Weighing in on Marathon Training

Something that I am concerned about while training for my second marathon is weight gain. I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s not as uncommon as you might assume. Beth at Shut Up and Run wrote a really great post a while ago explaining all the different variables that can contribute to weight gain while preparing to run 26.2 miles.

When I registered for my first marathon I requested a size small shirt even though I was (and still am) a medium. I thought that if I got myself into good enough shape to run an entire marathon, then I would lose so much weight I would totally need a small – for sure!

As it turns out that was wishful thinking. I toed the start line at my heaviest EVER. I don’t want to be that girl (you know the one I’m talking about. She’s shallow and obsessed with her weight). I love exercise because of how it makes me feel (calm, invigorated, accomplished, proud), not because of how it makes me look. But as someone who intends to work in the health/ fitness/ weight loss field for the rest of my life, it would not serve my career (or wallet, or self-esteem) to go up two pant sizes (AGAIN).

While weight loss is definitely not on my goal list this summer, weight MAINTENANCE is going to be a huge priority. I made mistakes last time, and I am going to try my best not to be a repeater offender. My last go ’round was a free for all. I’d say to myself “You just ran twelve miles; you deserve some french fries.” While one order of fries is not going to kill anyone, repeatedly using this logic got me into trouble. 

For me, it is going to be all about self-monitoring. I plan on weighing myself everyday. This will prevent hopping on the scale one day and a jaw dropping number suddenly appearing. I’m also going to document every stinkin’ calorie I consume. This may seem excessive, but I know myself and I know that “intuitive eating” while my appetite is raging will not turn out well. I also plan on wearing an activity monitor daily (Fit Bit) to help determine how many calories my body really needs and how active I am in my normal daily life.

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I’ll go into more detail about these tools later- be excited!

Finals Week

finals week collageWell, it’s that time again. If you follow me on twitter, then you may have noticed I was complaining a bit more than usual.

twitter_finalsI actually do not hate finals. I enjoy the challenge and I have always kind of liked the eery calm that takes over campus as everyone gets really focused. Maybe that makes me a masochist.

Last week, I fell into the same routine as the previous eleven semesters. I stayed up insanely late, skipped meals, ate more candy than I usually consume in an entire month, and basically lived off of coffee. I was surviving on sugar, caffeine, and cortisol. You would think that at some point I would learn that this is not the most effective strategy. Needless to say, I was left feeling like a big pile of crap.

In an effort to get my body back to usual, I am doing a mini detox. Nothing too dramatic, just a little spring cleaning. I’ve been trying to ease into it, and plan to continue through at least Friday. Here’s what I’ve given up: bread, dairy, eggs, candy, and coffee (I haven’t had a soda in like a month, or meat in years so no worries there). I haven’t stopped caffeine (green tea) and I’m not sure that anyone would wish that upon society, and I have had a little bit of sugar in my oatmeal.

I’m not feeling better yet, but we’re only two days into this thing. Right now, I just really want a cup of coffee.

 

 

An Exercise Psychology Student’s Thoughts on The Biggest Loser

The season premier of The Biggest Loser is tonight. As a professional in the field (or soon to be anyways), I have some conflicting emotions surrounding the show, that I want to share with you.

Biggest Loser Banner 2013The show has some positive qualities that make me supportive of it and excited to watch tonight.

MOTIVATION: I think that it can be inspiring for people who are also struggling with their weight. They see relatable people on TV losing weight and it causes them to think, “Hey maybe I can do that too!” The show has the capacity to reach MILLIONS of people- the impact it can have on people’s lives is huge!

REALITY CHECK: I think that the show serves as a wake up call for overweight individuals. While discussing the show with friends, numerous people have made comments such as, “I watched this HUGE person on TV with a myriad of health issues struggling to do basic exercise, and then I realized, ‘wow he/ she actually weighs less than I do’.” It has the power to make people realize that they may be in a more drastic situation than they realize.

PROMOTES NATURAL WEIGHT LOSS: I love love love that the contestants lose weight without diet pills, liposuction, or gastric bypass surgery. In an era where people are constantly on the lookout for quick fixes, and instant gratification it warms my heart to watch a reality TV show about hard work, and how that effort pays off in the end.

PROMOTES UNDERSTANDING: Finally, we live in a society where anti-fat bias is rampant. Without even realizing it people are judgmental of individuals who struggle with their weight and treat them differently and negatively. By showing the background story of contestants (WHY these people struggle with their weight), I think it can make us more sensitive and empathetic as a society.

Now that I’ve hit on some of the better qualities of the show, let’s talk about the things that make me less than enthusiastic about it.

UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: I can’t say for certain the truth of this statement (I’m not a producer, nor have I spoken to one), but I have read that a “week” on the biggest loser is not necessarily seven days; their “weeks” are a longer time frame. This explains how the contestants are able to lose so much weight so quickly. While this does make for more dramatic television, it gives people unrealistic expectations. I can see a situation where  someone watches the show, decides that they want to get healthier, and makes dramatic lifestyle changes. Our theoretical friend is very diligent with his new lifestyle changes. At the end of the week he is excited to step on the scale, but he is met with disappointment. You see he has “only” lost three pounds (a pretty standard amount). He gets frustrated and gives up. I don’t know anyone who this has happened to, but I can see how it very well could give people the wrong idea about how weight loss works, and backfire.

UNNECESSARILY HARSH: It makes me cringe to watch the begining of the season. The trainers push the contestants to the point that they become physically ill. They do this because it makes for dramatic and exciting television. From a health perspective, there is absolutely no reason for workouts to be so intense that it causes nausea. Aside from the fact that I feel badly for the people on TV, I think that the negative repercussions are even more extensive. I imagine viewers at home, who would like to get into better shape seeing these bouts of exercise and feeling completely intimidated. As a result they don’t attempt to become more physically fit. On the other side of the same coin, someone could witness these intense workouts, and think “Well I need to push myself like that.” They workout at an extremely high intensity one time with the best of intentions. The next day they feel like total crap. They are sore, achy and miserable. They decide that they just don’t have it in them to exercise after all and end up not following through with what could be a life altering  experience. Along this same line of thought, why do the contestants have to wear nothing but spandex and sports bras? I’m sure it is humiliating for them. I wouldn’t want to wear that attire in public either. We could just as easily see how heavy they are in fitted tanks and more flattering pants. I know that it’s because the show wants for the viewers to see the physical changes, but c’mon.  

I could go on (looking at both positives and negatives), but I’ve mentioned the aspects that I feel most passionate about. As someone who works with overweight/ obese adolescents I am especially interested to see how they integrate the teens into this season. I started watching some of the teenagers’ audition videos, but then I started crying in Starbucks (red face, tears, the whole shebang), so I had to stop before I drew too much attention to myself.

I will be watching tonight. Will you? What are your thoughts on the show? Love it? Hate it? Do you think I missed any important points? If so, please share I would love to know your thoughts!

 

***Disclaimer: I am not associated with the show in any way shape or form. All of the above information is my own personal opinion. Others in the field may (and likely do) disagree. I am just a student and have plenty to learn about these topics.***

 

 

January Goals

I said in my New Year’s post that rather than making a list of resolutions I was going to make short-term mini goals every month… then my google reader (understandably) exploded with blog post about goals, and I didn’t want to bore y’all with another list.

But now it’s January fifth and I still haven’t written anything and that makes for a crappy start to 2013. Now that I’ve written that completely unnecessary introduction, here is what I plan to do this month: Photo on 1-4-13 at 3.07 AM #5

  • Read every single word of this book: Run Less Run Faster. I’ve pretty much hit the meat and potatoes of it, and I plan to use the training plan from it to train for the Knoxville Marathon.
  • Create an Excel Spreadsheet to track my workouts.
  • Actually use the aforementioned spread sheet.
  • Get my rear in gear and start this training cycle so that I don’t have to be carried off the course on a stretcher (talk about embarrassing).
  • Write two blog posts a week.
  • Give my blog a makeover (I can actually already check this one off- check it out. Cute, right?)

I’m actually really really reallllllly into all these goals. Can’t wait to talk about them again on February first!

Eating Animals- Jonathan Safran Foer

Eating Animals was a difficult book to get through. Sometimes I could only read a few pages before I would have to put it down. As someone who is already committed to a vegetarian diet, I was able to take comfort in the fact that I contribute less to the disgusting situations described in this book. But I am far from perfect. Cheese makes a regular appearance on my plate, my car has leather interior, and don’t even get me started on my shoes.

Foer discusses the sacrifices involved in eliminating meat including being viewed as a difficult person by others, and being unable to partake in meals that are considered family tradition. Both are reasons that I continue to be vegetarian rather than vegan.

He is honest about how he enjoys the taste of meat and has struggled with removing it from his diet. It’s a constant conflict between enjoyment and morals. Something that I believe most people would agree with. Most people like animals. They would have very conflicting emotions if they were forced to kill one themselves. I have several friends who tried to go vegetarian after they learned about what actually goes down at factory farms and slaughterhouses. Their intentions were excellent, but after a couple of weeks the shock wore off and they began adding meat back to their diet. Much like the author did several times prior to writing this book.

It’s very informative. My only complaint is that the descriptions are too gruesome, but it is hardly the fault of the author for presenting his research. The fault lies with the system that we have all enabled to take over the industry.

Quotes

“What our babysitter said made sense to me, not only because it seemed true, but because it was the extension to food of everything my parents had taught me. We don’t hurt family members. We don’t hurt friends or strangers. We don’t even hurt upholstered furniture. My not having thought to include animals in that list didn’t make them the exceptions to it.”

“There were things she believed while lying in bed at night, and there were choices made at the breakfast table the next morning.”

“Because there are so many animals, it takes me several minutes before I take in just how many dead ones there are.”

“That’s the business model. How quickly can they be made to grow, how tightly can they be packed, how much or little can they eat, how sick can they get without dying.”

“When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.”

“Whether we’re talking about fish species, pigs, or some other eaten animal, is such suffering the most important thing in the world? Obviously not. But that’s not the question. Is it more important than sushi, bacon, or chicken nuggets? That’s the question.”

“Not responding is a response- we are equally responsible for what we don’t do. In the case of animal slaughter, to throw your hands in the air is to wrap your fingers around a knife handle.”

“Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use, and the regular exercise of choosing kindness over cruelty would change us.”