Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Exercise myths - Abs

I love reading stuff like this. When you see myths debunked, it can really change your perspectives - particularly when we're talking about exercise. We all have something we think is tried and true and will get us real results, when in reality we're either wasting time or potentially injuring ourselves. This article highlights the 6 ab myths that are floating around in the exercise world. In case you're new to the blog, having a strong core is essential to being a good runner. To be honest I haven't been good about keeping up with the core exercises. I've been off and on about the push-up goal too, which is a great way to help build a stronger core. I was very tempted during my run yesterday to stop by the pull-up bar and see if I could squeeze one out though. I haven't worked on anything but running lately so I probably can't, but I'm beginning to get the urge to try again. :)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Running out of gas...

I seem to be having this problem a lot lately. I'm doing fine for about the first 20 minutes of a run, and then I begin to just run out of energy. I'm not hurting; I don't have any stitches or cramps, but I'm just out of fuel. I'm not sure if my sugars are off, but I have a feeling it has more to do with my electrolytes. I say this because I recently began drinking sports drinks since I've finally managed to consistently run more than 30 minutes with every outing. Today I meant to take my G2 with me but forgot it. During the run today, I just pooped out! I wanted to keep running, so I'd run as far as my little legs could take me and then walk a bit. Then I'd run some more. I got home and chugged my G2 because I was soooo thirsty. Lo and behold - my energy came back! I've read a couple articles that said even just a little sports drink mid-run can boost energy levels dramatically, and I have a feeling I was experiencing that effect. Long story short, I will have to invest in a small bottle to fit on my running pack for a little sports drink or just carry the darn bottle with me. I could not believe how much better I felt. Sometimes life's problems have such simple solutions!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Training session #1

It is so awesome to hang out with other runners, regardless of their achievements or skill level. The training group was divided up into three smaller groups - Walk/Run, Novice, and Intermediate. I chose to follow the intermediate schedule, which involved a 35 minute run this morning. I ended up being the last to finish by a couple minutes, but that was to be expected considering how the last few weeks have been mileage-wise. I felt really good the whole run, but my energy levels just pooped out on me in the last 10 minutes. Again, that was expected. I will continue training following the schedule the head coach gave us, so I should be up to speed next week. The coach that handled my group was really talkative, and she had great things to say. The emphasis for everyone is endurance, not speed. There were a couple people in my group who ran really fast...I'm not sure if they felt like it was a race or if they're just faster runners.

The best part is that my coach has a pace so steady that it really helps me avoid the most common of runner's problems - starting out too fast. I think she kept about an 11 minute mile pace, which is a tad faster than what I'm used to running but it's good to push myself.

The training groups meet at a running store in Sandy Springs called Phidippedes. Next week we have our first training seminar, so I'll have more to discuss then. I may buy a new pair of running shoes. I get 10% off all my purchases and since some of the employees are helping with the training they'll be able to determine which shoe is best for me. Yay!!

If you want to get serious about running, I highly recommend running with a coach. I know today was my first experience, but already I'm hooked. Real runners don't look down on you because you run slower than they do, or if you haven't completed a marathon yet. If you run, you're a runner. That's it. It's okay if you walk some of it. The camaraderie is worth it. :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring has finally fully arrived!

Good God it took long enough for 80 degree F. weather to finally show up! Today's high is supposed to be somewhere around 85, which is amazing. For people who feel the need to sleep with blankets through the worst heatwaves in the summer, 85 feels like you're just beginning to thaw out. Here in the Atlanta area, it means everyone hits the parks big time. It also means that we sometimes break 100 degrees in the summer, but it's not often and even I'm dying in that kind of heat.

For me this year, it means I begin my official training for the Peachtree Road Race! Yay!!! I got my official intermediate training schedule today, and it actually doesn't look all that hard. We're supposed to run 35 minutes tomorrow morning, which ought to be fine. Even though I've been inconsistent the past few weeks, I ought to have a sufficeint mileage base already built up to handle it. I'll be able to give more details tomorrow once I've experienced our first training run. I'm giving two and a half months of sleeping in on Saturdays, but it will be well worth it.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Food Drunk

I coined that term several weeks ago to myself when I visited a new and now favorite local Irish pub called Durty Kelly's (no website yet, but here is their info on UrbanSpoon). I went nuts eating all the amazing food. I got pretty giddy and just couldn't stop! I was there with friends and it was the first time in a long time that Rex was able to come out and just hang out. He works lots of nights and weekends enforcing the law on the general Atlanta population. I've often thought back to that night because occasionally I will go a little overboard at a favorite restaurant with the food, particularly another restaurant owned by the same people who run Durty Kelly's - Slice Cafe. They have the most amazing desserts from a local bakery called Lulu's (you'd think this was a food blog, not a running blog!!). I think you can tell I love to eat, hence why I run. I am not the kind of girl who is going to subsist on nothing but salads and low-fat garbage (which by the way has a ton of sugar in it).

Anyhooooooooo....all of this was to alert you all to this great article I came across on MSNBC. It turns out that there is such a thing as food drunk! They didn't call it that, but the article talks about dopamine and how certain fat and sugar combinations can make the brain react just like alcoholics do around alcohol. No wonder I go nuts for cheesecake! Just thinking about it makes me drool. I disagree with only one comment in the whole article. "Retrain the brain to think, "I'll hate myself if I eat that," Kessler advises." I'm sorry - that kind of self-hate revolving around food is what gets people into eating disorders. Try to be positive!

So next time you're at your favorite restaurant or making your favorite comfort food at home, remember that maybe you're a hypereater too. Or if you're like me, you're getting ready to get food drunk ;-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Advice for the men!

I know I tend to lean on the feminine side when dispensing advice or reviewing articles, but I can't help it. I'm a woman! Anyhoo, here's a good article for the men folk on how to get rid of that beer belly and "moobs" (man boobs). I found it interesting that men can raise their testosterone by altering their diets, which help them lose weight (or at least lose the moobs). Enjoy!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Before and After

I was going through some old pictures on my hard drive when I came across some pictures that were taken of me two years ago. I look like such a porker!! Ahh! I actually remember feeling really insecure at this time due to my weight. It was the heaviest I had ever been, and I was struggling not only with finding clothes that fit my new body, but with the expectation that because I was Asian (and my mother's child) that I was supposed to be a lot skinnier. I don't know if those expectations were all internal or if they came in part from other people, but luckily for me Rex didn't care. Just to show everyone the kind of progress I've made with changing my diet and incorporating a little exercise, I want to let everyone see a picture from two years ago taken at the Georgia Aquarium and a picture taken recently at a race. Let it be known that if I can make changes and lose a little weight, so can everyone else. I am not the role model for healthy living I sometimes think I am. I think it's a little hard to tell the changes since I'm sitting down in one picture and standing up in another, but to me the changes are huge.

I've run out of gas...

So I haven't worked out really in a couple weeks. I took a lovely stroll around the park with Rex last week, but that only sort of counts for me. It definitely counts for him. My weight is staying fairly steady between 135.5 and 140, so it's not moving past it's 5 lb range. Boy do I get excited when I see 135.5! I have my Peachtree training starting in a couple weeks, and I just don't feel ready. School has been really busy since I'm nearing the end of this term, and Rex has been home during the week, which makes it a little harder to schedule workouts when he's on a different schedule than I am. I'm not saying it's his fault, I'm just saying it's harder because I want to spend as much time as I can with him. I also have a convention to attend this weekend, and final exams right after that's finished. I just don't have enough time!

Hopefully this training that I signed up for (and paid $55 for!) will kick my butt into high gear. There will be some very experienced runners handling the training, and they're supposed to have some tips on motivation and nutrition as well. I could use all of it!

On a good note, I bought up a bunch of G2 grape flavor from Publix last week on sale. Yay!! That will definitely come in handy after the longer runs. I also bought a box of Luna bars. Like most energy bars, they're too much for a snack and not enough to be a meal replacement (not that I recommend replacing meals with bars...eww!!). But I figure they'll be a good quick energy boost before runs, and I have a lot of trouble eating early in the morning. I have to be up about an hour before eating doesn't sound disgusting, and I need to eat about 45 minutes before a run. I think these bars will help because they're tasty and easy to eat.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Food for thought

I was inspired to write a post based on this article about how to beat stress and prevent weight gain. I thought it was well-written and easy to understand and totally agree with what it says. Basically get off your butt to help get rid of stress and stop worrying so much about sticking to a strict diet! Try to eat sensibly, but allow yourself a little wiggle room on occasion. The most important message is get some exercise consistently and eat food that works for you, not against you.

Then I came across this and feel compelled to speak up. This is a bit of a political rant, which is not the norm for me or this blog. Click away now if you don't want to read it.

New York wants to institute a soda tax. A really high soda tax. I understand banning trans-fats (yay!), I can see why posting caloric information is useful (although guilt-inducing and therefore stress-inducing), and I wonder why governments want to limit business growth by not allowing new fast food establishments ( base??). What I am beginning to get tired of is a handful of government officials deciding what's best for me when it comes to the diet I choose for myself. I know I try to eat well and exercise for my own well being, but frankly if someone wants to eat himself to death, have at it! I had to give up regular coke for coke zero because of the hypoglycemia, but I won't look down on anyone who wants to drink fizzy sugar water. Who am I to tell you how to live your life? If I feel like eating nothing but salty food all day long, hooray! I don't becuase it makes me feel like crap, but lots of people are okay with feeling like crap. All I can do is shake my head and sigh at suggestions like this. Personal choice definitely being tossed out the window. /end political rant

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Wii Fit reviewed

I bought my mom the Wii Fit for Christmas, and she's been eating up the Wii Sports game and Tiger Woods Golf for the past three months. I finally decided to try out Wii Fit to see if it was something I'd like to buy for myself now that they're not so scarce. I have to say, it's a lot of fun. The balance games are great, and I can see how all of the aspects could keep someone really motivated. Here are the pros and cons as I see them:

Pros -
It's a lot of fun. If you're looking for a way to make exercise a game, then this is a good way to go.

If you have a hard time with self-motivation, then the Wii Fit could be useful. It also encourages you to set a goal for yourself every two weeks, which is a reasonable short-term goal.

The more you work out, the more new exercises you open up. This keeps things fresh.

The strength training exercises are really good. It made me go through planks and push ups really slowly, which is really good. I think it makes you focus on form while on the balance board.

Cons -
I disagreed with the BMI it gave me. I know this might make my scale at home wrong, but Wii Fit said I weight 10 lbs more than my scale does. I didn't like that it doesn't ask if you're already athletic. For people who are really athletic (I wish I was, but the point is still valid), BMI measurements are inaccurate.

The yoga positions only use the balance board to check your form. I know this is a limitation of the technology, but just because the board says I'm on balance doesn't mean I'm performing the yoga poses correctly. I still think it's best to learn yoga from an experienced yoga teacher. Notice I said experienced. Yoga has exploded in recent years, and sometimes it's hard to find someone who isn't a hack.

There should be some caption about the kind of workout gear that should be worn while working out. The "running", while running in place inside, still requires a sports bra for women. That was an uncomfortable three minutes....

All in all, I think it's a great tool for people who are not in shape at all and don't have any kind of exercise routine. For those who are already working out regularly, it's a fun way to get in a little extra exercise while playing a game. I may or may not get the game myself. It depends on whether or not I feel like blowing $90 on that or clothes. :)

Saturday, April 4, 2009


That countdown tool doesn't work. Agh!! I just want a way to see exactly how far away the big race is. Oh well. I guess I can't complain too much about free tools.

On a good note, the weather today is amazing! We have one more freeze on Monday and Tuesday, which is typical for Georgia, and after that we should see beautiful weather getting warmer and warmer. I cannot wait until 80 degree weather! Sandals and sun dresses, here I come!!

For those readers looking for a post more substantive than me complaining about a countdown tool, check out this article. Fueling up for a run is an area that's unique from runner to runner. It's also an area that most of us struggle with from time to time. I typically avoid running in the wee hours of the morning because I just don't have enough fuel in my system. Being hypoglycemic can be a bit difficult to deal with at times. I don't think my condition is as serious as the Mayo Clinic makes it out to mom has it and my dad's family has a history of type 2 diabetes. I just need to make sure I don't overdo/underdo the sugar and exercise regularly. My doctor wasn't overly concerned about it as long as I seem to have a handle on it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April showers...

So it's been really soggy in the Atlanta area lately. Fortunately for me the rain let up today just long enough for me to hit the park and pound out 3 miles. I've decided for a super short term goal to see if I can lengthen my stride a bit while running. To do this I think about lifting my knees up a little higher, not about extending my feet forward. It really does work, and I run quite a bit faster while doing least it seems a lot faster to me. The hard parts are 1. I keep forgetting to focus and my stride turns into little baby steps again 2. it seems a little bit easier to run faster this way, but it actually wears my legs out. That's probably why I can't seem to maintain this new change for very long. I'm hoping that by pushing myself like this on shorter distances (I can't believe I'm at the point that 3 miles is short!!) I can build more endurance for the 10k coming up soon (6.2 miles). Btw, if you scroll all the way down you can see my new tracker for the Peachtree. Yay!!