Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Puberty Sucks for the Girl Athlete

There are a lot of young female athletes....they love playing the "jock" role.  They love the camaraderie of the team.  They love feeling capable.  Unfortunately, once puberty rears its ugly head....it never favors the girls.

Boys, on the other hand, grow stronger, taller and gain muscle mass.  Girls, on the other hand, gain a significant amount of weight pretty fast, their hips start to spread, their balance and coordination falters, they slow down (because of the weight gain and lack of coordination) and they simply do not feel capable any longer.

So, what happens?  Girls quit.  They feel lackluster that younger and smaller girls are faster than them.  They remember when they were the hitting stars on their softball team, and they know that they are simply treading water now, hoping not to be the worst.  Its even more awful when you are the first in your age to start developing hips! So, what to do?

Do not let any girl specialize in a sport BEFORE puberty!  She will only see herself dwindle in skills, which lays a sad foundation for self worth and athleticism in the future.  Now, of course, there will be differences of opinion here....but I read this and its so clear to me that this is a good practical solution to minimizing a girl's self esteem issues as a result of puberty.

Now, the weight gain is a completely different issue...you start a new athletic endeavor the focuses on building lung capacity, strength and endurance, which simultaneously rids her of the extra few pounds.  You can't stop puberty...you can't stop the weight gain that is needed for puberty....but you can surely try to temper it as best you can.  Unfortunately, sports aside, girls can be cruel, and the more fit and confident they are, the less of an impact their puberty will have on their social environment.

So, for all intents and purposes, running fits the bill for my daughter right now.  It will rid her of those few extra pounds, create the endurance and strength that she needs to feel capable, and help her adjust her body's new balance in this new body...a body that she will be in the rest of her life, so the sooner she gets accustomed to it, the better.  All I need to do is keep her engaged, and while I don't expect her to be happy about it all the time, I also hope that she will be happy about it some of the time!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Running with Kids...Week 2 Recap

T-48 days til our first 5K.

Both my daughter and my son are capable of running 90 seconds, then walking 90 seconds now (not without complaining like their limbs are going to fall off, of course)...repeating for 10 intervals.  I get it, trust me!  I find myself focusing on them, so ignoring my own negative thoughts is easier...but they are still there.  I know my son will eventually outrun me in a mere 2-3 months.  Now, throw in 90 degrees which feels like 100 degrees, and you have an easy reason to feel sluggish!

Now, what have I learned in this last week?  My son can run a bit faster than my daughter.  He walked the dog with my husband and then joined us mid-run at a local park.  The problem?  He was full of energy and I could feel that my daughter was trying to keep up with him.  She wasn't listening to her own body's pace. I think forward 8 weeks, and I know that the urge to run faster than you should when you are surrounded by better athletes is going to impact them.  Unfortunately, they have different paces, and I need to acknowledge that and deal with it.  He runs about 1 mile/minute faster than she does.  He should, of course, since he weighs 30 pounds less than her!  But, this means that I need to run with them separately (which is what I was reluctantly expecting).

I know I have to balance their complaints with part motherly support and part "suck it up kid" attitude.  Just like when they complain about homework, they need to just focus and get it done so they can realize that they are capable of doing it!  But, also like homework, they need encouragement and a little guidance so they can address the problem in front of them without me...they need to be capable AND they need to know that they are capable!

  • Keep them motivated through the awful 6-week period, which is the hardest part of the training.
  • Get them to run non-stop at the 5k over Labor Day weekend....even if they are slow as turtles!
  • Keep them committed until mid-October when the humidity just magically disappears, then I just need to maintain their training since they will be running so much more easily.  The humidity just kills you down here, but if you can start training in the summer, once the weather turns, you know you can accomplish anything!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Running with Kids...Week 1 Recap

This post series is going to be a bit different than any other post that I've done.  Why?  Because we are on a new endeavor in our family!  My son has some OT issues that we are working on, as well as some specific learning disabilities.  I want to make him stronger and feel confident about himself.  My daughter is going through puberty and has put on at least 20 pounds in the last year...she is feeling sluggish, and while she wants to be active and be "joke" like, she simply does not have the energy or endurance to succeed.  So, we are venturing on this path together.  5K bound in less than 10 weeks!
Now, do I expect us to walk at all in this race?  Rather, I anticipate it....but getting them out and doing this together is really going to help change our family dynamics for the better.  They weren't even bad at all, but this is going to be a great bonding experience.
  • Time with the kids alone
  • Time to encourage them when they cannot tune me out
  • Forces me to be the encourager, rather than focus on my own physical shortcomings
  • Love seeing them do better each week, which will make them trust me more when they realize it themselves!
  • They may need different training speeds, which means that I have to run more (this could be considered a pro, of course, if I need to encourage myself to run more...or it could mean that I could risk injury more)
  • Time commitment
  • Training in summer...Florida summer
  • Timing runs to meet their personal restrictions
They each have run three times thus far.  We are basically following the "Ease into 5K" training method. 

My son is 9 and is full of energy, but I ramped it up a bit more this last time, and he was hitting a mental block even though he was doing fine.  He is about 4'8" and 70 pounds...as thin as a rail.  He has a crazy gait, but I'm sure that his body will find the more efficient means to run by itself in time.  He has a lot of energy and seems to enjoy seeing that he has more energy than everyone else! 

My daughter is 10, and she is slow and sluggish, but definitely has a decent gait. She has always been athletic...and I know that this puberty thing is the cause of it (she can't possibly be as energetic when she is weighed down with the new weight!).  If she feels that she can handle a 5k running non-stop, I know that she will feel more confident in everything.  She has participated in ice skating for a few years, softball for a few years, basketball, etc.  Almost always does more than one sport at a time.  I've been telling her that the first 5-6 weeks is the hardest....but that I was just like her and I know that she can do this!  She trusts me, so she is going for it, especially if she has some cute outfits to wear :).

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Zaggora...first impressions

I rarely click on those facebook ads that annoying pop-up in the middle of your feed, or the side bar ads. That doesn't mean that one occassionally doesn't catch my attention though. I've been seeing the Zaggora ad for quite some time, and over that time, I've come to like the style of their products. So, when Zaggora asked me to give their hotpants a go, I quickly agreed! These are the ones that arrived at my house a few days ago:
First of all, I suppose I should have clicked on those ads.  I was actually quite surprised about the material.  But after scrolling through their website, I don't think I would have been any wiser. 

The appearance?  The material is similar to a wetsuit.  Remember those body glove bikinis of long ago.  Honestly, I really wanted one of those.  I loved the neon and black.  I loved the fabric, how secure it felt and instantly smoothing of oh so not smooth skin.  My initial impression:  instant recall to that body glove swimsuit.  Just for kicks, I searched for the swimsuit that I loved for so many years ago, but dare not wear:

or this...

I suppose retro is cool again.  So, Zaggora is well timed for the market.  Ok, I think I've covered my initial impressions about the neoprene, so lets move on.  The logo sits on the side of the knee, and the inside is lined with the same color neoprene as the logo, so more of a light neon green. Its fun.

The fit?  I'm between sized, but since I plan on getting back to a svelt small/medium, I thought I would request a medium.  Its tight on me, but that was expected.  Regardless, the neoprene is quite forgiving.  Throughout the rump and thighs, I felt I wasn't about to tear it in the least!  It did sit a tad lower than expected, but again, if I wasn't carrying around these extra 20 or so pounds, I think it would be perfect.  That being said, there still was no "muffin top" even though it did sit low and its a tad small.  I was very very pleased with this!  The neoprene does stretch nicely :)

The look?  I mentioned the appearance before, but how do IIIII look in it?  Well, I tell ya, it covers well and makes my skin look oh so smooth.  No bumps.  No see through lycra.  Nadda. 

The feel?  When I run, there is no jiggle.  Honest!  None.  Yes, I love the way I think I look when I run in these.

The heat?  I felt it.  I dripped more sweat AFTER I ran than I ever recall doing before.  Seriously, I got home after a 3 mile run/walk and even afterwards, sweat was dropping down my leg.  I never recall leg sweat before. I didn't even know my legs could sweat this much!  Now, could I have used a similar article of clothing on my torso?  I don't think so, at least not near my neck.  Sweat zones favor the torso.  I think it would bother me more, and I personally like more cold air near my face.  Now, below my waist, it wasn't bothersome at all.  Now, the "full body blzer" could be interpreted as a walking sauna suit.  It could serve an interesting purpose if you want a major detox.  And a detox will allow you to drop water weight quite fast...and it looks quite posh:

So, first impressions?  I'm not sure it does everything its promoted to do, but so far, it is promising.  Does it raise my temperature enough to truly cause a SIGNIFICANT increase in calorie burn?  Maybe so, maybe no.  But, it obviously raises it enough to sweat more, and as a result will release toxins out of your body faster.  Thats always a good thing.  Releasing toxins will surely help one drop unneeded water weight.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kids & Sports

Growing up, sports were not very important in my family.  Academics and music took precedence.  In my husband's family, sports were very important, academics slightly important and music non-existent.  Given our backgrounds, it stands to reason that we needed to discuss what to emphasize with our kids.  Strangely, my husband has always wanted to play an instrument, and I always wanted to be more athletic.  I think all of the above are important, so it really comes down to balancing priorities and how to squeeze everything in, without overscheduling the kids.

I suppose we've always known that it all has to fit somehow.  Early on, we talked and made it known to the kids that they always 1) have to be involved in a sport, any sport and 2) have to be involved with music, any instrument.  So, with the new semester coming up, things have slowly solidified.

Both of the kids have been taking ice skating lessons since January.  Granted, the primary reason we started was because of my son's need for physical therapy.  He had bilateral coordination issues which are absolutely critical for using both sides of your body in different ways....writing, running, etc.  The driving reason was his issue with writing, but it also plays a huge part in sports.  He also had a balance issue.  We also had speech therapy to contend with, so while we were able to find a speech therapist willing to come to his school, the physical therapy options were mid-day and not convenient.  It would interfere with work and school way too much.  So, our only other options (after thinking creatively) was to encourage his participation in either gymnastics or skating.  Both are fabulous options for kids with balance and bilateral issues.  Of course, we also purchased the trampoline, which is a given for any family dealing with physical therapy as well.

Skating was an easier choice for us, somehow. I suppose I looked back and always had fond memories of it.  We did try roller skating, but honestly, it just always felt like a poor substitute to "real" skating.  Call me pretentious, but roller skating simply feels like the red-headed stepchild to ice skating.  We have a great facility nearby....tons of Olympians practice and teach there, so why not give it a go!

My daughter is a natural with any sport (definitely inherited the gene from her dad), but my son just LOVES skating.  He could easily be out there for 2-3 hours and simply be content skating around with no purpose.  We started him on hockey skates, and while there was some concern (hockey skates are much harder to balance on since the blade is curved more and there is no extension in the back, which makes it easier to fall backwards and hit your head).  But, he loved them and because of them wanted to get on the ice as much as possible.

So, after 7 months of skating, he is now ready to start hockey!  Its actually cross hockey for the 5-8 year olds, which means more pick time and more skate time...different format but effective at developing their skills and keeping them interested.  Its no contact until they are 9 (or on the traveling team), so I hope he loves it for a few years, and then decides to have nothing to do with it when he is around 8 or 9 :)

My daughter, on the other hand, wants to try softball again.  She is a power hitter, without a doubt!  Amazing eye-hand coordination and has a great hitting average...since Dad still pitches baseball (not softball), its something that they can bond over.  She "thinks" she is a decent thrower, so we need to work on that...but she really can't catch well.  Definitely some things to work on with Dad!

I'm a bit saddened that she is taking a break from skating (as she likes the competitions and dressing up in the skating outfits), but on the other hand, switching it around is good.  I do hope she picks it up again after the Fall softball season.  Softball in Florida is competitive, and its often year-round.  The Fall season is more instructional, while the Spring season is more competitive.  Given that, we really would prefer her to just do the Fall season.  I will just miss the Christmas skating show....she even has a little santa outfit she could wear.

So, we will see how everything progresses.  Sports is important for both of them.  The teamwork, the comraderie.  I want them to enjoy this part of sports, as its everlasting.  Let's just hope our schedules don't go crazy as a result!

Friday, July 12, 2013

How much Sleep do you need?

Good question...and surprisingly, there really isn't a "right" answer!  We've always been told that we need 8 hours to feel rested, but would you be surprised to hear that this may be bad for you?  Getting less than 8 hours may actually be ideal!  The CDC prescribes the following:

But honestly, I find this a water-downed version of the truth.  7 to 9 hours is a HUGE range for adults!  And sleep is highly correlated to health.  You sleep too little, you have health issues.  You sleep too much, you have health issues.  If nothing else, remember that a bad sleep cycle affects more than just your energy level the following day!

Let's see....whats wrong with sleeping too little?
  • Your level of leptin (appetite-regulating hormone) falls, thereby encouraging an increased appetite
  • Require more food to keep awake!  Its a fine line....if you are tired, you will crave anything that will give you extra energy.  That soda?  Down it.  That carb-laden snack?  Consume it.  You need the instant energy, because without that pick-me-up, you will fall asleep.
  • Correlation between little sleep and high blood pressure and cardiovasular problems (typically correlated with those that sleep 5 hours or less)
  • Correlation with obesity, diabetes, depression, alcoholism and auto accidents.
  • Sleep deprivation directly affects the parts of your brain that control mood and concentration.
What's wrong with sleeping too much?
  • Spending excess time in bed can be a sign of depression or chronic fatique syndrome.  And these two conditions have a correlation to obesity.
As you can see, the risk of not sleeping enough tends to be more than sleeping too much.  Maybe this is why the CDC errs on the high side?

So, if sleeping too much and sleeping too little is bad for you?  How much sleep should you get?  Its so personal, and you need to devote some time in trying to understand your own ideal sleep/wake cycle.   You can google various studies, but it appears that most indicate that sleeping 6.5-7.5 hours/night live the longest, while people who sleep less than 6.5 or more than 8 do not live as long.  So, for an average night, try to get out of bed before 8 hours and try to stay in bed for at least 6.  Diabetes also tends to be the lowest for those sleeping around 7 hours/night.

That being said, there is no one "right" answer, and nobody knows how to perfectly determine that, as it may simply change over time (you may have needed 6 hours when you were 30, but now need 7 hours when you are 50, or vice versa). But, the importance of keeping an eye on your sleep remains an important, and quite simple, exercise.  If nothing else, understand what sleep is!

The "normal" human sleep cycle averages 90 minutes, in 5 stages:
  • Stage 1 - drowsy and light dreams (normal is 5% of total sleep time)
  • Stage 2 - light sleep (normal is 50% of total sleep time)
  • Stage 3/4 - delta/deep sleep (normal is 20% of total sleep time)
  • Stage 5 - REM or deep dream sleep (normal is 25% of total sleep time)
Now, unless you brain gets hooked up by a medical specialist, you will likely never know exactly what type of sleep you are getting.  Its been said time and time before though that a human cannot live without REM sleep.  Sure, its stated, but why can't we?  Sleep is uncharted territory in the medical profession, so take everything with a grain of salt.

So, what can you do?  Assuming you do not have an actigraphy device, track your time in bed and rate your sleep, as well as the following day's mood.  Do this for a few weeks and see if you can see a trend.  This may be all it takes to determine your personal sleep/wake cycle.  If you think you have a sleeping disorder (insomniac), you may simply be asking your body to rest longer than it needs....wouldn't that be a nice problem to have.

Seriously, what can you loose?  Personally, I seem to need 7-7.5 hours of sleep, while my husband requires about 6-6.5.  I would love to have that extra hour every day, but I know my body simply needs more time to rest.  I'm ok with that, and he is as well...as he knows I am not a pleasant person to be around if I am tired.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

WiThings Body Media Scale

It arrived almost 2 weeks ago, and so far, I LOVE it!  When anyone in the family steps on the scale, it takes your weight, body fat weight and heartrate. 

You can also purchase a similar device for blood pressure, which would be helpful for some to have everything in one place, but for us, this is not an issue at all.  I would be interested to see if WiThings eventually comes out with an integrated blood glucose monitoring system.  They do exist, but having the history stored in one place would be something I could easily justify purchasing for my husband.  Sometimes, you simply cannot escape genetics.  My husband is 6'3", under 200 pounds, pitches baseball (not softball) weekly and is on the elliptical several times a week, eats healthier than anyone I know...and yes, he is still diabetic.  It sucks.

Back to the WiThings scale...based on the most recent weight, your first three initials is indicated in the upper left corner of the scale.  This is the "account" that the stats will be transferred to.  So, lets say I was 120 pounds last week (sure, I'm dreaming) and I get onto the scale and I'm 115-125, its going to assume that the person on the scale is me.  Likewise, my daughter was 66.4 last week and if she steps on the scale, and she is around that same weight, its going to assume its her.  If its wrong or it simply can't identify a user (e.g. houseguest), the data is sent to the device as an "unknown user" so you can manually move it to the right classification.  Of course, this would be intrusive to know your houseguests' weight, albeit this would prove interesting and still be completely unintentional!

The data is transferred seamlessly to your iPhone app.  See below for the main screen.  Its quite easy to switch between users as well, but all of the users are available on the iPhone (except if you specifically hide a user).  This can be quite helpful if you want to keep your personal weight a mystery to your spouse...silly women we are, but it is what it is.

The first section scrolls to data on:
  • weight
  • fat mass
  • BMI
  • height
The second section scrolls to:
  • heart rate
  • blood pressure, if you utilize this additional device (both SYS and DIA are on their own graph)
The "air quality" section scrolls to historical graphs on:
  • temperature (min and max)
  • CO2 level (which basically tells you when you should open the windows and air out the house)

I love the fact that the house temperature is available.  True, we have the NEST, which I also love, but its a nice little extra to see the temperature in the other side of the house.  I may change the home temperature on the NEST for when we are away, but thats really from the main monitor near the A/C unit.  Since this is the bedroom, far away, it gives a better sense on how comfortable our dog is when the A/C is turned off.  So, I suppose the WiThings scale also helps me monitor my dog's safety :)

Now, the data is also provided in a web interface.  The standard view is seen below.  The auto log-out is quite quick though (maybe 5 minutes) so be expected to sign in again....while this could be annoying, I prefer that the data is not perused accidentally by others on the computer!

The left pane (not seen below) shows all of the family member accounts, so its easy to switch around from one user to the other.    While the data is pretty basic, it does a nice job of showing trends and seeing where you need to increase (eg muscle tone) and reduce (fat mass) to have an appropriate amount of body fat.

Of course, the more data points, the more interesting and relevant the data is.  I think whats also nice is that you tend to look at the trends, more so than just the current day's data.  If I was up 2 pounds over yesterday, of course, I would know its a blip and that it will eventually go down....because I see "the one step back and two steps forward" throughout the graph.  It simply doesn't make you worry or get irratable enough.  Most diets instruct you not to get on the scale more than once a week for this very reason.  With the WiThings scale, you just don't need to be scared of the scale!

All in all, I do like it.  Its simple to set up. The interface is well designed.  It syncs with my UP account and my MyFitnessPal account.  What more could I ask for?  I'm simply pleased.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

C25K...Week 4

So, it has begun.  I'm on week 4 now, which basically consists of:
Run 4 minutes
Walk 2 minutes
Run 6 minutes
Walk 3 minutes
Run 4 minutes
Walk 2 minutes

It went well last night, until my garmin died on me.  I swear I had it charging all night, but apparently, it was not at all.  So, 10-11 minutes into the run, I couldn't track the time. I went at least another minute of running, turned around and walked for a bit, and then ran again.  I *think* that I ran 4/6/6 minute intervals.  So, technically, I did do better than "week 4" and am pleased!

I suppose the two days running in Pennsylvania (on vacation) was helpful, even though the hills killed me.  I swear that even the first steps of running, I could seriously feel the pain in my shins!

But all is well.  I felt a bit of discomfort on my inner right knee and upper shin, but it wasn't severe by any means.  I am taking it slow and not pushing myself, as its simply not worth an injury of any kind.  Sure, I want to get to a solid 5k distance prior to Labor Day, and I'm sure it will happen...but if it doesn't, no big deal.  I just want to be injury-free and be fit.  It's not too much to ask if I train properly!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kids and Body Fat

Now, with the WiThings scale, I can actually see the body fat of my kids, rather than rely on the supposed BMI, which we all know is fraught with issues.  Since the BMI is purely a state of height and weight, it does not take into account the build of kids.

I must admit that I watch my daughter's weight closely (not the scale, as I would never encourage her to step onto a scale, but visually).  She is very strong and has a lot of muscle.  She is not overweight in the slightest, but I obviously carry my insecurities with me when I look at her form.  I know its wrong, and I know I will never ever talk to her about her weight, but after so many years of conditioning within my own head, I know its something that I cannot help but watch.  I think she has my general build, which makes me worry that she will fall into my steps...she has also gained 10 pounds in the last year!  So, we keep her active.  She is involved in all types of sports.  That being said, she is a natural athlete (here she follows in her dad's footsteps) and she is very capable of any physical test thrown at her.

My son, on the other hand, is lanky and lean.  I worry that he isn't strong enough. We've been through quite a lot with him in this last year, and a ton of strengthening to minimize visits to a PT. His stamina has increased significantly.  His core strength has also improved.  With ice skating every week, this has been a savior in asuaging my fears.

So, it was interesting coming across this Body Fat Chart for children.  I see that my daughter is right smack dab in the middle for her age (she is 66 pounds with 13 pounds of fat).  I also see my son on the high end of "healthy" which actually surprises me (he is 55 pounds with 10 pounds of fat). 

So, I can actually follow this over time, without them even being aware of it.  So, whenever they step on that scale, I see it online.  This is a nice little side benefit to the WiThings...knowledge without creating any feelings on their side of watchfulness of weight. 

Now, if the BMI for children interests you, you can check it out here.  I checked it out as well, and their BMIs lined up almost identically and well within the "healthy" range.

Friday, June 28, 2013

How to exercise on vacation...

With the summer months, travel is inevitable, especially when you have children.  You just simply cannot pick up and leave whenever you want, as their   What can you do to mitigate the lack of interest or the feeling of "What can I do?" when away from home?
  • Know what is available to you.  Sure, you won't have your elliptical at home available for you whenever you want to use it, but there is something available somewhere!  A bike you can borrow from relatives while visiting them?  A park where you can hike?  A trail that you can run?  A yoga class that you can jump into?  Plan ahead!
  • Bring multi-purpose clothing!  Last thing you need is an excuse, any excuse!  So, be sure to bring at least two running outfits that can serve multiple purposes (yoga, hiking, biking, etc).  Running outfits tend to be the easiest to go multi-purpose for me.  The tank tops are tight enough so they don't show too nmuch in a yoga class, plus they allow more flexibility with the vented bottoms.
  • Bring your shoes!  You can always borrow clothing or buy clothing if need be...but you are never ever going to go for a run if you didn't bring your shoes.
  • Make the time!  I'll be visiting relatives, staying in one house, but mostly spending my days at the other.  The two houses are 2 miles apart.  I plan on getting up and running from one house to the other, then taking a shower at the next house.  Then, I plan on running back in the evening.  4 miles in...easy!  Sure, the hills will cause my body a bit of a surprise, but at least they will only be in 2 mile bursts, so maybe its actually a great run, rather than an accommodation.
Whatever this summer brings you, make sure that its on your terms.  Don't make excuses.  Sure, if you want to take a week off and do nothing, thats pefectly fine as well...we all need a break.  But, make sure its a conscious decision, and its one that are planning for.

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