Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It Isn't Broken!

Update! It's been 4 whole weeks (+ 2 days) since that unfortunate encounter with the dog, in which I became a... couch potato. (Ugh I feel like a slob! I want to just go out and run!! I'm so afraid of injuring my ankle even more, though.)  I figured this has gone on long enough and I should get it checked out. I know, you're thinking, Duh. What really made me give in though was the fact that it's been this long (4 weeks + 2 days, you didn't forget already, did you? :)) and it's really sore at the end of particularly long days, painful to the touch, and still slightly swollen. And, a physical therapist that I work with said it could be a stress fracture.  Fortunately, the x-ray showed no fracture. The physician's assistant said it's most likely a bad sprain, recommended I see an orthopedist, get an MRI, and consider getting physical therapy. I told her that I had "weaned" myself off wearing the ankle brace at work.  She told me I should start wearing it again, but I am probably one of the most non-compliant patients ever.  When I sprained my ankle in high school, I was back on the volleyball court way too soon. When my knees were hurting, I was told to do the stationary bike instead of running, but I just found the bike so boring. RICE? Yes, I know what the acronym stands for, but that doesn't apply to MY injuries, right? I don't want to risk it this time, so I'll probably go see the orthopedist, as she recommended, and get the MRI.  As my buddy Sarah said to me last night, "It's your foot, you're gonna need it for a few more years."
Look at that cute pup! And check out my "summertime" nail color :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Art of Doing Nothing...

Injury Report! One week ago today, I took the big doggy out to let her run off the leash.  She likes to play her own version of "Chicken" where the human always loses. I usually jump out of her way, but, on this day, I didn't move fast enough.  I tried to step to the side and she collided with me, completely knocking me off of my feet, my ankle twisting in the process. So, once again, I am on a running hiatus.
The damage... last Sunday
On Monday, laying her head on my ankle.
I'm pretty sure it's sprained, but I didn't get it checked out. The swelling has gone down, but it's still sore and painful.  It's also bruised.  I've been icing it... when I remember, resting it.... when I'm at home, and elevating it... when I'm sitting or laying down.  When I'm at work, I do wear my ankle brace. The swelling had decreased by Tuesday evening, so I tried going without the brace on Wednesday and Thursday.  That was stupid. It just swelled up again and became painful to walk on. So, basically, it's going to take forever to heal. Oops. 
Thursday evening
I decided to rest and ice as much as possible this weekend.  And, I've done a pretty good job.  Here is how I spent my weekend:

Yesterday I did laundry and watched TV.  I also played with the little doggy. She loves to lick/give kisses, chew on things, run, jump, growl... Last night she was licking my [clean] fingers and I was taking pics to see if I could get a cute one of her with her tongue out.  I got this one and thought it was hilarious:
Finger-lickin' gooood.
The hubby bought her a tennis ball. This is what was left after 1 hour with the Boston Terrorizer:
The Boston Terrorizer strikes again.
I felt guilty about not doing any sort of workout this week, so I did do some floor work that didn't require me to put weight on my ankle. To kill more time, I looked up photography tips and ways to take better pics. I found out how to make a light box and how to take "studio quality" photos at home by making a reflective card.  (I plan on doing both of these things one day.)
Today, I wasted more time on Pinterest. :) I spend way too much time on that site. The hubby is actually trying out a recipe I found on Pinterest right now.  It's from a blog called Marie's Cooking Adventures and it's her recipe for "The Best Pot Roast Ever"
And this, folks, is how you do nothing [productive].. for two days straight! (At least I included some cute pics of the doggies!)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Gear and Gadgets!

Who doesn't love getting new stuff?! Over the past few months, I've bought some new items to help me get more fit and healthy.  Now I want to share with you! 

Nike running shorts: I bought this pair at a Nike outlet when I was shopping with my sis.  I love the pops of pink! I've never owned real running shorts, mostly because they're so short and I've always assumed they'd be creeping up during the entire run.  I figured that since I've been running so much lately, I could try them out... and they were on clearance.  The pair I picked has spandex under them, which I figured would make me feel more secure if they did start to ride up.  They're so light weight that I feel like I'm not wearing anything.  Unfortunately the looser fitting outer layer does creep up.
Lovely pink running shorts
Nike+ for iPod Nano: I heard about Nike+ a few years ago and thought it was so cool. But, since I don't wear Nike running shoes (they're too narrow for my feet), I never thought I'd be able to use the technology. Recently, I was reading this article (I'm sorry, I can't find the link!) that reviews the Nike+ and found out you can use it without the compatible shoe.  Several readers reported that they LOVE the Nike+ for the iPod Nano.  I looked it up and it's only $20 and it's sold at Best Buy, where I had earned $10 in rewards.  So, I bought it!  The sensor is inserted in the Nike+ compatible shoe, or a pouch can be purchased to connect the sensor to the shoe.  I had neither.  I decided that nestling the sensor in my shoe was just as good.  It stayed put in my shoe and I calibrated it to my running.  When I was done, 55 minutes later, I checked the distance.  This is what my iPod read:
Yep.  According to Nike+, I ran 1.47 miles in 55 minutes. (The 5 miles that reads at the top was my goal.) I tracked my route on SparkPeople and I had actually gone 4.62 miles. I don't know if the sensor wasn't secure enough or if the calibration didn't work properly, but I returned the product. It had some really cool features, but I wasn't going to spend the time figuring out what went wrong.  I'm just going to keep using SparkPeople.

Kinect for Xbox 360: For my birthday, in January, my husband got me the Kinect sensor for our Xbox 360.  Included was the Kinect Adventures game.  It's so much fun! Although it's not designed to be a workout game, it really gets you moving (jumping, dodging, kicking, etc.).  The only problem is that it's so quickly beat.  And, once you get to the advanced level, you don't really want to go back to the beginner level.  The next game I got was Jillian Michaels Fitness Adventure.  I love Jillian, but this game did not meet my expectations. The sensor could not track the floor work, so I had a difficult time moving on to the next level and, in general, it was really slow-going.  (A full, accurate, no holds barred, review can be found here.) If you're looking for a good fitness game though, I found it! When I returned the Nike+, I instead purchased Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012.  This game is awesome.  There's so much variety in the workouts (from "Running the World", where you run through major cities in the world and past famous landmarks, to Cardio Boxing to Hip Hop Dance Routines to toning specific trouble zones).  The feedback on your accuracy is so much better than in the Jillian game. You earn points, burn calories, and get tips on making your workouts better. You can even get a breakdown of your stats online. I'm addicted to the Wall Breaker game, where you punch blocks. Each broken block adds more blocks to a wall. When you've finished the wall, you then punch a final golden block that knocks out the wall.  I don't know why, but I find this one so fun!

Gear I look forward to purchasing: new running shoes, Zumba Fitness Rush, more running shorts, heart rate monitor, food scale.  These are the ones I can think of for now.  Do you have any favorite fitness/health related gadgets or gear? Share! :)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Writing a blog and other things I'm bad at...

After some not-so-subtle reminders from family that I haven't written in a while, I've decided that I could make time for one itsy bitsy post. :)
Since it's been pointed out to me more than once that I've dropped the ball on this blog-writing thing, I'd like to dedicate this post to the other things in life I'm not-so-perfect at.
I'm bad at...
  • table manners. (Why was this the first thing that came to mind?)
  • cooking! 
  • cleaning... on a routine basis, but I'm getting better at it!
  • going to the doctor
  • spending money.  I've become such a tightwad. :/
  • making decisions. 
  • writing a diary. As a kid, I'd write in my diary, like, once every 3 months... what made me think I could write a blog??
  • resisting the temptation of a cookie or some chocolate. 
  • staying motivated
  • dancing
  • being an accountability partner (sorry, sistah!)
And the list could go on and on. Right now, I'm in need of some motivation to reinvigorate my fitness routine. I haven't been working out as much as I'd like to.  It's hard! I'm gonna go hunt down some motivation now. Pinterest here I come!
Oh, today I ran for the longest amount of time that I've ever run without walking: 25 minutes! After walking for 3 minutes, I then ran another 10 minutes straight. I think that's pretty darn good.  (I went 45 minutes total. I hope I didn't make you all think I could run 3-5 miles without taking breaks for walking! Some day!)  It was such a nice day for a run - overcast with a nice breeze.  It would be wonderful if this springtime weather would stick around. :)
Haha from www.someecards.com

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Change is a good thing

Well, hey there, stranger! Change is something that has been my mind lately. And, for this reason, "change" is the topic de jour.
I know you're supposed to change up your workouts so that your body doesn't get used to the same thing and start to plateau, but I haven't been doing that. I hit a plateau. I read up a little bit on some exercises I can do to prevent injury and improve my running (cross-training), such as swimming, elliptical, stationary bike, and the row machine. I think I'm going to do one or two of these a week. I know I should also be doing strength training, as it helps you to build muscle and lose weight by burning calories even after the workout. To be blunt, I've been slacking off in this area. In the first couple of weeks, when I lost 7 lbs, I was doing strength training in addition to my running. So, I also plan on resuming strength training following and/or in between runs. It all seems so easy, in theory!
Other changes lately:
-Running with a friend. Something I've never "enjoyed" doing, as I felt pressured to keep someone else's pace. I figured, now that I'm running on a consistent basis and getting better at it, I could try it again. My lovely friend usually runs on a treadmill, so she expected to not run the whole time with me. When she got back to her car and I continued without her, I felt a little lonely! We plan on going on running dates twice weekly. :)
-Trying different routes. I was getting a little bored on my normal route, so I've decided to change it up each day. There are several neighborhoods/apartment complexes to run through nearby and most of the roads have sidewalks (busier and side ones), which makes this easier to do.
-Cutting more calories. When I lost weight before (33 lbs), I was drinking SlimFast and drastically cutting calories. I'm going to try to substitute at least 1 meal with a shake. I don't want to cut as many calories as before because I don't think I was paying as much attention to what my body needed. I also now know that as a runner, I need more carbohydrates to fuel my body.
-I cut my hair and my ponytail is so tiny now! haha
tiny ponytail :)
-Trying new foods! I am the pickiest eater. Since I started this journey, I've been broadening my horizons, so to speak. I've recently tried (some for a "second time", as I probably ate these as a kid, but they've since fallen into my "do not like" category): beets, blueberries, starfruit, kiwi, raspberries, blackberries, granola and granola bars, almonds, oranges... I've also been eating more of the healthy foods (and one liquid, in particular) that I've denied before, like broccoli, grapes, and water.
-I can't remember. I've been in the process of writing this post for about a week and a half (who am I kidding? It's been at least 2 weeks). I just kept getting distracted.

Funny story: When I thought of the title, I honestly thought it was a country song, but I could only sing that part ("change is a good thing"), then couldn't think of the rest of the song. But, then, I'd start singing the "everything changes, everything changes" part from Tracy Lawrence's "Time Marches On" (1:26). I knew they were 2 different songs, but couldn't think of the first one. Suddenly it hit me, the song actually goes: "rain is a good thing!" lol It's by Luke Bryan (1:25, hah, almost the same spot) and every time I hear it I have to turn it up! (I love it when he says "warshing.") :)

How many times can you say "change" in one post? I think I hit my limit.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Crap-tastic Run

Today's run goes on my list of the worst runs I've had (Ok, so the combination of the word "runs" and the title of this post made me think of the bathroom... sorry, I can't think of another word. I guess workout, but it doesn't really fit. Just go with it! lol). It all started the other day when I downloaded an app for mapping my route as I run (Mapmyroute.com's free app is available on iTunes) to Chris' iPod touch (I have a nano, so no internet nor apps). It's not the newest version, so it needs access to a wireless network to work. I did not know this when I downloaded the app. So, when I got home today, I thought, "I can't wait to use this app! I'll download my running playlist and go!" But the app said, "Not so fast, Courtney!" You have to have a login for the website in order to access the app's full potential. So, I tried to create an account through the app. When that failed, I created my account online via computer. An hour later, I was able to access the app through the iPod and my new account- Yay!.... Hah. This is when Chris pointed out to me that the iPod probably needs to be connected to the wireless network for the app to work. I thought I'd try it anyway because I'd worked for an hour at it.
Before I left, Chris asked me to take the doggies out. They did their business and, as we were walking back, 2 ladies were walking a dog across the street. Naturally, our big doggy started barking her head off, at which point, little doggy darts off, rips the leash out of my hand and tries to jump the fence. (The fence has been bent down in one spot where people climb over it as a short-cut out of the apartment complex.) I'm running after her, trying to catch the retractable leash and trying to control the other dog. So, little doggy's leash gets stuck in the fence (which I am so grateful for!) and big doggy then tries to jump the fence too. Little doggy gets caught in brush, big doggy continues going nuts, Courtney is fuming. And to make it worse, one of the ladies started walking over to me asking me if I needed help. Ugh, no, thank you.
I'm finally ready for my run (recap: an hour spent trying to set up the iPod and a disastrous dog walk).  Oh, and I have no arm band for Chris' iPod, so I am destined to be tangled in the headphone cords (which I hate, see 5 Tips for a Better Run). I did my best. I could not get the app to work, except for the timer. Thus, I gave up on it, which made me even more upset because I could've just ran with my nano. :( Here's where it gets good... I'm running, finally, getting out of my funk when something wet hits me on the cheek. I'm thinking, "That's odd... it's not raining..." So, I used my sleeve to wipe my face. Lo and behold, a bird... has pooped... on my face. Mind you, I am only halfway through my 2.5 mi run (I decided not to go the full 5 mi after the miserable start). The entire remainder of the run, I am wiping my face, feeling my hair, checking the front of my shirt, sure there is bird poop down the back of my shirt. It was such a small amount that I was sure there was more somewhere on me. I wanted to stop and ask everyone I passed to check for me. It was the worst paranoia. I got home and what does Chris do? Laugh and say "It's good luck!" Thanks, dear.
Bird poop wiped on shirt
Moral of the story? I don't know.... everybody has bad days?
Other bad running days:
Running in a thunderstorm (skies opened up as I was on my way home)
Tripping over a crack and falling on my face (two different times, same crack)
Running with the dog after not running with her for a couple of weeks
I'm sure the list will just get longer, but I'm going to keep on keeping on :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

How Do You Do It? (Part 2)

I went on my run yesterday: 4.84 mi at a 13 min/mi pace. Not too bad. Felt pretty good after not being out there for a week. I have no intentions of doing that again, though, especially after reading this great blog entry on SparkPeople by Coach Nicole titled "8 Cold, Hard Truths about Exercise". One single sentence really struck a chord with me about the strength and endurance I've worked so hard to build up: "It starts diminishing when you rest just 2 days!"
Image from arthlete.tumblr.com
I normally wouldn't let this happen (going a week without exercising), as I have a great support system set up for myself. This leads to post 2 of my "How Do You Do It?" series. :)
Accountability. Having someone or something keeping you accountable can help you stick with anything. One of the reasons for this is that, the person you choose to keep you accountable knows your goal(s) and will be rooting for you every step of the way. If you take a misstep, that person will be there to help you get back on track and give you words of encouragement. Also, in the back of your mind, you know that you have to tell someone that you did something you're not proud of and risk disappointing someone other than yourself.
This has played a huge factor in my "sticking with it" this time around. Here is a list of some of the ways I've been accountable and ways I'm staying accountable
  1. Food Journal. I started this journey by writing down what I was eating. I wasn't paying attention to serving sizes or calories, just what I was putting in my body. (By the way, this is not how you should do it! lol See #4 below.) This journaling made me think about what I was eating and, quite frankly, embarrassed me. I found that I didn't even want Chris reading it! It opened my eyes to what a problem I'd gotten myself into, the unhealthy habits I'd developed over the years. With it all laid out in front of me it so obvious that I needed to make a lifestyle change.
  2.  Friends, Family, and Co-workers. Next, I let friends and family in on my decision. I told them I was trying to eat better and exercise more, live a healthier life (most people are calling this a diet, but I don't). It was good, but I don't see them or talk to them everyday. So, I also let people at work know. Since I spend so much of my day at work, it was important to me for them to know. A few of my co-workers are dieting, so it helps to exchange stories and information with them. Making my co-workers aware keeps me on track at work. They ask me what I'm having for lunch or whether I decided to indulge in a cupcake. This is something that I've never done before. I've always kept dieting to myself, that way if I failed, nobody knew. This way is so much better: I am actively making better choices, I have people encouraging me, and people to talk to about the struggles/triumphs. 
  3. Accountability Partner. Initially, I was still feeling overwhelmed, especially when we had a potluck at work one day. I tried to eat in moderation, but I still felt guilty and confused. I texted my sister and asked her to be my official accountability partner. She's been an athlete all her life and even played soccer in college. Now that she's graduated, she's also trying to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle. Of course, she agreed and we exchanged emails with motivational websites and healthy recipes.  We frequently exchange texts with pictures of a particularly healthy meal or the scenery during a workout, things we might be struggling with, a good website we've found, and goals for the day or week (run 2 miles after work, complete legs workout, eat a well-portioned dinner, etc.).
  4. SparkPeople. This handy-dandy little website has made all the difference in my motivation and perseverance. It has tons of tools for weight loss, weight maintenance, fitness, and healthy living. There's community message boards, blogs, personalized diet and workout plans, articles, nutrition and fitness trackers, exercise demos and videos, recipes, success stories, quizzes, challenges, motivational quotes,  and more. And the best part? It's all FREE! Yep, as in no charge. The part of the website that has kept me on track the most, is the nutrition and fitness trackers. The nutrition tracker is virtually an online food journal. It's way better than any hand-written one (#1 above) because you can enter how much you ate and it will take into account the serving size for that food to tell you the nutritional facts (whether you like it or not!). After you enter the food you ate for the day, you can look at the nutritional facts totals to see what you consumed throughout the day. You can even run a nutritional report for feedback on what your diet is lacking or what's in excess. If your food does not show up in the search, you can search the member submitted information or enter it manually (this is when I started paying attention to appropriate serving sizes, another thing I've never done). To use the fitness tracker you enter the activity (strength training or cardio) and see how many calories you burned (cardio only). I especially like the "Map Route" feature that allows you to mark out your route to see how far you went. Then, you can enter the time and your weight to get an estimate of the calories you burned (you can pick bike or walk/run). Click here to get started.
 Now get to it! :)