I spent Sunday baking…

…and while there will hopefully certainly be greater accomplishments in my life, this (almost) perfectly round, homemade focaccia bread was perhaps the best thing I did all last week:

focaccia

All breads are full of carbs, but focaccia also happens to be pretty full of air.   A generous 1/6 of this baby will only “cost” you about 30 grams of carbohydrate, which is insulin well spent! (and a pretty delicious sandwich)

Yoga, yoga, and more yoga.

So, I’ve made two pretty significant decisions in the last few weeks:

1) My very minor, “no restrictions on activity”-type case of plantar fasciitis did not respond well to 8- and 9-mile runs.  I’d actually be okay while running, but it was taking several days of concentrated stretching, rest, and wearing compression socks to recover from these longer runs… so, I made the awful mature decision to defer my registration for the Wineglass Half Marathon to 2015.  Which means I am officially training for nothing.

2) I finally used up all 10 visits to a local yoga studio that I’d purchased on Groupon, and decided to just go for it and buy a membership.

The first decision was difficult – I have wanted back in this race for two years and was also very excited about a weekend getaway… but I knew my left foot did not want me to do it.  Plus, being in pain is not fun.  The second decision was so easy!  First, the price could not be beat, and second, I have basically fallen in love, HARD, with doing yoga at a studio.

Yoga at the gym and yoga in a studio provide identical physical benefits.  I can feel my flexibility and mobility improving while I’m also getting some strength work.  Both also exercise a person’s mental focus.  But what I’ve learned, now that I’m almost 20 classes in at the studio, is that there are so many different types of yoga, and so many other amazing benefits.  The classes that I attend at the gym and work are Vinyasa flow classes, the one with more focus on flow (which translates as “heat” or “sweat”), the other focusing a little more on power/strength (um, that would be “burning muscles”).  But there are so many other kinds!

Have you ever tried true Hatha yoga?  It’s wonderfully stretchy, but also relaxing beyond belief.  When I leave my favorite Hatha class, I feel like I’ve taken a long bath.  My mind is calm, my body is looser, and I immediately want to do it again.  “Restorative” is actually not a synonym for “easy.”  It’s the way you really feel when you’re done.

Ashtanga yoga is another favorite.  This one is more intense, more “heat-building,” and I love the way my teacher gets creative while leading us through a similar sequence of poses each class.  It is always, always challenging, but I also like never knowing what to expect.

Then, this week, I had my first experience with Yin yoga.  Which, for me, is by far the most difficult class ever!  Yin yoga focuses on the connective tissues in our bodies rather than the muscles, and every pose is held for 1-5 minutes (at least in the class I attended; I think sometimes even longer!) for “deeper release.”  I am not a flexible person by nature, running has not helped, and sitting in a forward bend for 5 minutes is just shy of hell for me.  BUT the class I attended used every prop in the book to allow us to get deeper in the poses.  And in true yogic style, I didn’t look around, but I’m sure I had the highest pile of blocks and blankets.

forward bend

Like this, if she had 47 blocks under her forehead.

…which brings me to perhaps the biggest benefit of all this yoga I’ve done lately.  My mind is becoming more flexible too.  I am positive that a few months ago, when greeted with the 5-minute forward bend, or a teacher that says “we’re going without AC today to really build some heat” (yes, that really happened, and it was very sweaty), I would’ve been irritated at the very least, and probably would not have come back for more.   Yet somehow I find myself wanting to do it again, because of how great it makes me feel.

I still go to my favorite class at the gym, because I like the teacher and the class, but the rushing-to-get-up-so-I-don’t-get-stepped-on-by-someone-in-the-next-class is a far cry from relaxing in a dimly-lit studio with music playing and candles burning.  Honestly, some days joining a yoga studio feels like one of the most indulgent things I have ever done (and I totally realize the very First World Problem-ness of my complaints over the crowded classes at the gym.  I am a very fortunate person to even be able to write about this stuff.), simply because of how good it makes me feel.  It’s also, from a physical standpoint, a great counter to running (which I am still doing several times a week, just keeping the distance lower until my foot behaves) and, in most cases, that perfect low-impact exercise that my blood sugar loves so much.

Seriously.  Go out and get a Groupon!

Change of season(ing)

Yes, technically, the calendar will have us think that fall is a few weeks off (Sept. 23), and the weather would indicate otherwise (seriously, high of 90 on Friday?), but to me, Labor Day is the end of summer.  The last barbecues have taken place, all of our white pants have been put away, and school has started.  Autumn is upon us!

Which means that this morning, I was almost late for work because I was hunting around for a can of pumpkin purée in my pantry.

Fall is jeans and sweaters and leaves and football but above all, it is pumpkin and apples!  But the spiced baked goods, creamy warm beverages and fritters can certainly take their toll.  A Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte, which in most circles is the harbinger of fall, has forty grams of carbohydrate in a 12-ounce cup (and most of us aren’t going to stop at 12 ounces…).  That’s a meal.  Some recipes for homemade apple butter would have you adding four cups of sugar to your pot of beautiful fresh fruit.  While I don’t believe in never enjoying these things, and I certainly am not a fan of sugar substitutes, a person can only take so much insulin, and a body can only process so much glucose.

Which is why, fellow diabetics and millions of other people-who-don’t-want-to-eat-truckloads-of-sugar, I am going to introduce you to my secret weapon:

PPSSeriously.  You think it’s about the food, or about the drink, but 99% of the things you like to enjoy in the fall are probably the result of this magical combination of spices.

pps2

The internet will soon explode with the annual onslaught of pumpkin-type recipes, and there’s no need for me to reinvent the wheel.  If you know how to use Google, you will find a use for this stuff.  But most times you don’t even need a “recipe.”  You can:

  • add it to your oatmeal
  • sprinkle it on yogurt
  • enjoy it on apple slices
  • add generously to the coffee grounds before brewing (your kitchen will smell delightful!)
  • put it in pancakes
  • sprinkle on toast with sugar and butter
  • …essentially, use it wherever you’d use cinnamon.  Your food will turn autumn!

You can get a jar for just a few dollars.  Do it now, so you can go crazy like the rest of us come Sept. 23!

(you can also make your own Pumpkin Pie Spice, which I am going to do soon since my jar will not last the season)

A tiny taste of glory…

…as expected, the start of fall semester has marked the reduction in some of my free time.  In addition to working in a field where the start of school is literally my busiest time of year, I’m also taking some classes this semester so I suddenly have this thing called homework that I haven’t had much contact with in 7+ years.

BUT, free time or not, I could NEVER pass up the opportunity to post my recent age group award at a local 5k!

medalNo, I have not suddenly gotten faster… I just happened upon a small race where a 28:57 finish time landed me a bronze medal (and a $20 gift card to a local restaurant)!  I am not being modest — just incredibly realistic — when I say that this literally may never happen again.  I am a very solid mid-pack runner on my very best days, and I’ve been perfectly happy there, with small improvements over the years… But wow, I am suddenly jealous of all the swag you really fast runners probably get!  Is it just like, free sandwiches all the time?  Gift baskets?  Movie tickets?  I would not have expected a 5k with 120 runners to have medals and prizes for all the age groups.  I am so, so thankful for all the speedier women in the 30-39 age category that stayed home that morning.   It is to them that I owe this honor.

Allow this to be a lesson that truly, anything is possible!

Running vs. Training

The past few weeks of work and personal life have been busy.  Not bad, not really stressful, but busy.  I’ve been able to maintain a great level of activity for my general fitness and health — the combo of running, yoga, and Jillian Michaels that I most prefer — but perhaps a little shy of what I should be doing to prepare for a half marathon in 7 weeks.  Weekend commitments (sometimes work, sometimes fun), my rigid (but blood sugar-friendly!) preference for crack-of-dawn running and the minor setback of breaking in a totally new-to-me type of shoe have made the weekend long runs tough to squeeze in.  Which is how I ended up almost waking up at 4:30 am this morning to run 8 miles before work.

Almost.

I didn’t do it, because I figured out a way to get that run in first thing Sunday instead, but the mere act of considering it alerted me to the fact that I am starting to become mildly insane.  That insanity is, to me, the difference between being someone who runs and someone who is training for a race.

When I’m someone who runs, I rarely consider heading out in the middle of a thunderstorm.  It’s okay for that version of me to have plans on Saturday AND Sunday morning, and I am slightly (slightly) more able to accept a spontaneous change of plans (though, truly, that is never a strength of mine.  Or my pancreas).

The me who is training for a race?  Bears a strong resemblance to the woman who ran in 9-10 miles of circles in her neighborhood to avoid icy sidewalks.  Who ran in coat-my-face-in-Vaseline temperatures, and on a treadmill that I hated.  All to ultimately run a 20-mile race that I was way undertrained for (but I finished!).

I’m hoping to inject a little more sanity this time around.  I have a small score to settle with the Wineglass Half Marathon, #1 because it sold out on me last year (like, literally, I was too late to register), and because when I ran it 2 years ago I got low blood sugar at Mile 9 and didn’t make my time goal.  It is one of my favorite races that I have ever run, and this year I’m not sure I have a goal other than not having a blood sugar issue (because this has been a problem in the last several longer races I’ve done).  Beating my 2012 time (2:12:01, which was 4:01 min shy of my goal) would be icing on the cake, but I have not been training with a time in mind, just working more on my overall fitness, the aerobic zone training, good blood sugar control, and keeping my body pain-free.

So, I didn’t get up at 4:30 today, and I feel good about that!

Also, the busier I am, the more time I seem to have for making GIFs of my cats, so it’s kind of a win-win.  For me and the internet.

butchie boxingTGIF!