21 Days to Make or Break a Habit

caramelOne thing I struggle with constantly is eating a healthy breakfast. If you know me, you know my breakfast typically consists of a venti non-fat caramel macchiato. Yep. That’s usually it.

Eating breakfast is crucial to not only training harder but also to weight loss and muscle gain. Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. It fires up your metabolism. Eating a healthy breakfast on a consistent basis will reduce your evening food cravings. (Sound familiar?)

So what’s the problem? Why are we ALL not eating breakfast?!?

Even though I am a morning person, I find it difficult to make time for breakfast on the weekdays. To achieve my goal of eating breakfast during the week, I decided to identify 3-5 healthy items I could store in my desk or in the refrigerator at work.

Here is my list:

  • hard boiled eggs
  • instant oatmeal
  • walnuts
  • bananas
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • string cheese

Other ideas that won’t work for me, but might work for you:

  • apples with peanut butter
  • greek yogurt with granola
  • cottage cheese with fruit

They say it takes 21 days to make – or break – a habit. For the rest of the month of December, I plan to track my breakfast on a calendar. (I actually started yesterday.) Hopefully, by the end of the month, breakfast will be a habit. Of course, I’d also like to break my Starbucks habit but one step at a time!

By the way, the key word here is healthy. A  healthy breakfast consists of fiber, protein and carbohydrates. Oatmeal, eggs, yogurt, milk, nuts and meat all contain protein. Good sources of fiber are whole-grain bread, oatmeal, fruits, nuts and vegetables. Oatmeal  and whole grain toast are good choices for carbs.

Have a favorite healthy go to breakfast? Please share it in the comments!

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Back on the Wagon

How many times have I stopped and started exercising? I start an exercise program, begin losing the pounds and seeing the results, only to allow life to get in the way. School starts. My schedule gets hectic. The first thing to go is my exercise regimen.

Look people. The fact is…I’m getting *ahem* old. Okay…let’s go with old-er. I no longer lose weight as easily as I did when I was young-er. And it is only going to get hard-er and hard-er.

Today I ran a few miles with my girlfriend, April. April is part of the reason I started this blog. Somehow, two years ago, she convinced me to run a half-marathon. Actually, I don’t know who convinced who that it was a good idea. Either way, we did it! We bought new running shoes. We joined a training group. We trained in the cold of winter during the Snowpacalypse. We ran – and finished – a half-marathon.

And then we did nothing…for a long time.

Today we ran together at the Celery Bog and discussed why we can’t seem to stay on the exercise wagon. Neither of us had an answer. Well, I do have a theory that my personality type just doesn’t help…but that is another blog.

Long story short – April and I are back on the wagon. Stay tuned because I have some very exciting news to share in the near future!

Forty Should Be Fabulous

In a little over two months, I turn 40. I’ve never really dreaded a birthday and I wouldn’t really be dreading this one except I have consistently told myself since I was twenty that forty is fabulous. The problem is I’m not feeling fabulous.

After suffering a severe ankle injury last fall, I was unable to run for quite some time. Although I detest it, running was my tried and true way to stay in shape. After injuring my ankle, the orthopedist told me I shouldn’t expect to run for at least 8-10 weeks.

I’ve never been the best patient but I quickly learned if I didn’t take the doctor’s advice, I’d be looking at a lot more time than 10 weeks. I started to ice my ankle and foot three times a day. I elevated my ankle every chance I had – even at work. Instead of my busy social life, I stayed at home so I could rest my ankle. It helped but I still had trouble just getting to and from work.

Would I ever run again?

During this time, I also started to gain weight. At first I didn’t notice. However, 6 weeks after my injury – and 6 weeks without exercise – my metabolism slowed to a halt. Suddenly I was 20 pounds heavier and my ankle was not even close to allowing me to run again.

Finally I turned a corner. As a last resort, I tried acupuncture and also had a therapeutic massage. It worked wonders. Although my ankle wasn’t completely healed, I was finally headed in the right direction. One problem remained. Over the months of inactivity, I had also lost my motivation.

Today I decided I want to be forty, fabulous and fit. I have exactly 65 days to make that happen. While fad diets have never been my thing, I am going to try the Digest Diet to jump start my weight loss as I also exercise daily for at least an hour. Today I walked 4.25 miles with Caleb. It took us a little over an hour but it felt great.

Tomorrow I plan to walk an easy 2 miles to work out the soreness I am sure to have from today’s walk. I will be one day and 2 miles closer to being forty and fabulous!

Walking is not an Option

When I first started training last January for my half-marathon, my motto was simply, “Just finish.”

Oh…that and “Don’t suck.”

So I did “just finish” the half-marathon but I did totally suck. It took me 3 hours, 8 minutes and 50 seconds to finish my first half-marathon. Never mind that the hills were WAY more than I ever expected.

Note to self: Don’t run your first half-marathon in Nashville. It is very hilly.

I wasn’t last but I certainly was close. Out of 13,966 women, I finished at 10,981. My 5K pace was 40:20 and my 10K pace was 1:23:47. I averaged a 14:25 mile. Most people can walk that fast.

Therefore, my new motto, for my next half-marathon is “Walking is not an option.”

Now I just need to find a race.

Runner’s High

On Saturday I missed my group run for the second week in a row. The previous week, a migraine prevented me from doing just about anything for most of the weekend. This week, however, I didn’t have a reason…just an excuse.

It was raining.

I didn’t say it was a good excuse.

Sunday I set out to run 5 miles to make up for missing the group run.

Like any other day, I tightened up during my first mile. Regardless of how much I stretch or warm-up, I have not had much success in preventing this. My second mile led me down hill through Happy Hollow Park. Perhaps running downhill helped me loosen up. I found a good stride and really enjoyed the peacefulness of the run.

Of course, all good things must come to an end. If you go down a hill, eventually you will have to go up a hill. And the hill I had to go up was not as gradual as the hill I had come down.

Once I reached the top of that hill, I felt like I could conquer the world. I hit a runner’s high at four miles and by the time I hit five miles, I didn’t want to stop running.

So I didn’t.

Instead, I ran back down that peaceful decline through Happy Hollow Park with the plan of running up Happy Hollow Road – which I’ve only done once. The hill was a beast but I kept putting one foot in front of the other. As I neared the top of the hill, a biker passed me and shouted, “Great job! This isn’t an easy hill.”

The camaraderie inspired me to push it the rest of the way. Since I had detoured off my original running plan, I had no idea what distance I ran until I mapped my run on Loops. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I ran 6.5 miles!

That is half of a half marathon! I’m halfway there!

Motivational Moment

I have always admired my colleague and friend, Kaletra . Her commitment to fitness is enviable. She has the Angela Basset arms we all want. Oh wait…now we want Michelle Obama arms.

Whatever…I want Kaletra Dispennett arms!

Over the past four years, I have had the joy of watching Kaletra – and her husband, Ben – become parents twice. Both times, Kaletra managed to look amazing by the time she returned to work from her maternity leave. (Too bad we can’t say the same for Ben.) Not only did she work Weight Watchers religiously, she exercised consistently. Her willpower is amazing!

At our office birthday parties, Kaletra easily passes on deserts that have high calorie and fat counts.

This morning, I woke up to a text from Kaletra that said:

Just ran 4 miles. You motivated me to step it up a notch. Thanks! I am in pain but it feels good to be at 4…just ran 1/3 of the mini! Have a gr8 day! – Kaletra

Never in a million years did I think I would be motivating Kaletra!

Optimism at its Finest

I’m the eternal optimist. I try to find the good in everything.

So…when I initially considered training for a half marathon, I conveniently forgot about all of the things that could go wrong.

Even though it wasn’t really in my budget, I purchased a brand new pair of running shoes to maximize my training. I imagined myself zooming up and down the streets of West Lafayette as I trained. Instead, I ended up straining my medial collateral ligaments, which I didn’t even know I had.

I planned on losing weight. I’ve averaged over 10 miles a week but, as of Saturday, I hadn’t lost a pound.

Where was my silver lining? 

After my first group run on Saturday, I discussed my knee pain with my trainer, Travis, the owner of Tri-N-Run. Not only did Travis fit me for new shoes, he traded out the shoes I had been running in for two weeks. I left the store with a brand new pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 13′s without spending a penny.

My training schedule called for a 2 mile easy run on Sunday. I was eager to try out my new kicks even though my knees were still sore. As my luck would have it, Sunday had other plans for me as well.

April called with last minute tickets to the Purdue-Ohio State men’s basketball game.

At 5pm, I had a commitment to give a presentation to my department’s student ambassadors.

I would have to run late in the evening.

As luck would have it, by late that evening, my stomach had other plans for me. I initially considered titling this blog, “More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Me”. Instead, I’ll just spare you the details and give you the results. I’ve lost 5.2 pounds since Sunday. I’ve only eaten Cinnamon Burst Cheerios and mashed potatoes because they are the only two things that will not upset my stomach.

Did you read that!?!? I lost 5.2 pounds!

Now that my knee pain has subsided, once my stomach returns to normal, I can’t wait to try out my new shoes!

Have a Thin Mint

I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed that, despite all of my hard work, I haven’t lost a pound yet. While I’m certainly not starving myself, I have been watching my calorie intake, eating healthier and cutting back on empty or negative calories such as Diet Coke, alcohol, and simple sugars (cookies, cake, donuts and other gross stuff that sits in your stomach like a rock).

A typical day looks like this.

Breakfast: 1/2 cup Oatmeal – 150 calories; 1 tablespoon of brown sugar – 52 calories; Walunuts – Coffee w/creamer – 57 calories

Snack1 cup Cinnamon Cheerios – 110 calories

Lunch: Turkey sandwich – 230 calories; Wheat Thins – 130 calories; Olives – 20 calories

Dinner: Roast Chicken (w/the skin) – 900 calories; green beans – 40 calories; baked potato – 278 calories; 1 tbsp Shedd’s Spread butter – 60 calories; water – 0 calories

I try to include a good fat (walnuts, olives, sunflower seeds) at two of three meals (or for a snack) and eat approximately 2,000 calories a day (give or take 100 calories).

Based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet and my level of exercise, I should lose a pound each week. Not so much. At least not yet.

I realize I am building muscle. I can actually feel a difference in how my clothes fit and see my body getting more tone. However, I still want to see those numbers on the scale go down.

Some foods can fool you. For example, Nutri-Grain Cereal Bars seem like a healthy choice. Only 140 calories and 3 grams of fat. Score! Right? Wrong. They contain high fructose corn syrup which I avoid at all costs. Healthy Choice Frozen Lunches? Enough sodium to melt the ice on your driveway. Yoplait Light yogurt? Yum! Full of aspartame -which is just a fancy scientific name for artificial sugar. It makes me sick to my stomach so I’ll pass.

What are some better choices?

Instead of the Nutri-Grain bar, have 1 cup of Cheerios or a 1/2 cup of oatmeal. Add some walnuts to add a healthy mono-unsaturated fat to your diet.

Replace frozen meals with as many natural foods as possible.

Opt for Activia yogurt instead of yogurts with artificial sweeteners. It has no added artificial sugar. It also contains probiotics which will help regulate your digestive system.

My favorite snack is 5 olives and a handful of sunflower seeds. MUFAs galore!

Guess what else is a MUFA? Dark chocolate! So, in the meantime, have a Thin Mint!

Slow as Molasses in February

Slow as Molasses in February

I love this t-shirt!

I completed my first group run today and it is now official. I am as slow as molasses in February.  Out of 30 people, I finished third…to last.

This aggravates me because I couldn’t even run at a pace to challenge my cardio ability. Instead, my knees grimaced with each collision with the pavement. Remember those fabulous new shoes? While my feet have definitely stopped rolling, stress has been placed on my medial collateral ligament (MCL). I didn’t even know I had an MCL.

While I would not classify this as an injury, it does hamper my training. In addition to the “stresed” MCL, I have severe pain in my right leg. Usually it takes the first mile to work out stiffness in my calves regardless of how much I stretch prior to my run. Today, however, it seemed as though my sciatic nerve also did not want to cooperate.

From the middle of the right side of my buttock down the back side of my leg through my hamstring along the outside of my right calf, my leg was on fire. While I am proud of myself for pushing through the pain and finishing the run, I am frustrated with my lack of progress.

Four years of college volleyball and I never suffered an injury. Six weeks of running and I am falling apart. I am not amused.

Wish List

Training for a half marathon can be expensive. I’ve never been much of an outdoor runner. Okay, I’ve never been much of a runner at all. Cardio fitness, for me, consisted of letting the elliptical kick my butt. Now that I am taking my running more seriously – and running outside at freezing temperatures – there a few things I would love to have but just aren’t in my budget any time soon.

A girl can dream, right?

(1) Nike Legacy Winter Half Zip with sweat-wicking Dri-FIT fabric

Nike Legacy Winter Half Zip

(2) Nike Therma-Fit Pants

Nike Therma-Fit Pants

(3) Adidas CLIMALITE® Elite Long-Sleeve Tee

Adidas CLIMALITE® Elite Long-Sleeve Tee

(4) Brooks Pulse Lite Glove

Brooks Pulse Lite Glove