Reflections on 2018 and Looking Forward to 2019 (Teri’s Goals)

Andrew and I were talking the other day about the events that unfolded for us in 2018. First and foremost – 2018 will go down as the year the boys were born. But if I had to summarize it another way, I would without a doubt, dub it the year I hosted a baptism party instead of a wine party. My focus for 2018 was uncharted territory for me as we got ready for and brought home two sweet baby boys. Instead of planning the annual holiday wine party I look forward to every year; I hosted an awesome baptism party. Instead of waking up on my own accord and going for a run; I have found myself either sleeping uncomfortably or being awakened at 3am by a fussy baby. Instead of Andrew and me casually cooking dinner with a bottle of wine in the evenings; we now scarf down food in fear of a baby waking. Instead of setting out on the weekends with no plans other than to make memories; we now have to be strategic about feedings and naps. At the end of the day – even when I had days where I was just over being pregnant or the boys are being extra challenging; I can still look at Andrew and smile at the life we have and the family we have made.

I have never bought into the New Year’s Resolution concept. It just so happens, however, that with new babies, a new position at work, and the continuation of relationships – it seemed to be the right time to purposefully think about my priorities and how to make each day more meaningful than the previous. Also, Andrew committed to me early in our relationship to support me being the best person I can be. If I don’t have a vision for growth for myself, it seems unfair to hold him to that!

During my pregnancy, and even for the few months after (so, most of 2018), I purposely tried to not be extremely rigid with my nutrition or exercise. Historically – I have been driven to fall in line with one diet or another and follow one training plan or another. With my “all or nothing” mentality – that meant I was either being consumed by the thought of food and pressure of working out; or eating an entire pizza and spending way too much time scrolling social media on my phone.

At times, it was actually scary to feel like I didn’t have control over my body since I was not tracking anything or marking workouts complete. For the most part, however, it was freeing to just live and not overthink every decision I made when I went out to eat or beat myself up if my run was slower than I expected. So for 2019 – I am hoping to continue the same approach. I am taking a step back from making traditional SMART goals and instead, keeping the following concepts at the forefront.

1. Stay away from the scale.

a. I don’t want to say I only want to check every month, or something like that, but I know I do not want to start of every morning by stepping on the scale. That either leads to me being happy about the number and starting off a good day or not being happy about the number and letting it ruin the day right away. Not a new concept – but this number should not define how willing I am to allowing myself to feel happy and energized.

2. Make baby food.

a. I did not (could not?) breast feed for as long or as well as I originally thought. I want to make the boys’ food because there is a part of me that I think will feel good to make that effort. Sure, I know there will be prepared baby food bought and used; but if I am home making food for them – then I like to think it will also encourage healthy choices for myself and Andrew.

3. Go to church.

a. I would like to say we will go every weekend. That won’t happen. But – I do think we can make it a priority to think about this every weekend and determine in general – how we can be more open to strengthening our faith.

4. Run the Urban Bourbon Half Marathon.

a. I do have SMART goals here…

i. 1. Run sub 2 hours

ii. 2. Run 10 minute mile average

iii. 3. Finish

5. Spend meaningful time with Andrew.

a. Before twins – we spent a lot of time together. After twins – we spend a lot of time together. The difference, however, is the energy we put towards each other has decreased as we now have two tiny humans that take a lot of energy. I am not sure if this means set date nights, deliberately doing something every day…I don’t know…and I think we will get there as time goes on.

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2019 Goals: Andrew’s Edition

It’s the new year and, just like about 90% of the blogs out there, it’s time for a post about new beginnings, goals, and how this year is going to be different than last year. And to be honest, I am thinking about new beginnings, I have goals for the new year, and I hope this year is different than last.

2018 was difficult. It will also probably go down as the most memorable in my life, as it was the year Andy and Charlie were born. And with their birth, came a whole new set of challenges. But as most parents will tell you, the challenges come with the territory, and the rewards your children bring to your life are well worth every difficult moment.

So while I’m not going to go into much detail about the literally dozens of “goals” I have for the year, I’ve decided that I need to make some of my personal goals public. Since much of what we write on here is meant to be focused on helping people find balance in their lives, the focus this year will be in writing how Teri and I make time to support each other in achieving our personal goals. So with that being said, here are my top 5 personal goals, and what sparked this being a goal for 2019:

  1. Run a marathon PR. I’ve set this goal the last 3 years, but my marathon PR still stands at the 2:44 I ran at Boston in 2015. I’ve run fall marathons the past 2 years (Chicago in 2017, Indianapolis in 2018) and there were points in the training for both that I thought a PR would happen, but injuries prevented that both years. So this year’s focus is going to be about staying healthy enough to run high mileage. And so, goal #2;
  2. Run 2019 miles in 2019. I set the “run the year” goal last year but I chased it pretty stupidly, packing on miles before I was ready. I barely ran from Labor Day until the end of the year, and ended up with 1339 miles. So again, I need to focus on how I’m going to stay healthy. I don’t have a specific SMART goal for strength and mobility training, but that has been added to my training regimen. Additionally, I joined Run the Edge’s Run the Year Challenge, which is providing support and motivation to runners chasing this goal. I would highly recommend it to anyone with a mileage goal!
  3. Lose 15-20 lbs. Most people who look at me see a skinny runner. But they don’t see that fact that I’m up 15 pounds from this time last year, and my weight is at the highest point it’s ever been. So starting January 7, Teri and I will begin putting a greater focus on what we eat and why we eat it. Not a diet, but a shift back to healthy eating, which we go away from once the boys were born.
  4. Read 19 books in 2019. This is unrelated to my health and fitness, but I got frustrated in 2018 as my list of books I wanted to read piled up without me reading anything. So part of my finding balance will be finding time to read 1-2 books each month.
  5. Find a new career path. This isn’t necessarily a SMART goal, but I want to be on a different path by the end of 2019. I’ve spent 8 years teaching and almost 11 years working in schools in some role. I’m burned out and so I need to figure out a way to change what I do. I’m currently in graduate school to be a school administrator, so one goal is to finish that program this summer and keep my 4.0 GPA. And if that’s the new route I go in my career, I hope I enjoy it. But right now I don’t know if I’m going to stay in public education, or find something completely different. I’ve been struggling with this decision for the past 3 years, so I need to give myself a cutoff date to finally make a decision.

So there you have it, my goals for 2019. Teri will likely post about hers as well, and you will see much of our content focused on supporting each other and making the time to achieve them, while still being good parents, spouses, and professionals.

A New Recipe: Lactation Cookies!

While on a walk recently with the boys, I was listening to a Podcast that was discussing how to make a blog unique.  They mentioned the potential usefulness in writing about what you are “Googling”. I thought this was an awesome concept and I can understand how this method would ensure some original and interesting blog topics!  Looking at my recent Google searches – the list is inundated with baby topics…and I would say the most Googled topic right now is “when do babies sleep through the night?”!  Something else I have been looking into recently are recipes for lactations cookies/bites.  So today I will share with you one failed attempt and one successful attempt at making treats for me with the intention of increasing my milk supply.

Andrew and I were on the same page before the boys were born that we wanted to exclusively breast feed.  I had heard it could be difficult – but figured I was a determined enough person; that surely there was no reason to think that it would not work for me and my family.  Not even a week or two after being discharged from the hospital – I realized this would not be the case.  We had supplemented with formula in the hospital and during one very emotional day for me – I wondered if maybe going exclusively to formula was going to be the path for us.  Instead of dedicating the time to trying to successfully solely breast feed; we decided that formula was right for our boys with incorporating as much expressed milk as I could.  The second we reached that decision, it was like a weight was lifted…my parents came in the door from out of town, we left the boys in their hands and we went out for a beer.

cookies tea

Once I took the stress away of the pressure I was putting on myself without noticing – my milk supply increased!  A friend of ours brought over no-bake lactation bites – so between then decreased stress and the tasty bites – I was happy to be pumping enough to offer half milk and half formula for most feedings.  Maybe it was coincidence – but I have since tried to remember that I need to be aware of my stress level and take steps to keep in check.  I also set out to find another lactation recipe to keep the supply up!

After ordering Brewer’s Yeast from Amazon, I found a recipe that caught my eye due to the lack of added refined sugar.  I generally do not prefer my sweets to be, well, very sweet!  This recipe seemed right up my alley – but with the addition of a couple of REALLY bitter ingredients I am not used to using – if I were to make again – would tweak to add maple syrup or honey!  Regardless – I ate them, and I continued to make milk…mission accomplished!  I remembered the other no-bake bites having nut butter – so I did smear some peanut butter on a couple of cookies – that did help.  I’ve included some additional comments below for how I may try to change these low/no sugar lactation cookies up next time!

cookies 1 - Copy

Earthy Lactation Cookies (Doesn’t that sound delicious?!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal
    • One of the key “milk-increasing” ingredients
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
    • Original recipe I found called for bananas. It’s October – I wanted to substitute pumpkin; but imagine the bananas would have added some (needed) sweetness
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp Brewers Yeast
    • Hello, bitter! Next time, would either only use 2 Tbsp or make sure the sweetness was kicked up a notch.
  • ½ cup nuts
    • I did not use these, but imagine walnuts would be tasty in this recipe.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 Tbsp ground fenugreek
    • I take the fenugreek capsules, so instead I used ground flax which is also a “milk-increaser”
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients in different bowls; then add together
  • Fold in the “add-ins” (nuts/raisins/chocolate chips/etc.)
  • Drop about 2 Tbsp and press down on cookie sheet
  • Bake 15-20 minutes

kitchen

Once that attempt was consumed – I set out to do better.  Even though these were a bit too bitter for me to really enjoy – they were not bad enough to throw away.  I quickly found a paleo recipe and after quickly reviewing the ingredient list, decided it would be a winner – and I was right!  They tasted more like a cookie – likely higher in calorie, but full of yummy fats and lacking in refined sugar.

 

Paleo Chocolate Coconut Lactation Cookies (from: louisianabrideblog.com)

cookies 2 - Copy

Ingredients:

  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coco powder
  • 2 Tbsp flax meal
  • 2 Tbsp brewer’s yeast
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

 

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Cream coconut oil and sugar
  • Add in eggs and vanilla and beat until a bit fluffy
  • Add in salt and baking powder and mix
  • Add in coco powder and mix
  • Add in flax meal and brewer’s yeast and mix
  • Add in coconut flour and stir
  • Scoop about 1 Tbsp to parchment paper on cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes

#Crosstraintothefinishline

I’ve been asked before, “What does it mean to #crosstraintothefinishline?”  And while I think most people can grasp the concept that I’m basically training for a marathon without running, it’s a difficult concept to picture.  When I tell people what I’m doing, the looks I get are wide-ranging: concern, annoyance, pity, amusement.  I get all of them, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.  But at the end of the day, the next question I get is, “How?”  So this post is just to give an example of 1 week in my cross-training/marathon training experiment.

Day 1 (Sunday)

Workout: Stretching and foam rolling

Goal: Easy Recovery Day

Running Equivalent: Easy run, day off, or day of stretching or foam-rolling.  \

Comparable Daily Running Miles: 0

Comparable Weekly Running Miles: 0

ctm band pre mini 2

Since I had a long ride the day before, Sunday was spent resting, with a session of stretching and foam-rolling thrown in to aid in recovery.  If I was running, this would have been an easy run day of maybe 3-5 miles, with some stretching or foam-rolling thrown in.  But there was no actual aerobic activity thrown in, so there is no equivalent mileage for today.

Day 2 (Monday)

Workout: 35 minutes swimming

Goal: Another Recovery Day, with light aerobic stimulus

Running Equivalent: Easy 5 miles

Comparable Daily Running Miles: 5

Comparable Weekly Running Miles: 5

Today would have been an easy running day if I were running, but instead I opted to swim laps.  Normally I probably would have been running 7-8 miles, but since I’m not in great swimming shape, 35 minutes was all I could manage.  It was a great workout that didn’t beat up my legs at all, and also engage my upper body and core, so it was potentially more effective than an easy run.  Since I do most of my runs at 7:00 pace or better, I’ll assume this was comparable to about 5 miles of easy running.

Day 3 (Tuesday)

Workout: 35 minutes with intervals on the rowing machine

Goal: Heavy aerobic stimulus with interval training

Running Equivalent: 5-6 miles with short, fast intervals thrown in

Comparable Daily Running Miles: 6

Comparable Weekly Running Miles: 11

Today’s goal would have been a marathon-paced interval workout.  I may have been able to get a more comparable workout on the bike, but all I wanted was to have a varying effort in order to spike my heart rate some throughout the workout.  So I warmed up 5 minutes, then did intervals of 1:30×10.  The intervals weren’t all that long, but this gave me a great workout that tested my ability continue moving as my heart rate elevates.  As a runner, this would have been a longer marathon-paced workout, covering about 10-12 miles, but I was happy to engage my entire body on the rowing machine.

rower

Day 4 (Wednesday):

Workout: 60 minutes biking

Goal: Strong, extended aerobic stimulus

Running Equivalent: Easy 9 miles

Comparable Daily Running Miles: 9

Comparable Weekly Running Miles: 20

In a normal marathon plan, I would likely have been running 8-10 miles at a comfortable pace today, in order to recover but also gain a deep aerobic stimulus.  I rode my bike to cross country practice and biked some while the runners completed their run.  I tried to search out hills and push the pace late in the ride in order to keep my heart rate up.

bike

Day 5 (Thursday)

Workout: 40 minutes swimming

Goal: Another Recovery Day, with light aerobic stimulus

Running Equivalent: Easy 6 miles

Comparable Daily Running Miles: 6

Comparable Weekly Running Miles: 26

Similar to my last swimming workout, this was just a bit longer (my longest swim since the Ironman!!), but still gave me a great aerobic stimulus without any pounding on my legs.  I felt fresh and recovered after doing this.

Day 6 (Friday)

Workout: 30 minutes rowing

Goal: Recovery day in preparation of a longer run tomorrow

Running Equivalent: Easy 4.5 miles

Comparable Daily Running Miles: 4.5 miles

Comparable Weekly Running Miles: 30.5 miles

I didn’t want to swim, but also didn’t want to beat up my legs today, as I have a long bike ride tomorrow.  Rowing easy for 30 minutes allowed me to get my heart rate up to an acceptable level, but not pus myself too hard or wear myself down.

Day 7 (Saturday)

Workout: 2 hours 30 minutes biking

Goal: Long aerobic stimulus

Running Equivalent: Easy 22 miles

Comparable Daily Running Miles: 22

Comparable Weekly Running Miles: 52.5

I’ve begun to supplement my long runs with long bike rides.  Anytime I can go over 2 hours I feel like I accomplish a similar goal as a long run.  Today was no different.  We had dinner plans, so I actually biked from our house to our hosts for dinner and showered at their house, while Teri brought the twins.  I sought out hilly terrain for the last hour to ensure I kept my heart rate up throughout.

At the end of the day, I ended up with the aerobic equivalent of over 50 miles running, without running a step.  I was able to train my body aerobically to push through a longer effort.  My biggest concern is whether or not my legs can hold up to the 26 miles of pounding.  However, I feel pretty good about what I’ve accomplished so far.

Call Me Gumby: Being Even More Flexible

familyHaven’t I talked about being flexible before?  Well, I’ve taken that to a whole new level since the boys were born!  In the past, while I was never glued to a specific training plan or even a time/place to run every day, I did always want to know in advance when I was going to work out.  So for example, looking at my week of training and my work/family/social schedule, I would be able to fit workouts into a specific time of day for each day of the week.  Depending on the time of year, type of training, and even how I was feeling, those workouts may be early in the morning, right after work, and sometimes (rarely) later in the evening.  I can recall one of my prouder training moments back in 2015 when I ran 20 miles starting around 4AM, before working a full day then having track practice afterward.  Are there people in the world who do this type of thing regularly?  Absolutely.  Am I one of them?  Heck no!!

Anyway, since the boys have been born my training has looked completely different.  For one, as I mentioned in my previous post, I suffered a couple of injuries that have kept me from running, so cross-training has been the name of the game.  That’s taken the form of rowing, HIIT workouts, and biking, with swimming coming into the mix in the next few days.  The goal is to get myself as aerobically fit as I can without running a step.

But the boys have presented new challenges.  For one, training while sleep-deprived is never fun. New parents are always given the advice to, “sleep when they sleep.”  I’m trying to recall anyone ever telling me to, “train when they sleep,” but I don’t think I’ve ever heard those words.  Instead, I’ve had to find the best time each day to fit in some form of training.  While I think I could re-train myself to be an extremely early morning person, I have a hard time convincing myself that getting up at 4AM to train is a good idea (with that 20-miler being the exception).  So the morning are unfortunately out, at least for now.  I’d rather sleep the extra hour and then help with the boys when they wake up, usually around 5 if we’re lucky, before getting ready and leaving for work.

Most days when I get home from work, usually around 3:30, among the first words out of Teri’s mouth are, “when are you going to work out?”  My answer is usually something like, “I’ll get it done.”  Usually when I get home from work, all I want to do is sleep.  But it’s also likely that both boys are awake and I also just want to help Teri care for them when I get home, as she’s been taking care of them all day without any help (she’ll return to work sometime this winter).  And then I have cross country practice at 6PM.  When I could run, it was easy to get in a good run during practice, but having to cross train has made that difficult.

So my options are: A) get up super early to work out, B) fight through the fatigue and ignore the babies and work out right when I get home from work, or C) work out after practice.  Personally, I don’t like any of those options.  And I don’t know how the boys will be at any of those times.  So each day, I let the circumstances of that day decide what I do.  For example, last night I brought my bike to practice and got in a solid hour. bike

Today, I couldn’t keep my eyes open on the way home, so I got home and closed my eyes for 10 minutes on the couch (the boys were sleeping), made a cup of coffee, and now the workout is about to happen.

Every day, my workout may happen at a different time, and it will look a little bit differently.  But that’s what being flexible is.  The only constant is that the workout will get done…and that’s all that matters.

coffee