Faster, Fitter and Freakier at Forty

Faster, Fitter and Freakier at Forty.

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Who Cares? I do! (Just weeks away from my 20 year reunion…)

I sent out a tweet last week that said: Every time I think about eating garbage, I remind myself that my 20 year reunion is in less than a month. I had quite a few retweets and a couple of tweeps that said they had their reunions coming up this summer too… but the response that caught my attention was the reply that said: @dianeistrong, you shouldn’t care what others think. 

My mind instantly floated back to those afterschool specials with the heart-felt, all warmy-feeling messages about self-esteem and confidence.

aa free to beaa growing pains

You’re right, I thought, I shouldn’t care what people think of me.  But then I thought, the hell I shouldn’t! 

I’ve been staring at the nine bug bites on my stomach wondering when the hell they will go away. They’ve been there for weeks and I look like I have chickenpox!  It’s like they are trying to compete with the gallbladder surgery scars on my navel and between the rib cage.2013-07-16 14.48.55

I’m not nearly as concerned about those nine bites as I am about the six that are on by bikini line.  It looks like I got in a fight with a rusty razor.  (Sorry, no picture, I just couldn’t bring myself to post it.) This morning I found myself applying triple antibiotic ointment to them in hopes of a speedier healing.  The second day of our reunion is going to be spent at the beach (what kind of sick test is this!), I can’t have these things on me with 200+ classmates judging me.

Of course the rash I get in my armpits from my homemade deodorant probably won’t look too hot  with my swimsuit either.  2013-07-16 14.47.26If you catch me swimming or sunbathing with my shorts on and my arm held tight to my sides and my hands wrapped around my waist in a tangled mess then you can be sure the damn things didn’t heal in time.

I almost forgot about that line of cuts on the top of my shin that I re-nick every time I shave my legs.  Even if they did heal, I’m going to have white spots on my legs because I essentially shaved off my suntan.  2013-07-16 14.49.51There is one good thing about the nicks, they take away from the bulging varicose vein on the inside of my calf.  Beautiful.  In the right light, it looks like a really sick muscle.

And the scars.  They have really accumulated over the years.  The 12 inch scar on my arm (thank you Brad Clayton) was there at the ten-year reunion2013-07-16 15.26.27

but I have a few new ones to add.  Of course there are the Tiger Stripes (that’s what my hubby calls them anyway) on my lower back (thank you children)2013-07-16 15.00.00, the silver dollar sized hole in my left leg (thank you Black Lab on the bike ride two years ago)2013-07-16 14.58.32 and all those scars on my knees (thank you trail race where I biffed and two tough mudders), 2013-07-16 14.55.08the scar from the gallbladder removal (as mention above)…I could go on but I’m pretty sure you get the gist.

It is very obvious that I am not perfect.  I am flawed like most people.  And if it weren’t for Facebook, that fact may be a little easier to admit.  See, when Facebook first arrived in my life about six years ago, I had just found running.  I found myself updating my status on a daily basis, bragging about how far I ran and what place I got at some local Podunk race. I still can’t help but tell everyone when I manage to do something that seems really awesome…at least to me.

bragging

Don’t we all seem kind of awesome in our own special way on Facebook?  Forever witty, only posting the very best pictures of ourselves.  It’s the persona we want the world to see (though my persona is especially challenged when it comes to spelling and grammar), especially the ‘friends’ we’re pretty sure won’t ever see again…except at our highschool reunion.

Of course, of the hundreds of friends I have on Facebook, only about twelve actually see my postsaa eggs 12

and of those twelve people…maybe one or two might care, maybe.

aa 2 eggs 2

So they are really the only people I need to maintain my persona  with.    This takes quite a bit of pressure off.  Unfortunately, I don’t know who those two people are.

And when I really think about it, those two people may or may not show up for the reunion so statistically there might be one person who cares.  And now that I think about it, what kind of judgmental, self-righteous, capricious, not to mention superficial, person would give a crap about some chick they went to school with twenty years ago?  I mean really, that’s a little sick, right?  Like maybe they need to be put away or confined…maybe have a little one-on-one with a doctor in a cold room painted lime green.  Right?  Are you feel’in me here?

aa cracked egg

Now that I take a closer look at the crazy, whacked-out egg, I can see who it is, it’s me. I’m the only one who cares what I look like at the reunion.  I can’t believe I just posted all those pictures of my flaws (they physical ones…haha, you don’t want to see pictures of the mental ones!) I feel better now that I have all that out on the table, however, thanks for listening.  This chick thanks you for it.aa one egg

Does Running and Working Out Make You Fat? How to Look Good Naked.

I’m probably going to catch hell for this blog post, but here it goes anyway.

chubby runner

My darling sister sent me a link to a blog titled “Seven Reasons As To Why Running is Bad For You” the other day. I read the rather scathing blog and thought, hmm, this dude makes a few good points.  I didn’t care for the way he bashed running (as a person who loves running), and his general negative attitude, but the first reason was rather interesting: “Have you looked at distance runners?”

The author points out that most runners, especially distance runners, are…well…out of shape.  If you look at the majority of people crossing the line of a marathon, they are not the gazelle-looking athletes you would expect.  The author points out that they have, “man boobs” and “spare tires”.

man boobs

He says his goal is to look good naked, and I agree, if you work this hard, you should look good naked!  If you want to look good naked, I give my take on how to do it in this blog.

I would argue that this fact is true for many athletes.  Cyclists, swimmers, runners, the people at the gym who show-up for boot-camp or Crossfit, whatever. Many of them are still not the ‘ideal image of fitness’.

So why?  Why are these people who workout an hour a day, seven days a week not fit?  Why is it that a marathon runner who goes out for four-hour training runs still has a set of man boobs?  Why does the guy doing Crossfit three times a week still have a barrel chest with a gut?  Why does the cyclist who rides one hundred miles in one day still have a muffin-top riding over her bike shorts?  I’ll tell you why, but first you have to promise not to get upset.  Don’t shoot the messenger and please DON’T assume I am ignorant as to the difficulties of weight issues.

Here’s the reason.  Your physical appearance has much, much, much more to do with what you put in your mouth than how many calories you burn.  

vs

We ALL have six-pack abs, though some are more pronounced than others.  The difference is that if you have a thick layer of fat covering them, you won’t see your ab muscles.  A person can be extremely fit and look just like anyone else.

One of the biggest problems people run into when they do any fitness routine, is they over compensate for the calories they burned.  A one hour run, on average, burns about 600 calories.  If you go home and drink a tall glass of chocolate milk and eat a bagel, you’ve replaced the calories you just burned.  And if you are like most fitness junkies, you think you are entitled to eat whatever you want since you work out so hard.  “We need to carb-load” they say.  Bull shit.  You need to eat well, and pasta is not the best choice.

carb load

The person who works out sporadically tends to ‘reward’ themselves after a difficult workout session with a special treat like a candy bar or a Big Mac then wonder’s why they haven’t lost any weight.  When weeks and weeks of this effort at working out results in weight gain, they lose all confidence in themselves and create a downward spiral.  They run to the comfort foods to heal their pain.

I’ve been on long endurance rides with some of the best cyclists in the area and am appalled to see them noshing on gummy bears and a coke at the rest stop.  It’s no wonder they don’t fit the image of the extreme athletes they are.  I can’t help but wonder how much faster and better they could be if they fueled their body with real food.gummy bear

The fact is: if you want to be the image of an athlete, you need to eat correctly and work out.  If you want to feel healthy, you need to eat well.  If you want to be a healthy weight, you need to eat well.  No amount of exercise gives you a pass to eat like crap.  As an athlete, eating well will fuel your workouts and feed your fitness level like never before.  Even if you are not an athlete, you can look better and feel amazing if you just eat well.

What do you mean by ‘eat well’? 

Okay, here’s my take on how everyone should eat in as few words as possible.  Take it or leave it.  But if you want to feel great, look great (even naked) and be the best athlete you can be, you might want to give it a go.

STOP rewarding yourself with junk food.  Cut out all the cakes, muffins, doughnuts, candy, and chips.  It’s junk, it’s filled with sugar and ultimately it will ruin you.  It’s not worth it.  A little dark chocolate on a rare occasion may be fine but that’s it.  Sugar feeds cancer cells (and we all have cancer cells), it spikes your blood sugar creating a feeling of hunger and a craving for more sugar.  Get off the sugar and you will stop the cravings.  It’s a cycle, it can be broken.  One week without sugar and you will be a new person.
Simple.

drink cokeNO sugary drinks.  Drink water, lots of it.  Not only does water hydrate you and make your skin look fresh it flushes toxins from your body and makes you feel full.  Often people eat when they are dehydrated because they mistake the signals for hunger.  Add lemon to your water for flavor, to aid in digestion and cleanse your system.  Other great options are green tea and unsweetened tea.  Beer is fine and so is wine (in moderation).  aspartame

No artificial sweeteners:  Not only are they bad for you, like eating toxic waste (in my opinion) they cause your blood sugar to fluctuate just like sugar does.  These spikes in blood-sugar cause you to feel hungry.  If you avoid sugar and artificial sugar, you will feel satisfied.  Trust me.

No processed foods.  If it comes in a box or a bag it is probably processed. Examples are crackers, nutrition bars, rice crisps, pretzels, chips, pasta, gold fish, wheat thins, most breads, lunch meats, fake cheese, etc.  Real food is perishable. Processed foods are filled with preservatives, chemicals and most of the main ingredients like enriched flours turn into sugar when it is digested.  This crap food, as I call it, is toxic to your system, makes you feel hungry, unsatisfied, (can’t eat just one!), lethargic and is the most detrimental to a lean healthy body. (Even ORGANIC processed food is bad for you!)

NO FAST FOOD: I don’t care what kind of bullshit they feed you on the commercials, NO fast food is a good option.  If you have to choose between paying a dollar for a burger or a dollar for an organic apple, chose the apple.  A chicken wrap is crap. Subway is NOT fresh, it is actually highly processed meats filled with nitrates, veggies that are mass produced and grown with chemical fertilizers and sprayed with toxic pesticides, and breads made from dough that is made in a factory a long, long way away with an ingredient list longer and more toxic than the Ohio river.

mcdonalds

All fast food is bad for you.  It is not really food at all, and your body will treat it as such.  On top of the fact that it is bad for your body, it is horrible for the environment.  I could go on for hours about how horrible fast food is, but I think you get the picture…I’m anti-fast food.

What the hell can I eat then?

Fruit and vegetables, organic whenever possible. I pay for organic because I am investing in my future.  I am willing to buy fresh, organic produce because I know I will live longer with less health complications because of it.  In the end, it will cost me less.

buy organic

Eat them raw throughout the day.  Dip your veggies in humus or bean dip, not ranch dressing.  Saute your veggies in olive oil and butter.  Add salt and spices for flavor.

Eat a variety of colors.  When you crave sweet, eat fruit.  Eat as much as you want, there is not limit to how much you can eat.  This should be the bulk of your intake.

Oil and Balsamic Vinegar: Huge organic salads loaded with veggies and some cheese should be topped with oil and vinegar based dressings seasoned to your liking.  Balsamic vinegar is very flavorful and the best one for you.  Avoid the creamy dressings.

Dairy: Raw is best.  Most people are allergic to homogenized, pasteurized dairy (the milk at the store).  I am able to purchase raw milk and use the cream to make butter and sauces.  If you have to buy milk at the store you should buy organic and limit the amount you drink.  The processing it goes through turns it from a whole live food into a product your body doesn’t deal with well.    Cheeses are not as bad.  Limit them though.

Nutritional-Difference-in-Raw-Milk

 

Beans: Beans are super foods.  Buy organic whenever possible.  They are very filling and a great source of healthy carbs, fiber and beans.

Meat AND Fish: Meat is good for you, but it is also not necessary.  It is up to you whether you want to eat meat or not.  Some of the leanest, meanest athletes are vegan or vegetarian.  I think lean cuts of meat are over-rated.  Fat is not bad for you, if you want to eat a fatty meat than eat it.  I think that most of the issues supposedly caused by fatty meats are due to processed foods in combination with fatty meats.  If you cut out processed foods, you can eat a fattier meat.

I personally buy local, grass-fed beef and meats whenever possible.  Animals raised on a high-corn diet are not healthy animals.  I also don’t support feedlot practices.  This is a personal decision but I encourage you to do your research before making a decision.

go grass fed

Fish is high in protein and filled with Omega 3’s (the good fats that make you smart and your body function well).  Do some research to find the the safest fish that is caught or raised in the most sustainable and healthful way.  It’s challenging but once you find a good source you can stick with it.

Eggs: Farm fresh is best, organic is second best.  If you can find a farm to supply your eggs you can buy them 4 dozen at a time if you want.  They keep in the fridge for months. (Store bought eggs are months old by the time they get to you).  Very high in protein and very portable (when hard-boiled) eggs are a wonderful for you, yokes and all.  Eat them up.  As long as you cut out the processed foods, you don’t need to worry about cholesterol in eggs.  Real food is good for you.

NUTS: Nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats, both which are very important and make you feel full.  Raw almonds are ideal since you are not as likely to overeat them like you would smoked almonds.  raw almonds

Rices: Organic is best.  Brown, black, wild, whatever.  Rice is a whole food and if you really need carbs as bad as you think you do, rice is a decent way to get them.

Whole grains: If you are going to eat grains, eat them whole.  When eaten whole they don’t cause the spike in blood sugar that processed grains like flour does.  Most athletes are very efficient when it comes to utilizing food and don’t require this type of carbs unless preparing for a long distance race.  Over-doing these types of carbs however, will result in excess fat, especially around the waist.

Real food is always good for you.  Real food has not been processed, it is in its original state.  Real food still has all the good stuff in it and hasn’t been stripped of the important stuff your body craves…or will learn to crave.

eat real food

Once you stop eating sugar and processed foods for about a week, your body will stop craving it.  It may be painful at first while you detox your body.  It is also hard to break habits.  If you are used to having a pop with your lunch, it will be hard to have water with veggies for lunch.  If you always celebrate a long run with a giant chocolate chip cookie, eating four or five clementines may not feel like a celebration at first.  But once your body is ‘off’ the crap food and fully fueled by real food, it will begin to crave real food and expect it.

When you start to see the muscles you have worked so hard to develop and you see the fat melt away, it will be easier.  When you reap the benefits of a well-fueled body with faster times you’ll never go back.

As always, thanks for reading my blog.  I look forward to hearing your response.

not good

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Running Junkie and Fear of Recovery

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As I looked out my window this morning watching the pounding rain, I thought to myself, ‘I should just stay inside and do yoga’. But then the rain lightened up for a brief moment and I said, “Oh, it looks like it’s gonna stop. I’m going for my run.”

At mile four of my hilly-six miler, when the cold spring rain was pelting me in the face like shards of glass as I ran, I had two thoughts:

1. I am so glad I opted to leave my expensive Garmin Watch at home, although I would REALLY like to know what my pace is right now.
and
2. I am so glad I didn’t opt-out of my run and do yoga.

While most sane people are looking for a good opportunity to back out of a scheduled run, the Running Junkie dreads having to back out of a run. The Running Junkie’s worst day is when he/she is sick, and not because he’s on his knees vomiting into the toilet, but because he is too weak to go outside and run. He fears he will lose fitness and God knows what else.
yoga
While creating today’s blog in my head today during my stormy run I discovered the ‘God knows what else’ of the above sentence…I think.

You see, staying inside and doing yoga this morning would have been perfect for me and my fitness. This is especially true since I did two speed-workouts yesterday (one of them completely unplanned and off the cuff) and my left leg was wound as tight at a pretzel.pretzelAn easy day full of stretching and meditation would have probably allowed my leg to mend and my muscles to repair so that my long run tomorrow would really be awesome…maybe even brag-worthy.

But I didn’t choose yoga, like so many Running Junkies out there, I chose to run.

Now I’m going to tell you a dirty little secret that only a small handful of people (maybe 3 people) are aware of. I think it is pertinent to my discovery this morning so I am willing to scar my perfect image with the sad truth of my youth.

href=”https://dianestrong.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/pills.jpg”>pills

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As I ran along, my shoes sloshing through mud puddles I dialed my brain back about 18 years to a time before I was married and long before I became a runner. I was in college, alone in a strange town in Montana and using pills to get me through my long days of school and work. During my college career I had developed a nasty dependency on these pills so much that I was taking them every day and barely able to pay for rent to feed the addiction. I was convinced that without the pills I would fail; fail at school, at work and in life, that I couldn't imagine a single day without my precious pills.

Occasionally I would decide to take a 'day-off' of my pills, to let my body recover and my tollerance to bounce back a little. I was taking more and more all the time, I had hoped that with a day off, maybe I wouldn't require so many pills to keep me bouncing through my day. But the planned 'day-off' seldom came. ???????????????????????????????????????
I feared it. The only way I could manage it was to stay in bed all day and sleep. A day without my pills was like a day without the sun.

Now fast forward to the me you see today, the organic food eating, running, swimming, biking mother of two and wife. I’m so far from the disaster I was almost twenty years ago. But if I look deep into my soul I have to admit I still have an addiction, I’ve just replaced it with running.

mom and kids

<a

Like so many Running Junkies, whether they are running from a past, a drug, a relationship or whatever, we are junkies. We can't imagine what will happen if we don't get our fix for the day. We run in the rain and do speed workouts the day before a race and choose running over yoga because there is a piece of our brain that just plain cannot imagine what will happen if we don't run. Even when we know we would be a faster runner, win more races and suffer less injuries if we just gave ourselves the recovery/rest days we need…we still run.
runner

In the last few months I have pledged to take one rest day a week. I often end up hiking or doing something active, not sleeping, but it is a day off. In return my body has rewarded me with faster tempo runs and new race PR’s (personal records). When I wake up on my rest day and think about going for a run, just a short one, I think back to my youth and tell myself, ‘No, Diane. You’re a grown-up now. You know what will happen if you don’t run…and it’s a good thing.”

But today was Wednesday, not Saturday, so I couldn’t possibly miss my run:)
must run

So, to all you Running Junkies out there, and to Tim, whom I know is going to try to squeeze a quick four mile run into his layover at San Francisco two days before his big marathon, you are not alone. At least we understand each other. Have a great run, I hope you find what you are looking for.

Happy running to all my fellow Running Junkies AND to the Sane Runners we will never be. (Yes, Running Junkie and Sane Runner DO need to be capitalized:P

#running #junkie #racing #recovery #restday #drugs #pills #training