The Pivot is Complete

In 2014 my husband and I had a Theme word…Pivot!  The year was crazy, we sold our house, moved into an apartment, less than a week later I moved to North Carolina (from Ohio) by myself to start a new job, moved into a townhouse that had nothing but paper plates and a folding chair.  A few months later my husband was able to transfer down, we bought a lot, built a house and moved again.  But we did it because we wanted to change the trajectory of our life and the chaos was worth it.  We truly love where we live, have good jobs, a great house, friends and it doesn’t fricking snow!

But we left a lot of good things in Ohio.  Friends, his son, family.  We loved the people but the area depressed us.  The weather, the economy, the lack of opportunity in our professions and this feeling like we were in a vicious circle of getting a bit of momentum towards being healthy only to have winter snatch it away from us.  SAD is real and it hit both of us really hard EVERY. DAMN. YEAR.  Even down here.

We were so happy and so exited when we got here, like we had gained back months of our life every year. We felt like we needed to pinch ourselves on a daily basis.  Why are we so lucky to be able to live this life?  We started running, we did relay runs, half marathons, fun runs, run groups and made some friends.  We posted on Facebook, laughed when it snowed in Ohio and poked some fun at our former home and friends in the winter months.  But apparently not everybody laughed.

We lost good friends, my two best friends, and the pain of that cut deep.  I pictured going back to Ohio and having brunch with everyone like nothing had changed.  I pictured having a “family” reunion  (with my friends who were always more my family) in North Carolina.  I always pictured my life with the people I left behind and hoped they would be happy for me being in a place that made me so much happier than I was.  But one day I went to Facebook and they were gone.  And I was crushed.  I’m not a girlie girl…far from it.  I don’t cry, I curse.  I don’t like most women, in fact, I dislike most.  So having female friends was a huge rarity in my life.  So, over this, I cried.  A lot.  Often.  Full on hyperventilating, sobbing, snot filled sobbing.

But I suck at emotion and I suck at being a girl, so what the hell do you do with emotion like that?  I handle it like a guy.  Figure it was their decision and I have to respect that, go on with life even though it’s hard.  Life is hard.  Get over it.  “Boo frickin’ hoo, have a drink and get over it.”  (That was on a bar towel one of them gave me as a gift.)  So I did.

Occasionally, I would trip over a memory, a picture, a Facebook post or something else that would remind me of how much I missed those special friendships and fought back the tears.  I even reached out to one when I found out she got engaged, wishing her the best, crying as I typed the message.  I got a “Thanks” in return, but didn’t want to turn her happy moment into something about me/us, so I left it at that.  Deep down though, I hoped it might lead to more.

We have very few ties to Ohio anymore, my husband’s Dad has a girlfriend (it’s so cute in their 70’s), his son is a rising Senior with little time for, well, anyone 🙂 and my house.  Ugh, my house.  The seemingly bottomless money pit that I bought just before I met my husband, lived in just over a year and have leased it to others for about 5 years.  We are finally selling it, have an offer and as I type the inspections should be happening.  This week we should hopefully solidify that sale and remove one more thing that ties us to our home state.  Next year his son plans to go to school in NC, so the ties will be even fewer.

Tomorrow is also the wedding of one of those friends, with the other performing the ceremony and I can’t help but feel a hole in my heart.

Pivot.

This year, more than 2014, is when I feel like the Pivot is complete, but not in the way I had hoped.  I have no ties to Ohio anymore, no friends down here that even compare to those I used to have.  Injuries have plagued me, one is likely permanent, so my goal to use the climate to be more healthy hasn’t worked.  I’m heavier than ever, I’m still depressed, and I probably like my bar more than I should.

I found out just recently the reason for the “de-friending” was because they were tired of all of the anti-Ohio type posts.  One of my friends reached out to my husband when she saw my house was for sale, they were actually considering it, as they were in the market.  It lead to “re-friending” at the urging of my husband.  I think I cried for an hour that day.  But I still don’t know what to do with it.  What do I say, how do I act, is all forgiven or is it just a nicety?  I honestly don’t know.

Next week we go back to Ohio to deal with some final issues with my house and we’re supposed to have dinner with the “re-friend” and her husband.  I’m somewhat terrified.  I don’t do terrified.  I do pissed off, anxious, true Aries hard headed tough it out fortitude.  But not terrified.  Part of me wonders if I’ll ever really be able to get past the pain this caused.  Part of me thinks, “Really, I was in your wedding and we’re not friends anymore because I laughed when it snowed in Ohio?”

Anyway, all of this coming to a head at once will make the pivot complete and I guess we find out soon if it includes brunch or not.  Brunch is just breakfast with alcohol, but any friend of mine would have it no other way.

Despite it all, sending nothing but the best thoughts up to Ohio as my friend gets married this weekend.  I truly hope that she finds lifelong happiness and my other friend makes it through the nuptials without losing her shit.

Cheers!

J

Scrooge

I love the New Year!  I admit it, I’m a bit of a scrooge, so I love the New Year for reasons that are a bit different.  The Holidays are over and everything that goes with them…the cookies, candy, eggnog and every other gluttonous concoction we can come up with over the previous 11 months that we wouldn’t dare haul out in June, for whatever reason, seems to be OK to eat in December.  Call me a scrooge, but I think the holidays go on for…WAY. TOO. LONG.

I’m not immune to these temptations, most mere mortals aren’t.  I’m lucky though, I’m don’t have a lot of the situations in my life that present the constant borage of food based festivities that many people do.  I don’t have family in town to invite me over for repeated get togethers.  I work from home, so I don’t get the temptation of the holiday gift baskets and co-worker’s holiday concoctions.  I work for a large international company, so there is no holiday party to attend.

What I do have, is a very social group of athletic minded friends.  You’d think this would be a good thing, but my friends are all more along the lines of “I run to drink” instead of “Food is Fuel” minded athletes.  So, many times a week they get together with cocktails flowing and snacks-a-plenty.  Sigh.  There goes my waistline.  Sometimes I feel anti-social, but really, what it boils down to is I suck at willpower.  I don’t make brownies, I don’t buy them, I don’t crave them…but put them in front of me and I sure as hell will eat them.

So, I try to avoid holiday festivities.  Don’t get me wrong, I like my friends and I enjoy socializing, but I don’t enjoy waking up on January 1st with a muffin top.

So, I love the New Year because, for at least a couple of weeks, everyone in the world in thinking about eating healthier.  Restaurant menus promote healthy option instead peppermint cheesecake.  Moderation is supported in all things, because everyone is doing it.  And if you say you’ll be late because you have to get your long run in, everyone understands.  This is my life 365 days a year, so it’s nice, even if only for a few weeks, that I don’t feel so out of place.

I don’t make New Years Resolutions, I make goals for the year.  This year, the goal is a sub 2 hour half marathon, increase my strength and gains in the gym and reduce my body fat percentage.  This year the focus in not on making changes like it has been in the past (Refocus, Pivot, Integrate), it is simply to continue down the path I’ve been on and improve.  Take everything I’ve learned, bought & planned and…EXECUTE.

Happy New Year everyone.  Hoping you are the best you that you can be in 2016.

I Hate the Gym!

It’s true…I hate going to the gym.  In fact, I don’t even have a gym membership.  But I lift 5 times a week.

Gym memberships range from $10 a month to exorbitant, well into the hundreds.  But I just don’t see the point.  Paying for many things that I will never use…childcare, juice bars, showers, group fitness, tanning, massage….I just want heavy shit to pick up and put down.

I’m incredibly lazy.  I don’t need to turn my workout into a 2 hour event.  Getting “ready”, driving, checking in, locking up my stuff, waiting for equipment…a 1 hour workout can easily turn into 2 hours of my time.

It’s hard enough to get motivated to workout some days, factor in all the above nonsense and I’m more likely to say “screw it” than not if I have to do all that crap.

So, I’m a big believer in working out at home.  I just don’t belive that you need all the fancy equipment at a gym to get in shape.  With a little bit of education you can figure out how to lift with free weights and over time add in some other equipment to give you a great home gym.  Over time, it will actually end up cheaper than a gym, but maybe with a bit more up front expense.

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I am incredibly fortunate.  I started off with a cheap bench and some adjustable free weights for an investment of less than $400.  That kept me happy for quite a while. 

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Most recently, I added a half rack with an Olympic barbell and rack.  I frickin’ love this thing!  Squats, pulls ups, leg lifts for abs, pull ups, bench presses…so easy with this set up. 

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Today I added this beast to the mix, it’s a leg press attachment for my powertec workbench.  It’s much bigger than I thought it would be but I was missing leg press in my routine.

And on the days when I’m feeling cross train-y, I have this:

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That’s my gym.  I lift 5 days a week in this gym.  Often in a sports bra and beat on shorts.  It required a financial Investment but one that doesn’t need to happen all at once. 

The result?

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Could be worse…

Breakfast 2 – Veggie Omelet

I’m always looking for a way to add more veggies into my diet and breakfast seems to be one of the hardest meals to do that with.  When you think of carbs at breakfast you think grains, oatmeal, toast, bagels, English muffins or maybe fruit…but vegetables?  A hash brown is probably the closest thing to a vegetable that comes to mind.  But veggies are such a great source of low calorie, high fiber, high nutrition, “bulk” for your calorie buck, that it’s a shame to not try to incorporate them into every meal, especially when cutting calories.

My favorite way to do this is with a Veggie Omelet.

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A simple Spinach, Onion, Ham & Cheese Omelet with a half an English Muffin & a couple of Clementine Oranges (sooo good this time of year!) and of course coffee will only add 330 calories to your day but will give you a nice dose of protein and healthy carbs.  This is loaded with vitamins to get your day off to a good start!

I typically prep the Spinach, Onion & Ham on Sunday for the week by sautéing it in a small amount of olive oil and add a dash of bone broth if I need more moisture.  Add whatever spices or seasonings I’m in the mood for and put it in the fridge.  This way all I have to do in the morning is make the egg white, heat up the pre-prepared ham & veggies in the microwave and assemble with the feta.

I usually target around 350-375 calories for my breakfasts but this is such a great meal I don’t see the need to add anything else.  I’ll just enjoy the few extra carbs in my post workout snack.

Enjoy!

 

Let Them Eat Cake!

As much as I talk about Calories, Macros, Nutrition Plans & Training, I’m also a big believer in not letting it take over your life.  If you are not paid to be a professional athlete then there is a fine line between being strict with your training and letting it take over your life to the point that it’s not healthy.  Now, I don’t even approach that line.  That line is so far away from me that quite honestly I am in no fear of ever crossing it.  In one of my first posts, Confessions of a Closet Fat Girl, I talk about the fact that I love to eat and if it were all the same I would wrap all my food in bacon, top it off with chocolate cake and wash it all down with a Margarita.  But, sadly, that’s not how life works.

As much as I want to look and feel a certain way and I work hard towards that end, sometimes you just need to eat a piece of cake and feel good about it.  Last night my husband and I went out to dinner which ended up being less than satisfying.  My Shrimp Hibachi was over cooked, the egg noodles were rubbery and the veggies were greasy.  I left hungry.  We had gone out to pick up our packets for a 5k we are doing with friends this weekend and realized that it didn’t open for another hour.  Oops!  So, we did some shopping while we were waiting and all the stores were loaded with holiday goodies.  Chocolate covered everything was calling my name.  We resisted the urge to buy anything but after a less than satisfying dinner, I said “Screw it, let’s go get cake”.

So, yesterday was a “refueling day” for me.  This is a day that I don’t go hog wild, but I give into a small indulgence which allows me to be at a maintenance level for calories, but my carbs are higher than normal.  Since I typically eat a higher protein and low-ish carb diet, I allow myself this splurge once a week to refill my glycogen stores.  I think the body needs it every once in a while and I look at doing it as part of my plan so that I can feel good about it.  I ate that piece of cake with my bare hands, licked the frosting off my fingers and make no apologies for any of it.

The problem is when you do it every day.  And combine it with a bottle of wine.  And a Big Mac. It’s hard to believe there was a time that I ate like that, but I did.  Every day.

Today, it’s back on plan.  Happy Friday, go eat some cake 🙂

Easy Food

I know, last week I posted about my nutrition plan, the macros I target for each meal, timing and how I like to spend Sunday prepping all my food for the week in order to stay on plan.  But life doesn’t always work out according to our plans now does it.

A little about me, I’m 41 and child free by choice.  My husband has a 16 year old that lives 500 miles away, so even with being a “step-mom” I don’t spend much time around children…actually, none.  So, last week when my step-son came to visit and there were several conversations about him moving down and living with us in a couple years, I chose to have a couple of cocktails with a friend on Saturday night.  OK, so maybe 6.

This plan did not help with getting me set up on my nutrition plan.  I usually eat my way out of a hangover with Chili Cheese Fritos and Biscuitville.  I managed to avoid both of those but I did not manage to get myself in the kitchen to prepare my meals for the week.  Despite this, I managed to stay on plan using meals that I have in my arsenal that are easily prepared.

  • Breakfast: Carton Egg Whites with Low Fat Feta and a sprouted grain English muffin and a very small side of Steel Cut Oats with coffee.  This is almost dead on my macro target for breakfast and very easy to make.  Egg whites take minutes to prepare and I soaked enough Steel cut outs in the fridge on Monday for the rest of the week that I could portion it out and microwave them quickly in the morning.
  • Lunch:  Hey, it was Thanksgiving, so lets use up the leftover turkey!  This was a no brainer way to get my protein, but I switched it up from day to day, pairing it with soup or applesauce or just making a sandwich with it.  Again, very close to my macros and simple to prepare since I had the turkey on hand.
  • Snacks: My go to for easy snacks is dairy since it’s a good mix of protein, carbs & fat.  This week I did things like string cheese & fruit, cottage cheese & fruit, yogurt and even hard boiled eggs.  Easy!
  • Dinner: So, this is how I make this all work, for dinner I look at what I have left for the day in calories and macros and basically try to piece a meal together based on that, so dinner varied based on what I had the rest of the day.  I had some low carb meatballs in the freezer so I made a meatball sandwich one night, another I was tired so I just has some cottage cheese with almonds & fruit.

This is sort of along the lines of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) eating but I actually try to stay as close as I can to my macros for each meal and then just use dinner to fill in the gaps to hit my targets for the day.

So, even though having pre-prepared chicken and veggie soup is what I prefer, there is no reason to go off plan just because you didn’t have time to prep food for the week.  Grab a rotisserie chicken form the grocery store and use it the way I did the turkey.  Keep protein rich dairy on hand.  Eggs are your friend.  Fruit & whole grain breads or those 90 second microwave brown rice bags give you quick, healthy carbs.  If you keep stuff like this on hand you should be able to throw together a healthy meal on your plan whenever you want.  Or when you decide to go on a bender and blow off food prep for the week.

 

Training Flexability

Several weeks ago I heard a friend of mine say that she had her half marathon training plan taped to her refrigerator and that for 3 months her and her husband’s life revolved around that piece of paper.

That made me raise an eyebrow, because although I appreciate the dedication, I do not believe that you have to be that regimented with your training.  Actually, I think that learning to have a life AND a training plan is a sign of maturity in training.

Let’s face it, life happens and if you don’t learn to bend then you’ll probably just break.  Listening to your body and adjusting your plan because it needs more recovery or knowing when to push a little harder are things that take time to figure out.  There is a fine line between HTFU and pushing yourself into an injury or pushing so hard that your body isn’t able to recover.

Work, illness, family, responsibilities…these things can all get in the way of our training.  Sometimes you need to push yourself to run at night, in the cold rain to get your run in.  Sometimes, missing a workout or having to rearrange your schedule is unavoidable, even if it is simply because you want to go out with friends and have a life.

I started using Training Peaks years ago to keep track of my training plan and I love it for many reasons, but not the least of which is the ability to drag & drop workouts from day to day.  I do this constantly to work my plan around work, events, responsibilities, weather or how I’m feeling.

This week was no exception.  Originally I had planned 5 runs this week, but I’m also starting a new strength training program, doing a 5 day split instead of a 3 day a week full body workout.  It’s more intense and I’m feeling it.  I started looking at my plan and knew it was going to be too much.  I’d be overtraining if I kept the plan in place, so I started moving things around and decided to keep the 5 day split for lifting but drop my day of hill repeats and reduce my runs to 4 times a week instead of 5 for the next few weeks while my body adjusts to the new routine.

You can have a diet and exercise plan…those have beginning and end dates and for most people it is probably a good idea to be as religious as possible for the limited period of time that they are on those plans.  But a training and nutrition plan is different.  Your plan may change, but you are always training and always fueling your training, that never stops.  You can’t expect everything around you to adjust, so you have to.  Change is made through consistency, not rigidity.