Water, Water Everywhere?


Don’t care about my opinions on water?  Want to win some Olympic Granola instead?  Go say hi to Healthy Ashley

Can I ask an honest question that I imagine will make me NO friends?  If recent science has shown that drinking more and more water has no particular health benefits (which it has) why is there such a focus on it?  Is it just that water helps us feel full?

The Mayo Clinic says the 64oz/day rule is not supported by science and also says ALL beverages count toward your daily fluid total.

And from Snopes (you may not credit Snopes with much, but if you look at their listed sources below the article, they’re legit):

“Kidney specialists do agree on one thing, however: that the 8-by-8 rule is a gross overestimate of any required minimum. To replace daily losses of water, an average-sized adult with healthy kidneys sitting in a temperate climate needs no more than one liter of fluid, according to Jurgen Schnermann, a kidney physiologist at the National Institutes of Health.  One liter is the equivalent of about four 8-ounce glasses. According to most estimates, that’s roughly the amount of water most Americans get in solid food. In short, though doctors don’t recommend it, many of us could cover our bare-minimum daily water needs without drinking anything during the day….”

“In a study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers at the Center for Human Nutrition in Omaha measured how different combinations of water, coffee and caffeinated sodas affected the hydration status of 18 healthy adults who drink caffeinated beverages routinely.

“We found no significant differences at all,” says nutritionist Ann Grandjean, the study’s lead author. “The purpose of the study was to find out if caffeine is dehydrating in healthy people who are drinking normal amounts of it. It is not.”

The same goes for tea, juice, milk and caffeinated sodas: One glass provides about the same amount of hydrating fluid as a glass of water. The only common drinks that produce a net loss of fluids are those containing alcohol — and usually it takes more than one of those to cause noticeable dehydration, doctors say.”

I’m not saying (nor are these sources) that we shouldn’t drink any water, and I would certainly say that if weight loss is your goal it is better to drink water than the empty calories in a soda, but I’m just wondering why there is such a push for water water water, with some programs pushing people to drink 100oz a day and more, when the science just doesn’t seem to support it?

Full disclosure: I drink water almost exclusively, but mostly because I started doing so to avoid excess calories and now I’m used to it.  I keep a large cup nearby, and I get anywhere from 32-64oz per day by only drinking when I feel thirsty, including when I exercise.

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More from me:

Futures: Thinking about the future sort of bothers me. Is that weird?

Screwcap vs. Cork: which for wine?

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Penance and the Gruve


Gruve - red light(source)

Yesterday I had a total breakdown in judgment.  I ordered pizza for dinner because I knew my husband wouldn’t be home and I just didn’t feel up to cooking.  I was proud of myself for choosing a thin crust, light cheese pizza with all veggie toppings.  Unfortunately, when I went to checkout I was told I couldn’t order online because my total was less than ten dollars.  Grr!  I have a hang up about calling people on the phone and will generally do anything to avoid it, so I figured I’d throw in a Coke Zero and call it a day…

Instead, I opened the door a half hour later to gladly relieve the delivery man of my small pizza and 8 piece cinnamon sticks with icing.  And then?  I ate every last bite.  I ate an entire small pizza and all but one of the breadsticks, which I happily dunked in the icing.  It was pretty horrible… I mean, it tasted great, but afterward I felt disgusting.  My stomach was hurting, I was too full, and I was completely mortified at what I’d done.  This was after a great weigh in, so why?  Why did I choose something so ridiculous when I was seeing progress?  I still don’t know.  I don’t know why I did it, why I ate it… but I went to bed determined to do two things.

#1 – let it go.  No matter how stupid my food choices, it was one meal on one day and it can’t undo everything I’ve worked so hard for.  If I let it stick in my head, I’ll end up eating myself into oblivion over the guilt that will build up, and I really will undo all of my hard work.

#2 – pay for it.  I chose poorly.  I knew I’d pay for it with an upset stomach, but I wanted to do more than that.  I also needed a little bit of ME time, so I combined the needs and printed out a free trial pass to a local gym.  I headed out this morning once the husband and baby were all settled in.  I planned to do an hour on the treadmill… but instead, thanks to sheer luck in terms of timing, I ended up being talked into a BodyStep class.  The class was an hour long, and it was AWESOME.  It was tough, and I was really working hard.  There were at least two moments when I thought I couldn’t finish, so I know the workout was a good one.  I was covered in sweat by the end, but now that it’s over I feel UNSTOPPABLE.

So I did it.  I made up for the indiscretion, I worked hard and I feel great, and I have eaten great food today.  Nothing feels better than knowing I am totally back on track.

I do, however, have an issue.  I think my Gruve is… a liar.  More specifically, I just don’t think it’s accurately tracking how many calories I burn.  I know that without a heart rate monitor I can’t get a super accurate reading of what I’m burning… but I’ve been doubting it more and more lately.  For instance, it tells me I only burn about 200 calories when I go out running.  I’m out there for a half hour, and I am working at my maximum.  It just doesn’t seem like enough.  The other day, it told me I burned 75 calories during a 45 minute power circuit workout.  There is NO way, since the same workout left me sore for three days.  Today, it says I burned 330 calories during my hour long BodyStep class.  I did some digging online and it looks like most people are reporting anywhere from 600 to 1200 calories burned, and when I plug step aerobics into some of these online calorie estimators, even when I am conservative and say it was low impact for the whole hour, it still says I should have burned more.  So am I nuts, or is the Gruve not accurate enough?

I really want something new… a Garmin Forerunner or a Polar or something, but I have no idea what I need.  I need something with a heart rate monitor and an accurate calorie estimator.  GPS or a pedometer/distance tracker would be nice too, but I can figure that out on my own if I can get the other stuff.  So what are your recommendations?  Do you have something you use and love?  Why or why not?

EDIT: Please see the great comment below from Joel with Gruve.  It explains how the Gruve works and why the numbers seem different from the readings on other devices.

How to stop making excuses


Today was one of those days… you know the ones.

  • My daughter woke up too early.  I was tired and she was cranky.
  • It was pouring rain all day long, which meant no morning walk and no C25K run.
  • I’m physically uncomfortable thanks to God having made me a girl.
  • Despite my best efforts, I’m letting myself get stressed out over how very badly I want the job I’ve just applied for.

I’m cranky and unmotivated.  A year ago this would have been more than enough reason for me to order takeout for lunch AND dinner, sit around all day and get nothing done, and totally banish the thought of exercising.

So what did I do today?  I got off the couch.  I did dishes, made some bread in the breadmaker (which turns out to be broken, so really I made some wet flour), did laundry while taking as many stairs as possible, and did a half hour of Pilates.  I made a good dinner with roasted chicken and oven grilled eggplant.  I played with my daughter, and I feel better.

Am I still cranky?  Yep, and still uncomfortable too.  So why did I bother?

Because I should.  Because it really does make me feel better, happier, and stronger.

A better question?  What has changed?  Why did I do it today when I wouldn’t have before?

Some of it is just routine.  I exercise during the week.  It’s what I do now.  Some of it is that I’ve gotten a taste of success with all of this and I am desperate to hang on to it .  My daughter has a lot to do with it too.  She really is the best motivation I’ve ever had, and just looking at her makes me want to keep going.  Feeding her keeps me hyper aware of what we’re eating.

So how do you stop making excuses and get off the couch?  You have to remember, every second of every day, that YOU ARE WORTH IT.  As hard as it is, as much as it sometimes hurts, as difficult as it can be to finish a tough workout, as much as in the moment it feels better not to do it…  Just get up.  Go for a walk.  Get out there and move.  Eat a vegetable.  Make ONE small choice that’s good for you.

Your body, your mind, your soul will thank you for it.  You’ll be proud of your choice, and it just might lead to another choice that helps you live longer, laugh longer, love longer.

No excuses.  You are worth it, and I believe in you.

Skinny Sushi: the Healthy Ninja.


Making sure I get my workouts in is becoming more and more important.  First of all, I’m seeing real results that make me feel good about myself and excited to keep this journey going.  Secondly, I really want to sign up for a 5K in September, and if I let my C25K runs fall behind I might not make it since it looks like I’ll end up repeating every week.  So this weekend I will be juggling out of town guests (my mom & dad, YAY!!!) and a first birthday party, but no matter what happens I WILL be running tonight, and out there again on Sunday.

It would be easy to let this weekend throw me off schedule, and plenty of people would say it’s alright, understandable, even justified.  Those people might even be right, but why let it happen?  Why skip a work out when I can get one in with just a little bit of extra effort and schedule shifting.  My parents won’t even get here until dinner time, so if my husband comes home early and helps me clean up a bit, we can likely get the run in before they even arrive, and then dinner is easy chicken enchiladas that will take very little time and even less effort.

I’m also (weirdly, as I am not a baker) looking forward to the creation of a whole herd of animal cupcakes.  We’re making three dozen cupcakes for the party… zebras, lions, tigers, and monkeys (oh my!)… that will all be created with reduced sugar cake mix and icing (thanks Pillsbury!), reduced fat Nilla wafers, and a handfull of Junior Mints (only the caramel ones, not the minty sort.)  I’ll be documenting the whole process with pics, so hopefully they’ll be cute enough to show off.

We’ll also get tons of walking in at the zoo tomorrow, and I’m excited about that too.  I just hope I can find shoes that are comfortable enough for walking all day but don’t look ridiculous with the dress I’m planning to wear.  Wait, what?

That’s right, I’ll be wearing a dress in public, on purpose, even though no one said I had to.  The more successful this healthy journey is, the more proud I am of the way I look.  I want to show off the work I’ve done.  I’m not perfect, and there is still a lot to be done before I reach my “ideal” weight, but I’ve come a long way.  27.4 pounds is nothing to sneer at.  I’ve been struggling a little bit lately with feeling like I haven’t done that much, like it’s not a big deal or the changes aren’t really that apparent, but the truth is it IS a big deal.  It’s a HUGE deal.  I am working my butt off… sort of literally… and I am really seeing results.  My stomach is MUCH smaller, my legs are shrinking, my muscles are more defined.  My body, so unfamiliar in its new post-baby shape, is reshaping again to something leaner and firmer, something that says to the world that I do care, I do take care of myself, and I’m proud of how I look.

Again, I do still have a long way to go.  There are people out there who would see pictures from this weekend’s birthday festivities and undoubtedly think I am still awfully large.  Maybe I am.  Maybe I will be one of the people who sees the pictures and thinks I shouldn’t have been wearing that dress…. the one I bought in the juniors section no less… but I hope not.  I hope I will look back at those shots and be proud of what they stand for.  Me, presiding over my daughter’s birthday party, looking ten million times better than I did right after she was born, and serving healthier cupcakes to unsuspecting friends and family.  Hee hee.  So that’s my goal in life now?  To be the girl who sneaks a little healthy into the lives and mouths of her loved ones?

Sounds good to me.  Skinny Sushi: the Healthy Ninja.

C25K Week 3: Motivation


After a two day break, I was expecting yesterday’s C25K run to be really difficult.  And it was, but not nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  Even more surprisingly, I felt GREAT after I ran.  I had asparagus for dinner (I’m usually not hungry AT ALL after running), did lots of stretching, and I went to bed.  A lot of times I have serious soreness after I run that makes it tough to get comfortable when I sleep, but last night I felt fine.  This morning I feel great, unlike my last few runs which left me with super SUPER tight hamstrings and/or calves the next morning.

I don’t know what the difference is, except that maybe my body is finally getting used to running.  I am considering moving on to week 4 next week without repeating week 3… but I am scared that it might be too much.  I’m not sure if I’ll recognize the feeling of “too much, time to stop” versus the current feeling of “almost too much, might die, super hard… but you can do it.”  Yesterday, during the last thirty seconds or so of the second three minute run, I felt pretty rough.  I was feeling sore, my left hip was threatening to seize up, my stomach felt questionable… but I still felt like I could push through and finish.  Will I recognize it if I try out the next week and it’s too much?  Will I know that it’s too much, or will I end up pushing myself into a stress injury?

In the end, I am just going to try it.  I think we all tend to overthink these things sometimes, so I am just going to rely on my own intelligence and intuition.  Novel idea, right?  Today I am going to go for my usual morning walk, do some strength training, and try to get LOTS of water in.  Tomorrow will be the last week 3 run, and then I have two events this weekend!  On Saturday I’ll be doing the three mile March for Babies walk, and then on Sunday I’ll be doing a 5K Little Angels walk to benefit Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep.  If you don’t know about this organization, I strongly recommend checking out their website.  I wish I’d known about them in time to document our final moments with our son… so I do what I can to support them.  So… I’ll be getting plenty of exercise over the next few days, and then Monday will be the beginning of week 4.  I am purposefully not looking at the training schedule for week 4.  I don’t want to see it and psych myself out.  If I look now, I’ll spend the next four days worrying about whether or not I can do it.

See what I mean?  Again with the overthinking.  We all do this though, don’t we?  We think ourselves out of exercising.  We think ourselves into poor food choices.  We think ourselves into bad habits, out of good ones.  I don’t know if it’s possible to stop overthinking, since I think it might just be human nature, but I’d like to think we can shift it to work for us.  If we’re active about our thinking, if we purposefully concentrate on thinking the right thoughts, maybe we can overthink our way INTO good choices and healthy habits, and OUT of the bad ones.  Right now I am really concentrating on waking up every morning with a purpose, opening my eyes and thinking about what I want to accomplish for the day and reminding myself why it’s important.

Sometimes that part is easy.  Every morning when Evi wakes up, she has a huge smile on her face.  There is just something about being presented daily with the world’s most beautiful smile that makes it easier to keep your motivation.

All smiles, me & Evi I know everyone says that healthy habits won’t stick if you are doing them for someone else, but I think success has more to do with the underlying motives.  If you’re losing weight or eating better to impress a potential date, to fit in with a certain crowd…. those habits are less likely to stick because they are directly related to relationships that could easily be transitional.  If, however, you’re making the right choices because you truly believe that it will benefit your family (or yourself) I think it’s a great motivator.  Getting healthy to benefit my daughter, for whom I would willingly lay down in traffic if it made her life even a little bit better, helps to keep me motivated in a way that wouldn’t work if I was doing it “for myself.”  After all, I’m used to putting myself last in some ways.  It sounds sad, but it’s just life.  We all do it.  We all put ourselves last in some ways, and when the stress of life gets to be too much, most of us have to let something slide.  Whether it’s right or wrong, our health tends to be the thing to go.  But when you’re doing it for her health?  It can’t go.

Thank you, my amazing nearly-one-year-old daughter, for keeping me steady on this journey.  It wouldn’t matter without you.

Healthy Kids Birthday Party


I have so much in my head right now.  I’m in a strange place emotionally, still sort of high from my awesome weigh in.  I’m proud of the choices I made over the weekend too, especially the avoidance of (free) donuts, and the choice to have and enjoy cheese fries during our anniversary dinner, but to then pair that with grilled salmon and butter-free veggies for my dinner and choose to skip dessert.  THAT, my friends, is progress.  I used to be the girl for whom a night of celebratory indulgence meant getting the full order of cheese fries and eating half, choosing the steak and a side of more cheese fries, getting the salad with real ranch dressing, and enjoying several cocktails before moving on to dessert.  This time I had ONE cocktail (fyi – the strawberry passion margarita at Outback tastes like Hawaiian Punch, and not in a good way), we split a half order of the cheese fries (insider’s tip: always ask for them to be layered… they put the cheese in the middle too instead of piling it all on top), and I skipped dessert entirely.

So I feel good.  Yesterday was a great food day too.  We had banana truffles for breakfast, used the leftover salmon to top spinach and goat cheese salads for lunch, and then finished the day with some great oven roasted chicken and some less-than-stellar mashed potatoes.  I think I need a new recipe for homemade mashed potatoes…  We also, of course, got out there and did the first day of C25K week 3.  It turned out to be much less terrifying than I’d built it up to be in my head, and I felt great after I finished the run.

Now I’m working on the planning and purchasing of supplies for my daughter’s birthday.  I cannot believe she will be a year old in six days!  We’re doing her birthday the following weekend, and I am THRILLED that my parents will be coming up for it.  I miss them.  Since she’s a year old and doesn’t care, we’re skipping presents in favor of opening a 529 college savings fund for her.  We got her a sparkly card, and since she is obsessed with paper, she’ll like that better than a gift anyway.  It will also be her first ever trip to the zoo.  Billions of pics to follow…

On the healthy front, I am making the cupcakes for her party.  I’m not going to go totally from scratch, but I will be searching out reduced sugar cake mix, reduced sugar icing, and will likely be subbing applesauce for the oil in the cake.  My mom and I will be making animal cupcakes.  I’ll post pics if they turn out well.  Since we’ll be spending the day at the zoo, we should also be getting in LOTS of walking.  I’m looking forward to it being a great day with friends and family, and full of physical activity to burn of the cupcake (or two) that I intend to enjoy.  I can’t wait to see my daughter dig in to her very own cupcake.

I’m also starting to consider a 5K.  I will definitely be doing one once the C25K training is complete, but I’m starting to check out what is available.  I figure I will probably have to repeat another week here and there, so if I assume I’ll have to repeat every week I should still be ready to run a 5K by the end of August.  Except there is NO WAY I am going to attempt to run my first race in the heat and humidity of August, so I’ve got my eye on some mid-to-late September races to see what I can do once the weather backs off a little bit.

How do you choose your races?  I tend to look at location first, then the cause involved.  There are some big causes that are close to my heart…  I have a close friend with lupus, I have lots of family history with various cancers, and pretty much anything benefiting childrens’ healthcare like the March of Dimes or the local Children’s Hospital are high on my list.  The 5K I am doing this coming weekend (walking) will benefit Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which supplies free professional photography to parents whose babies will either be stillborn or who will pass away shortly after birth.  It’s a great service, and something I wish I’d known about when we lost Aodin.  I’m hoping to find a September race that will support a cause I care about, and I just registered for a local March for Babies event next weekend!  If you can help me out with a donation, big or small, please check out the button on my right sidebar!

Couch to 5K: Repeat Yourself


I think this will come as a surprise to absolutely no one, but I think I’m too hard on myself.  This week’s C25K tip would definitely be to relax and try to enjoy the enormous sense of accomplishment that can come from the process if you let it happen.  Yes, it IS really hard.  And some days are going to feel ten thousand times harder than others.  Some days, like yesterday, you’re doing to feel tired and sick and slow, and the run is going to take everything in you to complete.

But finish.  You’ll thank yourself for it.  And when the week is done, repeat it if you need to.  Heck, repeat it if you just want to!  It can’t hurt, and it might help.

Right about the end of my third run session yesterday, I had a total weirdo breakdown.  I am choosing to blame it on hormones, because it sounds better and could conceivably be true.  As I finished the third run session and we passed a neighbor out pulling weeds in her garden, I had a complete meltdown.  I was so tired, so queasy.  Everything hurt and I felt like I’d never make it through another three run cycles.  I got weepy.  I thought about how ridiculous I must look struggling through the neighborhood, never making any progress… and then I stopped myself.

I have made progress.  I have made HUGE progress.  I couldn’t even finish the first day of week one when I went out the first time, so this is huge.  I’m running week two, and I am stronger and faster.  I looked over at my husband and noticed that he was a little sweaty and out of breath from running along with me, which is a huge marker of my progress since the first time he went out with me he didn’t even have to run to keep up.  So to you, Inner Voice of Doom, I say this:

Shut up.  You don’t know what you’re talking about.  You never do.  You’re not out here pushing yourself to bigger and better things (and smaller pants too) and you’re not the one making changes.  I’m doing all the work around here, so I get to call the shots, and I say you’re fired.  Get out and stay out!

It felt good to yell at my ridiculous inner monologue, and it gave me the confidence I needed to keep going, push through the moment at run session five when I was relatively sure I’d throw up (I didn’t), and finish another day of Couch to 5K.  I’ve already decided I’ll be moving on to week three on Monday, even if it kills me.

If you’re doing C25K, I am so proud of you!  If you’re faster, slower, bigger, smaller… who cares.  It’s a huge achievement to go from no running to dedicated, scheduled training.  We should all be so proud of ourselves, and get trophies… and foot massages.

If you’re not doing it but you’ve been thinking about it, what’s holding you back?  Get out there.  Believe me, if I can do it so can you.  Here are some things you ought to know about my health history:

  • When I first went away to college about twelve years ago, I routinely had a frappuccino and donuts for breakfast.  I ate a cheesesteak sub and fries for either lunch or dinner every day.  I added gravy or cheese to the fries.  I drank real soda with added sugary “fruit” syrups, and I ate candy all the time.
  • When I was living in Boston about seven years ago, I went through a pint of Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream and a medium pizza about every two days.  I ate pastries and drank sweet, sugary coffee drinks for breakfast every morning, and I drank without thinking about it.  I’ve never been a huge drinker and I still wasn’t, but I’d go out and have two or three margaritas just because they were there.
  • When I was pregnant with my son in 2007, I totally used it as an excuse to eat, eat, eat.  I ate donuts and fast food all the time, I drank milkshakes.  I went through a phase where I had two cheese danishes for breakfast every morning.

So what is my point?  My point is that I’ve come a long way.  I have made huge strides in how I treat my body, and it has helped me get to the point where I can even consider a 5K, walking or running.  So I am proud of the changes I’ve made, slowly over many years, and I am happy with the strong body I’m earning.  Get out there and earn yours too.