The Most Wonderful Time of the Year . . .

Today is the day everyone… Yes, Superbowl Sunday.  The day when the whole world watches as America’s finest football players take the field and battle it out for the title of World Champions. And everyone at home eats themselves silly and falls asleep for a half time nap (at least that’s what I do!).  But today is an especially important day for me.  After 10:00 PM this evening football season will be officially OVER!!!! Don’t get me wrong, I was born and raised a Pittsburgh gal, and I love me some Steelers… within reason! I know, I know.. technically the Steelers had a shot at making the playoffs until the very very end of that KC/San Diego game (hot button topic, I know!), but I live on the realistic side of things.  In my opinion, the Steelers season was just about over by week 6, when they had a 2 – 4 record. Even if they made the playoffs, I was under no false impression that we’d be seeing them anywhere near the Superbowl.    But, I am certainly not any sort of football expert and I digress.  Why, might you ask, am I so very excited to see football season come to an end?  Because my life will not have to revolve around it.  My TV will not be perpetually tuned to some sort of football.. Monday night, Thursday night, College and of course ALL DAY SUNDAY!! I won’t have to wake up to my husband tweeting about this player or that player or be awoken at midnight on a weeknight because someone wants to trade a fantasy player and the proposed trade is just BEYOND outrageous! My life will be at peace for an entire 7 months.  And of course, it’s time for my favorite team to take center stage at least until baseball season.. the Penguins :).


So back to the real reason for this blog.. running!! Last week I set a goal to add in one or two more days of physical activity.  In addition to completing all 3 walk/run training session, I managed to sneak in a little cardio and strength training on Friday night.  So I KINDA made my goal.  I really wanted to get a jump start on this week and head out to the gym this morning for a little bike riding and strength training again, but I was pretty sore this morning.  I guess that little extra work out kicked my behind!!

This week’s training sessions included running a minute between walking sessions.  Doesn’t seem like much, right? WRONG!  I was hoping that by the third session it would be a breeze, but that didn’t really happen.  It was easier for the first 4 cycles, but for the last 4 not so much.  Next week’s plan includes running for 1.5 minutes at a time and I’m not really sure how I’m going to make it! I still can’t picture myself running an entire 5K through the hills of Pittsburgh.  But we’re gonna stick to this one week at a time thing for now. 

My best bud Kelsey is doing an awesome job at also staying on track and keeping us motivated.  We’re still sending pictures of our completed work outs, but she also likes to send me some pretty funny sayings and pictures that are beyond appropriate at the time.  If I can figure out how to do it, maybe I’ll start posting them on here for extra motivation!

I know we all have a Superbowl to watch so I’ll rap it up here.  My goals for this week? Complete all 3 run/walk training sessions and get in TWO extra work out sessions during the week.  Also, I’m still working on a way to increase my “steps” on days I don’t have a training session.  So this week, I plan on taking the stairs up to my desk, walking to the “far away” bathroom at work and maybe taking a few laps around the office during my lunch. But for now, I bid you all a fun-filled evening of buffalo chicken dip and really expensive commercials :). 


‘Tis bitter cold . . .

I’ll tell you what ladies and gentlemen, If I were back in high school I’d be sitting pretty in English class right now.  If my memory serves me right “Tis bitter cold, and I am sick at heart” is among the opening lines in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”. When I was in high school, my favorite English teach offered a substantial amount of bonus points to the first person who said that line to him on a winter day when the temperature was in single digits, or below zero.  Never during my 4 years of high school did the temperature drop that low, but now, it’s been probably about a week or more since we’ve seen anything higher than a few degrees above zero.  But has that stopped me from completing my 10k program workouts this week? Surprisingly, it hasn’t!

Monday was my first day on the treadmill at the gym and I was feeling motivated.  The total combined time of the entire workout was 35 minutes plus a warm up/cool down.  Let me say that there were two different options for this 13 week run/walk program.  The first was a bit more aggressive and started out with more running and less walking. The latter, more walking, less running.  Can you guess which one we picked?  You got it; more walking, less running.  I’ve started out with the more aggressive one in the past and never made it past week 3.  In an attempt to go all the way this time, we started with the less aggressive program.  Despite only short bursts of running within that 35 minute span, my legs were goo by the end of it.  But, I made it through!

When I was done with my workout on Monday, I took a picture of the workout screen on the treadmill and sent it to my fellow blonde Kelsey as proof that we’ve really started this journey.  Turns out, it was good motivation and Kelsey even braved a blizzard on Tuesday to get her work out in! It’s quickly become a habit that once we’ve completed the work out, we each send a picture of the screen.  It keeps us motivated and accountable!

Tuesday morning came and I was feeling pretty good. But Wednesday, ugh, my hips hurt! Getting up and down from my desk chair at work was quite the chore.  Knee problems run in my family. My grandpa had bad knees, and my Mom just had 2 knee replacements.  When I was a dancer, my Mom was always nagging me about my knees, my knees, my knees.  Now I know why.  But for some reason, I don’t have problems with my knees – just my hips :-(.  Hopefully it’s just some growing pains as my body adjusts to this type of activity.

Next up was Wednesday’s workout, 40 minutes in duration this time.  I must’ve miscalculated my cycles, because I actually ended up on the treadmill for 50 minutes instead and I typically only use 5 minutes as joint warm up/cool down time.  Math really never was my strength :-(. Other than the guy next to me running at an 8 minute mile pace for about a half an hour (ugh.. so fast!) and me not being able to get the Pens game on the TV at the gym, all was well.  Especially since the Pens creamed the Habs :).

Friday was my last workout for the week.  It was another 40 minuter.  It was quite an exciting option for Friday night, but to be honest, I just wanted to get the last workout in for the week since the weatherman(or woman!) was calling for snow pretty much all weekend.  He (or she!) was actually right, because it hasn’t stopped snowing since Saturday morning and I haven’t bothered to leave the house!

Looking back on the week, I wish I would’ve gotten in a little bit more physical activity in-between run/walk sessions.  I aimed for Pilates on Saturday with my Aunt, but cleaning off my car on Saturday morning just seemed like a daunting task! It was so much easier to just sit on my couch and watch that Harry Potter marathon that was so conveniently on TV!

In addition to completing all 3 workouts last week, I reached my FitBit goal of 10,000 steps/day twice last week.  And came really, really close a third time.  Of course, those were on the days that I did the run/walk training sessions.  On days I don’t have a training session, it’s not so pretty :-(.  I haven’t quite decided what I think is reasonable for accomplishing this goal on a non-training day, so I’m going to give myself another week to stew about it.  So my goals for this week? Complete all 3 run/walk training sessions, of course, but I’d also like to add in a day or two of other physical activity.  Let’s hope this “polar vortex” doesn’t slow us down!

Blonde… or Blind.. Ambition?

I know, I know.  You’ve seen this post before.  Probably right around this time last year. But this time, it isn’t my fault.. I swear! A few months ago my best bud and college roommate Kelsey, sent me a text message about wanting to run in the happiest place on earth… you got it, Disney World! Well, after doing a little bit of investigating, it turns out that it’s unlikely we will get to run in happiest place on earth within the next year.  So for now, we’ve settled for the second happiest place on earth.. Pittsburgh!

Now, for those of you who know me, or have ever been in a gym class with me, I’m not exactly what you would call… athletic. In fact, I’m pretty much anything but.  I spent a few years (or ten) doing competitive dance, but running, that’s a whole ‘nother ball game folks! In fact, during my first few days as my high school dance team captain, I was on a mission to make sure we ran at every practice; to build endurance for those half time shows, of course!  One lap around the school and I decided that plan was for the birds! So why running? Why now?

I’m 28 (yikes!) years old. I work full-time and well.. that’s pretty much it! I remember the college days where I went to school full-time, worked 2 part-time jobs, and was involved in a few campus activities here or there and SOME HOW, still had time to do whatever it was my little heart desired.. Like watching every reality TV show known to man (what was that RIDICULOUS Tila Tequila show again?!?).  Nowadays, I come home from work, occasionally make dinner, and fall fast asleep on the couch by 8 PM with the dirty dishes still in the sink. Every weekend, my husband and I spend at least one afternoon cleaning up the mess we made during the week.  It’s disgraceful!

As a healthcare professional, I cannot over state the importance of maintaining a healthy diet and exercise routine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no extremist.  I come from an Italian family that loves to eat and I won’t lie, I’m extremely skilled at ordering delicious entrees when we go out to dinner.  It’s not unusual that the waiter delivers our meals, placing the salad in front of me and the steak in front of my husband … And after he or she walks away, I shamefully switch them to their rightful place.  My husband always gets a kick out of that!  I don’t have any plans to follow any one specific diet. My focus will be on trying to make better choices and stick with lean proteins, complex carbs and lots of fruits and veggies.  And to drink more water, which would go down much easier if it tasted like Cherry Coke!

Back to that healthcare professional thing… I spend all day talking with people about how to take charge and improve their health. So, I think, it’s about time I started to practice what I preach. In the 2013 American Diabetes Association Standards of Care, it is recommended to engage in 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise per week.  Ladies and gentlemen, that breaks down to about 30 minutes, 5 days per week. I can honestly say that I’ve paid for a gym membership for the past 3 months, and haven’t seen the inside of the gym once. Terrible, just terrible. Why am I concerned about diabetes, you ask? Family history, of course!

I know most of you are familiar with my Dad’s journey over the past few years.  When I asked my doctor about my risk for a similar situation, he simply told me to keep my BMI ideally < 25, but definitely < 28.  Age might be just a number, but let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger and in a few years we’ll be thinking about having a little one of our own (not YET Mom and Dad)! And if I’m going to bring another human into the world, I want to be as healthy as I can be.

So back to this running thing…   It’s a 13 week journey to a 10k. Yes, I’ve started this program before and have yet to make it past week 2. But this time, it’s going to be different.  I have a concrete goal to work towards, and a partner in crime to help me along.  We’re committed. We have our running plan for the first few weeks. We’ve each bought the FitBit Flex, and we’re ready to go! Our first race .. The Race for the Cure 5K in Pittsburgh on May 11th, 2014.   Week one starts tomorrow. Wish us luck!