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?