Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deb vs Yamnuska

This one isn't my picture, as I forgot to take one before or after the hike.

This past weekend, my husband and I got to do something that we haven't done in years: go on a child free hike. My husband's parents are visiting and both kids are now old enough to be left for an extended time period, so we took a day to ourselves.

We decided to hike Yamnuska. Chosen partly for it's proximity to our house, Yamnuska is a famous mountain. It's been featured in films such as Legends of the Fall, Open Range, and Brokeback Mountain. A true test of the strength of my knee, Yamnuska is a hike followed by a scramble, totaling about 900 metres elevation gain and around 10 km return distance. (The 10 km return is not an exact amount. It was tough to find an actual distance since there are multiple routes that can be taken for the scramble.)

Upon leaving the parking lot, you start off on fairly level ground then pass over what is a creek sometimes, but was dry on this trip. Then you start going up. And up. And up.

This is one of the easier sections

Some of the trails in the rockies have a mix of ups and downs, but there's very few downs on this trail. What that means is a lot of work... and spectacular views.

I had to stop to catch my breath quite a few times, but always felt like I could keep going. My knee felt normal. I was trying to really focus on it, but while there was an occasional twinge on some really big steps, there was never pain that felt like a warning of something wrong.

We did this trail last summer, while carrying both kids. That time we had to turn back before even finishing the hike portion. I just felt like I was out of energy and had nothing left. This time, we reached the point where we had turned back before and I was surprised that it came so soon. We kept going and got to the point where it turned from a hike into a scramble.

The scramble begins by climbing up through a crevice.

Then you carry on over loose scree, up over bigger rocks, using our hands as well as our legs, and going up, up, up. Even in this section, my knee didn't yell at my me. We did have to stop and put bandaids on our feet in spots where our boots had started to rub. (On a side note, always tend to your feet before you get a blister.)

We stopped numerous times to grab a drink or have a few bites of trail mix. We made it almost to the top.

I say almost because we didn't research the scramble section of this hike, since we hadn't decided to do it before hand. We got to a point where we weren't sure which way to go. I took a few steps to look around an edge and was at the edge of a cliff. My husband took a look and his fear of heights kicked in.

Turns out, if we continued, the next step was to cross along a ledge holding onto a cable.

photo source

A wee bit of a drop off here, and not for the faint of heart. We're hikers, not mountain climbers, and only occasional scramblers, so we turned back at this point.

The downhill trip was the final knee test and I must say it passed with flying colours. We weren't carrying a load (aside from fairly light day packs) on this trail, but with the extreme elevation, it was a great workout and a fabulous day.

Two days later, I'm still feeling it. This time though, my muscles are all that's sore. My knees (and other joints) are feeling fine. Muscle soreness I can handle. :)

This day was just what I needed. We're planning a backpacking trip in a month on a trail with a similar amount of elevation gain. Knowing that we can handle this now sets us up well to do our anniversary trip with the added load.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Deb Grows - Final swimming lesson

As a child, growth is a given. Physical growth goes without saying, but children are always learning new things and getting better, faster and stronger at the things they already know.

When we become adults, it's easy to fall into a routine with our days and with our lives. We hope not to grow physically anymore, but we sometimes forget to continue growing in other ways. But, life without growth is boring, and stagnant.

In the last month, I've achieved one of the highest levels of growth I've had in years. The key to all of it was in getting past a fear that I had let hold me back for over 2 decades. The key to it was in learning how to swim and to get past my fear of deep water.

Today was my final swimming lesson. Just a month ago, I was terrified of the idea of deep water, and frightened of even trying to swim across a pool. Today I walked out of the pool knowing I'll need more lessons, but confident in continuing to swim on my own until then.

In the last week, I'd been getting concerned about the final lesson. I know that I eventually need to be proficient in the front crawl in order to do a triathlon. I'd had little instruction in it up until this point though. For the most part, I'd been working on breathing (still important for front crawl) and backstroke.

Things turned out wonderfully today. Thanks to the nice weather and approach of summer, few people showed up for the lesson. There were 3 people for the first half hour and a late arrival, bringing it to 4 for the second half. This meant that those of us present got a lot of attention and instruction. David also started the class by asking what we wanted to work on, making it easy for me to ask to do front crawl.

I have to say, front crawl is hard! I thought I was in decent shape. I run, bike, and hike, but swimming wipes me out big time. Plus, you can't just breath anytime you want. You have to learn to breath properly and during strokes. David teaches bilateral breathing, meaning breathing on alternate sides. Having read a lot on it, I agree with him. I may as well learn to do it correctly from the start, but it's not easy.

Having said that, I made a lot of progress in this final class, setting me up well to continue working on it at the pool while swimming laps.

More importantly, I grew as a person. Conquering this fear and achieving this step has reminded me that I am capable of doing whatever I put my mind to. Sometimes I have to slow down and take it easy, but ultimately, I can do it.

The triathlon is still a year or so away, but the I've done more then take the first steps. I've climbed the first staircase.

They don't give fancy crests for passing lessons like they did when I was a kid, but here's my first certificate of achievement. :)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Active Rest

One thing I've struggled with is taking days off of exercise. On one hand, I know that the body needs rest, and it's unsustainable to work out hard every single day. On the other hand, days when I get activity in, I feel more energetic, I tend to eat better, and I'm sticking to my routine.

Now, I have read a lot about fitness, health and nutrition in the past 20 years. I probably could write a book about it myself, but there's a concept that I hadn't heard of (or paid attention to) until this week.

Active rest.

I saw a reference to it in a book I'm reading and decided to research it further.

If you're interested, this article and this article are both worth a read.

An active rest day is a day where you don't strenuously work out, but still get some activity in. According to one of the articles, "active rest is light exercise performed on non-training days at an easy pace with little stress." So, you might go for a walk, or a easy bike ride. Maybe try something that you don't normally do: go rollerblading, canoeing or a yoga class.

The key is that you shouldn't be stressing your body or your muscles. Light activity gets the blood flowing in your muscles and can help recovery, but if it feels like hard work, it's too much to be considered active rest.

Active rest can also be useful when dealing with overuse injuries, like my recent knee injury. The first couple days, I really did need to stay off of it. After that though, I noticed that the days I started doing something, even just a little something, my knee felt better the next day.

In good knee news, I'm back on my bike. A few nights ago, I took advantage of my mother, who was visiting and my husband and I went for a ride together in the evening. This morning, I took my kids to the park. They hopped in the chariot. I got on my bike and I rode about 10 minutes from my house. They played for a while and then we rode back. The ride with my husband was a light workout, but with the kids it wasn't particularly strenuous. The key is, I'm using those muscles again.

Getting fit is a balancing game. You want to push your body so that it grows and develops without pushing too much. At the same time, it can be frustrating when you feel like you just want to get going. Next time you're taking a "rest day", don't feel like a walk or some gardening is off limits. You can still do it; just take it easy and consider it active rest.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Letter to the lifeguard

Dear lifeguard,

I appreciate you watching out for me. I do.

I realize that you don't have that interesting a job, so you probably scan the pool to figure out who is the most likely to need rescuing. I understand why you put me in that category.

But, do you really have to walk next to me at the same pace that I backstroke across the pool? I mean, when I'm on my back, I can see you. I can see you pacing me. I can see you watching me.

Don't worry, if I decide to drown, I'll do it with lots of gasping and splashing. You'll have plenty of time to make your way to me. Or better yet, I'll just float on my back and yell for help. Then you'll know that you have to come rescue me.

Thank you for keeping the pool a safe place. And thank you for being there. Despite my flippant attitude, I really do feel more secure with your presence. Perhaps you could just watch from a little farther away?

Thank you,


Novice Swimmer

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Finding meaning in the less positive

Everything happens for a reason.

Every heard that quotation? I think it's a load of cr*p, quite frankly. There are countless things that happen that are meaningless and do no good for anyone or anything. There is something I do believe though:

You can come out of negative situations a stronger person.

This knee injury really knocked me for a loop. I had just gotten the motivation and drive to do something new and to step outside my boundaries. I had started running, and was riding my bike more. I had started a swimming lesson. My eating was really on track.

Then I hurt my knee and I moped around a lot. I started feeling sorry for myself and I spent about a week doing very little and eating too much.

The right way to approach it? Absolutely not. But, reflecting on it is giving me some insight into how I could have dealt with it differently, and how I will deal with it next time it happens. Because, it will happen again. Almost certainly. Taking the weight off my body will make it more resilient and more able to deal with the stresses I throw at it. However, if I intend to continue pushing myself and if I want to eventually claim the title of "triathlete", I will almost certainly continue to have the occasional injury or setback, no matter how careful I am.

The other positive that has come out of this is my progress in swimming. Just a month ago, I was nervous about taking a swimming lesson and terrified of going into deep water. After I got over the worst of my knee pain, I realized that the way out of my lethargy was through swimming and I confronted my fear of the deep end of the pool. I honestly don't know when I would have taken that step otherwise.

So, despite my frustration with the situation, I am coming out of this a stronger person and a better person. I know more about myself and I have realized that I am capable of more then I gave myself credit for.

The knee is feeling better. Every morning when I wake up, it's feeling better then the morning before. By the evening, it aches, particularly if I've been on my feet a lot, but it's no longer the acute pain that feels like it's getting worse. I figure I'll be back on the bike by the middle of this week, and I'm hoping to run next weekend. We'll see. I'm also trying to listen to my body and not push it too hard.

And I'm still swimming.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homemade hummus

One of my favourite snacks to have around is hummus. Traditionally, it's often eaten with pita, but I love it with some fresh vegetables. I'll also use it as a spread on whole grain crackers, or as a substitute for other condiments on a sandwich or burger.

It's a bit expensive to buy, but super easy to make. All you need is a food processor and the necessary ingredients. I thought I'd share my basic recipe today. This one is for roasted red pepper hummus, but you could leave them out or substitute something else instead.

Keep in mind, I don't measure things, but this isn't the type of recipe where you have to be exact.

The ingredient list:

Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans)
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Tahini (or sesame seed paste; I found it next to the peanut butter with the other nut butters)
Garlic (fresh not powdered)
Red peppers
Olive oil spray

1. Cut up the red pepper and cut the ends off your garlic cloves. Put them on a pan. I just roast them in the toaster oven. Give them a quick spray with olive oil and put them in until they are soft (around 10 minutes).

2. Rinse your chickpeas and toss them into the food processor. I had a can of them around when I made this batch, but I usually use dry ones. If you use dry ones, you'll have to soak and cook them according to the directions first.

3. Add the red peppers and garlic. Reserve some of the red pepper for garnish.

4. Add about 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice.

5. Add tahini. I'd estimate I use about 2 Tbsp here. (That's actually a teaspoon I'm doling it out with.) Sure, you can make hummus without the tahini, but it doesn't taste as good. It's worth the extra calories.

6. Put the lid on the food processor and whir away!

7. Add more liquid if necessary. If it looks like the picture below, it'll need more. I usually add lemon juice when I need extra. You want it to be dippable and spreadable. Process more after you add the liquid.

8. Take a picture of it once fully processed. Somehow I missed this step and my camera had a picture of my adorable (though dirty faced) daughter instead.

9. Garnish with extra red pepper and... Eat!

I'll keep this hummus in my fridge for about 5 days. It may stay good longer then that, but I'm a bit cautious about expiry dates. It also freezes beautifully, but the red pepper garnish doesn't, so leave that off of any portion you're going to freeze.

I've also thought of making it with butternut squash or carmelized onions. I've seen versions in the grocery store with pinenuts. Use your imagination!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Confronting your fears

Image taken from lakesallateeskabaptistcamp.com

My background is in theatre. Acting, teaching, directing, make up... I've participated in most facets of it. Yet, there's a fear that took me years to get over.

A fear of public speaking.

It seems bizarre. I never had much stage fright when it came to getting up on stage, in character, and playing a part. Put me up there, when I had to actually be me, and it made me really really uncomfortable.

Now, I've been in a number of positions where I have had no choice but be myself and speak to a crowd. The way I dealt with it was to fake it.

That's right. Fake it till you make it. This is probably where my acting background kicked in. I learned that if I acted like I was okay with public speaking, I could convince others that I was okay with it. If I convinced others, I started to convince myself.

Today I went swimming. Not such a big thing, you might think. Since hurting my knee, swimming has been one of the main topics in my blog.

Today I went swimming by myself, at the local pool, where the deep end is actually deep.

One of the biggest hurdles I've been dealing with recently is my fear of swimming in water that goes over my head. I've done fine in the swimming lessons. I know that, at any time, I can just bring my feet down under me and stand up. At the local pool, that's not the case. Three quarters of the pool is a comfortable depth where I can still stand, but then the bottom drops off and it gets deep.

Yet, with my knee injured, I've been stuck doing almost nothing, and swimming is just about the perfect activity to work those muscles, but without impact. The problem is, I have only just learned how to swim.

So I decided to fake it.

I decided that today I was going to swim laps. I got my stuff together and headed to the pool.

Logically, I knew that I was perfectly safe. I can float easily, so if I get really stuck, I could always just roll onto my back and float there until someone rescued me. I'd be embarrassed, but not hurt. Logically, I knew that I can swim. Not terribly well, and not terribly fast, but I can swim.

Sometimes, it's hard to get logic and emotions to agree with each other.

There I was standing at the edge of the pool, and I knew that I had to go through with it. If I admit to another fear, it's a fear of looking foolish, and walking away from the pool and going back into the changing room would certainly make me look foolish. Besides, if I did that, it would be much harder to convince myself to return.

So, I got into the pool and started swimming. I'm trying to get used to putting my head in the water and breathing on both sides, so I used a flutter board. (Who would have thought breathing could be so hard?)

Thanks to my fancy new goggles, I can see the bottom of the pool, and when I got to the point where it turned deep, I started feeling panic. But, I was acting like it was okay, so I kept swimming. Continue to kick. Continue to move those arms. And I reached the end of the pool. I held onto the end and turned around. (I can't do those fancy flip turns yet.) I swam back. The first lap was the hardest. Each time after that, the ball of panic got smaller and smaller.

By the time I was finished, the deep end was just another part of the pool I was passing by. When I got out of the pool, I knew that I had accomplished something that was much bigger then a little workout of swimming laps. I had gotten past a fear that has had a hold of me for over twenty years. I honestly think I can handle whatever the swimming pool has to throw at me now.

One day, I'll have to confront that fear again in order to swim in a lake and on that day, I'll fake it till I make it.

What are you afraid of?

*Please do not consider my advice as a substitute for a qualified professional. If you are dealing with a full fledged phobia, this may not work for you.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Knowing when to change your goals

Goal setting is important - both in life and weight loss. Setting goals for yourself lets you to see where you want to go and can help you make a plan on how to get there. Goals should be things that are specific and attainable.

Sometimes following through on goals is easier said then done. At time it's a lack of motivation. Other times it's external issues: life, work, illness, injury, the list goes on. At a certain point, you have to know when to change your goals. Continuing to work towards a goal that has become unattainable is depressing and demotivating.

At the beginning of June, I set some goals of things I wanted to achieve in the month.

They were to:

1. Run 3 times a week
2. Ride my bike 3 times a week
3. Complete my swimming class
4. Do a mountain hike at least 3 times in the month

The first week I rocked those goals, going for my three runs, FOUR bike rides, my swimming lesson and a hike. A long hike.

Unfortunately, the result of that first week was a knee that is still limiting me a week later. A knee that made my second week lacking in completion of all those goals, except the swimming lesson.

I suppose I could somehow still try to get there, but realistically, it's not going to happen. Even if I could achieve those goals for the remaining weeks in June, there's no way I could make up for the missing weeks.

And I can't achieve those goals for the remainder of June.

I definitely can't run yet. While I'm hoping that I can get back on the bike by the end of this week, but I don't even know if that's going to happen. While I intend to get the mountains next weekend, any "hiking" we do is going to be at my childrens' pace.

So, I'm setting new goals. They include.

1. Finishing my swimming lesson. (No reason for that to change.)
2. Conquer my fear of the deep end of the pool and swim laps 1-2 times a week (in addition to my swimming lesson.)
3. Get to the mountains at least 2 more times this month.
4. Do what I can in regards to biking, running, and hiking.

The "do what I can" goal is pretty open ended, but for now that's as good as it gets. I don't know how long my knee is going to take to heal. I'm not going to make another dumb mistake like going for a long hike when it's already sore. I won't bike until I can go up and down stairs without pain. I won't hike (seriously) until I can bike without pain. And I won't run until I'm doing all of the above without pain for at least a week.

It hurts. I was really enjoying the level of activity that I had reached. I looked forward to the early morning wake ups and the solitary runs. I was loving packing up a lunch for me and the kids and heading out with the bike and the chariot. I love the mountains, the trees and the views that I get while hiking.

I think one of the keys is to not let go of all of that. Yes, I'm forced to take a break from it for now, but that doesn't mean I can't get back to it.

One thing this is forcing me to do is confront my hang ups with swimming...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Adult swimming lesson - Part 2

This is a continuation of this post, from earlier this week:

So, walking into my second lesson, I was feeling more confident. I didn't arrive ridiculously early this time, only about 5 minutes. When I got there, I chatted a bit with some of my classmates and concluded that I need to get myself some goggles. Sure, they look a little silly, but I always close my eyes when my head goes under water, and I think it would be easier for me if I kept them open.

11:00 came around and we headed over to our end of the pool for the start of class. David handed out forms for us all to fill out so that he could understand our goals a bit better. It asked about our background swimming, our fear of water, our goals and other things. I wrote down that my goals for the class were to become confident enough to be able to swim laps with a long term goal of doing a triathlon.

I am still a little hesitant to talk about my triathlon goals in real life. It's easy here on my blog, but when I'm face to face with somebody, it's different. I feel like they'll be looking at me and seeing a woman that is still pretty overweight, and therefore not very athletic. Therefore, owning up to it, even on paper, was a big step for me.

This class David was prepared. He had drills ready for the different levels. For us beginners, he put us in floatation devices. (He explained to us the difference between life jackets and floatation devices.) I was a bit surprised, but I figured out his reasons pretty quickly. Both Julie and I have admitted to being afraid of the water. What David doesn't realize is, I'm totally comfortable in the water where I can touch bottom. Unlike the pool in my town, the entire lap pool is shallow enough to touch bottom in.

We did some more beginner activities. I learned that there was actually a reason they were having the kids blow bubbles in the preschool class I did with my munchkins. Here, I thought it was just for fun.

When he told us to push off the wall and kick, I decided to really kick. I got some good distance very quickly. Not long after that, I dumped the life jacket (oops, should say floatation device) and started swimming laps. Nothing too fancy. Kicking with a flutter board on my front, as well as my back. I did a little bit of a back crawl with my arms involved at the very end of the class.

I'm not a huge fan of keeping my face in the water, so I prefer the swimming strokes where I'm on my back. Having said that, I'm going to have to get used to it. The front crawl is generally considered the stroke to use for triathlons. I'm sure I'll learn why eventually, but for now, I'll start with getting comfortable with it, and eventually proficient.

My knee is still messed up on me. After doing some googling, I've self diagnosised it as bursitis, something I've dealt with before in my hip. The good news is, with some rest, it should get better. The bad news is, that means I have to rest it.

Having said that, I'm hoping it will feel good to go for my swimming lesson tomorrow. If it is, desperation to do activity may override my fear of the deep end at the local pool. I'm thinking I may be doing some laps there next week...

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I'm feeling kind of sorry for myself right now. Ever since my hike on Sunday, I haven't been able to do anything. The muscle soreness is gone; I have plenty of energy.

But my knee is messed up.

It is getting gradually better, but I still can't go up or down stairs without pain. I can't walk at anything faster then a 90 year old's pace without pain. Yesterday, I had to try to catch my daughter at playgroup as she ran away from me down a hallway. I couldn't keep up. She isn't even two years old yet.

So, no running this week. No biking. Just sitting around, being a sloth.

I'm frustrated. I'm mad at myself, because if I had just chosen a shorter hike, I wouldn't be in this situation right now. If I had just respected the fact that my knee was sore before I started said hike, I wouldn't be in this situation right now. I'm just so bloody stubborn and determined to prove that I can do these things.

So now, I'm sitting on my butt rather then doing anything. Because I have no intention of messing my knee up more and putting myself in this situation for longer. I just hope that, by Saturday, I'm good to go for swimming. Then, I'm hoping that this next lesson will help me feel confident enough to swim laps on my own next week. At least I could do something then.

I just hate these setbacks. I hate it when I'm all pumped up to do something and I get these stupid roadblocks in my way.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

An account of adult swimming lessons - Part 1

So, ever since I wrote this post, I haven't talked much about the whole swimming thing. The good news is that I have been to two swimming lessons so far.

The first lesson, I arrived ridiculously early. It was snowing, and I had to drive into the city, so I wanted to give myself some leeway. I sat in the car killing time and reading flyers for a while (nothing else to read in the car), then I headed into the pool to get changed and showered.

I figured it would take me a few minutes to do that, right? Well no. Since going to the pool a few times with the kids, I've gotten into the habit of putting my swimsuit on under my clothes, so I was done in no time. Once I was showered, there was really no turning back. So, I ended up standing on the pool deck, waiting, almost 20 minutes before my lesson started.

I figured I should look interested in what was going on in the pool. Then I wouldn't look like a dork whose terrified of starting a lesson. *Must unclench hands that are holding the towel.*

I scanned the pool and watched all the children's lessons. I also took note of the instructors. The very very young instructors. I started wondering how much my pride was going to hurt me. Could I handle taking a lesson from a 16 year old? Somebody, that in different circumstances, I could have taught myself?

The minutes ticked by, and I was very much regretting my promptness. How did I go from being chronically late for everything to standing dripping on a pool deck for 20 minutes?

About 7 minutes before the lesson started, a nervous looking girl walked past me to the other end of the pool. A comrade? I wasn't sure, but she'd gone right past me and I wasn't going to give up my somewhat secure spot off to the side.

A few minutes later, another woman came out. She looked around and saw me standing there. "Are you here for the adult lesson?" she asked. (I later found out her name is Trish - rhymes with fish) I told her I was and mentioned I thought the other girl might be as well. "Yeah, she looks scared too," said Trish. A few minutes later, we were joined by Julie whom, it turns out, has as little swimming experience as me and is even more nervous about swimming.

Before long, our instructor waved us over. He turned out to be a confident 20-something year old man named David. Definitely younger then me, but not a meek teenager. The class had about 10 people in it, but all at different levels. As in, there's people that are strong swimmers looking for stroke refinement together with those of us that can barely dog paddle.

David, however, was up for the challenge. He started off by getting everybody to float and find out what level we were at. Little by little, people graduated from the beginner section and got sent out to swim laps with various instructions, while he dealt with us "high maintenance people". Turns out Trish used to swim a lot, so she started doing laps early on. Julie, myself and another man named David (not to be confused with instructor David) were the obvious, start from scratch beginners.

I was starting to wonder if my goal of doing a triathlon in a year was a bit lofty. We did very little actual swimming that first class. Most of the time was spent floating, and doing "rocket ships", where we shot ourselves off the wall. Having so many levels in one class meant that David spent a lot of time giving instructions to all the different participants.

By the end of the first lesson, I was feeling more comfortable with the water. I've realized that floating is easy for me - possibly because my body composition still contains a significant amount of fat, but whatever. By the time I'm more muscle, I should be a better swimmer, so it's all good. For now, I can be confident in the fact that I will float to the surface even if I'm in over my head.

*This is getting long, so I'll continue with part two later...

Monday, June 7, 2010

Pushing yourself too hard

Today I hurt. It isn't a good hurt either. Not yet, anyways. My knee aches and my calves are so tight, I'm limping rather then walking. My shoulders ache, and whenever I reach for something, I'm reminded of it. It's all the cost of a hike we went on yesterday.

Pre-kids, my husband and I did two main types of hiking. We did day hikes of 4 plus hours, carrying around 15 pounds or water and gear each. We also backpacked for anywhere from two to eight days. When we backpacked, we carried between 40 and 60 pounds each (depending on how long the trip was).

Now, it stands to reason that we were able to do more distance in a day on our day hikes then was advisable while backpacking. Obviously, when you are carrying that much extra weight, every kilometer takes more energy.


Yet, when considering what hike to do yesterday, my brilliant suggestion was upper Kananaskis Lake. It's a bit more then 15 km with a fair bit of up and down (though I forgot about the up and down when considering it). It's a trail we've done before as a day hike. Remember, our two types of hiking?

The problem with doing a "day hike" trail is that we were carrying backpacking weight. Fortunately, we were smart enough to bring enough food and water to get us and the kids through, so that meant that we were both toting 45 - 50 pounds. Add to that, I already had a slightly sore knee from running and swimming the day before.

We started off strong. I'm noticing that the inclines are getting easier and I don't need to take as many breaks as I used to. It's a beautiful lake, and the views are spectacular. It's mildly touristy, but most of the tourists stop after the first kilometer or so, meaning it isn't too busy.

We hiked along the lake's edge, then through some trees. Over some loose gravel and bigger rocks, the site of an old rock slide. Back along the lake, through more trees. Past a waterfall, and a bridge. Stopping for a bite to eat with the kids.

The kids are loving being carried on our hikes. Who wouldn't? They get a easy ride through some of the most beautiful spots in the world. They giggled and laughed, occasionally sang. Sometimes kicked, or threw their weight about, making it a wee bit more challenging for Mommy and Daddy.

When we were about a third of the way around the lake, we knew it was going to be longer then we expected. Once we were halfway around, we knew we had taken on more then we should have. The terrain was not as level as we had remembered it. And doing it while carrying 50ish pounds is not the same as doing it with a light day pack.

We pushed on though. Once you're halfway done a loop, there's no point in going back. May as well finish.

There was a spot where the little waterfall made some really cool ice formations.

Then it was starting to really hurt. Our shoulders ached and our calf muscles started to tighten up. My knee, which was a bit sore at the beginning was starting to protest bending. We stopped at the point where we had 4 km left.

This point was actually one of two parking lots on the lake. Regrettably, not the one we were parked at. I suggested going on by myself to get the car while my husband stayed with the kids. I could walk without a pack and make better time. Hubby would be spared from hiking the rest of it at all.

Seemed like a good idea, right? Well, no. Not really. I started to get a chill while we were stopped having our snack and realized that the person staying behind may get too cold. Plus the kids would probably freak out seeing one of us walk off. Plus, I wasn't aware of it at the time, but my pace had slowed way more then I realized and it wouldn't have been a good idea to carry on alone. Plus we had seen bear signs in a couple spots (it is the rockies after all), so it's always better to stay together.

So, we carried on. I got another wind and realized that part of my problem was that I hadn't had enough food/fuel. I took a few swigs of my husband's gatorade (I usually just drink water) on the remainder of the hike. While it hurt, knowing we were getting closer to the end made it seem more doable. Finally we hit the parking lot.

I could barely lift my (sleeping) daughter out of the carrier to get her in her carseat, but soon enough we were in the car going home. Bodies stiff and pushed to their limit climbed into the car. I was the lucky one that got to be the passenger. We grabbed some of the food left in the car and shoveled it into our mouths, and then we were on our way home - about 7 hours after we had started.

It's important to know your limits, and yesterday, we went beyond ours. I actually did okay for the drive home, but right after we got into the house, I started shivering uncontrollably. It meant I got first crack at the hot shower, so I guess there's some benefit. My husband thinks I had gone into shock, and I while I hate to admit it, he may be right.

Today has been a rest day, and tomorrow is looking like it may be as well. Running won't happen in the morning. I know that I'm better off waiting another day then going and risking true injury. Currently nothing feels worse then an overuse injury and I'm confident it will feel better if I let it get there without further stress.

Will we do it again? Not to that extent if I can help it - particularly with the kids along. But, yes. We'll do it again. This is why:

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Running in the morning

I've known for a long time that my best workouts happen in the morning. Until recently though, my children woke me up an average of 2-4 times a night, and getting out of bed, before absolutely necessary, wasn't going to happen. Now, they are both sleeping much better (and let's hope I don't jinx it by admitting it out loud).

Twice during the past week, I've gotten up prior to 6 am to go for a run before my husband had to go to work. I roll out of bed, get dressed and go into the kitchen for a small bite and some water. Then I lace up my running shoes, put my ipod on and hit the trail.

I love the feeling of running in the morning. I love the solitude. The river, which sometimes still has a bit of fog along it. I keep the volume of my ipod low and I can still hear the birds. The trees. The mountains in the distance. The temperature is still cool, but no problem once I'm moving. If anything, I've been dressing too warmly.

Today, being Saturday, I had planned to sleep in a bit. I didn't need to go for an early morning run since my husband doesn't work weekends. Yet, I found myself waking up with the same energy and feeling of purpose I've had for my other morning runs... at 5:45 am. I rolled over to go back to sleep, but I didn't sleep. I gave in about half an hour later and got up, following my morning routine and heading out the door.

This morning, it was drizzling the whole time. I had dressed a bit lighter then usual, and though my core temperature was almost perfect, my arms were cold. Note to self: get arm warmers.

I fell into my rhythm. This week, I'm running for 90 seconds and walking for 60. I find the running segments a bit challenging, but doable. The walking seems really long though. I recover reasonably quickly. I took a different route today. Still by the river, but the other direction. Feeling the rain on my cheeks while I ran, the beat of my feet upon the path. Saying hello to the lady walking her dog, stopping for a moment during my walk segment to look at the view. Back towards home, with a loop past the park, since I wasn't quite done.

Back down my street and into the front door, where I'm greeted by the morning enthusiasm of my little girl and the bleary eyes of my husband. I stretch, then return to reality. Boil some water for oatmeal and tea. Send my husband back to bed.

For the last 3 years of sleep deprived parenting, I've had a "rule" that I tried to get my unsympathetic children to understand. Morning doesn't begin until 6:00 am. I would accept if they had to get up anytime after that, but prior to that, they must go back to sleep. They must. Yet, here I am, getting out and running at a time which, by my own definition, is still night time.

I'm loving it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

It's not about the food

It's not about the food. That seems like a funny comment coming from a weight loss blogger that talks about nutrition and fitness all the time. There's no denying that the food you eat (or don't eat) is one of the key factors in your weight loss, gain or maintenance.

But, in my opinion, it's value is overplayed in the mindset it takes to stick to your goals.

Let's talk about what food is (in a fairly non-scientific way).

First and foremost, food is fuel. It helps fuel your body so that you can live and accomplish the tasks you need to do. Eat too much, and the extra is put into a holding tank. Eat less, and your body withdraws from that holding tank. Eat too much less and your body crashes and burns, since that holding tank seems to have a withdrawal limit. Carbohydrates give you quick, easily used fuel, while protein and fat take a bit longer for you body to break down, meaning you'll still be satisfied for longer. Of course, there's other nutrients, vitamins and minerals, but I'm not going to get too deeply into it.

Food's other role is as enjoyment. There's definitely satisfaction in eating all kinds of foods, healthy and less healthy. As humans, we have a tendency to crave sweet, fatty, and salty foods.

That's about all I'm going to say about food for the moment. And, quite frankly, that's all I need to say about it. I would be willing to bet that 98% of you already know enough to write a book.

To lose weight successfully, we have to stop seeing it as being all about the food. It's easy to think about food all the time when you are on a "diet". You think about what you should have, what you shouldn't have, how you're going to make it, when you're going to make it...

As a mindset, I don't think this is any healthier then just eating said food all the time.

The key is to take away the power food has in your life.

Don't get me wrong; I still fully support enjoying your food, and indulging in the good stuff every once in a while, but don't make your life about food.

This is why my goals for the month of June are free of references to food. At this point in my life, I am loving becoming more active and am eager to make it an increasingly large part of my life. That's not to say you have to embrace exercise. Focus on finishing a scrapbook, or on gardening, or build a bookshelf. Choose something else that is important to you and put your extra time and energy into that.

When it's time for a snack or a meal, prepare it and enjoy it to it's fullest. When it's not time, let it go, and don't think about points, calories, fat grams, etc.

I'll still talk about food in my blog from time to time, but it's not going to be a regular, almost daily thing like it was starting to become.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Setting goals for June

Reading Megan's goals at Grande Skinny Latte reminded me that I haven't set specific goals for a while.

I've been very conflicted about setting goals. I think there's a danger in putting a time line on achievements because you can feel like you failed if you didn't complete it. I think I've figured out where the disconnect is.

The key (for me) is to set goals for things that I want to do, not for things I want to happen.

Losing another 45 or more pounds is something I would like to have happen. In order to achieve that, there are a lot of things I need to do. Optimistically, I'd like to lose 5-10 pounds in the month of June. Again, this is something I want to have happen, but not something I do. It may or may not happen as a result of the things I will do.

So, having said that, my goals for the month of June are as follows:

1. Run 3 times a week, following the C25K program.

I'll listen to my body on this one, and I may repeat weeks, or spend an extra workout at the lower intensity. I just did my fourth run yesterday, and I stayed on the week 1 program for an extra day. I've found that I love running outside, but it is definitely more challenging then running on a nice even track.

2. Ride my bike at least 3 days a week.

Along with this, my goal is to ask myself "do I really need to drive?" I live in a small(ish) town, and virtually anywhere I go within the town, I can get to by bike. So, I'm going to start driving less and riding more. Most, if not all, of these bike rides are with my kids in the Chariot.

3. Complete my swimming class.

I did my first lesson this past Saturday and it went well, although a little slow moving. I'm nowhere near ready to start swimming laps yet, but I hope I will be by the time the lesson is finished.

4. Get to the mountains for a hike at least 3 times.

The biggest reason my family made the decision to move to this town is the proximity to the mountains. There's four weekends in June, so that means, we're heading to the mountains at least 3 days out of those weekends. We got out two weeks ago and discovered that my son is still willing to ride in the carrier, so while we'll let the kids down to run around for part of the hike, we can still get a decent hike in while going at an adult's pace. The extra weight we carry will help us to train for backpacking!

My husband gets the heavier child, with 38 pounds of child, plus the carrier and gear, he's got about 50 pounds...

I get the lighter load. My daughter's about 10 pounds lighter, so I'm only taking around 40 pounds.

You may notice that I didn't have any food goals in that list. I'm not discounting the role food plays in weight loss, but I've got specific reasons for leaving it out of my goals which I'll talk about tomorrow.