What is this all about?

I started this blog to keep me accountable in my fitness and clean eating journey. My first post was in March of 2007 and I've been posting ever since. As you will see I've had many highs and lows...but this is all about the journey...not just the destination

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Salads are exciting

Last week , I did a vegetable juice and vegetable soup fast for 5 days. The goal of the fast was to give my digestive system a break and to detoxify from the inside out. It was pretty tough and not something that I will do again- certainly not for that long. Perhaps 1 or 2 days, certainly not 5. By day 3 , I started to feel weak. I'm sure I needed to just drink more juice, but given that I could only juice enough for 2-3 servings at a time, it was tough to have as much as I needed. The instructions for the fast say that you are to have as much fresh vegetable juice as you would like. I was only able to get in roughly 2-3 servings per day. I think one day I may have gotten to 4. Bottom line - it didn't work for me, plus I broke my 15 year old juicer. On the other hand, I did feel like my digestive system was working better. I didn't have bloating or gas that usually accompanies my consumption of grains. Also - things were moving -- if you know what I mean. (I know oversharing again - but if you read this blog - you know that is my MO).

So this week , in transitioning to solid food, I'm trying to stick with 90% vegetables, 10% grains. That means lots of salads and fresh veggie dishes. Lucky for me (and thanks to Lois), I just bought a new cookbook "Vegan Soul Kitchen" . The book is full of great soul food inspired vegan dishes. Last night I had citrus collards, braised brussel sprouts and baby potatoes. It was delish... especially the collards. I am not a fan of collard greens normally, so this was quite a treat.
For lunch, I've been focusing on eating the most exciting salads I can make. I've been having lots of fun. Today I had a spinach salad with roasted leeks and fennel and lots of other veggies - topped with Tofu. I added a bit of sesame oil to the tofu to give it a little more flavor. Then I used a little bit of broth from a vegetable soup for the dressing. It was yummy.
Who said salads have to be boring.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spin Therapy

Sometimes I get sad... probably sadder than most. And for no apparent reason. When this happens, it is difficult to talk myself out of my "mood". Call it what you want- the blues, PMS, depression etc, Whatever --- It is what it is and the fact remains ..it happens. What I have found is that exercise provides an immediate and lasting effect. Not just any exercise..but rigorous - challenging heart- pumping cardio. It happens a bit with Hot Yoga , but not at all as measurable as it is with hard cardio. For me ..Spinning always does the trick.

So this morning, I woke up around 2:45am to the taps of an adorable little boy - who was complaining about nightmares. I took him back to his room and assured him that God would always protect him. When that didn't work, I told him that he could defeat the bad guys by taking his light saber into his dream with him. When that didn't work, (yawn) I told him to count to 300 very slowly. Success at last. Success for him, but not for me. So I lay in the bed for the next 3 hours trying to go back to sleep and at the same time noticing that I was a little blue. I had already planned to go to the gym, but my inner sabateur was busy at work trying to convince me not to go. All sorts of negative thougths were running through my mind. All sorts of self flogging -- shoulda-woulda- couldas. I knew I needed to snap out of it , but just couldn't. Finally - I decided that the 1 thing I could do was to get up and get to the gym as they opened (5am). I could always rest when I came back home.
So off I went.

Today was "race day" - which is an extended spin class. It starts at 5:30 and goes until 7:30. My favorite instructor (Josh) leads the class. Since it has been a few weeks since I've taken a spin class, I was prepared to not go to the limit. I knew I might have to take it easy.

Well I didn't take it easy at all. I was able to "bring the fire" as Josh says. Boy it felt good. By minute 20, I felt great both physically and mentally. Positive energy running through my body and positive thoughts running through my mind. I felt powerful and confident and like the strong awesome woman that I know I am. Around minute 70 - when it was really tough and my quads and glutes were burning, I realized that I tried to be totally and completely present. I felt pain - but I could push through with energy and a bit of giddiness. With each pedal stroke, I knew I was getting stronger in body and mind . My self talk turned from negative and discouraging to positive and uplifting. With "you go girls" replacing the shoulda-woulda-couldas. It was in that moment of presence, that I realized that spinning is my therapy. It is good for my body and good for my mind.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Time to step it up...

So my first event is on 5/15 -- Tour de Cure bike ride. My plan is to do the 50 mile loop...(assuming it doesnt rain)... My last 6 weeks of training has been focuse don Hot Yoga and a bit of running and spinning. Now it it time to turn up the heat..
Next week I'm adding spinning and a weekend long bike ride. I will also begin running 2x a week.

So the schedule looks like this:
MWF - spin followed by run
Friday Swim/spin/run
Hot yoga on the weekend and 1 log bike ride either Saturday or Sunday.

If I could squeeze in hot yoga at 1 night during the week...that would complete it.

My only small concern is nutrition. Since i've gone vegan, I haven't worked out with the intensity of a full out training season. without that schedule, I've noticed that I've been feeling weak and have loss some muscle mass. I m anticipating the need to add back protein in a bigger way. I' will probably add fish 2x a week and be sure to get plenty of lentils/beans.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

4 hot yoga sessions in 5 days in 4 cities...

So I had to travel to NY and LA for business. Although I arrived in NJ a day early to spend time with family, it was still an incredibly short trip (1 day in each city). I knew that my new favorite sweat session (Bikram Yoga) was located in states all over the country. I decided that I would try and make a hot yoga session in each city. Because Bikram Yoga is a Franchise and as such it is practiced exactly the same all over the world (the same 26 poses done in a heated room with the very same instruction given ), I knew that it would be pretty low risk .

Friday am: The day before my flight to the East coast, I took at 6am Hot Yoga class at my regular studio in Redmond Wa.. Since the studio is relatively new.. it is very fresh and manicured . The room has cedar walls and wood floor. The main room can hold roughly 50 people, but I've never taken a class there with more than 20. In fact my first class was just me and another person. The class was as expected, wonderful. The teacher was awesome as usual. She always has really good coaching and correction. She also takes time to say everyone's name and to acknowledge that you are doing well. There was really good energy in the class. I'm starting to get really strong in some of my poses and after this class, I felt like my practice was definitely getting better.

Saturday travel.

Sunday : Day 1 in NJ. I took a class at the Westfield Bikram studio. This studio is roughly 1 year old and still feels new. The teacher was exactly the same as what I was used to - without the encouragement and acknoledgement. I could tell she was a new instructor. As I looked around the class , I could tell there were a few veterans and several newbies. Generally speaking the newbies are in the back of the room and the veterans (or near veterans) perch themselves in front. I was appropriately positioned in the middle.

There were two women in the back who caught my eye. Two sisters who were dressed in long sleeve tee and heavy sweat pants. I figured they must know what they were doing because why else would someone show up to a hot yoga class with artic wear. The teacher eventually pointed out that it was their first day. I expected them to stop the class at some point, especially given their attire. They stuck out the entire class and even did most of the poses. I felt great after this class and so glad I went. In fact I felt like I could have taken a double class.

Monday NY: So the midtown Bikram studios have been around for 10 years and are very well established. I decided to attend the first class (6:45) on Monday ..before my 10 meeting. The class fee included towels and a mat- which was a nice touch. The lobby is large and filled with products to buy and member contest information.
When I walked into the yoga studio, I almost choked from the smell. It smelled like 10 years of sweat had built up in the carpet - which is probably not far from the truth. I felt good in the class.. strong in my poses and focused on proper technique. There were obviously people in the class who were veterans.. probably teachers.. but I was unfettered - i just did the very best that I could. I felt great afterward - especially happy to be in fresh air.

Tuesday LA:
So LA is the home of Bikram World Headquarters. It is where it all began..in fact Bikram himself, still teaches a class once a week.
So I arrive after a 20 minute ride in a cab- that should have been 10.( Driver didn't know La Cienega S from N). This delay put me dangerously close to being late. In most Bikram classes, the doors are locked at the exact start time. There was lots of drama around my arrival. I had to run across La Cienega dodging in between cars. only then to try to get in to the front door ...which was really the back door and was locked. I then ran around the corner to the back (which was really the front). I ran in .. asking if I could still take the class - even though I was about 3 minutes late. Once I got the ok, I quickly put my stuff away and walked in.

The room was cavernous. I think perhaps 350 people could fit, possibly more. I found a spot in the middle of the room. The room was so big, that I really couldn't see my eyes in the mirror. Seeing my eyes in the mirror is my way of staying focused and allowing myself to be truly in the moment. This made me a little distracted. The real reason I was distracted, was that there were so many beautiful bodies in the class...with perfect form. It was hard not to look and say "oh that is how it is supposed to look." Being distracted during hot yoga makes me wobble and struggle to nail the poses. So this is what happened the entire class. You would think it was my first class. I was so focused in NY and NJ, but for some reason I just couldn't get it together in LA. In any event I was super happy that I went. I even picked up a bit of shwag..(hat and bag):)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Protein Protein .. where for art thou

After almost 2 months of being a vegan, I feel better overall and that I am doing more to keep my body healthy. However, the one thing I've not feeling so great about is that I know without a doubt, that my muscle mass has decreased. Not only can I feel it in my arms and legs, but I have confirmed it with my fat monitoring scale. ...+3% body fat.:0

So from what I've read, if you body doesn't get enough protein, it starts to use existing protein from muscles. So in effect, my body is feeding off of my muscles.

I've been working hard to make sure I eat complete proteins (beans/rice, Peanut butter with wheat bread). But not enough. I have tofu with rice for lunch or tomato soup with tofu. For dinner it is usually stir fry and I usually have a protein shake or a wheat toast (sprout bread). The snacks are a bit of a problem. Lately, I've been eating girl scout cookies...but I try to focus on fruits..

So what I am going to do... This loss of muscle mass is not something I'm willing to accept. So I am going to reintroduce limited seafood - but refrain from any cow/pig /poultry products. And I will also focus on including 3-4 servings of fresh juices ..as well as a juice fast at least once a week.

Well, Anything worth doing is worth doing well -- however difficult it is.

About Me

My photo
West Coast, United States
I am a christian woman, wife, mom to 2 great kids, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, A Jack and Jill mom, sister, daughter . I am also incredibly fit but wasn't always. I am a recovering fat girl - who takes it one day at a time.

Alonda the Triathlete!

Alonda the Triathlete!

The backstory-----How did I become a triathlete...

In February 2006, I went on a ski trip with my new colleagues from work. On the way back, I sat next to a girl named Wendy - a really friendly woman who talked about her experience as a newcomer to Seattle. She told me how her main source of making friends was through her workout buddies. She also mentioned that many of her friends participate in triathlons and that (get this) I should consider doing one too. I thought she might have been delirious from all of the skiing. I assured her that I was not the one. She obviously had mistaken me for someone else. Perhap my heavy coat prevented her from seeing what was underneath (50 lbs of extra weight and lots of evidence of no exercise). She continued with this crazy talk, speaking of how fun it is and how supportive the Danskin Triathlon is. I wanted to be sure that she and I were thinking of the same thing... Triathlon (swim bike run -some huge number of miles -all on the same day right after each other). Yup this was it. I chuckled and told her to have fun.
A few weeks later at the office, she mentioned it again. Now at this time, I had been contemplating joining my company sponsored health club (PROCLUB) and in particular the weight loss program called 20/20. After all, I had really packed on the pounds. I arrived in WA 50lbs overweight and pretty unhappy with myself. I actually started to think that completing triathlon would be a good goal...impossible but a good goal. I decided to go for it. At the same time I also decided to join the weight loss program. My first meeting with my trainer ..Anthony Parker was on 3/14/06. I told him ..in all of my fatness, that I wanted to do a triathlon. He looked at me and said hmmm, ok.
I began this really intense workout and nutrition program and began building my endurance. My first meetings with Anthony consisted of walking on the treadmill for 20 minutes and then doing stairclimber or eliptical for 15 minutes. Followed by a bit of strength training. I did this 3x a week (between 6am and 7:30) and then worked out on my own 2 other days. I had absolutely no endurance and could not run for more than 1 minute. Over the months, my endurance grew ..slowly at first then more rapidly. I also figured that I needed to improve my swimming skills if I was going to swim for 1/2 a mile. I took a Total Immersion Class.. which teaches swimming efficiency. Let's set the record straight here... I could swim well enough to save myself if I was thrown off of a boat. I was a decent (not great) swimmer. At the start of the class, I could do 1 (that's right ONE) lap and then I started breathing heavy. At that point I new the triathlon was totally out of reach. After all 1/2 mile was equal to 20 laps. I left the 1st day of class feeling scared and dismayed that I was too aggressive. Maybe I should have set my goal for 2007.
The next week's class, I asked the teacher what I needed to do to build my endurance. He said just keep at it, it will come. You know what, it did. Each week I got better and better. 4 weeks later I was able to swim 9 laps. I then started swimming before my workouts with my trainer (a little crazy but hey). My trainer was pretty impressed. I also started biking on the weekends. In fact in May I did a 30 mile bike ride as a part of the Tour De Cure for Diabetes. I really love biking...:)
Ok so I still had not tackled the most difficult part, the running. Not only could I not run but I absolutely hated it. I started adding running to my treadmill work. Anthony suggested intervals. We started with 2min run 2 min walk . I did this for weeks extending the time and the speed. I was up to running at 5.5 and walking at 4.0. Then Anthony said ..let's see if you can run a mile. I thought he was kidding. I did not think I was ready for that. This was May 5th (a day after my birthday). Guess what I did it. And I didn't feel like I was going to die. I was on top of the world. All day I had a little extra spring in my step. I just kept replaying in my head the "goal attained" message on the treadmill. I just could not believe it.
I kept it up, continued working out 5x a week. I took another swim class "Triathlon Swim Training" to help even more. This class was filled with drills and specific swim workouts. I really saw progress. By the end of the class, I was able to swim 28 laps. Now the challenge was to swim in Open Water. That's right. The triathlon was going to be in Lake Washington.
I finally felt like I could really do it. I didn't have a specific time goal , my goal was to finish. The week before the race I was sooo nervous. I was doing mini triathlons with a few really good girls. I kept up with them during the swim but one bike ride was particularly hilly and....they left me in the dust. I felt so bad and really began to rethink whether or not I should do the race. I spoke to one of the girsl about my bike performance , and she said that my bike was holding me back. That day, I decided to retire my 35lb mountain bike for a 19 lb feather light road bike. Boy what a differnce. This was a risky thing to do so close to the race but it worked for me.
The other thing to mention is that I met up with a wonderful group of women called the Soul Sistas. They are a group of African American Women of all ages who participate in triathlons and bike races. They are so awesome.We (the soul sistas) took pictures the day before the race... I'll post when available.
So the day of the race..... Everybody in the house is excited and up. My kids and my nieces - who were visiting from NJ are all up and ready to root me on. I left early so that I could get ready.The goal was to meet me by the swim finish. This was alll pretty tricky because there were 40 waves of swimmers starting every 3 minutes. All I can say about the swim is that it felt much longer than 1/2 a mile. I kept focused and didn't get nervous. I focused on keeping my breathing relaxed. It worked ...and by the way I wasn't the last swimmer in my group YEAHHH. I don't know how it all worked out but as soon as I finished my swim, I saw them. Byron , Tyler, Paris, Ahlia and Ivy were all waiting there for me with the most beautiful handmade signs saying GO MOMMY, Go AUNTIE, I love you. It was so terrific. Once I saw them I was energized.... Now on to the bike.
The bike was the best part of the entire race. I love my bike and I love to fly down the road. The entire 14 miles of the race was closed to traffic. Our longest stretch was on the express lane of one of the largest highways. Imagine flying down a highway with nothing in your way (but other riders on your right). It was so amazing. I was going pretty fast but could have gone faster - but wanted to save my legs for the run.
Now the run... I hate running and I am really bad at it. I am slow and not terribly efficient. After biking hard for 40 minutes, your legs are really worked up. During the after bike run, your legs turn into "bricks". They are heavy and hard to move. If you push through , you can get over the feeling and get into a stride. Well I also felt pains in my knee. So instead of running the entire 3.2 miles I decided to walk run. In the end it was actually fine - but while doing it I was a little disappointed. Danskin is great because there are so many supporters on the way. Cheerleaders who are yelling "go for it" from their back porch. It was just what I needed. In fact I heard Destiny's Child Im a survivor , on my way and that was what I used in my head to keep me going.
So when I realize I am about 1/2 mile from the end, I start getting super excited and very emotional. It is all coming together now -- all the training, the visualization of actually crossing the finish line and my waiting family. I got on my cell phone to cal my husband, just to make sure he was at the finisth line. He cracked up that I called:)
When you come close to the finsih line, there are all these spectators lined up waiting for you. It is so great! I ran through a narrow entry to the wide finish line area. And there they were.. my family (My hubby, kids and neices) - with signs and smiles. When I crossed the finish line, my name was announced and the official put a medal around my neck. Well I just lost it and started crying. I could not believe that I had just completed a triathlon. I was officially a triathlete.