Monday, December 29, 2008

Caffeination

What is going on these days? Did someone come out with a research study stating coffee causes cancer or other terminal health risks?

First, Jo announces she will give up Starbucks. OK, I have to hand it to her, that was probably a smart move. The girl was having way too many venti sized drinks per day, in addition to her own brew at home and the office. If you can drink a cup (or pot) of coffee at 6pm and still go to bed before 3am you have developed a tolerance for caffeine. I have to admit though. I did ponder the thought of increasing my own caffeine intake to equal Jo's just to see if it would make me a little bit faster on my bike.

Then I get an email from Sarah about detoxing from sugar and coffee. I'm not really sure what the rest of the email said because again, I am hung up pondering the "no coffee" idea. How can you not drink something that smells so incredibly good. Even when I was pregnant and was told caffeine was bad, bad, bad, I converted to decaf. I had to have that morning arouma and my cup filled with sugar and Coffee Mate. By the way, I don't do sugar anymore and I only use Coffe Mate in moderation. But if Starbucks ever starts filling their karafe's with Coffee Mate instead of milk and creamer I'm in big trouble.

I was lucky enough to have to go back to work today while the rest of the family continued to enjoy Christmas vacation. You can imagine how excited I was to get up this morning for (the gym) work while everyone else slept nice and toasty in their beds. I came home from work and after dinner Milan tells me,

"I didn't have any coffee today."

OK, that explained why he was a crab a$$ when I got home. Here I thought it was just because he spent the whole day home alone with the kids, to which I silently thought "hee, hee". So I asked,

"Why didn't you have coffee? Are you sick?"

"No, I just wanted to detox myself. I didn't have any wine either."

What the he&* is going on! I know New Years is right around the corner, but coffee is NOT a resolution you are supposed to make! I can go along with the wine. That will last maybe a week or two, but by the first Steelers play off game I'm predicting wine and/or beer will be in our house. But what did coffee do? Coffee is like one of the major food groups in Serbia. They are so serious about their coffee drinking they drink it Turkish style (although we prefer to call it "Serbian" style). You mix very finely ground coffee, finer than espresso, into boiling water. Make sure you remove the boiling water from the burner otherwise, you will end up with a big coffee explosion all over your stove. They drink Serbian coffee with every meal in Serbia. And if visitors stop by, which is usually the case (and did I mention the visitors are always unannounced because it would be rude to call and say you were coming by), you have more coffee. Sometimes the coffee is accompanied with a shot of homemade plum brandy. I guess they counterbalance each other.

I got way off my soap box here.

I'm not sure what has prompted my hubby to decaffeinate. He is even drinking TEA now, like 3 times a day! And it's not the caffeinated green tea, it's sleepy chamomille tea. I know JH is loving this. I'm anxious to see how long it will last and what the effect will be. I'm predicting I'm going to come home tomorrow from work and the house is going to upside down, Nada will have Luka locked in his room, and Milan will be passed out on the couch asleep from lack of caffeine and massive withdrawal headache. Hopefully I won't decide to make this same crazy "detox" resolution. I am confident that the stomach flu I had on Christmas detoxed me of EVERYTHING. I mean, there are some things I can rationalize about giving up completely, but coffee just isn't one of them. Going to Starbucks is an event for me, one that I enjoy and look forward to. Going there to order a decaf or tea just wouldn't be the same for me. Plus, the arouma of the coffee would just make me cave anyway.

This is always a great time of year, a time full of hope as we look forward to a brand new start, and as we look back and give gratitude for the blessings we received in the past year. I wish all of you a happy, healthy, and successful new year full of dreams come true. Best wishes to everyone as the new year approaches!

Even if it's without coffee :-)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas vacation

I'm so late getting this out. I hope all of you had a great Christmas! Mine was...restful. I somehow came down with the stomach flu Thursday morning at 1am and dealt with all those lovely GI functions for about 3 hours that morning. That left me with the aches, chills, and fatigue all day Thursday. By Friday I was able to get dressed and make a early morning trip to Walmart to stock up on Christmas sales since I still have Serbian Christmas on January 7th to prepare for. I didn't have enough energy yesterday for a run, which is too bad since it was 70 here! But my appetite still hasn't returned yet either, and I'm surely not going to complain about that!

For the most part we've been inside playing Mario Kart Wii. It is very cool that the kids have been able to play against their cousins in Pittsburgh (who also got the same gift) via the internet connection. We've even played against people we don't know internationally. I'm thinking a Mario Kart "Tri Blogger Chic" tournament would be so fun! And probably just a little competitive. So who has a Wii?

Our crazy weather has again changed. It's still 70, but the winds are gusting at like 25 mph and the chance of rain and severe storms is 80%. Looks like another day of Mario Kart and Wii Sports. Maybe I'll break out the trainer and see how my body responds to some exercise. By tomorrow the temperature will back down to 40 and sunny, perfect running weather.

Hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Resolutions

I searched for a picture of the January cover of "O" magazine, but I couldn't seem to find one. I even thought of creating my own magazine cover with a photo of me 10 years ago (or even just 4) and one of me now with the same caption "How did I let this happen?", but there was no way I was going to embarrass myself that much. If you're on the internet a lot, which I'm sure you are if you're reading this, you may have seen Oprah's recent news. She has publicly announced that she has gained back the 40 pounds she lost 4 years ago and now weighs 200 pounds. You'll have to get a hold of her magazine to read about her thyroid problems that contributed to this weight gain, but basically she admits that she used the thyroid problem as a license to eat and stop exercising.

Ten years ago after having my first baby I was obsessed with losing weight. My whole life I was, let's say "thick". Finally, after going through pregnancy and feeling the size of a house for several months, I found the motivation to exercise and eat less and I lost an additional 15 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight. I know, it's crazy. Most of the time you hear mom's talk about how they can't get that last 15 pounds off and I actually lost twice that. Yes, nursing did help, but I was super conscious of what and how much I was eating, and I tried to exercise a little every day. When I say a little, I mean a 3 mile easy run on the treadmill or Tae Bo while the baby napped.

I am definitely not an ectomorph, you know those lanky, thin girls with no muscle mass. I've always done some kind of exercise and will try just about anything (I even tried diving in 9th grade), but I've never excelled at one sport. Once I quit the volleyball team my sophmore year of high school(big mistake), and especially college, my exercising consisted primarily of weight training with little aerobic activity, maybe a mile walk here or there. One of my good friends was really into lifting and was even getting into fitness competitions so I had a workout buddy. Plus, I liked socializing with the hot, buff guys! Unlike my friend, I never got the nutrition part so all of my muscle was covered up by fat, which I was too dumb to realize. I also smoked in college, and for a few years after graduation, so that also made aerobic activity very unappealing. I started running in 1996 to help quit smoking (and it worked!), and I really wanted to run a marathon (thanks again to Oprah). Yeah, that's me, if I'm going to do something I'm going to do it BIG! I also lost all of my baby weight the second time around, even got down to my lowest weight ever of 113, but that happened for different reasons. I'll just say it was a super stressful time in my life and I didn't want to eat.

So I recently started thinking back to what made me successful 10 years ago and why have I been failing so miserably the past year or more? Why did I fail in all those attempts in college and high school?

Determination! That's about all I can say. After I had Nada I was focused on the finish line (what I would feel and look like without the weight) and when temptations arose I just thought about that finish line and the end result. I was like a horse with blinders on. I was not easily distracted by food and if I didn't feel like working out I thought about how many calories I was missing out on burning. I'm also not a patient person so I knew the more I deprived the faster I'd lose. Top that off with nursing and I was on a roll.

Then I started thinking about the past 3 years and "how did I let this happen again?" I had a lot of pressure on me from every direction the past 3 years. There was no time for just "me". Yes, I would go out and train and in a sense it was "me" time, but was it really? It was still pressure. The training was pressure to accomplish a goal. I was training and working out, but I wasn't taking time to stop and smell the flowers, for lack of a better explanation. I'm still not. Probably because I'm still trying to determine what it is I can do for me that will be good for me? Yes, Oprah's magazine is what got me thinking about all of this, along with a whole lot of other things I've been struggling to sort through. Bob Green's article in that same issue also made me realize why I crave that glass of wine when I get home from work and why I can't just eat 1 or 2 pieces of pizza. And it gives me hope! Yes, I fell off the wagon, but I can get back on. As Oprah said "If you're looking for a reason to fall off the wagon, the universe will give you one." Isn't that the truth! Unless you're living in a box (or work and live with a group of triathletes), there is temptation everywhere! I had heard that it's even harder to keep weight off than it is to lose it in the first place and I thought that was ridiculous. It is so true. Dieting and losing the weight isn't the finish line, not when you're addicted to food and the pleasure it provides.

I'm hoping I can put the blinders back on and keep them on. I'm not going to pressure myself anymore or beat myself up for my failure. I'm learning from it. I'm learning what my weaknesses are and what triggers them. I'm also going to make a good effort at using what I know works for me and apply it. And I'm definitely going to set my Tivo to record Oprah in January and hope that I'll once again draw some inspiration from her! Yes, I know she has a personal trainer available to her at her disposal, but as she has said, that trainer isn't the one huffing it out for her on the treadmill. I do envy the personal chef because it sure would be nice to come home from work and not have to worry about what's for dinner, but I don't envy her social calendar. I'm guessing she is surrounded by high quality food and wine a whole lot more often than I am. I only have to fight the daily cookies or chocolate someone has left in the employee kitchen!

If you all have time stop by and read Beth Shutt's recent blog post, "A Little Diet Fun". I loved it! I have learned so much about nutrition over the years, it's no more a matter of being uneducated, it's about applying it, but I still continue to learn new things and find helpful advice. Kellye also has a great post, "Oprah-ology", talking about her own struggles with maintaining good nutrition. You were brave Kellye for laying it all out there and should proud of your accomplishments.

And one last thing, "GO STEELERS!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

Starbucks or McSpresso?

How dare they?

I caught this on the news this morning while on the treadmill. It gave me something to think about for at least 2.5 minutes. Does McDonalds really think they can compete with high quality, good tasting coffee?

I had to google this some more. Appears that McDonalds has strategically placed these billboards, and similar ones such as "large is the new grande", around the Seattle area near the Starbucks corporate headquarters. Starbucks has declared they will not engage in an ad war. I don't blame them. When your coffee is that good there's nothing to defend.

I didn't have anything better to post about and this was the most interesting thing I heard all day. I'm definitely not going to get into the Rod Blagojevich story. What a disappointment. As if the Serbs needed more of a bad label.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Walking in Memphis

The kids and I got a lot of walking in this morning while "spectating" the half marathon, which is a good thing considering it was the only workout I got today. And dang, it was cold! Who knew spectating would be so much work? I guess it's a little harder when you're carrying a 45 pound 6 year old on your back. That was just to make my workout more challenging, not because Luka was whining (yeah, right!).

Good news is, we found a Starbucks very close to the start of the race. Oh, and we ran into Jennifer Garrison on our way there! I knew she mentioned running this marathon a while back on her blog, but really didn't think I'd actually see her. She was with her brother, who by the looks of, is probably just as fast of a runner as Jenny. I told her who I was (current blog lurker who watched her swim laps in that itsy bitsy Lisle Athletic club pool) and wished her a good race.

So we finally get to Starbucks (thank God, it was already 7:38). Is it me or do you all find it funny that the girl at the counter asked me if I was racing? I showed up with lipstick on and jeans, and ordered a hot chocolate (for Nada), Strawberry Cream Frap (for Luka), and a regular coffee for me. I guess she was trying to be funny. Or maybe it's just because I look so darn fit and athletic! Yes, yes, that is definitely it!

Bad news is, we never found the McDonalds for breakfast that I promised the kids we would visit after the race started. But the kids got over that pretty quickly once I explained that they don't serve happy meals with toys for breakfast and we'd definitely get them some Mickey D's for lunch. Problem solved.

I have to say that yes, there was whining about the cold and all the walking. And yes, I did lose my patience a couple of times. But for the most part the kids and I had a good time walking around downtown Memphis this morning. Luka and Nada also realized how much fun it is to see how many runners will slap your hand if you stick it out as they run by. Maybe next time Milan will run the whole marathon and we'll have to time to catch a nap after some spectating and the breakfast buffet at the hotel.

The race was a success all around. The kids and I saw Milan at the start and mile 3, and we were at the stadium and caught him running in to finish and he heard us yell "Yay, Tata!" Milan also managed to meet his goal of finishing in under 2 hours. Just how much under 2 hours we're not sure because he borrowed my GPS and it malfunctioned. That has never happened to me, but I'm not going to make any accusations that it had anything to do with the person operating it :-) I can't remember just how many minutes after the official start he crossed the timing mat (they sent them off in groups), but I know it was definitely 10 minutes and his clock finish time was 2:06 something. Regardless, it was definitely under 2 hours, his achilles didn't cramp up on him, and he felt good.

Now I have to back up to the night before the race, which was the best part of this whole trip for me. I got to have dinner, a SUPER LONG dinner, with my some of my fellow blogger triathletes from Memphis. I've already met Damie and Joy in person, and I know Angie from back when we did our first tri here together, but I finally got to meet Laura in "real life"! Too bad she was sitting at the opposite end of the table from me so we didn't get to chat much. We did concur that the Steelers are definitely going to whip the Cowboys tomorrow afternoon and that we are so excited we'll be able to watch it down here. I also got to meet Samantha Mazer and her friend J.C. (I hope I got that right). Damie told me Sam was coming to dinnner, and although the name sounded familiar I didn't know who she was. Let's just say she's this phenomenal young athlete about to graduate college who has a very bright triathlon future ahead of her. She's been added to my list of blogs to read! It's usually the opposite, I read someone's blog for a while and then meet them. This is nice having a new blogger friend that I've already met in person!

And now it's nice to be home and warm again. I don't know if watching the race sparked any interest for me in racing again. I was telling Joy and Damie last night that any emails I get with the subject of: 'Ironman', 'triathlon', 'bike intervals', 'masters', 'Trisports sale' (you get the picture), I pretty much delete without opening. Makes me sad that I've lost all of my enthusiasm and motivation for training, but I guess some of us sacrifice a lot more for Ironman than others. Here's to hoping 2009 will bring back my spark!