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Monday, February 10, 2014

Wow. Just wow.

I ran 18.6 miles last week. EIGHTEEN POINT SIX MILES. That's a 5k 6 out of 7 days. Just wow. I have NEVER run that much in a week before. Hell, for that matter, I've only run a 5k hand full of times when doing races... otherwise I just stuck to my 2 mile circuit where I used to live.

The first 5K I ran last Monday was pretty slow at a 11:48 min/mile pace. However, today's 5K was at a 11:07 min/mile. It's kinda fascinating how much different just a week can make in your overall pace! Shaving off 30 seconds in a week is a big deal. Well, okay... maybe not to some. But to me it is! :) Regardless... I'm super proud of myself!

The weather here in Devon is STILL terrible. We were plagued the entire weekend with torrential rains, flooding, severe gales, etc. There's been some respite yesterday and today with small bits of sun and no rain, but it won't last. It is supposed to do the same thing again Tuesday/Wednesday. I can safely speak for just about every single soul in the UK... that we're bloody sick of the weather and wish it would take its drunk ass home. You KNOW it's bad when even the Brits are bitching about how much it's rained!

I have to take a test tomorrow. It's the first test I've taken since I graduated grad school. It's kinda funny... I have pretest butterflies even though I've been reviewing the material and taking practices tests and am breezing through it with ease. It's kinda funny, really. I suppose I will never lose that pretest anxiety. :) For those that are wondering, it's not really an academic test, it is a safety test. Archaeologists commonly work on big construction sites to try and salvage resources that will be destroyed during the building process. A lot of sites require you to have a CSCS safety card, so it's a good idea to go ahead and invest in this if you're doing contract work. It's not really difficult or expensive, but it's good for everyone to have a general awareness of site safety if you've got to work on one. I expect to breeze in and out in about minutes. I'm always a SUPER fast test taker. Always have been!

Outside of that, My hubby and I have plans to take my mother-in-law out to eat on Valentines Day, as well as a football/soccer match the next day. Yes, I know it's not common practice to take your MIL out on Valentines, but considering the fact that she's spent the last many of them alone (she's windowed) and her husband died around Valentines Day, I think the last thing she really wants to do it sit on her duff at home feeling miserably lonely. I have always had mixed feelings about the "holiday," but that doesn't mean it doesn't succeed in making people who don't have partners feel super shitty. She was delighted when we posed the idea to her. So, I'm happy we can make her feel a bit better! :D

I hope everyone is getting off to a good start on their week! I certainly have! :)


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Whoops. Hi!

Hello dear bloggerverse! It's been a couple weeks, yes I know. I've still had some personal drama rooted in social media going on that I have been sorting out, among other really crappy things happening that have diverted my attention away from my blog. Sorry about that... but as I am sure everyone can understand, life happens.

There has been some good news in amongst the bad over the past couple weeks. I have lost another couple pounds, so I am seeing positive results for my diet and exercise efforts! There has been some fluctuation on the scale, but the overall trend is down, for which I am pleased with. I'm not dropping weight as rapidly as I did before, but I'm kind of okay with this. I can only imagine that I will be less likely at the end of this road to rebound like I did before.

Also, a new addition came to my household in the form of a small, fuzzy, cream colored hamster. I've been wanting a hamster since back before Christmas, but never wanted to spend the kind of cash it takes to start up a small animal. But, a venture into our local pet shop proved fatal when they had a Syrian 6 month old hamster in their adoption center, with his cage, for £10. He's now my sweet little Fernworthy! And oh my god, he is so incredibly precious!!


Another bit of awesome news is I finally managed to run my first 5k distance in at least 1.5 years. Perhaps longer. I really don't remember the last time I ran 3.1 miles. My first 3.1 was done at a pretty slow pace... about 11:40, but since then I've improved that each time I've ran. My goal before my local Race for Life 5K in July is to be at at least 10:00 pace, if not faster. I still have dreams of running a sub-5k. I know I have plenty of time for that... so with some determination, I think I might just get there.

As many who have embarked on a weight loss journey do, I watch NBC's Biggest Loser. Religiously. Those that know me in real life know that I don't even own a TV and HATE most shows with a few exceptions. Biggest Loser being one of them. I finally got to watch the finale of season 15 last night. With no surprise to me, Rachel took the title. She had been the biggest loser the entire season, so no surprise there. I was a bit surprised at just how much she did manage to lose though. She's done something very incredible over the course of 7 months or so... going from 250+ pounds to 105. A lot of people are screaming at NBC over her weight loss, saying that it is unhealthy, and they should do something about it. Loads of people are yelling that she is anorexic, looks sick, and looks so much older.

So, and you knew it was coming... here's my opinion. Rachel from the beginning has been a competitor. And a fierce one at that. She has discussed this openly throughout the entire season. It is NO SECRET that she was out to win this thing, and win it big. She wanted it. She had the drive. And in the end, she succeeded. Rachel is 5'4'' and 105 pounds. Depending on which method you use, she is just about 3-5 pounds underweight, and about .5 into the "underweight" BMI category. You can latch on to this and use it as evidence that she is indeed unhealthy. But is that really true? If you look at her frame, she is quite small. So, she's both short, and small framed. On top of that, she has proven time and time again on the show, that she has the endurance of a professional athlete, as well as the determination to control her diet (remember when they went to the Olympic training facility?). In other words, Rachel figured out the secret on how to hack her body into doing what she wanted it to do in order to win a competition. And at the end of the day, the Biggest Loser is nothing more than a game show in which people compete for prize money. Should NBC do something about it? Is it setting a bad example for teenagers? I'm not even sure. But again, it's a game show. And she played it brilliantly. A professional trainer who works in the industry actually told on facebook last night in a discussion that she would have done the same thing to win the prize money. So yea... take what you will.

Another point of contention that I've seen is just how fast Rachel lost those 155 pounds over 7 months. She had to average 22 pounds a month, which most of that actually being at the beginning months. Most people are saying that she lost this weight way too fast and in an unhealthy way. One thing I want to bring up here is people who have undergone bariatric surgery. Depending on the type of surgery the patient undergoes, they can lose upwards of 50 pounds in a month, essentially via starvation. That's pretty much the point of bariatric surgery... reduced caloric intake, and in some cases, reduced caloric intake ON TOP OF reduced ability for the body to absorb nutrients in the small intestine. But... when people get bariatric surgery and lose a lot of weight really fast... people don't scream about them being unhealthy. They compliment them on how great they look and congratulate them for their success. There's really no difference between what Rachel achieved with diet and exercise, versus what some people achieve through surgery and forced calorie restriction, often with NO exercise whatsoever. The general public's cognitive dissonance there is fascinating to me. Rachel's physical appearance actually looks very similar to those of bariatric patient's who lose a lot of weight really fast. But, that will change as the skin as a chance to catch up and rebound, especially since she's so young. Let's see what Rachel looks like in a month, 6 months, or a year from now. I bet she'll look different.

Lastly, many Biggest Loser contestants do what they need to do in order to win the prize money, and then slip back into an eating and exercise plan than is a bit more realistic. Look at the tweet below from last season's contestant Jeff:

He's got a point, ya know. She did what it took to WIN that competition. However, now is a totally different time for Rachel where there's no money dangling in her face. Give the girl a chance before you start judging her. She, like many other BL contestants, will most likely gain a bit of her weight back, shifting her comfortable into the "normal" BMI range. I plan to follow Rachel's story for a while to see how it turns out.

But remember, through all of this... it's a reality TV game show. And we all know how based in reality those types of shows really are. :)

So now, I'm going to go upstairs and run another 5k. :)

Friday, January 17, 2014

To Eat, or Not to Eat Back?

I just got off the treadmill, and holy moly, that was a STRUGGLE. For whatever reason my legs felt like lead, I felt like I was running at a 6 minute/mile pace, and I had a nasty stitch in my right side and shoulder nearly the entire time. BUT I MADE IT TO 2.5 BECAUSE I AM STUBBORN. And I made it in under 30 minutes this time. Hooray! :D No, but really... I don't know what my deal is. Yesterday's run was hard as hell too.. I could only do 2 miles before I called it quits. To make up for it, I did some yoga, for which I'm paying for today with some serious soreness. That'll teach me to wait so long between yoga sessions.

I mentioned a week or so again that I wanted to put some thoughts down on a recent trend I have noticed. First, I noticed it when I started using My Fitness Pal as a break from the monotony of SparkPeople. And now, SparkPeople has jumped on the bandwagon as well. This trend is eating back the calories that you expend while exercising. So... you'll set your daily caloric intake. You get to eat that free of charge, so to speak. However, if you do 300 calories worth of exercise, you get to eat that on top of your daily goal. There are people that swear by this, and those who flat out refuse to participate. I'm kind of on the fringe of the refuse to participate group, but within reason.

The entire point of tracking calories and exercising is to create a deficit large enough that your body begins to burn stored fat as fuel. To me, the larger that deficit, the faster the weight comes off, the better you feel, the healthier you are, and the quicker you get this whole (sometimes unpleasant) phase of transformation over with. Now, I'm not talking about being ridiculous here. A good portion of the people that I've seen advocating for the eat back your calories method on forums are also the ones that set their daily intake goals way too low. I've even seen numbers as low as 1000-1100. That's just daft. Why not set your daily intake a bit more reasonable, and then just use your exercise as bonus extra credit deficit for the day?

You might be saying that the result is the same. Deficit is deficit no matter what kind of math trickery you use to get there. Well, is it really? It's a neat psychological trick to play with yourself actually. The reward mechanism for humans is very strong indeed. What's not to like about feeling rewarded for the sweat you just paid in tribute to the treadmill god and goddess? Who doesn't like to feel that they can eat an extra 300 or 400 calories for suffering through Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred one more fucking time? Everybody loves this... but the downside of this is most humans will simply not reward themselves in a reasonable way. They won't eat the extra salad, or the extra fruit in most cases. They'll use it as an excuse to eat cookies, cake, ice cream, fatty foods, etc, because they feel as if they've earned a cheat treat. So hypothetically, you could have someone who eats 1000 calories of decent food at day, and then 400 of crap food. That would mean that nearly %30 of their diet consists of fats, sugars, and simple carbs. Sorry guys, not all calories are equal and the body doesn't deal with 100 calories of processed sugar from cookies in the same way that it deals with 100 calories of natural sugar from an orange.

There's also the problem that many people don't have the technology to accurately track their calorie burns. More reliable methods factor in your heart rate data, mileage, cadence, etc. most gym equipment tries very hard to pretend to track calorie burn. But, I, and many others, have found them to be woefully inaccurate. My treadmill reports a higher calorie burn than my Garmin with consistency. Sometimes there is up to 100 calories in difference between the two. If I were to follow the treadmill's advice, I'd be eating back way more calories than I've really burned, thus negatively impacting my weight loss efforts.

So, in all, I'm very much not a fan of the eat back your burn method and I'm kind of sad to see SparkPeople participating in this trend. Be reasonable with your daily goals, and then just exercise for good measure and because it's good for you. Lose the weight you need to lose, and then maybe when you're in maintenance mode could you use the eat back your burn method to keep your weight consistent. Of course, as always, this is just my opinion. :)

Now, lunch... before I eat the cat.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Self-Monitoring Success

Hello my loves. I know it's been a while. I've had some personal things happening that I needed to spend energy hashing out and making decisions about. Because of that, I've neglected you, oh Internet, and for that I am sorry. You will be pleased to know that nothing of note has actually happened lately, so it's not like you've really missed anything more than my ramblings about food and running. :)

As for a personal update on my fitness journey, it's been good for the past week, but the last couple runs have been tough. I did get up to running 2.5 miles, but today, it just wasn't happening. I'm not sure why, but I suspect some poor dietary choices over the last week. But alas, the moon is full, and my lady friend is kicking me about a bit. That isn't helping. Not in the slightest.

I wanted to talk about an article that I read on Competitor.com. You can find said article here and give it a quick read if you'd like. Basically, it discusses weight loss, and how people have been, or not been, successful at reaching their goals, as well as maintaining their goals. The study utilized a database of people who have lost 30 or more pounds and kept it off for at least a year, called the National Weight Control Registry.

What I found interesting about this study was the fact that there is no one overarching diet method that worked for these successful people. Instead, they had all kinds of diets, from Weight Watchers, to low-carb diets. Instead, what they concluded that was the common thread between these people was some time of self-monitoring (as well as exercise). This is essentially some kind of monitoring of your food intake, such as counting calories, or at least being aware of your macros to some degree.

In my experience, I also find this to be 100% true. I first tried just shifting my diet from relying take out and processed foods, to healthier and lighter options, but with no portion control or tracking of what I consumed. Even though I did drop some weight that way, it was no where near a reliable or stable method for weight loss. I bounced around on the scale for a long time. It wasn't until I found SparkPeople that I actually got serious about my weight loss journey. I started using it like they suggest... not altering what you eat at first, but just tracking it to understand where your calories are coming from and how much you're consuming. I was quite honestly horrified at just how many calories I was eating a day. Well over 2,000 on some occasions. So, that is when I started limiting my calorie intake, weighing and portioning my food, and sticking to 1,200 a day and exercising. I've already discussed my adventures with that. Largely successful, but not sustainable. But now I'm back at it, aiming for 1,400 a day and exercising. My stomach is much happier, and I've already lost 6lbs since I started back to self-monitoring.

So, as much as it sucks in a lot of ways guys, finding some kind of way to monitor your intake of food is the way to go. And now, there's research data to back that up. :)

Monday, January 6, 2014

Will the rain STOP?!

Hello lovely 2.5 followers! I know I've skipped an update or two, but honestly, I really didn't have anything worth while to share with you.

The weather here in North Devon still sucks. We've had one winter storm after another, bringing with it gale force winds, torrential rains, and flooding. Seawalls are collapsing, cliffs are collapsing, entire villages are underwater... it's a mess. Apparently, it's all linked to the crazy cold weather that's happening in the US. It's pushing the warmer stuff into the Atlantic, which is in turn popping out crazy amounts of winter storms for us. Good thing we live in a village on a hill crest. If it floods here, we're in SERIOUS trouble.

Yesterday's run was hard. I don't know why, but my legs were super tired, sore, and just felt like lead weights. It was all I could do to run 2 miles before shutting off the treadmill. Today, however, I felt much better and managed 2.2 at a 11:49min/mi pace. Running 2.2 was my target for the day, so I feel good to have reached it. I think the past couple days of only being able to run 2 miles might stem from pushing a bit to hard on the day I did 2.5. They say never do more than 10% more than your ability... perhaps they're right. :) I'll stick to 2.2 for this week and see how it goes.

We're in desperate need of a grocery run either tonight or tomorrow. Lunch today was a very interesting conglomeration of finger foods that I threw together to make a 320 calorie meal. In case you're wondering, that's Finn Crisps (lovely thin rye crackers), peanut butter, banana, carrots, and hummus. :)


I know I just mentioned her, but Katie at Runs for Cookies is holding her second annual virtual 5K. I LOVE this idea! While it isn't quite the same as doing an actual race, it is something fun for runners to participate in and achieve goals. Not only that, it's free... and everybody loves free things, right?! I'm most likely going to sign up and participate, but I have realized that my lovely little red friend will be visiting that week, and running at that time is just impossible for me. Perhaps I'll write more about that one day, but I'm not quite ready for that just yet.

Tomorrow, I want to discuss a couple things that I have noticed lately. One, is an article on the Runner's World website that I find very interesting. The other is a recent trend I have noticed on My Fitness Pal, and now, SparkPeople. Until then...

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Hooray!

I won the lottery!! Okay... so I won a whopping £2.80 with said lottery ticket, but I made a profit of .80p! ;) Andy and I don't make a habit out of purchasing lottery tickets, however, with the Euro Lottery promising to make several individuals very rich on New Year's Day, we decided to drop £4 on two plays and see what happened. Andy's numbers didn't get any winnings, unfortunately! Sometimes it is fun to do these little things. My mother seems to have an uncanny ability to never lose money at it. Perhaps some of her luck can rub off on me. :)

I just got done with my daily run, and had a super good one. I managed 2.5 miles in 30:06, a pace of right at 12min/mi. I'm pretty pleased with that at this point! I've decided at this point to focus more on improving my distance rather than speed. Speed can come later when I've built up both my cardiovascular and physical stamina. So, I'll stick with shooting for 2.5 miles all this week and see how it goes. I'm technically breaking the %10 increase per week training rule I suppose... but I'm not too proud to drop it back to a couple miles a couple days out of the week if I feel I need to.

I am a long time reader and fan of Katie over at Runs For Cookies. I came across her story ages ago when she was still using SparkPeople to track her calories and lose weight. To make a long story short, Katie has lost nearly half her body weight and maintained her loss. She blogs about her life on a nearly daily basis, and talks about the ups and downs of weight loss and running. If you need another source of inspiration that you can indeed succeed in your endeavors, Katie's a good source. She also recently did a podcast with runneracademy.com. She shares some very important tips for beginning and middle of the road runners from her experiences over the years. It's definitely worth a listen. You can find it here.

It's nearly 3pm and I've yet to eat lunch. I've been talking with a dear friend and colleague most of the morning about an upcoming archaeological conference paper we are writing together. I didn't realize it had gotten so late. I suppose it is time to go scrounge up something tasty to munch on. Until next time... :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day One of 2014

I hope you all had a wonderful New Year's celebration. My hubby and I planned a nice evening with snacks and drinks, but I ended up getting a ridiculous headache about 4pm that I never did completely shake. So, we rang in 2014 completely subdued and were in bed by 12:30. Pathetic, aren't we? I must be 102.

Today is back to being a sensible healthy person and not a pig. I'm back to using SparkPeople after just totally giving up with all the holiday travel. It's nearly impossible to track food when you're eating other people's cooking or relying on restaurant food to get you by. It's not my preferred eating style, that's for sure. Between too much crappy food and not being able to run (damn you, my red "friend"), I've definitely felt the effects which aren't at all pleasurable. However, I was super surprised when today's run wasn't pure unadulterated hell. Considering I hadn't gotten on the treadmill since Christmas Eve and had been eating so poorly, I really expected to die while trying to run a couple miles. But, alas, it was actually not bad at all. I slowed my pace down a bit to compensate, but my two miles when by relatively quickly without much issue.

Regardless, it has been a very good holiday season for me. Christmas was quiet and lovely with me and my hubby. He got me a couple Paul Hollywood bread/baking books, as well as a locally made bread baking pot to play with. I also scored a few Tara Stiles yoga DVDs to add to my collection, and most awesomely, I finally got a transformer to get my Kitchen Aid mixer working!!


Andy and I went to visit his mom for a few days near London. Since there was a home game for AFC Wimbledon while we were there, we decided to splurge a bit and go. We had great seats, sitting on the front row near the goal! We didn't win, but at least we drew to gain a point on the tables.



Now, let's go see if I can wrestle up some Christmas dinner left overs and make them into something edible for supper. I'm starving!!