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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

5 (Halloweeny) miles. :)

Eh, it's been a while since I've posted a gratuitous picture of myself before going out on a run, so I thought "What the heck?" :)

This morning was a bit chilly and windy, but I decided to hit the road for a 5 mile run anyway.  I just did an out and back and my average pace was about 10:38 min./mile.  I felt really good.  I think that will be my last run until the half-marathon on Saturday.  I still have classes at the gym tomorrow to get my exercise fix. :)

Happy Halloween everyone!  I saw these little cuties on the Eat-Clean Diet page, so I made them for my son's first grade class. 
They're little mandarin orange cups, and they're not actually "clean".  The store did have a sugar-free version, but it just had artificial sweetener instead.  Then I saw that they had a gelatin with oranges version, so I went with that.  It's still a "treat" for the kids, but that's what Halloween is all about, right?  At least it's not candy...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Today's workout and Halloween candy.

Before I get to the candy topic, let me tell you about my workouts today. :)

A typical Tuesday for me: I started out with 20 minutes of strength training before going to spin class.  I did triceps and biceps using both free weights and machines.  After spin class, I made a quick trip back home to pick up my husband (who had slept in a bit in preparation for starting back on night shift tonight) so he could go with me to Muscle Fusion class.  Class was great, as always.  I went up on my weight amounts for the tricep exercises, so after a double dose of triceps and biceps, my arms are feeling pretty shaky tonight.

Now on to the Halloween candy.  In years past, I have always allowed myself some "splurges" when all the holiday treats start to pour in, but have especially dreaded Halloween because of all of the temptation sitting around after the kids get back from their trick-or-treating expeditions.

This year things are different.  Since I have been following a clean-eating plan for almost 12 weeks now, for the first time ever, I don't even feel tempted by the candy.  Not having had any processed sugar for 3 months, my cravings are gone and when I think about how good I feel, I have no desire to mess with that just for the sake of a little chocolate confection.  Don't get me wrong, my sweet tooth is not completely gone, but at this point I'm much more content to eat an apple with some natural peanut butter or a homemade peanut butter and oatmeal protein bar than something processed.  This is huge.  Even as the candy and treats have already started making their way into our home, I haven't had a single piece and what's even better is how great it feels to be in control over the (previous) temptation.  It would be easy to say, "One or two pieces isn't going to hurt anything," but in my mind, if I am to maintain the integrity of my mantra - the results will come if I stick with this one day at a time - every single choice counts.  No, one or two pieces of candy won't make me gain weight or get off track, but choosing to put something into my mouth that I know has no nutritional value whatsoever will have an effect on my mental status.

On another note, I am getting kind of excited for the half marathon on Saturday.  As it turns out, my husband (who was initially planning to run it with me), has decided not to run as he is letting his body heal from a couple of lingering injuries.  So that means I'll be running with my friend, Lisa AND as a bonus, we'll have someone to track us on the course and take some pictures! :)  It's also supposed to be great weather on Saturday, which should make for a terrific run.  Tomorrow I'm planning to hit the road for a 5 miler and that will be my only run until Saturday.  Here's to hoping that my knee doesn't give me any trouble...

Monday, October 29, 2012

Doin' my own thing.

I felt like today was a "take it easy" day.  I mean, I still did a workout, but it didn't feel like much for some reason.  Probably had something to do with the fact that it took me until about 9am to even get started.  I did 3 miles on the treadmill at around a 10 minute mile pace, then I did some strength training.

Since I was doing it at home, I had to make do with the equipment I have, which isn't much.  I only have 5 pound dumbbells and 35 pound dumbbells (which only my husband has ever used because they're way too heavy for me).  Today was shoulders, abs and calves, so I did a bunch of sit-ups, calf raises on a step-stool, bent over lateral raises and lying side raises with the 5 pound hand weights.

Then I spent the afternoon doing stuff in the kitchen: making pumpkin puree, vegetable juice and more homemade soup.  The soup I made was another chicken quinoa, but I changed it up a little bit to give it a southwestern flare.  The base was made from broth, chili powder, sea salt, black pepper and tomato, then I added jalapenos, garlic, carrots, squash, chicken, peas, corn, and quinoa.  I baked a few *clean* corn tortillas in the oven, sprinkled with sea salt and served the soup with the "chips".  It was very good.

This evening, my husband and I went to the gym for our usual Monday evening spin class with Misty.  It was a great class and I especially love it when my husband and I get to go together.  It doesn't always work out that way, so I'm grateful when it does.  After class, we made a (relatively) quick stop at the grocery store before coming home and having a creamy pumpkin smoothie before getting ready for bed. :)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Power breakfast.

Since it's Sunday and I don't have much else to post, I thought I'd share with you all the recipe for the delicious pancakes we had this morning. :)

Clean and Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 scoop protein powder of choice (vanilla works well)
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 tsp sea salt
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2-1 cup water

Mix together to desired consistency and bake on hot griddle.  This amount makes 6-8 pancakes.  (I usually double this for my family.)

We topped ours with chia seeds, sliced bananas, raw almonds and pure maple syrup.  Mmm, mmm good. :)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A bonus day.

It felt a little strange to not do a run on a Saturday, but besides the fact that I'm still giving my knee a chance to rest, I got lucky and was able to attend a second Muscle Fusion X class at the gym for the week.  Normally that class is only taught on Thursdays, but on Saturday mornings there is a rotating class slotted at 9 am and each week is a different class.  Today was Muscles Fusion X, taught by the same instructor that teaches the Thursday class.

So this morning Chris and I went to the gym at a little after 8 so that I would have time to do some strength training before class started.  I did triceps, mostly, but also a little leg work.  Class was awesome, as always, and it felt so good to get in a bonus workout this week.

Tomorrow is a rest day and then the rest of the week I will probably be doing a minimal amount of running.  Even then, I will most likely stick with the treadmill for any running I do in preparation for Saturday's half marathon.  I read that when runners have knee issues such as the one I am having, it's good to run on an even surface to avoid further agitating the affected knee.  Since most of the roads I run on have a pretty dramatic camber, I think it's best if I use a treadmill.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Snow day, spinning and a quinoa chicken soup recipe.

I have the perfect opportunity to do a blog post right now, while I wait the arrival of my husband returning from his week of training and while all four kids are at a neighbor's house for a Halloween party.  The house is so quiet right at this moment.  I treasure that silence.  All I hear right are my fingers hitting the keys and the whir of the  heater.

This morning we awoke to this beautiful scene:

Later in the morning, after taking my daughter to an activity, I had the chance to hit the gym.  I even got in about an hour in the weight room before going to spin class.  I did abs, glutes and shoulders.  I was still feeling sore from yesterday, but it wasn't bad enough to hamper my lifting today.  Then, of course spinning was fabulous.  Today was a "climbing" day, according to our instructor, so no sprints or speed, just all hard and heavy.

This afternoon, I made a batch of the most delicious and clean chicken soup, which was perfect for a day like today.

Here's how I made it...first, pour two cans of chicken stock (clean, check your labels) and 4-5 cups of water into a stock pot and turn heat to medium.  Add chopped carrots, cubed summer squash, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/3 cup of dry lentils, 2/3 cup rinsed quinoa, kale (washed and torn into bite size pieces), salt and pepper to taste.  Keep at a low boil for about 30 minutes.

In another pan, saute 2 large, cubed chicken breasts with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a dash of sea salt.  When it's browned, add it to soup mixture along with 1 can of black beans (again, check your label on the beans since some canned beans contain sugar).  Let simmer for another 15 minutes or so and voila!  Super healthy, super thick, super delicious, super-soup! :)

Thursday, October 25, 2012


I lack the energy to even come up with a catchy title for this post. :)  Today was a tough Thursday.  Not tough in a bad way, but tough in a grind-my-body-till-it-cracks type of way.  First of all, I started out my day feeling a little beat up from yesterday's run.  I think it was the combination of the steep downhill for the first 5 or 6 miles, the uber cold temperatures and our (faster than normal) pace.  My calves, hamstrings and quads feel tight and sore, but even my joints are feeling it.

As much as I hate to admit it, I also think I've grown a case of the infamous "runner's knee".  My knee has bothered me on and off for the past month or two, and I've been trying to ignore it.  My last couple of long runs, though, it's become more difficult to ignore.  I was actually feeling more pain and discomfort on previous runs, but yesterday's run was a little different.  When we first started our run, and downhill decent, I felt a twinge, but it dissipated after the first mile or so and then my knee didn't bother me much at all for the rest of the run.  When we stopped running, however, my knee started making a clicking/popping noise with every step I took.  It's still doing this today.  It almost feels like there's something catching inside my knee cap whenever I bend and extend my leg.  I'm not thrilled about it because I know that a break from running may be on the near horizon for me.  Next weekend is our half marathon, then after that, if my knee is still doing the same thing, I think I will take a break from running completely for a couple of weeks and see if that helps.  There are so many other ways for me to get in enough cardio, that it would be stupid of me to risk further injury.

In the meantime, I still made it to the gym this morning for my usual workouts.  I started in the weight room, today doing back and chest muscles.  After that, I went to spinning class for an hour, then ended my workouts for the day with the Muscle Fusion X class.  Today's intervals included (but were not limited to) skaters, jump kicks using the step, bench and press, squats, burpees, bicep curls, jumping jacks with jump-ups and floor squats, dead rows, running laps, "football feet" with push-ups  - today's magic number for reps was 32 - and repeat each set - three times.
Yeah, we did these...I think she called them Heisman steps??  So many different moves, it's hard to keep track.

After doing the strength/cardio intervals for 50 minutes, we spent 10-15 minutes on core work.  Needless to say, I'm walking around the house like an old, decrepit lady tonight.  It feels good. :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

10 miles of life.

Last night I was getting ready for bed and remembered I needed to charge my phone for my long run in the morning.  As I did, I saw I had missed a text from on of my friends checking to see if I wanted to run together.  Of course, I did, since I was already planning to run, and it's always fun to have someone to run with.  Actually, I take that back.  It's always fun to run with certain running buddies.

I feel so lucky and blessed to have met and gotten to know so many wonderful people through running.  One of my current "frequent footers", Lisa, is one of those people.  Though we're similar in a lot of ways, we're also different and it's so fun to run with her because there is never a shortage of things to talk about.  It certainly makes the run go by faster - literally and figuratively - but the best thing about it is just getting to share an hour, or two (or three) with someone who just "gets it".  Thanks for a great 10 miler today, Lisa!  (Although, I have to admit, I'm a bit sore and achy tonight.  Glad we did that downhill because apparently my legs needed the practice! Haha!)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday double.

I know I've mentioned this before, but I really love my current Tuesday and Thursday schedule.  Other than the days I do really long runs, I feel like these are the days that I accomplish the most with regards to my fitness goals.  Also, every week I am growing more and more attached to my "gym family".  I seriously never would have thought I would enjoy this lifestyle quite so much.  I love how much camaraderie there exists between those of us "regulars", as we sweat, groan, grunt and even laugh together.

Anyway, I started my morning in the weight room, doing heavy weights, working on triceps and biceps.  After that I went to spin class.  We know that our bodies adjust to exercise as we regularly do the same type/intensity, which is why many people will hit plateaus in the their workouts.  I have been regularly taking spinning classes for almost 8 months now, and I still feel like every class is a killer workout - both cardiovascularly and strength wise.  Today during spinning I got my heart rate up to 190 bpm!  No plateau in spinning yet...

Next up - Muscle Fusion.  While I use my individual weight training time to do sets of heavy reps, Muscle Fusion class gives me the chance to focus on all of the muscle groups, doing high sets of reps with a lower weight.  After this class each Tuesday, I find I am sore in a different spot.  I guess that's good.  Tonight, I'm feeling it in my inner thighs and my shoulders...thank you wide stance, weighted squats!

Monday, October 22, 2012

My secret. It's not really that much of a secret.

Okay, so a comment from my friend and fellow blogger Lindsay at aFitFamily.com has prompted me to write a quick (or not) post regarding how I prioritize my time such that I can work out as much as I do.  She's not the only one to ask me the question of how I find the time to exercise for hours a day and still get other things done.

Maybe to some it may seem that spending the amount of time that (I confess to) on exercise, wouldn't leave much time for things such as laundry, cooking and housekeeping.  So, lest you think that my obsession with fitness leaves my family living in squalor, wearing dirty clothes and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for breakfast, lunch and dinner, here are some of my thoughts on this topic.

First, a few facts:
  • I have four children, ages 12, 11, 10 and 6.  Monday through Thursday they are all in school from 7:30am until 4:15pm.  My husband works 40-50 hours or more a week.
  • As of right now (and for the past 13 years) I have been a stay-at-home mom and not worked outside of the home...at all.  Some call this a luxury.  We call it a sacrifice.  It's not easy and not always fun.  We live simply, making things work on one meager (cop's) salary by living in a modest (read: old) house we can afford, only having one vehicle, not having the latest electronic devices or expensive clothes, nor spendy monthly cell phone bills, cable or satellite television.  I don't go to the salon to get my hair or nails done - I do it myself.  We don't go on many vacations, our kids' shoes and pants will have holes or be way too small before we buy them more, we only allow each child one paid activity per school year.  Yes, that means our kids don't all get piano lessons, dance lessons, art lessons, or get to play soccer and little league and football and basketball.  They will probably not get to have braces in elementary school and will (gasp) have to wait until later in life to have perfectly straight teeth, like I did when I paid for my own braces at 19 years old.  So they will have have to suffer with their child-like, crooked-toothed smiles while keeping themselves occupied at home on weekends, NOT talking on cell phones that they don't have. :)
Okay, so here's the rest of the story:
  • I do at least one or two loads of laundry every single day.  I usually put a load in right when I get up or after breakfast.  Some days it might not get folded until the evening after dinner when the kids are doing homework, etc, but if I'm doing multiple loads, I just work on it throughout the day.  One of the benefits of not having the money to buy a lot of stuff - there's not a lot of stuff to wash.
  • I follow a daily maintenance type of method when it comes to cleaning the house.  There are those jobs, like cleaning the bathrooms and dusting, that I usually do once a week, but again, this is where having a modest house comes in handy.  It doesn't really take me a lot of time to do those things.  The rest of the time I make a concerted effort to keep up on things.  I find it's a lot easier to keep a clean house if don't ever let it get too "bad".  I vacuum every day, I clean up the kitchen every day.  I make the kids pick up after themselves.  Every day.  They've got it down pretty well, too, I might add.  They know that "mom doesn't like things left on the floor" and Noah (12) is especially great at taking out the trash without being told and helping with keeping the dishes done - which is nice, because we don't have a dishwasher.  Yep, you read that right.  It's 2012 and in our kitchen not only is there no dishwasher, but also no garbage disposal.  And we, a family of 6, survive just fine.
  • I do cook.  I make things from scratch.  I bake, too.  I like to bake things using vegetables from our garden.  I grind my own wheat.  I make juice.  Maybe I don't venture out into a lot of new territory often, when it comes to trying new or exotic recipes, but I fix what I know my family will eat, trying to keep it as healthy as possible.  I'm not perfect at it, but I try.  There is nothing in my workout routine that conflicts with my dinner prep time, which can be anywhere from 3-5pm.  My husband and I have both been eating clean for about 3 months now.  Before that, we ate healthy, but now we're more strict about nixing processed sugar and flour and eating (almost all) whole foods.  With the kids, it's been a little more difficult, but it's a process.  The only pre-packaged foods that I buy and use are typically for the kids' lunches, but it's things like crackers, some kind of healthy granola bar or applesauce.  I also make healthy muffins to put in there sometimes.  I send them to school every day with a lunch that I pack myself, every morning - before I do any exercise. :)
  • I make a choice to not be overly involved with my kids at their school.  We attend their special functions, and I will help at the occasional party or activity, but I don't volunteer for PTO or anything like that.  It's just a personal choice I make.  Dealing with those kinds of things stresses me out and I try to avoid stressing myself out so that I can be a more pleasant mom when my kids are with me at home.
  • Here are some numbers:  I wake up at 6am every day and go to bed around 11pm.  That gives me approximately 17 hours to accomplish whatever needs to be done.  Even if I workout for 3 hours a day, that's less than 18% of my waking hours.  That still leaves me with the other 82%, or 14 hours to do other stuff.  I don't take naps (but for the really rare occasion), I don't watch TV (unless I'm watching something on Netflix, while working out or folding laundry), I don't do book club or girl's night out.  My only real hobby is exercising.  My time at home is my time to be home.  I do have some church obligations, including being a den leader in the cub scouts, which takes a few hours of my time each week, along with a couple of other things, but I have time to keep house.
Now I'm not claiming to have perfected the whole balance thing.  You all know I've complained before that I have issues with sometimes feeling insecure about the choices I make and where my priorities lie.  I guess I have so many things to be grateful for, things that help me keep this level of peace and balance in my life.  Things like good, self-sufficient, capable kids who tend not to make things too hard for me (most of the time), and a supportive and helpful husband who makes my happiness his priority.  Also, the fact that we live two blocks from the elementary school and about a mile from our church, makes going to activities simple and quick.

Call it "my secret", if you will, but I think it's really just about the choices we make.  For each of us that means different things.  Some of you may not agree with all of the choices I make, but it works for our family, at least for now.  I spend some time every week doing some sort of volunteer stuff, whether it involves going out and physically doing something for someone, baking something for a community, church or school activity, or just visiting someone, but I have also learned that in order to maintain peace of mind, it's okay to say 'no' sometimes.  Another of my blog readers also commented recently that we are all in different "seasons" of life and that we should embrace each season because they can change at any time.  This is my time to enjoy and make use of the fact that I have the ability to train every day, several hours a day and still keep my kids and husband happy and our household functioning properly.  It may not be this way for long, I don't know.  All I know is that my family is my priority and the choices I'm currently making with regards to how I spend my time do not detract from that.  If and when they do, I may need to reassess my choices.

A different Monday.

Another interesting week for me: my husband is out of town for work until late Friday, and we (meaning the kids) have something going on every single day.  So my plan is to make the most of the time I have while they are at school.

Normally Monday is reserved for a long run in the morning and a spin class in the evening, but today's rainy, cold weather put a damper on my run and a Teddy Bear Picnic with my 1st grader is taking precedence over my usual spin class.

So instead, I went to the gym this morning and started out on a treadmill.  I began with a run of a little over 3 miles.  Then I got started on some weight lifting.  Strength training today included calves, shoulders, back and abs.  I went steady on the weights for almost an hour, then I went back to a treadmill and did another 2 mile run, then took about 15 minutes to rest before spin class started at noon.  Spin class was great, as usual.  After all of that, I brought my sweat-soaked self back home for a shower and now I'm sitting here listening to the rain pour down.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sometimes it helps to switch it up.

Yesterday I woke up with a renewed sense of commitment, after my "blue" day on Thursday.  In the early afternoon, I went to the gym and spent about 30 minutes in the weight room before going to a spin class.  I came out of the spin room after an excellent and difficult workout, feeling exhilarated and ready to keep working hard.

The rest of the day I spent with Chris and the kids.  Our oldest went on a boy scout campout, so after dinner we took the other 3 and went on a hike in the Gibson Jack trail area, hoping to catch a glimpse of the moose that have been hanging out in the area.  It did not disappoint.  We hiked until it started to get dark, then came home and had a fire in the firepit.

This morning I ran with a couple of friends.  While my two running companions planned to run a 9 mile loop, I only had time to do about 5 miles due to a cub scout activity I needed to get to by 9am.  It was a fast 5 for me - my average pace was 9:42 min/mile, and it felt good to push myself.  I'm hoping to take the kids to the pool today for a little swimming, and that will round out my week.

As I look over my workouts for this week, I only got in about 20 miles of running, but I also did 6 miles worth of hiking, 4 spin classes, 2 Muscle Fusion classes and 5 days of strength training on my own.  So while my mileage was lower than what I'm used to, I think it's good to switch things up a bit sometimes.  Besides, this is probably the kind of week I will be doing for the next few months.  I've talked to trainer/instructor Misty about working with me one-on-one and as soon as she sets me up with a customized schedule/training plan, I will be following that instead of winging it on my own.  I can't even tell you how excited I am to get going on my new "plan"!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The run that wasn't...but not a complete fail.

Let's focus on the positives, shall we?  I did begin my day with 20 minutes of strength training and even bench pressed 65 pounds, doing 3 sets of 7-9 reps.  I did do an hour of spinning, which resulted in a lovely puddle of sweat under my bike.  I did attend Muscle Fusion X this afternoon, toughing my way through another rigorous workout, complete with (almost) 60 jump squats onto a step 6 levels high (that's about 2 feet) - holy crap.

I also got to spend the day with my husband, working out together, then shopping for a work luncheon he is in charge of tomorrow.  We had also planned to do a training run of about 9 miles for our half marathon with a running group this evening, but that is where the "I dids" end.

Because along with all of the other things I did today, I also spent quite a bit of time feeling bloated, crampy, a little tired and lamenting the fact that all of my clothes felt especially tight and uncomfortable.  I allowed myself a little pity-party, brooding over self-berating thoughts like how sick I am of my little tummy pouch that relentlessly hangs around and makes my workout pants not fit right, and the jiggle of extra skin and fat on my otherwise strong thighs, that doesn't seem to be affected in the least by all of the exercise on the planet or a Clean-eating lifestyle for going on 3 months now.

So when it came time to get ready to meet up with the group to go on our run, I did something that I rarely do - I chose not to run.  I chose to spend the evening with my sweet husband watching the 49'ers game at Buffalo Wild Wings, enjoying some good food and distraction while soaking in all the loving and supportive compliments he showered over me.

This evening, I'm feeling a little less defeated.  I know that change takes time and that I need to stay focused and consistent if I want to see results.  Still, I am also starting to realize that sometimes - just occasionally - it's also beneficial to the body, mind and spirit to just take a little break.  And I'm pretty sure my legs are happy I chose not to run because they have been screaming at me all afternoon from that Muscle Fusion class and all the lunges we did!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A short hike, time at the "spa", drive through the woods and a clean picnic.

Today Chris and I enjoyed another fun day together.  Once the kids were at school, we set off on a hike to the same area we hiked last week, with hopes of catching a glimpse of the moose.  It was super cold and windy (about 30 degrees), and we only ended up going about 4 miles.  We did see a moose within the first mile, and we also so lots of deer and of course some gorgeous views.

After our hike, we went to our gym's alternate location, which is an adults-only facility.  It's a lot smaller than the regular gym, but it has a nice hot tub/pool area that includes a steam room, eucalyptus room and a sauna.  When we got there, I did about 10 minutes on a stair master to get my heart pumping, then I did about 25 minutes of strength training, including shoulder press, lat-pulls, lat-rows and leg press.  When I finished with my training, I met Chris in the swimming area where we spent some time soaking in the hot tub and sauna.  Aahhh. :)

 When we were done at the gym, we took a short drive up into the mountains and shared a picnic lunch that I had packed in our cooler, then drove some more on a dirt road way out in the middle of nowhere.  It was so pretty, peaceful and serene out there, it was a perfect mid-week respite before an extreme workout day that we have planned for tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fitness goals and 14 miles.

First of all, just a quick recap of my workouts for the past couple of days...

Yesterday, I did a fun 14.3 mile run with a friend, Lisa.  (More about that in a minute.)  I will say that we averaged 10:40-ish min/mile, even facing lots of rolling hills and strong headwinds, so I was pretty happy with that.  Then, in the evening Chris and I went to a spinning class.

Today, we were back at the gym at around 7:45 with just enough time for me to squeeze in 20 minutes of heavy lifting before another spin class.  After some grocery shopping and lunch out of our "cleanly" packed cooler, we headed back into the gym for Muscle Fusion.  Both the spin class and Muscle Fusion were taught by the same instructor, and even though she was feeling a little under the weather, she killed it with a couple of hours of intensely hard workouts.  I kind of wish I had had my heart rate monitor on while I was spinning today because I swear my HR never went below 170 bpm, which for me is about 80-90% of my max.  I was feeling dizzy and nauseous by the time class was over.  Muscle Fusion wasn't as tough as far as the cardiovascular aspect, but my arms and legs were quivering with weakness by the time we were done, and I'm still feeling a little shaky as I write this post!

So back to my run yesterday....

My friend Lisa has also been bitten by the clean-eating bug, so we spent a lot of our time talking about our goals with regards to the clean-diet lifestyle and also our corresponding fitness goals.  We talked about running and strength training but didn't really set any concrete goals, at least I didn't.  Although I did come away from our conversation with a renewed perspective on what I should start focusing on in terms of setting some goals.

Later in the afternoon as I was trolling the internet, I came across an article written by a fitness model in which she stated that doing too much cardio can actually counter-act your progress in terms of building lean muscle mass through strength training.  Apparently, training for endurance sports (such as running marathons) uses so much energy, that your body will basically "eat" muscle tissue for fuel at a certain point, making it difficult to build up new muscle tissue.  When we went to spinning class, I asked our instructor Misty about this topic, since she is also a fitness model and an expert on this kind of stuff.  She confirmed that what I read is basically right - it will be very difficult for me to build lean muscle, while training for marathons.  She told me that if my goal is to tighten, tone and improve muscle definition (i.e. get ripped), I needed to do less cardio.  Currently my cardio for the week includes: anywhere between 35-45 miles of running, 4 hours of spinning classes, 1 hour of Muscle Fusion X plus any hiking or walking I may do throughout the week.  Misty suggested I choose between this high-intensity training (for marathons) and working on creating a more lean, muscular physique.   I'm inclined to just buckle down and hire Misty to work with me one-on-one to develop a new training schedule that will help me narrow down my fitness goals.

In the meantime, my thoughts are swirling around the idea of first, getting my next race finished - a half marathon on November 3rd - so I will continue with my race training for now.  Then, after that and throughout the winter months, I will lighten up on the running (maybe 2 days of running 3-9 miles, plus one long run every 2 or 3 weeks just to maintain my fitness level), continuing with spin classes for my main cardio workouts, but spend more time in the weight room focusing on strength training.  This is where I need Misty's help, to establish an appropriate strength training plan.  While I've gained a minor amount of confidence in the weight room, I still feel like a novice when it comes to knowing the best exercises for certain muscle groups, number of sets and reps I should be doing, and also using some of the machines.  I'm thinking I will give this plan about 4 months, which will put me into February 2013, when I will pick up my running a bit and start training more diligently for my next marathon, the Ogden Marathon which is in May.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

9 miles on a rainy day.

After weeks of dry, we finally got some rain today and it felt cleansing.  I headed out for a run around 7am and saw the storm clouds swirling over the mountains, but I was able to finish the 9.2 mile loop with only a few drops falling on me.  Then I was able to enjoy the beautiful, cool, autumn rain from inside the house. :)

I spent all afternoon baking, which felt like a perfect rainy-day activity.  I roasted 8 or 9 butternut squash, then made puree.  Some I froze, the rest I used for (clean) muffins, cookies, pancakes and even for my bedtime protein smoothie.  Our house smells like cinnamon and allspice.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Finding my purpose - or not. This should make you all feel better.

The past few months, I have been feeling a little lost.  It seems to have become progressively worse since my last marathon in September.  During the last couple of years I have been so focused on training for marathons, that has sort of been my "thing".  I'm a stay-at-home mom who trains for marathons.

Now that the kids are all in school and I find myself with about 7 or 8 hours four days a week that I can more or less devote to whatever activities I choose, I am ridden with guilt and doubt.  I admittedly spend a good chunk of that time either out running, at the gym, blogging or reading about health and fitness or in the kitchen.  And for what purpose?  I'm not training for anything specific right now, and even if I was, what for?  I mean, why am I doing this?  Why do I workout to the point that I live in a perpetual state of soreness?  To be skinny?  'Cause I'm not, even after endless hours of exercise, and I don't think anyone really cares what I look like anyway, so why should I care so much?  Do I do it because I enjoy it and it makes me feel good about myself?  Yeah, I guess.  But I'm pretty sure that's where those feelings of guilt creep into my mind.  I'm doing something I enjoy with my 'spare' time and while receiving no extrinsic reward for my time and investment.  I don't make any money.  My fitness level doesn't contribute to our family's well-being, right?  So what am I doing?

The feedback I have been getting recently from my blog and Facebook posts has got me thinking.  A lot.  About who  I am and how I'm representing myself and my family.  Some people say I inspire them.  That's nice.  That (sometimes) makes me feel like it's worth putting myself out there.  If someone tries something they wouldn't normally have tried because they read my blog and thought, "If she can run marathons (or find time to workout/eat healthy/whatever), then I can - - - !"

Other people say I have too much time on my hands.  For some, the idea of working out to the tune of more than a couple of hours several days a week seems excessive.  For those people, I may be perceived as being selfish or vain, because why else would I do it?  I'm not a professional athlete, motivational speaker or public figure of some kind.  I'm not really anything.  I'm just a mom who works out.  A lot.

What should I do now?  How should I properly and effectively channel this passion of mine?  That's the question of the day.  Some have said I should get certified to teach fitness classes at the gym.  Sounds good, in theory.  The problem I have with this seemingly logical idea is that I lack the confidence and charisma that I feel it takes to be an effective fitness instructor.  The thought of being in front of 20+ people, all eyes on me, terrifies me to no end.  I don't think I could do it.  I prefer to be one of the sets of eyes on the instructor, in awe of their physical prowess.  I can't picture that role reversed.  Besides, the gym that we go to currently has a seemingly endless supply of well-qualified, motivational fitness instructors.

So I sit here, spilling my guts to all of you, my 4 or 5 faithful readers. ;)  I am in the middle of an identity crisis.  I am lacking purpose in my life.  My four children are becoming more and more independent.  Many moons ago I might have said my calling in life was to be a mother, but over the years I've found that I'm really not that good at it.  I try.  I care.  I love my children.  But I'm critical.  I'm a yeller.  I'm impatient and sometimes overly harsh with my words.  I don't read to them as much as I should.  I pray with them and for them, but not nearly often enough.  I'm not a spend-aholic, but I'm terrible at making and sticking to a budget.  I'm not a super-couponer or meal planner, I can't sew or make jam.  I can't get my kids to eat vegetables, no matter what tricks I try.

All the while, my husband works his tail off in his career as a state trooper, often working over-time and taking on extra projects and responsibilities, struggling to find time for his own fitness routine and other hobbies.  Sometimes I feel my existence is more of a hindrance to our family's success and happiness than a help.  It's not intentional, but maybe it's negligence?

I remember when I started training for my first marathon, a friend of mine who also didn't start running marathons until her 30's, told me that after I finished a marathon, I would feel empowered and it would overflow into the other aspects of my life, like I could conquer anything.  This same friend, also a mother of four, went on to go to nursing school.  Sadly, I have not experienced that same level of courage and strength, even after having completed 5 marathons in 2 years!  I'm not the same person I was a couple of years ago, obviously, but I'm still not who I thought I'd be.

So where does this leave me today?  Who knows.  I do feel a little bit better having vented some of my feelings through writing this post, but I'm still foggy about what goals I should be setting and where my focus should be in the future.  I know I'm the only one that can institute the change, which is also what makes this all so hard to swallow.  Choices.  Mistakes.  Life.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Another 3-in-1 blog post. :)

Time to recap the past few days!  Right now my husband's work schedule is such that his days off are Tues-Wed-Thursdays, which means we get to spend A LOT of time together. :)

On Tuesday, we went to our usual morning classes at the gym.  First we started out with about 20 minutes in the weight room, then we went to spinning and then a little later, Muscle Fusion.  I can tell that I'm getting stronger because the soreness after the Muscle Fusion classes is lessening.  My biceps and glutes were a little bit sore yesterday, but it was pretty minimal.

Yesterday, instead of running, we decided to go for a hike in the mountains.  I wanted to give my knee a break from the running anyway.  It's still bothering me, mostly just when I bear weight on it while bending it, which is probably why the only thing that really seems to be exacerbating it is, well...running, of course.

So we started our hike at around 8am and didn't return back to the trail head until after 1pm.  We ended up going a little over 11 miles.  It was a gorgeous day and the weather was perfect for hiking.  When we first started, it was dang cold, but by the time we finished we were sweating.

Today we spent another morning at the gym.  Again, we began with 15-20 minutes in the weight room, followed by spinning.  Then after lunch and grocery shopping, we returned to the gym for Muscle Fusion X.  This class has become one of those life-changing things for me.  That sounds a little ridiculous to say about a fitness class, but it really is,  in a small way, I suppose.  Mostly because it is really helping me build confidence, speed, agility and strength in ways I didn't realize I was missing in my training.  I've watched countless videos and shows where I've seen fitness gurus and/or celebrities do things like jumping up on a ridiculously high bench or do 50 burpees with apparent ease and grace, but I've never seen myself doing those (and other similar) things.  I don't know why.  I'm still (very) far from graceful, agile or quick, but I can tell that I'm getting better with each class and my confidence continues to grow each week.  I just go into that room with all the mirrors lining the walls, set up my weights and steps, tune out all the other folks around me and zone in on the instructor (who is amazing and totally my inspiration), determined to do my very best and push my way through each and every circuit, even when I feel like throwing up.

Now if I can just continue to hone the clean-eating lifestyle that I have embraced, I am optimistic that I will really start to see the positive changes that I am searching for.  Remember the body beautiful formula, as defined by Tosca Reno?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Enough is enough!!

Wow, it really only takes a day or two of not posting on my blog and before I know it, it's been 4 days!  So enough with the slacking, I'm back and apparently I need to give you a run-down of the past 4 days.

Last Thursday was a power workout day.  The kids had the day off from school for teacher in-service, so before they were even awake, I left the house and headed for the gym.  I did my first spin class at 6am, then I had about an hour to do some heavy lifting before going to spin class #2.

After that I came home, took a shower, fixed the kids some lunch, then went back to the gym for my third class of the day, Muscle Fusion X.  On my way home, I snapped this picture of the ice that was created by the sprinklers on this landscaping.  It's not the greatest picture, but it looked really cool in person.  I was just surprised that it was still so cold at 9:30 in the morning that the ice was holding on like that.

Anyway, class was AWESOME!  This is the class, if you remember, which is taught by my favorite instructor at the gym and normally there are at least 20 or so people in the class.  But for whatever reason, on Thursday it was just me, two other women and the instructor.  At first I was worried she might not hold the class because the gym rules say that if there are less than 5 people attending, the class will be cancelled.  But of course, true to Misty's style, she taught the class anyway and we got one heck of a workout!  I loved every gut wrenching, sweaty minute of it.  (Incidentally, I wonder if that's why there have been fewer and fewer people coming to that class since I first started going to it - it is HARD.)  One of my favorite  - haha - exercises was the bench jump.  Misty had us stack our steps with at least 6 or 7 donuts (levels) under them and then we had to straddle it, jump up on it with both feet into a squat position, then jump back down...20 times in a row for one set, then we did it again later in the workout.  Not. Easy.  Especially after doing weighted squats and lunges.

On Friday, my dad and step-mom arrived from Michigan for a weekend-long visit with our family, but I did have time to squeeze in my noon spin class before they got here.  On Saturday morning, I also fit in a quick 5.5 mile run before we spent the rest of the day enjoying our family time and that was it for my weekend workouts.

This morning I ventured out into the chilly morning for a long run.  I did a 16.5 miler on an out and back route.  I didn't realize until about mile 5 how windy it was out there.  It was blowing so hard that my pace really slowed, but it didn't bother me too much.  Sometimes it's fun to just take the time to enjoy the run for what it is - a long, slow run.  When I got home I did need to ice my knee for a bit.  It's been getting progressively worse over the course of the past week or so of running.  It might sound weird, but I really think this (relatively) new knee pain issue has to do with the fact that about a month ago I ran out of my glucosamine chondroitin supplement and I never replaced it because I figured that since I'm eating clean, I'm probably getting most of the nutrients my body needs.

I had been faithfully taking the glucosamine since I first started running - so for the past 2 1/2 years, and I've never had problems with my knees before.  Just a theory.  Luckily, Chris and I are going to be heading into town this evening for a spin class, so I'll have a chance to stop at the store to get some more.

Also, when I got home from my run I found I had received the issue of Clean Eating Magazine that I won from Tosca Reno's blog.  Yay!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

12 miles with a friend! Best way to spend a morning.

As I mentioned yesterday, today I was able to do a 12 miler with a running friend.  It was a glorious morning.  The air was crisp and cool and we could smell the leaves and the willows.  Have I mentioned that I love running this route?  We had to drive up to the top, where we wanted to start our run, then we ran our way back to my house.  Total elevation loss of about 1600 feet!  Considering all the climbs I usually do, this was a refreshing change.  We talked about all kinds of things: running, goals, training, clean eating, body image, our husbands and children, and even hovered for a moment over our favorite sports bras. ;)  Our average pace ended up being 9:40-ish and that's with walking breaks at a 5:1 ratio.  It was a fun run.

The rest of the day I've noticed my legs are a bit sore, mostly in my hamstrings (big surprise there).  I also had to ice my knee, which was giving me a little grief going up and down the stairs.  I'd better get to bed now.  I have a big day planned tomorrow.  Double spin classes, heavy weights on my own and then Muscle Fusion X - all followed by a little shopping and then cleaning in preparation for some family we have coming to stay with us over the weekend! :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Another fun day at the gym.

And so it goes, my Tuesday/Thursday routine:

7:50am ~ arrive at gym and spend 20-25 minutes in weight room doing strength training.
8:30-9:30am ~ Spinning class, aka sweat purge.
12:00-1pm ~ Muscle Fusion/Muscle Fusion X.

This is what the Muscle Fusion classes are doing for me:

Still a work in progress, but I feel pretty strong these days.

Tomorrow I am slated for a 12+ mile run with a friend.  We're going to run the first half (more or less) of the Pocatello Marathon route - one of my favorite runs ever!  It's a lot of downhill in the most serene and scenic places in the area.  The colors of the leaves makes it even more beautiful right now, so I can't wait.  Plus, it's been a while since I've run with someone and that will make if fun, too.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Back in business!

All is right with the world again because today our spin instructor was at the gym, back from her vacation and in prime butt-kicking form.  :)

But...I didn't start my day with spin, I started with a run.  After the kids were in school, I enjoyed a nice, peaceful 10 miles.  As I started out, my legs were giving me a little trouble.  I was suddenly feeling some soreness that I didn't realize was there before I began to run, mostly in my hips and hamstrings.  I allowed myself to slow down a bit and just run "easy", so that I could last for the whole ten miles.  While I felt a little tired and slow on this run, I still had fun and got some sun on my face.

Then after dinner, my husband and I went to the gym together to catch an evening spin class.  I was so happy.  Spin class with my husband = the perfect date. :)

I also colored my hair today.  I went  a little darker than my natural auburn color.  I thought it would be a nice change to go with the cooler weather. What do you guys think?  My kids told me they want me to go blonde.  Hmmm.  Maybe next time... ;)