26.2: The Double Chin Dude’s Los Angeles Marathon

This past weekend, I woke my butt up at 4:00 a.m. (the night of the time change, no less! Who decided on that?!), and prepared to drive my husband and his parents to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for Matt’s first marathon! Matt, my double chin dude, has been diligently training for the past five months, suiting up after work and going on long, long, long neighborhood runs. On Sunday, I was a bundle of nerves (he wasn’t), thinking all the worrywart scenarios that a worrywart wife would worry: Would he be hydrated? Should I be worried because of what happened in Boston? What if he got hungry? Etc, etc. We dropped him off, headed over to a Starbucks, caffeinated, and prepared to wait a little while to get breakfast before we met him at the halfway point in Beverly Hills. Look at this beautiful sunrise we were treated with!

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There is NO editing in this picture. It was truly like the sky was on fire. It makes me think it almost might be worth being up that early more often. Nah, maybe not. I like sleeping. Especially in my warm bed. Around 7:30, Matt was off! We used the Friend Finder app on the iPhone to track his progress. The app is a little bit big brother, but in instances like tracking someone in a marathon or being at a big event, it was a great idea for keeping tabs on whereabouts.

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We set up station in Beverly Hills, right along the corner of the famous Rodeo Drive. While we waited, we made signs and cheered on other runners. I didn’t think being a cheerleader would be so fun– it was such a great boost to call out someone’s name, wiggle a sign at them, and see how they lit up into a huge smile and visibly got a burst of energy from being encouraged.

After about an hour of cheering, we saw Matt’s yellow shirt in the distance! He ran right up to us, and was still in remarkably good spirits for having just run 17 miles. We showed him our signs, exchanged some quick hugs, and he was off again.

 

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Next up was our friend Jason! Jason also was in a good mood and looking remarkably chipper for running 17 miles in 80 degree heat. (With no electrolytes – the marathon ran out of Gatorade! No good.)

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Once Jason and Matt were on their way, we headed over to Santa Monica, a lovely two hour drive thanks to the families of 26,000 people trying to get to see their loved ones cross the finish line. Matt finished his first marathon in 5 hours and 20 minutes, and I’m so amazed by his efforts! While I don’t see myself as the marathon type, I think it’s an incredible physical and mental challenge. I may not be the running 26.2 miles kind of person, but I just might be the walking 60 miles type person. More on that later ;)

Matt’s advice to anyone wanting to run a marathon? “Just keep training.” What do you think? Could you see yourself crossing the finish line at 26.2? Have you? Share your stories!

(PS: Weigh in post coming soon! I missed last week but weighed in yesterday. :) )

 

 

Getting crunchy: Is going all natural helping me lose weight?

Many moons ago, some would say I was kind of a hippie. *Kind of* a hippie because I still made more garbage than I should have, and ate things like Taco Bell Bean Burritos (they were only a buck!).  But I was a little bit hippie because I wore multi-colored beanies, planted a vegetable garden in Environmental Science, volunteered to be a camp counselor for full weeks in the redwoods with screaming sixth graders, and spent my weekends in Santa Cruz, studying banana slugs and elephant seals. Here’s a picture of me at 19, oh-so-hippily wearing cornrows, rose colored glasses, a cloth purse, and standing in front of a Bob Marley statue.

Crunchy Roots, mon.

Then I went to college, and I shed all of the thematic personas I had adopted (from punk rock, to a little bit gothy, to rockabilly, to hippie). I became just me, just Alyssa, a little bit crunchy. I still loved being outside, and that’s a trait that I hope never leaves me. Even while it rained this weekend I was out in my planter boxes, plucking caterpillars off my chard and transplanting some tomatoes. However, in my young adulthood, I was decidedly uncrunchy in one way: I had no awareness of the chemicals I was putting into my body. Some of you might be groaning right now, but there’s been a big paradigm shift for me in the past year — I am WAY more conscious of the ingredients I willingly put into my body. There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about chemicals the end up in our food. How about the same material used in yoga mats, ADA, that can be found not only in Subway bread, but in Little Debbie, Jimmy Dean, Pillsbury and White Castle? Then, let’s not forget about BPA, which isn’t directly in our food, but is in the lining of canned goods, water bottles, and the trays of frozen meals? And… the one that pains me most, not only because I still feel the pull of my dark passenger (Ala Dexter) when I’m craving caffeine, but because I have to admit I was wrong, is Aspartame. I didn’t think anything of guzzling two cans of Diet Pepsi for day, and would snap at my husband when he’d warn me about what it did to lab rats. “Well, I have no choice. If I drink regular, I’ll gain weight. So I’ll either get fatter on real soda, or sick on diet,” would be my conjecture. I willingly say to the whole interwebz today, that I was wrong, and cutting diet soda, in addition to all artificial sweeteners has now helped me lose over 17 pounds. (Down another 1.4 at Weight Watchers last week!)

I didn’t really put any of these things together until I finally started losing some weight. Processed foods are OUT. I occasionally have a frozen Weight Watchers SmartOnes, or a few peeps. But for the most part, processed, low-fat foods are rare in my diet now. I’m actually using REAL butter, instead of I can’t believe it’s not butter. If I want a little bit of sweetness in my tea, I’m using real cane sugar (a teaspoon goes far). I don’t eat fast food. I don’t crave this stuff anymore, other than the occasional pull for caffeine, which I satiate with a cup of strong British tea. But is all this natural stuff, possibly the reason for the weight finally coming off? Is it because instead of focusing on CARDIO, I’m now focusing more on decreasing stress, opting for an hour of soul-soothing yoga instead of heart-pounding running? Is it because I’m not really taking my allergy medications anymore, and instead, treating them with acupuncture and allergy shots? When my family first moved to California from the Midwest, I remember my parents curiously observing some of the new “California” things around us. Things like soy milk, yoga, acupuncture, reusable grocery bags and spring mix with baby greens (instead of Iceberg). These things were so “California”, and we’d find ourselves smiling, not mockingly, but curiously, about the new “California” habits we were adopting. I can say proudly today that I am very “California”, as I’m a yoga-going, acupuncture-having, organic-tea-drinking, non-soda drinking chick. Part of it is definitely due to the ladies of Mamavation, who educate me on things I didn’t even know existed, like Obesogens. (That’s a real thing. And it’s scary.)

I’m really working on attacking my weight loss this year with a new perspective. One that’s more holistic, more integrated. That doesn’t look at the weight problem, the obesity, as just one thing to treat and control. I’m trying to integrate all aspects of wellness into it this time, and focus less on “LOSING WEIGHT” and more on “Getting Healthy.” Hopefully, weight loss will continue to be a happy side effect. This is kind of what I’m thinking: If I reduce my stress level, it helps my sleep. Quality sleep = a more fine tuned metabolism. Less aspartame? Less false insulin resistance. Regulating insulin = correct usage and storage of calories. Low thyroid? Take thyroid medication. Balanced thyroid = balanced hormones. Crackly back and popping joints? Yoga. Yoga = limber muscles.  I’m no scientist, but I think I’m on to something.

Today, I want to hear about a small change you’ve made that feels a little bit crunchy granola, because let’s face it, some of these changes can feel a little bit awkward, and if we talk about it, it’s less awkward and more awesome. Come to the dark side with me. Let’s go plant things in the garden, do yoga, and get crunchy!

Om, Namaste, Zen: Yoga for Monkey Mind

The Buddhists have a wonderful term for the constant state of brain chatter that I often find myself in; Monkey Mind! Just like a monkey can never sit still, swinging from vines, hoo-hooing and flinging things about, a monkey mind is a brain that’s constantly in motion. My brain is usually in motion, and while the thoughts aren’t always bad, I do need to find more ways to silence the brain drain — part of my 2014 goal for healthier living. Enter: Yoga.

I’ve been doing yoga intermittently for several years. I first took a class at the junior college, and found myself annoyed by the perky teacher who encouraged us to measure ourselves every week to see if our yoga-ing was helping us shrink. My second attempt at yoga was at the Granada Hills Pavilion, a gigantic community class with at least forty people stacked on top of each other in a dim ballroom. I loved that yoga class, but had a hard time concentrating when somebody would “open up” and let a fart slip out, which happened often considering the class was so packed. (It happens – not judging (in fact, it will probably be my karma that now I crack one off in tomorrow’s yoga class) – but I’m immature and farts make me laugh.) I’ve tried yoga several times at my current gym, and while the class flow itself is fine, I’ve been really bothered by the fact that none of the teachers at my gym use music in their classes. For someone who does have the old monkey mind, music is a great way to move through thoughts rather than swirling them around while you’re supposed to be downward dogging.

This week, I tried an awesome Vinyasa Flow class with my blogging buddy, Alyssa at Inner Power Yoga. It was so cool to meet Alyssa this week, and even cooler that she was the one teaching the class! My workout buddies Susannah and Sally joined me for an evening of flow, and we twisted, stretched and smiled into various poses like Cobra, Cat and Warrior. I was super excited because I got to try a head stand inversion against the wall — the perfect balance of challenge and comfort.

Then, on Sunday, I took a “restorative yoga” class which focused on postures using props like blocks, bolsters, and straps to really relax and open up the muscles. It felt amazing!!! One thing I learned is that to really feel a certain pose or posture, you should stay in it for 60 seconds. Good for me to know when I do some mid-day stretches. I’m loving what yoga does not only for my mind, but for my body, too. During these classes the amount of cracking in my muscles makes me sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies, but after I feel limber and loose. It’s amazing how tense your muscles are throughout the day, and how important it is to stretch them out. Now that there is scientific proof that yoga has healing powers (specifically in reducing stress and illness related inflammation), I think I’m going to make a goal to do yoga at least once per week. That’s something me and my monkey mind can feel pretty zen about :)

Have you done yoga, and do you find it relaxing? One of my friends says it’s too relaxing for her, and for that reason, prefers other more intense forms of exercise. What about you?

Top 10 Inspirational Fitness, Exercise, and Weight Loss Quotes

Quotes are a wonderful thing. Sure, there are some we’d rather not hear over and over and over again, and I’m not a huge fan of the motivational posters that some offices have, but I have to say the interwebz has nailed it the past couple years with creating memorable and shareable quips to help me get through rough patches. Those rough patches are times like lately, when I can think of 10,000,000 other things I could be doing instead of exercising. So this post is selfish in its creation – I’ll use this post as a handy dandy reminder why I’ve gotta keep GOING! Check out ten of my favorites below and in the comments, tell me, do you have a favorite quote? Some of my favorite non-fitness related quotes are:

“Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals. ”
— Margaret Mead

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” – Pablo Picasso

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”-Michaelangelo

“Never compromise yourself. You’re all you’ve got.” -Janis Joplin

All images below via Pinterest 

Fitness goes mobile: my favorite iPhone fitness apps

Did you guys know that 30% of people say their phone is the first and last thing they look at each day? Holy guacamole. It’s true for me, as my iPhone is my alarm clock. While sometimes I hate feeling like I’m tethered to the “electronic leash” (aka, why I loved going on so many remote camping trips last year), I have to say that my iPhone is incredibly convenient in many ways. One of the top ways I’ve used my phone recently is to help me get into shape. Here are my favorite fitness apps of the moment! If you have a smart phone, give them a try and let me know what you think.

1) While me and My Fitness Pal sometimes go days without seeing each other (I’m on a 5 day streak now! Let’s hope I keep it up), this app is incredible. It’s very rare to find a food item that hasn’t already been calculated for calories, fat, protein, carbs, etc. In fact, I find MyFitnessPal a better app than the Weight Watchers one, though in all fairness, it’s been about a year since I used the WW app. I’m back onto counting calories/carbs, and having a digital diary of what passes my lips is really helpful for making good food choices. I also like the little surge of victory when I add in my exercise for the day. Add me – @lyssacurran! My Fitness Pal is free.

2) I’ve just recently started using Couch to 5K again because at one point in my life, I’d like to be able to run a whole 5k without stopping. I like the friendly voice and idiot proof interface that tells me when to run, when to jog, etc. I like that you can skip ahead or stay behind if you don’t feel “ready” to advance to the next level, and you can play your own music while you run. Free in the App Store.

 

3) My friend Julie and a few others have swooned over the Yoga Studios app, but for some reason I kept forgetting to download it. This weekend I finally remembered, shelled out the $2.99, and commenced yoga in my backyard after doing a run. I love the calm voice that guides you through the positions, the no-nonsense video model that helps you twist and bend, and the soothing wind sounds and gentle music in the background. I also like that you can customize your classes, schedule reminders, and build your own classes. Super cool — this app has already helped me find my zen twice this weekend!

4) Sometimes you just don’t want to work out. When I get that “arghh nooooo i’m lazy” type feeling, I try and think of the quickest way I can do SOMETHING. Anything! Enter the 7 Minute Workout app. You don’t need anything except yourself to do these workouts, and before you know it, seven minutes is DONE! Usually by the time I finish one set, I’ve overcome my laziness and am ready to do a second. There’s a results tracker and activity calendar so you can applaud yourself for your efforts,  and during the workout, a timer and voice tells you when to start and when to finish. The voice even says “Almost there!” so if you’re suffering during burpees like I do, there’s a glimmer of hope that you’re near the end.

So there you have it – my four favorite fitness apps. Do you have any of these? Am I missing any? Share in the comments so we can all be fabulously fit through our phones!

What do you for your work-out?

Every blog post I write gives me an opportunity to share with you all what I do in attempts to get healthier.

However, today I have a question for all of you:

 

What do you to work-out?

 

My gym membership is up and running and I’m proud to say that I successfully took my first yoga class again!   I walked in the gym five minutes before the class was beginning so I figured – why not!?

Plus, I had no idea what kind of work-out I wanted to do.  I think a lot of the reason I prefer working out in ways like tennis and hiking is because I get to be all over the place!  I get bored in a gym and unless there happens to be an intense episode of CSI:Miami on in background, I’m definitely always watching the clock to see how much longer I have left.

 

So, I ask of you, our dear readers,

 

What do YOU do to work-out?  What’s your routine like?  Do you work out at home, in the gym, or the outdoors?  How long do you normally work-out for?  How long do you spend at your “target heart rate”?  Do you ever check your “target heart rate”?   Do you know how to do that!?  If not, maybe I’ll have to make another thrilling instructional video. 

 

Have a fabulous Wednesday!

Love,

AprilSignatur