Jan 5, 2013

Running on Coke

Below is an email set Curls and I exchanged regarding getting back on the running horse.  I told her she offers sound advice for a post, so here it is.  I nearly lost some dangly parts when suggesting cutting Coke.

If readers like the topic, Curls said she'll write a fitness series over the next few months.

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From: Curls
To: Beard
Subject: I...
  
…ran last night.  I rock!

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From: Beard
To: Curls

Good job, how did it go?  Was cold out there on my run today, 2 degree real-feel over lunch.

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From: Curls

It went really well.  With a wind chill of 19-degrees, I bundled up, and had a pretty nice experience out there.  I almost forgot what it’s like to run on packed snow and ice, but I didn’t fall.  All things considered, I made it!  And after weeks of no running at all, I dare say I was impressed with my performance.  I tend to hold up pretty well in cold weather though, so it was less startling than I expected. 

It started snowing for about a 15-min stretch, the big white fluffy slow kind, which was very pretty.  My knees are sore today, but nothing to worry about.  I may or may not go tonight.  I’m concerned that by the time I head out, the wind chill could be crazy low.  A day off wouldn’t be bad (aka, knees), but the next day looks inviting with a rise in temp.  Time will tell….

I’m just proud of myself for doing it at all.  It took some convincing.  My nutrition has been spot-on (or close to it) for 2-days now, so that helped with my energy level too.  Small steps for bigger things ahead, right?  

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From: Beard 

Good job!  Making it out the front door is the hardest part when getting back into it.  Stay on it, with good nutrition and cutting Coke you’ll lose 5 lbs a week for awhile.

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From: Curls

Who said anything about cutting out Coke?  Besides, if I go cold turkey, I’ll get headaches which will make me want to skip a run.  Ease into it, I say.  I’ll get there.  5-lbs not realistic for my weight.  2-3 more likely.  Plus, that approach more sustainable.

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From: Beard

Huge amount of sugar in Coke.  Agree on baby steps though.

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From: Curls

I don’t disagree that Coke has sugar.  But take it from someone who has been on both sides of the fitness fence.  The BIGGEST impact on results are daily choices, every single one of them.  What you eat, how much of it, the variety of foods you sink into your body, whether exercise is consistent, how aggressively you exercise, how much sleep you get, how much stress you have in your life, attitude, etc.  Everything. 

Commitment and discipline are a must. 

These choices will eventually turn into “don’t even have to think about it” habits, but it takes time.  The body and brain will fight it because it’s new and different, and often uncomfortable. I’ve been through this before and establishing that routine is, without question, foundational to the entire objective.  I think most folks fail because (1) it’s really hard and (2) they have a half-baked commitment.  That plan will not work.  It’s all or nothing and you need grit to get through it, as there will be plenty of set-backs. 

Also, keep in mind that there is a HUGE difference in maintaining weight vs. losing it.  To lose, you have to consistently burn more than you’re taking in.  And burn enough to make a permanent impact to the bod’.  It’s tough.  There will be a giant slump about mid-way through where the body will “settle” and the scale won’t budge.  Trust me.  What that means is you MUST toss something more challenging (usually in the form of exercise) to trick your body into working harder than it’s used to.  At that point, your mind is stronger and you’ll think – I can do this!  If you hang on long enough, the body will adjust and begin burning again.  The human body is a complex machine.

When I was in better shape, I used to get ticked when well-intentioned folks would say things like, “It’s so easy for you.  I mean look, you’re tiny.”  I wanted to scream from the rooftops that it isn’t easy, that it takes work, but that yes the results are fabulous.  What I miss most is how great I felt.  I had to work at it though.  This time round I have no intentions of running crazy, daily mileage like before (unless, God forbid, I decide to run in another marathon).  It must be sustainable.  I can’t lock into something that takes 60-miles of running a week to maintain.  That just isn’t gonna be realistic.  

Last night I ran a short 3-mi.  Felt good.  I survived.  I thought it would be discouraging for me to begin running again in the bitter cold, but I’m actually pretty tough holding up in those conditions.  I do better in the cold than heat, by far.  I’ve been more well-rounded with meals (hitting 4 food groups) and have gotten slightly better sleep than usual.  All of this is getting me off to a decent start.   

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From: Beard

Okay if I bundle your message into a blog post?  Good advice.


_____________________________________________
From: Curls

Actually, this might be a GREAT post (series) for me to take on.  A majority of your readers are women and I’ll bet it garners interest, as most can relate to the ups ‘n’ downs of healthy living.  Plus, it will help hold me accountable.  Nothing keeps you more motivated than asking how things are going and not being able to honestly answer in the positive. 

BTW – Who is that skinny, good lookin’ gal in the photo?  She’s a fox!

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From: Beard 
  
Agree on the foxy lady, and can I run this as a post as-is?  I think it stands on its own, and hasn’t been overworked.  The initial raw thoughts are usually the best, over-refinement waters things down.  That's why I leave my posts with some grit.


-Beard

38 comments:

  1. Loved this and would definitely like reading more. Good luck with the running, Curls!

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    1. Thanks - I appreciate the support!

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  2. I liked it too and would be interested in reading more. Just as a point of interest, New Zealand MacDonalds franchises switched from normal Coke and Sprite to Coke and Sprite Zero. They did it on the quiet as their part to combat obesity and guess what! NO ONE NOTICED!

    I know a lot of people are put off by the thought of saccharine vs "natural" sugar (I am), but as a short-term way of easing into cutting back on sugar-laden drinks I think it is worth a shot.

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    1. Interesting! I'm more of a 1-can (most) days a week kind of gal. Beard gives me grief because, honestly, it's about the only bad habit in the mix that I'm hanging on dearly to, at the moment.

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    2. You cling to Coke, me to cigars and bacon, everyone has their kryptonite.

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    1. That I do...thanks Nessa!

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  4. Love it! Would definitely like to read more. I went out for a 4 miler in New Years Day, first one in a while and really cold (Chicago). Let's do this!
    Kim

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    1. A fellow Midwestern gal - love it! You can totally appreciate what it's like to go out with wind chills, excessive blowing snow and slippery icy path "fun". Beard detests un-shoveled walks. I look at them as a challenge!

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  5. Very Inspiring- go Curls! I miss running terribly (3 marathons!)- but its so hard to get back when every step is a slog. Hoping to run a 10 K this spring and get back to it. If Curls can do it in those kinds of temperatures- who am I to complain in Florida! I look forward to more posts.

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    1. Oh, Kiera - you CAN do it! I'm a former marathoner too (ran 4, including Boston). I'm far from being in mint condition to "go there" now, but if I did it once I can surely do it again. I think the toughest part is while my mind is ready, my body has forgotten all sense of strength, endurance and energy levels. It can be discouraging (not to mention humbling), but I know I've got it in me to turn this around.

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  6. Very interesting and I agree mostly but, to disagree with Curls on one item, there is more damage from Coke than just sugar. Curls might like to read this just to help with a bit of motivation in that department.

    http://blog.fooducate.com/2012/07/25/new-study-soft-drink-consumption-leads-to-flabby-muscles/

    Also, diet versions of soda are even worse. Another article of interest to your readers maybe.

    http://blog.fooducate.com/2011/07/02/2-new-studies-diet-soda-leads-to-weight-gain-diabetes/

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    1. Catherine, thanks! I snapped to attention instantly upon seeing that the links contained words like "flabby" and "diabetes". Scary stuff! I'm not in denial, I assure you. I'm well aware that caffeinated, high sugar drinks are uber-nasty and not at all a great way to nurture this body. It's my only vice at the moment and a hard habit to curb. I'm a workin' on it!

      BTW - I don't touch diet sodas (never have). Perhaps this means I'm only 92% bad? :)

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    2. The comments on that first article Catherine linked to are funny. Some readers claimed to be offended by the flabby arm photo. Are people really that sensitive?

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  7. I'm with you on the Coke, Beard -- though Curls is totally right about being realistic and taking baby steps, too. I've found that what I eat makes a much bigger difference than the exercise I get, but the biggest change in my metabolism has come from having kids. After both pregnancies (during which I gained almost 60lbs each!) I dropped down to my high school weight within a year just because I was nursing. It was amazing to me -- I had been dieting and exercising for almost 10 years, and I thought I was cooked after getting so huge while I was pregnant, and then it just disappeared. Now I'm in the tough zone -- not nursing AND not pregnant for the first time in 4 years. I put on 5lbs over the holidays and I wasn't even being that bad. Anyway, go easy on Curls, it's tough being a girl -- you never know what your body is going to do and it's MUCH harder to work things off than it is for you guys. I also think her curves are adorable and suit her, so she shouldn't try to get too skinny.

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    1. Us girls gotta stick together, Rose!

      Hmmm, I'll probably post on this so I can do the complete backstory justice, but...here's a short version:

      I was a VERY disciplined runner back in the day. I hit my mid-20s and thought, "I gotta do something." A desk job wasn't helping, so one day I just started running and watching what I ate. I refused to call it a diet and instead focused exclusively on portion control and nailing those four food groups EVERY day. I felt wonderful! I exercised 6-days a week and got hooked on races. I bit the marathon bug and on my second try qualified for the Boston Marathon. I really surprised myself that day and still look back at it as a pivotal moment for never, ever underestimating what is possible. This running went on for years until injury started catching up with me. I scaled back on mileage and decided I needed a break. When I tried to aggressively get onboard again, I ran into injury after injury that had me side-lined for 6-8 weeks each. It was frustrating. Fast forward 3-yrs and hello, I'm typing this response. :) What has changed the most for me is that I'm older now. The approach that worked before hasn't been working. I can't go as hard and I'm starting from scratch. Patience, Curls, patience.

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    2. Rose, I used to think excercise was more important than diet for losing weight. Then I read up on it and found out the opposite is true. For women especially, diet is far more effective for slowing the spinning scale than excercise alone. Combining the two together is deal, but if people only prefer to do one or the other, a diet is best.

      Breast feeding requires 600 to 800 calories a day, which is what you'd burn running 7 or 8 miles. I'm a big fan of bFeeding for a lot of reasons, mostly because it's best for baby. I often wonder why more fathers don't speak up on this and support mom for going the natural route?

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  8. Anonymous1/05/2013

    Hi Curls n Beard,
    I am curious as to what you wear when running in such cold weather? I am a Florida native of 29 yrs (Sarasota, WOOT!) and now a resident of very rural O-H-I-O! ;) While living in Fl I became accustomed to running in the heat and humidity basically yr round. Since living here for past 2 years my running has really been erratic at best and mostly because of such drastic weather changes...
    I wish I could afford to go buy some special cold weather running clothes, but as the mother of 4 girls my wardrobe is definitely not the priority HA! I do have basics though, mostly cotton leggings with a fleece pullover. Which works for 30-40 degrees and that is hopefully without much wind! I have not even attempted anything below that- Ever!
    I am mostly curious about your choice in shoes and head wear! lol! My nose and ears can not bare the cold! Also, slipping or frostbitten toes is something I would really like to avoid and feel confident about not happening! HELP! ;) Thanks, Erin H.

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    1. I ran this summer in August when we stayed in Sarasota, the heat was nasty and a lot tougher on the heart and body than the cold. We liked that area, hope to return in the next year or two.

      Chilly runs through white powder are awesome if you dress right. You can stay warm on the cheap with thin layering action. Ask your hub' for one layer per Christmas, anniverary or birthday...soon you'll have what you need without spending anything. I buy most of my running stuff at Target, it's cheap, works great and lasts for many seasons.

      Keep the head, torso and fingers warm, legs and feet usually don't get cold. Try and find a route that is plowed/shoveled (impossible around here, people don't clear walks) or Google Yaktrax if you want slip-on studs for your shoes.

      Run with a partner if the temp's below 20 degrees, unsafe to fall alone.

      Use a longer hat and NOT 'muffs or wrap that covers just the ears. I don a scary clown facemask when the windchill's under 10 degrees to keep the cheeks and nose from frosting. A neck gator on windy days helps a bunch with blocking the draft down your neck and back.

      Here are the layers I clip on when the real-feel is -15 to 15 degrees above (remove a middle shirt layer when warmer temp):

      -Thin wicking hat (roll it above your ears if you get hot)
      -Scary Clown facemask (only if really cold or windy)
      -Neck gator (only if windy)
      -Thin gloves
      -Thin nylon windshell mittens
      -Synthetic short sleeve shirt base layer
      -Synthetic long sleeve shirt middle layer
      -Nylon or fleece long sleeve external layer. Zippers are best for controlling trapped heat and sweat, unzip a bit on tailwind, zip up when the wind bites.
      -Windies to keep my cash and prizes from freezing off
      -Long running pants (synthetic or wool work best)
      -Thicker running socks
      -Regular running shoes
      -Yaktrax on shoes only if trail 100% ice

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    2. The only weather that used to hold me back was hail or lightening. Everything else was fair game! Great question, Erin! I'm sure Beard will provide more of a "scientific" answer, whereas mine is based more on gut feeling.

      I always dress as though the weather is 20-degrees warmer than it actually is - this has served me well. And I base it off the extremes, whether wind chill or heat index. The rationale being that as you run, you'll warm up and be dressed accordingly. I have a mix of finer/cheaper running attire and am not too picky as long as it's comfortable and lasts.

      To address your specific question, as a general rule of thumb:

      - Between 0 - 32-degrees F. I absolutely cover my ears. One bout with frostbite and I've never forgotten the importance of this. I typically wear a fleece headband. It's wide enough to cover my ears, top to bottom. Anything below 0-degrees F and I double-up, first the headband goes on and then I pull a thick winter hat over it. I like ski hats best, as they're well-insulated. When I put these 2 layers on, I've found it helpful to put my long hair in two messy braids. Helps to keep everything secure and lock the cold out. I don't cover my nose/chin unless the wind is a whippin' and it's below zero out. When this happens, I also wear a neck gator.

      - My shoes of choice are Mizuno's. They're durable, lightweight and don't give me any grief (aka, blisters). I've been wearing them for nearly 10-yrs. I'm too scared to try anything else - ha!

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    3. Can I also suggest TJ Max/Marshalls for exercise clothes/gear? I've gotten great things there. (Ross stores is similiar for those of you in other parts of the US)

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    4. Diane makes a great suggestion! I also tend to buy off-season a lot! It's rather odd buying winter gear in early summer, but you'll save a ton!

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  9. That Curls is a keeper!

    And an inspiration!

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    1. Aw, thank you Christina! You all keep me honest now...

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    2. No pressure, but all eyes are on you now to perform, Curls.

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  10. This was great...and I've been trying to get on the "fitness bandwagon" for a while now...finally sucked it up in the beginning of December (yeah, I know..."she did that during the holiadays?"). But it paid off...I actually LOST 1.5lbs!!! :) I would love to read more about Curls!! She is an inspiration (and one that I would totally read!!)

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    1. Ah, Christina L, thank you! If you can make it through the holidays, you can make it through anything, anytime, anyplace, right? Congrats to you!!

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  11. WTG Curls! Don't discount another marathon just yet. If I can run a marathon and a 50k within a year, and at a heavier weight than ever (thanks to a hysterectomy and a metabolism just this side of death), then so can you! I've already mapped out my race schedule for this year (running races...haven't factored in the bike yet) and it's shaping up to be my most difficult yet...2 marathons, 2 50k's, one relay, possibly one 50-miler and several local club races.

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    1. I must add that my favorite things to eat at the aid stations are peanut M&Ms and my favorite thing to drink at aid stations is Coke. Can you say power boost? When my husband ran his first 50 miler a few months ago, I met him at mile 45 with a Reese's PB Cup and a Coke. He followed that with half a beer and crossed the finish line with a pep in his step and under his goal time. I tell people that trail runners eat like potheads.

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    2. Back in my marathon days, I still drank Coke, but it certainly wasn't an everyday kind of thing. More like once a week. But I agree that a caffeine boost can actually help the bod', as artifical as it might be, to PERFORM! Not that I'm recommending it - disclaimer! disclaimer! disclaimer! Your comments made me chuckle though, as those sweets certainly can motivate. Thanks G!

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  12. DSMama1/07/2013

    Excited for the series, Curls! I loathe running and am always intrigued by runners but I say to find what works for you and roll with it!! :) For me its a combo of yoga (my 1st love ... other than my husband and daughter, obv), cycling (2nd love) and then boot camps to even things out. Last year I decided to trim off that 20 lbs I'd been ignoring for the last couple of years and msut admit it feels amazing ... not to mention that I dropped 2 sizes and had to buy a new wardrobe. Originally I'd intended to lose 10 but luckily for me, 10 turned to 20 and now I think I'm where I want to be - strong but slim.

    I also thought I'd share that my mom drinks that disgusting caffeine-free diet Coke. No idea why and after years of trying to convince her to just drink water, I've given up. It must be like crack.

    May I ask how you & Beard met? Was it through running circles??

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    1. DSMama, I used to loathe running as well. I am far from a natural born athlete. This has been a learned behavior and one that I've surprisingly gravitated toward...and naturally came to love. I miss it - I really do!

      What's amusing is that I used to think runners were nuts. I used to question what kind of enjoyment could possibly come from pounding the pavement for hours. Then I started living the runner's lifestyle and began to understand (and appreciate) it.

      Little trivia. Before latching onto running, I used to be a die-hard spinning/cycling fan.

      How did I meet Beard? Yes, it was running that allowed us to first cross paths. Ironic, eh? We hung in similar running circles and I reached out to him to ask for advice on nursing a particular injury. Completely innocent, but a friendship was struck.

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    2. That and Curls was drawn to my 12-year-old boy body.

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    3. Actually, it was the 12-yr old boy body's wit that engaged me so...

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  13. I recently started running. Well, "putting along" might be more accurate! So I'm all about a series on running. Plus, I think we're all dieing to get to know Curls better. :)

    Something I'd also love to hear more about is body image. The super not-a-big-deal comment Curls made "BTW – Who is that skinny, good lookin’ gal in the photo? She’s a fox!" raised a red flag for me. I'm sure it's because I have a daughter now, but I've become hyper aware of anything that idealizes 'thinness'. I know it's a reality in our culture, but I'd really love to raise a daughter that isn't burdened by that nagging voice in her head always saying she should be thinner. That is probably impossible, huh? Do we, when we're trying to be healthy and fit, by running, allow ourselves to acknowledge the latent goal of becoming skinnier? Do we mindfully reject it? I'd really love to hear your thoughts on this (Curls, as a woman AND Beard as the father of a girl).

    Oh and about the coke habit... I've got the same one. And I am completely satisfied with the excuse/explanation that there are far worse vices! Done and done, pass the soda please!

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    1. Laura,

      Not going to lie...Curls looks hot now, she'll be super foxy when she gets the running thing going.

      As far as body image and what I teach my kid, I tell her that a lean, strong body is a healthy body and what she should aim for. I don't buy into the "I'm fat but fit" thing that seems to be going around these days, nor "it's okay to be overweight, just love the body you have." That's a bunch of baloney. If people are overweight, they should attempt to lose it. Not for vanity, but because it's the healthy, right thing to do. The data shows that being obese is more dangerous and summons more disease than smoking.

      Yes, there is a thing as being too thin, but Pigtails won't have to worry about that or being overweight if she sticks to the nutritious meals and exercise we do now when she's out on her own.

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  14. Laura, you bring up an excellent point!

    Please understand that my "fox" comment was in jest. What I'm striving for here is health, plain and simple. Will I get thinner? You bet. I'll also build more endurance and strength, absolutely part of the objective. As I've grown older, the health factor dominates. While nothing has gone kaput yet, I certainly want to get engaged now and know that I put effort in so I'm not left wondering "what if" or "only if". Ya know?

    I honestly believe that the choices I make now will matter significantly in 20-30 years. The older me will thank the younger me, I hope. While I'll certain benefit in the present, I'm making just as much an investment in my future.

    I don't like to see unrealistic images of women either - culture, meh! When I was in prime running shape, I had thicker calves and muscle tone, particularly in my legs. I really liked it. I have hips (yeah)! I couldn't imagine getting much smaller than I was. I had a healthy 7-lb range that I kept to and I felt pretty darn good. I found my body's happy place. I felt really, really good, as in more energy, a sharper mental alertness and experienced better sleep. These were wonderful bonuses that took me by surprise!

    And yes, I love your post suggestion - take note, Beard!

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  15. Beard, this goes to some other post you had/I commented on about what you can do to help the culture of life/end abortion. Reading our Columbia magazine (Knights of Columbus), I saw a group called

    liferunners.org

    Just thought this might be an easier way to integrate a goal you have into as aspect of your life that is already up and running. Pun intended.

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Thanks for the note, check back for my response!