Sunday, May 31, 2009

Free is just as good

I got a text from my mom this morning wanting to know the website I use to track my calories. I'm excited that she wants to keep up with the walking now that she's back home. I use no fancy equipment. I am not a member of a gym and I use all free services online to track my running paths, look for hikes and track my weight. You can too without spending any money. 

The two things I invested in was a descent watch - mainly for stopwatch to track the times of my runs and really good running shoes. I got the Timex Ironman watch at REI. Unfortunately it does not have a heart rate monitor, but I bought it before I started running. I'd like a watch with GPS with heart rate monitor, but every time I talk myself out of it because I've had such great success with this watch, I don't need to get another watch. Normally I choose to run without music. I get into a cadence with my steps and breathing that I don't need music to keep me going. Although sometimes I just want something to pump me up. This cool watch came with an iPod dongle that plugs into my iPod Video Nano so I can throw the iPod in the back pocket of my running shirt and have all the controls on my watch to change volume and track! It's pretty cool for that and works really well. The only thing is I do run in parks and the streets of my neighborhood and it's important to hear people and cars, so don't pump the music up too loudly! 

Having the proper shoes is really important for running. I started out just using the tennis shoes I had in my closet. It's important for me that when I start a new activity I like to see if I actually like it and get in the habit of it before I pour any money into it. I ran in these shoes for about 10 weeks before I made the commitment of new shoes and man I'm glad I did. My coworker recommended a place in Campbell, CA called Running Revolution. They were absolutely phenomenal in finding the right pair of shoes for me and my husband. 

The first thing we did with the sales lady was took off our shoes and walked across the room barefoot. This was so they could see the natural structure of our walk. I happen to pronate on my right side, which means my ankle rotates inward when I walk. I had no idea before. She then selected shoes that are designed to help pronation. I also got special soles in the shotes called Superfeet. I actually had these in my previous running shoes and she asked me why because I didn't know I pronated before. I said they felt more comfortable when I walked in them at REI. Yes, they were an up-sell, but I obviously made the right decision on the comfort factor because they helped my ankles and knees stay in place. 

After selecting a pair of shoes that fit comfortably for me, they put us on the treadmill to watch us run for about 30 seconds. They took out a small video camera and taped us running from behind. Then we stopped and all watched on playback to see what we look like when running. Our ankles were in line and everything else they look for was good. I've never had a more pleasant purchasing experience. Oh, by the way, I walked out with a pair of shoes 1/2 a size larger than my foot. So when you run your feet swell a bit and the impact of your foot to the pavement makes the print of your foot wider, so by going up a 1/2 size, you allow for this to happen. I never knew that. Now, your feet should not be coming out of the shoe, so be careful. They gave us a 10% discount because a coworker recommended them and we traveled a distance from Palo Alto just to go to the store. I believe the shoes were about $90 each, so if you look around at shoes, that's a pretty good price. I also learned that you are to replace your running shoes every 300 - 400 miles! For some people that is every few months, but for me that's a bit longer. 

So tracking the mileage on my shoes and tracking the distance of each run go hand in hand. At first I was trying to track mileage with my car. Do you remember doing that as a kid with your parents? The same coworker that told me about the shoe place, also recommended a website that uses Google Maps, but for running! You can put a start point on the map and select point that it will automatically map and track the mileage. You can have it specify to stay on the road so you don't have to be to precise with your selected points, or you can go off road and map around parks. It's MapMyRun.com and they are fantastic. 

This is where I keep my entire workout calendar. It's free and I think it does the trick for what I need. It can be a tad tricky to navigate, but once you get the hang of it, I think it does a pretty good job. If you do have a GPS device or a Nike device, they can easily update in the feature so you don't have to map your steps. When you start, you'll set up a profile that includes your height, weight etc. What I've found to be critical is being very accurate. If you do a run in 21:35, don't put in 21:00 or 21:30. Put in the correct data, if you can be so specific. This will more accurately calculate your calories. I love going back in the calendar to compare all the times of the same route. 

Tracking my weight is something I do every day. I wake up, pee and get naked before stepping on the scale. I found this widget in my iGoogle page options. I used the widget called The Google 15 before, but it sucks and I abandoned it long ago. I started a profile with this new site MedHelp.org. They have a shit load of trackers from pregnancy to cancer to anything you can think of. I only use the weight tracker. The chart function is really cool because your progress, or hopeful progress is awesome to see when the line goes down & down. I weigh myself every day despite others saying to do it once a week. I do this because I now know the complex patterns of my body. I go through good spurts and bad ones, but when the numbers go up a bit, I know why and I can help control that. Plus water is an important factor and I've learned not to get depressed and just keep pushing - the numbers will begin to decrease again soon. I've plateaued so many times, but it never lasts long because I know it's inevitable and I will never give up. 

I wanted to write all this because it is possible to work out and loose weight without paying money to join a gym or have special equipment. I love being out with nature instead of in a hot, stinky gym. I can be myself on the pavement and run without judgement. If I run by people that are looking, they can only look as long as the time it takes me to run by and not being stationary on a treadmill for 30 minutes. I think gyms are evil that give me more complexes than solving the ones I already have. You don't need any additional money to go out right now and start doing something about your life. Take back control. I posted a lot of links today. This is not a commercial, but I wanted to pass along the tools I use to others in hopes to make it more possible to get started now and not waste another day. Also, if you use something you love, please pass it along to me. I'd love to try new things! 

I myself am planning a hike for hubby and I. Time to make some PB&J sandwiches and get out there... after I finish my coffee! Happy Sunday! 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Up

Hubby and I just got back from seeing the movie Up in 3D. It was awesome and way more sad than I thought it'd be. It comes at the time where I've already been analyzing my life and what I'm doing with it. My job is pretty good. It's a small firm (about 20 people) and we're going through a lot of changes right now. 

I've been wanting to make a career change for a few months now. I have a degree in Communication Technology and Spanish. I haven't used my Spanish in a while, but I know I could work at it and be pretty fluent again. Communications is such a wide field, I'm not sure where to begin. Previously I worked as a Graphic Designer in the Marketing department and now as an Executive Assistant. I'm not sure what my passion really is. I have no idea what to look for next. I am a very organized person and loyal, so I do a fairly good job being an EA. I can't help but look at my parents. My dad owns his own company and my mom is the EA to him. I want more. I want a different future, than myself as an EA in 30 years. They have a great fit though. She knows all the work and when they get home they don't have to talk about it any longer. That's pretty cool.

One day of the weekend, hubby and I often spend on a hike. We typically do about 6 miles, but we're trying to train to hike Half Dome in Yosemite late August, so we need to train harder. But we spend the time on the hike to talk about what's next for us. We've been in California for 3 years now, and although it's fantastic, the weather is great, work is good, we have a lot of friends here etc. it just feels like we don't have any more real adventures.

I have over 4 weeks of vacation time built up. We only accrue 2 weeks of vacation per year within the first 3 years. So that means, I haven't taken a very long vacation since I started and I will very soon be accruing vacation time even faster. Now, the office is closed the week between Christmas and New Years, so we have used that time to vacation. One year we went to Las Vegas and another year we spent it with my family in Connecticut and several days in Manhattan. Friends of our are in Europe for 2 months right now and I am so jealous. Tons of people I know have taken kick-ass vacations all over the globe and I haven't had a stamp in my passport in 9 years. Something is terribly wrong with this picture and it needs to be fixed pronto. I don't want to spend the last 2 years of my 20's and into my 30's confined to a cube in a building doing stuff that's important to the company and important to my boss, but not important to me.

I have always wanted to spend my life exploring the world. I've been to several places: Germany, Holland, Austria (one trip), Mexico, Canada, Australia and Chile - all before the age of 20. I miss traveling and exploring. Now my husband on the other hand just took his first trip out of the country, for work, to South Korea! He loved it and I thought it would open his eyes so wide to want to travel more, but it's been over a year now and we're still here. We have the time to travel and we have the money to travel. I just don't know what we're missing. We've 'planned' trips to Europe a few times now, even put tickets on hold to Italy twice, but let them expire because my parents canceled their end. We should have just bought the tickets. But I want so badly to experience Italy with them. We've wanted to go since before my Nana passed away when I was 13. I can't believe we're still sitting on the pot. It blows my mind.

I would love to do our own thing, quit our jobs, move to a cheaper place to live - with equally fantastic weather - and make our own adventures every day. That's my true life's goal is to be my own boss and do what I want, wherever we are. I want to be a part of something bigger than I could ever be. Volunteer my time around the world to help communities in need. I do not want to be chained to a chair in an office building with no direct sun light. I want more and I want it now. I realize things take time, but I'm trying to bring it together and make it happen. I want to enjoy the best years of my life on the open road with my husband experiencing the world.

Challenges

It's always a challenge to host guests and keep my routine. Hosting and my routine do not go hand in hand. It's really difficult to balance the two. Often times I still go to work at least one of the days we have guests and then take another day off into the weekend, but balancing my everyday lifestyle with the lifestyle of those that are here on vacation is almost impossible. Often times my drive goes out the window, but sometimes it gets cranked up. 

We had friends in town about a month ago and I was so motivated to prove to them I'm a fit person, I woke up early before going to wine country for the day and did a 2 mile run! I was able to get out, run, shower and start the coffee before anyone else was awake. I felt killer good. But then when my parents were in town, I found it difficult to wake up early before work to run. I was delusional to think I could go to work, come home and run before dinner, like I usually do. 

I'm a fat girl at heart and I will struggle for the rest of my life to keep this weight off. It's not going to be easy, but I'm determined to not be a fat girl. As I sit here on my couch with my cup of coffee this Saturday morning, I'm thinking - what activity will I do this weekend to kick my butt back in gear. The night my parents left, I got out and ran 2.71 miles. It was hard. Really hard, but I didn't want to stop, so I kept going until I got back home. It took me 27:51. I felt great afterwards. It's that post work out feeling that keeps me going. I don't like to run, but I know it's good for me. 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Getting Started

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. I can be anybody I want to be. How many times have you said these very words to yourself? How long did the commitment to yourself stick? I myself have said these very words every few years. Every time I switched schools, even semesters with different professors, and into jobs and rolls - I will be better. I can reinvent myself and be who I aspire to be. Three years ago my husband and I moved to California from St. Louis for a fantastic job for him. Four months later I also found a great job and the first thing I thought to myself is - who do I want to be? I want to be someone that is confident, intelligent, driven all the normal charastics that I thought I wasn't. Well, it didn't take too long to feel like I was "back to myself". It's amazing that I didn't think in the first place that I originally possessed these qualities. 

I noticed after I got married, I started gaining weight again. I gained about 1 pound a month for about 30 months. Then last September 29th I broke down in the car on the way home. I picked up my husband from work and I was crying by the time he came out I was in tears. I was crying so hard he had to drive home because I couldn't see the road. I was tired of complaining about being fat and not fitting in any of my clothes. I was sick of it and not doing anything about it. Well, I did try. In June I joined a gym and was going about three days a week. I joined the gym, worked out and gained 7 pounds! I was furious and I hated the gym. So I begged my husband to help me change. Two things I learned about myself were 1. I need a partner to keep me accountable that I can rely on and 2. I need to be consistent. I asked him to start running with me three times a week and make a 5 week commitment. After serious deliberation, he agreed. 

The first day I couldn't run 3 blocks! I weighed 167 pounds and was a size 12. This was the heaviest I've ever been. I did not want it to continue. I wanted us to make a commitment to each other to live a happy and healthy life for each other, for our family members, for our potential children and for our friends. I was not happy and I finally realized that I have the power to change and I was ready for the challenge. It took me 18 minutes to do my first mile that day. 

It's been 8 months now and I've consistently run three times a week almost every single week. The holidays were hard because we did some traveling, but we brought our running gear and hit the treadmill once. We did a lot of walking though and paid attention to what we at. I'm running between 3 - 3.5 miles now each day. I've lost 27 pounds to date and have about 12 more to go to reach my final goal. My 3rd wedding anniversary is coming up July 1 and it was my goal to fit back into my wedding dress at my wedding weight. I have about 4 weeks and if I continue to my goal of 1 pound / week, I think I'll make it. :P