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Monday, August 27, 2012

The Workout Gadget I Can't Live Without

I think all my hints finally got through. My hubby bought me something for my birthday that I've had on my Amazon wish list! A Polar FT1 heart-rate monitor. I have used it for every single workout since.  I love having an accurate indicator of how hard I'm working and whether I'm working out in the fat-burning zone or in an anaerobic zone. You input your maximum heart rate and your minimum (I put in my 50% heart-rate number there). Then, it tracks what your average heart rate is for your workout and what your maximum heart rate was for that time, too. I wish it kept track of all your workouts, but I think I have to upgrade to another FT heart-rate monitor for that capability. This one is great for my needs right now, though. 
Having this wonderful little gadget has shown me that I was pushing myself far above the fat-burning zone for far too long (both duration of workout time and for years). I notice that when I run, my heart rate always goes higher than when I cycle or swim. I also have noticed that as I work in a 75-85% heart rate for most of my run, I've gotten not only faster, but my heart has gotten stronger. For example, whereas my heart rate was easily near 90% for much of my hill runs when I first got the heart-rate monitor, it's now well within 85% of my maximum heart rate and it's only been a month! 

For those of you who don't pay attention to your heart rate while working out and wonder why you're plateauing, this device will change the way you workout and it will bring you results. Heart-rate monitors start around $60 and they're well worth the investment if you're serious about getting in shape or increasing your fitness level. 

Not sure about what your heart rate should be for your age? Here's a helpful chart.  

What are the workout gadgets you can't live without?

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm a Triathamom

All set up in transition area and ready to go!
This last weekend I participated and completed Triathamom, a women-only triathlon in Utah. I think there were nearly 350 participants and it was packed with all ages of women from 13 to well over 60. Amazing and inspiring!

Here are some of the highlights: 

Plenty of room to set up my bike and transition area. 

Lots of cheering on among participants. You don't get that so much in the coed tri's.

Running into old friends (like Jenny Eckton, who blogs here) and meeting new ones. I ran nearly the entire 3.1 miles with a 13-year-old girl named Tilda. She was really sweet and I also had one of my better 5K times as a result. Yay for youth!
Finally met one of the rock star organizers of Triathamom in person, Aly Brooks. 
Jenny Eckton and me. We ate a lot of watermelon and other tasty things after the race.

I didn't finish dead last. After a year off, I wasn't expecting much. But, out of 69 participants in my age group, I finished 19th. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Green Smoothie Recipe

Today, I'm a guest blogger on my friend, Emily's blog, Is This Really My Life. She's doing a whole week of blogs on green smoothies. I'd bookmark that site, if I were you. My smoothie featured on her site was one a friend shared with me. He and I share the same aversion to processed sugar, but love a sweet smoothie once in a while.

After reading Yoga Journal for two years, I finally tried one of their recipes and fell in love with it. The reason it's green is because of the honeydew and, I guess it's more a mint green smoothie than anything else. This tasty drink cools you off on a hot day and tastes exotic and fresh, like you're vacationing on Tahiti.

Here it is:
1 to 2 cups of fresh honeydew melon
1/2 to 1 cup of water
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp coriander
2 Tbsp lime juice
8 to 10 fresh mint leaves

Blend everything and enjoy.
By the way, Yoga Journal has a great article on their site right now on how to build a great smoothie, along with recipes. Check it out!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Writing or Art?

When I was a teenager, my sister Nanette gave me a book I can't get out of my head. What has stuck with me most from Me: Stories of My Life by Katharine Hepburn was the advice her father gave her in a letter he sent her for her 21st birthday, "try to do one thing well—utilizing the experience of all preceding life and your own wit."

Since then, I've wondered, just what is my "one thing" and how will I know that's the thing to try to do well? I've done a lot of things, but I still ask myself that question.

My husband recently told me that he thought my real talent was watercolor, not writing. So, I ask...for those of you who have read my blog and seen my art. Which is it?

If you've had similar questions and found the answer, I'd love to hear how you figured things out.

In the meantime, here is something I've written that I'm proud of:

Power beyond words
By Pamela Baumeister

Music was Rachel de Azevedo Coleman’s whole life. Growing up in Utah as number five in a musical family of nine, Rachel was surrounded by it. Her father, Lex de Azevedo, was the music director for acts such as the Jackson Five special, “The Sonny & Cher Show” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” He gained fame locally, writing the music for “Saturday’s Warrior.” Rachel, never in the spotlight until after high school, sang and wrote music for her band while expecting her first child, Leah.

“I used to joke that wouldn’t it just be my luck to have a kid that was tone deaf,” Rachel says of her pregnancy. Little did she know that her baby would never hear her mother speak, let alone sing and play the guitar.

Shortly before Rachel and her husband, Aaron, moved to Los Angeles to be close to her sister, Emilie de Azevedo Brown, the couple started noticing something strange about Leah. Women at the grocery store would invariably stop and say “hi” to the adorable tot. At 14 months, Leah would lift her eyebrows, smile and open her mouth. But, no air or sound would come out.

Leah was deaf.

Rachel and Aaron mourned, but they weren’t defeated.

“There was nothing wrong for her. She wasn’t ‘missing out’ — we realized that we needed to learn something new. Maybe we needed to learn to be like her,” Rachel relates.

Signs of progress
The couple learned sign language quickly. So did Leah, who also learned to read at age 2. However, Rachel noticed there were times when Leah was left out.

When Leah was 4 years old and in soccer, Rachel noticed, “The hearing kids in our community were going a different way.” A boy on Leah’s team didn’t want Leah as his partner. She couldn’t “talk or understand” him. Rachel knew things wouldn’t improve.

Taking action, she went to the boy’s preschool and volunteered at story time. She read books and taught the children a few simple signs. At the next soccer practice, the boy signed ‘friend,’ ‘play,’ ‘ball.’ A few signs bridged the gap and, Rachel says, “changed the course of my deaf daughter’s life.”

Through Emilie’s encouragement, the sisters started Two Little Hands Productions, making videos of songs and signs. This was the beginning of “Signing Time,” a show that teaches sign language through music to kids and parents all over the world. The sisters started the venture with next to nothing.

“I was on WIC — we had Social Security — we were scraping by. We couldn’t even pay our rent. I had no idea that we’d be on PBS … I thought if I make these videos, that will change Leah’s world. When Emilie and I did our first video, we didn’t have a loan and now we have a successful, nationally recognized business,” Rachel marvels.

Miraculous sign
Rachel and Aaron decided to have another child. They soon found out that the fetus had water on the brain caused by spina bifida.

“We thought ‘Why us? We don’t even know anything about spina bifida!’” Rachel stopped herself when she realized she felt the same way when they learned Leah was deaf. “Maybe it is the same and there’s nothing wrong — it’s just different than we expected.”

Rachel and her unborn daughter underwent in-utero surgery to repair baby Lucy’s spine. Nine months after a successful birth, Lucy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

“They told us that she was retarded. She would lie on her back and stare — she couldn’t use her body in any way,” remembers Rachel.

Rachel wrote a song when Lucy was two called “Show Me A Sign.” It was her prayer for Lucy to prove the doctors wrong. Shortly after that song was written, Lucy signed “more.”

“I was stunned. After another nine months, she learned to speak. And now she speaks and signs and happens to be in a wheelchair. She is an inspiration to other kids. She gets 100 percent on her spelling tests and is in every ‘Signing Time’ show.”

One language
Rachel’s drive to make a difference in the lives of her children is now changing lives worldwide.

Rachel, Aaron, Leah and Curry Jones, the founder of non-profit Signs of Hope International, traveled to Ghana, Africa, to teach sign language to a school for deaf children. Rachel and Curry went again for a national conference.

“There’s a social stigma for deaf children, even among the educators. Having Rachel there was an ‘a-ha’ moment for them. They realized — after she got up, spoke and sang — that maybe the deaf can learn,” says Curry. ‘Signing Time’ videos are now used in the deaf school. Curry says of the people Rachel touched by sharing herself and her vision, “The children and teachers think, ‘If this American movie star can sign, so can we.’” She has created a paradigm shift for that area of Africa and it’s spreading.

Curry goes to Africa four or five times a year with Signs of Hope International.
“They talk about Rachel every time. She made quite an impression.”

“I refuse to let my circumstances have me.”
Rachel’s “honesty and candor and her willingness to share this personal experience with people has been not only a tremendous coping tool (for her), but also a tremendous gift (for others),” shares Emilie.

“As women and mothers, we are in a great position to make a difference. We can easily use our circumstances as an excuse to not do what we’ve got the potential to do. I’m sure I have a get-out-of-jail-free card for being depressed and saying ‘my life is really hard.’ I just have circumstances that I don’t expect — but who doesn’t?” muses Rachel.

Emilie says, “She is just like you and me — a woman trying to hold it all together. All the while, she is absolutely committed to changing the world.” 

Here is something I've painted that I'm proud of:

I have several other paintings and drawings posted to this blog, if you feel that you need more to go on for a judgment. Where do you think my talent lies? I won't be offended with your judgment, I just need more than my husband's opinion to consider. I probably won't stop doing either one, but I'll likely focus my efforts on one.

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tri, Tri Again Triathlon

If you are wondering if you could do a triathlon, I'm here to tell you that you can. If you know how to swim, bike, and run, you can do a triathlon. If you don't know how to do those things, there are ways to learn. In fact, I helped my neighbor learn to swim so she could do her first triathlon, with an open-water swim, with me. She was amazing...but, that's a story for another post.

I've done about seven sprint triathlons in my life and I'm by no means super fit. I love the thrill of pushing my body to new personal records and the energy of race day is addictive.

Right before the very last tri I did in 2010. It was the hardest tri I've ever done and, clearly, I had no idea what I was in for at the point this photo was taken. 
Last year, though, my doctor advised me to take some time off from any sort of physically strenuous activity. He told me I had adrenal fatigue and I ended up taking nearly a year off. If you want to know more about how I got better, read this post.

Now that my health has returned, I'm itchin' and ready to get back into triathlon training. In many ways I feel like a novice. Slowly, over the summer, I have been conditioning to get back into running, swimming, and biking shape. Now I remember why I don't like taking too much time off from working out (especially from running). The pain of getting back in shape has been daunting and I still have a ways to go. But, I love the feeling I get when I accomplish a goal.

My current goal is to complete Triathamom, a sprint triathlon on August 18, 2012 at the Kearns Oquirrh Park Fitness Center. The event is called a sprint triathlon because each event is a short distance, not because you sprint the whole thing. Egads! Can you imagine? Sprint triathlons are completely manageable for the novice. This one has a 300 meter swim, a 12 mile bike, and a 5K (which is 3.1 miles). I'm not worried about my time, I just want to finish knowing I did my best.

Here are some of the things I've learned as I've been training that might be helpful if you're planning on doing a triathlon any time soon. (I'd love to see you on race day if you're doing Triathamom!) If you have any other tips to add to this brief list, I'd love to read them.

  1. Balance between training and resting. If you think that the harder you push yourself, the better you'll get, you're wrong. Rest is just as important as training. Make sure you give yourself at least two days off each week from hard workouts. If you're too exhausted to work out hard, take a break. 
  2. Practice two events back to back. This is called a brick. I'm guessing that they call it that because your body might feel like a brick when you get off your bike and start to run or get out of the pool and start running. Oof! Take it slow at first. 
  3. Eat! When you're burning loads of calories, you need to fuel up with good food. Get a good balance of protein, carbs, and fat. Plus, drink plenty of water. I keep track of the food I'm eating and the exercise I get with apps on my iPhone. My favorites are My Fitness Pal and a calories burned app. The best thing about working out hard is all the food you can eat! 
  4. Avoid injury by stretching out. Warmed muscles are ideal for stretching. I find that doing yoga several times a week helps me stay loose, injury free and happy. Stretching your muscles after a hard workout is absolutely necessary if you want to prevent injuries.
I'll post more about my training as the weeks go by...right now, I need to change my inner tube on my bike so I can ride it. 

Good luck and stay healthy!

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