Monday, December 31, 2012

Americans Are Fat!!

Since I moved out of the U.S. a few years ago, one of the biggest things I have noticed is how fat Americans are.  When I was living in the States, even when I was 50 pounds heavier than I am now, I hardly noticed.  It seemed I was normal size because there were always plenty of people bigger than me.  

A few years ago my family and I moved to a country that has many tourists from all over the world.  Today while we were at the playground, I noticed a tour group being led to one of the many lookouts throughout the city to take pictures.  I commented to my wife that these were defiantly not Americans based on how skinny the group looked.  Out of about 50 people, I did not see one overweight or obese person among them.  It turns out that I was right!  They were from Germany.  

Why are Americans so much fatter?  I can only speak from personal experience.  I strongly believe that it all boils down to the type of food one consumes on a regular basis along with the level of one’s physical activity on a daily basis.  Since moving from America, I am surrounded by people who value fresh fruits and vegetables.  Also, people are very active; I always see kids outside running around, people taking walks, and families playing at one of the many parks in our city. Also, gasoline is expensive.  People take a lot of public transportation and walk to their destination, often carrying groceries or other kinds of bags.  

Also, the portions served in restaurants here are a lot smaller than what I was used to in the U.S.  I remember my feeling of shock when I was served a small piece of salmon with a few potatoes and a small soup.  We only each got one piece of bread; if you wanted more, you had to pay for it.  The real kicker was when we realized that we were not entitled to unlimited refills on our sodas!  Since spending more time here, my perspective has changed dramatically; it’s not that the portions here are so small, but that the portions in the restaurants in the U.S. are so huge.

What do you think?  Has anyone traveled internationally and noticed a difference in the size of people in other countries?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Conquering New Challenges

Sometimes the best way to accomplish a new challenge is to not even think about it and just do it.  My wife decided to attempt to make muffins for the family.  She doesn’t bake that often. I usually am the baker of the household.  She wanted to do something nice for me and our kids.  What better way than to have some nice warm muffins greeting you when you come from work or school?

She was telling me about her experience in making them.  She said the oil poured out a little too fast and when mixing the ingredients, she almost dropped the bowl.  She stuck with it and they came out delicious.  I was very proud of her.  

What challenges have you accomplished lately?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Number 200!!!

This is my 200th post on this blog. I thank everyone who reads.  To the few who have left comments, I have enjoyed reading your thoughts. I hope that anyone who comes here has found some inspiration for their own personal journey towards living a healthy lifestyle.

Writing a blog is similar to trying to lose weight.  When I first started Running Without a Watch last September, I would go through spurts of writing and then have days or even weeks where I could not write anything. I put too much pressure on myself.  I wanted to post an article every day, seven days a week.  I got overwhelmed and my writing suffered.  

This is similar to running.  There were times when I forced myself to try to get out there each and every day and wound up suffering from burnout.  The running stopped, I got injured because I pushed myself too long or too fast.  I gained a little a weight.  I stopped eating so healthy and went through binges for a few days here and there of junk food.  

Once I relaxed and realized running is part of my life and not my life, it became easier.  Rather than run 30 or 31 days a month, my goal is 20-21 days.  Instead of forcing myself to get out there and run five or six miles at a time, I am happy with three or four.  

The same thing happened with my writing.  Once I created a goal of posting five days a week, Monday – Friday, it started to come easy.  December will be the 6th month in a row of posting every Monday- Friday. 

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Newbies, Go Get Em!!!

It’s about the time of the year when people make their new year’s resolutions.  One of the most common resolutions is to lose weight and get in shape. This in turn will bring a lot of new people to the gyms.  If you start to read some message boards on fitness sites, you will start to read complaints from people regarding this.  

My Message to these people is to get over it.  You have people making a change in their life.  The hardest step towards losing weight or getting in shape is the first one.  Who are these people to tell others they are not welcome to join gym. What makes you better?  Everyone needs to start somewhere.  Instead of scowling at someone who is not working out in a manner you find efficient, try proving encouragement such as “You can do it” or “Great job.”

I have a feeling these people are the same ones who also complain about fat people being too lazy and never get off their butt to do any exercise.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ignore the Weight Gain Behind the Curtain

I knew when I got on the scale Monday morning; the scale was going to go up.  It went from 160 to 163 over the weekend. I was not worried.  I knew I did not eat 3 pounds worth of extra food over the weekend.  What happened was that I baked bread on Thursday night and I ate a little more of it than I should have.  The extra bread caused me to retain water which increased my weight temporary.  

This was one of the most valuable lessons I have learned this year.  Do not let the small increments affect you. If you did not thing different to cause the increase, it will go away in a few days.  If the weight is still there after about 3 weeks, it is time to adjust.  

How do you deal with temporary increases in your weight?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Books To Read

I just ordered 3 running related books and they arrived today.  With it being cold and getting dark so early, I need some other ways to stay motivated during the winter months.  What better way than to read about running.  I love to read, about as much as I love to run.  Here are the 3 books I ordered.  As I finish each of them, I will let you know how they are.

50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days -- and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!

Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

The Extra Mile: One Woman's Personal Journey to Ultrarunning Greatness

Friday, December 21, 2012

Making Good Use of Your Time

Tonight was a cold and windy night.  There was dust in the sky.  Wasn’t very nice to go out for a run. I decided to skip it and be productive around the house.  I made granola for us to have for breakfast.  I also baked bread to have for the weekend.

I then made a quick dinner to finish up some leftovers.  I took our leftover pasta, mixed it with some homemade tomato sauce and 2 cans of tuna.  Put some cheese on top and baked for 20 minutes to have a nice tasty tuna casserole.

Living a healthy lifestyle is not just about working out.  Finding time to make healthy but tasteful food is just as important.  How do you use your non running days?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Motivation When it is Cold

It is hard to get out there when it is cold and dark.  Winter running is tough. I am hoping to just make it until spring.  I was tired today.  I took yesterday off from running to have a date with my wife.  Today, I pushed myself to get out there.  They are calling for rain the next few days.  I always feel better mentally if I go out for a run every other day than having to skip two days in a row. 

I went out and did 3 miles tonight.  That is the minimum I like to do.  Its hard though, its so cold that I don’t really feel warmed up until I am almost home.  I know soon enough summer will come and I will be complaining that it is too hot to run.

How do stay motivated in the Winter?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

See it. Eat it.

Special Guest Post by my Wife.

The other day the kids were sitting at the table doing an art project, and I was making good use of this quiet time to get some cooking done.  With three small children, I have learned to make quick and easy meals that are filled with fresh vegetables and beans.  Once I got the macaroni cooking on the stove, I began to cut up the red pepper and cucumber.

Soon the kitchen was filled with the sound of chopping, the smell of the fresh vegetables, and the brightness of the colors.  It must have roused their senses, because before I knew it I was getting non-stop requests for pieces of vegetables.  The happily munched and crunched while working on their drawings and chitchatting.  I continued to piece together my pasta salad, which also included corn and chick peas.  Then I brought the bowl over to the table so they could watch me dress it up with some olive oil, lemon juice and basil.  They really enjoyed mixing everything together and quickly pushed the papers aside to make room for their plates.  

I was more than happy to comply, as most parents know how difficult it is to get their kids to eat healthy and nutritious foods.  When my oldest (and most picky eater) proudly proclaimed that he wanted “everything,” well I jumped at the chance to give him some protein filled chick peas.  He ate a good bit of vegetables and beans before he’d had enough and reverted back to his usual preference of plain pasta. 

Success?  Absolutely.  Not only did I get to check “make dinner” off of my very full to-do list, but more importantly I got my kids excited about eating healthy food.    

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Chocolate Chip Pancakes

I love pancakes.  About twice a month on Saturday, I made pancakes for the kids.  They enjoy them.  I have been trying to experiment to make the recipe a little healthier.  I feel the one I have calls for too much sugar.  I finally did it. I have perfected the healthy pancakes.  I added all natural applesauce and no sugar.  Also, I cut out half the amount of baking powder and then added ½ cup of water to thin the batter.  Plus the chocolate chips to provide some flavor. They were great.  The kids did not even notice that I used applesauce rather than sugar.  

Here is the recipe.

2 cups of whole wheat flower
2 tsp. of baking powder (original called for 4 tsp.)
½ cup of applesauce (original called for ½ cup of sugar)
2 eggs
2 cups of milk (I use soy milk)
2.5 Tbsp. of oil (I use canola)
½ cup of Chocolate chips

1.  Mix flour and baking powder in a large bowl.
2.  Beat eggs in separate bowl.
3.  Add milk, oil and applesauce to the eggs.
4.  Add to the flour mixture.
5.  Add chocolate chips.
6.  Mix
7.  Add water to mixture and mix.
8.  Drop batter on a preheated skillet with a spoonful per pancake.

Makes 24-30 depending on the size of the pancakes.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I have ran 900 miles so far this year.  When the year started, my goal was to just get out there and run.  I did not have a set mileage goal. I never even thought about it.  900 miles is a nice round number.  It is roughly the distance from New York City to Atlanta.   

In mid-October, I received my November 2012 issue of Runner’s World.  There was an article from Amby Burfoot who is reflecting on his 50 years of running.  He states:

My vote for the smartest running streak goes to the annual-mileage streak. Try to hit 1,000 miles a year for as long as you can. That's roughly 20 miles a week, a solid marker of dedication and persistence. Annual mileage streaks give you a bar to clear, but also give you wiggle room for flu, injuries, new jobs, new kids, new relationships, new homes, and all the usual stuff.
 This got me thinking.  Can I reach 1000 miles this year?  It was going to be close. I would have had to run 110 miles 3 months straight over 27 days.  At the time, my longest monthly run was 22 days and mileage was 100.7 (I later topped both of these in October with 105.7 miles over 24 days running).  With only 2 weeks left in 2012, I will not make to 1000.  1000 was a goal that was set too late.  I am ok with that.  Running is still part of my life but not my entire life.  There is always 2013.

How close are you to your 2012 goals and will you reach them this year?

Friday, December 14, 2012


Hostess, the company that makes Twinkies, hohos and other snacks has filed for bankruptcy. The US seems to be in a panic mode regarding Twinkies.  On the news, you hear reports of people hoarding them.   They are running out to grocery stores to buy them. People are acting like you would see when the weather is calling for a foot of snow.

I don’t understand it.  They are just a snack food.  Some say it is for nostalgic reasons.  Others want their kids to enjoy the same snack that they grew up on.    I can’t see myself running out to buy 100’s of pack of junk food.  Is it me?  Am I in the minority or do others out there agree with me?

Tell me your thoughts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

You Can Always Count on Running

No matter what the day is bringing or what challenges I have to face each day. I know that running will always be there to help get through it, especially during the times of transition that I am currently going through.  

I went out for a nice 6 mile run tonight to clear my head.  After getting home from work and then getting all the cooking done, I needed to run.  I was planning on just doing 4 miles tonight, but I felt great and kept going.  I wound up doing 6 and I enjoyed every mile.  I felt a lot better when I get home.

Does running help you to calm down when you are feeling overwhelmed?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Starting the Month off Slow

This month has gotten off to a slower start than I hoped to.  I had only ran 5 days in the first 9 days this month for 21 miles.  Some things were unavoidable.  It rained and my wife wanted to go out one evening (she earned it).  Others were just laziness on my part.  I had the cold weather and the colder it gets, the less I feel motivated to get out there for a run.

I just checked my running log and I am not that far off where I was in the past few months.  If I get out the next 4 nights, I will be at 37 -40 miles.  That will put me right on track to where I was in October before I ran 105.7 miles.  I am also about 29 miles off of reaching 900 miles for the year.  I may even be able to get there by the end of this weekend,.

How is your November starting out?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Latkes and Doughnuts

Chanukah is here.  This means fried foods.  Usually potato latkes or sufganyat (doughnuts).   The tradition to use oil is because after the Jews defeated the Greeks, they went to the temple and only found enough oil for one night, but a great miracle happened and the oil burned for 8 nights. 

Frying food means extra calories.  How to navigate around this holiday without compromising your fitness/weight loss plan. I say treat yourself.  Maybe have one doughnut at a Chanukah party. Be choosy.  Do not eat it because its there.  Maybe you have a favorite bakery that you really like.  Maybe you are at a place and the doughnuts just came out of the oven.  Just last week, I did this.  I treated myself to one at the bakery near my office.  Today we had some at work for our Chanukah party.  That’s it. I am done. 

Latkes are potatoes mixed with eggs and flour.  Then you drop a spoonful of batter into oil to make a potato pancake.  These are delicious.  I like these better than the doughnuts.  I went the other route with latkes.  I made these myself.  I found a recipe and made a few adjustments to it to make it much healthier.  I used sweet potatoes.  I boiled then to make mashed potatoes.  Then I mixed it with my ingredients.  Then I cooked them like pancakes on a  griddle. Then put in the oven for about 20 minutes.  They were the best latkes I ever had. 

One more tip.  Skip the daily weigh in after you have a big meal the night before, especially if you are eating foods you do not usually eat.  I ate more this weekend, than I usually do. I will probably not weigh myself until either Wednesday or Thursday of this week.  Why make yourself get all bent out of shape over a temporary weight gain that wont last more than a few days.

Happy Chanukah!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stand up or Sit Down?

Most of are at work at least 8 hours a day and some of us work 9 or even 10 hours.  I am sure if your job is like mine, you spend most of the day sitting in front of a computer.  I don’t know about you, but I hate it.  Sitting all day makes my knees hurt and my body stiff.  I stand up a few times during the day and perform some stretching exercises. I also get outside at my lunch hour and make sure I walk around the block just to stretch my legs.  

Is there a better way?  There is.  It is a stand up desk.  The most extreme version is from Steelcase. Of course this costs a few thousand dollars. It’s a treadmill built into a desk.  This way you can walk slowly as you work.  I would love to have one these, but I do not see my company spending that kind of money for me.  I always stand as much as I can during the day.  The easiest way is to use a headset when I am on the phone.  This way I can stand at my desk and still assist my clients.  At my old job, we had wireless headsets.  Those were great.  I was able to walk a few feet in each direction while at the same time providing service.

The New York Times just wrote an article about the trend in stand up desks.  They state the trend has even spun off some smaller cheaper products. Most of these are desks that fit around your treadmill.  You can also just raise your desk and monitors so you are able to still stand and be productive.

Do you sit all day at your job or do you try to stand?

Friday, December 07, 2012

Treadmill or Deadmill

Here is an article talking about how running on a treadmill can affect your workouts outside.  They mention that using the treadmill at a 3% incline will help you transition from inside to outside running.  

Speaking from my own treadmill experience, I ran five to six miles a day at 0% incline.  During this time, I was getting faster and my endurance was improving.  However, one day my treadmill broke and I decided to try going outside.  I went for a three mile long run during which I could not go as fast as I was used to.  Upon returning to the treadmill I changed the incline to 1%, which greatly improved my running outside.  This came in handy as my treadmill broke again and again and I found myself running outside for an entire month.   

Do you use an incline on your treadmill?  Do you find it difficult or easy to go from running inside to outside?

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Is Running Harmful?

I detest irresponsible reporting, such as this article from yahoo health.  It grabs the reader’s attention with its provocative headline:  Running may be harmful to your heart.  What a misleading headline.  By reading further, it’s clear that the article is talking about endurance and marathon training with regards to older runners.    

Fortunately, I know first-hand that running is healthy and has helped me out tremendously.  Eight years ago I was 50 pounds heavier.  Who knows how heavy I would be today if I did not continue to run.  Instead of losing weight, I could have gained 50 pounds or more.  

The problem with these articles is that someone who is thinking about losing weight and changing their life may skim this headline and be led to believe that running is a dangerous exercise.  It might help them to justify staying on the couch instead of getting up and taking a step toward a healthier lifestyle.  I learned long ago to read the news VERY carefully, so as not to be led to the wrong 

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Too Much Weight Loss

I hate when people tell me that I have lost too much weight, especially when it’s family or friends.  They know I am big into running and that I have lost close to 50 pounds since my peak years ago.  More recently I’ve dropped about 15 pounds.  The weight is staying off and sometimes it is still coming off.

I am below 160 pounds now.  It would be great to make it down to 150, but if I don’t, then I’m totally okay with it.  I am running about 4-5 days a week for about 20-25 miles a week.  I am averaging nearly 20 days a month with 80-100 miles running.  I walk a lot for leisure.  After sitting on a bus for 30-40 minutes in the morning, I often take a 15 minute walk instead of a second bus ride to get to work.  At lunch after sitting all day, I take another 15 minute walk.  I also walk on my commute home.  These are done at a nice pace.

I am eating very healthy.  I eat when I am hungry.  Usually, I snack on fruit or vegetables.  I’ve stopped measuring my cereal in the morning because by eating a bit more, I am able to stay full for another couple of hours.  I prepare all of my own dinners, even when I’m tired and pressed for time.  I rarely eat from restaurants except maybe once a month, and I stopped eating sweets except for my treat of chocolate chips a few times a week.  

What I am trying to say, is that you shouldn’t worry when people say you have lost too much weight.  Your body knows when you have lost enough.  As long as you are eating healthy throughout the day, have plenty of energy, and are not doing excessive exercise, you are most likely on the right track.  If you still have any lingering doubts, you can always contact your primary care physician.  
What do you think?  Have you ever been told to stop losing weight?

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Too Tired To Run

Tonight I was too tired to run. There have been times, when I have gone running feeling like this and almost fell asleep during the run. The kids woke us up around four o’clock this morning and they refused to go back to bed.  Plus with the two runs I did over the weekend and the 2.5 hour walk I took with the kids on Saturday, I was feeling exhausted.  On my walk home from the mall I told myself, running is part of your life; it is not your life.  This translated into taking a night off.

I decided to go home and get started on a healthy dinner.  I put sweet potato fries in the oven and then made myself a delicious egg and cheese and red pepper sandwich.  I then noticed we were running low on banana bread.   I quickly made a batch and had it cooking in the oven while we ate dinner. 

I have come a long way since I first started running.  I really used to hate taking a day off.  Now I make sure that I put my time to good use when I can’t or just do not want to go running that night.   

How do you make use of the days you are not running?

Monday, December 03, 2012

Long Slow Run

Sunday mornings are the ideal time to go out and do a long slow run.  Unlike running in the early evening after my legs have had lots of warm up time from the day’s activities, my early morning runs tend to keep a slow but steady pace.  It usually takes at least one to two miles before I even feel warmed up.

This morning was no different.  In fact, it was even tougher than usual.  The boys had gone to school and I lay in bed and played with my baby girl while my wife did some chores around the house.  We played together for almost 30 minutes.  Even though I knew my run was going to be especially slow due to this extra down time, it was more than worth it.
I already had it in my head to do six miles this particular morning.  I completed four miles the day before and was hoping to have the first two runs of the month add up to ten miles.  Just as I had anticipated, it was a rough start and I dragged along for most of the run.  My legs finally felt warmed up around the fourth mile.  It was hard, but I kept going and made it to the end.  Success!  

How do your long slow runs come about?

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Stats

For the month of November, my goal was to run 110 miles over 25 days.  I wound up running 81 miles over 20 days.  It was close.  I wasn't sure if I was going to make it to 20 days, but I made sure I got out 4 days this week.  I ran 6 miles last night, so tonight I knew it would be an easy run of 3 miles.  I decided to take the last day of the month off and make sure I am fresh for December.
I missed out on my goals because different items going on in life this month.  My son started waking up extra early, I quit caffeine and I caught a cold.  I needed some extra rest days in the middle of the month to speed my recovery.  It worked.  I also did not have any long runs. 

For December, I want to run 85 miles over 20 days with long runs of 6 and 7 miles.  These are some realistic goals.  I want to stay injury free going into the new year, so I can start 2013 off with a strong start. 

How did your November wind up and what do you have planned for December ?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Meat Free

I just realized I have been almost  meat free for about a month.  I have had chicken twice in the past 5 weeks.   The most recent during a work lunch when we got free lunch.  I am still eating cheese, fish, yogurt and eggs.  I made these choices to expand my diet.  I did not do this for any radical reasons.  In fact, I would still eat chicken occasionally.

Rather than chicken or turkey, I have beans.  We make a delicious bean dish filled with eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, chickpeas and kidney beans.  We then top it off with homemade tomato sauce.  I pair this either with pasta, rice or couscous and have a very filling meal.  I also tried to take a salad a few weeks in a row.  I topped this with quinoa.  Again it was great and filling.

I feel great.  I have no adverse affects to my running. 

Which food have you stopped eating completely or cut back a lot from your diet?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Cold is Back

I hate the cold weather, but I really hate running in the cold even more. Warm weather is easy; you wear shorts, a t-shirt, and a hat and make sure to drink. With cold weather, you have to choose between overdressing and under-dressing. If you overdress, then you are comfortable during the first half of your run, but need to shed layers by the second half.

 If you under-dress, then you might freeze during the first half of your run but finally get comfortable during the second half. I usually wind up overdressing because I just can’t stand being cold. My body hurts all over when I’m cold. I wear a long sleeve shirt, gloves and ear-warmers. Luckily my shorts have pockets to hold the gloves and ear warmers when I no longer need them. It is not even the coldest part of the year yet and I am already longing for the warm summer months. Once the true winter weather arrives, I will need to add my jacket and long pants to my running wardrobe.

How do you cope with the cold weather months?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Feeling Better

On Thursday, I had a terrible run. I probably should not have gone out, but I was working a different shift and wanted to get a run in. I was not feeling good for a few days up until then. I think I had a cold. I was not sure. I was extremely tired, had a runny nose and my throat hurt. I went for a 4 mile run and barely made it through. The rest of the day, I was a mess. I had no energy. I did not feel like I usually do after my run. On Friday, I was still feeling poor. I actually fell asleep around 7 that evening and slept straight until 5 the next morning when my son woke me up. I felt a lot better. As the day went on, I started to feel better. In the afternoon, my kids and I were able to have our dance party. This is where we put some music on and carry one or both of them at a time and move around the house. They love it. I loved it. I felt great. I went for the same run on Saturday night and I felt like a new person. I felt faster, my run felt easy. It was just what I needed. I learned an important lesson, that I still ignore from time to time. Listen to your body. Sometimes a day off is helpful.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Does Caffiene Prevent Weight Loss?

This is the second time I have given up caffeine in the past year. The first time, my weight dropped a lot. After a few weeks of this, I was down 5 pounds. This time after 2 weeks, I am down 5 pounds again. I am trying to see if this is because of the caffeine or other factors. It does seem strange that it has happened twice. I have noticed that I am not craving certain foods that I would love to sit and eat while drinking my coffee. One of those foods was chocolate chips, though I am still eating them a few times a week to give myself nice treat. This can’t be it. I am drinking a little more water than before, but not too much. Before, I would have 4-5 cups of coffee. Now I am drinking 1-2 cups of decaf, plus maybe 1-2 cups of hot water and 2-3 liters of water per day. Also, when I drank coffee, I always drank it black. There was no extra calories from sugar or milk. I tried to do a web search, but most items deal with caffeine and weight loss. Has anyone gone decaf and had similar results?

Friday, November 23, 2012

How is Your November?

I was hoping to make it to 110 miles over 25 days with some long runs of eight and nine miles. So far I am up to 15 days with 61 miles. I am now revising this number to 85 miles over 20 days. The main reason is that the cold dark nights are making it harder for me to stay out for a longer period of time. I also gave up caffeine, have been fighting a cold, and my kids have been waking me up very early in the morning. The good news is that my weight is dropping again. Not that I was unhappy. I was a few pounds off of my goal weight and now I am below it. I am at my lowest since June. I am curious if I will get down to my low of 153.5 that I reached last December. I am eating when I am hungry. I am not measuring my cereal anymore, and I have only eaten from a restaurant once in the past month. How is your November so far?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Day

Thanksgiving. I remember as a kid our thanksgiving dinners.  Many years in a row we went to an all you can eat buffet for dinner. I used to fill up on roll after roll after roll.  As we got older, we started going to this Italian restaurant.  It was nice for everyone.  They had a special thanksgiving dinner for those who wanted it and the regular menu for those that did not. 

It seems that this holiday is especially about food.  Turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, green beans, stuffing, rolls, and pumpkin pie is a traditional dinner for most families.  It is ok to enjoy this stuff, but not to go overboard.  If you enjoy the pie, don’t go overboard with the stuffing.  If you enjoy the bread, have fruit for dessert,

Try to exercise on thanksgiving morning.  Go our for a walk or a run in the morning.  Eat a light lunch and prepare some nutritious snacks like fruit or vegetables so that you are not starving when dinner arrives. 

How do you handle Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Caffeine Free for Good

It has been nearly two weeks since I have drank a cup of regular coffee and I feel great.  I still have moments of feeling tired during the day, but I am not having the ups and downs that go with drinking coffee.  It was time.  The caffeine was affecting my mood.   I was upping my intake to four to five cups a day just to stay awake.  My body was so tired that I used to say as long as I don’t sit down when I got home from work, I would be able to have the energy to go out for a run.  If I sat down, sometimes I would be close to falling asleep. 

Giving up caffeine could not have come at more challenging time, as my youngest son is going through a phase where he is waking up at 4:15am each morning and refusing to go back to bed.  This means I get to start my day at 4:15am rather than my usual 5:00 wake-up call from my alarm.  I also caught a cold, so I was not feeling 100%.  These were times when coffee would have helped me to get through the day. 

The first day was easy.  No headache but I was exhausted.  I skipped my run and fell asleep around 7:45pm that evening.  The following day, I had a bad headache all day.  I got through the days drinking decaf coffee.  My running started to suffer as well. I could not go as fast or far and I started to get some pains in the back of my legs and lower back that I have had before.  I kept telling myself, just give it two weeks. 

I am happy to report that one and half weeks later I am back and better than ever.  I have terrific energy throughout the day. I am back to my usual speed for my runs.  My mood is better.  I am very pleased and satisfied with my decision to give up caffeine.  

Have you ever considered giving up caffeine?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Start Slow

A friend of mine who is overweight mentioned he is using a personal trainer.  He is paying good money to someone to help him lose weight and get in shape.  Although I applaud his efforts to improve his health, I think he is going about it the wrong way.  I believe it is best to utilize a trainer’s expertise once you are already in good shape and you want to fine tune your fitness goals.

The reason is commitment and results.  At the beginning of any fitness plan, the goal should be to just get out there and do something!  It would be nice to drop 5-10lbs in the first 30 days, but it would serve you much better to look at the big picture and gear yourself up to keep going after 30 days, and 60 days, and so on.

Change the way you think about exercise.  Instead of always waiting for the elevator, make a decision to use the stairs once a day.  Even start with just using them to go down rather than up.  Take a 10 minute walk.  Make one of your meals healthier by substituting whole wheat pasta for the usual white pasta.  Do things that make the statement, I am making this change to be healthy.  The more you do it, the more you will stick with it.

Running Without a Watch will not teach you to run a marathon, but it can help you to lose the pounds and get ready to start training for one.  Just remember one piece of advice I have learned.  Before making a change to your diet or lifestyle, ask yourself if it’s something you see yourself doing for the rest of your life.  If yes, then stick with it; if no, then skip it and try something else.

What do you think?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Run for the Sake of Running

I have been running for over 10 years and have never entered a race.  There have been a few that I came close to entering, but due to scheduling, injury or everyday life, I just wasn’t able to do it.  In early March there is a race in a nearby city that I am seriously thinking of running.  The scenery would be amazing, and I think it would be awesome to be surrounded by so many runners.  Plus, my wife said she would greet me at the finish line.

In theory it all sounds wonderful, but I still find myself vacillating.  I like to run, but I don’t want to exert a lot of energy to train for a race.  I have no desire to create a rigid running schedule; I run when I can and I run as far as I want to.  I go based on how I am feeling at that particular moment, not what a schedule tells me.  I run to stay healthy and fit so that I can keep up with my kids. 
Running is my escape. It relaxes me at the end of a long day or gets me ready for the upcoming day.  Most mornings, I wake up before 5am to get ready for work, eat breakfast with the kids and leave the house at 6am.  When I return home at about 5pm, I help my wife with the kids’ dinner, bath and bed.  When I’m finally able to go out for a run, I definitely don’t want to be tied down to any kind of schedule!  I just want to out and run as freely as possible. 

So you see my dilemma.  I really want to experience the excitement and the camaraderie of running in a race, but I struggle with making the commitment.  Last year, on the day of the race I almost ran in, it rained all morning long.  People got soaked; shoes got muddy and wet.  I ran later in the day when the weather cleared up and finished nice and dry.  I guess only time will tell. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Drink Pepsi, Lose Weight

Here we go again  Another quick fix way to lose weight.  This time instead of working out and eating right, jut drink Pepsi.  Pepsi is launching Pepsi Special in Japan. This drink will have a chemical called dextrin that will block fat. 

It is sad that people will drink this drink thinking it will help them to lose weight,  There is NO easy way to lose weight.  Eat right and exercise. 

What do you think about this product?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cold November Rain

We have had rain on and off the past few days and  I have had to pick and choose which part of the day to go running based on how the clouds look.  This weekend, rather than wait for nighttime, I went  out in the afternoon. 

Last night I thought the rain was over.  I was wrong.  It is getting colder at night but not too cold yet.   I wore my usual running outfit.  Shorts, T-Shirt, and a visor,  However, I did wear my gloves because my hands get cold first.

About 5 minutes into my run, it started to drizzle.  I thought about turning around and going home, but I decided to keep going.  I figured I can always do 3 miles and call it a night.  I passed a few other runners and walkers who were out also caught off guard by the change in the weather.  Most were not dressed for the rain.  The ones who were out not to exercise gave me looks that I must seem crazy to them.

At the turnaround spot, the drizzle stopped and I decided to go for 4 miles.  5 minutes later, the skies opened up into a steady light rain.  I got soaked.  It was cold.  It was wet. It was fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

If You're Sick, Stay Home

It’s that time of year again where many folks suffer from colds, sore throats or even worse ailments like the flu.  To make matters worse, these coughing, runny nosed, feverish people actually come to work sick!

Just the other day one of my colleagues came into work stating that he didn’t feel good.  He had the nerve to come in again the next day, and then left about two hours later after saying he thinks he has the flu.  Why show up and infect the rest of the office?  I remember last year, one girl spent half the day in the rest room puking her guts out, but still continued working.   

Why do people do it?  Is it the money?  The thought of having to make up their work once they return?  Will their supervisor give them poor marks on their next review?  I think it is extremely selfish.

Hopefully, the large amount of fruits and vegetables I eat during the day will help to combat the germs that I encounter on a daily basis from petri dish of an office I work in.  I also wash my hands carefully with soap and water throughout the day and upon entering my house, and I don’t share food or drinks with anyone but my wife.  Since the rest is out of my control, I simply count down the days until this miserable sick season is over and the warm weather returns!

How do you feel about coming to work sick?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Weekend Vs. Weekday Eating

Do you know notice that your eating habits on the weekend are different than during the work week?  I certainly do.  I seem to eat a lot healthier when I’m at work rather than at home.  Not to say that I’m filling up on junk food or anything, I just seem to eat more fruits and vegetables during the week.

It must be that the weekdays are more structured. 
 For breakfast, I only have time to eat one bowl of cereal and milk; on the weekends I usually have two.   During the week I prepare my lunch the night before, loading my bag with pre-cut fruits and vegetables to snack on all day.  On the weekend I am so busy running around with the kids and tending to household chores, that I barely have time to eat lunch!  

How can I make sure to eat a more balanced diet on the weekends too?   I might try adding salad to the menu either as a main dish or a side dish.  Also, I’m going to prepare some cut fruits and veggies beforehand just like I do on the weekdays.  A little effort goes a long way.

How does your weekend eating differ from your weekday eating?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Podcasts for Motivation

I just started listening to some podcasts on my IPOD.  I find them great for motivation.  Currently one of my favorites is, which is all about ultra-running.  These ultra-runners run distances longer than a marathon.  While I don’t ever see myself running those distances in the future, I still enjoy listening to runners who have the same passion about running as I do.

They also do some interviews with Olympic athletes, distance runners and nutritionists.  It is always nice to pick up tips regarding training or nutrition.  You can find them on Itunes or at   Another one I listen to is Marathon Training Academy.  I just listened to this one for the first time the other day, but it was good enough to give it a second chance. 

Which podcasts do you like to listen to?

Friday, November 09, 2012

Share the Road People

The other night, I was a little more than halfway through a four mile run when I passed two ladies on bikes.  I noticed the fancy camel back water bottles, and figured they were out for a long ride around the city.

Hearing them behind me, I moved over to allow them to pass, but they didn’t.  Instead, they stayed right on my tail, while one of the riders said jokingly, “Don’t worry, I won’t get you”.  I know she was trying to be friendly, but it was so annoying!  I took off down the hill, trying not to let it ruin my run.  She was still following close behind until I reached the next uphill, and then I finally lost her.  This was the first time I ever had an unpleasant experience with a biker. 

Have you had an unpleasant experience with a biker when out for a run?

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The Last Time

I am tossing the watch away for good.  I mean it.  No more timed runs to check on my speed—ever. These timed runs have become stressful and push me in the wrong direction.  Now let me explain. 

It was the last of the month and I already had a new record for miles run per month and for the number of days I went out running.  My original plan was to go out for an easy three miles, since anything I ran on this day was a bonus.  When I got home from work, I was feeling great.  My legs felt fresh and the evening was cool.  Why not go out for a timed run?  I wanted to see how fast I could run three miles.  Maybe I could break 24 or even 22 minutes. 

Well, I got to the first mile in 8:05 and my turnaround spot in 11:35.  So far, I was on fire.  I kept speeding on, going fast and pushing hard with each stride.  I finished in 24:15 for an average pace of exactly 8:05 per mile. Although my time was great, my body was already paying for it.  The second I stopped I knew that I had gone too fast.  

When I am Running Without a Watch, I move freely and instinctively.  I ease into my run and find a comfortable pace. I listen to my body, speeding up slowing down according to how I feel in the moment.  I feel relaxed and balanced, invigorated and refreshed.

And so it goes another step in the evolution of my running career.  After 14 months, I am finally done running with a watch for good!

How have you evolved as a runner?

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Results Are In

The results are in and after a long day of counting and recounting, the winner is cholesterol.  I received my blood test results yesterday.  My overall cholesterol dropped from 133 to 111.  My good or HDL cholesterol stayed the same at 35, but my bad or LDL cholesterol dropped from 88 to 62!  My glucose dropped from 79 to 77 and my triglycerides went up from 50 to 66 which are still on the very low side.  I actually have a lower level of LDL cholesterol than triglycerides.  

As many of do after receiving test results, we do a web search on the numbers.  I wound up at the American Heart Association’s website.  I took a quiz to measure heart attack risk.  The range for cholesterol was from 130 on the low end. I could not even put my cholesterol number in the quiz.

This confirms that my current healthy way of living is working.  I do not have to make any significant changes in my diet or exercise routine.  

How have your results been?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Excited for a Blood Test

I have not been this excited for a test since the last final of my last semester of college.  This one though, I was not able to cram for.  I have a blood test scheduled to check my cholesterol and other numbers.  Since I started Running Without a Watch and changed my eating habits along the way, I was curious to see if this would translate into heart healthy numbers.  My numbers have not been too bad the past few years. I wish I had the results from my tests when I was 50 pounds heavier. 

Last year after only 3 months on this new healthy way of living, my numbers improved.

                                                                  2010           2011
                                  Cholesterol                 131            133
                                  HDL Cholesterol          25              35
                                  LDL Cholesterol           86              88
                                  Triglycerides                 98              50
                                  Glucose                        88              79

I am hoping to bring my good cholesterol up and maintain the ranges of the others.  We will see if eating all the fruit have paid off.  If my numbers go up, I will need to rethink some diet choices.

Stay tuned!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Cross Training

Sometimes, I think about adding other forms of exercise to my running.  Maybe I would enjoy riding an exercise bike on those cold rainy nights, or maybe swimming some laps in the pool at our community center.  Then I remember that the pool/fitness center is quite costly, plus it would take me about 20 minutes to get there by foot or by bus since I don’t have a car.  That kind of defeats the purpose, since I could have completed half my run in that time.  

Onto the next idea.  I’ve never really gotten into weightlifting.  The few times I’ve tried, I find myself getting bored very quickly.  So instead of conventional weights, I use my kids!  They are around 30 pounds each, so putting them on my back, shoulders or holding them is a workout in itself.  I’ve also incorporated pushups into my exercise routine.  I consistently complete 25-30, and have even made it to 50 a few times.

As you all know, I walk a lot.  During my morning and afternoon commute, I walk for 15 minutes to and from the bus stop.  Also, I take a 10-20 minute walk break once or twice at work and also manage to squeeze in at least one short walk on my lunch break.  After sitting all day, it is a welcomed relief.  

Do you have any other suggestions for exercises besides running?

Friday, November 02, 2012

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

If you run outside like I do, I am sure you encounter cars or trucks on your run.  I mainly run on sidewalks, but I still need to cross busy intersections via a stop sign or traffic circle. 
Just last night, I was out for a run and going at a fast pace.  I felt great and did not want to slow down.  Up ahead, I noticed a car getting ready to pull out onto the one way street I was on.  Sometimes people see me, but most of the time they don’t.  Sure enough, this lady looked left and then turned right without even noticing me.  Luckily I was paying attention or I would have been struck.  I slowed to a stop, waited for her to go and then continued on my run.

On another occasion, I was coming to a crosswalk and I thought the driver signaled me to cross.  As it turned out, he wasn’t signaling me at all and started to go.  Luckily he saw me, but this was way too close.  It’s a good thing I am careful to make eye contact with all drivers before crossing in front of them.

Here are a few other tips I have picked up over the years to help me stay safe.
  1.  Always assume the driver does not see you.
  2. If crossing in front of a car, make eye contact and proceed carefully.
  3. If running on unfamiliar roads, go slower than your usual pace and pay attention, especially near intersections.
  4.  Leave the music for the treadmill.  How can you hear an approaching vehicle if you have your music blasting.
  5. Wear a Reflective Vest and/or Light. 
How do you stay safe now that the days are shorter?

Thursday, November 01, 2012

October Stats

For the month of October, I ran 105.7 miles over 24 days.  Both of these are new personal bests.  My goals for the month were 100 miles and 25 days. I achieved the mileage goal, but fell short by 1 day on the other goal.  

The mileage goal was easy because I’ve had a few longs runs in there.  I went 8.2, 7.5 and a couple of 6.0 mile runs. The day goal is as much luck as it is motivation.  Sometimes life pulls me away from running, but overall I’m very happy with my totals.  No complaints!

Only two more months to go to reach my ultimate goal of 1000 miles by the end of the year.  I am already up to 774.1.  This means I would need to run 225.9 miles over the next two months or about 113 miles per month.  My goal is to run 110 miles over 25 days with possible long runs of 8 and 9 miles in there.

How did your October shape up and what do you have in store for November?