Monday, January 30, 2012

I didn't even make it out of the gate!

Yeah, so, day one of being sugar free was a flop.  But, I'm not going to beat myself up over it.  I'm going to learn from the experience and move forward.  Actually, if I'm being honest with myself, most of the day was a huge success, it was just the end of the day that was a problem. 

I craved sweets at various times throughout the day and I was able to satisfy my cravings with dried fruit. 

After dinner, I so badly wanted to eat the double chocolate chip cookies that I baked for everyone else, but I resisted. 

It wasn't until tonight at my PTA meeting that I caved.  One of the other parents brought these incredible desserts for the group, and I felt bad saying no.  She was so excited to feed us, and I felt so bad refusing.  So, I ate some...and then I ate some more.  I will say, it was worth it.  These desserts were incredible!  But, I still feel guilty.  Although, now that I'm typing it out, I think I need to turn my thinking around.  Sure...I gave in and ate some sugar at the end of the day, but I was able to successfully avoid it the rest of the day.  For me, that is success.  Today wasn't completely sugar-free, but it was better that it could have been. 

And...tomorrow's a brand new day.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Not so sweet

Hi, my name is Willow and I'm a sugarholic.

I know, I could be worse.  I could be addicted to crack.  Or, I could still be addicted to cigarettes.  But, the fact of the matter is that I eat a LOT of sugar...without even realizing it.  I don't drink soda and I don't even use any sweetner in my coffee (milk only for me).  So, I'm not consuming a lot of sugar those ways.  My issue is the need to randomly consume candy throughout the day.  Where I work, many of the offices have candy dishes, and I can't seem to visit one without helping myself to a little sweet snack.  When I finish eating lunch, I make a point to eat a little something sweet.  In the evening, I find myself consuming handfuls of chocolate chips. 

I used to think that my sugar consumption was pretty low, but when I stopped to think about it the other day, I realized that I'm actually eating a lot of sugar throughout the day.  Since I'm eating small servings of candy throughout the day, I don't think of it as really eating candy (does that even make sense?  Oh, the things we tell ourselves to justify our behaviors).  It's not like sitting down to a big piece of chocolate cake or eating a bunch of cookies (things I rarely do), but it's just as bad.  I'm putting a lot of refined sugar into my system, which I don't need.

So, in an attempt to get myself back on track, I'm going to cut refined sugar out of my life for the time being.  I really can't exercise moderation with it (the same problem I had with cigarettes).  I need to stay away from it for a while.  What does this mean?  It means no more handfuls of chocolate chips.  It means no more minature candy bars at work.  It means no more sneaking starburst from Amelia's candy stash.  It means satisfying my cravings with fresh fruit, natural sweetners (in limited amounts), unsweetened dried fruit, and homemade natural sweet treats like knock-off larabars.

Even though I'll miss my sweet friend, I know it's for the best.  Will I eat sugar again someday?  Absolutely!  After all, I believe strongly in the 80/20 rule when it comes to food choices.  However, I won't do so until I feel like I have a handle on my addiction.  This weekend I'm going to stock my cabinets and fridge with the foods listed above and starting Monday, I'll be (refined) sugar-free!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ice Age

This morning, Paul and I had a 5 mile run scheduled with a group of people.  We were supposed to meet at a central location at 9:30 am (later than I like to run, but a good time for the entire group).  When we awoke, it was 7 degrees out, and the facebook messages were already pouring in.  Runners were backing out because they didn't want to brave the single digit temperatures.  Most of them chose to run inside on the treadmill instead.  Paul and I decided to keep our run outside (after all, we already had babysitters lined up - Nana and Papa), and one other brave runner decided to join us (our friend, David).  I donned my warm running gear and we set off. 

In the beginning, it was so cold that my toes were completely numb, even though I was wearing two socks on each foot.  But, as we began to move, we warmed up and the run was actually pretty enjoyable.  We joked the entire way about how crazy we were to be running outside, but we also had a great time keeping each other company.  At one point, Paul looked over at me and asked if I had brushed up against something.  Apparently, my hair was grey.  But, it wasn't something I had brushed hair was coated in frost.  I was wearing a scarf and the moisture from my breath froze on the strands of my hair.  By the time we finished the run, I looked like this:

It was frigid and icy, but I'm still so glad we kept our run outside.  There was very little wind, which made the run more bearable, and it felt good to get some fresh air.  When we got home, I took a long, hot shower and drank a nice hot cup of coffee.  It may seem crazy to run in such extreme cold, but it's what you have to do if you want to be a runner in Upstate NY. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

If the shoe fits...

When I started running a year and a half ago, I bought a pair of Saucony shoes based solely on the low price.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on running shoes if I wasn't going to keep running.  The shoes fit well and worked fine.  So, when I needed a new pair after my first half marathon, I bought another pair of basic Saucony's.  Do you see a pattern emerging here?  I have only worn Saucony's the entire time I have been a runner, and they have served me pretty well.  However, this summer I developed an ankle injury that just won't go away completely.  After a great deal of research, I determined that my ankle/calf pain is a result of overpronation.  Of course!  It makes total sense.  I walk on the balls of my feet and constantly wear holes in the big toes of all of my socks.  It's only natural that I would run on the insides of my feet as well.  So, this time, when I needed new running shoes I looked for a pair that is made for overpronators. 

Enter the Mizuno Waves.

I ordered these through Running Warehouse and they were 50% off with free shipping.  I paid the same amount for them as I did for my first pair of Sauconys.   I spent the past week breaking them in, and I can already tell they are going to make a difference.  They support my feet in an entirely different way and I can tell they prevent me from rolling inward as much as I normally do.  Let's just hope they continue to support me through half marathon training.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Back to Reality

This past week, our little family enjoyed a short vacation in Florida. 

We visited family

swam in our clothes

and spent 2.5 fabulous days at the happiest place on earth. 

It was so much fun to watch my children experience Disney World for the first time. 

Ben (2.5) was in awe of Mickey Mouse and is still clutching and kissing the Mickey Mouse stuffed animal that his grandmother bought him while we were there. 

Amelia (7) discovered a love of rides - especially spinning rides - and I had so much fun taking her on all of them. 

Overall, our flights there and back were uneventful and both kids traveled exceptionally well.  What more can a parent ask for.

But, alas, as is the case with all vacations, ours has come to an end.  We are back home with bloated bellies after too much junk food and the tired crankiness that often accompanies the readjustment to the real world.  It's tough for an adult to get out of vacation mode, and it's even worse for a 2.5  and 7 year old.  Paul is in bed with a terrible cold, and the house is in need of major cleaning.  But, we are all home safe and sound with a batch of fresh memories that will continue to feed our souls.  It was just what we needed as we make our way through the last couple of months of the cold, dark winter.

It's time to get back on track and prepare myself for the upcoming months of races/events that I am registered for.  Half marathon training has begun and I'm slowly adding swimming and spinning as my cross training to prepare for this summer's triathlon.  I'm contemplating another clean food challenge (actually, I'm hoping Emilie spearheads one) and cleaning, organizing and decluttering.  I'm ready to move forward.  I love having a few weeks of vacation mode, but I always welcome the beginning of a training plan and a more structured schedule. 

P.S. Please excuse the quality of the photos.  They were all taken with my iPhone.  Our camera died a while ago and we have yet to replace it. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Out of Office

I'm at the happiest place on earth enjoying some family time. Blogging will resume on Tuesday. I have some great posts planned. Enjoy your weekend!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Change of Plans (before I even make them)


In my last few posts, I alluded to the fact that this is the year I am going to run a marathon.  I even chose the Vermont City Marathon as "The One."  However, I think my plans might be changing slightly.  Paul has been suffering through a severe IT band injury and he is just starting to run short distances after a three week hiatus.  Since the VT marathon is in May, we have decided to put those plans on hold.  I just want his leg to heal completely without the pressure of training for our first marathon.  So, we're going to plan for a different marathon...possibly late fall or early next year.

Why wait so long, you ask?  Well, the calendar is pretty full with other fun, crazy events, including my first triathlon and a 200 mile relay.  That's right, we're going to join the crazies and run one of those overnight relay races.  The Adirondack Ragnar Relay is scheduled for September 28 - 29, which means that an early fall marathon is out.  My first triathlon is scheduled for the beginning of August, and since I can barely swim at all right now, I think I will need to focus on training for that after our half marathon in April.  So, we're still trying to find a marathon in the second half of the year that fits into our already packed schedule.  But, if we don't, I'm OK with waiting until the beginning of 2013 to run my first marathon.  After all, how often are these 200 mile relay races held within 100 miles of my hometown?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Baby, it's cold outside!

Living in Upstate NY, I'm used to cold temperatures.  We typically experience a week or two in the winter of temperatures that drop below zero, and the rest of our winter hovers between 5 and 30 degrees.   When I left the house this morning, it was 4 degrees, but it felt like -10 with the windchill.  Even for those of us accustomed to cold, this weather is just awful.  It's definitely not good running weather!

Since I live in a place that experiences months of cold weather each year, I am used to running in the cold.  I will run outside as long as it's warmer than 5 degrees and the windchill doesn't make it feel colder.  I will run in rain and snow, and I'm even comfortable with ice.  Sometimes I actually think that it's easier to run in cold temperatures than extremely hot and humid weather.  Seriously Florida runners, how do you do it?  Still, even though I am comfortable running in extremely cold temperatures, it's not without a lot of preparation. 

Winter running is a beast, and it takes a lot of extra work to make sure that you stay healthy and safe in such frigid temperatures. 

The day I ran this 5K, it was 12 degrees out, and I wasn't really properly dressed.  But, I was obviously more prepared than the guy behind me!

I always wear high quality cold weather running gear:  running tights, thermal running shirts, fleece jackets, and windblocking jackets.  Layering is key.  You never know how much you will warm up once you are running, and you want to be able to remove layers if you get too hot.

I make sure my hands and ears are well protected.  Good, warm running hats and gloves are a must.  There's nothing worse than the stinging pain of freezing hands.

When it's snowy and icy, I wear Yak Trax.  These are special coils that stretch over the bottom of your running shoes the keep you from slipping on snow and ice.  They're like snow chains for your shoes (for those of you not familiar with snowy climates, snow chains are put on tires in the winter to keep cars from sliding on the road)

I make sure people know where I'm running, and I always wear my Road ID when running alone (good advice for any time of the year).

If there is a lot of wind and low temperatures, I wear one of these.  It covers my entire head and neck and keeps me nice and warm.  I don't use this in "milder" winter temperatures because I get too hot.

Finally, I always look at the weather before I go running.  If it's too cold or windy out, I take my run inside.  I either use the indoor track at work, or the treadmill at the YMCA.  With temperatures below 10 degrees and a windchill that made it feel even colder, can you guess where I went tonight?

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Year Ahead (and behind)

As each new year begins, I like to take time to reflect on the past year and think about all of the different things that have happened...good and bad.  I don't wait until the clock strikes midnight.  Instead, I spend the weeks leading up to New Year's Day with the thoughts of the past year running through my mind.  I tend to do this while running, driving in the car, or taking a shower (the best places and times to think, if you ask me).  It allows me to think about everything that I have done individually and that my family has experienced so that I remain grateful for everything I (we) have and also motivated to accomplish and experience more.  As I'm reflecting, I am also thinking ahead.  I try to think about the things I want to accomplish in the upcoming year and I begin to make a mental list of the things I want to do in the next 365 days.  I don't make resolutions, but I do make plans.  I think about what I want to focus on for myself and my family.  I think about the physical challenges I want to undertake (did someone say marathon?).  And, I think about the professional and personal enrichment goals I want to achieve.  After a few weeks of reflection and planning, I am able to start the New Year with a solid set of plans for myself and goals for the year.  By taking the time to think about all I have accomplished over the past year, I am able to start the new year with hope and excitement and a feeling of pride and accomplishment, rather than with a sense of desperation and anxiousness.  I do not see January 1st as a point to change my life and make it better.  It's already great.  I see January 1st as an opportunity to set some goals and make some fun plans for the year ahead.  It's a chance to challenge myself to face my fears, do something new, and step further out of my comfort zone.  I am always growing and evolving, and each year just brings new opportunities and experiences.

So, after so many weeks of reflection and planning, I have the following goals for myself:

1) Learn to knit
2) Learn to hula hoop (and make my own hoop)
3) Make pasta from scratch
4) Learn Italian (at least start)
5) Go hiking with my family more
6) Spend more quality time with my girlfriends
7) Go on a real date with Paul once a month
8) Play more games with the kids
9) Spend more time each weekend doing fun things with the kids and less time cleaning and running errands
10) Make homemade bagels
11) Start paying off debt and create (and stick to) a household budget
12) Plant gardens - lots of them
13) Run a marathon (more on this in my next post)
14) Complete a triathlon (with my Dad!)
15) Finish my thesis (almost done!)
16) Make baklava
17) Make homemade pierogies
18) Increase my running pace
19) Start writing a book (more on this later)
20) Pursue freelance teaching, researching and writing opportunities
21) Take a writing course
22) Travel more (and to new places)
23) Get the house more organized (I'm soooooo glad I have pinterest for this one)
24) Incorporate strength training into my fitness routine
25) Start doing yoga

It's a pretty good starting point.  Quite honestly, I see these lists as an ongoing work in progress.  As the year unfolds, I'm sure my interests will change and new opportunities will present themselves.  I'm always ready to add new goals to my list.  So, here's to a happy, healthy, productive, and exciting 2012.  I know many bloggers out there are making big changes this year and taking on new challenges.  I'm excited to see where we all end up when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. 

Are you ready?