Tuesday, December 28, 2010

About that water, eh?

Another thing I should be doing more of: drinking water.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN answered a reader's question regarding drinking water and losing weight asking if drinking more water helps you lose more weight. I always thought that dieting websites and articles said to drink more water in order to lose weight because people will do anything those articles say, especially if it's as easy as that. And so mentioning it in an article would be a simple way of getting a generally dehydrated population to drink more of the good stuff, instead of there actually being any body of evidence that shows more water means more weight-loss.

Anywhos, I was wrong. Dead wrong. A couple studies published by Dr. Brenda Day, associate professor of human nutrition, foods and exercise at Virginia Tech, showed that not only did "people who drank water before meals [eat] an average of 75 fewer calories at that meal" but also that "people who drank two glasses of water 20 to 30 minutes before every meal lost weight more quickly initially and lost significantly more weight than those who didn't."

As Dr. Gupta quickly calculated, eating 75 fewer calories at lunch and dinner for a year would result in a loss of 14.5 pounds over that year! Wow...and all due to drinking more water.

Dr. Gupta also explained that sometimes thirst can be mistaken for hunger by our bodies and so we overeat when instead we are just thirsty. And lastly, "water-based foods like soups, vegetables and low-fat dairy, which are equally important for weight loss, as they lower the calorie density of meals. That can help you reduce calories without reducing portions."

And I almost forgot: "In addition, being even 1 percent dehydrated can cause a significant drop in metabolism." Whoa. That's nuts.

Anywhos, it's good that it's winter soup weather and I'm a big fan of dairy. Now I just have to focus on the two glasses of water 30 minutes before dinner and I should be set. I mean, I'm already a big water drinker but I definitely don't drink right before eating so that's something new to try.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Apparently morning people have it made

I absolutely love mornings, and if it weren't for my obsession with sleep, I'd most definitely be a morning person. Lately, well, prior to going home for Thanksgiving and losing all motivation to exercise, The Roommie and I had been getting up in the mornings to go for runs. Although I'm not a fan of running and definitely don't like getting out of my toasty bed to go out into the freezing sunrise (you'd think those two would be complete deal-breakers), I really enjoyed getting my exercise out of the way and the resulting feeling of being energized for the rest of the day. And having already been up for a while, I was much more likely to eat breakfast, which has been a problem for me for years.

And now, there's an article in the New York Times, called "The Benefits of Exercising Before Breakfast" which mentions a study published in The Journal of Physiology that suggests that exercising intensely in the morning before breakfast has greater health benefits than exercising after eating or not exercising at all. As the article states, "working out before breakfast directly combated the two most detrimental effects of eating a high-fat, high-calorie diet [which are increased insulin-resistance and storage of fat in the muscles]. It also helped the men avoid gaining weight."

Granted, it was done on 28 healthy men and they did high intensity workouts ranging from 60 to 90 minutes, neither of which apply to me...or most anybody else. But the take-home message is that "exercising in a fasted state (usually possible only before breakfast), coaxes the body to burn a greater percentage of fat for fuel during vigorous exercise, instead of relying primarily on carbohydrates."

BUT..."Exercising on an empty stomach is unlikely to improve your performance during that workout."

So for me, that's good since at the moment I'm just running to burn calories and get my butt off the couch. I'm not trying to improve my time, per se. Rather, I'm going to the ability to complete some sort of mileage and my workouts aren't nearly long enough to cause bonking due to exercising on an empty stomach.

Yet another incentive to start getting up early again, I suppose.

I'm just going to ignore the part that says, "The researchers also don’t know whether the same benefits will accrue if you exercise at a more leisurely pace and for less time than in this study." And stick with the commentary of Leonie Heilbronn, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Adelaide in Australia, who has extensively studied the effects of high-fat diets, regarding the study: “I would predict low intensity is better than nothing.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

If only I could get my run fitness and finger back, I'd be golden

Yes, I haven't written in a very long time. Yes, you could say I've fallen off the wagon. No, I haven't gained weight!

After slacking for over two weeks, which doesn't include the week I spent at home because I kicked butt there, I weighed myself this morning with great trepidation. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to see 213.0 on the scale. That's a 4-lb. loss from about three weeks ago when I last weighed myself. It's still not enough to keep up with my planned 5% loss by this week (I should be at 209.0), but I'll take it, considering I haven't been watching what I eat and have been sitting on the couch for two weeks.

About that sitting on the couch thing...I do have a somewhat legitimate excuse for the first week. But before I get into that, I would like to congratulate myself on my stupendous commitment to running while I was home for Thanksgiving. I made it out of the house four times, and all those runs were super hard: 3' jog 1' walk x 8 or 9, depending on the day. Prior to that I'd been doing 2' jog 2' walk x 6 or 3' jog 2' walk x 7, so nothing like the runs at home. And although it took a lot of self-pep-talking to get through each of my runs at home, the moral of the story is that I did it. And super fast! I'd gotten my pace down to a sub-10' mile for the entirety of the run, and about an 11' mile when you include the walking parts. It was pretty awesome. I'm sure coming down to sea level from 5000 feet made a huge difference, but whatever. It's still pretty cool.

And then I got back to Colorado and my laziness came back in full force. That, and my complete clumsiness in the kitchen and/or around fire derailed me from exercise for what should've only been about a week but has turned into two weeks and counting...

On Sunday night after Thanksgiving, I really wanted a pie. A pecan pie to be exact, and then I decided to make an apple pie as well. Bad decision. (We're foreign. We don't do Thanksgiving, and thus, no pies. Instead, I got lots of delicious Mom cooking, which I am very happy about, but alas, no pies.)


The pecan pie was already in the oven when I started slicing the apples using a mandolin. You know, the horizontal thing that you slide whatever you want sliced across and a super sharp blade makes it all go effortlessly and quickly. Well, that handy super sharp blade also slices human tissue pretty effortlessly, as I found out that night.

Only three slices of apples in, I had cut off the tip of my finger. And by that I mean, a third of my pinkie nail, along with a large chunk of the skin was gone. If not for the extreme pain shooting up my arm and the large pool of blood on the floor (it looked like someone had died in our kitchen), I wouldn't have known anything was amiss and kept right on slicing, it was that easy.

A trip to Urgent Care followed and I was bandaged and doped up on a whole bunch of meds about 2 hours later. In case you're wondering, they don't reattach pinkies. I even brought my finger with me hoping they would. They don't.


So yes, I cut off the tip of my finger and a chunk of my nail on an apple slicer and it hurt a whole bunch for many days even with strong medication. To add insult to injury, we had to leave for Urgent Care before the pecan pie was done and we never finished that apple pie. Huge bummer. But I digress.

By the end of the week I probably would've been OK getting my blood going without serious pain but once I start sitting, I can't get my butt off the couch.

What bums me out the most is that I've lost most of the run fitness I'd worked so hard to build up. Apparently taking up to a week off is fine, but with more rest than that, you have to start slower and slower until about two weeks out when you're essentially at zero. And that's me right now.

The bright part is that my super speedy military friend is no longer doing the 10-mile race so I don't feel nearly as guilty being slow. I'm kind of unhappy about him not being there, but at least there's a silver lining. So now I'm going to focus on getting up to a 10k instead of 10 miles and go from there. I was getting a bit overwhelmed with that ginormous task earlier, but now I'm content.

I also think part of the problem is I'm bored with running up and down our block. We have plenty of bike paths around here, but they're all concrete, which is way too hard of a surface for me. I was getting shin splints from running on the sidewalks already so I don't want to risk that anymore. I may hit up some running trails around here instead, which aren't nearly as convenient as going out my front door to run, but they're more pleasant.

That's the plan, at least. I've also made a bike date for Thursday morning with my neighbor (not a real date at all, bummer) and am signing up for the swim team after the New Year. I'd been planning on starting swimming this month but then the finger thing happened and I haven't been able to put my scabby hand in the water for any extended period of time. So that's something to look forward to next month!

Oh, and another silver lining is this sitting around has cured all the ankle and shin problems I'd been ignoring and pushing through. So maybe cutting off my finger wasn't too bad...

And lastly, that photo is of me indoor skydiving. Gotta say, best birthday present EVER. I would never jump out of a plane, but put me in a wind tunnel and I'm happy as a clam.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Weekly Plans for November 2010

I like lists. And goals. So if it's on the list and part of a goal, I'm more likely to do it. Hence this page of weekly plans of exercise.

Overall, November 2010 was a very fluid month in that I rarely stuck to a scheduled workout but I did end up doing most of them. By the end of the month I was running a 5k at about a 10:00-10:30 min/mile pace (amazing!) and even got four workouts in when I was home for Thanksgiving. I was very proud of myself for that.

Unfortunately, December began with a horrendous apple slicing accident that kept me benched for two weeks and I had a hard time getting back on track. So there will be no weekly plans for that month.

But for now, here's an archive of my weekly plans for November 2010.

Key for colors is at the bottom of the post.

Week of 10/31: Run four times
Monday - Nada
Tuesday - C210K: Week Two, Day Two
Wednesday - Nada
Thursday - C210K: Week Three, Day One
Friday - C210K: Week Three, Day Two; C210K: Week Two, Day Three
Saturday - Rest
Sunday - C210K: Week Three, Day Three; C210K: Week Three, Day One

Week of 11/7: Run four times (and somewhat enjoy it)
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - C210K: Week Three, Day Two
Wednesday - C210K: Week Three, Day Three
Thursday - Rest
Friday - C210K: Week Four, Day One; C210K: Week Three, Day Three
Saturday - C210K: Week Four, Day Two
Sunday - Rest

Week of 11/14: Run five times (no more falling behind!)
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - C210K: Week Four, Day One
Wednesday - C210K: Week Four, Day Two
Thursday - C210K: Week Four, Day Three
Friday - C210K: Week Five, Day One
Saturday - C210K: Week Five, Day Two
Sunday - Rest; C210K: Week Four, Day Two

Week of 11/21: Run while in California
Monday - C210K: Week Four, Day Three
Tuesday - C210K: Week Five, Day One
Wednesday - C210K: Week Five, Day Two
Thursday - C210K: Week Five, Day Three; C210K: Week Five, Day Two
\Friday - C210K: Week Six, Day One
Saturday - Rest / Travel Day
Sunday - C210K: Week Six, Day Two

Accomplished day's exercise
Weekly goal
Amended weekly goal
Other exercise (non-goal oriented)
Regular get-some-movement-in filler exercise (not strenuous)
Added exercises (unplanned)
Comments regarding the week