Running goals

As most of you know, I took up running last fall. I completed my first 5K last September. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that good either. My husband and I ran it together. We finished in 40 minutes 10 seconds.

Well, since that time, I have continued running. At the beginning of this year, I was running more often than not by myself. But lately, I have had the pleasure of doing most of my runs with my husband, which makes me very happy. I love that we run together. It’s hard to explain why I like it, especially because we don’t talk while we are running, but I think it’s just being by each other’s side, pushing each other along. I don’t know really, I just love it.

Well, so far this year, we have completed two 5K runs. We did our first 5K of the year, but our second one ever, in May in Fargo. And just recently, we completed another 5K, which was just a couple of weeks ago in Osakis. That one was the best so far. We ran it in 30 minutes and 55 seconds.

I decided that since we completed one in May and now one in June, why not shoot for doing one in the months of July, August and September. So, we are. Our next 5K race will be July 17 in Henning. The August one will more than likely be in Hoffman, although I haven’t heard the exact date yet. And our September 5K will be September 18 in Alexandria. It is the same one we did last year for the Lakes Area Humane Society. I can’t wait to see what our time is this year because it will be the same course as last year…or at least I think it is.

So, when summer is done and over, we will have completed five 5K runs. Kind of cool. 

But that’s not all we are doing. My husband doesn’t know it yet, but I went ahead and signed us up for the 10K race in Fargo on October 9! I know we can do it. I just have to convince him that we can do it! Wish me luck!

Metabolism?

Metabolism. Is it part of our genetics? Is there a magic pill or food that can increase it? How does eating breakfast play a part of our metabolism – or does it play a part at all?

This past weekend, I attended a three-hour seminar for Weight Watchers that I found quite fascinating. Some of you may find it boring and that’s okay. I found it quite intriguing. Really, I did. Part of it had to do with our metabolism, which I am going to share with you, even though I am not sure I am supposed to, but we will be sharing it with our members. Oh, whatever, here is what I learned.

Metabolism is basically calories burned. You can interchange the word metabolism with the word calories burned or burning calories. For instance, if people say they are overweight because they have a slow metabolism, it basically comes down to, they are overweight because they are not burning calories. If an older people say their metabolism is slow because they are old, it basically means they are not burning calories. Overweight people, along with the older generation (in general) don’t move as much, which means they are not burning calories, which means they are either not losing weight or they are gaining weight. Sounds kind of confusing, but really, it isn’t.

There are three components of metabolism and none of them have to do with our genetics or how we were born. Well, sort of.

The first component is called resting metabolic/metabolism, which accounts for between 67 and 75 percent of the calories we burn in a day. Resting metabolism consists of the calories used to keep the body going. Resting metabolism is the biggest part of our whole metabolism as it burns between two-thirds to three-quarters of the calories our bodies use every single day. Kind of crazy, isn’t it?

The engine of resting metabolism is lean body mass, which includes parts of the body like your muscles, bone mass, blood, organs…basically, everything except the fat. Lean body mass is the biggest factor of how many calories your resting metabolisms requires. So think about that for a minute. If you are chubby, like I used to be, you don’t have as much lean body mass, therefore you don’t burn as many calories. And sitting on the couch eating a bucket of ice cream isn’t going to help that I guess, which is what I used to do.

So, the greater your lean body mass is, the greater amount of calories you will burn. Period. Makes sense, doesn’t it.

The second part of your metabolism is the calories burned during physical activity. Meaning, physical activity. Meaning, you have to get up off that couch and move people. Do something. Just move. Sitting there isn’t going to help you burn calories and it sure isn’t going to help your metabolism. This part of your metabolism is the most variable part and is also the component you have the most control over. Period. Moving more = more calories burned = better metabolism. Increasing your bodies muscle mass, not necessarily building big huge muscles like a body builder, but building lean muscle mass while also increasing your heart rate can boost your metabolism.

For the next sentence, read it as if I am shouting it on a rooftop: THERE ARE NO PILLS, NO SINGLE FOOD OR COMBINATION OF FOODS THAT CAN SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE YOUR METABOLISM. PERIOD.

Whew, that felt good. Now, to only get people to listen to that and to believe it. That’s the hard part.

The third component of your metabolism is the calories used to process food. I didn’t learn much about this or maybe I didn’t particularly pay attention to this, but I do know that this accounts for 10 percent of the calories we burn each and every day.

Now, here’s something interesting I learned and something I wished I would have known earlier. If people, particularly females, say they have a slower metabolism because they are female and not male, they are somewhat right. A man, just because he is a man, typically has more lean mass and less body fat than a woman. Men have more lean body tissue. Therefore, at rest, men need more calories to keep that lean body tissue going and they burn more calories throughout the course of the day. 

Is this fair? Nope, not at all. But, sometimes, us women, just have to deal with the hand we’ve been dealt. 

And so, what about breakfast? Can it "jump start" my metabolism? No, not really. Your metabolism burns calories 24 hours a day. But eating a healthy, light breakfast can, however, provide you with energy, which may make you move more, which in turn, helps you burn calories. See,it’s that simple. However, keep in mind that I said eat a healthy, lighter breakfast. If you eat a heavy breakfast, it will set the tone for the day and will probably make you sluggish, which in turns will make you less likely to get up and move.

So, there you go, everything and a whole lot more of what you ever wanted to know about your metabolism.

I really, truly found it interesting. I hope you did, too!

Simple, healthy, tasty and filling

Okay, I just have to tell you what we had for supper tonight. It was quite simple, super healthy and incredibly delicious! 

We had top sirloin steak on the grill, very lean and trimmed of all fat. My husband marinades it in a packet of Grill Mates seasoning in the mesquite flavor (this is my son’s absolutely favorite stuff in the whole wide world). Love is just not a strong enough word for how he feels about this stuff. We each had one piece of steak, mine was the smallest. Always is. I am guessing (I actually didn’t weigh it this time) my piece was about four ounces and the other two pieces were probably between five and six ounces. 

Then, we all had salads…my son’s was a little bit bigger than ours because he didn’t have anything else with his meal, whereas my husband and I had cooked baby carrots. My husband also had grilled mushrooms, but neither I or my son like those ishy things! And yes, we have both tried them…several times.

Oh, and my husband and I shared a grilled red bell pepper that had marinaded in balsamic vinegar for just a bit. Seriously, if you have never tried this, I am telling you right now that you have to. You just have to. My husband cuts the bell pepper in rings and then we put them in a plastic baggie with some balsamic vinegar and a little sea salt. We let them sit for just a bit (maybe 10 minutes) and then he lays them right on the grill. Oh My! They are like candy. Seriously, I am telling you, they are the best ever. We do this with any color bell peppers…green, yellow, orange, it really doesn’t matter. My favorite, however, is the red. YUMMY!

So, my meal consisted of a smallish piece of steak; a nice size salad with two tablespoons Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing, one tablespoon Great Value reduced-fat parmesan cheese (it comes in a shaker and can be found at Walmart) and about a half a cup of grape tomatoes; about a cup of cooked baby carrots lightly sprayed with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray; and half a red bell pepper. That’s it people. 

I didn’t have potatoes dripping in butter or a piece of steak the size of Texas and I didn’t have two slices of bread slathered in butter or anything drizzled with a cheese sauce or anything like that. And you know what, I am just fine. I got full. My meal was full of flavor. It was awesome. 

Okay, so you want to know how many Weight Watchers points that was? I’ll break it down for you: Lettuce – 0; tomatoes – 0; dressing – 0; parmesan cheese – 0; carrots – .5 (one half); butter spray – .5 (one half); and steak – 5. My total points for that whole meal was only 6…six points. Unbelievable. Really. Truly. (Because I didn’t measure my steak, I used the "set points" option for points.)

A hamburger at Burger King is 7 points. Seven. Yes. A simple hamburger. Really, people, is it worth it? 

On my mind…

It has been a whirlwind since last Thursday, June 17. Storms, well, actually tornadoes, blew across parts of the county I live in, Douglas, as well as in Otter Tail County and other parts of the state. One word…devastation.

It seems as if my life, for a short period, was consumed by the storms. Our county and area, fortunately, didn’t get hit bad, but in Parkers Prairie, which is where my in-laws used to live and where my husband grew up, got hit. And as most people know and have probably read or watched on TV, Almora and Wadena also got hit hard, really hard. It’s almost unfathomable. You know, I have seen devastation on the news before, but I’ve never been up close and personal with it. Until now.

After the storms blew through, my husband and I, who both work at the newspaper in Alexandria, drove up to areas that were hit (Parkers and Almora) and I got to see with my own eyes the destruction those tornadoes caused. My husband took all the photos because all I could do was just sit in the car. The look of shock and sadness on the faces of the people in the town of Almora was almost unbearable. It is at times like this that I question my abilities of being a reporter. I think I have too much heart. Fortunately, those times are few and far between.

My heart truly goes out to the people in Almora who lost a loved one, the family in Parkers Prairie who lost their turkey farm (coincidentally, the owner also works at Weight Watchers and is the person who trained me in) and the entire community of Wadena…along with anywhere else the tornadoes struck. I truthfully can’t imagine what it is like and what they are all going through.

As a reporter, I did do my job and write stories about the devastation, even interviewing my friend, the turkey farmer, but it was hard and definitely not something I liked doing. Again, my heart goes out to all the people affected by Thursday’s tornadoes.

May God be with all of them at this time.

 

Class reunions

I decided I am going to share with you the column I wrote for our paper today. I work at the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria and on Fridays, on the Opinion page, the editorial team (including our Sports department and Life department) rotate writing a column called Our Turn. 

Well, today was my turn and I wrote about going to my upcoming class reunion, which is set for July 31 in Willmar. 

So, if you want, check out my column, which was titled, "Why go to class reunion?" copied below. Hope you enjoy it!

I am going to my high school class reunion in July and I am looking forward to it. Really, truly, looking forward to it.
Those who know me will probably find that hard to believe. They probably think it’s kind of odd or weird.
See, I didn’t have the best time in school, high school in particular. In fact, I didn’t attend my 10-year class reunion and when it came time to write about my favorite high school memories in the reunion booklet, my response was, “Absolutely none.”
And then I blathered on about how I didn’t fit in and how all the “cool” people in my class were a bunch of, well, not so nice people. It was what I felt at the time. And to be honest, looking back, I am glad I wrote it and I don’t regret it.
However, it wasn’t very nice and it didn’t necessarily make me feel any better.
So why am I excited now about the reunion? Why do I want to attend? After all these years – 20 of them to be exact – what’s the point? What does it matter?
Well, because I am a different person now. I am happy. Truly happy. I like who I am and who I’ve become.
I think I have finally forgiven and no longer hold onto any grudges. I don’t harbor any resentment or have any more negative feelings.
Really? Who am I kidding? Let’s be honest here. Why do people really go to their class reunions? Isn’t it to show off, check out other classmates and see what they look like, who they married, what they’ve done with their lives? Isn’t it to make ourselves feel better about who we are? Isn’t it to prove a point?
Yes…and no.
Not too long ago, I was still unsure about whether or not I was going to attend my reunion. I posted something about it on my Facebook wall and the response was not what I expected. I think everyone encouraged me to go.
But there was one response that really made me think. It was actually a personal message that was sent to me by a classmate. A classmate whom I didn’t necessarily hang out with, but someone I knew and talked to on a somewhat regular basis.
This classmate recalled – unfortunately – what I wrote in the 10-year reunion booklet and said he felt the same way. That he felt excluded because he was, like me, a little different. He said we actually had a lot in common. I was kind of taken aback by his comments – but in a good way.
He told me he went to the 10-year reunion and was pleasantly surprised by how the classmates were; how they acted, how they were different because there were no cliques to stick with. He said everyone mingled, together.
He also said, “I believe that time heals all wounds and I hope you find that time has healed yours.”
My reply back to him was, “Thanks for the message. Dang, though, I was really hoping no one would remember what I wrote. Oh well, I am glad I said it.”
He said the reason he remembered was that he was upset with what some classmates were saying about my entry in the booklet at the 10-year reunion. “I stepped up to remind them of how they acted in high school,” he said. “They then had an ‘aha’ moment and recanted.”
I decided that maybe time is a good thing and that yes, it does help to heal old wounds and that maybe, just maybe, seeing some of my classmates might be kind of fun, maybe even a little entertaining and eye-opening.
Maybe my expectations might be kind of high, but the past is the past and this is now. I plan to walk into the reunion with an open mind and an open heart. Whatever happens, happens. And I am OK with that. I am at peace with it all.
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I found a killer dress to wear and I will be walking in on the arm of my handsome husband. Does it?