Fit Bits for Friday

Swimming tips from Natalie Coughlin. []

What you need to run marathons. []

A happy weight calculator.  I make no claims regarding its accuracy. [Self]

How to tackle the swim start at Kona.  I can dream, right? []

How athletes, recreational or not, can be kinda crazy [New York Times]

4 weeks to a half-marathon? [Runner’s World]


That Girl Who Orders Salad

Looks tasty, right?  Er, not so much.You know the one.  You go to a nice restaurant with good food, or McDonald’s with not-so-good food, and she orders a salad.  Seriously?  Not french fries.  Not a burger.  Not a steak.  Salad.

I used to wonder at that girl.  Why would you order salad when you could order something better, something delicious, and fatty, and worth the price?  Please, I totally agreed with Homer Simpson when he chanted, ” You don’t win friends with salad.  You don’t win friends with salad.”  Heck, there’s even a book called Skinny Chicks Don’t Eat Salad.  (Not dissing the book, ’cause I haven’t read it.  Just sayin’.)

Now, I know why she does it.  I have become that girl (well, woman).

Don’t get me wrong.  I will not order a side salad or a salad with just greens.  Uh-uh.  It must follow my normal eating guidelines.  What does this translate to?

  • at least 2 cups of veggies (not usually a problem – it’s a salad)
  • 3 oz or so of meat, preferably lean (grilled chicken, grilled shrimp, and sirloin steak are what I usually choose)
  • dressing on the side, so that I can limit it to 1/2 to 1 tbsp
  • 1 to 2 servings of starch

Getting a healthy starch is the tricky part of the salad order, because from what I’ve seen, it’s usually garlic bread or cheese toast or, with my favourite salad, banana bread.  Sometimes you can get rice, whole wheat pasta, corn, or beans, but not that often.  I try not to get hung up on this, though, because my diet is healthy enough that it can absorb the occasional piece of garlic bread.  Don’t they say it’s all about moderation?

Restaurant Salads I Seem to Order A Lot:

Why I’ve Become That Girl:

Oh, I totally get why you don’t order salad when you go out.  I don’t order salad all the time, either.  If I go to The Keg, it seems wrong to order anything but steak (although I did order some fish there last time I went, and it was pretty good).  I will also order fish fairly often, depending on how it’s prepared, partly because it’s healthy and partly because I can’t seem to make good fish at home.  Plus, I don’t enjoy it when the house smells like fish.

Salad is one of the few things you can order that can pretty much guarantee that you’ll get a few servings of veggies at a meal.  Why is that important to me?

  • Because veggies are good for you (vitamins, minerals, fibre, water, etc.)
  • Because I need to eat lots of veggies to feel full and not want to gnaw at my arm later
  • Because I try to eat healthfully most of the time, and that means I need to make healthy choices most of the time when I eat out, too
  • Because veggies are low-calorie and filling, and I want to lose weight
  • Because I feel superior to you when I eat lots of veggies and you order a clubhouse and fries (I’m only partly kidding)

I’ve had a fantasy for the past fifteen years that I could eat all the chocolate and bread I wanted and lose weight.  Not gonna happen.  Isn’t it Einstein who said that the definition of insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?”  Well, I’ve made major changes to how I eat and how much I exercise, and it’s working.  If that means I order a salad when everyone else order lasagna, so be it.  You can be sure I won’t be the one at the table regretting my order later.

School Year Fear, & a Giveaway at Couch Potato Athlete

Every time I write down the date, I am absolutely shocked that it’s the middle of August.  This may be due, in part, to the miserable weather we’ve been having this summer (cool and wet), but probably also due to the fact that I go back to school in less than a week.  I’m sad to say that I’m not looking forward to the start of the school year, as I have pretty much always done in the past. In fact, this year, I’m dreading it.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m really looking forward to seeing all of my classmates (there are 27 of us, so we’re a fairly close bunch), but the volume of work I’m expecting this year is frightening.  I kind of want to throw up a little when I think about it.  Officially our school day starts at 8:30am and ends at 5:00pm, with an hour for lunch.  The reality, from what I’ve heard from upper years, is that we have to be there by 8:00am (at least) to set-up so that we’re ready to treat our patients, and then we will often have stay late to clean up afterward.  On top of that, our lunch hour gets eaten up (no pun intended) by having to set up for our afternoon patients, and then we will often have lab work plus studying to do in the evenings.

We’re also putting our kids in activities this fall/winter.  Both my son and daughter will be starting hockey this year.  My 4 year old will only have a half hour or so on Saturday morning, but my 6 year old will likely have a more extensive schedule.  Unfortunately we don’t have any idea what that schedule will be like at this point, because it doesn’t come out until after all of the kids register and get placed on teams.  Huh?  Doesn’t make me happy to not be able to plan ahead.

We’re also planning to put them both in one session of Canskate.  They’ll both be skating at the same time, which is nice and one less hassle.  The tricky part is that registration for Canskate is next week, while hockey registration isn’t until the following week.  So, how do we decide what session to put our 6 year old in when we don’t know when hockey will be?  So frustrated about this.

I also mustn’t forget that I start school on August 23rd, but my kids don’t start until September 7th.  Luckily, my parents are awesome and taking the kids all next week, but we’re still finalizing childcare for the following week.  I’m sure it’ll work out, though.  My fingers are crossed.

In anticipation of the upcoming craziness, I’ve put a few meals away in the freezer.  But what else am I going to do so that I maintain my sanity, you ask?

  1. I’m going to set up four weeks worth of meal plans and shopping lists, to be rotated until Christmas.
  2. My husband and I are going to finish organizing the office, because I have piles of stuff from last year still hanging around.
  3. I’m going to keep working out, because it makes a huge difference in terms of my energy level and how stressed out I feel.  Oh yeah, and there’s half marathon I’m doing next month, so I should probably stay on top of training.
  4. After the office, I’ll be tackling our mudroom/laundry room, because it’s a huge mess in there and it’s time consuming to have to look for shoes, bags, and jackets every time we want to go out.  I hope to hit Home Depot and find some locker-style units that will help manage the chaos.
  5. A lot of the kids clothes are getting too small, or just worn out, so it’s time to go through those, too.  And maybe order them some new dressers from Ikea, because the drawers on theirs are starting to fall apart.
  6. It’s also time to buy the kids some new shoes and probably some cool-weather gear.
  7. Hallowe’en costumes might be a good idea, too, because it’ll be here before you know it!
  8. I picked up a “Happy & Healthy Meals” all-in-one pack from my dietitian.  It’s a binder with great info on balanced, healthy eating and meal planning, plus it has sections for me to record my quick meal ideas, meals I make regularly, and new recipes I want to try.  I want to fill those in this week, so that my meal planning is easier.

That’s probably more than enough.  I guess we’ll see how much I accomplish from that list!


Holly over at The Couch Potato Athlete is giving away Raw Crunch bars, and they look really tasty.  Click here for the details.

Also in the same post, she discusses her struggle? decision? to find her blogging voice and post about her interests, rather than writing about the “popular” topics.  Something to think about, especially for us new bloggers.

What’s in YOUR Gym Bag?

I have a 7am session with my trainer tomorrow morning, so I decided I’d better get my gear together tonight (mornings suck!).  But before I could pack my gear in my gym bag, I figured it was time to clean it out.  Here’s what it looked like:

Before I disclose its contents, let me just say that I LOVE my gym bag.  I bought it last year as a motivator to get to the gym.  It’s a bright lemon yellow Lululemon bag and it makes my happy just to look at it.  Seriously, there are times I get to the gym and look at my bag and smile.  Tell me that wasn’t a worthwhile purchase!

Now, let me tell you what was in it, because it’s definitely some weird and random stuff:

  • Chapstick SPF 30 (in there from when I did my tri in June)
  • a black Goody headband (I wear one sometimes)
  • Speedo swim goggles
  • a plain blue swim cap plus 2 other ones: a bright yellow one and a bright green one, both from my first tri (Merlin Ford Lincoln Triathlon at Pike Lake, aka Spin Off Spadina)
  • 2 packs of Orbit gum (we can’t get it here in Canada, so this is some of the stuff I picked up when we were in Arizona in June; had to toss it because it had gotten wet  – not cool, ’cause I LOVE Orbit!)
  • a single shoe lace (useful, don’t you think?)
  • a water-stained sheet with a swim workout on it
  • a random receipt
  • my student I.D.
  • 2 Loonies
  • my inhaler (I have cold- and exercise-induced asthma)
  • a pen
  • a plastic bag with nose pieces for my swim goggles
  • a small binder clip (umm, what?)
  • a barrette
  • a travel-sized container holding Bumble & Bumble Sumotech
  • a toothbrush head cover (but no toothbrush – ha!)
  • a washable pouch for dirty stuff
  • Havainas flip flops
  • my lock

What SHOULD I have in my gym bag?

  • my cross trainers
  • a clean change of clothes and a hat for after my workout (I wear my workout stuff to the gym)
  • my toiletry bag
  • flip flops
  • my lock
  • my Garmin watch and heart rate monitor strap
  • swim goggles
  • plain blue swim cap
  • inhaler
  • headband
  • my water bottle
  • a post-workout snack
  • my iPod (for my warmup)

Now that I’ve confessed the contents of my gym bag, tell me: What’s in YOUR gym bag?  Does it get any more random than a binder clip and a toothbrush head cover?  What useful stuff do you stash in there?  Do you love your gym bag as much as I love mine?

Fight Sluggish Feet: A Long Run Playlist

I had mine engraved: "Life is short. Carpe diem."

I’m just finishing up training for my first half marathon, so I’ve recently put in some fairly long runs – well, probably not that long to you marathoners out there.  21k was my longest training run, and a few of my runs were in the 2 1/2 hour range (I’m pretty slow).

I know some runners don’t like to run and listen to music, but I LOVE my iPod.  The right music gets my feet moving faster, distracts me from the pain in my lower body, makes it easier to maintain a steady pace, and makes me feel happy to be out there.  The wrong music makes me itch to pull out my iPod to skip the song, slows my cadence, and makes it feel harder to run.  Guess I’m consistent with the results described in this article.

Running to favourite music isn’t enough for me.  I need upbeat songs that are as fast or faster than my running cadence; otherwise, I run slower, and if I run any slower, I’ll be walking!  Over the summer, I slowly added songs to extend my playlist, replaced some songs that were dragging me down, and found some new ones that helped me increase my cadence.  Here’s what I ended up with:

  • TiK ToK – Ke$ha
  • When You Were Young – The Killers
  • Higher Ground – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Not Afraid – Eminem
  • Dynamite – Taio Cruz
  • Airplanes (feat. Hayley Williams of Paramore) – B.o.B Airplanes
  • Epic – Faith No More
  • Cooler Than Me – Mike Posner
  • Rude Boy – Rihanna
  • OMG (feat. – Usher
  • Sweet Child O’ Mine – Guns N’ Roses
  • Notion – Kings of Leon
  • Viva la Vida – Coldplay
  • The Boys Are Back in Town – Thin Lizzy
  • Gold Digger – Kanye West & Jamie Foxx
  • Love the Way You Lie (feat. Rihanna) – Eminem
  • Alejandro – Lady GaGa
  • The Hand That Feeds – Nine Inch Nails
  • Learn to Fly – Foo Fighters
  • Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani
  • Evacuate the Dancefloor – Cascada
  • Miss Murder – AFI
  • The Boys of Summer – The Ataris
  • The Look – Roxette
  • Walk Like an Egyptian – Bangles
  • Kickstart My Heart – Mötley Crüe
  • Low (feat. T-Pain) – Flo Rida
  • Since U Been Gone – Kelly Clarkson
  • Sex On Fire – Kings of Leon
  • Rude Boy – Rihanna
  • Joyride – Roxette
  • If U Seek Amy – Britney Spears
  • Bang Bang (feat. Adam Levine) – K’naan
  • Devil Inside – INXS
  • Won’t Back Down (feat. P!nk) – Eminem
  • Black Horse and the Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall
  • Bleed It Out – Linkin Park
  • California Love – 2Pac, Roger Troutman & Dr. Dre
  • Enter Sandman – Metallica
  • Girls, Girls, Girls – Mötley Crüe

What songs are on your running playlist?  Which get your feet moving just a little faster and keep you running a little longer?  Or do you not like to run to music?  Why not?

Do I Need to Drink More Water?

I’m currently training for my first half marathon in September, and the water issue has been on my mind lately.  Am I drinking enough?  When do I need to drink it?  What about when I’m not exercising?

I think we’ve all heard that we’re supposed to drink 8-8 oz glasses of water per day, or roughly 2 litres.  From what I’ve read, however, this number is pretty arbitrary, varies with gender and activity levels, and doesn’t take into account the water you get from food and other beverages.

And forget the idea that caffeine dehydrates you.  Studies now conclude that it doesn’t act as a diuretic, unless you’re talking large doses in people who haven’t consumed any caffeine for awhile.  Links to the studies are here and here (thanks to Health Habits, who had a post on this topic).  So if you’re a coffee, tea, or (like me) diet cola drinker, you don’t have to pound back an extra glass of water to “hydrate” yourself after consuming some caffeine: the caffeinated drink actually counts toward your liquid consumption for the day.  I also found Diet Detective Q & A’s on hydration to be a useful read on this topic.

This still doesn’t answer the question I had, though, which was, “How much water do I need to drink, if not 8 glasses per day?”  Well, apparently there’s no easy answer.

This Mayo Clinic article on how much water you should drink says you can follow the 8 glasses per day guideline, but you basically want to drink enough so that “you rarely feel thirsty and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless or slightly yellow urine a day.”  This is in agreement with what I read in Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes by Monique Ryan, who writes that “you can monitor your hydration status by checking the color and quantity of your urine.  Clear or lemonade-colored urine reflects adequate fluid intake, while darker or apple juice-colored urine…indicates that you need to step up your fluid intake.”  She also says that you should “urinate at least four full bladders every day.”  Who knew?  Also, vitamin supplements can change the color of your urine, so you may have to consider volume over colour.  Alrighty, then.

I’m totally NOT going to be measuring, by the way.

Water and Exercise Definitely Mix

So, how much should I be drinking before a workout?  Going back to Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, the author suggests taking in 720 mL or 24 oz/3 cups of fluid approximately 2 hours before a workout, plus another 240-480 mL (8 to 16 oz, or 1-2 cups) half an hour before.

Unfortunately, we aren’t camels: we can’t store water.  According to the Diet Detective Q & A’s article, any extra liquid will be out of your body in half an hour.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean more is better.  This Runner’s World article discusses hyponatremia, which is a life-threatening condition caused by drinking too much water.  I don’t think I’m in any danger of this happening to me, because I drink when I’m thirsty while running and I’m consuming Gu and/or Gatorade during my long runs, but certainly the article is worth a read (even if it is a little old).

Okay, so what about during a workout?  In Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes, Ryan strongly recommends weighing yourself before and after a workout (unclothed, of course) to gauge how much water you’ve sweated away.  Take your weight loss (pounds or kilograms – doesn’t matter), calculate how much water corresponds to that weight (1kg = 1 L or 1,000 mL; 1lb = 15 oz), and add in how much water your consumed during your run.  That’s the total volume of water you lost.  Then divide that by how long you worked out (say, 2.5 hrs) to figure out how much you sweat per hour.  That would give you a rough guideline, but you still have to remember that how much you sweat will vary with weather conditions and how well you’re acclimated to the weather.  Sheesh!  Gets kind of complicated.

For more simple guidelines, check out this article by Runner’s World.  It suggests 3-6 oz every 15 to 20 minutes.  That translates to anywhere from 9 oz (just over a cup) to 24 oz (3 cups) per hour.  Guess it’s more of a starting point, rather than a “hard and fast” rule.

What About Post-Workout?

The Runner’s World article suggests consuming enough so that you have to pee within 60 to 90 minutes – 1 to 3 cups is usually adequate.  Sports Nutrition for Endurance Athletes recommends drinking 20 to 24 oz (2 1/2 to 3 cups) of fluid for every pound you lose during your workout (so you have to weigh yourself before and after).  Runner’s World suggests anything from 8 to 24 oz.  Again, I’m sure this will vary with the type and intensity of the workout and weather conditions.

What I Am Taking from All of This

  • eight glasses of water a day is pretty much a myth, so no need to obsess
  • caffeine in normal amounts does not dehydrate you; in fact, caffeinated beverages add to your fluid levels
  • drink enough that your urine is clear or light-coloured; if it resembles apple juice, you should be drinking more
  • drink lots before a workout so that you are well-hydrated, 3 cups 2 hours before and 1-2 cups half an hour before
  • during a workout, aim to consume 1 to 3 cups per hour and expect my fluid needs to vary with weather, intensity, and type of exercise
  • you should drink 1 to 3 cups of fluid after your workout, or enough that you have to use the washroom within an hour and a half
  • if you’re feeling hard-core about it, weigh yourself before and after your exercise session and calculate away!

Well, high-five to you if you made it to the end of this post.  That was kind of long-winded, but I figured I’d write it all down in one place so that I don’t have to look it all up again.  Hope someone else finds it helpful, too 🙂

Bottoms up!

Pumpkin Oatmeal and Today’s Food Journal

I’m happy to report that I pretty much stuck to my meal plan today. Yay!

Saw a fantastic recipe for overnight oats that I haven’t tried out yet, over at Oh She Glows.  Click here for the recipe.  Plan to try it soon.

However, the key word in this case is “overnight,” and since I didn’t plan ahead but wanted to try out some pumpkin oats this morning, I tried this recipe from

I should say up front that I did amend the recipe slightly.  Here’s what I did:

  • 1/3 c large flake oats
  • 1/2 c pumpkin
  • 3/4 c skim milk
  • heavy cinnamon
  • light nutmeg
  • a touch of ginger

Cooked them in the microwave until they reached the texture I wanted (in my microwave it took about 4 minutes, but our microwave sucks, so you’d probably need less time).

I found the pumpkin flavour quite heavy, so I stirred in a touch of vanilla (maybe 1/2 tsp) and 1 tbsp raisins.  Much better.  Sweeter and more flavourful with the additions.  I think that next time I’ll try 1/4 c pumpkin and 2 tbsp raisins or Craisins to increase the sweetness slightly.

Food Journal:

  • Breakfast: pumpkin oatmeal (so oatmeal, milk, and fruit all-in-one)
  • Lunch: leftover Triple Berry pork tenderloin, quinoa, cucumbers
  • Snack: yogurt, banana
  • Supper: Sticky Sesame Chicken, quinoa, steamed broccoli with a little margarine
  • Snack: orange, 8 Mini Wheats

All in all, not a bad day.  Those Mini Wheats keep sneaking in there, so I’ve got to keep an eye out!

My Nitpicky Food Journaling:

Just in case you’re wondering why I’m bothering to write those eight Mini Wheats, I find that if I don’t write things down (like three Mini Wheats or a tablespoon of chocolate chips), I will try to fool myself into thinking that I am eating less than I am, and suddenly I find that I’ve eaten half a bag of chocolate chips over the course of two days, or that I’ve eaten a cup and a half of Mini Wheats (or Cheerios, or fill-in-the-blank) in a day.  Sure, not a lot of calories (well, there are in chocolate), but those calories can sure add up quickly.  And even if I’m choosing relatively healthy foods, like Mini Wheats, those are still more calories than my body needs for me to lose weight.

Thus, the weird and somewhat random entries into my journal.  Keep an eye out for a sudden increase in the handfuls of cereal once the stress of the school year starts!  Less than two weeks away now – yikes!

UPDATE: Just mixed up the Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats (I didn’t make them vegan 🙂 ) and they smell AMAZING!  I’ll be having them tomorrow morning for breakfast and will let you know how they are.  Most likely delicious, based on how they smell now.  Am actually looking forward to getting up tomorrow morning to try these.