Sunday, August 31, 2014

Blog makeover


I finally got around to my blog makeover.  I was home alone on Friday night and spent the evening playing around with Canva and different Blogger templates.

In the end, I decided to stick with the same Blogger template. I know a little HTML and CSS but I'm no web goddess, and I didn't want to break BlogHerAds or anything on my page. I experimented with background images but I didn't want anything too distracting.

I had a lot of fun with Canva and the images that Gerri from Serendipity by Gerri shared with me. BlogHer sent me a Canva promo a while ago and I had created an account but hadn't done anything with it.  It was nice to experiment with this when I was home alone and had no distractions. It was easy to use. Everything I did was with images I had and Canva's free elements, so creating these images was free. 

I also created an "About Me" page and might create some other pages later. What do you think? Any suggestions or feedback? 

Enjoy your holiday weekend!



Friday, August 29, 2014

Triathlon wetsuit score



One of the members of my triathlon club had gotten too small for her wetsuit and was looking to get rid of it. I was able to buy it from her for $50. Amazon lists the 2XU Women's R:2 Race Wetsuit for $275 (affiliate link just so you can see what it looks like). My seller paid $250 but had worn it for two seasons.  It still looks almost new. She got too thin for it. I offered her $75 but she said she would give it to me for $50.

I had a triathlon wetsuit once. It was a different style, a bibjohn with a sleeveless top over it. I paid around $300 for it. It didn't seem to have a lot of special features.  I was between sizes so I bought it on the small side, thinking I would shrink. I found it very uncomfortable and almost impossible to get in and out of. I wore it once, and then had it in my closet as a source of shame and sadness over the waste of money and the weight gain until I sold it for $50.  

Somehow this new wetsuit feels like it settles that old score.  I'm near the center of the weight range for it, and I was able to put it on without BodyGlide or any other lubricant, so I'm hoping that history won't repeat itself with this one.  With BodyGlide (or PAM cooking spray, which is what I see a lot of fellow triathletes using) I'm hoping it will go on more easily and that I can get more comfortable in it, and the reviews I have seen suggest that it is more comfortable once it gets wet.   I'm not sure if I will get a chance to wear it until next year, since it can't go in the pool. 

I wrote yesterday that I had a goal of doing an Aquabike. One worry I had was that one of the races I was looking at was very early in the season, and I didn't have a wetsuit so I wasn't sure I could do enough open-water training before the race.  This solves that problem.

I have heard mixed reviews on whether it will help me be faster. That is the reason most of the people who have them say they got it, for the speed, but I am already a pretty good swimmer.  I will have to see if it helps once I get to swim in it.  I was definitely going to need one if I ever wanted to do a longer race or one in colder water.  I did the Chicago Triathlon in 65-degree water without a wetsuit and almost froze. 

The seller was glad to get rid of it, too. I know how that feels. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Why I race: Motivation is a crazy thing

Somehow, I was misled by my teenage hormones to fall in love with a sports fan, and then later, marry him. I never liked watching or talking about sports so this was never part of my plan.

As a consequence, I get exposed to things that I wouldn't have otherwise seen, like this blog post from Joe Polanski about motivation, and how it is a strange and fickle thing. After a blood pressure scare where he tested in the "stroke range," he said:
I got the medicine, got the blood pressure machine, got my blood pressure under control fairly quickly. And you can probably guess what I did next.
Right. Nothing.
About a month ago, I put on T-shirt that used to fit me. It didn’t fit anymore. It wasn’t one of my favorite T-shirts. It wasn’t even a particularly nice T-shirt. But when I put that T-shirt on, and it didn’t fit, something just snapped in my brain. Something in there just screamed out, “ENOUGH!” Human motivation is as mysterious as love or the weather in Omaha.
He wrote about how he needed a big goal to keep him in the exercise and fitness game, and how it had to be an AND: you can maintain your weight if you work out, and you can maintain your weight if you eat well, but to LOSE weight at our age you have to do both." I can definitely relate.  

I like working out.  But I hate the whole diet business, and I also have a lazy streak where I will want to just do enough to maintain my fitness but not really push myself to do more.  That's why I started racing -- to keep myself working hard, getting up early in the morning, and otherwise fighting the Blerch. Most people train so they can race -- I race so that I will train.

I'm running into a little problem, though. I've been able to one or two sprint tris every summer without being completely on point with my food and my training. It's feeling like Groundhog Day, where I keep doing the same race at about the same speed every year.  Every season I start out with an injury, manage to beat it back into submission enough to do a race or two, but never make any progress forward.

An Olympic distance (double the swim, double the bike, double the run) seems too out of reach. I had thought about trying a 5K swim, but I never felt ready to tackle that much extra distance. So I have been considering trying an Aquabike for next year -- a longer swim and bike, but no run.  And somehow, I'm excited about racing again.

This winter, my goal is to do all that foundational strength work that I'd need to keep from getting injured. And, of course, get my weight down so that everything feels a little easier. You know how cyclists try to make every component of their bike as light as possible? I'm thinking that lightening the rider couldn't hurt.

None of this is rocket science, but I need a reason to keep me focused.  Human motivation is a crazy thing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Follow the Enell Ambassadors on social media



Aliah - Northern New Jersey/NYC
Twitter: @thegetfitdiva

Carrie - Wilson, NC 

Damie - Memphis, TN
Twitter:  @damieroberts17

Heather - St Petersburg, FL
Twitter: @YummySushiPjs

Jennifer (me!) - Toledo, OH 
Twitter: @toledolefty

Jenny -Tampa, FL

Julie - Atlanta, GA

Kelly Walker - Davenport, FL
Twitter: @livingthebefore

Liz - Eagan, MN
Twitter: @Lutherliz

Melissa - Anaheim, CA
Twitter: @TheDailyMel

Sarah - Shippensburg, PA
Twitter: @sparklyrunner

Jill - Philadelphia, PA 
Twitter: @RunningWCurves

Emily Sandford is our fearless leader, and you can follow her at:
AuthenticallyEmmie.com
Twitter: @AuthEmmie

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Crazy but true...

A revelation:

I can't just eat whatever I want, log at the end of the day, and hope it works out so that I lose weight.

If I could do that, I wouldn't need to lose weight.

Crazy but true!


Someone brought this to a party. I took a small piece but left most of it on my plate. It didn't taste as good as it looked.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

5 steps to keeping your sports bras looking new

This post contains affiliate links, but represents my honest opinions. It is not a sponsored post.

As an Enell Ambassador, I feel it is my duty to help you keep your bras looking and feeling new.  A few quick steps right when you return from a workout (or unpack your gym bag) is all you need to keep your bras in great shape. I take care of all my bras, sport and not, this way, and I have some that are 5 or more years old that still look new.

Follow PerfectImperfect's board Bra Care on Pinterest.

1. Spot-clean, if necessary, using cold water and a gentle detergent. Enell recommends Soak Wash. When I bought bras at {intimacy}, they recommended Forever New.  In a pinch, I have also used Johnson's Baby Shampoo.  Remember that some residue from whatever you use might remain, so it shouldn't be anything irritating. If you are sensitive to fragrance, there is an unscented version of Soak Wash.

2. Fill your bathroom (or laundry room) sink with cold water and a small amount of the same detergent, and toss your bra in to soak. Follow the package directions for the amount if you are using one of the specialty products. For the baby shampoo, I use about a teaspoon.

3. Swish the bra around in the soapy water for a minute, then walk away let the bra soak for at least 5 minutes. Sometimes I forget to come back and this step lasts a little longer.

4. Drain the sink and rinse the bra completely. Unless you are using Soak, which, according to the package directions, needs no rinsing.

5. Hang to dry.

I used to use lingerie bags for my bras and put them in the washing machine, but that is terrible for them. Those little hooks can come unhooked and get bent, and then the bra is ruined.

Whatever you do, don't put your bras in the dryer -- it ruins the elastic. I have a clothesline in my basement so that the neighbors don't have to get an eyeful of my lingerie collection. I have been known to hang them on the towel bar in my bathroom, but that can be embarrassing in the case of unexpected guests.

This may seem fussy, but when bras cost $64 and up, it's worth a little time to protect that investment.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

More shots from my Gwynnie Bee "Not a Model" session

When I was making the arrangements for my photo shoot for Gwynnie Bee, I learned that instead of sending a photographer to me, they would find a local photographer to work with me.  I was very lucky that they chose Gerri from Serendipity by Gerri, because she made the whole experience fun for me and took lovely, flattering photos.

She was nice enough to share some of the other shots that didn't make it into the Gwynnie Bee story in digital form, so that I can share them here. I'm hoping to figure out how to use these to make a new blog header and some About Me pages.  Classes just started, so that figuring all that out might have to wait.

There were 40+ photos, I enjoyed looking through them and picking my favorites.  Gerri did a great job getting me to relax and have fun, and I think my personality really shows through. I haven't done a photo shot by myself since my high school senior pictures back in 1988.

A lot of my favorites were of me in the Tart Collection Chloe dress -- the colors are beautiful and bright, and it looked good with and without the denim jacket. If I were wearing this dress to work, I'd definitely wear a slip or a cami under it:

My very favorite shot from the session. I love the way my hair looks.

I thought this one was cute and might make a great blog header.


This one shows more cleavage than I would like, but I thought the coffee might be a nice nod to my old blog header.
The Ilene Dress in Water Chevron was also by Tart Collection, and I loved the way it looked with the marble in the background of this photo. I wore my own belt, a silver one with an embellished buckle from ABS (another Gwynnie Bee brand):

I loved this one with all the columns. It was taken at the Toledo Museum of Art.
I liked how Gerri chose to use the gardens at the museum as the background for the Flor Electric Animal dress. The greenery harmonized nicely with the colors of the dress:

Another favorite shot. And my fancy purse is in it!

Once I figure out that custom header, look for a makeover on the blog.  Any suggestions or tricks of the trade you'd like to share are welcome.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Yesterday's weigh-in: At least I tracked


My week was marginally better than the last one -- I tracked, even though I was over points. I lost 0.4, so tracking still makes a difference over not tracking even when I'm not planning well enough to stay in my range.

This has been a chaotic time, so I'm not surprised that I have been finding it hard to focus. I will have a little more structure during the school year, and that might help a lot, especially because one of my classes is short enough to allow me to eat dinner at home at a somewhat reasonable hour. 

Goal: Get in the 160s by my birthday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Goodbye, summer!



This week is chock-full of meetings. Classes start next week. I have really had a great summer and, because of some sad events, have felt even more determined than usual to make the most of my time.


My husband and I did several "Summer Bucket List" items last week, including Stand-Up Paddling and a Mud Hens game. We also have made a list of fun things we want to do during the school year.


I have been enjoying our cooler weather lately, but I'm still reluctant to see this summer end, especially when I hear rumors of another hard winter.

Are you looking forward to fall?


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Stepping into "pretty"



Since my Gwynnie Bee feature went public, I have been getting a lot of nice comments from family and friends (and blog readers -- thank you so much!).  It has been a little awkward for me to accept the attention, as I always grew up thinking of myself as smart but not as pretty.  

I always had something -- glasses, acne, weight gain, bad 80s perms, unpopularity -- standing in the way.  I didn't think of myself as ugly either, just kind of ordinary.  That isn't to say I didn't have fun with makeup, clothes, big hair... but for me it was about self-expression.  

I always thought that there were a few beautiful people, and the rest of us got to move in their orbit as supporting players.  I think that junior high and high school do a pretty good job of installing that idea, and then college parties where everyone seems to be admiring that one gorgeous girl can do the rest. 

I don't feel that way anymore -- I don't think life is a beauty contest, or any other kind of contest.  I'm enjoying being who I am and looking like I look -- that isn't to say I'm being egotistical or think I'm better than anyone else. I think everyone can do this.  To quote Karen's comment on Facebook, beauty might just be a matter of "stepping into your lovely self" instead of being afraid to stand out.

I took the above photo on the same day I took my professional photo for campus. Every year this has been a terrible picture of me, and since it goes on all official school communications, I get to look at it a lot.  

This year, I had happened to have my hair cut that day so it was professionally styled, and since I was getting my picture taken, I did a nice natural look on my makeup and wore clothes that I thought would look good on camera. I have been taking more pictures of myself and I had just had a great photo shoot, so I thought this year would be different.  The photographer kept saying "big smile!" 

I looked at the digital proofs -- my professional photo still wasn't great -- it was yellowish and dark, and my hair looked like a helmet.  My smile was awkward and my teeth looked weird. 

Then I stepped outside in the sun and took a selfie, and it was one of the best pictures of my life.  It sort of knocked me out -- it wasn't me, it was the old-fashioned photography style and bad lighting that made the professional photo so terrible.  It was a concrete example of how I don't have to accept someone else's picture of things.

This week, I challenge you to do something to see yourself in a different light. 


Friday, August 15, 2014

Weight Watchers Activity PointsPlus: Use or lose?

This week's Weight Watchers topic was about tracking Activity PointsPlus (from here on out in this post, I will just say Points).  Interestingly, in my meeting, I was the only one besides the leader who reported tracking activity.  Our leader tracks using the Active Link, Weight Watchers' proprietary motion tracker, which awards Activity Points directly for daily steps. I track using the iPhone app, and I enter the activity type and the time, and the app calculates the points earned using my weight, which is stored in the app, and the intensity it has assigned to that exercise.  

Weight Watchers awards Activity Points based on a three-level intensity score: Light, Medium, and Intense.  The highest Points value for cycling, for example, is earned at 12 mph.  Not surprisingly, since Weight Watchers is designed for regular people and not for athletes, who probably make up a vanishingly small percentage of the people at Weight Watchers meetings. 

There was a discussion of whether to use Activity Points. Not surprisingly, since most people weren't tracking activity, none of them were using those Points either. My leader joked that she only uses her Activity Points for margaritas, and then said seriously that she almost never touches them.   I got a lot of odd looks when I said that of course I used Activity Points. I was training for an event, and I didn't want to have my training compromised.   My weight loss is also slower than most people in the program -- I am averaging half a pound a week loss, and many people in my meeting are losing 2-4 times that.  

If I look only at the last few weeks' trend and let my weight loss be my guide, it might look like I should stop using those APs.  But to me, those last couple of weeks' gain have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I used my APs, and everything to do with the fact that I stopped tracking completely by midweek.  It wasn't earning and using the Activity Points that resulted in the small (this chart makes them look big, but they are about 0.6 pounds each) gains the last two weeks.  I also know from long experience that my body tends to be on a four-week cycle with weight, and this is the week that I would have predicted a gain. Next week, if I track and follow the program, is the week that I can expect a big loss.
If I look longer-term and let my weight loss be my guide, the picture looks a little brighter. It might only be a 7-pound loss, but everyone has been noticing the difference, and I think that is because I'm not just losing weight, I'm losing weight while maintaining my lean body mass.  In Fat Chance, Robert Lustig says that when most people lose weight, they lose an equal amount of fat and lean body mass, keeping their overall body fat percentage the same and sabotaging their efforts to maintain the loss. According to my body fat scale, I'm maintaining and even increasing that lean body mass while losing weight, which might be why people think I'm losing more than I am. I don't mind losing slowly.  I think if I can get more consistent with my tracking, I can increase my rate of loss a little, but I'm not really worried about the speed.

I don't want to lose weight. I want to lose fat. I also want to maintain that loss long-term.

Part of the purpose of the meeting topic was to promote the Active Link activity tracker, which gives the Activity Points value for the daily steps a user takes while wearing it. I wear a Jawbone UP to track my activity, but I don't give myself points for those daily steps, just for my conscious exercise.  Because Weight Watchers has a built-in check against people overestimating activity and underestimating food (Activity Points values are only about half what they should earn in food values) and because the Activity Points are not set up to tell the difference between a 12 mph bike ride and an 18 mph bike ride, I feel justified in using the ones I earn.

I know this topic is a controversial one and that there are a lot of different opinions on it. For me, the program that is going to be the most successful is going to be the one I can follow, so I use just about every point that I can beg, borrow, or steal.  But I'm interested to see what other people think. Feel free to weigh in (pun intended).



Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Gwynnie Bee photo shoot

This was the better of two pictures. I really am "Not a Model."
Way back in May, I was contacted about whether I would like to be featured in Gwynnie Bee's "Not a Model" blog series. It has been hard keeping the secret!  I really like how the story turned out, and it has been fun to see the responses of family and friends who saw the feature on Facebook.

I took my responsibilities as a model very seriously. I researched tutorials on tight lining my eyes, and looked at features on bridal makeup because I wanted a soft, natural look that would photograph well.  My Sephora addiction came in handy, as I had everything I needed  already in my makeup kit.

I had my hair professionally styled by Chelsea at Rêvé.  Like a true blogger, I was about to take a selfie, but Chelsea offered to snap the photo instead. I closed my eyes in the first shot -- not a great start to my modeling career! Still, it shows off my eye makeup.

I was sent five different items for the shoot -- all but one worked, and the one that didn't was my fault, as I requested the wrong size.  I packed up my four outfits in a duffel bag, along three pairs of shoes, two sets of earrings and necklaces, and makeup to touch up my face.  I also brought a Coach purse that I bought at the outlet store way back before Christmas, and had never used because I was terrified that I'd get it dirty.  I waterproofed it this morning and it made its long-awaited debut. Interestingly, it did not show up on the feature, but it was handy for carrying my makeup and hairbrush for touch-ups.

This was the first (and so far only) really fancy purse I ever bought in my life. 
The photographer, Gerri from Serendipity by Gerri, and her intern, Connor, were great and made me feel really comfortable. We met downtown and got a lot of Toledo landmarks in the shoot, including the ballpark where the Toledo Mud Hens play, the Toledo Museum of Art, and a lot of the great architecture on St. Clair Street.  I changed outfits in the back of Gerri's SUV.  Gerri gave great cues and was really encouraging. I am sure the pictures are going to be flattering.  I would never have thought to do something like this, but the whole experience was fun and made me feel beautiful.

Gerri sent me a link to the photos and I couldn't wait to see, out of the 44 images in the shoot, which ones would be chosen.  I liked the ones that were picked, though I had a few of my own favorites that were not included, and I might order prints of one or two of them.



If you'd like to feel like you have a model's wardrobe, try it out for yourself. (This is an affiliate link -- like all GB members, if I refer someone who signs up for the service, I get a free extra item for a month.)

It was hard to send the clothes back after the shoot. So many fun colors.  A couple of days later, I got a nice surprise in the mail -- a big Gwynnie Bee tote bag that I'm already using to carry my books back and forth to my real (non-modeling) workplace.

Thanks, Gwynnie Bee! I had fun playing model for a day.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'm "Not a Model" for Gwynnie Bee

I can finally share the news that I have been bursting to tell you -- I am not a model! 

Not surprised? 

Seriously, I'm featured in the latest "Not a Model" installment on the Gwynnie Bee website.  Go check it out and let me know what you think. Tomorrow, I'll let you know what it was like to play model for a day. (Spoiler alert: It was fantastic)




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Does losing weight make you depressed?

When I saw the reports in the media that "Losing Weight Could Make You Depressed,"I thought it was just another case of media misrepresenting the findings of a study to drive traffic.  Though weight loss makes us healthier, the articles said, it might be okay not to lose weight because losing it won't make you feel better and could make you feel worse.  People enjoy studies that tell them not to do things they don't want to do.
I don't think seeing this on a scale would make me depressed, but am I wrong?

Then I clicked through to the press release on the original study (the paper itself would not open for me) and found that it said essentially the same thing.  I also found a more in-depth article in The Daily Mail that included an interview with the study's authors, who speculated that unrealistic expectations and the rigors of dieting could be responsible. 
‘Dieting requires considerable willpower and it might involve missing out on special meals and eating in restaurants. It is not necessarily the most pleasant experience for people.‘Lots of people want to lose weight thinking it will fix all their problems. But while it will go some way towards fixing their health, it won’t necessarily make them happier in the short-term.’
The study was done on adults 50 and older, four years after their weight loss. I wonder if this group is more likely to feel the isolation of missing out on social opportunities to avoid temptation.  I wonder if the findings would be different with a different age group.

People who were actually clinically depressed were excluded from the study, so these were people who reported feeling down, not people with a diagnosis of depression. Also people who had major life events like a death in the family. I would have liked to see the paper, because it would be interesting to know how many of the original 2,000 people had to be eliminated for one reason or another.

I can see the point that people who expect weight loss to solve problems, like relationship problems, that aren't really caused by excess weight, they are going to be disappointed. It's also easy for people to make weight loss the "designated issue" that is standing in the way of happiness, and to be disappointed when the pounds come off but the unhappiness is still there.  And a lot of people seem to use food as a way to not feel sad feelings, so that when that crutch is gone they may feel more unhappy.

It's hard to tell. If A (weight loss) correlates with B (reporting depression), it could be that A causes B, B causes A, A and B are both caused by a third factor. Enough people have reported feeling a letdown after weight loss (including me) that it is worth thinking about.

I'm hoping that losing weight in a sustainable, realistic way is going to be satisfying enough in itself that I wouldn't feel let down -- but I have to get there to see.

What do you think? Does this study ring true to you?

Monday, August 11, 2014

The world's most experienced beginner triathlete

I get asked so often "Is this your first race" that I don't even get upset about it anymore.  I know that I don't look like someone who has done multiple triathlons, but by my count, I have done 17, including two Olympic-distance races. Still, the body has not transformed itself into what people think a triathlete should look like.


I get it. I definitely see what they see when they look at some of my race photos.  I don't look like a superhero when I put on spandex like some of the other racers.  I have started telling people I'm "just the world's most experienced beginner." There are people in my triathlon club who make tri training their first job, and then whatever they do for money fits in around their training schedule. They are definitely admirable, but that isn't me. My goal is to be able to keep doing this for a long time. There was a man racing yesterday who was in his 70s. He wasn't moving fast but he was doing it. I'm racing to be healthy and fit and to have fun.


I know the people who ask about whether it's my first race are just being friendly. They aren't trying to insult me. My first triathlon, the one I wasn't sure I could even finish, was still my favorite race. I was so proud of myself for just crossing that finish line.  For a while, I lost sight of the fun. I tried to race to be impressive and to make training my job. That wasn't fun and I resented all the work I was putting in to not feeling good enough. Now I'm still pushing myself, but with the goal of keeping it sustainable and fun.  I want to remember what a gift it is just to be fit enough to do this sport.


I'm proud to be the world's most experienced beginner. Beginners are amazing.  If you are a real beginner, I can't promise you will get an awesome triathlon body, but you an have a great time.  And if you choose the right races, you can get cool medals and t-shirts.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

2014 Sylvania Sprint Triathlon report: Making a comeback

As promised, here is my race update.  I had a few goals for this race -- out of the swim in less than 10 minutes, 18 mph on the bike, and my biggest goal, to run the entire run and not walk (or limp). I made 2 out of three of those goals, and came very close to the third. 

This was my first race after being named an Enell Ambassador, and though I haven't gotten my official equipment yet, I wore my trisuit with my Enell underneath, just like I said I would. It kept everything nice and secure for the whole race, with no chafing. I always tuck my swim cap and goggles into my top before the race so that I don't accidentally sit on them or drop them, and tucking them under my bra strap meant they really weren't going anywhere. 

With my friend (and training buddy) Alicia before the race
The swim was relatively short, 400 yards, with a run from the swim to the transition area.  I felt strong in the swim and managed to stay focused and keep working hard.  According to my husband, who served as photographer, domestique, pack horse, and official timekeeper for me, I got out of the water in 8 minutes and 55 seconds, but my official swim time was 11:06, which includes the time to get from the beach to my bike.

Swimming is great, but why all this running? Glad I have my Enell...
My goal for the bike was to keep it at 18 miles per hour pace. My bike pace for the last race was 17 mph and I knew I could do better.  The bike course was flat and fast, but we did have some wind out there. My friend I came very close, at 17.9 mph. I had to slow down quite a bit as I approached the dismount area. I also had a misunderstanding on the course where a police officer looked at me and said "right after this lady" and I thought he was letting a car go in front of me. I stopped and he said, no, you go, they wait.  It was a rookie mistake but I really was confused by it and did not want to get hit by a car.  Still, I was happy when I got off the bike because I knew I had done really well (with no idea how close I had come to my goal).

Feeling confident on the bike

The run was the iffy part. My hamstring issues have kept me from training as much as I'd like in the run, but I felt good and was able to run the entire way, stopping only once to loosen the laces on my shoes, which I had pulled a little too tight. The new shoes held up -- I think changing to a wider width was the right thing to do. Last race, hamstring issues and foot pain contributed to a 40-minute slog. Even though my run time was only 2 minutes faster, it felt a lot better. 

I wore a red Team Toledo shirt over my trisuit for the run -- I had pinned my number to it ahead of time.  It provided a little extra coverage and also got me a lot of support from other team members. Someday I plan to buy the Team Toledo racing suit so I can look really professional.

One of the better run photos
I was getting tired and thirsty during the race, so I started telling myself lies to stay focused. "There will be cherry popsicles at the finish line." I don't even normally like popsicles that much, but it sounded like the best thing in the world at that moment.  Continuing to work hard when I was tired was my biggest victory today.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere!
There were no cherry popsicles at the finish line, but there was beer, and yes, I had a beer at 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday. Why not? It was refreshing. I got one for my support crew as well. 

A little sunburned, but happy!
After the race, I showered and put on my race t-shirt and medal.  This race generally has epically ugly t-shirts, but I liked this one a lot, and the logo, which is a version of the City of Sylvania's logo, also made a nice medal. I hope they keep this design for next year. 

Love this design!

I was really emotional when I found out that I had come in 2nd in my age group in the swim and 3rd in my age group on the bike (and 9 out of 10 on the run), 8th in my age group overall (age group results link).  I really feel like I'm making a comeback from my injuries and other issues.  Overall, I was 73rd in the swim, 132nd in the bike, and 213th in the run, and 171st overall (overall results link).

The run is obviously where I need the most work.  There were a lot of race photos I didn't love because I could see the "hip drop" that the physical therapist at Fitbloggin' noticed. My knees seem to collapse inward, which is inefficient and also is probably contributing to my problems. I think if I can do some strength work to rehab my hamstring and strengthen my run, I can really see some big improvements.

This was a fun race. I'm looking forward to a great season next year.

Sylvania Sprint Triathlon today

Wish me luck around 7:42 Eastern. I'll post results later today or tomorrow.


I wear a tri suit for the race with my Enell bra under it -- both pink. Even my swim cap is pink this time.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Bargain beauty find: Yes to Grapefruit Correct and Repair Even SkinTone Moisturizer


Note: This is an unsolicited, uncompensated review of a product that I found on my own and purchased myself. Amazon Affiliate links are included so that you can find out more about the product. 

I always wear a lightweight moisturizer with SPF, summer and winter.  I have sensitive skin, so I need a product that doesn't irritate my skin For a while, I was using DDF Weightless Defense Oil-Free Hydrator UV Moisturizer SPF 45, but at $55 for a small (1.7-ounce) container, I thought it was overpriced. And I also didn't like that DDF is one of the companies that still does animal testing. I also tried (and loved) My Beauty Bunny's Cruelty-Free Moisturizer (developed by a fellow blogger), but my tube ran out pretty quickly and I was looking for something I could buy off the shelf.

The My Beauty Bunny product had a light citrus scent, so when I saw Yes to Grapefruit Even Skin Tone Moisturizer SPF 15 on the shelf at my local Kroger (in the Natural Foods section), I decided to give it a try. I think it was close to the $15.99 list price there, which seemed reasonable.

Some of the best things about the product are what it is formulated without:
  • 97% Natural
  • SPF 15
  • Petroleum, SLS, & Paraben Free
  • Cruelty-free
I like the lightweight texture and the light grapefruit scent. Unfortunately, the product is not fragrance-free (I thought it was) but I don't seem to be sensitive to it. My skin randomly gets red and rashy in reaction to certain products.  I have never figured out what specific ingredient my skin is sensitive to, but because I tend to react more to very inexpensive products, maybe the ingredient is a petroleum-based fragrance?

I have noticed my skin clearing up and looking brighter when I use this product regularly. I have some small brown spots that I have probably gotten from all those years before I started using sunscreen, and those seem to have faded a little.

I took a photo of the ingredients list you can also find it on the product website.  You can also get a $3 off coupon to use in-store there.



I'm always looking for great new beauty finds, so feel free to let me know in the comments if you have a favorite product I should try.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Weigh-in Wednesday: Up a smidgen


This was week 14 and I'm down a total of 7.4 pounds -- almost exactly half a pound down per week.

I was down at home in the morning but up 0.4 from last week in the evening -- that's the trick of evening weigh-ins. I knew my food wasn't on point last week with the water issues, so the small gain did not surprise me.

It was a rough week, but I didn't totally give up. That's a victory. 

Monday, August 04, 2014

After the #EmptyGlassCity crisis: What next?


My relaxation coach says not to worry.
Sometime this morning, the all-clear went out on the water crisis, though it's hard to feel secure since its causes still have not been addressed. I don't trust people to choose the long-term greater good over their short-term selfish needs. Witness the people who bought way more water than they needed not caring that they might cause others to go without.  The whole thing really took a toll on me, no matter how muh I tried to keep a positive outlook and remember how much we had to be grateful for.   

The ugliness of that first morning's water quest made me really want to hide in the basement with a box of Ritz crackers and a jar of Jif. No, I don't keep those foods in my house, and I didn't buy them either. But to me, those are kid foods, and that part of me wanted to be young enough not to have to think about these problems.

I didn't exercise as much as usual because the reports were mixed on whether showering was safe or not, and my exercise class was cancelled. I tried to keep my eating habits healthy, but it was a challenge since I had limited water for washing vegetables, and I learned after doing a load of dishes that the water was not safe for washing dishes.  I tried to keep my cooking to things that didn't make a big mess. Today we started to do better. I started the dishwasher and then I went for a run. We had a lot of vegetables at both lunch and dinner.  I even went to campus and started work on all the things to do before school starts. 

A lot of people aren't so sure the water is safe. Since we still have bottled water left from the original 3 gallons we bought, I have been drinking mostly that, and I still have been giving the cats bottled water as well, since they are smaller and would be more sensitive to any remaining toxins.  I figure we will learn more in the next few days.

When I went to the grocery store today, there was water on the shelves again, so I bought some and put it in the basement.  I am not going to stockpile a lot, but we have 6 1-Liter bottles and a 24-pack of the 16-ounce ones. That should hold us for a while if this happens again.

I'm really still hoping that it doesn't. I hope every politician running in the Great Lakes area is asked what he or she plans to do to keep our drinking water safe. They will only care about this issue if we make them.


Sunday, August 03, 2014

Two days in #EmptyGlassCity

Poor #lakeerie ! As #algaebloom persists in western end, folks in #nwohio brace for up 7 days of bottled water (half-life of #microcyten #toxin produced by algae) #ohio #algaepocolypse #tekkbabe859 #blondebetweenthemountains
Photo by Vicki Timman 
Stories of Toledo's water problems are not just in the national news, they are in the international news.  The nutshell version: A toxin caused by algae blooms in Lake Erie, where Toledo gets its water, put us under a do-not-drink advisory as of 2:30 a.m. yesterday.  I woke up early and my husband told me not to drink water -- he read the stories on his phone seconds after having his first glass of the day. I had gotten up several times in the middle of the night and had a few sips too.

At about 6:30 a.m., we left the house to go buy water. We knew, from our experiences with winter storms, that water hoarding would be an issue, so when we saw a noisy crowd milling around the entrance to the Kroger closest to our house, we headed to one further west -- the same scene. Meijer looked even worse. Since we knew that Fulton County to the west did not get their water from Toledo, we decided to go to Swanton.  We saw people with carts filled with water.  The shelves there were almost bare already, with just some of those useless tiny pint-sized bottles and some big Fiji 6-packs that were $10.99 each.  We grabbed two of those, even though they seemed insanely expensive, but I ran into a cousin who worked at the store who told me their in-store water filtration system's water should be safe. 

We took 3 gallons -- enough, we thought, to get two adults and two small cats through a day or so, and got the heck out of there. People were already starting to look desperate. My parents have well water, so Jesse had the idea to go to their house and fill up a 5-gallon jug for his cross-country practice. His school district cancelled all athletic events, so he ended up bringing most of the jug home. We have it sitting on our kitchen sink for washing and cooking.  

I went to my Pilates class, which was inexplicably cancelled too, and since I had driven almost half an hour to get there and didn't want to waste my trip, I went to the Hyundai dealership to get my car serviced. They were nice enough to provide me with a bottle of water while I waited for the car, and I got to watch the beginning of the almost nonstop news coverage.  There wasn't much real news, but there were a lot of reports of people driving as far away as Ann Arbor and Findlay to get water and coming up short, and people stocking up on water and selling at a profit.  The news coverage really seemed to feed the water mania -- people really should have bought only what they needed for a few days, considering that Toledo is well-connected by highways and a port, and getting more water shouldn't really be a problem.  

I visited my parents to see how they were doing and to refill a gallon jug we had emptied.  They were watching the news and shaking their heads. My mother had seen someone put so much water in her car that she couldn't drive it away.  By the afternoon, the mayor was saying that water would be distributed free to residents who needed it. That should have calmed the panic, but it didn't seem to slow people down -- even today, after millions of cases were rerouted here from other cities, there was not much water available to buy at the store where I do my grocery shopping.  

Our water "crisis" is not as bad as the ones in West Virginia -- we at least have water to use for flushing toilets.  There is some disagreement on whether it is safe to wash hands or clothes in it, or to bathe in it, but we still have power.

We had planned to go to a movie with friends last night, so we ended up keeping our date -- the movie was open but they had no fountain beverages, only bottled water. They still had popcorn.  We went to dinner in Bowling Green -- which has its own water supply and is not affected by the crisis -- but it seemed like half of Toledo had the same idea. Every place we tried was packed, so we finally decided to just stay at a place that told us to expect a 50-minute wait, and were seated in about half an hour. Service was slow, because none of these college-town restaurants are fully staffed in the summer.  Still, it was nice to relax with friends over drinks as if nothing weird were going on.

Today the news coverage started up again at 6, though there was still nothing much to report.  No one really knows how long this will be going on. Because algae blooms are caused by agricultural runoff, they are going to be a recurring problem unless some major changes are made.  I am hoping that if this water crisis (affecting almost half a million people) has no other effect, it will help the politicians get the will to do take steps to reduce the runoff and make changes to our water filtration system. 

I'm feeling a weird mixture of anxiety and gratitude during all of this. It really is no fun to deal with these issues, but I am grateful that even though some individual residents were selfishly hoarding water, overall, people were helping those in need. Toledo Public Schools athletes helped to distribute water today at some local schools, and the Red Cross was also available to deliver water to people who were homebound.  

We are also very lucky that this problem is relatively minor and confined to a small, local area. If this were a nationwide crisis, we wouldn't be as able to expect help from other cities.  It's a reminder that most of us take safe water for granted, and that we need to appreciate and protect it, and demand that our leaders take steps to protect it as well.

In short, my husband and I (and Mokey and Bean, who are drinking bottled water too) are all okay and just a little inconvenienced.  We don't have a huge stockpile of bottled water, but we have enough for now, and eventually Toledoans will either stop panicking, or the stores will start keeping up with demand.

I am resolved to start keeping a couple of cases of water in my home, as well as food for emergencies, just in case anything like this happens again. I will wait to buy the water until it's widely available again, but I'm not going to be put in the situation of making a 6:30 trek to a neighboring city just so I can make a pot of coffee.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Book review: Diet Cults by Matt Fitzgerald

Note: This book was purchased by me as part of my Audible.com subscription (Audible is still not a sponsor of this blog, although they should be). Links included are Amazon Affiliate links.

Diet Cults: The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and a Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of US by Matt Fitzgerald

Author Matt Fitzgerald seems to specialize in the diet interests of endurance athletes, and is probably better known for Racing Weight: How to Get Lean for Peak Performance so as someone interested in endurance sports, my husband had come across this book and suggested I read and review it for the blog

Fitzgerald is being purposely provocative in his use of the phrase "Diet Cults" to encompass everything from raw foodism to Paleo. However, he does effectively use religious cults as a metaphor for diet fads and a reason for their success.

Diet cults, Fitzgerald says, (and the more traditional religious kind) are purposely extreme because that very extremism makes it easier to know whether you are in or out.  Most of the diets he labels as cults have strict "good food" and "bad food" rules. They also have their own insider language, rituals, and culture.  All of these things help to cultivate a sense of an identity for members, which helps to reinforce members' motivation to stick it out when things get difficult.

Though he is critical of the science behind so-called diet cults, he also thinks that the sense of identity  they foster helps to keep people on track in a world where more mainstream, less sexy advice often falters in a world filled with Krispy Kremes and all-you-can-eat buffets.

In fact, he wants to create his own "cult" of Agnostic Healthy Eaters, and includes a breathtakingly dull and arcane list of rules for a complicated healthy eating rules for his plan, and refers to daily scorekeeping and... a whole lot of other things that I zoned out while listening to. If I'm going to keep a diet score, I would rather count PointsPlus with Weight Watchers, which he also classifies as a Diet Cult, though he does praise its "no bullish*t," commonsense approach and group support.

I also call shenanigans on his assertions that endurance athletes don't fall for diet cults, and that a person who gets "lots" of aerobic exercise can't possibly overeat enough to gain weight.  He doesn't really specify how much "lots" is, but I have two examples in my household alone that disprove the latter assertion, and most of the endurance athletes I have met are just as likely to struggle with healthy eating as anyone else.

In fact, far from just lampooning most of the "diet cults" he discusses, he gives a detailed example of a person who has followed each to achieve weight loss and better health. They often don't follow the plans strictly (for example, the case study of raw foodism includes sardines in his diet, which are definitely not vegan or raw).

I read some of the reviews of this book, and they seemed to call Fitzgerald out for "recommending the SAD (Standard American Diet). I would like to say that the Standard American Diet as practiced by standard Americans is a lot different than the diet recommendations promoted by mainstream organizations like the USDA, though I agree that there is an inherent conflict between the "selling" part of the USDA and the "recommending" part, which is probably why we are supposed to be drinking all of that milk even though a majority of humans are lactose-intolerant.

To be honest, I nodded along with his criticisms of other diets and then was surprised he included Weight Watchers as a diet cult. Though it does have membership and plenty of its own silliness, and some members are prone to going to extremes.  I asked my husband whether he thought Weight Watchers was a cult, and he said he thought it was just a religion, not a cult.  To me it seems more like a series of simple tools than a full-fledged cult, but I guess that followers of any of the other diets discussed in the book might say the same about theirs.

I think if you want a more detailed, scientific discussion of the merits and failings of various diets, you are better off with Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease by Robert H. Lustig (reviewed here) or The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work by Yoni Freedhoff (reviewed here).

Even with its limitations, this was a fun read, though it did take some dull sidelines into the intricacies of wine, chocolate, and coffee as a discussion of how healthy foods can also taste good. Though I found these sections long-winded, they were a rare reminder that health is not always in opposition to pleasure from food and drink.

"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