Wednesday, August 7, 2013

12 Week Body Transformation

So now I'm doing this program called Body by Frame. It involves me getting up at 4:50 every morning to get to class at 5:30 a.m. The class itself is kind of a boot camp, but it is inside, and we use weights and these TRX things that hang from a bar and you do all kind of pull ups and squats and such with them. It's a group class, but a small group, with a great trainer.

But Frame is more than a boot camp. There is also a nutrition element to it. A big nutrition element. Maybe it is a paleo diet, I'm not really sure. What I do know is that I have given up SUGAR, ALCOHOL, BREAD, and most processed foods for the last 6 weeks. Which, as my husband will attest, is NOT PLEASANT and results in anger and grumpiness. Watch me watch you eat your tres leches dessert or your little restaurant loaf of bread slathered in butter, and you will see my struggle. You may feel my fist punching you in the arm, but you probably will not. For the most part, I am still well-behaved. But WOW, sugar addiction is a tough bugger to break.

Also, and the very best part of Frame (and what makes it nearly cost prohibitive, but not. entirely..) is that you have a DEDICATED person who looks at your food tracking (in the My Fitness Pal app) every day and comments on a Google Document spreadsheet that you share. They say things like, "Really? Tortilla chips? Need to cut that out." Or "Try half a banana instead of a full one to reduce your sugar intake." Really specific, nit-picky stuff to keep you on track. It is kind of like the Biggest Loser because you have that constant, customized attention directed at you achieving your weight loss and fitness goals. And it's bad ass. 

So how effective has it been? I'm on week 6 and I've lost 6.5 pounds and 5 inches and 2% body fat. I'll get measured again at Week 8 and then there are only 4 more weeks and I'm through the 12-week program. I'm really excited about kind of moving to the next level of fitness! It's a good thing.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Runner's Knee & White Legs Swimming

It's been over two months since I last posted. Not doing too well at this blog thing!

In January, I ran the 3M Half Marathon. It went great. Nice run, nice people. I did not manage to PR on that race, but I only went over by a few minutes. At the end it was super cold and windy. No big deal, really. Just a nice 13-mile run with a couple thousand people.
Copyright (c) <a href=''>123RF Stock Photos</a>

Well, then I was training up for the next half, the Austin Marathon and Half. 5 miles one Sunday went great. The next weekend, I took a spill off the mountain bike. Banged my knees, but no worse than ever before... then on a twelve mile run on February 3, something bad happened. At about mile 6, I started really getting a pain in my left knee. It hurt for the next. Six. Miles. Went to the doctor that week, and he took a look at my old creaky knee and proclaimed that I shouldn't run "as far or as fast." Angry cartilage, he said. 1) WHAT? 2) so exactly how far and fast shall I run? 3) WHAT?

So I took this to a sports physical therapy place here in Austin, and we are working on it. I still don't know what my running career looks like, but at least I have some hope. We're strengthening my hips and quads and working on getting nutrition to my knee joint. That involves several exercise including one they call tailgaters, like sitting on the tailgate, and swinging your legs up and down. This is supposed to flood my joint with some substance that it apparently likes. We shall see. I feel like they're making up this stuff, but hey. Can't hurt.

Meanwhile, I am really tearing up the pool. I'm probably getting 1800 meters in per week. I took a stroke clinic throughout February, and now I'm going to continue for Danskin training season. I can already tell I'm a lot more efficient in the water. Not dragging so much, and I'm using the big muscles and breathing better. I'm pretty confident that I will be able to swim the Captiol 2K in Town Lake on May 4. So, at least for now, these white legs are for swimming!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

15.5 Miles and Not a Penny More

On Sunday, I was supposed to run 20 miles. I was all set, or as all set as I could be. I had run 16 miles on the last long run, so this would just be a push of 4 more miles. Doable. I awoke at 4:00 a.m. on Sunday morning- that's FOUR. Four in the morning. Just to be clear, I got out of bed at FOUR A.M. to go run. I got my gear together (water bottle, hat, phone arm band, earbuds, recovery drink, and towel), ate some cereal, and got in the car.

As I drove out of my neighborhood and toward the highway to go to the meet up spot, drops of rain began falling on the winsheild. Oh, no! I was wearing a technical t-shirt and a cotton hoody. That cotton hoody would not fend off rain, it would just soak it up like a sponge. Yuck. I seriously considered turning around and re-gearing. "No, just go," I told myself. It was 65 degrees, and I could run without the hoody in the rain. I had a hat, would keep rain out of my eyes. At this temperature, that would make running in the rain not too bad.

How the sky looked at 4 a.m.
I turned onto Mopac and began driving south. The rain was serious, no-kidding rain now. There were grumbling sounds in the distance, and as I approached downtown, those grew into unmistakable thunder sounds, soon accompanied by unmistakable lightning flashes. Oh, no. This was getting really bad. The temperature had dropped ten degrees. I parked and sat in my car in the pouring rain. The sky lit up with lightning. Another person in my running group tapped on my window and said that the group run was cancelled. I drove back home and went back to sleep.

When I awoke, there was no sign of rain and I pulled myself together. "I've got to run," I thought, "because the 23 mile run will be impossible without this one." You see, I had convinced myself to train for a marathon. I ran a full marathon in 2010, and I have one of those 26.2 stickers on my car. I wanted to re-earn the sticker, to prove again that I could run a ridiculous distance and not die. I had paid the pricey change fee to switch from half to full for the 2013 Austin Marathon. I was committed.

Then I did this run. I logged onto MapMyRun, which will help you track a workout route in one of two ways. The phone app I have is great- I can just turn on the app and hit "record" and it will draw a map of where I have run. It will let me know how far I've gone and how fast, using the phone's GPS. Another way to use it is to open up their web page and pull up a map and draw your route on there. It shows you how far your route is and where each mile marker is. I drew a 14 mile square route from my house up to Pflugerville, and back. I grabbed my water bottle and stashed some cash in my Spibelt and left.

I ran up Dessau, which after two blocks ran out of sidewalks. I ran on the grassy median for about four miles. It was not so bad, except when I saw a bit of rebar jutting randomly out of the ground. There was a Coke can nearby, and I jammed it over the end of the dangerous metal. From then on, I watched the ground in front of me like a hawk. I ran to Pflugerville Parkway, from which I could see Loop 45, and turned left, running up an incline and into a strong wind. I ran past cows and was mostly in the country for a while. As I was looking over at the cows, a hawk swooped down out of a tree, soared across the field, and flew right in front of me! Wow! That was the closest I've ever been to a hawk.

At about 7 miles, it was time to turn again. I turned left and stopped in to buy a bottle of water. I filled up my water bottle and dropped in a fizzy tab of Nuun, which contains electrolytes without adding sugar. I ran on, through lovely neighborhoods with nice, wide sidewalks.

At around ten miles, I started feeling discomfort. My feet were beginning to feel tingly and tired, my back was starting to hurt a little. I decided to focus on running with good form, which I knew would prevent my back from really becoming painful. From there, I was really counting the miles and looking for landmarks. The neighborhoods ended, and I had to cross the road at an intersection hosting a Dairy Queen, a Taco Bell, and a Wendy's. The smell of that place was awful. None of the pleasant, come-hither smells of fast food- only the grease odor prevailed. I couldn't wait to get out of there.

On I pressed, southward. I was in the country again, just fields around me. I heard a sudden "bap!" immediately to my right. I turned my head just in time to see a dove having just been hit by a car, flapping his wings in an attempt to fly, and then getting smacked by a second car, and falling helplessly to the ground. Oh, very sad. I looked for meaning in this incident, but I guess sometimes things collide in this world.

Oh, back into my home territory! I began checking my mileage every 15 minutes. 13.5, 13.75, still nowhere near 20 and not even 16. I decided I would head back into my neighborhood and just circle around till I hit 16, the distance of my last long run. I was at 14.75 in my neighborhood, and my body was in ridiculous pain. When I ran, the pads of my feet cried out in pain. When I walked, it was the backs of my knees that were on fire. I started just walking, unable to trot anymore. My inside voice was telling me to lie in the grass. "But... the neighbors will think I've died." Lie down lie down.... "No! I'm walking home!" And I did, limping, I made it home having registered 15.5 miles.

And right then and there I decided that I am not running a marathon. If 16 kill me, then ten more than that are not going to work at all. So I'll have to be happy with 13.1 in February. There should be a sticker that says, "I was going to run another 26.2 so that I could feel like I still deserve this sticker, but instead I'm going to run 13.1 because I don't want to hurt myself like that." It would say that but in a cooler, more concise way.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Here's a Novel Idea

As it turns out, November is known to many people across the country as NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

I learned this last month in October, when I Googled "writing" (because I want to do more of that) and the internets guided me to the NaNoWriMo web page. Here, I learned how people take the challenge each year to write a 50,000 word novel within the time constraint of 30 days in November. 

"No plot, no problem!" is their motto. Doesn't matter if you don't have an outline or a plot graphed or any characters developed. You just start writing and you write and write until you're finished, hopefully at 50k and hopefully by November 30. If you succeed, you win. Winners may purchase a winner's circle t-shirt or NaNoWriMo hoody sweatshirt.

If you know about me and competitions, you know that I MUST HAVE THAT TSHIRT. Therefore, I must win, and therefore, I must be writing.

So that's where I am this November. I am writing a novel. Currently at 28,738 words.

And by the way, don't laugh. Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and Sara Gruen's Water For Elephants were both products of NaNoWriMo, and last time I checked, those both made the New York Times Best Sellers list.

What's in your novel?

Saturday, October 27, 2012


This week, I had the opportunity to attend the Texas Conference for Women. I went several years ago with a group from work. Martha Stewart was the keynote. Which sounds impressive, except that this was during the time of her troubles with the law, and did she, a most powerful woman in the world speak on this? No. She showed us pictures of Turkey Hill and her hydrangeas and reminded us that she makes a magazine we might want to buy. I was shocked at the lack of fascinating content that she cranked out that day. Nevertheless, that year this conference rocked my world a little, and introduced me to Julie and Julia and other wonderful books and ideas that inspired me.

For a few years, this conference went to Houston so I did not go there for it. But this year, it came back to Austin, and I got to go!

imgres.jpgimgres.jpgIt started off with Charlotte Beers, whom I had never heard of before, but I will never forget her. For one thing, she is from Beaumont, where I am from. But then she made her way to become CEO of  big deal advertising firms and Undersecretary of State (senior deputy) to Colin Powell. Her book is I'd Rather Be in Charge, and she wants to empower women to be outstanding communicators and powerful professionals. Her articulacy moved me. I can't wait to read her book.

Then there was Brene Brown, who is the most downloaded TED Talks speaker. She speaks about how important it is to allow vulnerability in yourself, and her book is Daring Greatly. Here is her TED video:

The speaker/author/person I really fell in love with at this conference is Danielle LaPorte. She simply drips with wisdom and deep spirit and authenticity. She spoke about getting real and doing away with what you don't need. She did an entire session called "Your Big, Beautiful Book Plan," where I took 4 pages of notes. She spelled it all out. She is amazing, and I am going to read everything she's got. Here's a video of Danielle from

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Macrobiotics... It's complicated

I read the Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics. It was not what I expected. I thought it might be easy. Like, "eat vegetables."

But it's about the energy of the universe, which is slightly more complicated.

The book starts with yin and yang. Really the whole thing seems to be about yin and yang. Everything in the world is yin or yang, yin being expansive and yang being constrictive. People are yin or yang, with yin being more feminine and yang being masculine. Yin attracts yang and vice versa. Yin repels yin and vice versa. Everything changes, and what is yin becomes yang. Everything has both yin and yang in it. Foods are yin and yang, and macrobiotics is about keeping these forces in balance within your diet.

I hate to say this. I do not want to be disrespectful, but ugggh...

No beef (extreme yang), no chicken (even more yang + crazy chicken energy), no eggs. No caffeine, no dairy (food for baby cows is not good food for adult humans). No sugar. No nightshade vegetables, so tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes are out. Pretty much no alcohol, though you can sip on some beer if you need a little yin balance. Very little salt. Nothing spicy. No microwaving. No freezing.

What do you eat? Whole grains. Certain vegetables, but keeping in mind their yin/yang business and balancing that. A little bit of pickled stuff. And seaweed. Yup. Seaweed.
Photo from "How to Heal with Macrobiotic Foods" at 

This is entirely more woo-woo than I was prepared for.

What the author did say over and over again is that if you get nothing else out of it, eat whole grains each day. Whole grains will make you feel good, focused, and light. And chew your grains- chew each mouthful 25, 50, ideally 100 times so that you really get the nutrition and energy out of them. Keep doing that and then come back if you want to, so you can go, as she says, whole hog.

I  couldn't help but think of the movie Bernie where the last thought that Bernie had before he shot Mrs. Nugent four times in the back is that he cannot bear the idea of having dinner with her again, watching as she chews each mouthful twenty. five. times.

So now I know, and I wish I didn't. I'm just not prepared to give up coffee, craft beer or cupcakes. I will continue with the occasional macrobiotic lunch and I will chew up whole grains regularly and see what happens. Maybe someday if I become more enlightened, I can do this. For now, I'll just be chewing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


For a few weeks now, I have been eating lunch once or twice a week at a restaurant that serves macrobiotic foods. I chose it because it is quiet and serene. I can go there and read a book or write in my journal and eat a delicious, nurturing meal. I am really loving that. But what I’ve noticed is that I feel really good! The food feels so clean and healthy, but at the same time it is as comforting as if my grandmother prepared it. I have brought three people now to eat lunch there with me. I am going to make this a habit.

The thing is, until yesterday, all I knew about macrobiotics is that it’s vegetarian and in-season foods. Yesterday, I learned just a smidge more, that the different kinds of foods on the plate have energy. Grains are calming. That’s all I know so far, except that this food is really good and a great fit for my direction toward my best health and fitness. A book has been recommended to me, The Hip Chick’s Guide to Macrobiotics, by Jessica Porter. I bookstore-read the first chapter, and I can’t wait to read the whole thing.  But I’m over my book budget by a lot... Ooh! Public library. Hah.