In search of patternsFirst I lost 90 pounds in 9 months. Then I ran 90 miles in 9 days. Now I'm exploring triathlons and family fitness. Stories, ideas and recipes from those journeys -- and people I've learned from along the way.
Declutter Your Diet
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By Colleen, age 12
On Wednesday night Mom and I both wanted a workout but it was getting late. Knowing I have soccer practice for my fall league on Monday, I decided we should play soccer and ride bikes. We didn’t get to Ossian until 10 p.m. We rode bikes for a little while and then played soccer under the full moon!
It was fun, but I realized I’m going to need a lot more practice before Monday.
This week we registered for school and I got my Ipad back. I have P.E. first thing in the morning, and band is the last thing in the afternoon. I’m definitely very excited about seventh grade!
I once thought there was no way I could ever not finish food I put on my plate. The habit was just too ingrained, and I couldn’t bear wasting food.
Recently I’ve had some success in learning to quit eating food that doesn’t taste good or fulfill my expectations.
But the other day I came across a dieting tip that, with just a small customizing tweak, is thus far managing to get around all my plate-cleaning mental roadblocks:
Before I scoop any food onto my plate, I visualize how much I’d like to eat.
Then I imagine that I’ll get full ¾ of the way through.
It’s easier to leave that last fourth in the serving dish than on my plate.
So now all of a sudden my sister is talking about doing a triathlon again.
Apparently Tri the Creek at Potato Creek State Park has come out with a Super Sprint distance that requires a mere 200-meter swim, 6-mile bike ride and 1 mile trail run. It’s so short you can’t really come up with an excuse not to do it, which is probably the point. It certainly got her attention.
And mine, because even though in an ideal world I’d do at least one triathlon a year, I don’t like to do them on my own so much. It’s much more fun if somebody goes along.
So Colleen and I hit the pool at the Y last night to see if I remembered how to swim.
I could tell I’d been out of the pool for a long time because I had to coax myself to jump into what felt like pretty cold water. I always know I’ll be warm enough once I go down and back, and usually I don’t even think about it anymore because once I get in I immediately take off to start warming up. But not last night.
This was a back-to-square one workout. On the agenda: “Motorboats”. Yep, just like in kiddie swimming lessons. Since I never seem to be able to progress beyond one pool length of head-in-the-water freestyle, it was back to the drawing board.
I did 10 of them, holding on to the side of the pool, moving my head to the side while kicking, just like when I was a kid.
As I did them, I tried to stay really relaxed. I always get panicky after about four breaths when I exhale underwater while swimming. This time, I forced myself to stay calm because I wasn’t moving. It was kind of like yoga, right? Working on the breath.
I tried to remember how I felt doing these as a kid, but I couldn’t. My guess is I probably did the motorboats OK, but rushed through them. And then the instructors probably had us incorporate the breathing into the stroke for about a pool length, which is still all I can do.
I didn’t bother trying to do the breath during the stroke itself because I want to get more confident about my breathing first. Instead, I attempted a 200-meter freestyle with my head out of water – and made it exactly a lap and a half before I had to rest.
Crazy, isn’t it? I can run forever and yet in the pool you’d think I’m completely out of shape. Still, I forced myself to finish the 200, rest breaks and all.
Finally, I had Colleen time me in a 300-meter sidestroke. (There’s a local triathlon coming up in a week or two, and I was curious to get a baseline time, just in case.) The verdict: 8:33. Slow, yes, but on the entry form it’s kind of in the middle of the estimated times you can check. So that was a bit of a morale boost.
And that was it. I wanted this to be a baby step workout, so that next time I can think, “Well, I don’t have to do much to do better than last time.”
So I’ll keep doing that 200-meter freestyle until I can swim it without stopping. Keep doing those motorboats until I feel comfortable enough to add them back into my stroke.
And I’ll probably keep timing my 300-meter sidestroke, just because it’s the only thing I feel really confident about in the pool right now.
So here it is more than halfway through the year and not only have I not met my racing goals of at least two age-group wins, I haven’t been in a single race, period.
I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.
Part of it’s due to a hamstring injury that continues to flare up from time to time, but a flood, my work schedule and my daughter’s travel softball schedule doomed one race each, and I only had three on my schedule to begin with.
When I checked to see what the winning time in my age group was for Saturday’s Swiss Days 5K — where I’d once hoped to PR — I was surprised to discover it was quite a bit slower than last year: Just 29:47, or 9:36 a mile. That was a very winnable race, but it was not to be.
There are some things I feel good about from the first half of the year. It was interesting to try a faster 5K training program, and it was cool to learn how to use the treadmill to build in more speed, both on shorter distances and on mile repeats, which is something I want to keep tinkering with.
I’ve also gotten much more confident on my bike, primarily due to sharing a car with my son.
But I hate the way this Waterworld of a summer has kept my sister and I off our favorite trails. And I miss running with the herd in a race, whether I’m trying for an age-group win or just running for fun.
I want to have more fun running in the second half of this year. Seems like that’s a goal I ought to be able to attain.
By Colleen, age 12
I recently read a book detailing Bill Bradley’s rise to fame as a legendary basketball player. It’s called A Sense Of Where You Are by John McPhee. What fascinates me most about Bradley’s style is the focused practice he did. Instead of just wanting to scrimmage and shoot around like most players, Bradley did the same shots over and over again until he perfected them. He even practiced dribbling wearing special glasses so he couldn’t look down and see the ball! Reading about Bill Bradley was really inspiring, not just for basketball but all my sports.
On a different note, I finally got a new softball bat! It’s a Demarini Uprising. I did pretty well my first game with it, hitting a line drive down the right field line. (I also got three walks because I didn’t get hardly any decent pitches to hit.)
This weekend we will be playing in a tournament in Grabill. I really love these days where I get to play 2, 3, even four games! I’m so excited!
Here is a video my dad shot of our team escaping from a recent rain storm. This week we have had nice sunny days for the first time all summer!
In this week’s News-Sentinel column, Karen Nesius Roeger describes how her family’s car-free project — in a city not known for its public transportation — helped provide focus in a world that sometimes offers too many choices.
I was thinking about that yesterday while walking around Dollar General, testing which combination of toilet paper, laundry detergent, dish soap and hair conditioner would fit in the small backpack I’d be wearing on the bike ride home.
Our list of groceries that needed restocking after a family trip followed almost immediately by a weekend softball tournament was extensive. But after getting a ride into town with my son and biking to my sister’s house for a 30-20-10 workout, I was relying on my two-wheeler to get back home. That meant zeroing in on the supplies we needed most.
I wondered if anybody thought I was trying to shoplift those items I was jamming into my backpack, but this was just part of the process. When I came up with a combination that fit – changing out a small box of detergent for a pack of laundry soap pods did the trick – I carried my pack up to the counter and dumped everything out.
“I’m on a bike,” I told the puzzled clerk. “If it doesn’t fit in there, I can’t buy it.”
My forays into car-free commuting are pretty limited (and really, almost recreational) compared with the Roegers’ experience. In the evening there’s usually a car available if I really want it, and I could always drop my son off at work and keep the car during the day.
Unlike Mike Roeger, I’ve never rode to work when it’s below zero. Unlike Karen Roeger, I’ve never had to figure out how to get all my family’s groceries for the week by bus or bike. I’ve never had to figure out how to get myself and a pre-teen home from soccer practice after dark on a night when the buses aren’t running. Or figure out what combination of bus routes plus walking will get you from northeast Fort Wayne to the Eagle Marsh nature preserve southwest of the city, where the family continued to volunteer all during their project.
But when I interviewed this family, none of them – not even their 11-year-old son — thought their 2½-year experiment was a harrowing experience. It was a slower lifestyle, for sure, but it was also simpler. And cheaper. With built-in exercise.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Heading out for my first run after we got back from a trip that featured too few miles and WAY too much feasting, I felt like I was carrying a passenger: the Blerch from the Oatmeal.
I swear I could feel the earth shake with every step.
Luckily I’d also made sure to activate my inner parent for this run. Her mission: To offer up constant, gentle reminders that no matter how many pounds I might’ve packed on in the last few days (I was afraid to step on the scale), it was still only a week since my last long run and there was no reason I couldn’t jog 7 miles at an easy pace.
Without walking. That seemed important. Even though I’ve sometimes used a run/walk formula that works out favorably for speed purposes, walking on this run, I knew, would destroy my morale.
It was early and still relatively cool. After a while I started to feel more comfortable, and I discovered that if I sped up, even for a short burst, I could leave the Blerch behind.
There was some yowling involved. “If you go too fast,” the blubbery blob shrieked as I moved off down the road, “you won’t be able to make it the whole way!”
“That’s a load of crap!” whispered another voice in my head. “If you run faster when you feel good, then you’ll make more headway. And when you start to struggle, then you just slow down to recover for a little bit.”
I wasn’t sure where this voice was coming from, but I liked its fierce determination. My Inner Kenyan? I read somewhere once that in Kenya, runners go fast when they feel good and slow up when they don’t. (Seems ridiculous to suggest that an entire nation of runners would all employ the same style, but this image was working for me just then, so I went with it.)
And it seemed to work. I spent less time agonizing about how far I had to go and how long it was going to take me, and more time in a (perhaps misguided) zone of positivity.
It wasn’t a great run, nor a fast one, but I’m awfully glad to have left the Blerch in the dust.