Thursday, June 25, 2015

The real cost of being cheap

When I scheduled my flights for Fitbloggin', I worked hard to find the cheapest flight I could -- I was worried about money, and I didn't want to spend more than I had to.

This is why I was riding with my husband, who was so nice to drive me, an hour to the Detroit airport before the sun had even come up. On the way there, I got a call that said my flight didn't leave for almost 2 hours after its scheduled departure, which meant I missed my connection to Denver. I am still not sure what time I am getting to Denver, but I am going to hustle to the first flight leaving after I land and try to go standby. Otherwise I have to wait until 1:30 for a confirmed seat.  

Update: No LUV at 9:40. 11:00?

When I took the cheaper flight to save $100-200, it's funny that I didn't consider my time, or my husband's time, or the impact on our sleep, or the fact that I would be rushing around. I just looked at the price tag.

I recently took a summer job that pays hourly. It makes it easier to see that my time actually has value, that making my (and Jesse's) life miserable for several hours is not really "free."

Airlines don't consider these costs either. They treat their passengers' time as free. Our flight crew got in late and rather than call in a different crew, this airline whose stock symbol is "LUV" delayed an entire flight full of people, making me and a bunch of other people miss our connections, to save whatever cost would have been involved in changing the crew while our group got their FAA-mandated rest. If it hadn't been for that regulation, our flight would have been staffed with dangerously-tired pilots and attendants.

For the way back, I was originally scheduled to land at 11:55 pm on a Sunday night. Since I work on Monday morning, I paid quite a bit to change to a confirmed seat on an earlier flight. I decided that it wasn't worth the wear and tear on myself and on Jesse to have no sleep on the way home too.

From now on, I'm going to consider all the costs, not just the financial ones. I challenge you to try to do so as well.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The hardest part of training

Tonight I tried swimming in my wetsuit for only the second time. I'm afraid it is a little bit too small, because getting the thing on is such a project. It feels constricting. I had a lot of complaining going on inside my head about how much better I would swim without it, how fat I am and how the wetsuit would fit better if I were skinnier, blah, blah.  I didn't feel natural and I kept stopping to float (which is very easy and why most people want the wetsuit).

I was convinced that it was taking me so long to swim, that I was at least an hour into it.  I forced myself to finish anyway because it would be humiliating to have to get pulled out of the water by a lifeguard.

When I finally got to shore I stopped my watch.

My time was right around where it was all last season. Sure, I cut a big corner, but if I had been able to just swim and stop talking to myself about the swim, I would have been just fine.

I texted my husband about it and he sent me a message I had to share:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Enell Ambassador Race Report: Tri Goddess Tri

I am an Enell Ambassador. Enell paid my entry fee to this race and has also provided me with merchandise to try.  All opinions here are my own.

I had been looking worriedly at the weather forecast for the Tri Goddess Tri all week, and when I woke up to the sound of thunder and checked the radar, I worried that our race would be cancelled, or, worse yet, that we'd start and there would be dangerous conditions on the course.

I was meeting up with some friends from Team Endurance Fusion to do the race, and we got a picture in our matching team tri kits. It looks great, but I'm trying to figure out a way to keep the top from rolling up, as a belly shirt is not in my comfort zone. Some people have suggested snaps, but I haven't had time to figure that out. I wore my Enell Scuba Blue under the kit, and it coordinated nicely and provided extra coverage to avoid the dreaded Side Boob effect. 

I wish I had gotten a picture of the lake before the swim, but I was nervous about the rain and was rushing around more than usual. The start of the race was chaotic -- instead of designating waves, they had everyone start in two big groups with the directions to "self-seed" based on expected finish time. I have done other races where they do this, but there is more room for the athletes to organize themselves and some guidance about what a "fast" time would be. Trying to squish into a single-file line in a very crowded beach made me more nervous than usual. I thought I had done an okay job of seeding myself, but then the woman in front of me asked where the swimmers with the noodles for nervous swimmers were. I'm hoping they will do this part differently next year.

Once I started the swim, I felt better. My top continued to roll up, but since I was in the water and no one could really see, I decided to wait to pull it down until right before I got out of the swim. If it had stayed in place, I would have biked in this top, but since I didn't want to ride with my belly out, I put my Enell shirt, which I had planned to wear on the run, over everything and felt much more secure. The t-shirt kept the top underneath in place. Note the great support!

Photo from before the race -- I didn't have time to pose during the race!
The bike was my favorite part of this race. Even though it was still raining, I was able to get some serious speed in certain parts of the course. My overall pace was slowed by the number of cyclists on the course, the rough roads, and the slippery conditions, but I was enjoying the times I was able to really power along. 

As expected, the run on trails was a giant mud pit. I ran, walked, slid, and splashed my way through it the best I could. I slipped and fell at one point, but I saw the fall coming and was able to land without hurting myself in the squishy mud. Everyone seemed to be struggling, but one woman laughed and said it was like getting a bonus Warrior Dash for the same entry fee.  I heard thunder again when I was out on the run course, and though we had been told to run to the nearest shelter in that situation, I had no idea where I was on the trails, so the fastest way to get to shelter seemed to be to finish the race. Everyone else was doing the same.

I was excited to finish just under 1:45. Though I am currently 44, in triathlon you race as the age you will be on December 31, putting me into the 45-49 age group this year, and I came in 16 out of 23 in my age group. 

The best thing about the race was being there with friends and cheering each other on. Each of them achieved a personal goal during the race. Rebecca broke 2 hours and Karen placed in her age group. Even though this wasn't my fastest race, it was a fun one.  I was proud of how well we handled the challenging conditions.

Rebecca, Karen, and I mug for the camera.

Plus, I got a pretty new medal to add to my collection.

Thanks, Enell, for supporting me during this race!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Fit by Fitbloggin' update: A few weeks to go

I leave for Fitbloggin' in two dozen days! The time has rushed by.

I haven't posted an update in almost a month. In the meantime, I have been finishing up the school year, exploring new opportunities, training for my summer races, working on my Fitbloggin' talk, visiting with family and friends. I also am playing around with the konmari method, and have finally gotten rid of things that I was holding onto for years with the hope of "someday" fitting into them, even things that are way out of style. I have a lot more work to do on that front.

I have mostly been happy and busy. I have not, however, made the progress I had hoped on my weight -- I won't be thinner for Fitbloggin' than I was last year, though I would say that I am definitely fitter. Just last week I did nine hours of training -- though not the 11:15 my planned called for, still great in a week where it was impossible to get out and bike as much as I wanted to. I did two swims, two runs, three bike workouts, and a yoga class. Not too shabby.

The craziest thing is that before I leave for Fitbloggin' I will be traveling to the West Coast and starting a summer job that I'm very excited about, doing a training project for a Fortune 500 company.  So much stuff going on, and I will be spending this week getting ready for all that. 

I am sure that there will be some harrumphing that I haven't made my weight as much as a priority as the "Fit by Fitbloggin'" project would have indicated, but personally, I'm not surprised that my weight was up a bit at the end of the school year, and one of my priorities for summer is going to be working on that. As my training ramps up, just increasing my food quality a little bit and getting rid of some of the too-frequent treats may be all it takes. Maybe I will konmari my food as well and ask, before I eat something, "does this spark joy?" 

Looking forward to seeing some of you in Denver. 

Monday, May 04, 2015

Fit by Fitbloggin' update: Positive developments

I have a hectic week coming up and I need to stay calm and centered. After talking to a friend last Friday and then reflecting, I realize that there are some people at work who either enjoy creating a stressful environment or who are feeling so much distress that they can't help but spread it. Maybe a little of both.

As much as I wish I had the ability to help make these problems better for them, I don't, and I am not serving anyone by getting caught up in the frenzy of it all. I need to be calm and centered to get all the work I have to do finished before I leave for D.C. next Monday. I started today with a 30-minute "Miracle Morning" practice (I can't recommend the book after reading the first 2 chapters, but there is free stuff on it all over the place). My husband gets up stupid early (like 4 a.m. lately) so I can't get up before him, so I did the practice once he left for work. It was a nice way to start the day, and it answers the question I have been having of how to really use the Passion Planner the way it is meant to be used.

My training is going well. I'm finally getting to the point where I can really push it. I rode with the fast people on a ride on Friday and kept up with them for 12 miles going up to 22 mph. Then I fell too far behind to draft and had to return on my own, but I still averaged more than 17 mph. When I rode with my husband at a more comfortable pace the next day, I felt great even though my legs were tired. I didn't get as much training in as planned, but since we had Big Happenings going on at work, it was more realistic to just do what I could. 

The week by the numbers: 

Weight change from last week: Down 4.2 pounds (I think part of it was water retention)
Days tracked last week: All 7
Average hours of sleep: Changed tracking methods
Average steps: 10,305
Hours of training: 5h 48m (was supposed to be a 10h 30m week)

Calm and centered. Time to start my day. I need to get caught up with everything so I can turn my grades in early, since I fly out next Monday. I'm actually flying to Baltimore, and planning to take the train in.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Jawbone UP 24 vs. FitBit Charge: And the winner is...

Note: This post has Amazon Affiliate links in it.
I think I need another gadget or two

I had been tracking with the Jawbone UP for about a year, and decided to give the UP 24 a try. I was looking forward to the wireless syncing, and was also hoping that Jawbone had solved its durability problems with the newer model (Interestingly, as I am writing this, I learned that both UP bands I have owned are now discontinued).

Not long after I just bought the UP 24, I was notified that our insurance company was offering a Fitbit Charge free for members who agreed to submit to some biometric screenings. Basically, the Fitbit is a bribe for the insurance company to collect information on us. If they catch a diabetic or someone with high blood pressure early, they can save a lot of money. Some of my more suspicious co-workers thought the insurance was going to use this information to charge us more if we were fat.  However, since I see my doctors regularly and they probably already had access to my height, weight, etc., I felt like it was worth a little trouble to get screened in order to try out a new gadget.

I wore them together for about a week. Interestingly, during that week, the UP needed to be reset and I lost a whole day's worth of data. That was the final straw for me. I gave the UP to my sister and switched LoseIt! to sync to the Fitbit.

When I bought the UP band, I was comparing it to the Fitbit Flex, and I didn't like the idea of having to take the "bit" part out of the wristband to charge it. I preferred the simplicity of the Jawbone band. I was afraid that if I got a Flex, I would lose the tiny piece and it wouldn't work anymore. I have a friend who has some mobility troubles with his hands and he finds it very difficult to work with the Flex.  The Charge just plugs in as is, which is much simpler to me. I don't mind that I can't change the color of the band.

Weirdly enough, I love having the watch function on the Charge. I got out of the habit of wearing a watch because they always bugged me when I was using the computer, so I would just use my phone to check the time. It's a lot more subtle to check the time on my wrist during class, and the band is thin enough that it doesn't annoy me when I'm typing.

I still liked the app for the UP better than the Fitbit app, and the UP bands I had were more attractive than the Fitbit, but I'm probably not going to buy another UP product anytime soon.  The new UP3 looks nice, but the UP2 is ugly. I think it is great that they discontinued the products that weren't working, but I'm mad that I bought the tracker on Amazon after it was discontinued and didn't know it (there is now an indication that the band is discontinued, but it wasn't there a few weeks ago when I bought my band). I wouldn't have spent the money if I knew I couldn't count on it to work. How do I know that the new trackers will be any better, and that the company will let me know if they aren't?

My dream product would be a Fitbit that used the UP "smart coach" software. And one that was waterproof, as I jumped in the pool with my Fitbit on and almost had a heart attack (I got right out and dried it off, and it seems to be fine).

Do you use an activity tracker? Which one do you have and how do you like it?

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Fit by Fitbloggin' update: Getting real

Last night I had guest speakers in my class, a married couple. One partner is a creative writer who works with a nonprofit to bring writing to inner-city classrooms, and the other is a high-level corporate executive. The wife was the corporate exec, and she brought her husband in to a team meeting to help her work with her team to set goals for the year.

Being aware of the shape of story -- beginning, encounters with challenges in the middle, peak action or goal, falling action, and conclusion -- can help set more realistic goals and also plan for problems. Because the exec's team had planned for potential hiccups and even written them into their story for the year, it was easier for the team to keep working together productively instead of looking for someone to blame when a setback occurred.

Why yes, that IS a Passion Planner...Thanks Fitbloggin' Secret Santa!
It wasn't new information to me, but in weight-loss blog land, everyone rushes in to scold a blogger who has a setback as if it indicates a personal failing. Including the blogger herself.  Sure, controlling the environment is a great strategy. I do it most of the time. Sometimes, though, it isn't that easy. 

No one would read a story like this: "I decided I wanted a pack of gum, so I went to the store and bought one. I'm so happy now. The End." Why do we expect goal-setting and achievement to work like that? Intellectually, we know that obstacles are going to come up, but it seems like a lot of people think that if they really had determination and persistence, everything would be like a Pinterest quote.

I'm hitting a predictably bumpy part of the story -- the end of the semester -- along with some challenges I didn't anticipate -- excessive drama and unpredictable extra hours at work -- and it has affected me. I had a bad Weight Watchers weigh-in last week, and as usual I blamed myself for it and let it drag me down further, even though it's not surprising that I would be having issues. I have barely had time to go to the grocery store to make sure I have food to pack with me, and I haven't been eating on schedule. Both of these have contributed to what I have been calling "A Case of the F--- Its" -- to riff on the "Case of the Mondays" line in Office Space

I think I have held it together fairly well, considering. I'm still tracking, still sticking to my training schedule, and still trying to get regular sleep. 

I'm over being mad at myself. This is part of my story.

"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07