Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A thank-you note to my readers, friends, and family

Now that I am beginning to move beyond the melt-down I had earlier this week, I am also managing to come to terms with the fact that this weekend I will be running a distance that I haven't run in a while. This weekend I will be running the half-marathon in New Jersey. I am planning on running it like a long run, nice and easy, in a way that I hope will allow me to enjoy the experience and not worry about a PR, or even a decent time. I am just going to put the runner's ego away for a while, run these 13.1 miles, and then move on.

Yesterday I was able to break through my running block--I ran a good, comfortable 6.3 miles at a comfortable pace and didn't feel frustrated (or like crying, for that matter) afterwards. This gave me some hope for this weekend.

The other thing that gave me hope, though, was the outpouring of support I got from everyone after my depressing post the other day. I had no idea that saying how I felt would have such an impact. I guess sometimes we all need a boost from people who understand what we are going through, and I have to say that the one I got was more than I could have asked for. So, what I want to say more than anything is thank you.

Thank you to Chris, whose idea to have everyone run their longest distance in support of my effort touches my heart; thank you to my mom, who insisted on coming to see me run even though I told her she shouldn't in spite of the fact that deep down I really wanted her to; thank you to my older sister who still cites me as her inspiration even though I find her much more inspiring than I have ever been; thank you to Mike who sticks by me even when I am insufferable and has always believed in me; thank you to Sean who sends me texts messages about robot invasions and how odd looking ears are, which always make me laugh, and who, like Mike, has also always believed in me; thank you to Sonia for being such a great long-distance running buddy; thank you to everyone who left a supportive or helpful comment; I know this isn't everyone and I hope no one is upset if they feel they have been left out, it is certainly not my intention to ignore anyone or anything. I just want everyone to know how grateful I am and how lucky I feel to be surrounded by such a great group of individuals.

thank you all.

Monday, April 28, 2008



I have a marathon/half-marathon to run in less than a week (Sunday, to be exact) and I don't have the mental strength to make it through 3 miles anymore. My lack of appetite and inability to sleep when I am exhausted are probably also not helping at this point.

So tonight's crappy workout was 3 terrible miles at the indoor track at the school gym followed by a piddling 15 minutes of the Minna Lessig workout. I can't remember the last time I ran more than once a week, and I also can't remember the last time a run hasn't ended in a feeling of complete defeat accompanied by a generous amount of tears.

A word to the wise: don't sign up to run a second marathon after you have just finished running your first unless you have seen the future and you are sure it is something you must, absolutely must, do. If this is not the case, do yourself a favor and take a break. Otherwise, you risk dealing with what I am dealing with right now, which is to say a complete lack of enjoyment from running (something that you once loved more than life itself) and a profound sense of burnout and failure.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Problem-solving follow-up

First of all, thanks everyone for your great and helpful comments! It seems that the consensus is that more carbs=a good thing (please don't sue me, Martha Stewart). I had thought my diet was pretty balanced, but the majority of my carbs are coming from fruits and vegetables, and to be honest I don't feel like I am eating very much at all. I may need to add more whole grain sources to my fruit and veggie repertoire, which I guess is where I will start tweaking.

I am also considering going in to the doctor this week to see if I can have my iron levels tested. As a vegetarian, I feel like iron deficiency is always potentially an issue, so it seems like it would be worthwhile to just have a look at that.

Other than that, I think it may just be time to move on from ediets. Their program doesn't seem especially suited to athletes who are looking to perform well (which is not what it advertises, anyway, so I am by no means trying to discredit them or anything. Truth be told, I should have thought a bit better about trying out their program given my somewhat rigorous workout schedule).

With any luck, things will get a bit better and I will be re-energized in no time!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Problem solving

I have been so sluggish lately, which has really been getting of the way of my succeeding at this week's challenge. I haven't been going to bed too late, I have been sleeping well, and for a decent amount of time. But I cannot, for the life of me, get up in the morning. When I do, I feel like I have just been dragged out of bed after sleeping a mere two hours, and my eyes take several minutes (10 to 15) just to focus. It's weird. I have to give myself ample amounts of time to wake up, and I tend to feel better once I have. But it's not long before I feel groggy again. By mid-day, I am ready for a nap. By late afternoon, I am nearly a zombie. I have never been heavily dependent on caffeine, but I am starting to feel like even if I had a coffee IV I would still be low on energy.

About three weeks ago, I started following a diet plan through ediets, in an attempt to shed a bit of weight I had put on. Shortly thereafter, I started missing runs because of traveling and other things in life, and then I got sick. The thing is, starting the diet kind of coincided with the quality of my running going way down, but I think that was due more to outside factors than anything else. I am eating a much greater variety of fruits and vegetables now, and feel pretty well-nourished. But I am tired all the time. What gives? At this point my energy level is so low that I find myself having a hard time getting to the point where I feel like I can make it through a run. Maybe the lack of exercise is the reason for the lack of energy? I don't know.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Anyone have any suggestions or solutions they would care to share?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A change of plans

Oof. I just finished doing "Tank Top Arms, Bikini Belly, Boy Shorts Bottom" with Minna Lessig (who, it is true, does use a lot of somewhat silly expressions) and my muscles are still shaking. Last time I did it, I didn't do the whole thing; I omitted the total body workout, which, it would appear, is like the double-chocolate whipped topping, and cherries, and sprinkles on top. I mean, the whole DVD is challenging, there is no doubt about that, but doing the full hour is wow a tough workout. As I write this my triceps are twinging a little bit. In the best way possible, of course. I know I will be feeling it in the morning.

So why revisit this DVD, since I have already mentioned it here? Well, because I decided that instead of doing that workout for your shape routine featured in Fitness, I would try doing this routine three times a week over the next month. At that point, I will have firmly established a weight-training routine. Plus, I think that in order to get the full effect of the Fitness routine, the best thing would be to do the cardio workout that goes along with it, which I would prefer to do after finishing up with this imminent marathon. So that's the new plan, just thought you might like to know :)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Weekly Challenge: what next?

I'm pretty proud of myself: I managed to get up to 10 pushups over the past week. That's not bad--a jump from 2 to 10 (while being sick) is pretty respectable, I think. Especially seeing as how it was an eight pushup jump in a very short period of time. So I'm nowhere near G.I. Jane craziness, but it is a definite improvement.

And now it is time to pick out a new weekly challenge. I'm not entirely sure what to do this week. The one idea I've been knocking around has been getting up in the morning to run or workout. I tend to put it off until later in the day, but I have always wanted to commit to running in the morning, getting it out of the way, and having many hours in front of me during which I do not have to worry about when I am going to be able to fit a run in.

So here's my idea for this week: wake up around 6:30 or 6:45, eat something (a Luna bar, maybe?), digest, and be out for the run about an hour later.

This will probably be the most trying challenge to date but I guess it is now or never and I am going to have to rise to the occasion (and yeah, I admit that originally there was no pun intended there but then I thought about it and realized that it was punny, and I wrote it anyway. Feel free to groan).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Splurge on shoes!

Now that the weather is finally beginning to vaguely resemble something Spring-like, I think more and more of us are ready to shuffle off our wintry coils and get outside for some activity. Of course you all know what my favorite outdoor activity is: running (duh)!! One of the greatest things about running is that you don't really need any fancy equipment to do it--all you need to do is throw on some clothes that you don't mind getting sweaty (for a start, anyway. When you get serious about it, you may find you want to invest in some wicking material in order to prevent the dreaded chafing), grab some shoes, and head out the door.

The problem here is that a lot of people end up grabbing the wrong shoes. This seems to happen a lot, and to a certain extent, fitness magazines do little to stop this problem in its tracks. Recently, Fitness magazine ran a piece about the best shoes for different activities, identifying one shoe for walking, one for running, one for cross-training, etc. The problem with this is that there really isn't a single "best" running shoe--everyone's foot is different and everyone needs a different shoe. Going in to some big sporting goods store and just picking out what a magazine told you is the best shoe is one of the least productive things you can do for your wallet and your body.

Running in the wrong shoes can be extremely hard on your body, and seeing as how running is an activity that is inherently hard on the joints, it seems to me that you would want to minimize or mitigate damage as much as possible. Getting the right shoes is essential when it comes to preserving your knees, ankles, and hips! I know it may sound silly, but the difference between the right and the wrong pair of shoes could mean the difference between running happily for the rest of your life and running miserably for a few years (if you make it that long) before injuring yourself to the point where running is out of the question.

Here are my tips when it comes to buying the right shoes:
  1. Take a look at some material online to see what is said about shoes. Runner's World and CoolRunning are probably a good place to start.
  2. There is a lot of information online about how to get an idea about the shape of your foot, how you roll through your foot as you run, and the shape of your arch. Being familiar with all of these things can really help you to identify a good shoe. You should make sure you get an idea of how a high arch is different from a low arch, and what pronation and motion-control shoes mean.
  3. Go to a running store. A lot of (if not all) running stores pride themselves on being able to help their customers find the right shoe. They want you to be running as long as possible. The longer you run, the longer you are their customer. I'm sure they are also interested in your running because they are generally runners too and want everyone to enjoy running (so it is not just a capitalistic interest)! Some stores have treadmills that are hooked up to cameras and monitoring systems, others just rely on the keen eyes of their highly-trained staff. Whatever the set-up, a good running store employee will spend as much time as necessary with you in order to find the shoe that works best for you. The best sign is when they start you off with brands you have never heard of--that is, they don't bring out the Nikes or the Adidas; instead, they start with the Mizunos, Asics, Sauconys, or Brooks.
  4. Don't be afraid to speak up. When you are trying on shoes, remember that you are making an investment in yourself and you want to find the right thing. Take your time to get a feel for the shoe and if it doesn't feel exactly the way you want it to, say something. Try a different pair. Make sure you run in the shoes, and that you don't just walk. Your stride while walking is different from your stride while running and often a shoe will feel different during the two activities. Give the shoes a test run, even if it means going out onto the sidewalk in front of the store. Most of the time, the store employees have no problem with this.
  5. Expect to pay between $75 and $120. Believe me, it is worth it. Plus, if the price is a bit too high for you in the store, you can always take a look and see what's available online (although that isn't really nice to do to someone who just spent an hour with you and helped you go through eight pairs of shoes).
I hope these tips help and keep you running for a long time to come!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New feature from Nike+

Generally, I love Nike+ or whatever you want to call it. Now, there is one exception--I hate the Nike+ armband for reasons I have already stated and that I won't bother to go into again. Although, jeez, I really hate that thing. I mean, what a let down. But I digress.

Today, as I was logging my run (or sort of having my run logged for me automatically because that is what awesomeness does), I noticed that Nike+ has a new feature--training plans! You can choose from a walking-to-running plan, a 5k training plan, a 10k training plan, a half-marathon training plan, a marathon training plan, and a customized plan for an event of your choice. Each distance has different levels of intensity, from beginner to advanced, and each level of intensity comes with a pretty detailed description of the sort of person who would benefit from the plan, why you may or may not want to choose it, and what sort of goal you might accomplish if you choose it. Needless to say, I will definitely be trying one of these out for my next marathon. Or half-marathon. Or even 10k, if I decide I want to run it in a specific time or something. I am sort of inordinately excited about this whole thing.

AND I did 7 full push-ups this evening. So that adds to the excitement!

Fitness fixation

Good news, everybody! I can swallow again without wincing. This also means I can now eat things other than toasted bagels and orange juice. It is so easy to forget how good it feels to be healthy--not that I am entirely healthy. Unfortunately, I haven't made a miraculous recovery, I have just experienced a cold migration. Instead of my throat feeling like someone has it in a vice and is rubbing sandpaper on it, my nose is now runny. Not too pretty, but far preferable to a sore throat any day of the week, if you ask me.

Anyway, on to the subject at hand. I have a silly little dream that one day my blog will be big and awesome and people will send me their products to review and I'll get a lot of free goodies. Realistically, I don't think it will ever happen, but it is a nice little pipe dream to keep near. The thing is, I already know which products I would want to have sent to me for free, because (and this is in the spirit of full disclosure) there are certain things that I fixate on. It's true! I see the infomercials and I get drawn in. Then maybe I see the product in stores, or I go to the website, or something, and...I get even further drawn in! I become completely obsessed with these products, like they are the little miracle pill that will change my life. It's very silly, I know, but I can't help myself.
One of these products is the Bender ball, part of the Bender Method of Core Training or something to that effect. For some reason, I am mesmerized by these ads, and convinced that I, too, will have a flat and toned tummy if I get the Bender ball! I have looked for reviews of the product, and I haven't found much, but I saw an ad the other day that said that you can now get the Bender ball and the instructional DVD for like $9.95. If I had $9.95 to spend on something like that, it would be really tempting. I mean, not only would I be able to use it, I would be able to review it, too! Too bad I can't write it off for educational purposes.

I also have a semi-crush/obsession with the bar method. The method consists of classes, and as far as I know, is mostly only available in California (with a few exceptions). It would be fun to have a job where I could just drop in on classes to try them out. Ah, dreams. And if I did have that job, I would be sure to try out a spinning class. I have always wanted to try one of those because I know I am weak when it comes to cycling, but I am scared to ride my bike in NYC (something about being car-doored=not-so-appealing to me) and really hate riding the stationary bike. I think it would be a fun and hard workout, the perfect way for me to kick my own butt...well, maybe someday!

What about you? What are your fitness fixations?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Food for Thought: Keeping a Diary

Health, fitness, and weight-loss trends are constantly coming and going as though functioning on a revolving-door sort of platform; however, I have noticed that there has been at least one constant in everything that I have heard over the years about eating right and losing weight, and that is that you should keep a food diary.

Personally, I haven't had much success keeping one, but that's because I'm lazy. I mean, yeah, I'll admit it. I am lazy, and I am also picky about where I write these things down. I like to have a designated place for things like this, and if it means I can buy a cute little notebook, then I am all for it. That's why I was intrigued by this cute food diary. There is space for your meals, snacks, exercises, and notes for any given day. The cover is laminated and with 100 pages, you can keep several months' worth of information in a single book. Plus they are small enough to stash away in your purse for when you are on the go, and inexpensive enough that you can buy a new one when you run out of space.

Yet another push for money

Good news! I only need $200 more to meet my fundraising minimum. The bad news (which always inevitably follows good news) is that I need the money by Wednesday, and that if I don't have it, it gets taken out of my bank account.

So please, if you know anyone who would be willing to part with like $20-$25, urge them to donate to Team in Training. It is a really good cause, and I don't actually have $200 to fill the gap between what I have and what I owe. Otherwise, I would pay it myself.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Blogging from bed

When I thought about it yesterday, today's agenda had far more on it than lying in bed feeling miserable, eating the occasional toasted bagel, drinking orange juice and popping tylenol, and watching a few movies. I had thought I would get in a 20-mile run, work on my pushups, maybe lift weights (depending on how the 20 miles went), get my taxes done, and grade and correct backlog of work for my students. That was before I spent most of last night tossing, turning, and wondering why I couldn't really swallow.

It's nothing serious, really, just an irritated throat brought on by what I'm guessing is everyone's favorite annoyance: the common cold. The problem is that of all times, this is probably the worst one during which it could make its appearance. I'm amazed that I managed to stave off illness this long. Sadly, my body has now succumbed at this most crucial of marathon training times.

This just brings me down, really. I had been hoping that I'd be able to get myself back on track (yet again) and run my long run, and sort of reestablish my confidence in my ability to run this marathon, coming up in less than a month. Now I am really doubting myself. I wonder if I shouldn't just throw in the towel. I have been struggling to get through the training for the past four months--it has been completely different from my experience training for the Philadelphia marathon. This time around, I have felt less like a runner than ever before. Mostly, I have felt like an impostor. Of course, lying in bed with little to do except wish I felt better and my body felt a little bit stronger and not so plagued by aches and pains doesn't exactly make things easier. All I can do, really, is sit here and think about things I have done wrong, when what I would really like to do is go out and correct my mistakes.

Here's hoping that tomorrow I feel a little bit better.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Final fundraising push!

I think many of you have probably already donated, but in the event that you haven't and want to help me get to my fundraising minimum of $2,600 by next Wednesday, April 16th:

If you have donated already, please spread this on to co-workers, friends, family, etc. Here are some facts you might want to pass on to them:

-A donation of $25 provides patients and their loved ones with FREE booklets that contain up-to-date information on their disease and help them make informed decisions about their treatment options.

-A donation of $25 could also pay for the cost of 1 patient’s chemotherapy drug prescription co-payment.

-A donation of $50 makes possible a Family Support group with a trained facilitator where comfort can be found and experiences can be shared among patients and family members.

-A donation of $50 could also register 1 person to be a bone marrow donor.

-A donation of $75 could provide HLA (bone marrow) typing for a family member of a patient with leukemia.

-A donation of $100 helps supply laboratory researchers with supplies and materials critical to carrying out their search for cures.

-A donation of $150 provides 10 patients access to a web-conference to learn about their specific blood cancer.

-A donation of $300 will train 25 peer volunteers who can provide emotional support to newly diagnosed patients.

-A donation of $500 could provide patient aid to a person with Leukemia or a related cancer for a year.

-A donation of $1000 makes possible one- on-one conversations with health care specialists who provide patients with information about their disease, treatment options, and helps prepare them with questions for their health care team.

Obviously, a little goes a very long way, and a donation of as little as $10 can make a big difference toward improving someone's life or the quality of care they are getting.

Days of Light

I was just sitting here at my computer (as I am wont to do) listening to one of my favorite feel-good songs ("You Better You Bet"), sung by one of my all-time favorite singers (Roger Daltrey), and performed by one of my all-time favorite bands (the Who). This got me thinking of another song that I LOVE, sung by the very same Roger Daltrey, though not with the Who. This song is the perfect thing for a Friday afternoon, after you've gotten through your commitments for the week and just want to chill out and relax. Turn it up loud and dance around. I promise I won't laugh if you do.


WTF: An Open Letter to the Men of Central Park

Dear Men of Central Park,

Wow, pretty warm weather we've been having the past couple of days, huh? Perfect time to throw on a t-shirt and some shorts and go for a run around New York City's greatest green space. I mean, who doesn't love the Park, especially when the weather is this nice? Anyone who doesn't is clearly crazy, are you with me? Yeah, I thought so. It's great that we agree on so many important points.

There seems to be, however, something upon which we strongly disagree, and I can't keep it to myself any longer. You may already know what I am getting at here--it's the shirt thing. As in, the keeping-the-shirt-on thing. Now, I'm a runner, I know what it is like to be running along and get hot and sweaty and uncomfortable. But really, guys, please keep your shirts on. I mean, there are very few men who should take their shirts off--elite athletes, super-ripped actors, etc. The elite physique thing generally makes it a bit more acceptable. Unfortunately, and I hate to be bursting anyone's bubble here, you guys don't fall into those categories, and seeing your doughy, pale torsos jiggle as you jog along is really, thoroughly unattractive. I mean, it is really just gross. It isn't even that hot outside. If you are already taking your shirt off when it is 75 degrees, what are you going to do when temperatures go up into the eighties? Take off a layer of skin? I don't even want to think about all those exposed organs, not to mention fatty tissue and the occasional muscle. You know, the thing is, there are other men and women out there in the park working just as hard as you are, maybe even harder. They've managed to resist the urge to tear their clothing off, and a lot of them look like they are probably in better shape and may have a better-looking body to show off. This just sort of leads me to think that you're taking your shirts off in order to prove something. Like...that you have fifteen or more pounds to lose? No one needs to know that other than you and your life partner. And possibly your doctor.

Please, guys, I am begging you. Put the shirts on and keep them on. If this is too much for you, exercise somewhere that has air conditioning. Are we clear on this? I hope so.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shape-ups for your shape

Ah, the dreaded afternoon slump. I feel like I may be in an Emerald nuts commercial. The question is what weird group of half-celebrities is going to harass me when I fall asleep? I find both the Robert Palmer girls and the Swiss Family Robinson commercials especially creepy, so I hope it is neither of them.

Instead of munching on nuts (I lost four pounds last week and I want to keep my progress going!) I thought I would blog for the third time today. What can I say? I am making up for lost time. I am probably also going to make some tea with a bit of honey because my throat is acting a bit wacky. I'll be right back, just going to pop off to put the kettle on.

Okay, I'm back with a cup of steeping tea and some interesting news to share. In this month's issue of Fitness magazine, there is an article about how beneficial following a workout plan that is designed for your body type can be. The article includes exercise plans for three different body types, generic enough that everyone should be able to find themselves in the mix. Here are your options:
  1. Pear-shaped: most of your weight is carried below your waist and you could stand to develop a bit of muscle tone on your top half to balance your, womanly, hips and thighs.
  2. Apple-shaped: you carry your weight around your mid-section and torso and tend to have thinner legs.
  3. Chile pepper-shaped: you have narrow shape and could benefit from developing muscle tone all over your body. I think this one is the best because if you are chile pepper-shaped, you can wear the "I'm a pepper" shirt that Jeff Goldblum wears in The Life Aquatic. Not the exact same one, of course, although that would be sort of hot.
After quite a bit of soul-searching, I figured I probably fall into the category of pear-shaped, what with all that junk inside my trunk, and all that ass inside my jeans (I'm hoping that at least one person gets that reference). This whole concept has made me curious. On one hand, it could just be a way to get people to exercise, and feel like they are doing a bit more than just a random set of different things. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that. In fact, I'm the sort of person who loves a concept like this and loves falling for it even if I know that it may not necessarily yield different results from those that I would get doing any weight training and aerobic exercise on a regular basis. In brief, I sort of love it and let myself fall for it when people say, "Oh, this particular workout will work well for you..." Yeah, I'm more likely to do it if I think it is slightly personalized. It just makes me feel good about myself for some reason.

So here's what I have decided. For the next 30 days, I am going to take on this "Love your shape" workout plan and see how it goes. The exercises are straightforward and not gimmicky, and require little equipment--just a set of weights and a stability ball. Plus, if it does what it says it should, in a month I will be the most toned pear on the block!

Gear: Headphones

UPDATE: My Phillips headphones are in a trash can somewhere in Central Park. Before heading out to run, I noticed that they leak sound like there is no tomorrow, which I generally hate in a pair of headphones. I think it is a sign of really, really shoddy craftsmanship. Plus, I personally can't stand being able to hear what other people are listening to when they have headphones in, and I don't want to be one those people who shares their music with the rest of the world. I mean, these things were loud enough that they could have passed for speakers. In the first five minutes of my run, they fell out of my ears about five times. I eventually had to just take them out, and after realizing what crap they are, decided that they are not worth keeping. Angry email to Phillips to follow.

One of my greatest frustrations when I am running is my headphones. I feel like I have had many "wrong" pairs, and I'm still waiting to stumble upon the "right" pair. I've looked at runners' forums, various blogs, and I've tried to find reviews and articles about the elusive right headphone.

When I got my new ipod nano, I was disappointed to find that Apple no longer packages the little black foamy covers for their earbuds with the earbuds themselves. As far as I am concerned, that was the only thing that kept my former pair of falling out of my ears on a regular basis. That pair--that is to say, the earbud with foam cover combo--was decent but the wire ended up breaking. I guess you can only ask so much of a pair of headphones that come packaged with something. From those I switched to a pair of JVC jellies. Those were mediocre, and when I passed my ipod mini on to my sister, I passed the headphones along too, since I now had a shiny new pair of earbuds. Earbuds without foam covers, that is.

As it turns out, it doesn't take much for something to knock those little earbuds right out of my ears. Wind blows them out, if I so much as touch the cord they fall out, hell, they even fall out for mysterious reasons that I cannot attempt to explain. They just won't stay in my ears. So I began a search for some over-ear models. The kind with the hook that goes over your ear and that looks like it couldn't possibly fall out even if it was yanked on. I had tried a Sony pair of these a while ago but found, oddly, that my ears were too small. Upon putting them on my ears, they fell right off. It was like trying to hang a picture in the air, there was just nothing for the hooks to grab on to. They have worked really well, as far as I know, for the friend that I gave them too when I realized they were functionally useless to me.

At Target this past weekend, I thought I had found exactly what I was looking for--white, hook-over-the-ear earbuds that looked small enough for my dainty ears, made by Phillips. I tried them out yesterday, and found them to be only slightly better than the earbuds they replaced. In spite of their hooks (which are actually uncomfortable) they fell out of my ears on a couple of occasions during my 7.5 mile run. While I am running, the last thing I want to deal with is my headphones. I want to put them in, go, and not think about them again until my run is over and I am taking them out. I'm not sure why this is so difficult.

For now I will stick with the Phillips, but only because I paid money for them and am stubborn enough to think that maybe if I find the right way to put them in my ears (which will probably have to be done while the planets are in alignment, and it is a waxing moon, and the third Tuesday of a month with R in it, of course) they will be a blessing instead of the curse they are now.

Weekly Challenge: Drop and give me twenty!

Alright, so we are past the mid-week point. I was away from my home base until yesterday, so although I would have posted a new weekly challenge at the beginning of the week, I was unable to do so for logistical reasons. For that reason, this current weekly challenge is going to last from today until the end of next week, at which point I'll introduce a new one.

I'd like to start with an update about last week's challenge: giving up Diet Coke. It has been an incredibly difficult journey, but I have been Diet Coke (and all soda, for that matter) free since the beginning of my weekly challenge post about it on 3/31/08. You know, I wish I could say that I feel like it has had palpable health benefits, like a decrease in sluggishness, or...I don't know, something. But it hasn't really had any effect that I can track myself. Of course, that doesn't mean that it hasn't been healthier. I really, really miss it, but I am determined to stay away from it. And coffee is a pretty satisfying alternative.

And now on to the new challenge. I am constantly hearing about push-ups. Fitsugar encouraged readers to take the push-up challenge and even has a poll this morning about whether or not readers do push-ups; the New York Times recently ran a Wellness blog entry about how push-ups are the best measure of fitness levels; it seems like nothing screams ripped bad-ass quite like one-handed push-ups. Or, for that matter, one-handed push-ups with someone sitting on the back of the person doing the push-up. Oof. In the midst of all this hoopla about the miraculous push-up, I have an embarrassing confession to make. I am good for one, maybe two (on a good day), push-ups at a time. If I drop to my knees I can sometimes get through about ten, but that just doesn't have the same value as the true push-up. For a while I was confused because I can hold a plank like it is my job. I can even go through the entire plank, upward dog, downward dog cycle about a trillion times without ever touching the floor for a brief rest. But I can't do more than two stinking push-ups. What gives? It turns out that the strength I need, and that I don't happen to have, for a push-up is in my chest. I have strong arms, strong shoulders, a strong core, and a strong back, but weak pectoral muscles. So for the rest of this week and the week following this one, I am determined to work on this strength and, hopefully, by the time I am done, I will have broken my two push-up record. All I am looking to do is three to five, really. I don't mind starting slow. I just want to start somewhere.

I am interested in hearing about your experiences with push-ups. Do you do them? Do you enjoy them? How many can you do? Any fancy tricks (one-handed, clapping in between, etc.)?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Food for Thought: Snickers Charged

In our caffeine-obsessed culture, it should come as no surprise that popular candy bar Snickers now comes in a "charged" variety, touting high levels caffeine, taurine, and b-vitamins to keep you going all day long. This may also come as no surprise because I posted about it a while ago, asking for anyone who manages to lay their hands on it to send a review. Well, lucky readers, Mike the ever-intrepid was willing to try out the new candy concoction. Here's what he had to say last night through google chat:

Speaking of which, I did try one of those candy bars
me: how was it?
9:59 PM Mike: It was a little saltier than most Snickers. There was a sort of sharp taste to it, and a little bit of lingering metallic bitterness in the aftertaste. Four bites in, I could hear colors. After the fifth bite, I could see time.
I give it a B- for taste and a solid A for expansion of consciousness.
me: yikes
so it is psychotropic, basically
10:00 PM Mike: Essentially yes.

I'm not sure if this is enticing or repulsive. Ultimately, I guess, it depends on what effect you are going for. At the end of the day, though, Snickers is still a candy bar and, as such, has high amounts of calories, fat, saturated fat, and sugar. I guess this raises an interesting question--which would you prefer as a source of caffeine: Snickers Charged or diet soda?