Geranium seeds

Seeds of wellness for body, mind and spirit

Staying healthy? There’s an app for that!

An actual picture of my phone screen with some of my favorite apps

In the last couple of years, I’ve come to depend a lot on my smart phone — and likely, so have you. I’ve never been one to fill my screen with games (although, on my last flight I missed having a game or two to keep me entertained). Instead, I’ve enjoyed finding apps that make my life easier and apps that make it easier to stay healthy.

There are tons of health and wellness apps out there, and you probably have your own favorites. I thought I’d share mine with you, and then maybe you can share yours with me as well!

1) RunKeeper: this was my all-time favorite app before hubby got me a Garmin watch for Christmas. It helps you track mileage and pace when out running or walking, lets you map out your run and save all of your activity. You can also make up workouts such as intervals and let RunKeeper prompt you to change the pace. Really great app.

2) Eat This, Not That: the restaurant version. It grades the menus of many popular restaurants (mostly fast food), gives the nutritional info of foods on the menu, and recommends healthier items. If I am out on the road and haven’t packed my lunch, I usually check it before ordering.

3) My Fitness Pal: Here you can enter your current weight and your weight goal, and the app will come up with a daily calorie goal for you and help you keep track of your calories throughout the day. It has an impressive amount of food items; you can just about find anything you’ve eaten or you can enter the calories of any food you’ve created. Very good way to keep yourself accountable if you’ve been overeating.

4) Food on the Table: you can select recipes based on what’s on sale at your local grocery store. Then, it makes up a grocery list for you based on the recipes you’ve selected. The recipes are not bad!

5) Breath Lessons: if you think you know how to breathe, think again! This is a great app with really good info on how to reap all the benefits of a good breath. Really, try it!

6) P Tracker Lite: Girls, this is a good little app for keeping track of your menstrual cycle. It helps you know when you are fertile and what to expect around your period.

7) Sleep Pillow: a free app with white noise for sleeping. Can be a life saver for a light sleeper like me.

8) Heart Rate: If you don’t have that Garmin watch or another heart rate monitor, use this app to quickly measure your heart rate after or during a workout.

And a couple of honorable mentions – apps I haven’t actually used a lot, but still find interesting:

9) ShopWell: similar to Eat This Not That in the sense that it recommends healthier foods for you. In this app you list your nutrition needs, and it helps you make a grocery list of items that best match your needs and goals. You can enter grocery items you usually purchase and the app will grade the items based on how well it matches your goals. My complaint about this app is that many of the grocery items recommended aren’t easily found in small, rural towns like mine. But, it is still an eye-opener even if you use it just once.

10) This for That: another food-swap kind of app. You choose the kinds of food you are craving, and it tells you what you could have instead. I haven’t actually tried the swaps, but it was fun to browse through. It would be interesting to see if the cravings actually go away with their suggestions.

11) Healthy Habits: I have recently uploaded this and have not used it yet, so I can’t give a proper review… If anyone has used it, let us know how you like it! The app lets you choose habits you want to break or add to your life (physical, mental and diet-related). Then it helps you stay accountable to that with tips and encouragement.

That’s it for now, folks! What’s your favorite health app?

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Mini Marathon Mommies!

Training for a half marathon with a stroller is no easy feat, but it can be done!

A few months ago, I wrote a post about my running partner, Jocelyn (read the post here.) We started running together while training for our first half-marathon in 2010. At that time, Jocelyn was the only one of us who was a mommy, and all of our runs were sans kids. Now, she’s got two little munchkins and I have a sweet boy of my own. Jogging strollers have definitely become part of our lives!

When we decided to train for another half-marathon together, we knew we would have to incorporate the strollers into our training. Both of our husbands are super busy with work stuff and trips this summer and we can’t find babysitters for all of our runs. We know it will be challenging to get our training done with full-time jobs and kids, but we’re determined to get it done and looking forward to it! We have signed up for a mini marathon in September and officially started our training this week.

If you are a not an experienced runner, a half-marathon may seem like a pretty intimidating feat… but I’m here to tell you it is not as dauting as it seems! It’s all about being consistent with your training.

When I started training for my first mini marathon, the most I had ever run at one time was 6 miles. Once. Our running guru devised an easy 15-week plan for Jocelyn and I that consisted of running only 3 times per week. I was 17 weeks pregnant on race day, and felt great. Our finishing time was 2:32 I believe. We could have pushed ourselves much harder but were trying to be conservative since I was pregnant and this was our first big race.

Since I’ve had Lucas my runs have become shorter but I also think I’ve had more efficient workouts — especially in my hilly neighborhood. Try pushing a stroller uphill… it’s quite a workout! Here are some tips if you are planning on taking your baby for a ride:

Be prepared for interruptions. Checking on baby, replenishing a snack, grabbing the bottle the baby just threw out of the stroller. It does help to keep snacks on hand. Lucas loves the big old rice chips/cakes like “Kim’s Magic Pops” (he’s holding one in the photo above) and it takes him a while to finish one. Perfect for the stroller ride. Also: invest in a stroller with a good canopy or purchase additional sun shade. Despite the canopy on my jeep stroller and my incessant tries to get Lucas to wear his hat and/or sunglasses, sun would always get in his eyes and he would be very uncomfortable (read: more interruptions). Getting extra sun shade has really helped. I have also purchased a weather shield for rainy (not stormy) days and have yet to try it.

Since runs with strollers tend to be shorter, we have decided to adapt the plan that worked so well for us in 2010. We do plan on enlisting child care for our long runs and maybe some of our weekday runs as well. But most of our short mile days will be with our kiddos. So, we tweeked our plan to stretch out our miles into 4 days per week (rather than 3 x week). I will share the plan here in case someone wants to give it a try.

By the way: seasoned runners may be surprised that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of miles to be logged during week days. But, this is the exact amount of miles we logged per week during our first training and were more than ready for 13.1 by week 15!

Week Day1 Day2 Day3 Day4
1 miles 3 2 2 5
2 2 3 2 6
3 2 4 2 7
4 2 4 2 7
5 2.5 4 2.5 6
6 2 3 2 8
7 2 4 2 9
8 2.5 4 2.5 8
9 2 4 2 10
10 2.5 4 2.5 8
11 2 5 2 10
12 2.5 4 2.5 8
13 2 4 2 12
14 2 2 2 6
15 3 2 13.1
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On the road again… my guide for eating healthy on the go

For the past four years, I have been on the road nearly every work day. Like many people who are on the go, I have had my share of bad convenience foods and skipped meals. Fortunately, I have also learned a thing or two about eating healthy on the road. Here are some tips for those days when you have limited time or options for a healthy sit-down meal, or for when you’ve got to hit the road, Jack.

1) Have some sort of a plan when you leave the house. This is key. Know roughly when and what you will eat throughout the day. Otherwise, you are likely to scavenge for whatever foods are available when you find yourself suddenly very hungry. Those are likely to be bad choices. Having a rough plan about when you will refuel and about what kinds of food you are looking for will go a long way to ensure you get in some good nutrition.

Must I say this? Good nutrition really is that important. We very often understimate the effect the kind and amount of foods we eat have on our bodies. Having some thought about the kinds of food we want to ingest requires small effort and has a huge pay-off.

2) Preparation is best. I often plan and pack my meals in advance. After some practice with this, it just takes me a few minutes in the morning to reach for my tried-and-true meal combos. I recommend investing in an insulated lunch bag, one or two reusable ice packs, and a BPA-free water bottle. Here’s how it goes for me:

I like to have a sweet and flavorful type of coffee in the am, so I brew it at home using my favorites Best Life skim milk and agave nectar — it saves me money and ensures I get the good stuff in it rather than good ol’ cream and sugar. That goes into my traveling coffee mug. I also brew a couple of bags of green tea and pour them over ice into my water bottle for sipping throughout the day.

On a good prep day, I pack breakfast, lunch and a snack in my lunch tote. I aim to follow the rule of balanced meals, even for snacks (complex carbohydrate, good/lean protein, and a little good fat). My favorite and easiest lunch is a turkey sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread with cracked pepper mayo and a slice of tomato (packed separately so the bread doesn’t get soggy). Breakfast may be greek yogurt, and snack is usually a serving of fruit and string cheese (the new “tomato basil” by Kraft is delicious). Other winner combos for breakfast or snacks are: mixed nuts and fruit; whole grain crackers or carrots with hummus; fruit and peanut butter (have you tried dark chocolate peanut butter? yummy); yogurt with or without fruit; whole grain crackers with cheese; protein bars or shakes as a last resort.

Since I usually start my day at the office, I also keep a stash of quick breakfast items there (like “Better Oats” oatmeal or whole grain waffles), so I often don’t have to pack breakfast. My current favorite is (toasted) cinnamon-raisin English muffin with peanut-butter spread.

3) Decide on your go-to places for no-prep days. On days when I fail to pack lunch or snack or anything at all, I often choose to make a quick and easy stop at the grocery store when I hit the road. Some grocery stores in bigger cities have fantastic foods. I travel in rural areas and don’t have that many options, but I have found that the Kroger across the street from my office often has ready-made deli sandwiches on wheat bread. It’s very convenient to stop there to grab a sandwich, a piece of fresh fruit and some nuts (maybe even a bottle of water if I forgot my trusted bottle at home) and be on my way.

You can, of course, hit a fast food restaurant — but then you have to be very discriminating about the kind of food you choose. Many fast-food chains are offering healthier items now but even these should probably still be eaten only on occasion. Starbucks has a great selection of breakfast items (if you skip most of the baked goods). Chili and a baked potato from Wendy’s or a low-calorie sandwich from Subway make a good lunch, and McDonald’s fruit and walnut snack will do for a, well, snack. Visit ttp://eatthis.menshealth.com/restaurant_guided_search/all/all/all/fastfoodto look up healthier items from fast-food joints.

Here’s a trick I have started using when I want a hot sandwich for a change. I’ve noticed that very often it is the white sugary bread that makes fast-food sandwiches unhealthy. So on some days I might pack a couple of slices of my good healthy bread, then order a grilled chicken or roast beef sandwich from a restaurant and make the bread switch.

Another good tip for a purchased sandwich is to double the meat rather than doubling the bread; for instance, order a 6-inch sub rather than a footlong and ask to double the meat (Subway has a way of charging for this). Or, order two grilled chicken wraps, ditch the tortilla from one of them and have double the chicken in your wrap. The protein will keep you fuller and you will avoid all the extra sugar from the extra bread.

4)Keep an extra stash of snacks in your car or bag.For those times when you haven’t prepped, and haven’t had a chance to stop by a go-to place, or you simply find yourself extra hungry: keep a cereal or protein bar, maybe even some dark chocolate and nuts, or dried fruit somewhere accessible for snack emergencies. This may help you keep your blood sugar stable and avoid a run for a milkshake. Of course, there are days when I do get a milkshake, and that’s OK. That’s got to be part of the plan sometimes…

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A miracle treatment

What if I told you about a miracle cream that, if applied to your body on a regular basis, would deliver the following results: elevate mood, increase energy, reduce cholesterol and body fat, improve skin, improve lung and heart function, lengthen life expectancy, reduce risk of cancers and risk of dementia, improve sleep and libido, among other things? The only side effect is a feeling of moderate discomfort that lasts about 30 minutes. Would you buy it and use it?

You probably know where I’m going with this. There is no miracle cream, but there is a miracle treatment that delivers all that: exercise.

Sorry for the cheesiness of this post. But this thought did occur to me after I finished a 30-min run today. I realized I had done something really, really good for myself in so many different ways, and all it took was some discomfort for a relatively short time. I wondered, if any product on the market delivered all of these results for some comparably uncomfortable side effect, wouldn’t people still consume it? Then why is it so hard for us to make time for something as simple and good as exercise?

Now that the weather has been so nice I’ve been spending a lot more time outside (hence my hiatus from this blog. I promise to do better about posting). And because I’m outside so much better, I’ve been more consistent about getting some exercise in, which is great. The feeling at the end of a workout is great — not just because it’s over, but because you know you’ve accomplished something good. It makes me wonder why I put it off so much.

I hope this cheesy post inspires you to treat yourself to a workout. Enjoy the nice weather and get those mind and body benefits!

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Getting detoxed — the rest of the story!

I love sugar, but it doesn't love me back...

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about embarking on a 2-week detox diet. I was midway through the detox then and starting to see results (more energy, better sleep, more focus). I thought I would give you the rest of the story now that I’m a week post-detox!

I won’t bore you by chronicling each day of that second week. I’ll try to hit the highlights instead. Here goes:

I started the elimination diet by cutting out a whole bunch of foods — most prominently dairy, wheat, sugar, caffeine, condiments, chocolate, high glycemic fruits, and nuts. I basically got rid of the main staples of my regular diet and had to be creative about making edible and nutritious meals. I ended up eating a lot more fruits and vegetables than I usually eat. After about a week, I started slowly adding foods back to my diet.

Up until day 10 I felt really great — very energetic and with almost no cravings. On day 10, my resolve started to fade. I really wanted to eat bread that day and even considered adding gluten back a little early. A couple of my co-workers had ordered pizza and it was very tempting to walk past it without snagging a bite. But, I remembered that the doctor who wrote up this detox suggested adding the things we crave last. It took some pep talk, but I talked myself into waiting to add wheat and sugar last as originally planned.

I also felt somewhat tired in the afternoon that day but thought this was because Lucas woke up a lot during the previous night and I didn’t get much sleep (this is probably why I was also craving bread more than usual). I also wondered if the tiredness had to do with adding back dairy on day 9.

The following night I had a much more restful sleep. I actually dreamed I was eating my co-worker’s cheeze pizza. I woke up and sang the Debbie Gibson’s tune in my head, “Ahhh, only in my dreams… as real as it may seem… it was only in my dream,” lol.  I didn’t really feel tired during the rest of day, so I figured the dairy probably wasn’t to blame. No more cravings this day, so I was glad I held off on gluten and sugar.

On day 12, I drank a cup of coffee! I was pretty hesitant about adding back caffeine since I had survived the headaches while weaning myself and felt pretty good without it. But being as I am from Brazil, I couldn’t imagine not having coffee again. I grew up on this stuff. Parents actually give their young kids coffee (with milk, sort of like a latte) in Brazil. I love coffee and usually drink it for the taste, not for the caffeeine. I considered making a switch to decaf but wanted to see how I would fare with the “real” stuff. I was hyped after that first cup! But, thankfully, no crash. I do want to cut down on coffee so I am now planning on having a fruit smoothie every now and then instead of having coffee every morning (and afternoon sometimes).

I added back gluten on day 13 and didn’t notice any big reaction like sluggishness or bloating. I thought my stomach hurt a little after eating bread in the morning, but wondered if I was just being paranoid. If it did bother my stomach it was a very mild reaction and didn’t last long. So I am glad to report I will not be gluten free!

I had a hard time deciding whether to add sugar on day 14 or wait until after I had survived the full 2 weeks without it. A friend of mine had her bridal shower on what was day 14 of my detox, so I decided to cut myself some slack and enjoy the goodies at her shower to finish up the detox.

I thought that, after not having sugar for 2 weeks, I would not want as much of it. I was wrong. One little bite of sugar and I wanted MORE. My sweet tooth was just as active as before and I needed to exercise some moderation just as if I had never detoxed.

Of course, I was right about sugar being the reason for my afternoon slumps. After one or two days back on sugar and I was feeling tired again. It can also be the case that having “permission” to have sugar back displaces some of the fruits/veggies (mostly fruits) I might have eaten. It’s more tempting and easier to reach for some M&Ms than it is to eat an apple. And we know the consequences of each of those seemingly small decisions.

Being sugar-free (or even very restrictive on sugar) is not sustainable for me right now. (A shout out and hats off to one of my readers, Malia M., who doesn’t eat sugar 360 days out of the year — check out her blog here. Really, Malia, how do you do it??)  Being through this detox, however, and seeing how much better I felt without the white stuff, motivated me once again to reduce my sugar intake.

I looked everywhere in my house for a book I had bought and read a couple of years ago — Get the Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet by Ann Louise Gittleman. I couldn’t find it so I bought the Kindle version and have been reading it for extra motivation. A couple of days ago one of my friends posted a very helpful article on facebook that also strengthened my motivation. You must read it!! Here it is: article you must read.

Having said all that, I did have a couple of iced brownies today — we had a little party to watch UK beat Florida in the SEC tournament. I’m still up for sugar on special events. Moderation is the key!

Now, what to do with all those leftover brownies…

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How to make a lifestyle change (or the story of how I became a runner)

Todd and I at our first 5K together in 2009

I do not have a drastic weight loss story, nor have I overcome a challenging disability or disease. I am also not a very fast runner. In fact, I’m pretty average. And that is exactly why I want to share my story with you: because I think a lot of you can relate.

I grew up in a city. During my childhood years, we lived on the 18th floor of a residence building, right in the center of the city. So while my friends were climbing trees and running around their neighborhood in the suburbs, I was crossing busy streets and learning to use public transportation. As a child, I spent most of my play time indoors, with imaginative play and lots of dolls. Outside the house, our parents filled our time with arts and music: several music lessons and church activities around music, theater and concerts for leisure. I did take swimming lessons for a few years and walked everywhere in the city. That is how I kept physically active.

I am also one of those people who had a terrible experience in Phys. Ed. at school. First, I had this mean, awful PE teacher who humiliated me when I couldn’t make a good pass in volleyball (I don’t even know if that is the right terminology. That’s how badly I was turned off by sports). Then, I had lazy teachers who let me goof or do lazy sit ups during class when I said I wasn’t interested in sports. So, I never considered myself athletic. During summer camps, I read books while my girlfriends played soccer. And during college, I joined a gospel choir while my roommate joined the basketball team. I thought I just wasn’t made for sports.

One time my roommate convinced me to join her for a training run. I decided, after one or two laps around the track, that running wasn’t for me. And I didn’t run again for a long time.

During my second year at seminary, one of our beloved professors (John Claypool) died. The following year, a few students organized a 5K around campus in memory of him (it is now an annual race). I had heard about races of course, but I had only a very vague idea of what it entailed. I signed up for the 5K in order to honor our professor and also to support my friends who organized the race. I was nowhere near a runner then, so I alternated jogging with walking and finished the race in over 40 minutes (I don’t remember the final time). It confirmed to me, once again, that I was not a runner. But I was impressed with the event and the energy of the people there. I had no idea that races could be fun! 

Fast forward a couple of years. With college and seminary years behind me, I was working full-time and spending the evenings at home with my husband. After a long day at work and a long commute home (and with no kids yet), it was easy to stretch out on the couch for the evening and stay there. Todd and I got into a funk and were quickly becoming couch potatoes. One day we decided to change that. We laced up our shoes and went for a run around the block. That first run was humbling. I couldn’t run one mile without stopping, and I was slooow. And all of my energy went into running: nothing seemed natural. But I set a goal: to run for 10 minutes without stopping. So day after day, I went running. And I got better. Soon I could run up to 20 minutes at a time. And that is where my running stayed for a while.

Around this time I also started taking Bikram yoga lessons. If you’re unfamiliar with Bikram, it is an athletic kind of yoga where students perform the same sequence of 26 poses in a heated room. I was out of shape and not very flexible when I took my first Bikram lessons. There were poses I thought I might never be able to do well. But you know what, I got better at that too. Because we repeated the same poses in each class, I was able to see just how well I was progressing. As with running, the progress was concrete, and fast. In fact, I got to where I could do some of the Bikram poses really well. I started to think, maybe I can be athletic. Maybe I am athletic.

Fast forward another couple of years. Todd and I were invited by a friend to participate in a local 5K. It would be Todd’s first, and my first 5K actually running. We weren’t even sure we could run 3 miles since we usually stopped our runs at about 20 minutes. We signed up and went for a 3 mile run before the race, just to see if we could do it (we could). The race was a blast, and we even got medals! I actually got first place in my age group, although that was only because there weren’t many people in my age group. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that I was hooked.

Winning first place in my age group at my first real race. I was hooked.

After that, I joined a running club and started increasing the length of my runs. And then it happened: I started to see myself as a runner. I actually started to enjoy it. And because I am a runner, I now think about when I am going to run this week. And when I’m on vacation, I think about when and how I might get a run in. Because I’m a runner, you see.

People who have known me for a long time are shocked that I am a runner now. And people who have known me for a short time think I’ve always been a runner. Isn’t that funny? What I have learned is that, making a lifestyle change has everything to do with changing how you see yourself. It works the same with food, for example. Presented with the choice of eating healthy or unhealthy foods, I have a much better chance of choosing the healthy option if I see myself as a healthy eater than if I see myself as an unhealthy eater who should eat better. The decision becomes second nature to our identity.

To sum it up, my friends, here are my tips for making a lifestyle change from a former couch potato:

1) Stick with it

2) Get support

3) Most importantly, reassess how you see yourself. Stop saying you are a junk eater if you want to eat better. You are capable of change. I know because I have changed! So can you!

By the way – if you are encouraged to take up running, I recommend the couch to 5K plan from coolrunning.com. Go for it!

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I am getting detoxed!!!

Coffee and dessert were daily staples of my diet before this detox program.

I’m doing it!! A two-week detox diet. I started it this past Monday, so this is day 7. Halfway through, baby!

No, not the unhealthy cleanses that celebrities allegedly go on to lose weight before a major event, like drinking only cayenne pepper with lemon juice for a week or something of the kind. The program I am following is not low on calories and is nutritionally sound, so I’m not starving myself. But it does require a lot of planning and creativity to get good meals in while eliminating so many food groups for a while!

So why detox? First, we eat too many processed foods with too many additives such as preservatives. We eat meat infused with antibiotics and produce coated with pesticides. A brief detox diet gives our liver a rest so we can flush all that stuff. Second (and this is the main reason I wanted to do this), it’s a great way of finding out whether you have any food sensitivities. So many people report they feel better if they are off gluten, or dairy, or sugar, and I wanted to know if I would be one of them. It’s hard to know just how one kind of food affects me when I have it everyday along with other kinds of foods I also have on a daily basis. I was never really able to figure out if my diet contributes to my occasional migraines for this very reason. Finally (and this goes with the second reason), going cold turkey on those beloved foods for a while can be a great way to get rid of food addictions (such as caffeine and sugar, my own deadly sins).

I have wanted to do something like this for quite some time but it just never seemed like the right time. I think I first was interested in this when I was pregnant, so I couldn’t do it then, and then I was nursing, and then I was busy. Right now seemed like as good time as any. I found a good program at womentowomen.com, which breaks it down into 3 levels (from least restrictive to most restrictive). I decided to go the most restrictive rout and work my way backwards, slowly adding foods back in.

Here’s how it’s been so far, to the best of my memory:
Day 1
My rice “milk”-fruit smoothie (in lieu of my morning cup of coffee) was surprisingly tasty! That was also the only good thing of the day. I tried to eat the same kinds of food I usually eat, only adapted to the plan. That didn’t work. For instance, I usually pack a chicken sandwich for work so this day I packed tapioca bread with chicken and a little green olive tapenade (no gluten, no condiments). It was disgusting. Also, my caffeine withdrawal headache was a killer. I remembered walking through Kroger midway through the day and thinking, “I can’t wait until I can eat all these foods again!” and realizing how funny that was since I was only half-day through this diet. I was also very tired at the end of the day and my head still hurt so I didn’t eat much for dinner. Promised to do better the following days.
Day 2
Decided to let go of trying to make my usual foods “fit” the plan and just go for different kinds of meals. That worked much better. Head still hurt, and still felt pretty tired in the afternoon.
Day 3
Noticed my skin looked clearer. Another day of caffeeine headaches. Still feeling tired.
Day 4
Headache is finally going away, yay! Felt a little less tired. Satisfied sweet cravings with caramelized onions (yummy). Realized I am eating a lot more fruits and veggies on this plan. Love the clean feeling I get after drinking my fruit-and-spinach smoothie. Also noticed that I’ve been sleeping much better (I haven’t had to employ any of the techniques I mentioned in this previous post.)
Day 5
Felt fantastic! No headaches, and plenty of energy. Had the best day at work (very productive and felt like I was doing meaningful work). I am astounded at the fact that I can have this much energy without having any caffeine or sugar pick-me-ups!
Day 6
Still plenty of energy – enough to start the day with a run with friends. This is Saturday so I did take a nap in the afternoon. Started adding foods in, such as high-glycemic fruits.
Day 7
I still feel pretty well and I’m proud of myself for not having sugar for one entire week! I started thinking that I could actually be happy without sugar if it weren’t for all the temptation everywhere. I am also kind of shocked that I’ve not missed my coffee as much as I thought I would. I do plan to go back to coffee after the program is over, but now I’m thinking I may not want to have it every day. I have to say, I think I miss wheat most of all… but even that hasn’t been a big craving. I plan to add dairy and nuts back in the next few days, and will probably add wheat and sugar last. Then I should have a good idea of which foods actually make me tired… I am afraid it might be wheat AND sugar together. Sigh…

So now that I am halfway through this, I can say with some confidence that I recommend it. I have more energy (and natural energy, not the caffeine-sugar-laden energy) and am thinking more clearly. I also suspect that, when I eat sugar again, it will taste so much sweeter to me that I won’t be having as much of it as I used to. Tonight I added tomatoes and had spaghetti for dinner (with ground turkey and rice pasta) — and it did taste sweeter than it did a week ago!

I also wonder if my feeling better has not so much to do with eliminating foods as it does with eating more fruits and vegetables. So I plan to stay invested in eating my share of these once the detox is up. It will be hard to eat as much of them when I am back to eating chips/cookies/cheese, etc, so I will have to be deliberate about this…

Does anyone want to join me in this crazy detox? I tell you, it’s worth it…

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Why everyone needs a fitness buddy

Jocelyn and I after running the KY Derby half-marathon, 2010

Jocelyn and I met through a local running club. We knew each other only marginally, until we both decided to train for our first half-marathon in 2010. Our running club president paired us together and devised a training plan for us, thinking that we had similar fitness levels and would be able to keep each other committed. He was right. Jocelyn and I did not miss one single training day that season and had a great time running our first big race together. Best of all, we have become and remained great friends.

Much has been said about the benefits of shared accountability through a workout buddy, and the benefits are not overrated. It is much easier to get out of the door for a run (or any exercise) when we know there is someone waiting for us. And, it is a lot harder to call it quits early or slack off when someone is running beside us and helping to keep up the pace.

Jocelyn and I were perfectly suited for running together. We are about the same size and have about the same stride. We had logged about the same amount of miles before embarking on our half-marathon training. We were just competitive enough to keep the other on task, but not too competitive so as to leave the other behind. We made a deal that we would run the whole race together, no matter what. So when one stopped to use the bathroom at Churchill Downs, the other went along with it. The camaraderie made it all fun, and we both walked out with finisher’s medals and a smile.

We both agreed we might not have made it to our goal if it weren’t for the other. But having a running partner turned out to be much better than reaching a fitness goal. Running side by side creates the opportunity for plenty of talks. We talked about everything while we logged our miles. The conversation made the runs more enjoyable, and the activity made the conversations more intimate. Having become such fast friends (no pun intended, haha) ensured that we would maintain our relationship and fitness accountability beyond our half-marathon goal.

Two pregnancies (and babies) later, we don’t get together as often as we used to. When we do, it’s usually for a run. And here is the beautiful part about having a fitness buddy: when we carve out time for our friendship, we are also encouraging each other to stay healthy and do something good for ourselves. Too often we meet friends for dinner or coffee. I am not at all against such practice, since I certainly enjoy food and the act of breaking bread together. Done too often, however, that may not be the healthiest of practices. And there’s something wonderful about meeting for a run, or a hike, or even a leisurely walk.

I just got back from running five miles with Jocelyn. I hadn’t done five miles in a while, and chances are (high) I wouldn’t have done it tonight if Jocelyn and I hadn’t agreed to meet. We both complained we didn’t feel exactly psyched about the run when we started, but agreed we enjoyed the run and the time together at mile 5. We still talk about everything in our runs, by the way — it was Jocelyn who suggested I might be experiencing some “post-lactation blues” during one of our runs (see my previous post about post-lactation depression).

Here are some tips for finding yourself a fitness buddy:
– Join exercise groups such as a running club or even an exercise class.
– Make your fitness goals/interests known to friends, especially those who have accomplished similar goals. Let them know you are looking for support, and they are likely to know others with similar interests.
– Start your own fitness group if you can’t find one that suits you. This is what our friend Chris did when he couldn’t find a running club in our town. He created the club and invited people to informational sessions. Word of mouth spread and now there is a great group of people who train, race and even organize races together.
– Look for someone with a similar fitness level and with a similar workout style to your own. Some people do not like to talk while running or exercising and would find Jocelyn and I very annoying!
– Make your fitness goal concrete and give yourself (and your buddy) a deadline. Figure out how to determine progress, and make your goal achievable. You can always work toward a bigger goal once you reach the deadline.
– Enlist your family’s support. Spouses or significant others can potentially make great fitness buddies. Todd and I have done a lot of exercising together. Now that we have a child, we need to alternate our exercise schedule so that one of us can take care of Lucas. We have to work extra hard to be supportive of the other’s need to exercise.

Does anyone have other tips? Leave us a comment with your ideas!

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