally unexpected!]

I had no problems with my ankle, but my knee did have a slight discomfort at times [but that's nothing new, usually I just take some aleve before I go running but I didn't today...]. Actually, everything's been going so well that I did sign up for the 5K on September 1st, which I'd been putting off because I wasn't sure about my ankle. So, yeah, I will be doing an official 5K in less than two weeks... eeep! Maybe my mom will come and take horribly unattractive pictures of me [because who looks good when they're running, honestly? Well okay, Sheryl does but she looks good all the time]. I'm not aiming to beat my PR or anything, just to finish, preferably under 40 minutes [today's run was 40:59, including 10 minutes of warm up/cool down, so it's totally doable if I keep training the next two weeks]. But honestly, I just want to run and finish the race, and not let my ankle hold me back.

Look, I'm officially signed up!
If things go well with this race, I might sign up for another 5K two weeks later [when my 5K training is officially done!]. The thing is that the September 1st race is reeeeeally small [they're thinking they *might* get a thousand participants] whereas the one on the 16th is huge in comparison [almost 5,000 people ran it last year]. I've only ever ran in one race before, and it was small like the September 1st race, so I'm apprehensive about running with so many people. I'll do them eventually, but I was thinking of saving them until next year when I've gotten a few more smaller races done. So, we'll see. I have until the 10th to decide.

I just really love running and am so glad that I can do it again!

Running playlists!

Believe it or not, I've been pretty much working out to the same playlist since March. I threw in some Girl Talk to mix it up for a bit, but mostly it's been the same music. And I've gotten so bored with it. Also, some of the songs are fine for the elliptical or weights but don't have the fast tempo I really need for running which I'm now focusing on. So, I've been taking suggestions for the past few days and combing through my own vast music collection [which is fun because I always rediscover things that have just been collecting metaphorical dust on my external hard drive for the past few years]. I still have a lot of work to do [my friends all suggested a ton of songs that I don't actually have, so I'll have to gather those in the coming days!] but so far, I've come up with four separate playlists that are all over 40 minutes long [my runs are usually 30-40 minutes]. Perfect!

First up, the 80s playlist:
[Yes, I realize that this is sorely lacking in Beastie Boys. I'm working on that!] I need to mess with the order of this still, but this is basically what I ran to today. I discovered that "Walking on Sunshine" and "Rock This Town" are pretty much perfect running songs, and just built on that with similar sounds.

Next, the geek playlist:
I don't expect a lot of people to recognize more than a handful of these songs. But, they're all up-tempo songs that I love to listen to, and they always put a smile on my face! This playlist is my shortest at the moment [41 minutes], it's severely lacking in wizard rock but I still have about 100GB of wrock to go through. I didn't feel like doing that tonight... so I just pulled the few from my already existing workout playlist.

Then, the punk playlist:
Some of this is folk punk, some of it is punk bands covering pop songs, some might not technically be punk... but it all fits together so whatever. It's no secret that punk is my favourite musical genre [with the possible exception of nerd rock] so it shouldn't be a surprise that this is my longest playlist. And I didn't even dig through most of my stuff, which I still need to do.

And finally, the "miscellaneous" playlist [which will probably be divided into further genres as more songs get added]:
There's no logic to this playlist other than upbeat songs that I'll probably enjoy running to. I mean, from 90s girl pop to [sort of] wizard rock to boy bands to German disco... Nope, no rhyme or reason here. Special shout out for "Even Marathon Runners Need to Nap" because even though it's not really a good running song, I needed to include it and figured it could be a cool-down song or something. Because, come on. With a name like that, I couldn't not put it in.

As for running itself, running outside on Wednesday didn't mess up my ankle [yay!] although I definitely have to build up my ankle strength regarding pavement running. I also finished week 5 of my 5K training, I can't believe that I only have 3 weeks left! I feel great and today I ran/walked a 5K [on the treadmill] in 37:12. Not too shabby!

Yay running! Yay running music! Good night!

outdoor running: attempt #1

Today was just... not working out. I woke up at 7am due to a sudden thunderstorm [the thunder didn't wake me up, the wind blowing the rain into my bedroom and onto me did!] and then couldn't get back to sleep. Finally, at 9am my alarm went off... and then I went back to sleep after that, ha! Slept until almost noon [P90X is really wearing me out, but it's a good kind of exhaustion!] and then finally got up... only to receive some bad news that sidelined me for a bit.

Due to the late start [and super late breakfast], I didn't leave the house for the gym until about 2:45, an hour later than I usually do, and only got about a half mile from my house before getting a flat tire. So instead of dragging my bike the other 2 miles to the gym [and then back home], I just turned around and headed home. But I wasn't going to let this derail my plans! After the bad news of the day, I really needed my endorphins. And, well, I did say that I would try outdoor running this week, so why not today? So after dropping off my bike back home, I headed to the public track to see how this would go.

I'll be honest: It wasn't great. It wasn't terribly bad, either. It was just... different. I've mentioned before that for me, the most difficult part of running is the mental part, telling myself that I can continue on. I've also mentioned that I don't really push myself, pace-wise, unless I have someone else [or the treadmill] telling me to keep to a certain pace. So I could have gone faster, and I felt like I wasn't moving at all [which didn't help with the mental aspect] but I still don't think it was a bad first attempt.
I'm super attractive when I run. And totally don't look like I'm about to fall asleep.
Except for the fact that I didn't stick to the training plan. I was supposed to do 6 intervals of 3 minutes running, 2 minutes walking. I did the first two... well, sort of. Each interval, I did 3 laps of running around the track [which amounted to about 3.5 minutes] and one lap of walking [about 2 minutes]. But then, the third interval, I just wasn't feeling it. I did two laps of running, so, you know... still not bad. But then the fourth and fifth intervals, I only did one lap, and my speed must have slowed down a lot because it took me 1.5 minutes. Then, suddenly, the overcast and slightly cool day turned into a sunny, hot afternoon and I just could not run in that weather. So I did another couple laps of walking around the track, and then walked back home.

Oh, and the track wasn't that soft, sort of squishy material that most tracks are made of, which I was hoping for to help absorb the impact on my ankle. Nope, it was plain old hard pavement:

So, that was a disappointment. In addition to that, running around the same quarter mile loop is... boring. Which didn't help with the mental struggle. And the GPS on my phone didn't seem to be entirely accurate because it was such a small loop. So as excited as I was to find this track, I think I'm going to abandon it in favor of running on the bike path when I run outside. If my ankle doesn't have any negative side effects from running outside today, I'm planning on doing outdoor running once a week. This might be an additional running day, at least at first, considering how well I didn't stick to the 5K plan [I'm thinking of going to the gym tomorrow to get the actual training in?]. We'll see how this all works out. Here's hoping for no ankle pain tomorrow!
bicycle crunches: 2 sets, 12 reps
crunches: 2 sets, 15 reps
pushups: 2 sets, 15 reps
bridges: 2 sets, 15 reps
low adduction with band: 2 sets, 15 reps
low abduction with band: 2 sets, 15 reps
lying single-leg raises: 2 sets, 15 reps
modified plank: 2 reps, 60 seconds each

biking: 13 minutes, 139 calories
treadmill: 45 minutes, 543 calories
biking: 17 minutes, 189 calories

biking: 98 minutes, 1074 calories, 21.64 miles
pushups: 5 sets, 9 reps

biking: 17 minutes, 172 calories
treadmill: 45 minutes, 526 calories
biking: 13 minutes, 141 calories
walking: 34 minutes, 255 calories

pushups: 4 sets of 8 reps

biking: 15 minutes, 164 calories
treadmill: 45 minutes, 550 calories
biking: 17 minutes, 179 calories

decorating: 2 hours, 773 calories
pushups: 5 sets, 7 reps
crunches: 2 sets, 15 reps
bicycle crunches: 2 sets, 12 reps
modified plank: 2 reps, 60 seconds each

I kind of slacked this week. I was busy and had some knee discomfort, so I didn't get out for my usual ride on Thursday or Saturday. I didn't hit my calories burned goal for the week [but only by about 60 calories!], and I didn't get any yoga in. On the plus side, I did get plenty of strength training in [although I only did legs one day] which I've been struggling with lately. Also, I finished week 4 of 5K training and it was surprisingly really easy. I decreased my speed a little, from 7.0mph to 6.5, because I was apprehensive about the schedule this week [5 intervals of 3 minutes running/2 minutes walking] but it turned out to be no big deal, I felt like I could've kept running and I probably could've increased my speed back up to my regular 7.0mph. It seems like my body has adjusted back to running and the tips I'm trying from Chi Running are helping. Or, maybe I was just having a freakishly good week and I'll really struggle during week 5. We'll see tomorrow.

As for weigh-in, I guess my body made up for skipping its "no loss" week last week, because the scale barely budged at all this week. Official weigh in today, I was finally down 0.7 pounds from last week... yes, it's still a loss and I'll take it. But here's hoping that this next week is better!

I've also almost [95%] decided on starting P90X tonight. I've been looking toward it for a while, it looks like a great structured way to do my strength training in addition to cardio, but I was hesitant because of my ankle [what else]. I wasn't sure how it would hold up. But after a conversation yesterday with someone who's doing it, who also recently had a badly sprained ankle, she's convinced me to at least give it a try. I'm actually sure that at this point, my ankle's totally healed and I'm just babying it but still, it's hard to get myself out of that habit. But I ran 5 miles on it this past week, so I'm willing to bet it can handle this. She said I might have trouble with the plyo sessions but other than that, it shouldn't be a problem [and I can always modify during that]. We'll see.

So, goal for the week:
  • start P90X
  • yoga twice a week!
  • week 5 of 5K training
  • run outside on the track at least once
  • bike at least 70 miles

Blueberry Buckle

When I was a kid, we lived right next to an area that had wild blueberries. Lots of wild blueberries. We'd head down at least once a week during the summer and pick to our hearts' content. It was wonderful and a great family outing. It also led to my untamed love of blueberries and everything made from it.

Now that I'm all grown up and living far from those blueberries [and blackberries and raspberries as well, I should note], I'm disappointed to find that blueberries are actually pretty expensive, so fresh blueberries have sadly become a luxury that I indulge in just a few times a summer. During those indulgences, however, my face may or may not get as messy as it did as a kid.

When I was 13, however, and free blueberries were abundant, my mom was faced with yet another yield of blueberry pickings and whipped up this recipe that she called "blueberry buckle". And let me tell you, I was in love. She only made it just this once, but I remember that night so well. I spent the night [well, evening] up in my treehouse in the far backyard, only venturing to the house for yet another helping of this delicious concoction. A couple neighborhood friends were hanging out and they were as wowed as I was. It was a hit! But, as my mom never made it again, and then I became vegan [and unable to afford blueberries], it stayed in my childhood with my treehouse and blueberry rambles.

Until now! I present to you... vegan blueberry buckle! I made it, intending to say "Fuck the calories!", and then put the nutrition info together and realized... it actually wasn't that bad at all. So yay!

1.5 tsp cornstarch + 3 Tbsp water
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup nondairy milk
2 cups blueberries, divided

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup Earth Balance

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Grease 7x11 cake pan.
  2. Whisk together cornstarch & water for about 1 minute. Set aside.
  3. In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In large bowl, cream together oil and sugar for 1-2 minutes. Add cornstarch mix and vanilla, beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture and nondairy milk, beat until combined. Fold in 1 cup of blueberries. Spread batter into bottom of prepared pan. Spread remaining blueberries on top of batter.
  5. Topping: In large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Mix in the Earth Balance until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. 
  6. Sprinkle the topping over the blueberries and bake for 40-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool 10 minutes, best served warm.
Nutritional Information:
12 servings per recipe, amount per serving:
Calories: 202.7
Total Fat: 9.5 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 117.2 mg
Total Carbs: 28.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 1.7 g

[If you're on sparkpeople, you can find the recipe here to enter it into your tracking for the day.]

I'll probably experiment with the ingredients to get the sugar and fat content down [applesauce is my baking BFF] but I'm still surprised as to how low everything is for how delicious the dish is!

The Love List

I have this running commentary in my head of things I love now that I've lost 37 pounds and vastly improved my fitness. I'm going to write down all that I can think of right now.

I love:
  1. No more back pain! 
  2. I can *literally* jump out of bed in the morning [I did today!] 
  3. Better sleep, and having enough energy throughout the day
  4. Being able to put more and more miles on my bike every month 
  5. Carrying 20 pounds of groceries home doesn't make my arms feel like they're about to fall off. It also doesn't slow down my pace anymore! 
  6. My legs. I really, really, REALLY love my legs. Have you gotten that memo yet?
  7. I've rediscovered my love of whole foods and cooking 
  8. Being able to do any workout I want [not always wonderfully, but still a decent effort] 
  9. Going through my "cannot wear" closet and getting to move a few more items to my "can wear" closet every few weeks 
  10. Looking at myself in the mirror and enjoying what I see 
  11. Walking around my house in short shorts and/or a sports bra and not feeling embarrassed [which was ridiculous because I live by myself!] 
  12. Running! 
  13. Inspiring my friends to be healthier
  14. Being happier in general [yay endorphins!] 
  15. Never being obese ever again 
  16. Getting to put a new charm on my bracelet every few weeks 
  17. Better posture 
  18. That feeling of working hard for something and achieving it 
  19. Having a large selection of dresses to wear to my brother's wedding in September, whereas a few months ago I had NONE 
  20. So much self-confidence! 
  21. Rekindling my friendships with my runner friends and starting new friendships with other fitness-minded people 
  22. Having an excuse to get out of my house every day to go to the gym or for a bike ride 
  23. Exercising instead of wallowing in my anxiety and depression 
  24. Being able to move fast enough to catch Felix [my half-feral cat] within a minute instead of a 20 minute chase that leaves both of us tired [and her scared] 
  25. Going further in yoga poses and doing sequences that used to be too difficult 
  26. Feeling like I could possibly beat my spin-maniac mother in a bike race [even if her bike *is* better than mine and has clipped pedals] 
  27. Just feeling so much better overall. I LOVE everything I can do now! 
  28. Being strong, healthy, and happy. 

So, those are 28 things off the top of my head. What are some things on your "love list"?
I'm down 3.3 pounds this week! I'm quite honestly shocked. My pattern is to lose big one week and then nothing the next and since I lost over 3 pounds last week, well... I was fully prepared for the scale to stay the same this week. And it did, throughout the week, until yesterday morning when it dropped down to 183.9 [today's weight as well]. Very shocking, but I'm happy with it! I'm now only 4 pounds off of where I'm "supposed" to be, according to my goal line on sparkpeople.
I've been off of my goal line since mid-May so it's great to be getting closer to it again!

Activity log for the week:

biking: 20 minutes, 205 calories, 4 miles

biking: 15 minutes, 159 calories, 2.55 miles
treadmill: 45 minutes, 493 calories
biking: 20 minutes, 224 calories, 3.83 miles

biking: 93 minutes, 1085 calories, 21.36 miles

biking: 15 minutes, 153 calories, 2.55 miles
treadmill: 45 minutes, 499 calories
biking: 21 minutes, 223 calories, 3.83 miles

Bum Bum: 30 minutes, 297 calories

biking: 14 minutes, 138 calories, 2.55 miles
treadmill: 45 minutes, 476 calories
biking: 15 minutes, 161 calories, 2.6 miles
walking: 30 minutes, 215 calories, 1.42 miles

biking: 71 minutes, 860 calories, 16.17 miles

Did week 3 of 5K training this week, which consisted of 2 minutes of running with 3 minutes of walking. On Thursday, I didn't feel like going for my usual bike ride so I tried a new workout, one video from the "Brazilian Butt Lift" series. It was fun and really worked my legs [lots of lunges and squats!] but it left me really sore the next two days [to the point where I wasn't sure I'd be able to run on Friday]. Because of that, I'm going to keep this as a back-up but it won't be in my regular rotation just yet. It was fun and a great workout, though, so I'll probably put it in my regular rotation after 5K training is over.

Week 4 of 5K training is up starting tomorrow! This week is 3 minutes running/2 minutes walking and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive about it. But here we go!

Also, as a note, I went and backdated some blog posts from earlier in the week that I thought I posted but apparently only put on sparkpeople. Mostly just my measurements and goals for the month. But if you were wondering where those monthly updates were, they're up now!

What a difference!

I can't believe I'm actually going to do this. But you know what? I'm proud of how far I've come since February. I'm not where I want to be but I'm a lot closer. So, here goes. I'm going to post those horrible "before" pictures that I thought I'd probably never let anyone else see... and pictures from today to compare!

March 2012:
August 2012:
Uploaded from the Photobucket Android AppUploaded from the Photobucket Android App

I honestly look at the first two pictures and can't believe that was me. In addition to being physically unfit, I was so miserable [you can just feel it through the picture, can't you?]. And look at how bad my posture was, oh my! But I had just started a huge change in my life, and things would improve very quickly. I've still got a ways to go but I LOVE looking at myself in the mirror now, and I love how I feel every single day.

[You might spy the book I'm currently working through, Chi Running, on the nightstand. I just got into the "meat" of the book but I'm hoping to learn a lot!]

It's finally cooling off so I'm going to head out for a bike ride now. Activity log for the week will probably go up in the morning with my weekly weigh-in [despite this regularly being my "no lose" week, the scale's looking good!].

Just a quick post because I need to get to the gym early before plans for the day [I rearranged my gym schedule this week so I wouldn't have to get up early on Saturday, and instead now I'm up early on Wednesday!]. Since it's the beginning of the month, I took my measurements and for once, I have some great results! My inches have been whittling down very slowly, which has been kind of disappointing, except in my belly/gut [not my waist/hips]. But not this month! Here are the losses:

waist: 1.25 inches
hips: 0.5 inches
thigh: 1.0 inches
upper arm: 1.5 inches [!!!]
belly: 1.5 inches

I'm really happy about the arm one. I'd lost pretty much NO inches in my arms since starting, which was expected [eastern European genes = bat wings forever] but still, not something I was happy about. So glad to see that's changing!

Overall, my inches lost look like this:
waist: 3 inches
hips: 2.5 inches
thigh: 3 inches
arm: 2.5 inches
belly: 7 inches

Seriously, all my weight loss has been in my belly. Not that that isn't awesome, but it was about time for other places to start losing too!

July goals, I hit them all:
  • bike 200 miles [I actually biked 281!] 
  • accumulate 2,000 fitness minutes [actual: 2,367] 
  • lose 6 pounds [actual: 6.3] 
  • lose a half inch in my arm [actual: 1.5!] 
  • be able to run on my ankle by August 1st [yes! Week 3 of 5K training!] 
August goals:
  • lose 6 pounds [I want to fit into a specific dress by my brother's wedding in September... well, I fit into it but my stomach looks pregnant!] 
  • bike 300 miles [I *may* increase this to 350 since I almost neared it this past month when I was only aiming for 200. I'll reevaluate mid-month] 
  • accumulate 2500 fitness minutes 
  • continue 5K training, including transitioning to outdoor running 
  • sign up for one or possibly two 5Ks in September! [As long as my ankle holds up to outdoor running, I'm going to definitely do a 5k on September 1st. There's another 5K in the area on the 16th but it's HUGE and INTENSE so I might hold off on that one.] 
  • continue yoga 2x/week, possibly 3x/week which I should really be doing 
  • strength training 2x/week [focus on legs/core since I focused on arms in July] 
Okay, time to get ready for the gym.