Bad Blogger Blues

When I first started this blog (way back in September 2013), I was hungry.
I had blogged in the past and really enjoyed it, but took a long hiatus to get my priorities straight before launching this one. Initially I wanted to write about fitness. Running 30 races before my 30th birthday to be exact. I figured I had a winning equation, a very readable concept, and everything would fall into place.

Then I started realizing how mind numbingly boring writing race recaps is, no matter how much personal flare I tried to add.

Then I started realizing how mind numbingly boring it is reading said recaps, no matter who writes them.

Then I started realizing that although I love fitness, this workout crazed, what I ate whatever day, look what I did! look what I did! genre in general is not only mind numbingly boring, but also a big giant time suck.

I was going to use this random photo to demonstrate how I feel about my blog lately.  Then I realized I would give my left arm to be hanging out by this trash pile right now because the weather looks fabulous. Which is an excellent example as to why I think I'm quitting blogging.

I was going to use this random photo to demonstrate how I feel about my blog lately. Then I realized I would give my left arm to be hanging out by this trash pile right now because the weather looks fabulous. Which is an excellent example as to why I think I’m quitting blogging.

I’m not saying there aren’t people who don’t execute this style and embody it beautifully. There are fitness bloggers out there who constantly amaze me with their well educated, passionate, and often personal and interesting blogs. Some of my favorite new real life friends came as a result of my initial soirée with fitness blogging.
But for me…
I guess I’m not hungry anymore.

I don’t want to build a brand. I just want to write.

I don’t enjoy using social media anymore because it’s all just a mad freaking dash to either promote your own posts, or try and promote posts for your “friends,” or to get attention from bigger brands and bloggers to promote whatever posts you want them to promote on your behalf. Yes, I went there. Twitter is a big giant cesspool of subliminal advertising. And yes, I have participated in these very actions myself.

Every time I see a blog post about “omg, I totes love eggs,” with 90 comments of varying degrees of “me too!” All I can think of is, “is this really something I need to involve myself in?”

I get it, it’s a community, and what goes around comes around. But I don’t want to go around feigning interest in somebody’s booty building challenge just to get her to come write “me too!” on all my posts.

This post isn’t intended to chop a bunch of people down. If you’re happy with what you’re doing, by all means, live and let live. If you derive something out of blogging that brings you inspiration, motivation, joy, or friendship, I think it’s a noble cause, but for me, it’s just turning into a never ending loop of “did I really just write this crap in hopes that people will read it?”

I guess I’ve just changed. And everything I write that puts me adrift in that sea of “fitties” makes me less happy with my progress as a human being. Being lumped in a pretentious group of people whose worlds revolve around first their workouts and then their real life priorities makes me cringe. The fact that it embarrasses me to share this blog with people I actually know in real life because I am not a pretentious dick bag who only runs and lets everything go to shit around me says a lot about how I feel here.

For those of you who have been around for my “I quit blogging” temper tantrums in the past, you guys rule. But this time I mean it. If I ever come back, it will be a totally different angle. I wish everyone all the love, and thanks for reading while you did, but now I’m on to other endeavors.
Xo
Martha

photo by: purplepix

Nobody ever accused me of being the brightest crayon…

Oh hi guys!

I’ve got a good one for you.

Did you hear about the girl who deferred her 50k entry after blogging for weeks about how gloriously it was coming along and how awesome and inspired she was about it?

You didn’t?!

Well, that’s because she really didn’t want to write this swearwording post.

Obviously if I didn’t, though, I would be a giant toolbox, so I figured I would just sit down and try and type from my heart.

 

Here’s the deal.  For the next two plus weeks of my life, everything gets chaotic and hazy.  I play hostess here at Jordan’s for hundreds of chainsaw carvers and thousands of tourists.  I am lucky if I sit down and eat a meal before midnight on any given day.  I am truly blessed if I actually get more than 5 hours of sleep in a night.  Running?

Well, I do a lot of it.  Just not in the conventional sense.  Running food, yes.  Running to the liquor store, sure.  Running up and down the basement steps with 50 pound boxes of potatoes in hand… it definitely happens.

 

Running 15+ miles because it’s on my training schedule – you bet your sweet ass that’s not going to happen.

rendezvous

 

Recovering from this time period is even more crucial.  Seriously, I need at least a week to sit on my ass, maybe ski or swim a little, but not haul ass and get right back on the plan.  I need sleep.  I need to let my mind just rest.  I always go into Rendezvous with best intentions, but the wheels quickly fall off, and I don’t want to set myself up for that disappointment again.  Especially when, even though this is the busiest time of my year, it tends to be one of the most fun as well.  I mean, daily debauchery with a bunch of people who make art for a living?  I don’t want to regret missing out on that because I am haphazardly training for an ultra.

 

So, essentially, I am losing about a month of solid training 2 months before my big race.  I didn’t really think out the logistics of that one when I signed up.

 

I also didn’t think I was going to spend all of November and December injured when I signed up.

 

I also didn’t think I was going to be literally up to my ass in snow or waking up to -25 degree weather on a regular basis.  (bonehead move on my behalf.  Hello, it’s fucking winter.  In northern Pennsylvania.)

 

I was also just filled with such insane gusto and inspiration after my 25k, and even my half, that I figured I could plow through any obstacles.

 

Then there’s the other stuff.  What if I get hurt again?  Going into summer with a bum ankle when all I want to do is run and bike and race and play outside would be utterly unbearable. 

 

What if I do actually run the race and I do a shitty horrible job and have a terrible experience because I’m undertrained and then don’t ever want to run again?  That also would be not good.

 

I have another trick up my sleeve, another race that actually falls on the exact same day and is not only totally achievable, but also in my hometown.  So I won’t lament the fact that I am not doing anything at all, but instead just doing something different, more within my means, and less time consuming.

 

And then, I figure, I have all of April-October to get ready for Green Monster 50k. 

 

I’m kicking myself right now, trust you me.  I hate “quitting.”  I hate admitting defeat.  But what I hate more than that is not giving something my all.  When I can’t put my very being into doing something, it’s not worth putting my name on it.  And unfortunately, I can’t in good faith go into Hyner and think I’m going to do a great job.

 

So there you have it.

Yay Rendezvous.

Boo injuries and arctic vortexes and ultra-marathons that happen right after winter is over.

Boo girls who have impulses and credit cards and think they can be prepared for said ultra-marathons.

Yay for self honesty, even if it means a bruised ego and a disappointing blog post.

And yay, most of all for being rational enough to know when to pull the plug.

 

 

 

 

Early Bloomer

SnowFlowers-3

Growing up, I was an early bloomer.

The summer after 3rd grade, I got my period.  Long before the awkward group girl talk in 4th grade about hygiene and bodily changes, I had come into my “womanhood.”

I don’t specifically remember the terror of the event, but I do remember my mom crying a lot and my dad treating me weird for awhile.  I was their first daughter, and obviously no parent wants their child to reach puberty ever, so the fact that mine had come so early really flipped them on their ear.

I was a chubby thing – tall and full figured before I hit the age of 12.  Yet, even though my body was going through these “changes” – I remember how immensely unaware I was of things like body image.  I was comfortable in my skin, I wasn’t even remotely concerned with the impression I gave off to the world around me.  Sloppy, tom boy-esque, bookish but noisy…

Something I do specifically remember, though, is the day I became self-aware, and that to me was more traumatizing than getting my period.

Two major events in one day, and suddenly everything changed.

As I recall, I was eleven years old.  My little sister had a softball game, and I had walked down to the fields to see her play.  I was dressed very innocuously – knee length khaki shorts and this denim sleeveless JC Penney striped shirt that I remember was my very favorite at the time.

One of my friends from school, Polly, was also at the ball fields.  For some reason she had a babysitter with her.  I don’t really remember ever having a babysitter growing up, except when my parents went out on the occasional date.

When Polly introduced me to her babysitter, the babysitter said, “How do you know this girl?  She looks like she’s 17 and pregnant!”  and then whisked her off.

I remember being really hurt by that statement.  Especially the pregnant part, because when you are 11 years old, S-E-X was just gross. As it turns out  I would cling to those words for a long time to come – being a young impressionable mind, it’s a lot easier to hang on to painful, careless statements made by older people who you are supposed to entrust and look up to.

I was so upset, I didn’t stay to watch my sister play.  Instead, I headed home, tears in my eyes, wondering what was wrong with me. 

About a block away from my house, a car slowed up next to me.  I remember it was some maroon shit bucket, and there were two older guys smoking cigarettes in it. 

First, they catcalled.

I just kept walking with my head down.

“Hey slut!  Want to go for a ride?”

I felt this anger and terror well up inside of me, and I started walking faster.

“Whatever, you fat ugly slut!”  they hollered, and then peeled off.

 

One workaday day.  Two completely game changing connected events that completely morphed my childhood. 

I went home and locked myself in my room.  I cried until I was purple.  I stared at myself in the mirror.  Surely, my outfit wasn’t enough for one to deduce that I was a teenage mother or a slut.  Did I warrant this attention simply because I was fat?  Or is this what growing up really feels like?  Is this what every woman goes through on a daily basis and I unfortunately came into it too early?

 

It was from that point on that I dedicated my pre-teen years to becoming invisible.  Homely as possible.  Anorexic as possible.  Quiet as possible.  Where there was once confidence and joy and a sense of “I can be whatever I want to be!” instead there was “Please pay no attention to me as I disappear before your very eyes.”

 

Looking back at this moment as an adult, I am amazed at how fast things can go downhill.  And although a lot has happened in the years between now and then, the fact that I remember this day so crystal clear says worlds about how impressionable our youthful minds can be.  As they call puberty the “change,” it definitely changed me.  I know girls experience horrors worse than these on a daily basis.  I know youth is robbed from everyone in a different way.  And I know that when it happens, there’s no turning back to 11.

 

 

 

 

A great read about how fleeting youth can be by Jennifer Clement

A great read about how fleeting youth can be by Jennifer Clement

This post was inspired by the novel Prayers for the Stolenby Jennifer Clement. Ladydi was grew up in rural Mexico, where being a girl is a dangerous thing.She and other girls were “made ugly” to keep protect them from drug traffickers and criminal groups. Join From Left to Write on February 18 we discuss Prayers for the Stolen. As a member, I received a copy of the book for review purposes

photo by: nelgdev

Just Dropping By: Umbrella, Taxes, Messes, and Murphy’s Law

What good is it to have a blog if you never actually write on it?
Between here or there it seems like I just haven’t had the urge to write lately in general. I’m tired. I’m in a constant state of “busy.” Business is going well, but myself and my staff are all borderline haggard due to whatever winter related maladies and never ending viruses we keep passing back and forth. The general public breathing all over you on a daily basis thing… That coupled with a few nights of less than adequate sleep and all of a sudden your immune system is compromised and it’s too late so you just cross your eyes, cover your mouth when you cough, and deal with it.

We are coming up on one of our busiest weeks of the year, Ridgway Rendezvous, the biggest chainsaw carver festival in the world, and every year I promise myself I will be well rested, well prepared, and coast my way through this fun but chaotic time.

And every year, it sneaks right up on me. Fortunately, Zoe, Rendezvous organizer and personal cohort of mine is pretty much where I am right now. As in, instead of doing work outside of our traditional workday, we go skiing.

My "breakfast nook" nightmare for the time being.

My “breakfast nook” nightmare for the time being.

That of course leads to this.
My system for doing the taxes for the bar is very high tech and organized as you can see.
This random jumble doesn’t stop here as you can probably imagine if you’ve known me for any length of time. It also has sprawled to my counter tops, my purse, my desk… And although it’s on my to do list… Skiing and sleeping and running and eating and hugging my puppies and kissing my fiance and leaving work at work are higher priority at the moment.

Yesterday, the roof started leaking at the bar.
Also, the ceiling fans we just replaced in December are all junk and need replaced again. (That’s just a time consuming irritant more than anything but the fiancé and I are quickly becoming a pro at fan installation.)
My brand new bar stools need sent back this week because every time someone sits on them the wrong way a handful of ball bearings goes spilling across the floor like a sea of marbles.
My full time cook went part time for personal reasons.
A long string of everything old, used, and crappy we have at the bar started shitting the bed a few months ago, and just when you think you’re in the clear… Boom.
So yes, leaving work at work and saying “fuck it, let’s ski…” is really a logical coping mechanism.

I think my lack of writing has been due to this internal pressure to always write as well as possible within a structured medium for this blog. To share but not over share. To be relevant. To write about what’s important in a clear and concise manner.
image As I delve deeper into the novel, Umbrella, by Will Self, my thoughts on the above have kind of transmographied.
Self ditches the expectations of written prose in this book. The vocabulary is strange, the only time I’ve ever been stymied so much by syntactical choices by an author so much was when I plowed through Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk. There are no paragraphs clearly carved out. No chapters. Mid sentence there are complete shifts between present day and World War I.
At first, the lack of structure really bothered me. I thought maybe it was me – I didn’t have a big enough vocabulary or worldly enough view to “get it.” But just as in life, just as in the past few weeks of my life… Cross your eyes, cover your mouth, and plow through… And it starts to get enjoyable. Even if it’s not always pretty, or easy to understand, Umbrella is a decent story tucked inside a story tucked inside a hot mess of keeping track of a million characters who only appear for a page or so, and a garbled pile of Cockney slang.
Pretty much everyone’s life in general.

I get that there are rewards for being a traditional writer, a traditional blogger, or even living a more traditional life than I do. There’s the whole readership thing. Those who tough out my stream of consciousness posts and still come back for more are real troopers.
Still, I am embracing this mess. Like the piles of receipts overtaking my kitchen. The Murphy’s Law bearing down heavily on my business. The fact that I can’t figure out what to write about so I just write. The fact that even though I try to engage and interact not only here, but in my everyday interactions and it’s hard. It is what it is.

More importantly, though… There are bigger rewards for staying true to you. Will Self made the Man Booker shortlist with Umbrella in 2012. I have deeper relationships with the people I actually do engage with than if I tried to maintain hundreds of acquaintances. I can write whatever I feel like writing about and not feel like I’m letting down an audience, a publisher, or myself. I can write about piles of crap and stacks of paper and when things fall apart and know that it’s not a self pity thing, but instead a memorial to the irony of it all.

So yeah. If you made it through this post without falling off, bless your heart. This has been life lately.

Living the Ultra Life – Week 2 – Those Purposeful Feels

What can I possibly say about this second week of training for my first 50k?
Well, for starters, I forgot how fan-freaking-tastic it feels to be on a regular training schedule. And by fantastic, I mean, I’m hungry, tired, achey, tired, and pretty much exhausted and hungry.
But most importantly, I am exceptionally happy.
This week was the one where things started clicking for me. Where I realized that I had not in fact lost all of the tiny shreds of athletic ability I once had in spite of my Injury. This week was the first time in a long time that I became utterly and absolutely convinced that I am fully capable of finishing this ultra… If I stay on course that is.

Every day is casual Friday in Marathon Martha Land!

Every day is casual Friday in Marathon Martha Land!

This week entailed a lot of sloppy buns. A pile of no make up days. A lot of early wake up days, and naps happened too.
But in between all that, I felt this surge of productivity during my waking hours that has been lacking in the past few weeks. My work work got done without procrastination. My house doesn’t look like a bomb went off in it. Me and the fiancé have clean clothes! Food prep became an essential because of that constant hunger, and aside from that pint of Ben & Jerry’s frozen Greek yogurt (peanut butter banana! My kryptonite) we ate well. Because it seems like the harder I train, the more my cravings go from junk to fuel.
I forgot how great it feels to be on a mission.

This.

This.

My mileage this week was supposed to be about 40. Due to unrelenting rain, I fell shy at 36.
I couldn’t ski as much as I wanted to because my trails turned into solid sheets of ice. While that is fun an exhilarating, I soon became aware of how dangerous those conditions can be when I was wailing down a hill and couldn’t dig in to stop. Which is cool and all, aside from the fact that there are lots of trees in the woods, and I don’t want to break every bone in my body 5 miles away from civilization.
What I missed out on in miles, I made up for in lifts. I even did a CrossFit chipper on Sunday because the gym was closed and the rain wouldn’t quit. My two rest days were crucial and glorious at the same time.

My main struggle this week was kind of a nonissue – between working long hours 7 days straight with a fluctuating start time and training hard 5 of those days, I kind of lost interest in other things I typically enjoy. At the end of the day I was just tired. I didn’t want to read a book or work on my book. I didn’t really even want to watch TV. Social media once more has become an irritant and a bother instead of a good place to keep up with my friends and family.

My rebuttal to this “issue” is that it’s good to be tired at night because it means your day was accomplished. And all that stuff will be waiting for me when I get adjusted to my training schedule. My friends and family who want to talk to me know how hot & cold I am about Facebook, so they can call me if they want to chat. And my fiancé doesn’t seem to mind if I fall asleep while he watches TV – after all, if I’m passed out he gets free reign of what to watch.

Next week is another 40 mile week with a 14 mile long run. I am starting to do back to back long runs this week to better adapt to running on tired legs for my ultra, which means the day after my 14 miler, I will shoot for something in the 9-12 mile radius. And then the following day will consist of a lot of bitching, moaning, and frozen yogurt, so that’s something to look forward to.

All in all, I’m happy that the stars are aligning, my training is fitting nicely into my already established world of chaos, and I’m chipping away at this goal in a reasonable fashion. I’m 11 weeks and 2 days out of this thing, hopefully this energy keeps on pushing through.

All you trainees out there… What’s the first thing that goes for you when you start really dedicating time to your goal? Sleep? Hobbies? Laundry? Or do you become more productive as your training cycle sets in? I am curious!

The Paradox of Choice – New Shoes or no Shoes

I thought I would kick off my February reading list with a little nonfiction.
Kindle Daily Deals always seem to sucker me in, and Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice seemed like a good selection, with its raving reviews, interesting combination of economics and psychology, and cheap-o price tag.
Unfortunately, though, I’m having a time plowing through this one.

image I’m honestly only about 70% through with reading this book. I’ve been breaking it up into 10 page “chunks” in between some spicier reads on my list. What I thought would be an introspective look into how and why we make choices is more to me like a really long repetitive magazine article that got turned into a book for some reason. I get that Schwartz is writing for the lay person, but by introducing topics early in the novel, explaining them quite clearly, and then saying that he’s going to cover them again in specific chapters later on, which in turn is just turning his initial paragraph long description into pages upon pages of repetition with a few anecdotes sprinkled in – he is seriously insulting the “lay-person’s” intelligence.

It didn’t help my interest in finishing the novel when I stumbled upon this recent interview with Barry himself about the fact that one of the driving studies in the book, the jam test, has been seriously misconstrued.

All that aside, The Paradox of Choice describes how being assaulted with tons of options as a consumer, job hunter, or even just well rounded human being does not in fact make us happier or allow us to make the best choices. Opportunity costs weigh heavy on our minds. There are people called maximizers who will never be happy unless they make the perfect choice. There are people called satisficers who are better off because they know how to make the best choice within their means.

All I could think of as I plodded through the first few chapters is how I desperately need new running shoes.

The last pair I bought, I got lucky. I ordered them because they were on sale and I liked the looks of them. They ended up being a perfect fit, they didn’t need much breaking in, they never irritated me or gave me a blister. Still, they obviously weren’t the best choice possible because a) they don’t make them anymore and b) it was my first pair of road running shoes so I have nothing to compare them to. They had probably about 700 running miles alone on them, and that doesn’t count the couple times I wore them to work.

Still, new shoes needed to happen like a month ago. But I just never had a great opportunity. I wanted to get fitted for some, but there is no running store within an hour from me. Taking one of my coveted days off to risk driving in winter weather in rural PA just to get a pair of shoes seemed like an unworthy opportunity cost trade off. Then I figured I could just order some online. But everywhere I looked there were too many options.

Now that I’ve ran for awhile, I am aware that liking the way a pair of shoes looks is not the way to go. Nor is reading reviews on Zappos that end in “and I run 4 miles a week in these and they feel great!”

So I just decided to stop looking for shoes period, and just cope with what I have until something came up.

According to Barry, I suffer from inaction inertia. Where I just don’t do anything at all because I can’t make a good decision. This was about my only aha moment thus far in reading this book. Inaction inertia to me just sounds like a kind way to call someone a cheap lazy ass who would rather wear busted up shoes than get their shit together and buy some.

So Sunday, I bit the bullet and did.

Welcome home! Hope you're ready for a nice long pounding!

Welcome home! Hope you’re ready for a nice long pounding!

It only took me about 14 minutes to pick out some Brooks Ravennas. I liked the brand, the reviews seemed solid, and they aren’t too hard on the eyes.

Hopefully, my snap choice proves to be a good one. Hopefully also now that I’ve got that ongoing choice out of my mind, I can finish this damn book and call it a day.

Now that I think about it, though…
I need new boots, too.

 

Nike+ Fuelband SE – Back to Track

In case you were wondering, I have been on a weight loss adventure for some time now.
In 2010-ish I was tired of being tired all the time. Sick of being sick. And mostly, fed up with being fat and all the bad stuff that comes along with it. It is sad that you can be the best at what you do career wise, a kind person, bright, educated… whatever, and still your main monicker is “that chubby girl.”

Honestly, losing 80-ish pounds wasn’t hard. Obviously there were moments when I wanted nothing more than to lay in bed and eat Big Macs, but as soon as I fell into a routine, embraced the world of fitness, and found foods and exercise plans that I actually enjoyed, everything kind of fell into place.

I attribute a lot of my success to technological advances that simplify daily activities like tracking calories and workouts. I don’t know what people did before Myfitnesspal. Not having to pen and paper and journal and research made life so easy for me. And initially, the calories in calories out process worked wonders to jump start my weight loss.

Another fun ap I used to use a lot was Fitocracy. I love the gamification involved – plugging in exercise you do to earn points and “level up.” The fact that this is a highly social program, where you are encouraged to give “props” to your fellow athletes, join forums and groups, and make friends – that made it all the more fun.

Still, all that daily tracking got old at some point with me. When you get to that phase where you’re in “maintenance” mode, it just starts feeling frivolous to constantly be typing everything you eat and do into your phone. It’s like these aps give you the tools to start you on the road to success, and then once you figure out what works, you can slowly wean yourself off of them.

This year for Christmas, Aaron, lover of all gadgets and all things Nike, surprised me with a Fuelband+ SE. At first, I was kind of “meh” about it. But after using it with some regularity for the past month, I’ve actually really come to enjoy it.

The Nike+ Fuelband SE in pink

The Nike+ Fuelband SE in pink

Basically, this bracelet is equipped with an accelerometer, which helps to track your daily movement. This is then converted into Nike Fuel points.
On the surface, those features alone probably don’t warrant the 150$ price tag. Once I started playing with it a little, though, I’ve found it to be a really neat little tool.
First of all, I like the looks of it. It’s not really clunky at all, and although I don’t like to sleep or shower with it on, that’s just me.
Plus, the screen on it not only shows your fuel earned for the day, but calories burned, “hours won,” and the time. If anything, it makes for a sporty looking digital watch.
Every hour for a set period of time, it lights up and says “go Martha!” which means it’s time to move. This band encourages you to get 5 minutes of activity every hour in order to win it. Although my job isn’t sedentary, I think this is an excellent feature for those who sit at a desk all day.
I personally use my ultra training “rest days” to try and win as many hours as possible. For those 5 minutes, I work on mobility drills instead of just slouching around all day. On days when I actually do train, I don’t put too much weight on winning hours because I know I got my activity in.

Just a few features of the Fuelband's iPhone ap.  Can you tell it's my rest day?

Just a few features of the Fuelband’s iPhone ap. Can you tell it’s my rest day?

This version of the Fuelband also allows you to track “sessions.” Since activities like yoga or weight training don’t necessarily trip the accelerometer, you can use the ap to start said session, and when you are through, enter your perceived intensity to get the appropriate amount of points.
This is one place where I’ve kind of found dislike for the Fuelband. I find that first of all, if you’re using another training ap in conjunction (I like Nike Training club for days when I don’t feel like going to the gym), sometimes when you “start your session” – if you flip over to the other ap it just stops working. It’s no big deal, but if calculating your points as accurately as possible is of utmost concern to you, this is a huge flaw.
Another thing is the battery on your phone situation – running Bluetooth, the Fuelband session ap, a running ap, and iTunes or podcasts simultaneously is a nightmare. Generally when I run, I don’t bother with starting a session, as the accelerometer does the trick, however, as I start cycling more, I can see this being a problem.
Another complaint with sessions, is that currently, my main activity is cross country skiing. Since that wasn’t an activity that Nike decided to include in it’s preprogrammed sessions, I had to create my own. No big deal, except, I can’t adjust my perceived intensity at the end. This bothers me, because some days when I’m just out gliding around, I go a lot faster and it requires a lot less work than on days when I’m climbing hills. Since I climb hills slower, the accelerometer goes off less, making these more brutal sessions of less intensity in Nike Fuel. It doesn’t make a difference in my training personally, because I am going to do what I have to do regardless of how many points it warrants, but I still think that a device like this should allow for as accurate tracking as possible.

Other than that, I do enjoy the Fuelband. I think the iPhone ap is pretty slick, and the kind of data it draws is fascinating and somewhat motivational. The fact that aside from having to track sessions, all you really have to do is wear it to gather all the data makes it such a simple tool.

My thoughts overall on the Fuelband SE:
Pros:
I like the way it looks, and the fact it doubles as a watch
Great iPhone application
Hourly reminders to get moving, plus other fun displays when you reach your daily goals
Long-ish battery life
Gamifies fitness, making it motivational to earn your daily points and stay active

Cons:
Session tracking needs some work
Battery dies at inconvenient times, need a USB port to charge
Obviously the calories burned tracking isn’t 100% accurate, but without a heart rate monitor, that’s expected

I think the Nike+ Fuelband SE is best suited for someone who is just starting off on their weight loss journey, or someone who is trying to be less sedentary and needs a little motivational kick. However – if you’re more advanced, you can always up your goal points for the day. Also, if you are a fan of gadgets and data collecting, the Fuelband is probably something you will enjoy.

For me, I am glad I got this as a gift because as I weaned myself off of all the aps I used to use regularly, I found I was starting to do a little less. As a big fan of data, I am going to enjoy the Fuelband for what it’s worth, but still be mindful of my workload on my own terms.

Sweet Potato Latkes … aka Sweet Potatoes for those who “hate” sweet potatoes

In my opinion, there are two “camps” in terms of sweet potatoes. Those full of people who love them and can’t get enough, and those who “hate” them. Personally, I think most of the haters have never experienced an amazing sweet potato. They write them off as something that comes out of a can in the form of mush and is then slathered in a bunch of sugar and marshmallows so that you can’t taste the lingering aluminum.
I used to “hate” sweet potatoes.
Now I eat them nearly every day. Generally, I just throw one in the oven when I get to work, and get to it when I get to it.

The fiancé is in the “hate” sweet potatoes school. This recipe, however, has proven to be a middle ground. I created it specifically with him in mind, but we also served it at the bar as a weekend special, where it went over quite well.
Dip these little latkes in whatever you want - I suggest a Greek yoghurt/Sriracha mixture for a quick protein boost.

Whether you choose to make a meal out of these, serve them as a light appetizer, or have them as a side dish (we had them along side some venison tenderloins) – they are nutritionally sound, can be whipped up in a snap, and are sure to impress even your picky eaters.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Living the Ultra Life – Week 1: Snow Rollers, Compromises, and an Ultra Reboot

I know, I know… technically I’ve had about 9 “week ones” so far.
And although for the past month-ish, I’ve been getting my groove back after blowing out my ankle, this week is the first week I’ve started getting seriously serious about the 50 k I committed to back in October when I was in the best running shape in my life.
So while the wheels fell off for a moment and I was hanging out in a purgatory of self misery/I don’t give a fuckness, and training willy nilly at the gym and such… This week I actually sat down and planned my next move, or more so, the series of moves that will occur over the next 12 weeks.

Pay no mind to the boogers.  I love ridiculously bad (ass?) selfies.

Pay no mind to the boogers. I love ridiculously bad (ass?) selfies.

One of my biggest “issues” with training in general isn’t the act of training itself. I love being active. I would run/bike/ski/lift whatever around the clock if time allowed for it.
No, my biggest struggle is allowing myself the opportunity to do what I need to do.
Is it just me, or does anyone else feel exceptionally selfish carving out such a huge block of weekly time to working on a goal that benefits no one but yourself?
I’m fairly certain anyone with a modicum of responsibility knows where I’m coming from… Like, if your external to-do list is miles long, how can you justify blowing that off for the internal?
This week I’ve finally decided it was time for one of my uglier alter egos to be put to rest. Martha the Martyr – the bitch that wants to do everything herself and then complains that no one will help her, is on her way out.

This week, I started asking for help, and it has been strangely liberating.
I mean, nothing crazy. More like silly stuff that goes a long way – asking my fiancé to take care of the dishes, for example… Things that add up in the long run, but nobody really minds doing with some mild prodding.
Even though the help I ask for may only shave 5 minutes off my to-do list, it’s the thought that there’s one less thing on my list dangling over me while I’m out on the trails that counts.

One of my hate/love back country ski spots.  I know it's all uphill from here, but the prospect of a hot shower and black coffee begins right here.

One of my hate/love back country ski spots. I know it’s all uphill from here, but the prospect of a hot shower and black coffee begins right here.

So now that that’s tidied up a touch, there’s the other thing. The whole, it’s really really too cold to run outside safely thing. Obviously from my joyous rants and snow blown photos lately, I have been picking up cross country skiing as an alternative to trying to train indoors. I know the laws of specificity are not in my favor here, nor are the input/output the same, but using some janky bro-science, I’ve come to the conclusion that an hour of skiing is about equivalent to 5 miles of running for me intensity wise.

This week’s goal was to hit about 34 miles. I mixed it up with mostly skiing, a little treadmill, and a bit of elliptical, plus supplemented with 5/3/1 Boring But Big for my lifting regime. Even after a year and a dramatic change in sports, I still have mad love for that program. My long slow run was slated to be 12 miles, and I decided to hit the backwoods for a pretty hilly 2.5 hours. My friend Zoe tagged along, and she’s a freaking tiny tank who pushed me the whole time. In all the 12 milers I’ve actually ran, I think this was probably more brutal.

Long story short, I fell just 3 miles shy of my goal, but if the “helper gods” are willing, I should be able to cut out of work for a minute and hop on the treadmill tonight to bang this week out of the ball park.

"Snow Rollers" everywhere!

“Snow Rollers” everywhere!

Other than finally coming to the realization that I need to be actively pushing myself towards accomplishing this ultra without being scared to be a little selfish, I think the other coolest thing about this first week was getting to witness the atmospherical anomaly that are “snow rollers.” Apparently the weather conditions are just right for these balls to form spontaneously all over the fields. Here’s a little video about this phenomenon. Monday, when we came out of the woods and hit the flats, we were greeted by thousands of them. Pretty slick if you ask me.

Next week is a crush week, I’m aiming for 40 miles with a 16 mile long slow run. Be it in the backwoods on my skis, the YMCA on the machines, or weather willing, through the streets of town on my own two sneakers, I’m ready to tackle come what may. And although I’ve been trying to avoid blogging about this with every fiber of my soul, I realize what a significant role writing it out has played for me in wake of any of my major accomplishments. Hate it or love it, by reading this blog you are subjected to my weekly barrage of selfish selfies, snow dumps, and verbal vom vom.

Help me out here, those of you who ever trained for an endurance event. Does the “selfish monster” ever chase you? How do you justify dedicating the time you need to be successful at your sport?

Do You Believe in Magic? Dr. Offit and Alternative Medicine

…we need to focus on the quality of scientific studies. And where scientific studies don’t exist, we should insist they be performed. Dr. Paul Offit M.D., Do You Believe in Magic?: The Sense and Nonsense of Alternative Medicine.

I start this book review by saying I have used some sort of supplement through most phases of my adult life. Not a doctor prescribed medication, but instead things I assumed were inherently good.
In high school, I ate diet pills. It was pretty common amongst my peers, and I got them from my mother who was also a compulsive dieter, so I figured they were ok.
I’ve supplemented with caffeine pills, multivitamins, protein powder, any sort of B vitamin I could get my hands on, airborne, green tea, jack3d, amino acids, redmond clay, fish oil. I’ve had acupuncture and acupressure and massages to help in areas that home solutions simply didn’t help.
I’ve turned to holistic remedies to fix minor ailments – cooking myself in a bathtub full of Epsom salts, gargling salt water, dosing with excessive Vitamin C, Vick’s Vapor rubbing my whole body.
I have been under the impression for awhile now that if you eat healthy, exercise, maintain a good weight, and get enough sleep – your body pretty much regulates itself.
Then, in October, I found out I have melanoma.
And although some people still think that vitamins alone can cure cancer, as Dr. Offit explains in his book, I did the adult thing and had a doctor hack that lesion off.

 

image I am absolutely positive that this book rubs a lot of holistic healers and their advocates the wrong way. Although I still feel there is a place for home remedies, when there are actual scientifically proven cures to diseases, I am sure with all my heart, we need to take advantage of them. This book reaffirmed that notion for me, tenfold.

Dr. Offit does tend to use some truly shocking examples of holistic healing gone wrong. He lays out some heart wrenching stories about parents who opt to treat their diseased children with alternative medicine when there are licensed doctors who can cure them of their ailments. Often times these children suffer unnecessarily or even die.

He takes jabs at television superstars who promote alternative medicine with no proven studies on their actual effectiveness. He likens this trend to times before the FDA regulated anything, when people sold “snake oil” of unknown origin and ingredients to customers looking for cures.

Offit talks about how these supposed dealers of small, natural, products are still profiting the same as big pharma. That there are healers out there who probably can’t cure you, but are more than happy to sell you a lie and take your money.

The most saddening thing to me, however, is the chapters he dedicates to diseases without cures – autism for example. All these parents want is for their children to be healed. Since there are no scientific proven cures, parents turn to the false hope provided by some of these alternative healers, which often times results in a hefty price.

And although Dr. Offit seems very anti-alternative medicine throughout the first half of the book, he does tout the real true benefit of the placebo effect some of these treatments provide. He just cautions against ruining yourself financially or opting out of scientifically proven cures in favor of doing these sorts of treatments.

I really enjoyed this book, and it opened my eyes to a lot of disturbing facts.
First of all, the FDA’s reach is a lot smaller than you think. Be very cautious when buying ANY supplements, even a vitamin or protein powder. There are many loopholes in the production of supplements, and they may not be as unadulterated or produced in as sterile of an environment as you think.

Another important consideration is the fact that alternative medicine is still a business. Practitioners still make money off of providing you these services. Although there are healers out there who passionately believe in their treatments, there are also a lot of greasy com artists who simply profit from giving you false hope. Be skeptical, check facts, consult your actual doctor if you are concerned, but above all, in the case of medicine, always take the practical route.

Lastly, for the most part, a healthy lifestyle will keep you healthy. Eating foods rich in vitamins and omega 3s go a long way. You don’t need to run off to the doctor every time you feel a cold coming on… There is a time and place for home remedies. If going to the chiropractor or getting acupuncture feels good for you and you can afford it, by all means do it. But sometimes life happens, diseases happen, injuries happen and being pragmatic about the treatment and looking for scientific evidence is a much safer cure than drinking snake oil and hoping for the best.