Thursday, February 18, 2016

Downsizing and How Moving towards a Minimalistic Lifestyle has Saved Me AND Saved Me Money

(I don't know why I cannot get the font to be normal, so my apologies!)

I don't believe I have written about my journey into the world of minimalism, but it is something that I have been adopting slowly but surely since probably before I moved to Nebraska. I know I said my next entry would be about OrangeTheory (fitness), but I had some thoughts in my head on this which seemed easier to write about. Really I think its because I follow a few minimalism blogs and I read an interesting one this morning.

Initially it began as early as 2003 when I sold my 2500 sq ft home and moved in to an apartment (which was the case up until 2012 when I had a house in Nebraska; smaller but a house nonetheless). When I was packing the house up initially it began in the kitchen. I had like 3 sets of dinnerware for one thing...which was just ridiculous. Anyway, that;s where it started. BTW I have one full set of dishes (4 of each size in the set), which NEVER get used. I have one set of pasta bowls and 2 small plates from Williams Sonoma that I use day in and day out. And I think I have 4 glasses that match. Otherwise I use 1 of 2 tumblers for my personal use.

Then of course a lot of things went into a storage unit because duh, large house, small apartment. Even after getting rid of a LOT. 3.5 years ago I guess it was, I stopped paying on the storage unit and all that was in there is gone to somebody somewhere who bid on it at an auction. I do wish I still had my 2 very expensive cowboy hats, but then again I never wear a cowboy hat anymore since I quite rodeo in 2005 so again...better use somewhere else I suppose. What was in there had been in there since TWO THOUSAND THREE...And I had never once gone in there to retrieve anything. So basically ten years.  
Then when I moved to Nebraska, yadda yadda yadda...more purging..
Now I will say even though I was slowly moving towards minimalism I was still purchasing clothing and shoes etc. Even when I wasn't even wearing what I had. A lot of that had to do with what no longer fit when I moved there...and then what began to no longer fit after being there a while...and then by the time I left. But once I was packing to move back to Texas, man oh man did I purge in that area.

Or so I thought. Ha! Because now I have been home almost 2 years now and I have since donated like 3 medium size/kitchen bags full. Thankfully the last one took me a while to fill up but slowly I did right before the holidays. Sometime early Fall I started going through things in the closet where I had multiples of like 3 white tshirts, 2 black turtlenecks, 3 pairs of black slacks etc. I now I own ONE of each of those. See where I am going with this? I also didnt need 3 pairs of black boots. Or 2 pairs of brown ones..Now? Yep you guessed it. I had to make choices and while difficult in some ways, it was easier and it felt so so so great!

My place is not what anyone would call extreme minimalism but I definitely don't fill up every corner. I don't buy things unless I am replacing something else. I don't buy food or anything like that unless its going to be eaten within 2 weeks, preferably one week. My pantry by Friday looks bare because who needs cans and cans and boxes and boxes of things? Food is one of the things we waste and throw money away on every single day, week, year. Like billions and billions of dollars. Not this girl. I meal plan and whatever is on the menu, then I buy for. Sure I keep PB, cocoa powder, oats etc, the basic essentials I need to complete a meal, but thats it.

Other examples would be I have one set of sheets and one set of towels (which means I have 4 large bath towels. 2 orange and 2 gray). I actually just replaced 2 because duh, after 2 years they needed to be.  I actually kept the 2 for use when washing the car.  Point is, one in, one out...but in this case it can be recycled for a couple more months for another use.

My latest project in the minimalism forage is that right before January 1, I went in to my closet and turned every single thing on a hanger in the opposite direction. On June 30th, whatever is still on a hanger in the opposite direction means that particular item was not worn for a period of 6 months. At that time all of those items will be boxed up at first and put on the top shelf of my closet. Then on December 31st that box will be brought down, unopened and put for donation. If any time during that 6 months I consciously desire/need (without opening it first) something from that box , then it can be kept out of the box and returned to a hanger to live happily ever after.
Additionally during this first 6 month period, I am on a spending freeze. Obviously I have a couple of bills and I need food, gas, a few of my luxury costs...but as far as clothes, shoes, etc., nothing. UNLESS something needs to be replaced because of damage/wear and tear or it stops working. I have almost completed 2 months! Its actually quite easy, but I had wittled down my spending slowly over the past few years, mostly out of necessity rather than choosing to do so, but that has put a LOT of cash in the bank. If I had to average it out, I was probably spending close to $200 a month up (generally on workout stuff!) until about November on some workout/running/work related clothing item.
After the 6 months and I deplete what I have even further, then and only then will I assess what needs to be purchased to round out what will end up being my 'clothing capsule'. On average people generally will only wear the same 20-25% clothing items over and over but yet still have 'nothing' to wear, and then spend money on something to wear, but then will go back to the same 20-25%...Which by the way, I recently decided to stop following clothing blogs like LuluAddict, LuluMum to name just two. I really should quit following Apartment Therapy as well, but their small space/design esthetic really appeals to me and can really be tied to minimalism in an off sort of way.

Minimalism has not only made me richer in my pocket but in my heart, my soul, and my mind.  Its truly freeing when you don't have stress surrounding stuff in your house or in your life...Here is one tidbit:  If you are buying more containers to store more stuff to 'get organized' then you have too much stuff.  If you own something it should be USED.  If you are not using it RIGHT NOW and you haven't lets say in months, then FOR GOODNESS SAKE GET RID OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And lastly, I suppose this could count towards minimalism as well, at least thats how I feel after a week of not being on Facebook! I gave up Facebook for Lenten and wow. My quality of everyday life has improved a lot I would say. I no longer am on it first thing in the morning...instead I enjoy my coffee and my news phone/iPad free, I fix my breakfast and lunches not in a rush, I cook dinner not in a rush (I found myself rushing a lot because I would get caught up in catching up!)...I watched the Grammys without interruption or commentary from the masses, just to name a few. Masses is exaggerating since I even have minimized my friends list. It was tough the first day, but its now literally an afterthought that I have no idea whats going on! You know as far as Facebooks newsfeed of drivel. 

Anyway, here are 4 tips that I found to be important! Any questions regarding starting this process (its taken me a few years but I am ALMOST DONE!!!), working through it (and yes its work, and can be overwhelming especially when faced with parting with something that was your great-great-great-great aunts or something that cost a lot of money...) feel free to email me!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

When The Running Bug Goes Away

Most recently I wrote something along the same lines as this next entry...
There have always been times I suppose where one gets on a 'kick' and it may last a few months or a few years.  I myself  have been through it many, many times.  My most recent example would be from about year 2001 to 2004 as it pertained to music and the road.  I am not going to rehash any of that (it was another blog too; long retired) and clearly before I took up running.
Then from about 2005 up through 2012 my life seemed to center around running.  Even in the few years after, but as I previously mentioned, it started to wane. 
And as in other ventures, once I start leaving something behind, while others don't I wonder why.  As in why do you still never sleep?  Why do you still go out 5 nights a week?  Why do you still drink alcohol?  Why do you still do 3 half marathons in 4 weeks?  Why?  Why?  Why?  And then there are those that run like insane distances ALL. YEAR. LONG.  Like it is consuming their life.  WTF?
I don't know maybe I am just coming off of a long training cycle where I typically begin to loathe the training towards the end and then just kinda fall in love with minimal miles again.
But I think it might be something more.  Honestly I don't even know if I will sign up for the half again this year which I've already dropped to 1 half marathon a year, but will this be the year where I go without not only a marathon but a half marathon too??  I guess I will make that call in June when it opens up.  Normally I would have signed up as soon as they open it up after the race for a certain number of folks, but eh, I was like, I'm just gonna take a nap..Then the next thing I knew it was Wednesday and the window was close for early registration.  Ha!
I mean I still have 2 races I've done that I haven't even blogged about.  Crazy.
I guess my point is that I have realized that running long distances is not doing me any favors.  It certainly doesn't detour weight gain, and in most cases it actually does the opposite right along with taking precious muscle along with it.

What I will tell you that I personally have found out is that the key to having a healthy body is 80% food and 20% exercise.  Eating enough.  Not eating too much.  Watch sugar and sodium intake.  And GET YOUR PROTEIN in.  Lord the protein! At least at this stage in my life.  And probably in yours as well.  Regular exercise WILL benefit your overall health but in the grand scheme of losing weight or fat?  Nope.
I am running about 12 miles a week right now.  TWELVE.  And I love it.  And the bonus of being fitter than I have been in a very, very long time.

AND half of those are done in HIIT (OrangeTheory; NEXT blog post I PROMISE!), with a run between 5-6 miles on either Saturday or Sunday.  I do have a 10K coming up and I kinda need to be able to at least do that.  :O)
Once I move in to March I will up the mileage on the weekend so I can finish a 10 miler I have in April (hindsight I wish I hadn't signed up for but whatev)
I don't know when this happened.  I mean I still love running for the most part, just not for long distances.  The need, or what I thought was the need, is just not there.  I have found other ways to be healthy, and running all those damn miles (even though it was just half marathon training) as I said was hurting me more than it was helping.
I wonder if I am just going through a phase?  So weird if I am because I am finally upping my fitness, and I can run faster, but I don't want to.
ps Sorry for the rambling posts as of late.  I promise I have 4 interesting posts to write; actually have them in draft so I don't forget.  I just need to write them already!

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!!!