Monday, February 8, 2016

IIFYM - If It Fits Your Macros aka Flexible Dieting - How This Might Be the Answer More Mature Women (and all women really) Have Been Searching For!

 As I have documented here off and on, and certainly on my Facebook to friends and family, for the past almost 4 years I have struggled with the change in body composition.  I wish I could blame it all on the thyroid, but since I've proven that to be something you can overcome through diet and exercise (as I proved once I was diagnosed and put the work in to get better.  The meds alone can't fix it all.
But then came a move to Nebraska and the later stages of pre-menopause and those coupled together were just a nightmare waiting to happen.  I just didn't realize it.
I wanted to document my journey through a few blog posts...if for no other reason than for older women to know they aren't alone in the struggle and how I am FINALLY figuring out what has worked for me.  I am almost 3 weeks since my initial bod pod and a complete over-haul in the way I eat AND in the way I see and think about food.
Let me just list a few things I have tried over the past few years that DIDN'T work:
Run more
Run less
Lift more
Lift less
Eat less
A combo of any and all of those things in no particular order
Here is what happened with all that:
I got hungry
I got slower
I got fatter
I got depressed
Some time around Spring of last year I remember my niece, her girlfriend and I were going to do a 'biggest loser' thing and at the time on my digital scale at home I was weighing in at 127ish.  So for the past year, I thought that is how much I still weighed.  Clearly I was wrong as documented on my post with the bod pod.  On someone as short as I am 5 lbs is a size up in pants and well overall just looking like a person in photos I didn't recognize, being as even THAT weight was 6 more than I weighed when I moved to Nebraska mid-2012.
Oy, oy, oy.
I had some success late Spring and in to Summer with a boot camp(ish) kind of workout being offered at my 24 Hour Fitness...but it was expensive, and well it was 24 Hour Fitness and the fast paced/circuit type program just didn't really work in that environment.  Having to compete in a HEAVILY crowded gym was just more frustrating than anything so I stopped after 12 weeks.  I have since embarked on something else, which I will write about in a separate post but right now...I just want to talk about what I have done with food and how even though its only been 3 weeks it has changed my life.
IIFYM - If It Fits Your Macros
So, what does this mean?

It means:
I run less
I am faster
I eat more
I sleep better
My clothes fit like they are supposed to
My aches and strains have disappeared
I am no longer depressed

It also means I’m measuring and recording all my food in order to reach a particular number of macronutrients (protein, fat and carbohydrates) each day. I’m using My Fitness Pal and a food scale to track everything and have found it’s pretty easy to take a few minutes to enter in my food. So far, I’m really enjoying the process and it feels good to take full responsibility for how I fuel my body.
Right now, I’m aiming for a 40C/30F/30P macronutrient split and with some planning, I’m find it pretty easy to reach those numbers. For my needs, that works out to be 140 grams of carbohydrates, 47 grams of fat and 105 grams of protein on a training day. Those numbers vary slightly for a rest day.  It took a few days to figure out how to budget those macros throughout the day but I’ve found by making my meals and snacks well-balanced, I end up with a good amount of each macro left by dinnertime and even leave some room for dessert!  These numbers are tailored to me; my current situation, my goals...etc.  Once I get to where I want BF wise etc., the numbers will be raised to be in maintenance mode.
Before I get into what I learned these past couple of weeks, I want to be clear that this isn’t a diet and it’s not about being restrictive, in fact I’m eating even more than I was before I started. I will not be fulfilling my macros with fat-free, sugar-free and low-carb products, I will still be eating plant-based, whole foods, just in different proportions than I used to. I will not be eating junk food because “it fits my macros,” in fact, I really don’t plan to change much about how I eat at all but rather just be more conscious of how I feel, what works best for me and have the energy I need to reach my fitness and health goals.
I’m not trying to lose weight persay, my goals are improved athletic performance, improved recovery bust mostly a change in body composition. This is about seeing how good I can feel, how strong I can get, how much energy I can have and what I can accomplish if I really put my mind to it. This is not about being hungry, feeling restricted or being obsessive, it only takes a little bit of extra work to hit my numbers each day and I’m actually really enjoying it. It’s like a puzzle that you get to solve each day! There were a few nights where I didn’t feel like measuring out my dinner but I’ve found that adding my recipes to the app ahead of time makes it really easy to enter my food in just a few seconds.
I won’t be doing this forever nor will I be doing it every single day over the next few months, I have some summer trips (Costa Rica In May!!!!) and vacations planned and at this point, I don’t feel the need to worry about it when I’m away from home. I’ll do my best to stick to a general guideline but I won’t be busting out my food scale at our family reunion or the music festivals I’m attending this summer.
Yes, I was already eating very healthy before taking this on but I didn’t pay any attention to macros or really put much thought into how I was fuelling my body. On weekends, although still eating healthy for the most part, I was all over the map, eating way too little or way too much without any consistency to my diet. Some days I was eating a ton of carbs and fat and some days I wasn’t eating nearly as much as I thought. When you want to get the most out of every workout, that inconsistency can really hold you back.  I have been tracking for almost a year off and on actually, and when I went back and looked...well guess what my diet was mostly carbs.  I was NOWHERE NEAR eating as much as I should have been and certainly not the right macros!!! 
So, what about micronutrients? Well, of course, they are still important to me too! That’s why I’ll be continuing to eat a whole food diet. Vitamins, minerals, fibre and other parts of the food we eat are still an important factor in my overall health and I’ll always ensure I’m getting what I need.

The biggest takeaway from my findings so far has been I need to eat more and in the form of proteins.  Previously, since I didn’t pay any attention to my protein intake, there would have been days when I didn’t eat all that much. It was enough to be healthy, workout and feel OK but not enough to reach my current goals. Without a conscious effort to include, high-protein, plant-based foods in every meal and snack, I won’t be able to reach 107 grams a day. When I go in to maintenance I will have to even eat MORE food! Ha!
MyFitnessPal is great that as I log and track, based on the goal numbers loaded in, it automatically tracks my nutrients in both grams and in percentages in a pie chart so that I can easily see if I need more of any of them or a combo.  An example is earlier planning out the rest of my day I was short on Carbs and Fats but didn't need any more protein planned.  So guess what got added?
Ice cream and chocolate syrup!
Its quite amazing..
Yes it can be a bit daunting with the weighing and measuring but after about a week or so you get used to it and honestly it doesn't take that much time.  Its just an excuse people will use because they aren't serious ... they want the easy answer... can't I just eat less?  Nope.  Maybe for a while but screw up your insides like I did after years and years of that...and well.  You're going to have to fix it.
I believe wholeheartedly that IIFYM, flexible eating and reverse dieting CAN fix a broken metabolism and assist with body composition as a woman ages and hormonal fluctuations become more and more common.
I have my 3rd weigh in on Wednesday so I will come back with that number but since my goal is BF loss and retaining muscle, my numbers in macros are to aid in that.  Losing .5 lb a week is optimal.  Losing weight too quickly will result in a higher BF percentage and a lower muscle mass percentage aka SKINNY FAT.
I am very much so anticipating my follow up bod pod sometime in April!  In the 3 short weeks since I started, the change in body comp is definitely noticeable and really that's the most important thing to me.
If you would like to know more about maybe what your percentages would be, please do not hesitate to email me.  Or you can google IIFYM to do more research on their website; or any of the numerous folks out there who have excelled with this no nonsense approach to nutrition and being the best you at any age.
Anyway for anyone reading...stay tuned as I will documenting some of my trials and tribulations as I navigate the IIFYM world!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Maturing As An Older Female Athlete and How Its Impacted My Fitness Goals

I've often thought about writing on this topic, but didn't quite know the angle I wanted to take.  Still don't but figured with some extra time on my hands to day, I'd start somewhere.
Once I entered high school, I was active really on as a teenager wants to be:  Cheerleading or Dance Team (for me).
Then after graduation my fitness centered around being a gym rat mostly.  I went through the mid-80s things of aerobics, complete with butt crack/thong one pieces and shiny tights with leg warmers.
Then again in the 90s, more gym rat stuff, with Step classes in there when that took off.
So basically what I am saying is that for the better part of my life I have been active and interested in fitness.
For the simple fact of how it made me look.
Then when I started running in the late 2000's it was for other reasons. And also, part 2...
Anyway, when I first started running, it was for that reason as help me get whatever was wrong with me under control.
Then after that first half marathon in 2006, and that first marathon in January 2007, it became about something more which I won't rehash now.  But while it made me thinner, and more driven...and faster, it was all for unhealthy reasons.
Mid 2012 after moving to Nebraska, running had to take a backseat, and then it became just unattractive to me due to my situation there etc. etc.  However I was in the middle of full on coupled with everything else I was trying desperately to hang on to my former self I suppose.  But I found myself right back (physically) where I started in 2004/5 to be honest.
Out of shape (for me) and wondering what the heck was going on inside my body.
I've struggled with finding the balance since moving back to Texas mid-2014.  I've got my love of running back finally, but I have still been struggling with the pre-meno/menopause thing. 
Somewhere along the way my mindset has shifted a bit though.  Its nothing to me now to be 'faster' or to PR.  I prefer shorter distances these days, with my new fav distance being the 10 miler.
My goal now is to keep my heart healthy, reduce my bodyfat % (again for health reasons, not vanity), and to keep my muscles strong and doing what they were meant to do:  protect my insides and keep me moving right on in to old age.
Now for the reason why this has been on my mind a lot lately.  Facebook.  Instagram. 
Isn't that always the case these days?
I just keep my mouth shut though.  All this emphasis on running more miles than everyone.  Running faster than anyone.  Running more races than everyone.
Most I don't really pay that much attention to, but it does have its triggers.  I've unfollowed a LOT of the Insta's because its just seem so time consuming and effort that I wonder what they are missing out on with all that running?
Then there are the few that I know personally that have had health issues from the excessive amounts of stress they put their bodies through (adrenal fatigue, thyroid issues..etc), but yet are right back at it thinking they are immune to further damage.  Or worse, that they are healed.
Anyway, I guess I just wish they'd cool their jets.  The impact on them being younger has yet to surface, but I bet it will for most.  Others it never will of course.  But some are just either predisposed to the complications or will run themselves into the ground so much that its inevitable.
I wonder:  this is not your job.  you are not going to win.  no one else really cares.  why are you doing this exactly?
While I am still very much an athlete and work out my body 5-6 times a week, its not for hours at a time.  My body is much better off with a healthy balance of rest, relaxation, fun, food, friends, and family.
Of course I still want to look good, as in healthy, but I have a 50+ body of a woman who has come to the realization that what is on the outside is NOT a reflection whatsoever of what is going on in the inside.
My body, mind, and soul are all in alignment for the first time of my entire life.  Changing my approach to how I exercise and how I eat has grown to be more mature as well.
What an accomplishment.  Go me!  And go you!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bod Pod Experience

This is a stock photo, but looks the same; minus what appears to be steam

Where I work, there is a mobile 'bod pod' facility (that link will tell you what the bod pod actually does) that comes here once a quarter.  I have never actually participated in it, but since I recently joined our new gym here at work, and because one of my best friends here did it last quarter, he talked me in to it.
Honestly I was more hesitant about it, especially now given what I feel to be less than stellar body composition, due to the fact I was nervous what the dang thing was going to tell me.
Its very obvious to me the differences my body has gone through the past few years.  This age thing has its drawbacks that is for certain.
At one time I had looked in to these, but never could justify the expense (generally around $100).  Since its through work we get a heck of a discount, so there I was signed up.
I signed up for a super early test because for 2 hours before you cannot eat or drink.  I at least could have my coffee at home, and just have the 2 hours to wait before I could eat (normally at 7am).  My appointment slot was for 8:10am
I brought my unitard/onesie/tri-suit since you are asked to wear tight clothing that prevents air between the cloth and your skin.  They also but a swim cap like thing on your head and push all your hair up underneath.
If you read the information in the link above, great!  So after my time spent in the 'egg', I got dressed and the doctor went over my results.
Spoiler alert: It wasn't as bad as I thought, however, definitely room for improvement obviously.  With my age, current 'woman' hormones issues, in addition to being on a synthetic hormone for the past 10 years because of a severely underactive thyroid...well I was wondering specifically it would tell me in regards to metabolism (RMR) and my TDEE.
Since I deemed 2016 doing everything I could to be better, and methods of my own have clearly not been working, it was time for an expert.  Or two.  (the 2nd one is for another blog post)
One thing that I really liked is at no point during or after did the doctor ever tell me my weight.  And yes that's the first thing you do after changing your clothes.  And you can't see the number anywhere either.  This speaks to the fact that this is about health and not how much you weigh.
Sure if you can add then you can tell what you weigh after your get your documentation but even I had a bit of a time before I realized that.  And just as documentation and disclosure, I weighed a full 5 lbs more than I have been telling myself for a year now.  Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuut...
As I said above it was better news than I thought.  While I did indeed weigh 5 lbs more than I thought (and had last weighed in at on my home scale which no longer has a battery thank God..), my lean mass to fat mass was still in the moderately lean category (22%-30%)!  And because of my age and gender the %'s might be different for other age groups etc.  Just a factoid for reference should you ever do one of these.
But while I was in the moderately lean category for my age and gender I was on the higher end of that than I would like.  I had a conversation with the doctor about that and my reasonings for the dysmorphia I have (and always have had)...So he gave me a plan based on the numbers and together we came up with a goal for the next few months until my next bod pod.  As an additional FYI, again for me, age etc...the doctor did tell me that 22% is NOT exactly something I should aspire for; and that it would be extremely difficult and just not advised.  And why would I want to anyway right?
So my numbers as of Wednesday, January 20th
Age: 52
Height: 5'2
Weight: 132
BF%: 27.6
Lean Mass/Muscle%: 72.4
Fat Lbs: 36.4
Muscle Lbs: 95.5
RMR: 1185
TDEE: 2062
So the goal is singular before the next bod pod (in April sometime) is to reduce BF% by at least 1% (shooting for an even 26%).  I assume the weight will drop on its on as I don't expect to be gaining a ton of muscle in that short period of time.   Once I have a new set of numbers we will move on to the next goal.
I am thrilled to know that regardless of how I feel I may 'look', I am very healthy...which I knew, but my brain still struggles to distinguish between perception and reality.
I cannot recommend enough to have this done!  It is so important for overall health and for muscle to be protecting your insides, and not fat.
If anyone is reading...I will be posting a couple of blog posts on the change in nutrition and exercise to achieve goals.  Its only been 6 days but the change is already visible (even if only to me right now).  Incredible!!!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Years Day 10K - Run Houston Series - Sam Houston Race Park - 1:05:01

What is it with this race?  LOL.
It was cold. (low 40's)
WINDY. (25mph)
Raining. (thankfully by race time it was just sprinkles here and there)
Same conditions last year except it was actually POURING in 2015.
This race is a great way to start the year off!  Its easy access, plenty of parking, not a crazy crowded race, great medal, indoor waiting before race and also inside for post-race food and activity, just to name a few.
Its the first in a 5 race series new to the area last year and whereas I use to hate the 10K distance (they also have the 5K), I like it now.  Mostly because I don't want to train for long distances anymore and well most 10K's now give out pretty sweet medals.  Plus I like the idea of doing all 5 of these in a year for a bonus rack and medal.
I didn't do all 5 last year because of location (lazy), but now the outfit has a Virtual run option but there are restrictions.  You have to sign up for that OR switch at least 2 weeks prior to race day.  Their website explains it all nicely.
So I will do all 5 of them this year with the ability to do Virtual for 2 out of the 5.  Right now I cannot remember the next one...think maybe its Minute Maid.
Anyway, when I signed up for this one I didn't look at my calendar for 1/2 training and well since the race fell on a Friday, my last long run for Houston was the very next day.  Oops.
So my thought was to go run it like in the 12:00 range and save my legs for the next day.
Well I ended up running it a lot faster than that.  1:05:01.  My watch for whatever reason showed 1:04:29 but still that's not a huge difference.
I ran the 2nd loop almost 3 minutes faster and for half of each loop you were running directly in to the wind.  Brutal.  I liked the course though even the 2 loops because the way it was laid out it seemed to go pretty darn fast.
So I was pretty worried about the next days long run but it all ended up working out just fine.  Shocked was I at that. 
But lets just say that I am so glad this training cycle is OVER and that I will be glad when the dang race (Aramco Houston) is over too :O)


I don't do resolutions and haven't for many, many, many years.
I do reflect on what didn't get accomplished in that year that I might have set a goal for, and what if anything I want to strive for in the coming year.
I cannot recall if I ever wrote anything down here on this blog or any blog I have had (this is my 3rd), but last night I was thinking I probably should write my thoughts down somewhere.  And since basically no one reads this anymore, I figured I could just do it here since I don't keep a journal.
I have a couple of books on my Kindle that I would like to get around to reading at some point.  They've been there pretty much all of 2015 if I remember right.
2016 was going to be the year I would drop some money on a townhome or condo, but I have since scrapped that idea recently.  First off home prices are high right now due to low inventory.  I don't know that that will change anytime soon.
Furthermore I decided to do some travel this year instead.  A couple of places on my bucket list, and if I keep waiting around for one reason or another, it might not happen.  So the first week of May I am off to Costa Rica!!!  I am so darn excited!  I have the paper filled out to renew my passport and I will book my flight with income tax refund.  I have the accommodations booked though. Sun-Sat of pure bliss and adventure!
The only other place I really want to go is New Zealand but that'll be done in a different year.  Maybe next if the housing thing stays as is.  I have a trip West with some girlfriends in September.
I also thought I would be paying off my debt this year, but well that got accomplished already, so...
I am also striving towards some additional success at work so hoping that my love for this company continues to be as strong as it is today.  I seriously love this company, the people I work with and my job.  That's not to keep me complacent though.  I have a lot to offer in my opinion so its in everyone's best interest :O)
As it pertains to health, I just want to keep being active and healthy.  My goal this year believe it or not is to NOT train for a half marathon.  I love running so that's not going to stop but I'd like to take the Fall off from the monotony of training.  We will see if that changes come September based on other variables leading up to that point.
Pretty sure my heart is set on 10 milers being my jam for a while.  I have one in April and then I will do Katy again in October.  I am thinking that might be the extent of my distance running.
I think that about sums up some of my thoughts around me personally through 2016.  I will have to remember to check back here come December to see how I did ;o)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas Time Is Here! And a 2015 Retrospective

Ah the holidays are upon us and I am love, love, loving it!  Even better because its been warm except for a few days at a time here or there.  I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE El Nino!
I know its not popular, but here's what I have to say about that:  Its Texas and you choose to live here.  If it bothers you that much, move. 
OK, what else?  Well obviously I am not busy at work or I wouldn't be typing right now.  People are either taking this week off or next week.  Me?  I am off as of Thursday and will be out until Jan 4th.  So with so many out this week, its almost like having time off now as well.
I actually left at 3:30 yesterday to hit up the gym early.  Got in an AWESOME workout, and still get home right as its not yet quite dark, but close.  Thankful solstice has happened and now the days will be getting a bit longer even if its just a minute or two as the next few months fly by.
I am SO excited to spend extra time with T over the holidays.  He is almost 2 now so he is much more aware of the difference between normal days and holi(days).  At least I think so anyway.  We had a photographer on Sunday at a park for family pictures and he is a hot mess!  Oh how he makes my heart swell to like 10 million times bigger than it is.
Lets see what else?  Running.  Yep been back running with Kenyan Way for about 2 months now.  I only go in on Saturdays for the long run support but its been great.  It makes me run faster than I might otherwise and walk less too :O)  When you have so many people, you just naturally want to at least keep up with SOME of them when you can you know?  Totally worth getting up at 4:30am on a Saturday to make the drive in for a 6am start.  It generally takes me about 35 min I guess, give or take.  Again, totally worth it.
Once Houston is over, I will take my break from KW and just run in Cinco.  I signed up for a 10 miler (Texas 10 Series) late April so I am going to just chill with running anything over 5-6 miles for a month.
Before Houston, I have a 10K and a quarter marathon (women's only race), so I am enjoying the shorter distance kind of races.
This year I'll be taking an extended time off just like I did last year from running (after the 10 miler in April) ANY long distances, focusing on speed, endurance, and strength.  I'd like to go in to the late Summer, early Fall running a bit faster than I am today. 
With our new building at work we now have a top-notch gym available to us which I recently joined.  I am still going to keep my membership at the 'other place' as its close to home for weekends and when I am off.  Right now at least, the extra $43 a month isn't a hassle....which by the way guess what???????
I am debt freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!  I paid off my consolidation loan a year early!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Free and clear baby, free and clear.  I know I wrote recently about financial well being and my goodness how freeing is this?!  That's an extra $822 dollars A MONTH in my accounts.  Y'all that's a lot of damn money and for 4 years I was paying that out, desperately waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.  Bye bye student loans and mistakes of years of charging CRAP.    
Of course I have upped my savings and hopefully a raise in February, and another 1% added to my 401k deduction...well I feel very, very, financially stable right now for sure.  Both my checking and savings are nicely padded to say the least.
The decision in 2016 will be to either buy a townhome/condo, or to continue to rent.  February my niece and I will be conversing about me possibly taking on her house and she is ready to be out of it.  Its WAY too big for me, but I love it so much...We shall see what she decides to do as its really up to her at this point.  When we talked about it a couple of months ago, she liked the idea.
Man its been a great year.  First full year home again.  New car.  Paid off debt.  Happy.  Healthy.  Family.  Love.  No loss.
I can only wish that in 2016, I have half of that kind of personal success.  I sometimes worry about the shoe yet to drop, but that's not often.  I am a pretty positive, grateful person the last couple of years for that outweighs the sometimes doubt of troubles that might come along. 
Remember:  The places where you have the biggest challenges, are the places where you have the most to give ----Tracy McMillian

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Katy YMCA 2015 Turkey Dash (10K)

Definitely NOT the race I had hoped for that's for sure.  With it being 73 and 100% humidity (feels like of 81) and a strong wind to boot for about 1/2 the race I was just DONE. 
Once I knew what the weather was going to be like, I more or less loosened up my goal a bit, which was a 1:06 (10:39 pace).  I did do it faster than last year, in better weather, but in much less running shape than I am now.

I majorly struggled with even this result, but I didn't leave anything out there.  It was just excruciatingly miserable, miserable weather. 
I could feel how red my face was basically once I hit mile 3.  My first mile was OK, at 10:30 but looking back I should have done an 11, but I still had high hopes and figured I see what happened after the first mile.

Not the brightest idea considering I knew I was going to be overheating sooner rather than later.

Had I taken a more cautious approach in the first couple of miles, I might have been able to shave off some time.
I do like this race for many reasons: Its local, its easy in and easy out, great booths of vendors, great medals, and its one big loop.  The biggest bonus is that its roughly less than HALF of the nightmare of the Uptown Turkey Trot which is about 15,000 people.  I think Katy says about 7,000, but I would say more like 5 based on the results the past 2 years.
They also have corrals (new this year) which I royally screwed up on when I signed up because I didn't notice it and just it Submit.  This mistake put me in Corral A.  Oops.  Well I figured out afterwards what I had done once I picked up my bib etc., so I lined up at the front of the C corral like a good girl. 

My next race if New Years Day and is another 10K.  If the weather if optimal, I will be shooting for either that 1:06 or possibly even a 1:05:30. 
December is a high(er) mileage month for me going in to the taper early January for Houston, so we'll see how my legs feel that last week of the month.  I have a long run the very next day so I will have to either sacrifice the race time or the ease of a long run on somewhat tired but not in pain legs.
We shall see.
I've been ramping my monthly mileage up the past few months and December will be the highest.  75 in October, 80 in November and it will be 100 for this month.  BTW I am using not only GarminConnect (since I got my new watch) but also Training Peaks.  They have a great interface and I am able to disable the data.  This alone makes me a bit more competitive (with myself) and its paying off.  Plus I love that my new watch is Bluetooth and auto downloads the data into my phone and even the website with no effort. 
OK that's it for now...Not sure anyone is even reading but again keeping track of information again is mainly for me these days.