Saturday, November 29, 2014

Logging, revisited

I need to log my triathlon workouts and progress. After my initial review, I had decided to try the Beginner Triathlete app, but it just didn't capture my interest.

A local coach I have considered working with uses the Training Peaks app, so I decided to play around with it on my computer. I decided to take advantage of the 7-day trial the premium version, and I was having fun planning out workout ideas and playing with it.  Then I thought, maybe I could just use the basic version. The one thing I wanted that the basic version does not include -- you guessed it -- is the ability to plan out workouts ahead of time. So I think I will be investing in that if I stay interested through the free trial period.

It also connects with Garmin Connect, should I ever get a compatible device. I still feel a little iffy about spending that kind of money on one, at least as long as my heart rate monitor is still working. I am kind of hoping someone I know will get the new fancy one and be looking to unload an older version for cheap. I put one on my Elfster wish list, just in case there is ever one of those contests where you win your wish list there....

Friday, November 28, 2014

I blame it on the wetsuit

Let's recap:

On Sunday, I did a hard swim workout, race day. This was super-fun and I enjoyed challenging myself.

On Monday, I did a 20-minute run at 7 a.m. and then a hard bike ride at 7 p.m.  Fine so far -- I took it a little easier on the bike ride because I was tired from the run.

On Tuesday, I did a rowing class at 7 a.m. I knew that I was tired from the day before and I had some weird aches and pains. I told myself I would take it easy and just enjoy the workout. Then I got caught up in the class, and the instructor cheering me on, and "went for it."

"It" turned out to be back pain.  I have never in my life felt so bad. I limped through the rest of the day -- I had work to do and meetings until 4 p.m., and then I went home to lean on an icepack and watch Mad Men reruns.

I still had some thoughts of trying to do the 5K I was scheduled to do on Thursday. I thought I would be back to normal the next day.

I woke up Wednesday with some soreness but could walk without pain, mostly. I took it easy most of the day, doing normal activity but no working out. I had family in town and picked up my nephew and felt a twinge, but other than that, was feeling better.  I picked up my packet. I went to bed and set the alarm as if I were going to the race.

Thursday morning I knew I shouldn't do the race. I thought about walking, but as we can see from my history, telling myself to take it easy is not a reliable strategy. If I tried to walk, I might run and then I might hurt myself and miss my chance to enjoy time with my family. No way.

Today it's Friday and I am still sore. I am thinking that setting my big goals caused me to overreach a bit. I need to find a balance between being motivated and being a lunatic.  I know that it is possible. I just have to give myself permission to be a badass only ONCE per 24-hour period.

But the wetsuit does look a bit like a superhero outfit, so I think it's an easy mistake to make.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Why I'm NOT representing Enell at a Turkey Trot this morning

Living turkey

I was supposed to be running a turkey trot right now in my role as Enell Brand Ambassador. Instead, I'm on the sofa, babying my sore back.

I overdid it this week. Instead of doing a taper like a sane person, I did two workouts on Monday, a run and a hard bike ride. Then I went to a rowing class, and got a little carried away.  I didn't feel it during the workout, but when I stopped and stood up, I was in excruciating pain.

I'm definitely grateful NOT to have pain like this most of the time. I don't know how people function. I had to work all day, and was hobbling because it hurt to walk or stand.  People asked me all kinds of questions about whether it was muscular or skeletal -- I didn't know because I had never had real back pain before.

I took it easy when I got home from work, watching Mad Men reruns while leaning on an icepack.  The next day I woke up sore but I could walk. Today my back is tender but not terrible.  I considered going to the race and trying to walk, but I know myself too well -- I'd get carried away and want to run. I don't want to risk re-injuring myself. Once I decided to bail I was sure it was the right decision.

At least the entry fee went to a great cause, Hospice of Northwest Ohio.  I will find an opportunity to make this up and represent Enell when I'm healthy and fit.

Monday, November 24, 2014

A rainy morning.

I was not happy to notice rain coming in the back of my garage this morning.

I called someone weeks ago to get a quote and he is still not getting back in touch with me, so I am going to have to find someone else. My husband is supposed to ask the shop teacher for names, and he keeps forgetting too. Any blog readers have a good contact in Toledo for small construction projects?

I almost thought about going to run at the gym, because it was raining pretty hard. It calmed down for most of my run and I thought I had gotten away with it, and then the sky opened up.

I took a break from the rain under the covered bridge to show how hard it was raining.

I took a picture to show how soaked I was but you can't really tell. That jacket was stuck to me.

The rain stopped just as I was getting in my car. Isn't the light in this next photo amazing? You don't get a view like that from the treadmill.

I really prefer to run outside in almost any weather to the drudgery of the treadmill.  I'm glad I got out today, as I'm not going to get many more 50+ degree days in 2014.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

If you have an hour and a half to spare...

The daily-blogging thing really got away from me this week.

A friend from one of my online communities posted the link to this video. The audio is really interesting but the video is useless because it focuses only on the doctor and not the slides.  I treated this like a podcast and listened to it while I worked on laundry and other things.

Some key interesting points:

  • Bariatric medicine is not just about weight loss
  • Doctors should focus on improving health, not just lowering weight
  • Doctors should focus on behavior goals, not weight goals
  • Stopping weight gain is the first goal in treating obese patients
  • Each person should be treated as an individual, not given a one-size-fits-all solution

Lots of other good stuff here as well. His major point is that weight is not a reliable proxy for health. If doctors adopted this approach, it would require a paradigm shift.

I am adding his blog to my reader -- some great insights here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Wish I were there

Mackinac Island, July 2014

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The road ahead

In a few weeks I'll be turning 44, and I just lived through the death of my father. Not surprisingly, I have been thinking a lot about the direction my life is going and whether I'd like to make any changes.  I'm thinking that it's time to at least start exploring the possibilities.

Some things I definitely don't want to change. I'm happy with my marriage and family life (just in case you were wondering, Jesse) and I like where I live.

I know I'm ready to start pushing myself more physically, which is why I put together an aggressive set of goals for next year's triathlon season. I'm going to put some time into building strength this winter, and I also have picked up rowing classes as a new item in the rotation, which works my arms, back, core, and legs.

I also want to take a few more smart risks (no jumping off buildings). Life is too short to postpone going after my dreams. I'm still working on some of the details, but I want to take some steps toward a better, more fulfilling life.  I will keep you all posted.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Training log fail

I just don't do well with logging my training. I managed it for a week.

I went to "catch up" my log using my old Polar F7, and found that the diary erases itself every new calendar week. So that's completely useless. It's worthwhile for seeing the heart rate during the workout, but that's it.

I seem to be failing at every possible method.  Maybe I need something like Garmin Connect that just logs for me as long as I start the thing up? The feature is available on some lower-cost watches, like the .

Maybe I should just accept that logging isn't for me?

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Race plans and free race planning calendar

I have some ambitious race goals for next year.  As I said before, I signed up for a Half Aquabike at Cedar Point's Rev3 Challenge. I am also committing to several other races as warmups, including my third try at an Olympic distance triathlon.

I was looking for a template for a planning calendar like the one above all over the web and couldn't find one.  If you'd like to use it, you can download a blank version of the calendar above as a PDF for printing, or as a Word Document so you can modify as you'd like.

Do you have any big race plans for next year?

Brooke's Skinny Snowman Challenge

I have been in a Weight Watchers slump since mid-September, so I decided to re-energize my healthy habits by joining Brooke's Skinny Snowman Challenge. I have never joined it before, but I think I need it this year. Plus it means I will have support from some of my Fitbloggin' buddies. I think it should be fun.

Brooke is charging $5 to enter the challenge, which includes access to a private Facebook group, the materials to use to participate plus a chance to win prizes. She hadn't charged in past years, but I'd prefer to be part of something where people pay at least a small fee so that there is a smaller, more serious group.

I have already been testing out the challenge chart, which reminds me a lot of Gretchen Rubin's Resolutions Chart, with daily habits that will contribute to weight loss (or maintenance) success:
Some of the challenges you’ll have to complete to get points are drinking water, logging your food, and finding positives in every day. There are also weekly mini challenges to complete for bonus points.
Brooke didn't ask me to promote her challenge but I think it's a great way to stay on track so I wanted to pass the link along to my followers.  Let me know if you decide to participate!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Have you tried Canva?

NaBloPoMo fail: I meant to publish this yesterday, but forgot. I'll catch up by posting a second time later today:

My digital portfolio

If you haven't tried Canva yet, I recommend you try it. I created the header to this blog and the document above using this free, simple tool. It allows anyone to create professional-looking documents, blog headers, and pin-worthy images. 

Canva allows you to upload your own photos and use a lot of free, professional-looking design elements (everything I have used so far was free) and also has premium elements available for only a dollar.  Once you finish your design masterpiece, you can send a link to it, save it as a PDF, or save it as an image file.

The only drawback I have found so far is that clickable links do not seem to work on mobile devices, only desktop/laptop machines. That is a very big drawback if you are (like I was) planning to send your portfolio with links to someone who might open it on a phone or tablet and think it didn't work.  

The authoring tools are also only available for desktop/laptop machines so far, but that is less of a drawback.

Have you tried Canva? What did you use it for?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Check me out on the Enell blog

I'm the guest blogger on the Enell blog today, so please go check out my post.

Then come back and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The trouble with selfies

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

I purchased a  and  to help me take better Gwynnie Bee outfit photos (and for other uses).   The equipment is okay, though the tripod is a little tippy (I wish I had purchased the  instead).

Testing the shutter
The problem wasn't so much the equipment as the fact that it's really hard to get the angle right. If I use the front-facing camera, there is a weird fisheye effect that causes some strange distortions.

Huge hand!
If I use the rear-facing camera, I can't see what I'm doing and it's up to chance to get a decent shot.

Corey Poppy Handkerchief Hem Dress by Gwynnie Bee

Awkard fake smile
It's also hard to smile naturally alone.  I just felt weird. And of course, there is my tendency to close my eyes when the shutter goes off.

Fun fact: I close my eyes in about one out of three photos

Another stiff, awkward face
Something I had not anticipated is how hard it is to get a flattering angle, especially when I can't see what the photos look like.

Under the chin is not the best angle for photos
This dress is comfortable but I'm not so sure it photographs well.  Or maybe it is just photographer error? Do you have any selfie tips for taking natural and flattering photos?

Monday, November 10, 2014

Do you want an honest blog, or a happy-perfect one?

I often admit when I've had a bad day or when I make a less-than-perfect choice. I think that's important -- I could easily give you a happy-perfect blog by only telling about the good stuff.  But I think that would be pretty boring, and I imagine most readers would too.

I'm trying to do things in a certain way, which I don't know if everyone understands and I'm sure not everyone agrees with. I'm trying to make my changes in such a way that I genuinely enjoy them and can keep them up long-term. I'm making the changes I'm ready to make. In the meantime, I'm happy with myself the way I am. That's what Perfect in Our Imperfections is all about.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

What I did last week

So far I have been keeping up with my training log at beginner It's simple and straightforward.  

Sunday: Masters' swim practice.  It felt pretty intense.
Monday: Warmup walk for 5 minutes, ran 20 minutes, walked 3 minutes, cool down walk was a little more than 5 minutes.  Went to the park and ran on the new bridge at Wildwood Metropark.
Tuesday: Rowing class
Wednesday: Rowing class
Thursday: Spin class
Friday: Same run workout as Monday in the evening at the quarry.
Saturday: Short home kettlebell routine.

I tend to fall off my Weight Watchers logging on the weekends -- missed part of Friday and all of Saturday. Getting back on it right now. 

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Busy day

I went on a field trip to the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn and had no time to post. Here is how I look with a headscarf:

Friday, November 07, 2014

"I'm the kind of person who ______"

I really believe a lot of life is about how you complete that sentence. I realized in my Weight Watchers meeting this last week that I was subconsciously telling myself, "I'm the kind of person who has a lot of trouble losing weight." Changing that perceived identity to, "I am the kind of person who will get to her goal weight," is going to take a little work. But just in the last week, I changed from thinking "I'm the kind of person who doesn't like to plan meals ahead" to "I'm the kind of person who likes to know what she's eating for her next meal."

Today I met a friend for lunch and I had good intentions. I was going to order the grilled chicken salad with fruit and balsamic vinaigrette on the side.  Instead, I rolled with peer pressure and ordered a (light) pasta dish and split an appetizer and dessert. And I didn't like being the kind of person who overate at lunch all that much, especially when I tried on clothes and felt self-conscious of my very full belly, which seemed huge.
It was a beautiful day and I hadn't worked out yet, so when I got home, I changed into running clothes and got out there. I took a couple of pictures to remind myself that I'm the kind of person who likes running.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Heart rate monitors, continued

Note: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. 

Yesterday, I posted this image of my HRM after a hard rowing workout. That number was higher than I'd seen before, but several people said it was possible, especially as a temporary high number. I felt fine so I didn't think much of it, except to congratulate myself on being fit enough to work that hard and recover from it quickly.

But then today, during my Spinning workout, I noticed that my chest strap was really uncomfortable, to the point of being unbearable. I tried to adjust it and found it was broken.

Luckily, we had some other chest straps around the house and I found three that works -- so there is one for me, one for my husband to use with the other watch, and one spare. But I also added a  to my wish list. If I'm going to eventually need something new, I'd like the GPS capability. This one comes in teal and purple -- I prefer the purple, of course.  There are much more expensive Garmin options, but I can't even come close to justifying their expense to myself, let alone anyone else. This model is comparable to anything else that I would like, and it has the Garmin Connect function, which would work with the triathlon logging app I'm using.  I will continue to use what I have until I get something new or it stops working.

Inspired by my food service experience, I made up a big batch of an egg casserole, sort of a crustless quiche with kale.  I had some today and it was delicious. I also made my Quinoa and Edamame Salad, which is best served cold.

12 eggs, cooked kale, skim milk, 2 slices sprouted bread cut into cubes (optional), herbs, feta, salt & pepper 
Finally, moving forward from my Dr. Dennis Gross trial, I'm starting a new experiment with the . I took my before photo last night, making sure to avoid the distracting purple walls this time.  I used the first dose last night, and though my skin was a little itchy this morning, it doesn't seem too irritated, which is a good sign. I'll see how I do with the sample before opening the full-sized bottle. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

What I am learning from The Fitness Shack's Food Revolution service

I have been going to a new gym, The Fitness Shack, which is conveniently located between my house and work.  It was started by Renee Mason, an MD who wanted a way to help her patients get healthy.  

I had heard about the gym from my friends who raved about both the Food Revolution service they offered and the classes. I started out by buying a few fitness passes.  I have been especially loving the rowing classes. So when they offered a "Five Pack" that included their food and fitness classes, I decided to give it a try. 
I'm a good cook and I feel like a health and fitness expert after all my years working on weight loss, but I'm finding that not only is this food convenient, but it's teaching me a lot.

1. My day is happier when I know what I'm having for dinner. Tonight I teach a class from 6:00-8:30. I come home from my evening classes exhausted. If I don't have a healthy meal planned and ready for me when I get home, chances are that I will go rummaging through the fridge and pantry for whatever is convenient.  Tonight's dinner is not just already planned, it's already cooked and ready to be heated up.  

Tonight's dinner (including a small dessert)
2. I don't need as much food as I think I do.  The portions look small to me, so yesterday I added half a cup of plain fat-free Greek yogurt to the Baked Oatmeal breakfast.  I ended up feeling so full that I saved half of it for a midmorning snack.

3. I need to pack a lunch. I pack a lunch every day for my husband, so I should pack myself a lunch at the same time.  I ended up getting two of the Five Packs, so I used some of the meals for dinners and some for lunches. It has been so easy having my lunch already packed. Even if I end up eating it at home, it is really simple to have things already planned, packed, and tracked. I have been supplementing the lunches with a piece of fruit and some extra veggies.

Today's lunch and late afternoon snack
4. Food doesn't have to be just cooked to be delicious. I have been hearing the tip to precook on Sunday evenings for years, but it wasn't until trying this service that I actually thought I might want to do that.  I am not usually a fan of leftovers.  I am that person who brings half her dinner home from a restaurant and doesn't really want it the next day.  But this food is great, especially if I can warm it in the oven.  I am finally thinking about ways that I could plan similar meals that I could cook over the weekend for weeknight dinners.

5. Sometimes time is more valuable than money.  It really isn't in our budget to do something like the Food Revolution every week. For the two of us, it would cost $300 per week. We could definitely cook at home more cheaply than that, but during busy times like the first few weeks of school, it would be worth the extra cost to stay on track and not have to worry about weight gain.  And this is much cheaper than takeout and way healthier. 

I had only been doing this service for two days before my weigh-in at Weight Watchers, and I was down 1.4 pounds this week.  I'm hoping that I can take what I learned from this week using the service and start to see similar results on my own. To be honest, I am also going to start paying attention to how much we really spend on groceries so I can see how the price of Food Revolution compares with cooking at home -- maybe it is closer than I think. 

Have you ever tried a meal service? Did you get good results?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

My day in photos

Today was one of those get-things-done days. Not necessarily exciting, but productive:

I did a 7:00 a.m. rowing class.

I rocked the vote.

I got two heart rate monitors with dead batteries re-energized.

I tackled my messy desk -- the rest of the messy office will have to wait.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I have felt an itch to clean things out, get rid of stuff, and simplify. Maybe it's fall -- I'm shedding my leaves (or piles of paper).  Whatever it is, I'm taking advantage of the impulse. 

Monday, November 03, 2014

All fired up: Just committed to the Rev3 Aquabike Half at Cedar Point next September

Regular readers of this blog will know I have been toying with the idea of an Aquabike for a while now. I even have a wetsuit. Today, a member of the Athena triathlon Facebook group posted a special discount code for the Rev3 Triathlon series (enter JSTRI15 for 10% off). The Cedar Point race is very close to me, and several members of my tri club have done it and loved it.

I decided to sign up for the Half Aquabike: 1.2 miles swimming, 56 miles biking, and no run.  This will be the furthest distance I have ever raced.  Skipping the run makes it possible, but definitely not easy.  I have done a 50-mile bike ride once, at a leisurely pace with a break for lunch, so I have some work to do. My goal is to finish in around 4 hours and 30 minutes.

This goal is just scary enough to be motivating -- I have plunked down quite a lot of money in entry fees, and I had better be ready.

Triathlon training logs: 6 popular options

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

I want to get more serious about my triathlon training and I think I need to start keeping better records (and maybe even planning my workouts better).  The problem is, I have a terrible history with this. I have bought lots of those little weekly calendars with the goal of making them a workout log, only to abandon them in a few days.

I asked the women in the Athena Triathletes group I belong to for suggestions.  Here are some of the more popular ones and let you know what I have decided (for now) to use:

: This looks like a seriously cool piece of equipment, and it also has automated workout logging. Most of the serious triathletes I know have something like this for collecting data on their workouts. It can be purchased  as well.  I think this is super-cool, but it's $399 (and up), so it's not going to happen. And even though I love gadgets, I'm pretty clumsy with this kind of thing and probably wouldn't use it to its full capacity.

: On the opposite end of the spectrum, this was a surprisingly popular method, especially considering that triathletes tend to love their gear. It makes sense, though, that with multiple workouts and multiple sports, a plain old notebook might have more flexibility to record any information necessary and, of course, the cost can't be beat.

: This is the method that I have tried (and failed with) the most often. There are so many beautiful weekly planners out there, why not just use one of these, which already have dated pages? The problem is that for some reason, this method just never works for me. One problem with these is that the weekends usually have the least space, when most athletes I know do their longer, more complex workouts on the weekends.

: Of all the pre-printed training logs out there, this was, not surprisingly, the most popular with triathletes. This is designed to prompt the athlete to record the data that could be the most useful in spotting problems (resting heart rate, weight, fatigue, injuries). Unlike some other training diaries, this allows space for two workouts per day, which is typical for triathletes juggling three sports plus strength and flexibility workouts. I was tempted by this option.

TrainingPeaks App: This app seems to be very popular because it not only allows an athlete to log any kind of workout with lots of detail, it also allows them to share their workouts with a coach or a training partner. There is a free version and a premium version, and though it looks like the free version offers a lot of features, including syncing information from a Garmin device, there are a lot of analysis tools that are only available in the premium version.

This looks like a great app and it is one of the options I am considering. I'm thinking that it looks a little complex for a beginner, though, and I might not need all the tools it offers.

BeginnerTriathlete App: I decided to start with the mobile app offered by, which was recommended by several of the athletes on the forum. I have always liked the BeginnerTriathlete site, which isn't the most attractive website out there but does have great information. It looks simple, while still offering all the features I think I'd want, including body measurements and self-ratings of sleep, fatigue, and soreness. It seems flexible enough to add any kind of workout. It also allows Garmin sync capability, so if I ever hit the lottery, I guess I'll be ready.

I just logged my swim from last night and I liked that it had an open notes field so I could put in the workout I did along with my general notes about how it felt.

I think it's more important to choose a method and get tracking than to choose the most perfect tracking method ever. What training diary do you use? Do you find it fun to log your workouts or does it just feel like a big chore?

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"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07