Monday, March 29

1/2 Marathon Monday, Part 6: Exercise is Good for the Body and the Brain

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I can tend to be an anxious person. I'm not talking about a little worry here and a little worry there, but real, diagnosable anxiety issues. I'm sure it is part personality, and that part I try to work on, but after years of dealing with it, I'm also convinced that is it physiological too; my brain, simply put, is structured differently than some other people's brains. Areas in my brain overreact much more quickly, I don't have as much of the calming chemicals that others have, etc.

While much research has been done in the areas of anxiety and depression there is still SO much that is not understood. I mean, after all, it's the brain; a pretty complex part of our bodies to figure out!

At the end of the day it does no good to focus on what is not known, but what is known. While my brain tends to react in these ways, there are actions I can take to help and exercise is one of them.

Having sprained my ankle almost two weeks ago I haven't done much exercise and let me tell you, I have felt it. I was feeling really overwhelmed last week, but about nothing in particular, just life in general; managing it all. I tend to have periods of really bad's almost like people who have dealt with acne, or arthritis, or migranes, they tend to have breakouts, or "spells" where it acts up. That's what was going on for me.

Whenever that happens I usually stop and ask myself, "What has been different this last little while to bring this on?"

Answer last week: NO EXERCISE.

Among other things, I realized I had been feeling pretty good for the last couple of months while I've been exercising consistently. I injure my ankle, don't exercise and boom, I feel it.

All that to say, I finally ran again yesterday (yeah!)- 4 miles on the treadmill. It was the first run I've done in almost two weeks and it felt SO good. Truly. It's like my body was thirsty for the exercise.

Anyway, I've babbled here, but it was just affirmation to truths I have read in the past, exercise does help to improve mood.

An article on the Mayo Clinic web site says that exercise helps to do the following:
1. releases more of the "feel good" chemicals in your brain (serotonin and neurotransmitters)
2. reduces bad chemicals in your body that can harm your immune system
3. increases body temperature, which can have a calming effect.

They also said it helps you to gain confidence, it is a positive coping strategy (allowing you to feel like you are taking control) and, at the very least, it is a distraction from your anxiety/depression or whatever other chaos you have going on in your life.

So, if you're needing a little extra motivation to exercise or pick up on your running this week and you've been feeling blue or overwhelmed or anxious, remind yourself that the exercise is not just good for the shape of your body but for the shape of your mind as well.

Happy thoughts to all! Cheers!

Saturday, March 27

Finding Time

My blogging tends to fall into one of several categories; info I want to share, insight I hope to offer, funny things my kids have done, and lastly, but on some days the most crucial, plain old therapeutic philandering.

Today is a therapy day.

If you don't like therapy days, I'm tellin' ya early so you can check out.

I mentioned in my last post that I thought that one of the biggest challenges to motherhood was balancing the creative and the mundane, or your passions and your responsibilities as a mother. Intimately tied to that very challenge is what I believe to be the second biggest challenge to not just motherhood, but parenthood in general (because our husbands suffer this too), it is finding time to do the things you want to do.

What's on my list today...hmmm...

  • getting a jog in...the ankle is feeling better and I'm feeling very unexercised! 
  • letting hubby get a six mile run it...he likes to do that on Saturdays
  • putting the 3 baskets of laundry away that are upstairs
  • going over to Office Depot to see about printing some business cards- I'm going to a reading/writing conference in 3 weeks and think it would be good to have some cards- this requires researching what goes on such cards, etc.
  • Organizing a massive pile of papers/mail/randomness that has ended up in a basket in our dining room
  • reading the book "Simplify Your Life" so that I can figure out how to simplify/organize my life
  • Painting the downstairs bathroom, our kitchen and our bedroom
  • Painting all the trim in the house white
  • Shopping for bras that actually fit because I'm still wearing some of my nursing bras...ack...did I say that aloud? Yes, I haven't nursed in months, but those very bras are in the rotation because they actually fit! 
  • Working on organizing the girls clothes in the basement...and unpacking boxes of stuff that is still packed down there...perhaps even finding the borrowed breastpump that we embarrasingly seem to have lost, but is, I'm sure just living somewhere quietly in a box in our basement
  • Organizing closets...lots of them...but we need closet organizers and shelves and such, which means a trip to Home Depot
This is just a partial list...

Alright, I promise to never do that to you again...making you read my to-do list.  But, as I said in the beginning, this is therapy today and I needed to get that off my chest! 

I remember casually bumping into an old acquaintance years before Scott and I had children. He and his wife had just had a baby. He is actually a writer, had just finished an MFA and his wife is a creative type too. It was a somewhat strange conversation because he is a bit of a strange guy, but I'll never forget him looking at me, after I asked how being a parent was and expecting him to say "Wonderful", he just said, 

"Nothing in my life has showed me more how selfish of a person I am." 


Yeah...definitely didn't get that before becoming a parent myself. 

And now I think about it almost every day. As I struggle to find time to blog, or to run, or to clean my closet, things I feel so desperately will help me with what feels like a life of pure chaos on many days, I find myself feeling like a bad mom because it's hard to find the time to do all of those things and still spend quality time with my children. And my husband. And my friends and family. 

Being a parent is all about sacrifices. Constant sacrifices. 

Sometimes you sacrifice the writing, sometimes the sleeping, sometimes the exercising, on many days it's my personal appearance (if it's 7:45 p.m. and I haven't showered all day, but have an hour and a half to run out and do errands before the stores close, do you think I'm going to take the time to shower?! Not so much), lots of times it is time with our significant others (the topic of another post to come this week), sometimes it's the cleaning, and sometimes when you stop to do any one of those other things, it's time with your children. 

Constant, perpetual, sacrifice. 

This morning, for example, I got up at 6:45 after having gone to bed at 12:15. The girls and Scott are all still sleeping and I could be too, but you have to make a choice; sleep or writing/blogging time. I've been trying to get to bed a little earlier and get up earlier to pray as well-- it helps to start my day on the right foot when I can organize my thoughts before tending to the girls.

It's hard. Plain and simple. When you have one child there are pockets of time, with two, well, even your pockets start to fill up and all that is left are scraps...small scraps of time...

Let me just say, I realize life could be SO much harder in many respects and I'm always leery of sounding ungrateful, but that doesn't mean it's not a challenge. 

I'm going to leave it at that for today...closely related to this topic are two other things I'm going to post about later this week:

1. Being more than roomates (a discussion about finding time for your marriage)
2. Intentionality: simply put, being intentional about the things that are important (i.e. how you spend time with your children and husband)

Everyone is still sleeping here, so I'm going to organize the rest of my thoughts in an effort to start this day out on the right foot! 


Tuesday, March 23

Mommy Brain

This isn't a post about how I forgot someone's name that I've known for years...though that has happened.

Or, about leaving one's keys in the ignition with the car running for 45 minutes while I was on the treadmill at the gym...though, yes, that has happened too.

This is about the mental acrobatics my brain feels like it's doing throughout the day to keep pace with a very determined toddler and a very messy and active one year old, while also thinking about writing ideas and other things that fall at a slightly higher intellectual level. 

Does anyone else ever feel this way? 

I mean, like your brain is going to burst, literally, because so much is going on in it. 

I felt so crazy overwhelmed by everything going on in my brain today that I a) had a headache and b) took 8 of Ella's teething tablets because chamomile is an ingredient and I thought just maybe they would calm me down. I'm not joking. 

I do wonder if I have some version of ADD at times...I don't say that lightly, I wonder seriously. I CANNOT stay focused! Seriously ladies, is this ADD or just mommy brain? 

Let me give you a little play by play of the day here...

It was a decent morning...I got a little bit of writing done at Panera and met with a publishing colleague whom I'm doing some work for. 

But, while mommy time is nice, do you ever feel like you pay for it later?

Like when you come home and your babysitter (who you love!) somehow put your one year olds clothes on your almost three year old...

And there is diaper cream on the rug at the top of your stairs because you thought your toddler was "pretending" to put it on her animals, but she decided to really put it on them...

And your kitchen looks like this because you were not around in the morning to unload the dishwasher and make sure everything was tidy after breakfast...

And you're children are running around half dressed giving each other "check ups"- 

So, after an introspective time of writing and concocting new ideas for essays and articles that I would love to work on, I came home to two hungry children, jump right into the chaos and start feeding Ella Spinach and Potato Baby Food and attempt to clean up that disaster of a kitchen. 

What would happen if Barrack Obama had to come home after a good morning of meetings and research only to have baby spinach spit back at him, macaroni and cheese to clean up off the floor, and a diaper cream mess to tackle? I think his brain might be doing mental acrobatics too.

I'm kinda jokin' here, but I do believe this to be the ultimate challenge of motherhood: Finding space in your brain for the creative and the mundane. Balancing your responsibilities with your passions and desires. Trying to write or do some research for an article in the scraps of moments you might have before children start screaming, and pots and pans are pulled out of cupboards and toddlers are yelling for you to come and inspect their poop before they flush it. 

I've told Scott that my mind often feels like there are 14 radio stations playing at any one that I have children I think that number has increased.

I wish I had an answer, or solution, or handy dandy tip to offer in case any of you ever feel this way, but all I really have is empathy and understanding. I'm saying some prayers that God will calm some of the chaos in my brain...or at least allow me to recover some version of my former thinking self in a couple of years when the girls are in school and I attempt to do a bit more professional work than I'm doing now. 

In the meantime, I'll keep taking pictures like this that make it all worthwhile...

Monday, March 22

1/2 Marathon Monday, Part 5: Run Like a Mother

Hi all! So, if you haven't already heard, I sprained my ankle last week so my training week looked like this:

Sun: rest (tired from the very long run I had done Sat.)
Mon: strength training
Tuesday: 1 mile into a 3.5 mile run I sprain my ankle

I haven't run since. My ankle is still black and blue, but I'm walking on it and did workout on the elliptical on Saturday. 

All that said, Denise from Run DMT and I have become bloggy friends recently (when I started looking for running sites for suggestions and tips) and she agreed to write a guest post today. 

Denise is a a mom who started running in 2007 and #39 of 100 things you can learn about Denise on her site is that when she began running in February of 2007 she could barely run 1/4 mile. And now this momma is running marathons!! You go girl! 

Here is a link to the list of races that she has run in the last couple of  years! That's impressive! 

So, I thought, since a lot of you mommas have never run races before, most of us have never run a 1/2 marathon before and a few of you just had babies in the last six months, you would all benefit from Denise's encouragement and a few suggestions on how to run as a mom...the title "Run Like a Mother" was hers and I think it is hilarious and completely appropriate! 

By the way, please leave Denise either a nice message here or on her blog so that she knows that some of my girls stopped by and were encouraged by her successes! 

Run Like a Mother   

Whether you’re a mom training for your first 5K or your first marathon, finding time for your daily runs can require some training too. 
If you’re a SAHM like me, chances are you’re on a limited budget.  Between preschool, extracurricular activities and other costly children related activities, it leaves little money for a gym membership.  Besides, I prefer running on the open road to running on a treadmill.  So, if you don’t visit a gym regularly, when do you find time to run?

Here are a few ways I’ve found time to fit it in:
1. Run before the sun! 
Even before my SAHM days, I was always an early riser, but once I became a runner, I had to train and motivate myself to run before the sun and my family rose.  I quickly discovered that if I didn’t hit the streets by 6:00 a.m., then the rest of the day would be a lost cause.  With the moon as my running partner, I began to love the ultimate me time while running in the dark.
On occasion, I have missed my early morning window of opportunity to run and I would force myself to run with a jogging stroller later in the day.  I call these my forced easy runs even though it is never easy for me, because I have never been able to get the hang of running with a jogging stroller.  I always feel so constricted with my arms tethered to the stroller and my pace always seems off and much slower.  It just makes me long for my “me time”.
2. Run after the sun.
Some moms prefer to run after the kids are in bed, but I could never get the hang of running in the evening.  After a long day of chasing after children, the last thing I would want to do is run.  By nightfall, I’m ready to hit the bed, not the pavement.  However, if you are a night owl, then a night time run may work for you.
3. Create a Running Swap
Then, some mommy friends and I had a wonderful revelation.  Since many of us were training for the same races and distances, we could meet at the park and take turns watching each other’s children while a small group of moms went for a quick run.  We began a running swap with six moms and our little running arrangement worked perfectly!  We found support and motivation among our small running group and our children enjoyed a play date at the park.
Depending on the number of children you and the other moms are willing to watch, you can set-up a babysitting swap with as little as two moms or ten moms, however a babysitting running swap works best if you are simply trying to find time to run approximately 3 miles.  Some moms get nervous about watching someone else’s children, yet on the other hand, some moms are nervous about leaving their children too long.  Plus, there’s always the dreaded separation anxiety factor with young children.  But if you can swing a babysitting swap with your running mommy friends, I highly recommend it.  Your children will love the opportunity to play with their friends and you will love the opportunity to fit in a guilt-free run.
Between chauffeuring kids to and from school, entertaining toddlers or playing with preschoolers, only another mom can understand how difficult it can be to fit it all in a day.  However, if you are serious about running and training for races, then you need seriously need to find time to run!

Sunday, March 21

She Speaks

Alright, I can hardly contain my excitement. I'm TICKLED PINK that Lysa TerKeurst is running a contest through her blog in which she is giving away scholarships to her She Speaks writing and speaking conference this summer!! The conference offers top notch instruction for women who have writing and speaking written on their hearts and want to learn how to hone their craft so that they can use it to reach and encourage others. 

Seriously, I'd rather win this scholarship than the lottery, because that's how much I'd love to attend this conference, but had completely written it off due to our financial situation and my busy mommy life...and, I've heard that people who win the lottery become miserable anyway. 

In order to be a participant I'm supposed to tell you about how I came to want to attend this conference...It's sort of a longish story, but one of those threads that is woven into my life that has God's name ALL over it.

Anne Lammott wrote this essay in one her books (unfortunately, I couldn't find the exact reference...I did dig through three or four unpacked boxes still sitting in our basement before giving up), about our lives sometimes being like that of a frog trying to cross a pond.  The pond, as a whole, can be overwhelming, but if we just leap from lily pad to lily pad, one step at a time, well, we will eventually reach the other side.

That is how my writing and my desire to write has felt...overwhelming, like the big, open, muddy pond, but I'm trying to hop from pad to pad, and focus on one day at a time. 

Here are a few of the major hops...though there are a lot of little one's in between...

hop...I was an English Major because I loved to write.
hop...I attended a graduate program in print journalism because I naively thought I was going to be the next big Vanity Fair profile writer (lol).
hop...I took a job at a big publishing company, because I was excited about the idea of being one step closer to authors.
hop...I freelanced a few articles here and there...beacame an English teacher for a year and a half and then had my first baby and everything slowly plop, plop, plopped from there...

hop...hop...plop...Meet Lisa Littlewood, wannabe writer, becomes mother and meets post-quarterlife, not quite mid-life, identity questioning crises.

I had a baby and felt like I had fallen off all lily pads into a murky abyss of an ocean never to be seen again...I'm being a little dramatic here, but doesn't motherhood feel that way sometimes? I know I referenced this in a recent blog, but like you truly have fallen down the rabbit hole into wonderland and you're not quite sure where you are or who you are in this new place.

Slowly, I began to re-align myself within my new role as a mom and was trying to integrate my desires to write. I read several books on freelancing, I sent out queries, I accumulated magazines into towering piles so that I could read through them, disseminate them and figure out my best target market.

I also changed diapers, took walks, read board books, cleaned up toys, washed clothes, got pregnant again, had baby number two, cleaned up more toys, lost more sleep, made more meals, washed more high-chair trays.

...and then found out my husband was accepting a job in Buffalo (we were in Massachusetts at the time, but our family was in Buffalo) I started packing, one box at a time, our entire house, while nursing, and cleaning, and picking up toys and changing diapers and then we moved all of our belongings and said goodbye to the house we had brought both of our children home to and drove to Buffalo and lived with my  in-laws for three months...oh, it makes me tired just to write about it.

In the midst of all of this, however, God was working on my heart. He knew, has always known, my hearts desire to write in a way that would encourage others and shed some light in this sometimes darkish world of ours. God started leaving little notes, little signs along the way to affirm that despite my feeling like I might never be able to pursue my passions along with my role as a mom, that he was alongside for the ride, and maybe even had a few ideas about how I could combine the two.

 The nudges started started with my friend Mary, our pastor's wife, in Massachusetts, who came up to me one morning at church in 2007 ) and said,  "Lisa, I just got back from this awesome conference in North Carolina, you HAVE to try to go next year!  Check them out online- it's Proverbs 31 Ministries."

I checked them out, loved the web site, loved what they were doing, and dreamed of attending the conference one day. Then life kept on going, my husband got a new job and our second child was born...

Several months after all of that, my sister calls me one afternoon,
"Lisa, you know that women's retreat they're having through The Chapel (her church, now my church too...neither of us were going to go and registration was closed), someone from the church just called to tell me that they have a couple of spots open. I'm thinking about going, why don't you come."

I quickly checked it out online.  Keynote speaker: Lysa TerKeurst, Proverbs 31 Ministries. I called Katie back and told her I wanted to go.

We get to the conference, which is a wonderful weekend in and of itself. Lysa was wonderful, the worship was wonderful, and I was feeling very encouraged.

At one point I stopped at Lysa's table and happened to come across Holly, whom I started chatting with. I told her I had heard about the She Speaks conference, that it sounded really amazing and that it is my heart's desire to write. She said that was really great, that I should check out their magazine and that I should also start a blog. She said that is how a lot of their speakers/writers had learned to really develop their voice, style and hone their writing.

The blog thing had been on my mind and so I took her words to heart and put them into action. I started this blog towards the end of last year as a way to practice writing and to hopefully encourage others along the way.

And then...

At my MOPs meeting Thursday morning (which I almost didn't make because of a sprained ankle), my friend Laura (who happened to be the guest speaker) said, "Hey Lisa, I was thinking about you yesterday. You know Lysa TerKeurst's blog?" (I won't lie, life has been crazy and I hadn't been following consistently!).

"Yes, absolutely!"

"Well, apparently she is running a contest this weekend and giving away scholarships to her writing conference!"

"No Way!"

"You totally need to get on and enter the contest."

So here I am, writing my story, because God planted a desire in my heart long ago, Mary told me to check out the web site, and Katie told me to come to the conference with her at the last minute, and Holly told me to start a blog, and Laura told me that Jaime had told her that Lysa was running a contest on her blog and that I should enter! 

Nudge. Nudge. Nudge. Nudge. Nudge.

It's like God keeps putting His peeps in my way to say "Hey, Lisa, listen up...I have something for you that is totally going to be the key to melding your hearts desire to write and encourage other women and it will even jive with your new role as mother!" 

Hmmm...I'm listening...

The truth is I had been watching for the details of this year's conference to be posted on the Proverbs 31 web site since last October when I saw Lysa speak.  When the conference information finally came out I realized it was most likely not going to be something I could afford to do this year-- maybe something I needed to do down the road...I won't get into financial drama here...but we'll just say, we have a long way to go in our current debt reduction plan...the conference, plus air fare was going to just be too much this year. 

All that to say, even though I had written it off, it still sat there in my heart..."Lisa, wouldn't it be really cool to go to that She Speaks conference?" 

It would. And I'd love too. And I don't entirely know how this whole bloggy contest is working except that I'm supposed to post my story and link it up to Lysa's blog on Monday. I'll let you l know what becomes of it all. 



Saturday, March 20

Weekend Wrap Up

Wow, it's been a crazy, nutty, event filled week. 

I don't have any one thing to say today, because, quite frankly, it's been such a nutty week that there is not any one thing that really has been the focus...just a lot of random things. 

The two (or three, depending on how you want to categorize) things that happened this week:

1. On Tuesday evening I set out on a 3.5 mile run (because I am little writer and runner momma these days)...only to somehow trip on completely dry, flat pavement, roll my ankle and have to hobble a mile back home and watch my ankle swell to an enormous size.  I'll spare you all of the details and I definitely did NOT take pictures, but I took a lot of ibuprofen, iced, rested, borrowed crutches and prayed. I'm happy to report that not even a week later it is still black and blue, but I'm back on it and feel like I'll be ready to run again in a couple of days! 

Ava is so cute...every morning when she wakes up she says, "Mommy, is your ankle feeling better?" and when I left for the gym this morning she said, "Mommy, can you not fall and hurt your ankle again." 

Sure thing babe. Hoping not to do that again! 

All that to say, God sends answers to prayers in funny ways.  I was praying for God to open up some time for me this week. HA, he did! I was forced to sit and rest all day Wednesday. My hubby helped out, and my mom came over and I had a little extra time to write and rest. 

Which leads me to event #2...

2. I published 2 articles this week! Yeah! 

The first was on a web site called Buffalo Rising. I met up with one of the co-foudners last week and chatted about how I'd love to write about non-profit stuff going on in the Buffalo area and so he sent along a lead about this community art project and I got to write it up. Pretty straight forward, but exciting for me (here is the article if you want to check it out).

Then, an essay I wrote a while back ran in The Buffalo News this week (Some of my facebook friends know this already, so sorry to be was just really exciting). It was just a one time thing. They're starting a new section in the paper where a different woman each week will write an essay about their life experiences and I happened to touch base with the editor around the time she was getting ready to roll this out so she said I could give it a shot. 

Here is the funny thing...I thought it was going to be placed in the back pages somewhere with a tiny little black and white head shot and this is what I found when I grabbed my paper this morning...

Yup, that's me on the front page...and...

Yup, that's me again on the front page of the Life & Arts section...

So, not to be my own horn tooter here, but it was just really funny to see this picture so BIG when I was expecting a little tiny b &w headshot buried away somewhere.

Ava thinks it's hilarious that mommy's picture is in the paper too! 

So, anyway...I have to say God does cool stuff when you start to ask. I hadn't prayed about my writing life FOREVER because I just figured God knew what I was hoping for...but recently I started praying for open doors and wisdom and He has opened some!! Pretty cool. 

Tomorrow I'm going to share with you a story about a writing conference I really want to attend and a contest to win a scholarship for it...and Monday, Denise from Run DMT is going to be here to share some thoughts about fitting in time for running...and it's a darn good thing 'cause with my bum ankle I don't have many words of wisdom to share for my 1/2 marathon friends this week! 

Tuesday, March 16

Time Flies When...

I always chuckle when I consider finishing that phrase (the one in my title) these days...

I've decided to change it to fit the altering moods, stages and phases of parenthood:

"Time flies whether you're having fun or not!"

I'm sitting at Panera this morning (as some of you may know Tuesday mornings are my writing/errand running/mommy time mornings) working on, well, an article I'm supposed to write for a local online publication, this blog, the book proposal that is running through my head (don't get excited here, it's running ONLY through my real books on the horizon here), and large number of other thoughts, ideas and "to-do's" that are making my mind feel cluttered, my life feel a tad crazy, and my role as a mommy feel a bit frustrated and hard to balance with all of the other passions, desires and ideas that drift through this crazy abyss of a brain on a daily basis. 

So, all of this is going through my head, when the sweetest little thing happens. This woman, probably late 30's, early 40's, and her ADORABLE nine-year old daughter plop down next to me and just start chatting away like the best of friends. 

It melted my heart. 

The momma, hair done, dressed nicely, drinking coffee. Her cute little brunette, pony-tailed girl in a white button down, khaki skirt, ankle socks, loafers and what appeared to be a little silver cross on a chain dangling in front of her shirt...just sitting and chatting. 

At one point the daughter got up and left the table for a moment, so I leaned over to tell the lady how cute her daughter was and asked her age. I went on to tell her that I had two little girls at home, one almost three, the other one. 

"I feel like they'll never be that big, but I'm sure the time has gone by faster than you would have imagined," I said. 

She just rolled her eyes and smiled. "I have two. One nine and one seven. I LOVE that I can come here with her now. It's like having a talk with a great friend." 

I told her I look forward to those moments in the future to. She said what all older moms say as she was leaving a few minutes later. "Enjoy your girls." 

I'm thankful for the reminders that time goes fast, especially on the days when it seems to go so slow. I'm afraid I would be prone to wishing much of it away if the wisdom of older moms didn't continually surface to remind me to enjoy the moments. 

When I realize that Scott and I will be married seven years this year, and how fast that time has gone, I realize that Ava is going to be 9 and then 10 in the blink of an eye. 

I look forward to it, but I'm glad she's 2 1/2 today.

I love her discovery of life, of words, of new foods. I love the way she experiments with expressions and how she loves to jump off the couch.  I love reading picture books to her in bed at night and watching Curious George with her on television. 

I love how she says her prayers with me before she goes to bed and how last night she said, "And Dear God, I'm thankful for our kitchen. Mommy, does God have a kitchen?" 

I didn't have an answer just a laugh. I'm glad for all of her little moments that inspire laughter and joy in my life. 

Time is flying faster and faster. I'm convinced that with each child time ticks at a faster speed. More groceries, more laundry, more food and messes and pajamas and baths at bedtime. 

But, as I said, if time is flying whether we're having fun or not, we might as well try to have fun while we're at. We need to remind ourselves of this so that when our children are grown up we do not look back and regret all the moments we spent wishing things were different, or easier, but that we can say that we truly enjoyed, and embraced and had fun each step of the way. 

That's not to say that I'm not looking forward to a day when I can sit with Ava at Panera without fearing spilled milk or having her throw pieces of bread in my coffee, BUT it is to say that I'm glad she is who she is today and those days will come soon need to rush them now. 

Monday, March 15

1/2 Marathon Monday, Part 4: Eating Well

Let me just say, diets and I, we don't jive.

I don't like diets. I never have. Fortunately, before having children, I never really needed one.

I LOVE food. Food and I, we jive, we tango, we dance. I've always had a healthy appetite, and by healthy I mean lots of the good stuff...but sometimes just LOTS of stuff in general.

Like many of you, the last couple of years have been hard in the arena of food and weight and exercise...especially when it came to being pregnant, gaining weight and post-pregnancy body issues and frustrations.

All that aside (all that body issue stuff is a WHOLE other topic, and potential future post), those who know me best could all very easily answer one question about me:

 "What are Lisa's food downfalls?"

There is only one answer to that question.

Carbs. Carbs. Carbs.

I love all things created carbohydrate. Potatoes in all it's many beautiful forms (french fries, potato chips, mashed, baked, home fries...mmmm, not sure I should be writing this at 11 p.m. at night!), bread...oh, bread...pasta, rice....did I say bread?

However, if any of you have read any of the weight loss literature in the last five years, most diets and weight management programs are quick to renounce the type of carb loading that I so love.

So, imagine my surprise when I started doing a little research about 1/2 marathon training and nutrition and I came across this lovely statement on marathon

"If you are on a low carb diet, then STOP. Carbohydrates provide the fuel for runners. Load up!"

So ladies, I mentioned in an earlier post that marathon rookie also stated that wanting to lose weight was not a good enough motivation and reason for wanting to run a 1/2 marathon...that you needed to dig a little deeper...Well, I just found all the motivation I need to run 1/2 marathons for the rest of my life...An encouragement to eat carbs. Hallelujah!

Alright, joking aside. I was really excited to read that little tidbit, but realize that everything must be in moderation...that I need to opt for more complex carbs (beans, grains, barley, oats, whole grain pasta and rice) and that if I eat them ALL the time I likely will have trouble losing any weight, and while it is not my main motivation for doing this 1/2 marathon, I am hoping to shed a few pounds.

 While I am no expert, I have been learning a few things about training and diet and how the two work together either for you or against you.

Generally speaking here are a few things your body needs to stay balanced, healthy and strong:

1. Vitamins: I don't know about you ladies, but as a mom I feel a little ragged these days. I try to get enough sleep, eat well, relax, floss my know, the important stuff...but it doesn't always happen. Therefore, especially since having children I have been depending more and more on a multivitamin.

Besides a general multi-vitamin, while you are training you need plenty of calcium and either find a supplement or load up on foods full of the stuff.

I also recently found out that, particularly because I live in the Northeast (Vitamin D is made naturally through sun exposure) that my Vitamin D level was dangerously low. It should be between 30-40, mine was 14...I'm now taking a 5,000 i.u. supplement a day until my level gets up to where it should be (my dr. initially prescribed me one 50,000 i.u. pill one day a week, but the idea of ingesting that much of anything in one day weirded me out, so my compromise was to pick these 5,000 i.u. pills up at Wal-Mart and take them once a day). Vitamin D is INCREDIBLY important and a deficiency can lead to all sorts of ugly things (read here), so next time you're at your Dr.'s ask if they can do a blood test to check this for you. I have a LOT more energy since I've started taking it.

2. Water: This one is simple, but one we can tend to neglect. If you are training, or even if you are not, you NEED lots of water for lots of reasons!

3. Protein: Protein provides the building blocks for muscle production. I'm running, but also weight training and it is important to provide your body what it needs to rebuild. See my post-run recovery suggestions below. Try to add more lean protein into your diet while you are new favorite is Stonyfield Greek Yogurt. It's pricey, but 1 container has only 110 calories, 13 g of protein and less than 14 g of sugar (compare to many yogurt with almost 30 g of sugar!). Also, turkey, lentil soup (yummy), and almonds among many other things.

Lastly, eating the right things at the right time is important for providing energy and recovery. A few things that work for me:

Before: something light. Before my long run on Sat. morning I had a Luna bar, a banana and 1/2 a glass of milk. This seemed to be just the right combo for need to find what works for you, but if you can sneak in some good carbs and a little protein, it will give you strength and energy.

During: I don't usually eat during a run, but have read that once you start running for more than an hour you need to introduce energy gels or bars and also keep hydrating every 30 minutes or so.

After: It is important to refuel within 30 minutes if possible. My new favorite is a protein powder mix my husband has been using called Muscle Milk. We buy the chocolate and I mix it with milk. I don't usually do the full two scoops, though as my runs get longer I probably will.  Afterwards I often eat some fruit and yogurt, or even an egg white or turkey sandwich.

A great suggestion from my brother (a trainer)- start keeping a little diary...what did you eat before or after a run or workout and how did you feel?  I'm going to do this this week.

So, my training last week in a nutshell:

Sun: 3 miles outside
Mon: off
Tue: 3.2 miles outside
Wed: stretch/weights
Thur: 4 miles outside
Fri: off
Sat: 7.2 miles outside! Did not set out to do this much, but was feeling good! 

By the way, my new bloggy friend Denise from Run DMT has agreed to write a guest post for next Monday! She is a momma who has been running races and training for some time now, and I'm really excited for her to share some of her encouragement and experience with us!  Check out her blog before next Monday and say hello! 

Friday, March 12

You Know You're a Parent When...

You mysteriously find socks in your pots and pans cupboard...

You have a room in your house that looks like this... (and it doesn't even bother you)

You think the cutest thing in the world is a chubby baby with a diaper on...

You can't stop yourself from taking hundreds of pictures of this face!!! Even though you already have hundreds that look just like it...

And what wonderful blessings all of these things are...