Swimming upstream

You know me and you know my love for food, desserts and everything nice.

You know me, you also know that I’ve adjusted my life style to exercise regularly and eat food with ‘good’ calories. It’s been a good balance so far with encouraging results.

I have had people challenge my excercise habits, and I tell them its to keep my heart healthy and to burn up excess calories. I was convinced of the necesity of this arguement until last night. I passed the threshold of ‘convinced’ into the realm of ‘beyond reasable doubt‘.

So about Last night…..

I’ve been working from a location in the far east for 2 weeks now. The first sight of the deserts and first taste of the different cuisines- I was totally smitten. From Indian, to Chinese, to Thai , to Japanese, to Malay……. the highlight of our day as we rode back to the hotel was agreeing where to go for dinner and what time to meet at the lobby.

I would always ask for a 90min period of grace before dinner …. 1 hour to walk/ run and 30 minutes to shower and look pretty before dinner. This didn’t usually go down well with the hungry guys but being the only chick on the team they agreed most days but not without grumbling.  And so in 2 weeks I’ve racked up a pretty impressive mileage and also eaten an equally pretty impressive amount of food above the usual. And in my mind it balanced out nicely.

But even with average 1700 calories a day I burn excercising, I was not prepared for the shock of last night.  

A few of my colleagues who reside here took me out for dinner, the first time without my fellow visitor hotel buddies.  As usual I ordered a fresh watermelon juice (I fell in love with their refreshing healty fresh fruit juices options) and left the food order to the experienced people. 

What I heard next shocked me to the bone marrow.  Someone ordered same juice as me but added “no sugar please“. I heard food orders round the table; beef , fish, vegetables …. and all followed by “no sugar please“.

So I lean over to my left and ask the man “what’s this no sugar deal?.” He responded casually ” oh, these people add sugar to everything …so when you eat out you have to specify- no sugar“.

Shock!!! Then it clicked…So that’s it! ..that’s why I drag myself out of bed tired every morning….that’s why after dinner I’m buzzing around my room and can’t sleep…. that’s why by lunch time I’m as hungry as a lion…. that’s why I haven’t been ‘going ‘ regularly….. OMG…. visions of my meals these past days flash past my eyes. I’ve been swimming upstream.  I quickly recovered and buried my sorrows in another sumptious dinner.

My estimation of how much calories I’ve eaten over this 2 weeks is way off because I have absolutely no clue of how much sugar is floating around my blood and brain (and waistline). All I can say is, thank you Lord for the revelation to increase my excercise target to daily vs thrice a week. Even though I didn’t meet the target, I succeeded in doing 5/7 days which is a pass by any standard.

It’s time to head home and it’ll be all about de-sugarising my system. Lots of Water, green tea,  maintain the 5/7 pattern and stay away from anything that remotely looks like sugar.

#SugarShocked

#SugarHigh

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6 ways to know you’ve been switched by aliens

It’s been 7 months since I kissed my comfy couch bye-bye and sometimes I wonder what happened to the old sleep-loving-lethargic-me. The only plausible solution is that I must have been unknowingly abducted by aliens, cloned and switched so that no one would notice.

On the surface it’s Elozino alright, but there are just some weird things going on below the surface that can only be attributed to my clone theory. So, I’m sharing my top 6 ways to know if you have been switched;

1. You think that running in the rain is cool;   40% sweat / 60% rain / 100% alien

2. You opt for a near 2 hour walk instead of getting a ride home: Ask me why?, just because ………

 

3. The first item that goes into your bags on a business trip are your running shoes


4. Getting a new pair of running shoes is like Christmas coming early

5. It’s cold, you are on holiday but you still go out and run….. this one beats me……?


6. Best of all, you’ve consistently met your personal target to run 5k at a pace of less than 10min/km

The list of strange goings on is endless but I’ve shared my favorite 6… But these are good strange things;

  • Health risk indices looking good (BMI, waist/hip ratio, blood pressure etc all green)
  • Visits to the Dr’s consulting room are limited to routine medicals
  • Sleep is so much better
  • Attention span so much longer
  • Let’s not go to how the clothes fit…..subject of another post *wink*

Strange things are indeed happening and i’m wondering if there are enough couches on that alien spaceship for the abducted me and also hoping that this clone is built to last.

Achieving a single digit pace

My last key milestone recorded in my journal was achieving a non-stop-running-for-5k goal. That was huge for me and I said to myself, “well done, but what next? ” I agreed with my legs to work on my running pace (measure of speed), try to pick up legs higher to achieve a longer stride, try to run faster – all avenues to get my pace down to a single digit from the 12-13 min/km I started out with.

 So, with all best intentions I head out for each run with that goal in mind………but week after week, I still find my pace east of 10min/km. My last run was with thighs that felt like lead but I kept pushing with my goal in mind. I made it through the laps and yet again record a 10.21 min/km pace. At this point a 9.99 min/km will be the colour of success. But, there is no giving up, legs of lead or legs of feathers I’ll be out there again as per my running schedule to try and knock off 22 secs off each km.
This determination makes me wonder about my other goals and dreams…how resilient have I been? How resilient have you been? Many times it’s just so much more convenient to throw in the towel and walk away when mountains in our way won’t budge. But my running teaches subtle lessons everyday : I’ll keep pushing till the mountain budges.

2 lessons that dropped in my spirit as I completed my last run;

  1. A goal is usually to set to stretch you, to upgrade you, to improve you. An abandoned goal means you remain on the same level but an accomplished goal means you step up to a higher level. What are those goals that have been placed in the chiller or trashed because there were either too hard or taking too long to achieve. I suggest we dust them up and refresh…..Perhaps the goal was too ambitious in the first instance, can we do an honest refresh and perhaps split them up into bite-size-achievable goals? For example, I know runners that do 6 min/km but my achieving such a goal in the near term is a fiction story.
  2. Life without Goals is boring. Every day we need new challenges to keep us focused on excellence; doing the same thing over and over leads to ‘normal’ and we aren’t created for normal. We are created to excel, to dominate, to win. So, if there are no new goals or challenges in your life, create some, put yourself on the winning edge. I especially love Spiritual goals – setting self targets that help me study the bible more, pray more, meditate more and intercede more, any thing that helps me get closer to the throne room of God. In the past, I’ve given up on a few spiritual goals just because they were too tough or required me to sacrifice sleep. But my single digit run goal has taught me that I have sufficient grace to keep pushing those mountains (whether spiritual or physical). Giving up is not an option for a winner and winner I am.

The bible teaches us in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”. 

This summarizes where I am today, all that I have attained by God’s grace is behind and I am facing forward and hoping that someone reading this is at the same place. Today, I encourage myself to reach forward to bigger goals in the physical, higher callings in the spiritual….living on the edge and excelling in ALL that I do, to the glory of God.

So single digit I hear someone say again?  That should be easy right? Wrong! Tough goal for the lead legs, but I’m sure pushing steadily for 10 seconds faster today , 20 seconds faster tomorrow, I can soon shave off the much needed 2 minutes required to meet this target. I pray that the next entry in this journal will be celebrating this achievement plus a new list of spiritual goals I just set for myself :).

Weeks 9 & 10 of 10

Lesson learnt: Hard work and consistency pays off
I started to keep notes 10 weeks ago for 2 main reasons;
  1. To hold myself accountable and not return to my very attractive couch
  2. To remind myself how much I’ve grown. Picture1

Looking back, all I can now say is “it was a great idea” and I have real proof that I’ve earned my stripes to be called a runner.

 
My goal to learn how to run in 10 weeks has been successful. The primary agenda was to learn to run-full stop, Secondary agenda was to build endurance to run 5km non stop without walking breaks included. Both were met 150%.
My current 5+KM route is me running all the way except for a 5 minute warm up walk at the beginning and another 5 minute cool off walk at the end. Is that awesome or what???
 
I MADE IT TO MY BUS STOP 
I’ve learnt loads of lessons along the way which I’ve already documented in this journal, but one which I must now share is that an excuse is a tussle between your flesh and your spirit. When the flesh wins, we stagnate. When the spirit wins we progress.
For many years I have had a list of very water tight excuses not to excercise, very good reasons actually :), but looking back I’m glad I’ve overcome most of them. Most? Someone asks , you’ll understand shortly.
  • Excuse 1: but I’m tired! – I’m married to a man that gets up early most mornings to exercise. I have a long commute so count me out of early morning workout during the weekdays, but at weekend it’s usually “are you coming along today?”, from the depths of my sleep “no, i’m tired”. Well those days are gone, my Saturday’s are the only days I can have an unhurried run so I cherish them. I’m now up by 6am to have my quiet time with the Lord then off on my running route by 7am for an hour. It refreshes (I can’t believe I just said that) and energizes me for my busy Saturday which in the past I would just manage and drag myself through.
  • Excuse 2: but I’m too busy! – my long commute , work schedule and ministry commitments mean I don’t get home till late, as late as 9 pm some days. Well, a run day is a run day IS a run day, so my new life now consists of running laps in my short drive way when it’s too late to go out. This worries the night guard to no end but he’ll get used it. 
  • Excuse 3: but I’m fasting! – how do you keep up an exercise routine and fast ? Trust me this is a non issue and I can testify to that. Of course one needs to be careful not to overdo it while fasting but I have learnt to plan my runs around high energy periods; early in the mornings is best when you still have energy stored up from last nights dinner.
  • Excuse 4: but the sweat will mess up my hair! – that excuse expired 3 years ago after I cut my hair and went natural, but I still managed to hang on to the lame excuse when running out of good excuses. Girl, if it’s sweaty wash it!
  • Excuse 5: but it’s too hot! – then run before the sun comes up. But I’m too tired to wake up early…..refer to mitigation for excuse 1 :). Running in the evening after the sun goes down is another mitigation for this excuse, that is, when I can get home before 6pm….refer to excuse 2 for supporting mitigation 🙂
  • Excuse 6: but it’s raining! – this my friends I am yet to overcome. God has been merciful and started me on this journey during the dry season, I haven’t had to deal with rain in 10 weeks. I have read of the joy of running in the rain….hmm, not sure about that…..we will have to wait and see.

My 10 week journey from couch to 5km is now complete and I pat myself on the back. 5/6 excuses busted, that’s a good deal by any standard.

NEXT STOP
Short term goal is to improve my timing; yes, I can do 5km but I struggle through some portions of my route. There are a few uphill sections that I really struggle through, I deliberately slow down there to conserve energy and then pick up when I get to level ground. My target is to complete my entire route at the same pace.
Mid term goal is to promote myself and download a ” how to run 10km ” plan……. Don’t change the dial..stay tuned.
Long term goal is to register for a race ( 4K or 10k) and get my first official medal. Kindly note that running a marathon doesn’t feature anywhere on my horizon!!!!
SPECIAL THANKS AT THIS BUS STOP
To hubby…….I did it! Thanks to your encouragement all through the years, it finally paid off.
To special peeps and seasoned runners that were rooting for me through out: Bubbles, Ogo, Ehyme…….thanks for all the tips!
To all those inspired by my journey……Yes, you can….no excuses please….1 step at a time…if I can do it…you can.
See you at the next stop

Weeks 5,6,7,8 of 10

Lesson learnt: Never say never


 This journey started as a self dare, I knew it would be hard and that the learning curve will be very steep but I did not reckon that in 5 weeks I would be waking up early in the mornings eager to run.

The progress has been steady, pushing the boundaries each week…..Now I laugh (ha ha) in the face of a 1 minute interval run that seemed impossible a few weeks ago. My endurance has crept up the scale and ‘yours truly’ is now doing 10 minutes stretches of running as cool as a sweating cucumber. My running route is now too short for me as I’m running more/ walking less thereby finishing earlier, so I spent the whole of week 8 experimenting safe roads I can include to my route to make up my total 40 minutes.

I have learnt that the human body is super resilient …give it time, it will get used to any challenge and then get ready to absorb more. The only thing in the small print that I should mention is consistency – it is the key to steady progress. 6 things have aided this steady improvement; a clear target, an agreed weekly pace, avoiding distractions, keeping focused and music.

  • I have shared my running target earlier in this journal……to be able to run 5km non stop by the end of 10 weeks.
  • I have a weekly pace which helps me build up my endurance and yes, my confidence that I really can do more.
  • I’ve selected a time and a running path with minimum distractions…cars, motor bikes. I do not run in the dark.
  • I do not take calls while I’m out…my mind is fully set on competing the days assignment.
  • I have used music to encourage myself and I have my running worship playlist. I’ve moved from “keep running till this 1 song is over” to “keep moving till the next 4 songs are over”. It takes me from the road to the heavens…I run with wings 🙂

As I sit here, I’m bold to say these 6 things can be applied to every aspect of our lives we’ve considered impossible especially spiritual goals. Lets take the angle of praying for instance. A few people have a challenge praying for a prolonged period of time. So I say, document your plan. What’s your target? 10 mins, 20,60?….it is achievable. My suggestion is as follows based on my experience;

  1. Plan to succeed. Set a target, minimum of 6 weeks, maximum of 12 weeks
  2. Pace yourself. Set out a daily prayer plan. Starting with 5/10 minutes a day and increasing by 5minutes each week ( depending on your target)
  3. No distractions. Select a period in the day when you will be least distracted. Early morning works perfectly for runs and also prayers because the traffic is low both on the roads and at home.
  4. Focus. Phones and other gadgets are a distraction. Calls can always be returned.
  5. Sing. It helps to focus. It helps to get you on the track of the business of the day. It helps to bring the presence of God into your room. Never feel guilty about going into praise-worship mode if words fail you. Just spend your planned time in His presence singing and praying.
  6. Consistency. If you meet God at the agreed time every day for 1 week, I guarantee you that you’ll be wanting more time. Moving up the prayer ladder shouldn’t be difficult.
  7. Finally, look out for others. If you run out of prayers for yourself…pray for friends, pray for the country, pray for the victims of terrorist attacks, pray for the orphans, the widows, the homeless….you can do it.

Building up a consistent prayer life has been used as an example and time permitting we could talk about fasting, bible study, etc. The list is endless. I have learnt that when a Golaith stands before men, the first instinct is to panic. But let’s take on the David mindset and first agree with God the father that with His help the giant can fall.  So I close with a challenge…are you up to take on your Golaith??

week 4 of 10

Lesson learnt: the journey of a thousand miles starts with the first few steps
4 minutes done and dusted.
It’s amazing the amount of functionalities on our phones that we don’t use. My phone now offers me music, GPS tracking, a timer and a stop watch. Missing critical item is a masseuse.
My work-outs now have a short prep session….
  •  Put on running shoes
  • Select my music playlist, get the music going
  • Open my running app and start a new session
  • Set up my 4 min run 1min walk sequence on the timer
  • Go
Running with a timer helps to focus and track progress. This week started off with me waiting expectantly for that beep from my timer which signified that I could stop running, i’d sometimes wonder if the timer had stopped working. But the week ended with me actually surprised that the beep was coming ‘early’ while I still had some wind left. That’s a good sign, a very good sign. I’ve been tempted severally to keep going after that beep but I remember my lessons learnt from week 3- stick to the plan.
I remind myself that I am not in a competition with anyone, not even myself. So I need to take my time and build endurance, strengthen those muscles and tendons that have just been brought out of retirement just 4 weeks ago, pace myself gradually and ensure I don’t miss out of any of the training sessions now featuring boldly in my calendar. But I’m also keeping an eye on the end point and have identified 2 incentives to keep me excited about making a 5km  non-stop run.
  1. Plan a running route through my neighborhood coldstone Ice cream outlet and order the largest ice cream special on the menu
  2.  Register for a run in an exotic location, so I can mingle with my new ‘runner peers’and grab a well deserved holiday at the same time.
It’s a balancing game….short term vs long term ….and win we must, healthy and injury free……ice cream included.

Week 2 & 3 of 10

Lesson learnt: Shake it, but don’t break it
Week 2 and 3 are combined in my journal simply for efficiency andnot because I’ve thrown in the towel.
                                        ****************
I’ve learnt a valuable lesson these 2 weeks; that no matter how much you are tempted to push the boundaries be mindful that boundaries are there for a reason. It’s very much like the railings installed on staircases, they are meant to be used. One can go up and down without holding on to the railings but after a fall, you finally understand why they are there in the first place.

My online coach has provided me with a 10 week plan, each week adding a bit more to my endurance, this plan must have been tried and tested by several new runners, I’m certainly not the first. At the end of week 3, the target was to be able to run 2 minutes non-stop, but I was comfortable with 3minute runs and feeling very proud. But each time I boasted to friends I always got ” you mean it’s only 3 minutes you can do?” 😦

This ‘inspired’ me to set my timer for 4 minutes last Saturday, the first 4min run was great, the second was good, the third set was…. well…. incomplete. My legs simply refused to move. I was painfully aware yet again of how long a minute was…..I thought I had learnt that lesson in week one…but as with most things in life, success gets to the head and we forget. As I walked off the pain, I ‘advised myself’ and reset my timer back to 3minutes before completing my run. Lesson learnt.

3 other lessons I have learnt at the end of week 3 are:

1. Getting home in time to run in daylight is close to impossible. Always have a plan B , not running is not an option. I have chosen to use the limited space in my compound and just keep running in circles.

2. Motorists and cyclists expect you to get out of their way. There is no plan B, stay as far away from them as possible.

3. Making a choice between early morning sleep and getting up to run requires all of my will power and then some, so far the negotiations with my pillow have been successful. I hope it stays this way.
Current status 

At the end of week3, my breathing is so much more controlled, it’s unbelievable. My stretched target was to achieve comfortable 3 minute cycles vs the 2 minute cycles in my plan, I can safely say I’ve achieved this goal- check!

Next week, I shoot again for 4 minutes…and pray that nothing breaks.