Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I really like it when people know what they are talking about.  There are people who can bluff with the best of them, but when I know material that someone else is talking about and what they say matches what I already know, and it's something that not everyone knows, I'm impressed.  (Did you follow that?)

This morning Blair (operations manager at ITF) talked to us about why they support the Paleo "lifestyle".  He didn't get fuzzy on why, he spelled it out in technical terms and was spot on with what he was saying.  This "fireside chat" was after the WOD...which was after the instruction for the day.

So...let me back up.  I got to the gym a little early so I could see what goes on in a regular class.  I got to see a friend, who is a little bitty thing, clean and jerk what looked like more than her own body weight! (I don't know if it was, but I'm fairly confident it was...)  I got to see big burly guys using straps to do a pull up (which is comforting because I know that's the only way I'll be able to do them--at least for a while...).  I got to see a girl trying really hard to clean and jerk and just not making it, but she kept trying.

As I was wrapping my mind around the possibility of actually EVER being able to attempt any of that, Blair told me it was shoulder day.  I have to admit, I almost suddenly remembered a meeting I had to get to...it crossed my mind to say I could hear my mother calling, but he must have seen the panic in my face because he told me it was going to be fine.  I explained that I had surgery in January and my shoulder isn't 100% just yet.  He reminded me that any movement could be scaled down.  And then it was time for 101 to start so I couldn't duck out.

There were only three of us there (you can go at 6:15am or 7pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday--either time you want...apparently 7pm is a much more popular time to work out.)  We started with a little 200m warm up jog and did some dynamic exercises to get our bodies ready.  Then we learned how to do a proper "strict press" (shoulder press) and a proper push up.  I can really tell I haven't been doing my shoulder PT because I couldn't even do ONE regular push up.

Today's WOD was three rounds of run/presses/push ups.  I was feeling pretty good the first round even though I had to break it down into chunks (I couldn't do 21 shoulder presses at one time, I had to take "mini-breaks".)  It was timed again.  I was feeling fairly decent for the first set.  The second set was a little more taxing and I ended up having to use a thing for the pushups that kept me from going all the way to the floor (because I couldn't get back up!).  The third set did me in.  I came in last this time.  There's a slight chance I lost count.  If so I did extra because I wasn't sure, but I don't think I did...I'm just THAT weak in my shoulders (well the left one anyway).

I'm reminded again why I'm doing this crazy thing.  Is it really important to me to be able to lift heavy things?  Not really...although it is pretty cool to be strong.  But getting stronger will surely help me swim, bike and run faster.  At the very least it will help prevent injury.  As a side note, I'm really thrilled they promote Paleo too.

...after I left the gym I got a beet juice from The Juice Bar before meeting Daisy for a run.  We didn't get to run more than the warm up together because I had a mile repeat workout and she was running steady.  But it was nice to know she was there and we got to cool down together afterward.

Tomorrow is a recovery ride that I will probably replace with a nap.  I'll update you on the "diet" tomorrow as well.

Until next time...

**Not sure what a "clean and jerk" is...watch this...

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Think I'm Going to Like it Here

Tonight was the first night of 101 at Iron Tribe Fitness.

Let me first say how much I love the space we work out in.  I know it's a silly thing to start off with, but it's a first impression that hits you when you first pull in from the street.  It's a cool industrial red brick building with an interior that says "I'm here to sweat" (no, not literally).  I'm not a "reviewer" so I won't pretend to be able to describe things about the place in a way that will give you a good mental image. I'm there to work out so I won't be taking pictures either.  I did scroll through about a hundred photos on the Iron Tribe Huntsville Face Book page and came up with this one to show you want the outside looks like.  (I don't know who any of the people are so I blurred out the faces.)

I met some nice people before we got started.  We met the coaches and then we introduced ourselves, telling a bit about why we're there.  (I said "I'm here to practice what I preach.")  We got warmed up with some dynamic movements and then learned the proper way to perform three every day functional movements-the air squat, the kettle bell swing and the sit up.

Now, I know what you are probably thinking.  "I don't do squats or sit ups every day...she's crazy."  But, my guess is that you do.  Almost everyone sits on (and gets up from) the toilet at least once a day (maybe you have to use hand rails to lower/raise yourself?), everyone gets out of bed (maybe you roll out?).  ...I've been trying really hard to think of a movement that resembles the kettle bell swing, but I don't think I do that movement at all much less every day.  But, here's the thing...my hips are SUPER weak so just like a person who might roll out of bed and not use their ab muscles (for what ever reason), I don't use my hips as much as I "should" so it's not surprising I can't think of anything I do like that.

After we learned how to do the movements properly, we did a baseline test to get an idea of where we are starting from.  As soon as I found out the test would be timed my competitor kicked in.  I started sizing up the room to see who might be the biggest "threat".  Then I remembered to keep myself in check because I will be getting up in less than 12 hours to go back to the gym for day two, then I'm doing a seven mile run tomorrow (mile repeats, so not a leisurely stroll), not to mention I have an 18 miler -after my strength workout- on Thursday).  ((No, I'm really not doing too much...and I'll explain why I'm saying that in tomorrow's post...))

We started with a little run then did descending sets of the three exercises we learned, and finished off with another little run.  I started a bit slower than I needed to because I didn't know what to expect.  I've got to say that's the most squats I've done in one workout in well over a year and I've never even held a kettle bell before tonight.  (Sit ups aren't an issue, but the way we did them was a little different than I'm used to (in order to get a full range of motion).)  When I got to my last set I realized just how easy I was taking it and picked it up to finish strong.  I felt like I probably gave about 90% effort (knowing I have a heavy workout week ahead and this is not all I'm doing made a difference in what effort I was willing to lay out there).

Well...time for bed because I'll get up early tomorrow to join the morning group at 6:15.  For now I'll leave you with this:

Yeah, yeah, I know it's pretty darn funny...no one is going to be drawing me a bath at the gym...but as I drove away I couldn't help but sing to myself, "I think I'm gonna like it here..."

Until next time...

((In case you were wondering, I came in "third" (out of maybe 15ish?) but I'm pretty sure no one really cared; they didn't have medals or awards and there were no ranking or scores being kept.  They did make note of the time because we'll do the same test at the end of the 101 month to see how far we progress.  And, in case you're wondering, the person I thought was going to give me a run for my time came in second.  She's training for the marathon so she probably didn't give all she had either but I want to beat her at the end...I can't help it.  Even if I didn't say it, if you have been reading my blog at all you know, I'm thinking it.))

Friday, October 24, 2014

Who Wants Easy?

not me, not my kitchen
It's been eight days!  I think I may have cooked more home made meals (things that involved measuring and reading a recipe) this week than I did all last month! I have never been a "cook" but I have always wanted to be one.  I finally realized it's like anything else...if you want to do something well, you have to keep doing it and REFINING the way you do it.

I remember the first time I made chicken pot pie (no, not in my current way of eating...this was almost 25 years ago).  I went to the store, bought all the ingredients, went home, followed the recipe and made the dish.  As my husband and I were eating we were talking about how good the flavor was but that it was dry.  I went to the fridge to get something to drink and realized I completely forgot to add the milk!!  FOUR CUPS OF MILK!!!  No wonder it was dry!!  The second time I made it I made sure to pour the milk into cups where I was mixing the veggies on the stove so I wouldn't forget.  That would have worked if only all the milk was in one cup/bowl.  Unfortunately for me it was in two cups...and I only used one of them!!!  But, hey-at least that time it wasn't as dry!

You'd think the third time for the chicken pot pie was a charm...it was if you think following the recipe to a T is what it takes.  I used all the ingredients and I followed the recipe, and found it to be WAY too runny!!!  If I had never had it as dry as I had I might not have realized what I needed to
change in order to fix it to make it better.  I might have thought it was good enough.  Instead I knew that 3 cups was about right.

Anything in life we desire to do well will require some mistakes and a learning curve.  Some things have a steeper curve than others.  I have found doing those things to be well worth the time and effort more than doing the easy things.

I am beginning to feel really good again.  I'm breathing easier and I've had a few pain free day, some good runs and a good swim.

MONDAY is the day I go back to kindergarten!!  I better go buy my sleep mat...

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

"What DO you eat?"

I've been getting that question for over four years now and the answer hasn't changed a whole lot until last week (upon introduction of the Paleo Approach).

Mid-2010, after a blood test told me I was allergic to/intolerant of a whole host of foods I embarked on a new way of eating.  I had been diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition, Hashimoto's wherein the immune system attacks the thyroid to the point it stops working properly.  I had read that food allergies/intolerances* could cause that problem so I cut out all the foods I tested positive for.  After several months of eating that way (about 85% of the time) and not taking my thyroid hormone, my blood work came back worse than it had ever been.  I was very upset.  I discounted the fact that I felt better than I had in years, and I started this yo-yo thing with my nutrition that has been the bane of my existence.  I would eat "bad" food, enjoy it in the moment, feel bad a day (or three) later, resolve to be "better", start eating "well" for a while then some temptation would come along and derail me all over again.

I was caught in this cycle not only because food tastes good and I like to eat but also because I wasn't convinced this list of food was really all "bad" for me.  I didn't know what they were doing to my body other than this test said they spiked an immunoglobulin (IgG*) at the time of the test.  I had read a lot of research that said the kind of test I took is notoriously unreliable and would likely give different results every time.  I had also read some on "leaky gut" which basically (in a very small nutshell) says that eating "bad" food causes intestinal permeability (leaky gut) which allows microscopic bits of food to enter the blood stream causing the immune system to attack.  The immune system sees that thing as a threat to the body and develops antibodies to it.  Autoimmune conditions develop when the system goes into over drive and/or the antibodies attack tissue in the body that looks like that attacker.  (From what I have read thyroid tissue "looks" very similar to gluten to the immune system.  You know that saying "they all look alike"?  Well, apparently our immune "cells" can't see very well...)

Anyway...every thing I read lead me to believe that I wasn't doing myself any favors by simply replacing all cow's milk with almond milk.  All I might have been doing is developing antibodies to almonds.  I "knew" I needed to heal my gut, but I didn't know how.  The only thing I could really find on that topic basically amounted to "doctors" trying to sell expensive services that may or may not work.

Then along came a friend who told me about the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).  She was sold on the "diet" because it had helped her immensely.  I wasn't sure I wanted to try another diet.  What I really wanted was to go back to school to learn about the immune system so I could figure out WHY my body was attacking itself.  I didn't want something that was going to "fix" it as much as I wanted to know why it happened in the first place so I could make sure it didn't happen again.

One day after another big "I-don't-care-if-it-kills-me,-I'm-going-to-eat-whatever-I-want-to" weekend (or month), I read a post on a private AIP Face Book group I'm part of that talked about this woman with Hashimoto's not taking meds and finally feeling really good because she was strictly following the AIP.  I googled AIP and found this:  The Paleo Mom website.  I watched the video describing what's in her book The Paleo Approach and was particularly impressed with all the science in it.  She wasn't just going to tell me what not to eat/what to eat, or give me recipes that were impossible for me to follow, she was going to tell me WHY I shouldn't eat certain things and WHY other things were so good for me.  She was going to tell me WHY my body was attacking itself and what I could do to change that!!  (EXACTLY what I wanted!)

So I ordered the book and have read about 75% of it.  It reads like a very well written textbook.  The Paleo Approach not a cook book...that's a companion book I also bought!  We started this new way of eating Thursday.

The biggest question I get is, "what can you not eat?"  Well...there's a pretty long list right now.  When I start giving that list I invariably get the question, "what DO you eat".  Meat and veggies....but only certain veggies.  There's a good long list of veggies:  broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, squash, sweet potatoes....too many to list out really.  I also eat berries and some fruit.  I don't eat ANY grains, seeds or nuts.  (When I tell people this they invariably give me the "whaaaat" look...if they haven't already.)

Will this be forever?  If I feel better and my body starts healing...yes, it will be.  Why wouldn't it?  Are Oreos really worth the price of my health and well-being?  (No...the answer is no...)

Until next time...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Before, Now, and Looking Ahead

I said I was going to be transparent so...here it is.  My before pictures.  Although I did take some pictures of me in a bikini (standard before shots), I am not going to be that transparent.  I decided to take my public pictures in something I would likely be seen in public wearing-a bike top and compression shorts.  

For the record, I'm much happier with these pictures than I am with the bikini pictures.  :D  This top is a little on the snug side and the shorts ride up BAD when I run in them which I like to think will change when I lean up.  Don't send me hate mail, I'm well aware that I am not the typical "before" look.  My overall goal isn't really to lose weight.  I want to lose body fat and increase lean muscle.

Here are my measurements:

Flexed bicep L 10, R 10.5
Waist @ belly button 29
Upper hip 38.5
Widest part of my hips 41.5
Thighs L 22.5 R 23
Calf 14
Weight 135

I don't have number goals.  I know that by chaining the way I am eating and adding in strength training my body is going to change.  I feel a little silly posting this because, again, I know I'm not what most people would think of when they here "before".  But here's where I really started from:

This was my first Cotton Row finish line picture in 2010.  I weighed around 150ish then.  I've worked hard to get to where I am now.  I've been leaner, faster and stronger in the past than where I am right now, but I'm excited to think about where I'm headed.

"Diet" Update

Dwayne and I started the Autoimmune Protocol Thursday.  I have already been able to tell a difference in my gut.  I'm not bloated as usual, and things feel settled.  I'm not used to eating this much protein so we'll see how that goes but for now I'm finding it worth the effort to cook all the time.  I talked to friends of ours (a couple) who have been Paleo (not AIP) for about three years.  The wife said she was having an issue with her shoulder before they started.  It wasn't serious, just achy all the time.  She said once they changed their diet that went completely away.  (It has to do with reduced inflammation.)  I have felt really very good overall.  I can't say I'm significantly better but I ran well Thursday, recovered well for Friday's run and then again for Saturday's run so I'm pleased.

If you want to know more about the "diet" (way of eating...not a "diet" that has a beginning and an end), check out the Paleo Mom's website.

Until next time...

Friday, October 17, 2014

Muddy Waters

Yesterday I told you about starting up strength training at Iron Tribe Fitness.  I got to thinking, I have to update you on all the changes I'm making right now because the water will be a bit muddy when trying to figure out the main reason for me becoming a beast over the next few months!!  :D

I have started a new way of eating (yes, again).  It only took about 10 people telling me about the book "Paleo Approach" for me to decide to check it out.  I couldn't put it down.  It reads like a text book, but a fascinating one.  It's rich with science and the reasons WHY a person (like me) can have an immune system that is attacking it's own host body!  She doesn't just say "eat/don't eat these foods" she goes into what certain foods are doing in the gut.  I'm all in.  My husband is all in (as long as I keep him fed).  My daughter is putting her foot in for now.

Day one was yesterday.  It's too soon to tell anything specific, but I'm pleased with how I'm feeling this morning.  I ran 16 mostly trail miles yesterday (pretty hard for me on trails).  I expected to wake up pretty sore given how I felt last night, but so far so good.  We'll see how I feel when I run my 11 road miles today.*

...I'm counting down the days until I start with ITF...10 days from today!

Who needs a new year to start something radically different?  Not this girl!

Next time I'll tell you about the Grand Slam of races I'm doing the next three months!

Until then...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Going to Kindergarten

Not mine....taken from the internet!
I think my first introduction to strength and conditioning was a physical fitness test I took when I was in elementary school, maybe 3rd or 4th grade.  I remember going to another school's gym on a Saturday and having to do several exercises.  I was told at the time the president wanted to know how fit I was compared to other kids.  I remember feeling very proud that the president cared that much about me!!  :D  I don't remember doing anything prior to that test to get ready for it or following up on it afterwards.  But I did play kickball or chase at recess twice a day every school day (unless it rained and we were forced to stay inside) until 7th grade when we exchanged recess for PE.

Not me...taken from the internet!
I HATED PE.  I hated changing, I hated sweating in the middle of the day (with my new 7th grade stink).  The thought of showering was completely out of the question.  I hated having to display my complete lack of athletic prowess in front of all the kids who just new how to hit a volleyball, throw a baseball or shoot a basketball with the ease of a professional athlete.  I hated the oversized generic brand shoes my mom bought for me thinking I'd grow into them.  I hated the polyester shorts they made us all wear.  I did everything I could to get out of as much as I could, or at least do as little as I could get away

Really me!
Fast forward to my senior year of high school.  My parents were in the Arkansas Army National
Guard.  As a senior, they convinced me enlisting was the route to take to have my college paid for so I signed up.  I knew I would have to go to Basic training which would mean doing a minimum number of pushups and sit-ups and a timed 2 mile run, so I started going to the gym.  I loved sit ups.  I felt like I could do them all day long...so that's what I focused on when I would go.  I would walk around the gym floor 13 times (that was a mile), and I would workout some on the machines, but I spend the better part of my time doing sit-ups.  When I went to Basic training I might have been able to do about 25 pushups in the 2 minute time frame they gave for the test.  Although that wasn't enough, we had to do enough pushups I didn't need extra practice for that!  I was able to keep up in the short runs we did in PT (physical training) enough that I wasn't required to join in "remedial training".  Naturally since I wasn't required, I didn't.  When I took my final PT test, I passed the pushups with ease, came close to maxing on sit-ups and BARELY scraped by on the run (sort of).

I used the Video not the album...
Fast-forward to when I got out of the military.  I have talked before about how I would use physical activity to lose some weight here and there.  I did step aerobics with Jane Fonda, I joined a couple of different gyms along the way, mainly doing group classes.  I would work out on machines every now and then.  I walked; every so often I would try to run.  Sometimes when I got particularly motivated I would tear out the pages of a "SELF" magazine and say I was going to do the 10 minute strengthening workouts they advertised.  (I didn't ever actually do them, at least not ever more than once!).

Fast forward to 2008.  I got a flyer from my local gym advertising personal training.  I went to see Warren Martin who convinced me he could help me get in shape.  And, he DID.  It was amazing.  I started out meeting with him just once a week, but after a couple of weeks stepped that up to twice a week.  He pushed me even when I whined saying I just couldn't do what he was asking me to do.  He also helped me morph my nutrition plan.  In about 10 weeks I lost about 10 pounds and gained a significant amount of strength.  After the 12th week I decided I could do what we were doing on my own and stopped paying for personal training....and very quickly stopped going to the gym.

I tell my husband he can't touch those arms or they'll deflate!
Since I started running, and then triathlon, and then even coaching, I have tried on numerous
occasions to add strength training into my plan.  I became a certified personal trainer and a certified TRX trainer.  I have been a member of three gyms at one time (thanks to teaching and training I am not paying for memberships anymore).  I, of all people, KNOW what to do.  And, when I do it I really enjoy it, and make gains in strength quickly.

And...I don't do it.

I did PT for my shoulder longer than I've done anything, but I stopped even doing that a couple of months ago (and I can tell).  I know I need to do it more now than ever.  I preach all the time to other people that women over 40 NEED strength training to stay healthy.  And I know I need strength training to  prevent injury.  And I know doing it will help me perform better.

And...I just don't do it.

So, when I was invited to try out the program at Iron Tribe Fitness I jumped.

I jumped back actually.  My mind started coming up with all kinds of reasons I shouldn't/couldn't do this thing.   I told Blair (manager/coach) how scared I was and his response was something I'm totally going to steal.  He said, "It's like attending kindergarten...everyone is nervous!  Did you make it through kindergarten?"  So I jumped...in this time.  I will start "kindergarten" October 27th, three days a week for month long 101 Program.  ((For the record, I OWNED kindergarten like BOSS!!!  That was the very best analogy he could have used!!))

I have decided to be very bold and vulnerable and post about my experience here.  I'm posting for two reasons.  When (not if, but when) I get scared I know I will have this stake in the ground (((yes, I get scared to death even though I'm a coach...haven't you read my posts?!)))  Also, I am positive there will be a major transformation in my body and my abilities;  I want to be able to look back on this time and remember where I started.  And IF I forget I will read this post and REMEMBER WHY I'M HERE!!

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Mountain Mist

For the second time I am signed up for Mountain Mist 50K.  The first time I signed up was two years ago.  I had been having trouble with my shoulder on the day registration opened up, but I had just completed a half iron (Atomic Man) and I figured it was just a bit cranky.  It would be better by race time.  Wrong.  It continued to get worse.  Running absolutely killed it.  So I had to back out of doing my first 50K race.  

Last year when the sign up for this race came around I was recovering from IMLT and focused on trying to figure out what was going on with my shoulder and what needed to be done to fix it.  When MM race day rolled around I was one week out from surgery.  

This race is one you have to qualify for.  You must meet at least one of the following criteria:  

  • Any previous Mountain Mist 50km finish
  • Any ultra marathon finish in previous 2 years
  • Any marathon finish under 4:40 in previous 2 years
  • Any 70.3 Triathlon finish under 7:00 in previous 2 years
  • Any 140.6 Triathlon finish in previous 2 years
  • Other endurance running activities on case by base basis
From the website:  The race course consists of extremely rocky mountain trails, mud, and creek crossings, not to mention  the 3,872 feet of climbing!!  There is a vertical climb on the course that requires the use of your upper body."

Holy Cow.

I can't wait.