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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stats as of 28 February 2010

February 2009
51.3 miles
11 hours, 2 minutes
Avg Pace: 12:55/mile

February 2010
56.7 miles -- 6.4 miles longer than in 2009
12 hours, 9 minutes -- 1:07 longer than in 2009
Avg Pace: 12:51/mile -- 4 seconds faster than in 2009

For the most part, I've kept up with my goals. I have done all of my STS Workouts - and I'm starting week #7 of that tomorrow. I'll have a more specific update after I finish week 8, which will be the end of mesocycle 1.

For running, I was faster than in 2009, but not by much. I need to work on thinking about what my goals should be for this year. I've been talking to Davida about running, and she is encouraging me to increase my mileage. I've purchased Run Less, Run Faster at her recommendation and I'm eager to give it a read to see what I can find out about running less and running faster (both sound good to me!).

This has been a brutal, rough winter for running. It's been hard to get my group out and motivated when quite frankly we can't find anywhere to run. We've been sticking to Loch Raven for weeks now, but there has been a lot of treadmill work, and even the weekday runs that I do from my running store have been forced into a gated community that is essentially running in a circle and not much better than a track. Combine that with snow, wind and ice... It's just been a difficult winter here in Maryland. Since my last 23 miler on the NCR Trail on December 12, we have only had ONE runnable day on the trail (January 30, the weekend before the blizzards). Miserable.

I purchased a new Yoga video, Rodney Yee's Yoga for Beginners and I'm eager to give it a try. Hopefully this week. Todd starts his first open water scuba class for DiveCon this week, so I'll have a free night to give it a shot.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Sea Things #35: Squat Anemone Shrimp

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

Meet the Thor amboinensis, or Squat Anemone Shrimp. This is a very tiny little shrimp that we had never seen before until our trip to Belize in 2008. You see, Belize had just had record-breaking rains a few weeks earlier and as a result, we had terrible conditions and visibility. Where we should normally have seen large pelagics such as tuna, tarpon, jacks, etc, we instead saw nothing. We were lucky to have an excellent divemaster (Marcel), who found some absolutely incredible macro critters. We ended up having a great trip and seeing some amazing things.

The reason why the Squat Anemone Shrimp is so easy to miss is because it's so small. They are 1/4 to 3/4 of an inch long, and hang out around and inside of Anemones. You can see two in the photo above, deep inside of an Anemone in Bonaire.

Suposedly, these shrimp may also be called the "Sexy Anemone Shrimp," but that sounds made up. I've certainly never heard that, but then again, not that many divers really look for creatures like this one. These shrimps are found in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific, and live inside of the anemones. They will sometimes act as cleaner shrimp, but usually feed off of remains of what the anemone has eaten. They aren't a parasite, as the host anemone isn't affected by the shrimp living there. There are several anemone species where the shrimp can be found, such as the stinging anemone (top) or carpet anemone (center and bottom).

The hand signal for this shrimp is the same as for other shrimps (rub thumb and index finger together). These shrimps can usually be found in shallower water (60 feet and above), so look for them there.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Maybe I don't eat enough

I was doing well with knocking some pounds off and then my weight loss stalled. Everything came to a crashing halt, and I've been hovering right around the same weight for a couple of weeks now. It could be that I'm adding muscle, but I doubt it. I was trying to figure out what to do, and then I looked at this handy-dandy little chart in CalorieKing. It shows my caloric goal for each day - 1507 calories. I'm supposed to eat 1507 calories, net. Meaning, I need to eat at least 1507 calories, and then also eat whatever calories that I burn from working out. This chart displays the net calories - so, the total amount that I ate, minus the calories that I burned.
Notice how the vast majority of the bars are well below 1507? That might be my problem.
Granted, some of the really far down bars are because I burned far more calories than I could ever eat in a day. A couple of the others are because I didn't log my food at all that day (but I think I've only missed 5 or 6 days since the beginning of the year - 2/21 being one of them - note the big bar there).
Ok, so goal for the next 2 weeks - eat my calories for the day. I already started planning this by bringing a variety of snacks to work for today. I have some nuts, grapes, sunflower seed butter, yogurt, dried mango...
I'll give it a shot and see what happens.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Running and Negativity

Christina at Lazy Bones Running asked about The Running Bug today.

I've talked before about how I was never a runner, and how I decided to run mostly to add variety to my workouts, which included mostly aerobics and weight training videos. See more of my history.

What I found interesting, though, is what Christina had to say about friends and their approach to running:
I remember emailing a friend saying I had caught the running bug and the reply back was one of negativity and disapproval. How could someone like running? It’s hard on the knees. It’s boring. There were a number of people that expressed that sentiment. They obviously didn’t get it and were happy sitting on the couch of doom. Oddly enough now, the majority of those people are no longer in my circle of friendship and I now surround myself with other runners who understand the joy and importance of having caught the running bug.
I can relate to this. Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of my closest friends are totally embracing of my running. Many of them, even the non-runners, read the blog here. Nowadays, many of my friends are people that I've met through running, and those are the people that I probably see the most often. Interestingly, I've also reconnected with a few high school classmates with whom I was not at all close in high school, but who I speak to online regularly now because they run and I run (there are at least 3 people who used to be on the Cross Country team at my high school who now regularly post on my FB wall, even though we weren't close in HS).

However, when I first started, I did have a handful of friends who didn't understand. There were a few folks who insisted I'd get hurt, or who asked stupid questions like "What are you running from?," thinking they're funny.

So, to those who have supported me over the years, I just want to say "Thank you!" and that I love you guys. Those who were the most nasty in their comments about my running are no longer close to me, and I think I'm better off that way.

Fear of the Phone

I have to confess something.

I hate talking on the phone. I hate making phone calls. I hate it. I hate phones!!

Oh, there was a time in my life when I didn't hate talking on the phone. I think I spent my entire 3 years of middle school with a receiver permanently attached to my ear. We were one of the first people around to get call waiting because my mom was a real estate agent and none of her clients could get anything other than a busy signal if I was in the house. My friend Becky and I used to spend 3 hours a day prank calling and doing other random things with the phone.

(Becky's sister had 3-way calling. We would call one friend, then quickly three way call a second friend and connect them back up before either one answered. Then, stay silent while listening to two friends argue over who called who. Hilarity ensued -- at least to a 14 year old).

So, The Oatmeal came out with 10 Reasons to Avoid Talking on the Phone and it is SO TRUE. I hate ALL OF THOSE THINGS.

Let's especially look at #2 - The Impulsive. I can't tell you how many times I've committed myself to something because I didn't know what to say on the phone besides "yes." I was just unprepared. My favorite of these turned out good, though. When I first interviewed for my job at Sam Goody (in 1994), I decided after the interview that I didn't want the job anymore. The next day, when the manager called and offered me the job, though, I somehow couldn't find the words to tell him I didn't want it. I figured I'd quit my first night. I ended up working there for a year and a half.

#3 - The Jagged. Both Todd and I are always doing this to each other. It is frustrating. My mom and I do it, too. Those two happen to be the two people that I most enjoy talking to on the phone.

#6 - The Distracted. Or, my sister, who is constantly talking to her kids while I'm talking to her.

#7 - The Lecturer. Todd is always saying that from his side, when I talk to my mom it sounds like I don't get to ever put in a word edgewise.

#9 - The Anxious. I think this is my biggest thing. I'm always wondering when the right time is to end the call, and I start freaking out about it.

#10 - The Epic Goodbye - Either of my sisters do this. I wonder what happens when they talk on the phone to each other.

Still, my dislike and even kind of general fear of talking on the phone goes beyond rational. I don't like to call to order take out food. I prefer to call this one particular pizza place near us because they know my address and name by my telephone number, so I can just give them my order and quickly hang up.

I won't call friends. I will send an email.

Todd: We're going to be late to so-and-so's house. Can you call them and let them know?
Kim: Really?
Todd: Yeah, just call them real quick.
Kim: uh... Can't you call?
Todd: I'm driving. Just call and say we're going to be late.
Kim: Well, I mean, they know we're coming.
Todd: We're going to be late. We should tell them.
Kim: Maybe we should wait a few minutes and see if we can make the time up?

This will go on for an insane amount of time. Usually, I'll finally call.

This problem has caused me issues. I don't make doctor's appointments. I don't call friends. I don't RSVP. People think I'm nuts because I do everything via email.

It's really weird. I don't get it. I need a support group or something.

Photo Credit: Leo Reynolds (Creative Commons)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ms. Fat Nutritionist, I Salute You.

Holy smokes! The past few days have just been chock full of stuff to blog about, and I have many, many topics in the hopper.

On reading up on some articles about Subway Jared, I came across an awesome chicky who calls herself The Fat Nutritionist. I read her article, Eat Food. Stuff You Like. As Much as You Want. and I have decided that I want to have a mad love affair with this woman. She summed up so much of what I feel and what I've been trying to say over and over about eating normally. She says:
We want to be healthy.

We want to eat food that’s good for us.

Those desires, being tied to the ultimate desire — to survive — are pretty damn strong.

But you know what we want more than either of these? To be free. To not be told what to do. To not be bossed around as though we are perennially six years old. To not be manipulated, coerced, or condescended to.
I love this. And this is the essence of what I was trying to get at when I when I attacked Dave the trainer several weeks ago. His point - that you probably should avoid not only McDonald's, but fast food in general, if you're trying to lose weight, is not a bad one. It's the way he said it, "I really have no tolerance for this." For a trainer - someone who has clients who are looking to him out of respect and valuing his opinion - to put his foot down on anything as a definite NO and to be so unwilling to accept mistakes... it just so rubbed me the wrong way.

So, I'm so happy to see Michelle (the Fat Nutritionist) coming out with these bold statements that are so inline with my way of thinking. Yes, I'm restricting calories right now because I'd like to lose some weight. But, I'm making that choice. I'm not a bad person if I choose not to. And I'm NOT a bad person if I don't jump in 100%, if I still eat sugar, if I still have dessert occasionally, if I still eat out with my friends, or enjoy a glass of wine or three. These things don't make me less healthy. They don't make me less of an athlete, and they don't make me evil. Otherwise, I could not stick with these changes forever. Trust me, I've tried.
Exercising to lose weight makes fitness not as fun or useful.

Eating to lose weight makes nutrition not as fun or useful.

And, when things are not fun (meaning, intrinsically rewarding), it’s pretty much guaranteed that you will stop doing them, rendering your time “on the wagon” pretty much a loss. Because you’ll lose whatever long-term, intrinsic benefits might have come from doing those things voluntarily.
Yes! Find something you like. Find food you like. The rest will come. Let's work on it. I encourage you to check out Michelle's blog, I will be adding it to the blog roll.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Giving Barefoot a Try

Tonight was a treadmill night because I was concerned that none of my running pals would be showing up to run after we had to sneak under a gate in a gated community in order to find a safe place to run on Tuesday. That's right - seven of us, sliding under a gate like something out of Mission: Impossible in order to have a safe place to run. Apparently, they showed up tonight, but they sounded so uncertain that I decided to run at home.

I gave it some thought earlier, and I decided to give the barefoot running thing a try. Barefoot running is the trendy thing right now in the running world, and it's apparently a "hot button" issue. Should you wear shoes? Should you run barefoot? Are running shoes hurting people and doing more harm than good? Is running barefoot horrible and asking for injury? I've kinda-sorta listened to some of the debates, but honestly, I am kind of indifferent to the whole issue.

Still, I decided to give it a try. I was running on the treadmill, so I figured I didn't have to worry about the whole "stepping on rocks or glass or nails" issue, and I could have a pair of shoes and socks nearby if I didn't like it.

I'll be honest, it was kind of interesting. It was something to do anyway. Certainly, I'd have to get used to it since I think I was landing too much on my heels. I could definitely feel the heat of the treadmill under my feet. I started out excited, like "yeah! I'm barefoot! Ha!" And it did feel free and light and easy.

As I went on though, my left calf and my right ankle were sort of hurting. I was getting nervous about my feet. I wasn't missing the shoes as much as I was missing my orthotics. I was about 20 minutes in and I was watching the timer on the treadmill, seeing how long I had left. Then, it occurred to me, "hey! I could just put on shoes!"

So, I jumped off and put on socks and shoes. Wow, it felt like I was wearing two super-soft, heavy pillows on my feet. Totally a weird feeling, much more weird than the barefoot thing. I got used to the shoes after another 8 or 9 minutes, but it was strange at first.

So, what did I think? Eh. I'm still indifferent. It's something I'd have to speak to my podiatrist about. I'm not ready to drop my shoes just yet. Or, more like it, I'm not ready to drop my orthotics just yet.

I will say this, too - one thing I really dislike about the whole barefoot running crowd is some of the negativity that I see on their websites. They seem to really enjoy attacking running shoes, Runner's World, and people who run with shoes on. Guys, that's not a way to get people on your side. Many people run with shoes for many different reasons. So, go ahead and be enthusiastic about barefoot running. Go ahead and run barefoot. It's cool. But, leave the attacks of others out of it. There's no grand conspiracy by Nike to injure people.

If you're curious about barefoot running, here are some resources:
  • Vibram Five Fingers: I saw someone wearing this at the Annapolis Ten Miler in 2009. They protect your feet so that you're not as worried about stepping on things. Frankly, I kind of like the Five Fingers KSO for the beach.
  • Barefoot Rick has been running barefoot since 2003 (longer than I've been running!) and has done 18 marathons barefoot.
  • A guide for running barefoot.
  • Barefoot Ken, another barefoot running blogger.
GIVEAWAY ALERT! Please check out this awesome blog, and participate in the Olympics Red Mitten Giveaway!

Image courtesy of 802 (Creative Commons)

My Lenten Promise: To Be Thankful

When I was a kid, I totally disliked Lent. I hated that I had to give up something, and I didn't really understand why I had to. Even as an adult, I used to tell people that I refuse to believe that God cares whether or not I eat meat on a particular day. Nowadays, I don't consider myself Catholic anymore at all. Well, I still have the guilt. I don't think you ever get rid of the guilt. However, both Todd and I were both married in the Catholic church for our first marriages, so now I'm just living in sin with him. At least, to the church. So, I tend to put myself in a different category other than Catholic.

I thought about it, though, and this year, I really wanted to do something for Lent. It doesn't mean giving something up, because I often feel like I give up plenty just being a runner and trying to eat healthy. So, instead, I decided to do something extra to appreciate this life a little more.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across Thankful for, which is a site that hooks into twitter and simply lets people be thankful for things in a public way. This lenten season, I'm going to be thankful for something every day. (I will have to be thankful for two things today, as I missed yesterday).

I know, it's a small thing. I might try and think of some other things, too. For now, watch for #thankfulfor on my tweets. You can also find my list of thanks here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sea Things #34: Varicose Phyllidia

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

The Varicose Phyllidia, or Phyllidia varicosa, is also sometimes called a "Scrambled Egg Nudibranch." It is a type of sea slug, or nudibranch, which Todd very much loves to find. They're pretty common in the Indo-Pacific, and we saw many of them while we were in Hawaii. They get to be 3 or 4 inches long, which is actually pretty big as nudibranchs go.

Like many nudibranchs, the Varicose Phyllidia secretes a toxic substance that apparently has a strong odor above the water, and will often kill other animals if it's brought into an aquarium. They're dangerous little guys (well, to fish and sea life, anyway), and their bright colors serve as a warning to other animals.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

STS 4-Week Checkin

I am four weeks into my STS 6-Month Rotation! Let's take a look at how things are going.

As I've mentioned before, the 6 month rotation differs from the standard 3 month rotation because you repeat each week. So, while the 3-month rotation would be Week 1, followed by week 2, followed by week 3, the 6-month rotation is week 1, followed by week 1, followed by week 2, followed by week 2 again. So, I've only done two weeks of STS, but I've done both of them twice. In the same way, each mesocycle is 8 weeks long rather than 4 weeks.

I'm very happy doing the longer rotation. It means that I get a chance to do each video twice, and improve upon what I've done the week before. If a weight or an exercise wasn't quite right the first week, in the second week, I get to try again. It's going well.

Not only that, but I'm also still managing to get up and do my workouts in the morning before work. Where I was often doing the workouts in the evenings when I did the 3 month rotation, this time I'm keeping my Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings free (Tuesday/Thursday, I run in the evenings). I keep saying this is my special gift to Todd, as I get to spend more time with him as a result.


As you can see by my awesome chart, I've got an overall downward trend in the first 4 weeks of doing STS. Every Monday I tend to to have a bit of a gain, which I think is a result of my long runs and/or not being as hydrated on the weekends. Then, those pink humps at the end of the chart are my days working at home during the blizzards we had over the last two weeks. I ate fine, and I got all of my workouts in, but we were drinking wine each night, and as a result, I was retaining water. Not to mention, last week I started thyroid meds.

My total weight loss (based on the rolling average) was 1.64 pounds. It's more like 3 pounds when you don't look at rolling averages and only look at actual weight on January 18 when I started STS and February 14 when I finished week 4. I like the rolling averages better, since it means that individual spikes in weight matter less, even though the same is true when weight suddenly dips.

I've taken measurements, also, and they weren't as dramatic as I had hoped, but they were still very good. Most notably, I've lost an inch around my chest, 1.5 inches around my waist, and around half an inch around each thigh. I haven't bothered with the body fat calipers again, as I found them inaccurate and lame. Maybe next week.

So, another 4 weeks and I will have completed mesocycle 1. We'll see how things go.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We are a Featured Wedding!!

Todd and I were featured on Crystal Blue Weddings, which is a new blog that features weddings in the Cayman Islands. How cool! :)

Have I mentioned that my wedding was a wonderful, beautiful day that could not have been more perfect?

I loved that day, I love my husband, and I love my marriage. And -- I love the Caymans. I can't wait to go back again!

Valentines Day Pizzas

Earlier in the day Sunday (Valentines Day), I'd gone to Loch Raven Reservoir to run. Most roads in the area are not runnable, they are too narrow from the snow, and few people have shoveled their sidewalks. Those that have still have lots of ice on them. So, we decided on going to Loch Raven after 10am when the road is closed between Morgan Mill and Providence. No parking, though. In the end, I did almost 9 miles, which was from Pierces to Providence, back to Morgan Mill, back to Providence, then back to Pierces.

While I was gone, Todd had told me he was going to be working on this house project he's working on. He tricked me, though! Even though he bought supplies for his project, he secretly measured for sliding shelves (similar to these) for the kitchen and installed the first set while I was gone! He's a good husband, and that was an awesome gift, as we are slowly trying to make my kitchen into a lean, mean, cooking machine since I cook so much.

What did I do for him? I surprised him with 50 First Dates, which is one of "our" movies, and some Spam & Reece's (you have to see the movie to understand).

If you recall, last year Todd and I celebrated Valentines Day by making sushi together, which turned into a comedy of errors. This year, we decided to make pizzas using The California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook, which I've owned for about 5 or 6 years now, but have never cooked a single thing from.

As far as the pizzas went, things started out a little rocky. We were lounging around at about 4:30, and I suggested that we start cooking since I hadn't actually read any further in the instructions for the pizza than to write down the ingredients for my shopping list, but I had a feeling that the dough would take a while. After we finally got ourselves up, I read the instructions, and it was requiring us to have the dough rest for 2 hours, then sit overnight in the fridge, then sit for 2 more hours... Hm. That would ruin Valentines Day. I started to panic, thinking this would be a repeat of 2009's sushi.

So, what did we do? We ended up hopping in the car and going up to Weis market. They sell pre-made uncooked pizza dough in their refrigerated section. This worked nicely for us.

And so, we started chopping, and preparing the sauces for the pizzas. We had picked out two - Shrimp Scampi Pizza and Thai Chicken Pizza. Lots of veggies needed chopping (Todd likes doing this, which is perfect. He's like my sous chef). I had to use lots of ingredients in the sauces. Meanwhile, we uncorked a bottle of Chardonnay (thank you, Jenny and Doug!) and enjoyed that while we worked. Meanwhile, we took a break and had some Strawberry-Poppyseed salad (have I ever posted that recipe?).

I was nervous about how the end result would be. Todd shaped the dough into 9 inch circles, we got them on the pizza peel... 10 minutes later? Awesome pizza!!!! Soo good. The photo at the top of the post is the Shrimp Scampi (with the strawberry salad in the background) and the below photo is the Thai Chicken Pizza.

Afterwards, we had chocolate fondue with pound cake and strawberries. Delicious, but we're not as into the sweets as we used to be... And we were full from the pizza.

This was a perfect, wonderful Valentine's Day. I can't ask for more :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sea Things #33: Moorish Idol

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

Moorish Idols, or Zanclus cornutus are pretty common in the Indo-Pacific. In fact, we saw them all over the place in Hawaii. Coming up after one of our first dives, I said to Todd, "You know, I think Moorish Idols are going to be my new Queen Angel in the Pacific." What I meant was, they're pretty common, we see them a lot, but they're also skittish and tough to get close to. You may recognize the Moorish Idol as Gill from Finding Nemo.

They are such pretty fish! They get to be about 7 inches in size, and are often seen in pairs. In fact, they mate for life. They eat sponges, tunicates and invertebrates.

They're popular as aquarium fishes, but don't live long in captivity. I don't know of a diver hand signal for them, but I haven't spent enough time in the Pacific to have learned all of the hand signals. Anyway, they're common enough that probably they don't need one.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

Do We Need to Adjust Serving Sizes?

An article from the New York Times, One Bowl = 2 Servings. FDA May Fix That.

This article talks a lot about serving sizes and how they're not always indicative of what people actually eat. There has been some talk of changing the requirements and making serving sizes more in line with what an "average person" (or, an average American) actually eats.

Good, in theory. But I have some issues.

First off, this is great for single-serving items where clearly the serving sizes are wrong. The serving size for a muffin should never be "half a muffin." No one eats only half a muffin, and that is horrifically confusing. A can of soup, usually consumed in one sitting, should be one serving (instead of 2 or 2.5 or whatever it is). Marie Callendar's Frozen Pot Pies are listed as two servings for one pie, and that should be one. If it is something that should and can be eaten in one sitting, it should be one serving, period.

However, there are other things that are not so clear. The article talks several times about cereal, and this is one that is always brought up. A serving of cereal is almost always 3/4 cup to one cup. Most people tend to eat 2 cups of cereal or more in a sitting. But, should they??? I don't think so. If we want to standardize, and say that a serving of cereal is one cup, and get rid of all of the 3/4 cup ones, that's fine. But, to bring the serving size up to two cups seems wrong to me. Same with potato chips. Usually, the serving size is one ounce. And, frankly, I think it should stay that way. The article says:
Munch half a bag of Tostitos while watching the Super Bowl and you could take in about half the 2,000 calories an average person needs in a day.
Well, don't munch on half a bag of Tostitos while you're watching the Super Bowl, then. I mean, really? Do we need to up the serving size to half a bag because that's what people eat? Or, should we instead keep the serving size what it is, and talk to people about controlling their portions?

We just eat too much. I would hate to see people starting to believe that the amount of chips, cereal, cookies, etc that they eat is reasonable, because it is not.

Another part of the article made the suggestion that we should put nutrition information on the front of the package. I really do not see the point in this at all. People do not care, people do not pay attention. Again, serving size will come into question. Let's just stop right there and spend some money on nutrition education - for children and for parents. How about that? Then, people will turn around the box and look at the Nutrition Information, as I have been doing for over 12 years.

One more place we can fix: confusing labels that involve preparation. If I buy cake mix, it lists the calories as both "as prepared" and "mix only." However, the rest of the nutrients are only listed as mix only, and I end up having to calculate. If I'm following the instructions exactly (for example, using a large egg and a 1/4 cup of oil as directed), then I shouldn't have to pick up a pencil and paper to calculate ANYTHING on the nutrition label. It should all just be there.

Also, let's do something about popcorn. Popcorn labels are really confusing. Take the example here. The nutrition information lists "As packaged." Ok, fine, but no one eats bagged popcorn as packaged. NO ONE. But, let's just say they do. The second column is "Per Cup Popped." This makes sense, but then it says the serving size is 3 Tbsp, or about 4 cups popped. Huh? So, what about the "per cup popped?" And, is the "as packaged" the 3 Tbsp? What about the 4 cups popped? What's the nutrition info on that? Why is this permitted to be so confusing?? I would prefer it say "one bag" or "half a bag" or something. Nothing ever makes sense when it comes to microwave popcorn.

And don't get me started on Movie Theatre Popcorn.

So, in essence, I think the FDA is in the right place with this discussion, but I don't think changing up every serving size for everything makes total sense. Let's just change the ones that really should be considered a single serving. Then, maybe just state "single serving" on the package or something.

Read some more:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Where are You Summer?

Record breaking Maryland snowfall!

This crazy man in a funny hat wanted to shovel off the deck.
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5 Year Anniversary

I looked back through my old blog posts, and discovered that today, February 11, is the fifth anniversary of my very first run. If you have access to my private blog, you can see my original post on the subject here, with an introduction to the original Cathe rotation that started it all here. On the subject of the video rotation, I wrote:
This one also includes some scary running - and I have always had a motto of "I don't run." Life is about trying new things, so I'm going to try the running, I think I will just have to buy something to cover my head - maybe a hood and earmuffs.

And on the run itself:
Last night, I was able to find a treadmill to run on, which saved me the issue of it being cold and annoying to be outside. The running wasn't too bad, of course, I was really only doing about 2 minutes of actual running based on what Cathe said I should do, but I was walking really fast when I wasn't running.
Too funny.

Thing is, it seems like ages ago. I went to this gym type of place, and I was so embarrassed because other people were working out around me. I wore sweat pants and a t-shirt (egads!). I ran very little, but I was happy that I gave it a shot. Anyway, it must not have been horrible, because I decided to register for a 5K only about a month later.

And since then? Let's just recap.
  • Fourteen 5K Races
  • Four 10K Races
  • One 5 Mile Race
  • Two 13K Races
  • Three 10 Mile Races
  • Four Half Marathons
  • Five Marathons
How far I've come. If I'd told that person from 5 years ago that I would eventually run not one, not two, but five marathons, what would she have said? Would she have been surprised at what she is today? Who knows.

Anyway, happy anniversary to me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Thyroid Wackiness

My DiveCon course requires me to get a physical. There was a medical questionnaire for my regular Open Water, but you didn't have to get it verified by a doctor (hence, the fact that I checked "no" for "do you have migraines?"). With DiveCon, the doctor has to sign off on the questionnaire.

So, I went and got a physical. It was uneventful. I got an EKG, I went the next morning to get blood work done, and my doc generally felt I was pretty healthy. I did get a prescription for Imitrex (for the migraines), and she said migraines weren't going to keep me from diving. She wouldn't sign off until my test results came back, though.

The doctor called yesterday with the test results. I expected nothing, but she had a couple of issues. First of all, I'm vitamin D deficient. This was especially odd because over the weekend I spotted a bottle of Vitamin D supplements that I'd purchased about 6 months ago after I'd seen some show or read some book about needing Vitamin D. I had taken one and never taken another. Then, Monday night, I read an article from about how most Americans are Vitamin D deficient, so I took a supplement Monday night. For the doctor to call me Tuesday and tell me to start taking Vitamin D supplements of the exact same dosage I was taking was weird. It's like I have ESP.

Anyway, if you don't take Vitamin D supplements, you might consider it. I am taking 1000 IU. The doc was looking for me to be at 20 units for my vitamin D levels, and I was at something really low. 9, I think.

So then, the doctor moved on to the other issue: my thyroid. I have hypothyroidism. The test is for TSH, which is Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. A normal level is .5 to 4.5 units of TSH. My level was 8.3. What that means is that my pituitary gland is producing TSH, practically screaming at my thyroid to do something and make some thyroxine, and my thyroid isn't following through or getting the message. So, it just keeps making more TSH. As a result, I have to take synthetic thyroxine. I started taking it this morning, and I likely have to take it everyday for the rest of my life.

Some of this makes total sense. You may have read before that I have started to consider myself a "slow loser" and that I've been having trouble losing weight. I didn't have trouble in early 2008, when I lost 15-20 pounds easily and right off the bat, but then after that I started just failing at it. I assumed that I needed to suck it up and realize that this is a consequence of getting older, but maybe not... I actually have a medical condition that is causing me to have difficulty losing weight! Who'd have thought.

I'm also supposed to be feeling tired. My doctor asked me if I was feeling tired a lot. I said that people tend to feel tired when they run a lot, so I just figured it was that. For the record though, I have excellent sleep patterns (definitely compared to when I was married the first time). My doctor responded that athletes tend to not notice the thyroid issues until they "crash." Yikes!

I didn't really get into why I have this condition. Some people have it because they just do, the thyroid stops working. Some people have it because the body produces antibodies that attack the thyroid. I read an article today that suggests that running is actually what's causing it. Here it is: Studies may link athletes and hypothyroidism. It's pretty interesting.

So, I get to go back and get more blood drawn after 6 weeks on the medicine. If my TSH levels are normal, the doctor will sign my scuba release. In the meantime, no diving. (well, no divecon certification... I have longer than 6 weeks left in the training and I can do the training dives).

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hamilton Beach Change-a-Bowl: Keep or Take it Back?

I was grinding some chicken recently for a recipe, and since I don't have a food processor, I was doing it in the blender. That's because the blender is my go-to appliance to substitute for my non-existent food processor. It works fine for many things, but not for chicken, apparently. The chicken got all caught around the blades of the blender. Not good.

So, later I was looking for a food processor in the Weis Market because it was the only place I was going that day. This was a few weeks ago. They didn't have a food processor, but they had this Hamilton Beach Change-a-Bowl thingy. It was $39.99, marked down to $19.99. I thought about it, but it really doesn't solve the chicken-grinding problem, and is not a substitution for a food processor. So, I thought about getting it for its slicing and shredding properties. I ended up passing, feeling like I didn't want to spend $20 on that.

So, tonight I was back in the Weis Market (today's horrible music selection was "I Just Called To Say I Love You"), and I saw the Change-a-Bowl again. Today, it was marked down to only $9.99. So, I bought it.

Was this a good choice? I mean, it isn't a food processor, although it will do some things that a food processor will do. I could see myself making awesome things like broccoli slaw for my favorite Asian Beef & Noodles meal, or shredding cheese or chopping things. That's cool and all. On the other hand, it's another appliance to store in the house. On still another hand, it was only ten bucks.

What I do like about it is that it uses Gladware bowls, so you can purchase additional bowls for it at very low cost, and store the cheese, lettuce or whatever in the bowls.

Return it, or keep it? Opinions, please.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Recipe: Super-Charge Me! Cookies

I've been reading a series of blogs that involve women who work out and also love to eat healthy. A few of my newly found blogs are really some ladies who seem to just take photos of the delicious healthy foods that they eat every day. Nothing wrong with that!

So, it's been several blogs now where I've heard mention of SCM Cookies. As in, "I needed to run out to work quickly, grabbed a SCM Cookie and headed out!" or something. And I was confused. SCM Cookies? WTF is an SCM Cookie? So, I investigated.

This lead me to Dreena's Vegan Recipes, and the recipe for "Super-Charge Me Cookies." Dreena's daughter had been at a soccer game and all of the girls had gotten a 1/4 pound, 530 calorie monstrosity cookie to eat after the game. She invented these cookies as a healthy yet delicious alternative to those. Read the story... I decided I'd give them a try, if I could find all of the ingredients.

In my version, I didn't have spelt flour (couldn't find it), so I used 2/3 cup minus 2 tsp of whole wheat flour (this was recommended in the comments as a substitution). I used dried cherries instead of raisins, in the hope that Todd might try them (he doesn't like raisins). I added chocolate chips (what is carob?), and I used sunflower seed butter in place of the almond butter (despite my previous bad experience with it).

I made 12, and one cookie made the way I made them contains 172 calories, 8g fat, 3g protein, and 3g fiber.

They are indeed pretty good, so if it allows me to indulge while still staying healthy, I'd say they're worth the trouble to find the ingredients and make. I think their worst quality is the 100% pure maple syrup, which is so incredibly expensive. I wonder if there is a cheaper alternative?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Recipe: Strawberry-Buttermilk Gelato

It's snowing, and I am making ice cream. Wrong season, I suppose, but that is how it goes with me sometimes.

I made Cooking Light's Oven Fried Chicken on Sunday (in a cookbook that I have yet to review). It was delicious, but it left me with half a quart of leftover buttermilk. I didn't want to waste it, so I started looking up recipes for things using buttermilk. I saw this one, and since my Pineapple-Coconut Gelato from New Years was such a success, I thought this one might be good also... not to mention that we'd had strawberries from Trader Joe's a couple weeks ago, and they were so good, I was looking forward to getting them again.*

Oh, this gelato was so good. As with the Pineapple-Coconut one, it's not gelato in the same way that you would expect to get from Italy. It's more along the lines of a sorbet, but creamier. I was worried about the buttermilk part, thinking that surely it would be weirdly tangy or have an aftertaste, but honestly I wouldn't have known it contained buttermilk if I hadn't made it myself. Instead, the strawberries were really standing out, and boy were they delcious. So, so good.

The recipe made more than I could fit in my ice cream machine, so we had some on Tuesday, and I saved the mixture and we just made more tonight. I bought ingredients to make the Pineapple-Coconut one, too, so that will be a yummy treat tomorrow or Sunday.

*So much for my ongoing desire to eat foods in the proper season.

Image courtesy of Cooking Light

Welcome to the Blogher Network

So, in case you didn't notice, I've been accepted to be part of the BlogHer Network. Hence, the advertisement that now appears on the right hand side of the screen. Hopefully, the ads are not too intrusive and you'll find some value in the additional links below the ad directing you to other interesting posts from other parts of the BlogHer Network.

BlogHer is a network of blogs for and by women, and contains a whole range of topics from parenting to sports to politics to career. Go ahead and take a look, browse around some other blogs, and maybe even join the network! I'm terribly excited, and happy to be a part of it.

Also, if you see something that you like in the ad, go ahead and click it and help me out :) My hope is that we'll be seeing more readers and I'm going to do my best to keep my blogging top-notch. Thank you for your support!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pondering My Current Rotation

So, I'm in week 3 of my current exercise rotation. Each week is looking something like this:

Monday: STS Chest, Shoulders & Biceps
Tuesday Morning: STS Shock Cardio Selection (30-50 minutes) & Core Video (30 minutes)
Tuesday Evening: 3-4 mile run
Wednesday: STS Back & Triceps
Thursday Morning: Stretch / Yoga Video (30-40 minutes) & Core Video (30 minutes)
Thursday Evening: 3-4 mile run
Friday: STS Legs
Saturday: Long run, 5+ miles
Sunday: Off

More or less, that is what I have been doing, except for last week, when I had scuba diving Tuesday evening, so I ran in the morning, and today, when I have scuba diving tonight (and I ran this morning). Those days, I've done the core video, but skipped the Cardio or Yoga option.

Thus far, it's going fine, and I'm totally doing well with the whole getting up early 6 days a week (Saturdays have been my "late" day - 6:45am). I have a concern about the Tuesday morning workout. I mean, what I'm doing is a 30_ minute intense cardio workout, followed with a core workout, and then in the evenings I'm doing my normal short run. The cardio is like "bonus." It's supposed to be fun and burn some extra calories. It gives me a chance to do something other than running, too.

Thing is, though, I am not really enjoying it. And I feel bad because what I'm doing is Cathe's new Shock Cardio Series. I only received it in December, and only two of my DVDs are even out of the shrink wrap. It's not Cathe's fault, the workouts are killer and hard and if I was purely looking to get a workout, they'd be great. However, I have found that I'm just not interested in killing myself and working that hard for my "bonus" workout. I would rather work hard and burn the calories in my runs, and I worry that I'm going to burn myself out and not feel like running. If my schedule were different, I wouldn't mind doing the runs in the morning and the bonus in the evening. In that case, I could put whatever energy I had left into the bonus workout. But, I run with a group, and that is evening-only.

So, I'm contemplating ditching them for the time being. I feel bad because I feel like I wasted my money (although I can probably sell them for close to what I paid for them). I feel bad because I love Cathe, and I want to do her workouts, I'm just not in the mood right now.

What would I do instead? I was thinking about going all yoga. Getting a few more yoga DVDs, and doing them in the mornings that I run. Then, I could enjoy all the good benefits of yoga that I've heard so much about. Plus, I've really been on the ball with the abs and stretching and stuff thus far.

We'll see. That's just more money to spend, so I don't know. At this moment, I only have 2 yoga DVDs that I really like. I have my eye on the Bob Harper one, though.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sea Things #32: Longsnout Seahorse

Sea Things is a regular feature on my blog where I profile a different sea creature. Look for it weekly, or something close to weekly.

Everybody knows what a seahorse is. They're almost mythical, since you see drawings of Poseidon riding them and such. They're so very cute. This particular seahorse is the Hippocampus reidi, or Longsnout Seahorse. That scientific name is greek for "bent horse." They are found all over the Caribbean, although we've only seen them in Bonaire. They get to be about 6 inches long, and can vary in color quite a bit. Usually, they are yellow to red. We once saw a black one off of Klein Bonaire in over 100 feet of water.

Like Frogfish, Seahorses generally stay in one place or right around the same place for a while. As a result, in Bonaire, divemasters know where they are and will lead divers to them. just like the Frogfish, this can be bad, since divers will destroy the area around the seahorse, leaving nothing for the Seahorse to eat or prey on.

Longsnout Seahorses eat plankton and small little things that happen by them, as they sit with their tails wrapped around corals, grasses and gorgonians. When they mate, the males are the ones that carry the young, and give birth. The female and the male mate, but then the female gives the eggs to the male to carry in a little pouch. The eggs grow there until they're ready to be born. They may give birth to up to 1,000 young at once, but it's usually only about 1 or 2 that will live to adulthood.

Seahorses have been taken off of reefs frequently, to be "dried and collected" (a horrible thought), or for aquariums. Like I've said, let's keep the fish on the reef where they belong.

The diver signal for a seahorse is to make your hands as if you are pulling the reins on a horse. Get it? :) One of these days, I'll hopefully spot one on my own. So far, I've always needed a divemaster to point one out.

My favorite Seahorse was the orange one pictured in the topmost photo. We were on a night dive in Spring 2009 on Klein Bonaire. As usual, Todd and I were tagging along at the back of the group. The divemaster and a couple other divers had pointed to something in a hole, gestured to the divers behind them, pointed and moved on. The next group of divers didn't know what was in the hole, and as we approached, they just pointed, knowing something was in there. We looked and looked and all shrugged (remember, this is a night dive, it's dark). The other divers moved on, leaving Todd and me. I decided to give it one last look and dropped down (trying to be quick, as we were fairly deep for a night dive - about 65 feet). Once I looked deeper into the hole and shined my light in - there he was, the orange seahorse. I gestured to Todd and he finally saw it, too. He got some good photos. If you're ever in Bonaire, I definitely recommend a night dive on Klein, that's for sure.

Is there a creature that you would like to see featured in Sea Things? If so, shoot me an email and if I can, I'll write about it. Photos on this post are courtesy of Todd Krebs.

How Log Does Groundhog Day Last?

How Long Does Bill Murray Spend in Groundhog Day?

Monday, February 1, 2010

It is LOSE!!! LOSE! This is not HARD!

A while back, The Oatmeal published this list of Words You Need to Stop Misspelling. Right at the top, my biggest pet peeve: Lose vs. Loose.

This irritates me to no end, and I guess I see this one so much more because I have hung out in the past on weight loss and fitness message boards so much. It is lose! I have weight to lose! Not, loose. My pants are loose, but I still have a lot of weight left to lose. Get it? It's not that hard. Please stop misspelling this.

I've got all of them down on the list except effect/affect, which I have a tough time with. My ex-hubby used to get really annoyed with they're/their/there and you're/your. I can deal with both if you'll just start spelling lose correctly.

Decorator Crab Video

'Purple Forest' from MORPHOLOGIC on Vimeo.

We talked about Decorator Crabs a while back on Sea Things. Well, here is a great video that shows a Decorator Crab doing what it does - putting things on its shell, and then eating an little animal that doesn't realize that it has landed on a predator and not a part of the reef.

The unsuspecting isopod has no idea that it has landed upon an algae covered beast. Furthermore, it appears that the crab is not aware of the unexpected visitor until the isopod begins to explore its decorated exoskeleton. 50 seconds into the clip the isopod meets its fate with a few swift snatches of the crab’s claws. Without missing a beat, the crab continues scavenging amongst the rocks and algae. And life on the reef goes on…
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