Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eat Like You Are On a Date!

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I would like to share my eating philosophy, which includes eating sweets for breakfast and date night, every night!  Let me preface this by saying, I am not a dietitian, nutritionist, chef, or personal trainer.  There is no research backing this up, it is just how I live and how I got back into my jeans after having Lucy!  Let me just say this, I HATE DIETING!  Life is too short to be crunching on carrot sticks when you really want a cheeseburger.  However, I really believe in balance!  I will eat something truly decadent, but then I will counter it with something healthy at my next meal and not because I feel I have to, but because I want to!  I don't know about you, but after I eat a cheeseburger for lunch, I don't want chicken wings for dinner.  I want a salad or vegetable soup, something light.  My body does this automatically and I suspect yours does too.  I highly recommend Bethenny Frankel's book, Naturally Thin.  This really encompasses what I'm talking about.  I have a few of my own little rules to add though.
First of all, I am a huge sweets person!  I love cookies, doughnuts, ice cream, Reese's cups, and the list goes on and on!  My rule about sweets is to have them before lunch!  If you want a doughnut for breakfast, then have it!  You will burn it off by the end of the day.  I actually saw a little blurb about this on a morning news program, that said if you eat decadently for breakfast, such as a doughnut or pancakes, you are much less likely to crave it later in the day and you don't feel deprived!  I find this to be true.  It also makes me want to eat healthy for lunch.  I like the saying, eat like a king for breakfast, a prince for lunch and a pauper for dinner!  This really rings true for me!  
I am also big on portion control.  If I have a doughnut for breakfast, then I just have one!  I don't eat a half dozen.  I sit down, have a cup of coffee and really enjoy every bite!  Same goes for other decadent things.  For example, Lent is now upon us, which here in Western New York, means Friday fish fry!  I love fish fry and french fries!  And we have one every Friday during lent, but here is the catch, my husband and I split one.  These things are HUGE and there is no need to eat the whole thing.  Grilled fish and veggies just doesn't cut it for me.  I wish it did, but it just doesn't.
Now speaking of dinner, I mentioned date night, every night.  My advice here is this.  Do you remember your first date with your husband?  Do you remember how you sat  next to him all nervous and just picking at your food as to not look like a pig?  And do you remember how you actually listened to what he was saying?  Now being married for years, has that all gone out the window?  Probably!  My advice for dinner, is to sit down with your husband (and kids) and pretend like it's your first date all over again.  Or you can pretend you are on a date with George Clooney, whatever you want, I don't judge!  But the point is, don't inhale your dinner and jump up to start the dishes.  Sit down, make your plate pretty, engage in conversation with your family and really listen.  Eat your food slowly and politely like you did on your first date.  This is not only good for your waistline but it might also improve your relationships with your family and who knows, maybe your love life!
My final rule, which is really hard for me sometimes is don't eat after dinner!  It's so simple, yet so important.  I speak for myself when I say, I really don't do much physical activity after dinner.  We spend time playing on the floor with Lucy or watching TV.  I do get hungry, but I just have the mindset that the kitchen is closed.  It has really helped me drop those last few pounds of baby weight! 
You might be wondering how much I exercise.  Well I actually am a little embarrassed to say, but I literally work out 2 MAYBE 3 times a week.  I go to Boot Camp on Tuesdays, which is an hour of really intense exercise and I do a long run on Sundays with my running group.  I usually fit in a yoga workout in once a week while Lucy is napping, but not every week.  I wish I did more, and I will once the weather breaks.  I'm looking forward to dusting off the running stroller.
So to sum this up, eat sweets in the morning, date your husband, practice portion control, don't eat after dinner, and workout when you can!  What are your little tricks?  I'd love to hear about them!  Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Y10 Recap

Friday morning we woke up to a beautiful snowfall.  It looked as if the world was a giant snow globe that had been shook.  Living in Western New York, this is the norm for early February.   However as the day progressed the snowfall became steady and the winds were raging.  The snow kept coming and coming.  It was not looking good for race day.  Fast forward 24 hours and I woke up to of course lots of snow but roads were looking clear and the snow had stopped falling.  Actually the weather conditions were close to ideal for a race in February.  It was around 20 degrees and the wind was minimal.  What more can you really ask for? 
Race morning, I actually felt nervous for the first time in a while.  I haven't had race day jitters in so long!  My stomach had that feeling, butterflies.  I wasn't hungry but knew I had to eat something, so I opted for an English muffin.  I also had my morning coffee, which is the big joke among my running group.  The past few longer training runs I had been feeling so good, and I swore it was due to my morning cup of joe!  Evan, Lucy and I headed to the YMCA around 9 o'clock and were surprised to see so many people!  I hopped into line with Beth and Zach and we picked up our race numbers.  Before I knew it, it was time to kiss Lucy and Evan and head to the starting line.  I was chatting away with the girls and then we were off!  I ran with Shanna and Kaley for the first 5 miles.  It seemed to fly by!  We were chatting away about weddings, babies and breastfeeding.  As we passed the 5 mile marker, I started to pick up speed and caught up to Beth who was plugging along.  Smart girl, brought headphones.  I was still feeling great and on Harrington Rd., notoriously the longest, most boring part of the race, I saw Jamie and Kim in the distance.  I sped up a bit to try to catch them and tagged along with them for the rest of the race.  Cold Springs bridge seemed like a piece of cake to run up, but then we came to the dreaded Market Street hill.  It's one of those hills that you don't even want to look up at when your running because it's so intimidating. But there is a light at the end of that tunnel which is the finish line!  Jamie is our little energizer bunny, who practically sprints up hills!  She's amazing!  I tried for a very brief time to keep up with her, but alas Market Street hill got the best of me and I slowed down, put my head down and just put one foot in front of the other. 
At the top of the hill, there were people cheering and I took the final turn to see the finish line.  I used whatever energy I had left to finish strong!  I was so glad it was over!  I usually am at the end of every race.  But I keep coming back for more!
My little running group (Beth, Shanna, Jamie, Kim and myself), who Shanna refers to as "Moms on the Run", showed up and showed out!  We all did a great job and I think I speak for all of us when I say it was a great experience!   We are already looking for our next challenge!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Back At It

Well I feel as though I am back to my old much as I am going to be with this new life called motherhood.  I started back running more and more.  I've also done two 5K's, both of which I placed in my age group (cool)!  I've still got it!  Or perhaps this new "age group" that I'm in is not quite as competitive as the previous one.  I choose to believe that I've still got it!
Motherhood as a whole is wonderful!  Best thing ever!  I highly recommend it!  Lucy is 6 months old, sleeps through the night and is generally a very happy baby.  I am blessed to say the very least!  So naturally, now that everything seems to be running smoothly at home, I feel the need to shake things up.  I have a very hard time living in the moment.  It's really something that I am working very hard at.  I stay at home with Lucy, which I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do, but I can't help but feel a little inadequate for not making any money.  I know that may sound silly, but I have been working since I was 15 years old.  For the past sixteen years, I've paid my own bills.  I know a lot of women dream about being a housewife or stay-at-home mom, but when you've been independent for your entire life it's quite an adjustment.  I am constantly trying to figure out ways that I can work from home, instead of just enjoying this time in my life.  In this new year, I need to resolve to live in the moment more!  Plain and simple.
On the running front, I have a small group of gal pals that I run with every Sunday.  We are training for the Y10 in February.  I am excited, because ironically I've never done this race.  It's a tough one, not because of the distance, but because of the cold, wind and that brutal Market St. hill at the very end.  I am looking forward to it!  Other than that, I am just dreaming of Spring!  (See there I go again, not living in the moment...ugh!) 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Breastfeeding and Running

It's been a slow process, getting back into running post baby.  My body has changed in ways that I never imagined and it in turn has affected my running.  My hips are wider, my breasts are larger, well just about all of me is larger and I seem clumsy as well.  I went for my first solo run since Lucy was born on Sunday morning.  My husband begged me to sleep in with him, but the baby was fed and sleeping so I couldn't pass up this opportunity to get out for a quick run...ALONE!  I laced up my new Asics to break them in and headed out.  Within the the first 5 minutes of my run, I tripped over a sidewalk crack, skinned both my knees, my upper right thigh and my right elbow!  See...clumsy!  Well my knees were bleeding and my initial thought was to head back home and clean myself up but if you are a breastfeeding mother, you know that you only have a small window of time to be away from your baby.  So I got up, brushed myself off and kept running (blood dripping down my knees and all).  I can't imagine what the people driving by me thought!  I only snuck in 3 miles that day but boy did it feel good.  My lungs were burning along with my knees, thigh and elbow but I felt more like myself than I have in the past 11 months. 
I have been so tempted to give up breastfeeding.  I have been trying to come up with excuses to justify stopping.  I know it's my decision ultimately but I do feel pressure from my husband and my family to try to stick it out and quite frankly I put the most pressure on myself.  When it comes right down to it, it's about sacrifice.  Can I sacrifice my time, my running, my glass of wine, my body for the benefit of my baby girl?  Well the answer is yes.  She is the most important thing in my life and if breastfeeding is what is best for her, then gosh darnit, breastfeeding is what she will get.  I plan to try (really, really hard) to make it to 6 months breastfeeding.  As much as I really wanted to train for a big race post baby, the reality is that I am not willing to give up this precious time with Lucy and I am not ready to give up on breastfeeding.  My big race will just have to wait until the Spring.  In the meantime, I am trying to squeeze in a run here and there and Lucy is just about big enough to get into that jogging stroller.  So I may not be running on my terms, but the main thing is just to get out there and run!  Cheers!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lucy Marie

    Well after 9 full months, Lucy finally decided to make her debut into the world.  However as with any good woman, she came with a little drama!  On Friday July 6th, I went to the hospital thinking that my water had broken.  The nurses admitted me and checked the fluid that was leaking out of me and sent me home within an hour.  My water had not broken after all.  Well all weekend long, I felt continuous trickling and on Monday when I went to the doctor, sure enough, my water had broken.  The only problem was that I didn't know when.  So Evan raced home and I was induced at around 11:30 am that morning.  Well the contractions started coming and were very mild all day.  The only problem was, that because the doctor didn't know when my water broke, he did not want to check how much I was dilating too often, for risk of infection.  Long story short, I went into hard labor and after approximately 15 hours I was only dilated 3 centimeters!  The doctor saw a few areas on the monitors where baby seemed to be in a little distress, so decided to do a C-section at 4 am Tuesday morning and Lucy Marie Gaskill entered the world at 4:17 am on July 10th, 2012.  She only weighed 5 lbs 15 oz.  Just a little peanut.  I was very surprised at this because I was past my due date and both my husband and I were fairly large babies.  Whatever the reason, God made her perfectly!
    When I was released from the hospital, I was not at all prepared for the whirlwind of emotion that I was about to face.  I really would like to know why no one told me that I was going to cry everyday for no apparent reason and that I would become a complete basket case!  I am breast feeding which is very demanding and a full 24/7 round the clock job.  We are almost 2 weeks in now and I think both Lucy and I are getting the hang of things.  She is gaining weight like a champ and was up to her birth weight within one week!  My husband seems to think that because my boobs are absolutely huge, that they are somehow like that for his pleasure.  Ha!  Don't come home from work and expect to motor boat, because I will go stay-at-home-mommy crazy on your ass!  And that is scarier than any postal worker.  He now looks at me everyday like I am a ticking time bomb.  Poor guy can't do or say anything right these days.  Especially when he says, "Honey, I'm going for a run."  That right there is like a punch in the gut.  I miss running so very much and can't wait to go to the doctor to see when I can get back at it.  I know with the C-section my recovery is going to be longer but I literally cannot wait!  I started taking Lucy for walks, which really makes me want to break out the running stroller and go for a jog.  I am feeling great and want nothing more than to lace up my sneakers and hit the pavement. 
   I hate to say it, but I am not a huge fan of this newborn stage.  I long for the days when Lucy isn't so fragile.  However, everyday with her is extremely special.  Lucy and I are hanging out, bonding and I wouldn't change one bit of it.  She is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I love her more everyday. I'm sure once she's crawling and walking I will look back at these days as if they were a piece of cake.  I am loving watching her grow each day, it's truely amazing.  I can't believe that Evan and I created her.  It's so funny, because thousands of babies are born every day, but when it actually happens to you, it is such a miracle! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Too Much Information!

There are a lot of things to learn when you become pregnant for the first time. You are bombarded by information from books, the internet, television, and especially other mothers. My mother tells me that I'm lucky, because when she was pregnant they didn't have all of this advanced technology and information. But really, how lucky are we? Ok yes, it is amazing to be able to have a 3D sonogram and see what your little angel looks like inside your womb, to be able to monitor the babies growth and development and test for birth defects. These advances in technology are nothing short of amazing, but when it comes right down to it, does all of this information make us more informed or more paranoid? You can't eat soft cheese or lunch meat or caffine (all rules which I have broken). Are bumpers in the crib safe or not? Natural child birth or epidural? Breast feed or bottle feed? Can I still run? What about sex? Can I still color my hair? Can I get a manicure? Which sleeping position is safe? Can I use the microwave? What about second hand smoke? The list goes on and on and on! I could write thousands of questions, that all have answers by the way, just check out Google. So let me get this straight, my mother lived blissfully unaware of all of the "danger" she was putting her unborn fetus through, while I get to stress over every little thing I do. I turned out just fine, a very healthy baby of 8 lbs, my brother too! So who is the lucky one here? Has anyone done a study about the amount of stress a pregnant women goes through due to the amount of information she is exposed to and has to worry about? I'm no doctor, but my guess is that stress is just as, if not more detrimental to an unborn child than all of these potential hazards.

Now, being a newbie to pregnancy and motherhood leaves you prey to what I like to call the "Not So Silent Killer"...other mothers. Everyone wants to give you their advice and their opinion! They may come across as sweet and caring and compassionate with the best intentions, but I know better. They are trying to kill me! Now of course I don't mean literally, but I am slowly drowning in a sea of "you should do this" and "don't do that" and I am being strangled by their personal horror stories about preganancy, labor and delivery. When you first announce that you are pregnant, your heart is soaring, you can't wipe the smile off of your face, you are elated! Then for some reason, unbeknownst to me, a mother will jump right into her story about how she had a miscarriage right around this time. I'm sorry, truely from the bottom of my heart, that anyone has to ever go through something so horrible, but is now really the time to bring that story up? Honestly, what are you thinking? That is actually quite selfish, in my opinion. Dumping your sad, tragic story on a new mom-to-be because it makes you feel better to talk about it. In turn you have just put newly prego into stress mode and now all she will think about is the possiblity that she may miscarry.

Word of advice to the newbies out there. Take ALL advice from other mothers with a grain of salt. Everyone and I mean everyone has an opinion from what pediatrician to use, right down to what type of laundry detergent is safe for the baby. Your head is going to spin! You are going to stress out, which is not good for that baby. Let it roll off of your back, especially the horror stories.

Now, word of advice for all you veterans out there. Were you not once in our shoes? Were you not newly pregnant and terrified? Oh yeah, you forgot didn't you? Try, really hard, when speaking to a newbie not to tell her traumatic stories about you or your friend, or your friend's friend.
What we do need to hear is "you are going to be a great mother!", "your maternal instincts will kick in", "don't worry, you'll figure it out". Share all of the wonderful things that come along with motherhood and how much love you have for your children and how you were scared the first time, just like us! Just the simple fact that all of these women have been in our place at some point, hence all the advice, makes me wonder why they can't remember how they felt when they were pregnant for the first time. Do you not remember how scared you were, and all of the people telling you what to do? Do you not remember that you were once clueless too and that all of this motherhood stuff was like a foreign language? Next time you decide it's time to share a horror story with a first time mom, think about how it felt when you were in her shoes and tell her a happy story instead!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Check Your Vanity

This is it!  This is the first race report that I ever wrote after my first ultra in Moab, Utah.  It was published in UltraRunning magazine's July 2009 issue and I've been passionate about running and writing ever since.  I thought I'd share, because it was one of the best experiences of my life!  I want to go back one day!

Check Your Vanity
If I learned anything at my first ultra, it would be that the types of runners that participated in these events check their egos, insecurities and vanity at the starting line. There is no shame in this game. Farting, public urintaion (and defecation), profanity – are all glorious characteristics of this sport. I have never cared lessa bout what I looked like in my life! Quite frankly, when you cross the finish line after running 50 miles or more, you feel so good about yourself that your true character and spirit are the only things that people see. They see a winner, no matter what place you come in.
I also learned that the small community that is ultrarunners is quite possibly the most amazing group of people you'll ever meet. We come from all walks of life, from all over the world. Most runners will give you a friendly nod or an encouraging "You're looking good, keep it up."
The 24 Hours of Utah was my first-ever ultra, prefaced by one marathon, a few 8ks and several 5ks. While training for this particular race, I worked hard, gave up boozing, went to bed early and stuck to a fairly healthy diet. My friend, Sam, who also ran the Moab ultra, was my "trainer". He e-mailed me workouts every week and we often argued about scheduling and finding time in an average day for a three-hour workout on top of school and work. I was looking forward to getting this race over with, to return to my "normal" life – that's what i thought.
Upon arriving in Utah, I quickly realized that the terrain that I trained on – mostly asphalt – and the terrain I was going to be running on – mountains and trails – were quite different. Too late now. The coarse was mainly uphill, climbing a gorgeous desert mountain and galloping down the slick rock on the other side. The bottom halves of the trail were thick sand. After the first 5.37-mile loop I realized how difficult this feat really would be.
Watching the sunrise and sunset while running was surreal. As I set out on my final loop, my crew memeber, Dani, walked with me a little and noted that I looked like a mall walker, swinging my arms as hard as I could and putting as much power into my strides as possible. Muscle fatique paired with mental exhaustion had finally overpowered the Mountain Dew I had enjoyed earlier. Journeying on up the mountain, the night sky became increasingly dark. My headlamp did not provide enough light to stay on course; it was difficult to see any trail markers in the dark. I tripped over a rock and the muscles in my calves squeezed up into balls of tension as my face hit the slick rock. As I struggled to find the makers, I heard the sweetest sound in the distance, "Lu, is that you, buddy?" Dani had come out to find me and guide me back to home base. I had done it, 53.7 miles, just over my goal of a double marathon.
When the sun rose again in the morning, I had not come down from my runner's high and was wide awake. I was dirty, I stunk, I hadn't slept in over 26 hours but I had taken second place in the female solo 24-hour category and I will tell you – I've never felt better in my life. I stayed up to support Sam through his last grueling laps of the 100-mile race. Ready to collapsel, he mustered whatever he had left in him to jog across the finish line. Almost everyone had packed up and gone, so only a few of us were cheering his success, but it didn't matter. We both accomplished our goals that day.
As the aches, pains, blisters and bruises fade, my pride, self-confidence and the sense of self-worth that I've gained remain as I return to everyday life.

Also, check out the video that Sam put together after the race.  I still watch it to this day and it makes me smile!