Life Plans

It’s been a while since I posted about Dave and I trying to be healthier, for him and for our family. The past 2 months have not gone without any struggles, but the point is that it’s a lifestyle change and not a diet, so I try not to feel guilty about it. Changes are being made and progress is happening. Christmas was hard. Surrounded by family usually means surrounded by lots of snacks and far from low-calorie, low carb foods. And of course, alcohol. How could I say no? I recently was informed by a very quick-witted friend that hard alcohol has no carbs. Hmm. I should consider switching out my wine and sour beers for a bourbon on the rocks…. Something to think about.

Dave will have a repeat hemoglobin A1c in about 3-4 months, then we’ll find out how well we are doing. I wish there was an easier/quicker way to tell if we’re headed in the right direction though.

Dave has been doing much better than I have in the whole eating better and exercising part. But, I’m not too far behind. He’s been pretty good about watching his carbs and for a while we were counting our carb intake just to see if we were able to stay in around 150-200mg/day, which is about 50% of our caloric intake. We really aren’t doing too bad, but I LOVE carbs. I love bagels, warm bread and butter, pasta. This has been much harder for me than Dave, I think. I still have my occasional bagel, but I’m trying to eat more oatmeal and salads, etc. And we switched our regular bagels to the bagel thins, too. We’ve  Dave’s even tried to make cauliflower pizza crust. Ehhh, it was alright. I think it’s really hard to get all the liquid out so that the crust isn’t soggy.

Exercise has gone better than I thought it would. It helps that I have a small workout room at work, which I visit after I finish my night shift as long as I got enough sleep the day before. I’ve skipped a few days here and there because of lack of sleep or bad weather coming through (I wanted to get home before it got too bad out). But, I try to make up for it by doing a routine at home. I’ve recently done a few kettleball routines at home. I did this routine on Nutrition Nut on the Run  and oh my goodness I hurt for days!!! ALL over. I had to roll out of bed because my abs hurt too much to use them while sitting up. And walking up and down stairs? I might as well have crawled.  And I didn’t even do the 5 repetitions. I was only able to muster out 3 with my piddly 5lb kettleball. She used a 25lb one! I’m ordering a heavier (15lb) kettleball on amazon so I’m sure the next time I do this workout, it’ll be even tougher, but I know it works. The kids like it too. Although there have been times they have almost walked in the path of my swinging kettleball and gotten clobbered. So, I have to pay pretty close attention.

Along with healthy changes for our family, I also needed changes for myself. I needed time away from work and home. Time with my friends. Since we don’t live by anyone that we know (everyone is >40min away), it makes spending time with friends harder. For the past few months, I’ve made a point to meet up friends for dinner, or we’ve made playdates, anything to just get out and be with friends. This past weekend, I’ve even had a girls weekend out at a waterpark hotel. It was great and I can tell that I feel better about myself and about life in general. I think it is so important to get out of the shell that parents put themselves in because, lets face it, kids are needy. But I don’t want to be resentful of them, and I could tell that’s where I was headed. In the next month or 2, I’ll have a spa date with a friend, and I am super pumped about it! 

While we were waiting in line for a slide at the hotel, we even made plans to run another half marathon, which will be in November. I’m super excited, because this is just what I need to keep myself in line. I need the training list on my fridge in order to cross out each day that I do what I am supposed to do. I’m such a list junkie. I love the task of crossing out what has been already done.

Now, I just have to work up to a comfortable 3 mile run again….

Anyone else want to join us? It’s a hilly run, but it’s beautiful scenery.

{Just as a side note, my little sister has been working out/eating healthy religiously and I am so very proud of her. She has made some lifestyle changes quite a few months ago and she’s done a great job. I haven’t told her how great she looks recently, but she does. Keep it up, Anka!!  There’s plenty of time to reconsider the half marathon:)}

Healthy Changes

I recently went to a sports medicine clinic due to some knee pain that I had while running. I probably should have gone after I ran the half marathon a year ago when my knee hurt so bad for weeks that I couldn’t put any weight on it, but I didn’t. Better late than never, right?

I knew that I have tilted knee caps and from a more recent X-ray, it turns out that my right knee is significantly more tilted than my left. Ironic, since it was my left knee that was bothering me. It was suggested at the clinic that I strengthen my hamstrings and my hips so that I don’t irritate the tendons and ligaments below my knee. Also, I should get some orthotics since I pronate my foot. Here’s a good article I read on Running Times magazine about hip stabilization.

One of the first steps that was suggested is to not run with my quads, but to run more with my hamstrings. I’ll be the first to admit, that I am still a beginner when it comes to running, so I had no idea what he was talking about. Google to the rescue! After reading a ton of blogs/magazines/ websites dedicated to running and also talking to the sports medicine doctor, I realized that I don’t run with my hamstrings (my foot should be hitting the pavement and I should “scrape mud off my shoe”. By doing this, I use the ball of my foot to push off the pavement). Instead, I would classify myself as a “shuffling runner”, if there even is such a thing. I tend to run with barely lifting my legs off the ground. I ran at a good pace, but I was not running like I was supposed to; hence, my knee pain. Now I need to rethink how I run, which is a lot more difficult than I thought. I’ve tried to use this technique twice this past week and I can definitely feel a difference. First, I can’t run nearly as long as I could have before. Second, I can feel my hamstrings being used more  after my run. However, I have to think about every step that I take otherwise I fall back into my old pattern of running. I’m guessing that eventually I’ll be able to  just go out and run the more I get used to this new technique. But as for right now, it’s a lot more work.

Next thing he suggested is to work on some hip/glutes/hamstring/core exercises. After doing them the first day, my legs killed all day at work. Bending down to pick up something I dropped was not something I was excited to do!

The first exercise I do is squats (2 sets of 10) with two 2-5lb weights and a chair in front of me so that I keep my knee on top of my foot instead of my knee going over my foot. This is much harder to do when I am accountable with that chair in front of me, which I am not supposed to move.  To do this squat, you put your knees and shins against the chair. Then while dropping your hips back (like you are sitting in a chair), you raise your hands with the weights up and away from your body, but no higher than shoulder height, all while not pushing the chair forward. You then pull the weights back in to your body as you stand up.

Next, is a side plank with a single leg raise (2 sets of 10 each leg). While laying on your side, you bed the leg, closest to the floor, in 90 degrees and you lift up your upper body off the floor by engaging your elbow, which should be even with your shoulder, and your core. Then, lift your top leg up while trying to not rotate your leg. 

Souvenir Bird is the next exercise, but I know this move as a single leg dead lift (2 sets of 10 each leg). This is done by lifting one leg back behind you (without rotating your hips), while bringing your upper body down so that from your head to your foot, you are on an even plane. When you don’t rotate your hips, you can feel it in the hamstrings of your standing leg.

Plank. Not much needs to be said about these. I can feel my whole body shake as I contract in my core while doing these. I do 5 sets of 5 breaths, if that makes sense. Or, about 30-45 seconds.

Nordic hamstrings. If you Google these, I see most people slowly go all the way down to a push up and that propels them back to their starting position on their knees. I was taught to do them by starting on my knees with someone holding down my ankles. I then throw my body forward a few inches, just enough so that I can engage my hamstrings and bring my body back to where I started. If I throw my body too far and I can’t bring myself back, I drop into a push up. But, that isn’t the goal. This is really hard to do and I can feel it instantly, so I only do 1 set of 5.

Incorporating these new strengthening exercises with my running, should help me get back in shape and become more healthier. I know that I had given up on working out for the most part this year and I’m not going to make up excuses or feel bad with the choices I made. All I can do is move forward. I want to teach my kids that exercise is an important part of being healthy and Dave and I would like to do all that we can to be around for them for as long as possible. Also, Dave recently found out that his hemoglobin A1c is on the high edge of normal and he needs to monitor his carb intake, along with continuing to exercise (he already runs 3-5 days a week). For a carb loving family like us, that is hard. But it’s not something I want him to do on his own. We can learn to eat less crap, too. I’ll be sure to write about new foods that we’ve tried and how this change is helping us to be healthier.

Have a great day!