runfreeforever

Live. Love. Run. It's what I do.

Fat Week :)

Two weekends ago was the state track meet…which means that the following week was my FAT WEEK ūüôā
Fat Week is the week immediately following State in which I 1.) am required by my coach to NOT RUN and 2.) can eat whatever I want…to a certain extent. So this being my fat week, I’ve followed my instructions well. It’s kinda hard and kinda weird to not be running every day like usual, but since I only get two fat weeks per year (one after cross country and one after track) I figure I’d better take advantage of it.

My only problem is that while it feels kinda funny to be completely free to eat whatever I want and not burn it off during my fat week, by the end of the week, I don’t want to stop. During my fat week, the only exercise I did was bike a few miles. I went to grad parties and ate plenty of cupcakes and cookies and barbecue pork sandwiches. I ate Oreos and M&Ms and a delicious chocolate cake my middle school running coach made for me:) And I made slutty brownies with some girls on my team. YUM:)

So this week I tried to start up running again and am very sad at how out of shape I feel already. I ran a mile on Memorial Day, two miles on Tuesday (all of which were slow, like 9-minute miles but I still was dying anyways) and three miles today (with my friend’s super fast friend who ran way too fast for this poor girl). I feel so out of shape! I felt like I couldn’t go any faster today and we were only running three miles at slightly under 8 minutes per mile! And then I realized that I didn’t just take a week off, it was more like three. Since I’d been trying to deal with my plantar fasciitis, I’d scaled back on my running a lot more than usual in the last two weeks of track. So now I have the lovely task of getting myself re-motivated and getting back into shape. I gotta start getting ready for cross country in August and for cross country camp in two weeks. I want to stand out this year in cross country, in a good way. Not in the “Oh wow, what happened to her that made her so slow this year” kind of standing out. I want us to have an amazingly successful season again this year like we did last year. And it all starts now. Because if I can get my aerobic base as high as possible over the summer, I’ll be that much ahead of the game when the real season starts, and I can just keep going uphill from there! I’m getting so excited!

And here’s an inspirational video to remind us all to eat our salad… and to give us an ab workout! GO CORE!!

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Are you hydrated??

As a runner, talking about pee is not taboo. My team shares bad running bathroom stories often because, hey, it happens to everyone! There’s that awkward time when you get walked in on when using a porta-potty…or when your coach almost walks in on you because you gotta go so bad that you can’t wait to use the women’s bathroom…or when you gotta go in the bushes and see another group of runners run by you and you hope they understand and that they didn’t see anything… or when you try to run into a church to use their facilities, and find yourself standing conspicuously in the doorway and the pastor invites you to join them but you can’t cuz you gotta finish your run…or when you accidentally go into the men’s side because you had to go so badly that you didn’t pay any attention to which bathroom you’re running into…I think you get the point. As runners, we all have those great bathroom stories to tell.
But your pee tells a story too. This chart or NCAA’s pee chart (here) help you read what your pee is telling you. Kinda like a palm reading. Except a pee reading. And it’s a lot more reliable. Your pee tells you how hydrated you are. If your pee is light straw-colored, you’re well hydrated and you are in a great position to perform well. But the darker it gets, the more dehydrated you are.
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Studies have shown that by the time you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. That means that your performance level is already decreased and you’re putting more stress on your body. You’re not doing yourself any favors by not drinking all day long, then downing a bottle or two of water between intervals. I’ve tried it. All you get is that lovely jiggling sloshing sound from your stomach while you run. It’s uncomfortable, annoying, and you still feel just as thirsty. Instead, keep a water bottle with you all day. If it’s in your hands or sitting on your desk or somewhere within reach, you’re more likely to drink more during the day. I’ll be honest – I can be really lazy sometimes. Really, who would want to get up to get a drink of water if you’re already comfy sitting on your couch?? Or if you’re at school and you’ve got a teacher in a bad mood or a test or a 2000 word essay to write and you can’t go out of the room to get a drink, then what do you do?? Or who would want to get off the computer while you’re blogging about water to go to the kitchen to get a drink?? The point is, if it’s in front of your face, you’ll remember to drink throughout the day so you don’t feel like passing out later on. And everyone, especially you (and the grouchy teacher), is happy.
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So keep a bottle of water on you. And look at your pee. Are you doing a good job and staying hydrated? Or do you need to make a stop by the drinking fountain before you go about your day? DO WHAT YOUR PEE SAYS. You will thank yourself later.
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Healthy vs. Weight-loss

If you ever watch TV, listen to the radio, read magazines, or are exposed at all to society, I’m guessing you’ve heard the countless advertisements for weight-loss programs, supplements, and fitness programs. All of them claim to be the best and claim to make you happy. The message we’re sent says that if you just lose 10, 15, or 30 lbs, your life will be happier, you’ll feel better about yourself, and everything will go your way. But I’d like to disagree with that perceived notion that we have to lose weight and wear a certain size and have a certain number pop up when you step on the scale. I think that an emphasis on health – living a healthy, active lifestyle and making healthy food decisions – is what’s more important than emphasizing weight-loss and dieting.

I don’t know about other people, but when I step on the scale and start worrying about the numbers I see, I have a tendency to immediately think that I’m fat and need to lose weight. I know that I’m at a healthy weight, but sometimes I think we all feel like we weigh more than we should, or think that our old jeans should fit better than they do, or wish that our swimsuits looked better on us than they do. But at least for me, worrying about losing weight makes me go down a snowballing path of worry, lack of self-esteem, a poor self-image, and obsession over food and calories. But then when I get stressed, sad, and worried I just end up eating more chocolate and ice cream. So basically, when I start worrying about my weight, I just end up less healthy than I was to start out with. I don’t think that it’s healthy when I start obsessing over food and calorie intake when I start worrying solely about my weight and the numbers on the scale. There’s so much more to life, so many other things to worry about, that I don’t think that it’s worth it to constantly worry about how many grams of fat were in that cake that I ate earlier or the chili I had for dinner. Eating disorders are scary, like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, and at least for me, worrying about the scale is a great open door for me to head down a path that I don’t want to take.

Rather than worrying about my weight, I think that it’s more effective to make a conscious effort to live a healthy lifestyle. For about the past year, I’ve tried to focus my attention much more on how healthy I am overall rather than just how many calories I’ve eaten or how heavy I am. I think that my mindset is much healthier and happier, and I am much more prone to choose better foods and keep myself fit when I focus on being healthy rather than on losing weight.

I find myself stepping on the scale less often, maybe somewhere between once a week to once a month, rather than every day. And guess what? My weight didn’t go anywhere when I wasn’t keeping an eye on it. It didn’t suddenly skyrocket, and it didn’t suddenly disappear. It just stayed where it was. Not monitoring my weight vigilantly every day, or multiple times a day hasn’t changed anything but my satisfaction with the girl I see staring back at me in the mirror. When I’m focusing on being healthy, I’m not afraid of being “fat” or spending my time worrying about just a number. Sure, I still mess up and don’t always eat healthy or get every workout in. But that’s okay, I just start over and keep going. When I focus on being healthy, I’m content with my body because I’m doing what I can to take good care of it, rather than trying to get rid of part of it. It changes the way I think about every run, every workout, and every meal. It changes my mindset to be making myself the best I can be rather than trying to take off the part of you that I don’t want. It’s a focus on my whole body, rather than just a portion of it.

Have you been focusing only on the numbers on a scale? Have you been obsessing over food and calories, and focusing on a part of your body rather than the whole thing? I encourage you to try changing your mindset on this weight-loss craze. If you focus on being healthy, on eating right and staying fit rather than on losing weight, hopefully you can get out of the pattern of stress, worry, unsatisfactory body image, and disappointment that so many of us put ourselves through!

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Kashi Dark Mocha Almond bars…YUMMM

I found a new favorite granola bar!! The Kashi Dark Mocha Almond chewy granola bars are the best!

They are delicious! They have the perfect amount of sweetness, and they’re especially great for all you coffee lovers out there. But they’re great not only for your taste buds but they’re also good for you! Their number one ingredient is whole grains and they have four grams of fiber, which leaves you full for longer. They also have no high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. They only have three and a half grams of fat, most of which are poly- or mono-unsaturated fats (the good-for-you fats that could help lower your cholesterol and improve heart health, and is found in nuts, avocados, olive oil, etc. To read more about poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, click here.)

Another plus to these tasty granola bars is their ratio of protein to carbs. these bars have six grams of protein and twenty-one grams of carbs, or between a 3:1 and 4:1 ratio. When you workout or run, especially for extended periods of time, it’s important to get both carbohydrates and protein back into your system within half an hour for proper recovery (to read more on proper recovery click here). The carbs are important to refuel your muscles’ glycogen stores so you are ready to go the next day. Protein is also important to help your muscles rebuild and repair torn muscle tissue. Both are extremely important to get your body working the best. From looking at various websites, somewhere between a 2:1 to 4:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein seems to be the rule of thumb. It may take some experimenting to see what works best for you and your body. These granola bars are right in that range though, so try them out!

When you eat Kashi’s Dark Mocha Almond granola bars, you will probably forget everything I just told you about their healthy qualities and get lost in coffee-chocolaty heaven. I’ve found them at Hy-vee and Target, and I would definitely recommend looking for a box in your own grocery store! Let me know if you love them as much as I do! ūüôā

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Vitamin C is Overrated

I think I’ve come down with the flu or something. I’m achy, have a killer headache, a runny nose, and a cough, and I feel pretty miserable in general. We didn’t have school today since it’s Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, which makes it suck even more that I don’t even get to skip school for this. I couldn’t go running today and had to cancel plans with some friends that I haven’t seen in forever. I know that the flu has been going around lately, and a bunch of people in my show choir have been sick. It probably doesn’t help that I haven’t been getting a ton of sleep lately, either.

But it makes me think, in the midst of this flu season, is there a way to prevent getting sick?? I have a friend who takes a vitamin C supplement all the time and says it helps her not get sick, but I don’t think it really works. She gave me one on Saturday and look¬† at how far that got me. According to the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, vitamin C supplements really don’t reduce the risk of getting sick or the duration or severity for most people. However, if you are a marathon runner, it can cut your risk of catching a cold by 1/2! But if you eat a healthy, balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, you are likely to get more than enough vitamin C already. Almost every fruit and vegetable contains at least a little vitamin C. So if you’re at the store looking at vitamin C supplements, you would probably do better to leave it on the shelf and don’t look back twice. Instead, head over to the produce section and pick up some oranges. Or any of the following fruits or vegetables that all contain high amounts of vitamin C:

  • Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, along with their juices
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries
  • Watermelon
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
  • Green and red peppers
  • Spinach and other leafy greens
  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Winter squash

Then go home, get plenty of sleep, drink plenty of water, and eat a healthy diet, and you’ll be doing your best to prevent getting sick!

I’m gonna go take a nap now, hope you all stay healthy!

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The Evil Cookie Monster strikes again

Merry Christmas!

nativity cliparts kids

Jingle Bells! Walking in a Winter Wonderland! Frosty the Snowman! Not-so-silent nights, family, friends, and lots and lots of food are here! Joy to the World!

To all my readers, I dearly hope that your Christmas is filled with love and joy. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I love seeing my cousins and family, singing Christmas carols, drinking hot chocolate, and Рmy personal favorite Рmaking snowmen!

Jesus’ birth is celebrated, Santa comes down the chimney, and……OH NO!!! The Evil Cookie Monster!!!!!!

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

He looks all nice and innocent but then WAIT!!! What’s that around your waistline? What? Why am I suddenly running a minute-per-mile slower than usual?? NOOOO!!!! It’s that sneaky little cookie monster!

If your extended family, neighbors, and friends are anything like mine, I’m sure you must be¬†drowning in an overload of delicious cookies and other assorted treats this holiday season. And I don’t think that I’m the only one who doesn’t stop after eating just one. Or two. Or three. Or even four…or five…..oops……¬†I mean, when there’s so many different kinds to try, you gotta test all of them, right? Just to make sure they all taste good! And then you gotta have a few more of your favorites! My family is full of amazing cooks, all of whom assure me that since it’s Christmas, I should definitely go ahead and have as many cookies as I want! But then this morning I tried running and did not like my mile times at all. I don’t think that I should attribute all of it to the few-too-many treats I’ve been eating lately. I know that the colder weather has something to with it, as well as the fact that¬†I haven’t been keeping up my miles like I should. But still. An almost-ten minute mile??? Really?? I didn’t think I was that out of shape!

So how do we fight this cookie monster? Here’s my battle strategy:

  • Eat when I’m hungry. Don’t eat when I’m not.
  • Don’t mindlessly eat (like while watching tv…or It’s a Wonderful Life or Charlie Brown Christmas!)
  • Say “no” to some food sometimes
  • Take the time to slow down and actually enjoy the delicious cookies and treats
  • Keep in mind that it is Christmas, that Christmas only comes once a year, and it won’t be the end of the world if I do eat a bit (or a lot bit) less healthy than I should this week
  • Keep running!

So I know¬†that fighting the Evil Cookie Monster at this time of year is probably a losing battle. It’s so tempting to have the plates, platters, and cute little tins sitting all over the house, just begging to be eaten. But maybe if we can eat cookies in moderation, it’ll really turn out okay in the end? Christmas will be gone before we know it and the new year will rush in faster than the snow whipping past your windshield. I’m going to enjoy my Christmas, enjoy my family, and enjoy my one or two cookies before they’re all gone!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl

I recently read a book called Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl. It’s a non-fiction book, and before I talk about it, I just want to say that lately I feel like I’ve realized that I’ve had a lot¬†of misconceptions¬†about things. Such as the idea that all non-fiction books are completely boring and would put me and all other normal people to sleep after about one sentence. This book has helped me realize how wrong I was, because it actually was very interesting to read, and I actually enjoyed reading it and wanted to read it. Crazy, huh??

Anyways, this book is a memoir by Sandra Beasley, a woman with a plethora of severe allergies. She’s allergic to¬†dairy (both from cows and goats), eggs, soy, mango, grapefruit, beef, shrimp, mustard, cashews, macadamias, pistachios, honeydew, and cucumber, just to name a few in the agonizingly long list. Despite her severe allergies which have the capability to send her into anaphylactic shock (a life-threatening allergic reaction), Beasley has learned to make the most of life despite her condition and has become a successful writer and poet.

Reading Beasley’s account of her life with these allergies has made me much more aware of the reality of food allergies. Not having any food allergies myself, I’ve never had to worry about meticulously reading ingredients lists on every food I eat, asking restaurant waiters for ingredients every time I go out to eat, or what my boyfriend eats before I kiss him, like she has had to do in order to keep herself alive.¬† Beasley addresses all aspects of living with multiple severe allergies, from the medical aspects and the common testing procedures to the social implications on everyday life. While she does use complex medical terms, and it is full of information, her personal stories from her life and sometimes humorous accounts keep the tone light and makes the book truly entertaining to read.

With allergies so prevalent in today’s society, I never realized the extent to which they can affect all of those people’s lives. I think that now that I’ve read this book, I am a lot more sensitive to allergies and my understanding of them has become much clearer. Whether you have allergies or not, I would definitely recommend reading Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl and maybe it will change your perspective on allergies as much as it changed mine.

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Eat, run, repeat…. but don’t forget to sleep!!!!!

Here’s a typical day in my life – Wake up. Eat. School. Eat. More school. More eating. Run. A lot. Eat. Homework. Eat some more. Go to showchoir/youth group/ piano lessons/ football games/whatever else I¬†need or want to¬†do. Do¬†more homework. I sleep only when I have time for it. But according to the Running Times Magazine, and I’m sure a lot of other sources would agree, sleeping is one of the most important parts of training.

According to this article from the Running Times Magazine, adequate sleep (at least 7 hours) is critical to the recovery of your muscles. Human growth hormone (HGH) is released from the pituitary gland during the third and fourth stages of sleep. It helps your muscles and bones build and repair themselves after a hard workout, and it helps the body use more fat for fuel. Sleep is also necessary for the body to properly store glycogen, the fuel stores that your body uses during a run. Too little sleep can result in more production of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can impair recovery and repair of your muscles.

How much sleep you need varies from person to person. I often get about 6 hours of sleep on the average night, but I don’t think that I’m always getting enough because I’m tired so often. I’m thinking that if I really want to PR, maybe I should work on setting a new PR on how much sleep I’m getting! And since the affects of that late-nighter kick in about two days afterward,¬†I know that I need to start making it a habit of going to bed earlier regularly! Sleep always seems to be last on my list of priorities, but really, I need to make it much closer to the top! I always am so focused on getting everything else like my running and my homework done first, and then I sleep whenever I have leftover time. It should be the other way around. I need to keep sleep at the top of my priority list and make sure that I keep sleep in my schedule.

Chicago-area running coach C.J. Welter says, “The one thing I tell all my runners is that, in the final weeks of training — or actually tapering — you can do more by sleeping than you can by running,” We only have three weeks left until the state cross country meet. It’s getting close to the weeks where we begin tapering, or backing off of our mileage and intensity of workouts so we can be rested for the state meet. As my mileage goes down, I’m going to try to increase my hours of sleep at the same rate!¬†I hope it helps!

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Dear Michelle Obama, I’m Still Hungry

This weekend I got¬†this amazing¬†new headband that says “I run so I can eat” and I’ve been wearing it almost constantly since then! It describes my life!! I run. I eat. I go to school and sleep when possible, but basically I just eat and run and eat some more. If I didn’t run, I would get so fat because of how much I eat! But on the other hand, there’s no way I could run like I do without food to fuel me through the hard workouts. That’s why the new Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act that’s now being enforced in our schools makes me so upset.

Signed into law by the president in 2010 and encouraged by Michelle Obama, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 sets new regulations on school lunches, such as calling for¬†more fruits and vegetables to be served, skim and 1% milk, and¬†lower fat and sodium content.¬†¬†I appreciate this effort to have healthier lunches. I love my grapes and carrots, I prefer skim milk to 2%, and I try to eat less fat and empty calories whether I am at school or at home. But then the act also sets the required number of calories to be between 750 and 850 calories, and no more than 12 ounces of protein (meat or meat alternative) per week. While this may be just fine for your average non-athletic student, every student is not the same! We do not all need the same amount of calories!¬†I run cross country and when we have our 10 mile days, I’m burning 1000 extra calories at practice!¬†I need my calories to get me through it and the protein to help my muscles recover! I should not¬†be distracted in the middle of my run by my stomach¬†growling since I didn’t get¬†enough food at lunch!¬†What about our football players or swimmers or volleyball players?? I’m sorry Michelle Obama, but this plan isn’t cutting it. We are unique. Don’t you encourage diversity? All students¬†are not¬†one-size-fits-all, and that applies to every aspect of life, including my lunch.

A school in Kansas made this video parody of Fun’s song “We Are Young,” titled “We Are Hungry.”

I believe they speak for all of us. We are hungry. We need food to get us through practice. If they don’t feed us enough healthy food at school, we will have to find something else, and there’s a good chance that it won’t be as healthy. Yes, keep the whole grains, the fruit and veggies, and the skim milk. Just give us more so we can make it through all 10 miles this afternoon.

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