Faster, Fitter and Freakier at Forty

Faster, Fitter and Freakier at Forty.

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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

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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

Trail of Tears and The Tough Mudder

I did another #Tough #Mudder this past Saturday.  My first one was in Indiana on June 16th.  It was about 90 degrees that day.  I had a team of six, me being the only girl.  The guys were all late twenties except me and another guy who are 36 and 37 respectively. As a whole we looked pretty fit and bad ass.  Our pre-run picture was worthy, it looked like a team who would finish with a smile.

My only goal for the that Mudder was to NOT be the weakest link.  As long as I wasn’t holding the five other guys back, I didn’t care.  And since the guys managed to drag my ass over all the walls, I wasn’t holding them behind because endurance-wise I was easily prepared.  As far as strength went, well put it this way… I did Yoga for my training.

But let’s face it, except for the gynormic walls, the monkey bars and the swinging ropes, the Tough Mudder is more about pain tolerance and nerve.  Dunking your body into an ice bath doesn’t take strength, it takes a serious set of balls.

My team last Saturday looked a little different.  There was only four of us and it was bitterly cold.

My Husband: extremely fit, weight lifter, been biking for 5 months, runs 2-3 times a week but can’t go more than 5 miles without foot pain or shin pain.  He had me concerned.

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Me: #Run, #Bike, or #swim every day.  Endurance is high, muscle strength (useful muscles anyway) is low.  Extremely determined but feeling exceptionally fat and bloated at the moment.

Kris: Fit male of #Asian decent and undetermined age. He has been running with my run club for a few months and seems to be right on track as far as training goes.  He does pull-ups at the park and is up to running eight miles no problem.

Hal:  Hal is fifty-something.  He is a good friend and been in my run club since it’s infancy; over five years.  He has been known to run a marathon on four weeks training and yells out things like, “Pink Clitorous” without provocation when referring to a Ford Taurus.  He hasn’t been running much lately and he hurt his back so bad 2 weeks ago that he needed assistance rising from his chair.

We looked like a gang that rides the short bus.

The beauty of dunking your already-shivering body under ice water is that the outside air actually feels warm when your body shoots back out gasping for air.  When you start running again you feel suddenly alive…until you start getting cold again.

90% of nerve at the Tough Mudder is made possible through the herd mentality.  When everyone around you is roaring like beasts, then diving under barbed wire into water surrounded by dangling electrical wires, it just seems like the right thing to do.

The first of us to show signs of pain was Kris. His hamstrings started cramping around mile six, making it nearly impossible for him to walk with straight legs.  He wasn’t alone, at the top of every hill there were no fewer than 12 husky men laying on the ground rolling while grasping their legs (and whining like a bunch of sissys).

As we trudged on, he no longer looked Asian.  With a metallic Mylar blanked wrapped over his head, his slumped over carriage, and a smear of grey mud on his lips and most of his face, he looked more like an old indian man walking the Trail of Tears.

Danny, my husband, surprised me.  I assumed he would be the first to complain of pain.  But instead he ran ahead in full force, yelling and cheering others on.  He was the leader of our gang up until mile eight, when he suddenly seized up and began walking like a penguin.

Hal wavered.  At first he had a hard time keeping up with us.  He spent excessive time fumbling with his knee pads and rubber gloves.  But he kept plugging away like a champ and in the end put us all to shame.

I was feeling fine endurance-wise.  My body didn’t like the cold and it was shaken with bouts of shivering as the miles passed.  Each water obstacle became harder and harder to do.  I don’t think you could call me a complete sissy until about mile nine, when I did a face plant in the mud and nearly broke my nose.  Grace has never been used to describe me but at the Mudder it wass even worse.   For the last 3 miles I was conservative (read wimpy).

We approached Mount Everest, the mountain sized half-pipe that requires (for mere mortals anyway) someone on top to catch your flailing body to get you over it.  My hyperthermic body ached as I stood in line, watching as people made half-assed efforts, slamming their bodies against the wood and ending up like Mr. Bill.

Hal made one good run for it before deciding without question he would not make a second.  Kris, nearly dead at this point, made a single heroic dash at it and made it with the help of some bystanders.  He put us all to shame with his bravery.  Strong warrior.

We walked up to the finish line, which is on the other side of thousands of dangling live electrical wires and a pool of water/mud.  We would have to run as fast as possible while getting shocked, scale a mud ditch and make our escape.  Everyone did it with class, except me.

I ran hard, imagining the beer waiting for me on the other side.  I took my shock with pride, scaled the mud bank then slipped backwards, slamming my body down with a thud and a bounce as the announcer said, “oh, that hurt.”  (this photo is not of me btw, but it shows the situation so well I had to use it.)

And now, three days later, the pain is nearly gone.  And yes, we are looking for the next Mudder we plan to attend.  This time however, it will be during the summer.  I’m not ready to get the tattoo yet, but I will say I have plenty of scars to prove my dedication.  That gives me an idea for my next blog post.  Do you care to see my scars?  I bet mines bigger than yours is:)