Saturday, March 29, 2014

Constantly Trying to Manage Inflamation and Expectations

Last weekend I did my longest run since my last half marathon in July (so... 8 months ago). I ran 10 miles, and it was awesome! I got a new timer app on my phone so I also took a few minutes to play with that to get this shot. I kept thinking about just how amazing our bodies are and what they can do. I need to remember to always be grateful for what I can do!

I negative split the second half and beat the goal I made after the first 5 mile loop so I was happy with that. I ran uphill for the first time in a long time so it was a little harder than usual, but also more fun coming back down. I love downhill so much! Is that bad? :) Anyway, my final time was 1:42:24, averaging 10:14 which is not bad for me. My Achilles felt good, but on the last mile my knee started hurting! WTH?!  I haven't had trouble with my knees in a long time. Why is it always something?

I stopped and walked a few times because of my knee, but I was mostly able to keep running, and like I said, I beat my goal and it didn't hurt at all afterwards so hopefully it's not a big problem. My Achilles also felt good afterwards, and for the rest of the day. At least that's how I remember it. I know runners are good at blocking out pain...

Sunday we went snowboarding and I just went down the bunny hill one time with the kids. The snow was really hard and Ethan and Elle both had hard falls and got hurt. Mindy zoomed down 5 times and had a great time, even doing some jumps! But everyone else was done! We are probably done for the season.

Monday morning it was really hard for me to get up for early morning spin class, but I did it! I got to class a little late, but no one was there yet. The teacher didn't ever show up so I put my music on and ended up just chatting the whole time with the one lady who stayed with me. It was still a good workout even if it wasn't what I expected.

That day my Achilles started hurting again pretty badly, and the next few days I was actually kind of limping on it. I swam and babied it and just hoped it would get better by itself and with ice and ibuprofen, but it didn't. Finally, after not running all week, I called the doctor Friday morning and told the receptionist that I didn't know what to do and that I'm supposed to be running a half marathon next week. When she called back, after talking to the doctor, she said she would call over another prescription for Prednesone for me and for me to take it for 3 days then call back to see how I'm doing.

I'm trying to be ok with the idea that I might not be able to do it. I don't want to push myself and hurt myself more. It's so frustrating because I WANT to do it so badly! ARG! I have learned that managing inflammation might just have to be something I have to work on constantly right now, and while I get through this I will also have to manage my expectations of what I should be able to do. Life never seems to be straight forward and easy, does it?

I woke up this morning with my Achilles feeling pretty sore still so I took my first pills as soon as possible. I was worried it wouldn't work for a while, but at the end of the day it is feeling really good! I am really hopeful that it will get better with the help of my favorite wonder drug and that I'll still be able to do the Strider's Half Marathon in a week!

To close, here is a picture I found on my phone. The kids were having fun playing with my new timer app as well. :) Love them!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Word of Wisdom

Disclaimer: Here comes another long, controversial post. I honestly don't want to offend anyone. This is just something I've been thinking about a lot lately and I can't seem to move on to a different topic in my mind until I write this one. This is, of course, my personal opinion and If you don't want to read about how I don't think the Word of Wisdom is from God, please feel free to stop reading right now. Thanks. :)

If you are unfamiliar with the Word of Wisdom, here is a link to the scripture we get it from. This is kind of a confusing scripture and has been interpreted many ways, but nowadays we just say "Don't drink coffee, tea or alcohol, smoke, or do drugs." If you do any of these things, it will keep you out of the temple, and therefore out of the highest level of heaven where you are allowed to be with your family forever.

(Update: Here is what has to say about the Word of Wisdom and here is what has to say, note the commenters saying things like, "Mormons don't drink coffee, tea, or alcohol because we believe that these things are harmful to our bodies." Most of them call this a health code. Also, they have no problem putting coffee and tea in the same category as alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs.)

I have always been taught and understood that this is a "health code" for the members of the LDS church. Though, when I brought this up on facebook, I did have one person say that it's not really for our health, but it's more of a way to show obedience to God. Ok, I guess that's fine and I shouldn't complain about it not making people more healthy if that's the case, and it really is from God.

But I don't think it is from God.

This law started out as a guideline and it came about because Emma Smith, Joseph Smith's first wife, complained about cleaning up tobacco spit and things like that after the Brethren had their meetings. I can't say I blame her. Blech! It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith drank coffee (which he accused Emma of poisoning at one point), and it is known, from John Taylor's account, that he shared a bottle of wine with his companions in jail before he was shot.

Pete and I started to question the Word of Wisdom a couple years ago when we figured out that wheat is actually not very good for you, and that's one of the things is says to eat. Actually a lot of the things  it says are different then what we say now. Anyway, we rationalized that away and put that on our metaphorical shelves with everything else and tried not to think of it too much until our shelves broke.

(Edit: Someone commented yesterday that wheat is actually not bad for you. This is the first time I've heard this in years! Maybe I've just been living in a "wheat is bad for you" bubble? Anyway, I wanted to throw in here that the jury is still out on whether wheat is good for you or not, but I'm thinking of refined white flour which seems to be the most common way it is consumed in the US. And I also don't think it should be the staff of life as they say. I used to rationalize, "well, the word of wisdom didn't have to say to only eat whole wheat flour because they didn't have refined flour or processed foods back then, and sugar was really scarce so they didn't even need to mention that." Yeah, but this is supposed to be from God. Why didn't he know about these things and about how sick it would make people? And even if he didn't know back then, why haven't they updated it now that they do know?)

Coffee Is Good For You?

After giving myself permission to question the church, I found a study where they say that "moderate coffee consumption can appreciably reduce your risk of Alzheimer's or delay its onset."  I know they're not saying it's a sure thing, but that fact that there's a chance to reduce your risk for this terrible disease is an amazing thing! I don't know about you, but I will do anything I can to avoid or even delay getting Alzheimer's! Frankly, I'm horrified that the church is basically denying all their faithful members access to this protection, and it's not only from Alzheimer's, but also Parkinson's disease, stroke, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers.

Caffeine is a drug and, like everything, coffee should be used in moderation. If you have side effects from drinking it, then it is not for you. Some people get jittery when they drink it, and I know some people just can't stand the taste of it. That's fine, it's totally up to you if they want to drink it or not. I had one person say that if they could figure out what part of coffee reduces the risk of Alzheimer's and put it into a pill, then they would take that. I don't believe in this. I think it's important to eat things in their whole form as much as possible, and caffeine can actually be lethal in its concentrated form. So I will stick to just drinking coffee, which people have been doing for hundreds of years.

Can You Drink and Not Be Addicted?

My whole life I was a very strict observer of the Word of Wisdom. I was always so proud of the fact that I had never even tasted any alcohol or coffee and that I didn't have that dependence on it that so many people have. We are pretty much taught that if you have one drink, you will become addicted so you are more "free" if you don't even try it.

The first time I really drank coffee around believers was when I was in Ireland. I explained to them that coffee made me feel better, and that I just liked it, and one of them stated, "So, you're addicted." I did not argue, but that totally does not mean I'm addicted, plus that was not a very nice thing to say.

Wikipedia describes addiction as "the continued repetition of a behavior despite adverse consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors."

I have not noticed any adverse consequences to drinking coffee, or I wouldn't drink it. And I'm pretty sure I'm not drinking it because of a neurological impairment. I am totally fine if I don't drink coffee. I don't need it to function, and I have not noticed any withdrawal symptoms when I don't drink it. I drink it because I feel like it is actually good for me.

I would also like to add that I was pretty much shocked to see that most adults outside the church drink coffee and alcohol and that most people are just normal people and they're not all alcoholics! I have talked to people still in the church and they think that if you have one drink, you will get drunk, and if you ever get drunk, you are an alcoholic. This is one of the many myths I believed to be true my whole life.

Silly Rabbit, Coffee is for Grown-Ups!

The thing about coffee is that I can now have a treat - something comforting and warm - without the guilt. Because I don't put sugar in my coffee, just a little half and half, it is very low calorie and does not spike my blood sugar. I have also noticed that, since I've been drinking coffee, my cravings for sweet things have gone way down! I feel like I have more of an adult pallet now, and don't enjoy super sweet things nearly as much as I used to. I think this is an amazing side effect!

Being a member of the LDS church is like being stuck at a perpetual kid's table where you are never able to graduate to the grown-up table and start drinking coffee instead of hot chocolate, wine instead of juice and beer instead of soda. It seems like as you move to those other things, you also grow out of your childish taste for the really sweet things. As we get older, our bodies can no longer process the same amounts of sugar as when we were young. Or, I should say, our pancreas are getting sick and tired of processing all the sugar! I don't think it could be a bad thing to move away from the sugary drinks and foods when this is happening. (Not that I think kids should eat a lot of sugar either, but they really can "get away with it" easier.)

One thing I've noticed is how common it is for adults in the LDS church to drink hot chocolate. I haven't been on the outside long, but I don't think most adults drink hot chocolate very often. Do they? Please correct me if I'm wrong. (Edit: appartuntly they do in Switzerland, and I bet it is amazing there!) The thing about it is that they are ordering it at breakfast because they think it is better for them than coffee. And they will feel all smug as they sip it and watch people drink their coffee, thinking they made the better choice. The funny thing is that the coffee drinkers are probably thinking the same thing about them. Hot chocolate is NOT a substitute for coffee, and it is NOT better for you. Maybe if it was made with straight cocoa beans it would be, but usually there is so much sugar in that stuff! I'm not saying there should be no place for hot chocolate, it is delicious. But if you're drinking it because you think it is the better choice, you may want to rethink that. Drink water instead. If you're drinking it as a treat, please ignore me. I actually had some really delicious hot chocolate in Dublin.

This goes for soda as well. Though most members of the church would never drink coffee, most of them are totally ok with drinking Coke or other caffeinated soft drinks which don't interfere with your temple recommend. This makes me so sad. I view soda as one of the worst things you can put into your body. It is so bad for you, guys! But the church has no problem with you drinking that. Just don't drink coffee which is all natural, helpful to your body, has very few calories and no sugar unless you add it yourself.

A glass of wine every night is actually good for you too. I haven't seen any research showing that a bowl of ice cream or a candy bar every night is good for you, though. Let me know if you have...

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I don't like dessert! I'm just saying my desire for it has gone down a noticeable amount this past year, and that it's nice to have other kinds of treats other than just sugary ones.

Coffee and Training

Drinking coffee before my workouts in the morning has been really nice. First of all, it's just a nice thing to wake up to. It makes me feel more excited to do my workout, or clean the kitchen, or whatever I need to do. It helps get me hydrated, and I usually drink a glass of water with it. If I drink it an hour or so before I run, it will get things moving for me. I used to always need a bathroom break a mile or two into my run. But now, I can usually get that all taken care of before I leave. This might be my favorite thing about coffee!

Runner's World recently put out an article entitled Eight Reasons to Sip on Coffee. They mention some of same things as me, and their list of great things coffee does also includes:

  1. Power Performance
  2. Boost Antioxidants
  3. Improve Mood
  4. Lower Heart-Disease Risk
  5. Dodge Diabetes
  6. Enhance Brain Function
  7. Protect Your Liver
  8. Relieve Stress

What are your experiences with coffee, tea and alcohol with your training. I'd love to hear all your pros and cons and what works for you.

More Experiences

Finally, I'm just so happy that I can now take my salon up on their offer for a cup of coffee when I'm in there. They have good coffee, and it just makes me feel that much more pampered. :)

My life overall may not be better or worse because of changing my "Word of Wisdom," and I may not be a better or worse person, but I do feel like I have been able to experience more things and connect with more people along with being less judgmental. I also feel like it will make me more healthy and strong so that I really can run and not be weary.

For me, leaving the church was like taking my goggles off after a hard swim set and they're all fogged up. When I take them off, I'm amazed at how clear everything is.

The world outside the church is not the scary place I always thought it was. Yes there is a lot of bad stuff out there, but overall the world is amazing and beautiful and the people are too! I've realized that people are people, and that coffee, tea and alcohol are just drinks. They are not bad or good and do not make the people who drink them bad or good. They are just drinks. Adults are, in fact, capable of making their own decisions about what they want to eat or drink or wear or do, or whatever! Of course, we can only make decisions based on what we know so it's really good to always continue learning as much as we can about everything in this wonderful world of ours!

So, what does my Word of Wisdom look like now?

Something like this (I do my best with this, but if I break one of my rules, I still get to go to heaven.):

  • Avoid highly processed foods.
  • No soda. Period.
  • No smoking. I love my lungs!
  • Eat grains in moderation, mostly whole grains.
  • Eat processed sugar in very small amounts.
  • Drink a lot of water.
  • Drink 2-4 cups of coffee a day.
  • Drink unsweetened tea (update via commenter's suggestion)
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Eat as many fruits and vegetables as possible.
  • Make sure meat and eggs are grass fed, free range, or wild caught as much as possible. (There's an amazing Elk burger at Cafe Niche here in Salt Lake!)
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week.
  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
What is your World of Wisdom? What would you add or take away from my list?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Anniversary Trip - WPPI Party Hoppers

Tuesday morning, we took it easy and went to Rise and Shine, a Steak and Egg Place. It was a cute place. The waitresses were in pajamas, and look at this cute little pot of bread?! It was so amazing, slightly sweet with a little bit of cinnamon swirled in. I ordered an omelet which came with hash browns. It was really good, but I was only able to eat half of it.

After breakfast, we went shopping for a shirt for Pete and accessories for me, and I found the perfect handbag to go with my shoes! It was a pretty laid back morning. When we got back to the hotel, I went for a pretty easy 3 mile run on Las Vegas Boulevard which is the street the strip is on, but our hotel was too far away to really be interesting. There was actually a section where the sidewalk disappeared and I had to run on dirt off the road. It was hot and windy and I turned around at the dead pidgin.

When I got back, I ate the rest of my omelet which was perfect! Then we went down and hung out at the pool for a while. It was a little bit chilly so we were sad that most of the lazy river was in the shade. It was nice, though. Then we went back in and got ready for our night out.

We made it to the MGM Grand, which is where we were supposed to meet our shuttle for the first party, with about half an hour to spare. We went to this Italian place called Otto where we got a quick Margarita Pizza to share. I loved these doors there!

We stood around with a few other people at the entrance to MGM Grand and no one really knew what was going on or where we were going. Finally, some guys from Richard Photo Lab, who were throwing the party, came and got us and we all went outside to await the mystery shuttle. When it got there it was this awesome, huge party bus! So rad!

The bus had loud music playing and lights flashing so it was really exciting! We still didn't know where we were going, and when we saw The Peppermill, Pete said, "Please be the Peppermill!" And then we turned in! It was awesome! So retro and psychedelic! There were these pits, that you can kind of see behind me here, that were full of water with fire in the middle!

It was pretty awesome! They gave us all 2 tickets for free drinks, and they also had food for everyone which was nice, but nothing amazing. We did kind of feel out of place with all these photographers, and I must admit that I felt a little too self conscious to pull out my phone and take many pictures. Silly, I know. :) It was cool to talk to some of the people, though. They were from all over - Chicago, Canada, California -  and it was so cool to hear them say, "Instaproofs? Oh yeah, I use that." Instaproofs is kind of like our (Ok, Pete's, I'm technically not really part of it) baby so that just made my heart happy all night!

After a couple hours, we decided it was time to make our way over to the second party - The Silver Rush Party. We kind of still felt like we didn't really know what was going on, but we knew it was at the Artisan Hotel so we grabbed a cab and he took us right over. Too bad we were some of the first people there so not much was going on yet which made it feel even more confusing. We were just kind of like, "What are we supposed to do?" They did take our picture with this cool little instant photo camera, kind of like a smaller version of a Polaroid then they had an iPad to upload it onto. 

You can go look at all the photos people uploaded here

Here's pretty much the only picture I took so you can kind of see the decor.  

It was a lot different from the first party. It was a really cool place and decorated nicely, but there was no free drinks or food (that we knew of, like I said, we didn't really know what was going on...) which was disappointing. We ordered some stuffed figs or something off the hotel's menu and there were only 4 tiny little things on the plate when he brought it out. They were really good, but not enough for me!

Here I am on the back patio where the band played - before anyone else was out there.

Luckily, after wandering around and exploring a little, we met the band that was going to start playing soon. They seemed like really cool guys. They are the Lee Koch Trio and they were really good so once they started playing, it was a lot more fun.

When the band went on their break at about midnight, we decided to call it a night. We had to get a picture by the instaproofs sign on (or slightly off...) the red carpet first. It was a fun, though tiring, night and so awesome to be there representing instaproofs!

We stopped at McDonald's for some Egg McMuffins on our way back to the hotel! Whew, we are not party animals! LOL

The next day we made our way back home. It was good to be back, but we were also sad to leave so soon. There will have to be another Vegas trip in our future.

Anniversary Trip - Climbing at Red Rocks

Monday morning we ate, packed a few snacks then headed out to Red Rock Canyon (also called Red Rocks by the locals). I was so excited to get out there again. It is so beautiful and totally not how you picture Vegas! :)

We were both feeling sore from the day before. We totally didn't train for this trip, and do not have very much climbing endurance at all. I had also planned on it being warmer here than St. George, but it was actually pretty chilly this day.

I ended up just doing one route on top rope and it was SCARY! Sandstone is really scary to climb on since a lot of the foot holds are just friction, and I even had to do one step up with pretty much no hands! I was on top rope so I shouldn't have been scared. But I still was. Climbing is SO MENTAL. It totally messes with my brain. I did manage to make it to the top without using the rope so that felt really good! But it did take me a long time and stressed me out. :) The best things in life don't come for free I guess.

We moved over and Pete did this really hard route that was super steep and outside his comfort zone! I was very impressed! I didn't even try to top rope that one.

The beauty of this place is so unreal!

After leaving Red Rocks, we drove around a little, finding this crazy tiny town called Blue Diamond and some wild burrows on the side of the road. Both were cool to see. It is a $500 fine if you get caught feeding those wild burrows btw.

Then we went back to our hotel for a little pool time. Yes, I was the crazy lady swimming laps in the hotel pool! I was going to swim against the currant in the lazy river, and that would have been awesome! But at the last minute, we saw that there was another, oval-shaped pool that had one lane line down the middle. I decided to swim here so I could still do my Pace Club workout. It was a few strokes short of my regular 25 yard pool, but it wasn't too bad. I wish I could always do my swims outside!

For dinner we went to The Venetian where we ate at Mario Batali's restaurant. It was really good!

The Venetian is always fun to go into because it's made to look like you're outside in Venice. There's even a canal where you can take a gondola ride, complete with singing gondolier. We didn't do that this time, but that's what we did for our first anniversary, 12 years ago!

After dinner, we went to a bar called Freakin' Frog and met some guys from the party we would be going to the next day, along with a bunch of photographers from the convention. That was pretty fun, and overwhelming with new faces and names all around. But it's always fun to talk to new people, and they gave us more details about the party so we would know a little more about what was going on.

After that, we went back to The Strip and checked out The Cosmopolitan Hotel. There were these amazing pink chandeliers when we first walked in! Haha, Vegas is so Vegas!

They also have this really cool, 3 story bar that looks like a giant chandelier. Very glamorous!

Walking over The Strip to get back to our car. We probably got back to the hotel at around 1 and we very ready to rest and recover for the next day!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Anniversary Trip - Climbing at Black Rocks

This month Pete and I are celebrating our 13 year anniversary! CRAZY! We decided we wanted to do a trip to Vegas again, and it happend to fall just at the right time to go to some parties Pete's print ordering site, Instaproofs, was sponsering for WPPI. Perfect!

We drove down to St. George last Saturday where I dropped him off for an Instaproofs meeting, then went to my friends house. I pulled up and her kids were all excited to see me. I was worried they would be disappointed when they saw I didn't have my kids, but they weren't. They were so cute and sweet and all gathered around to watch me eat (they had already had dinner but saved me some), and tell me all about their day and the cool things going on in their lives. I loved it! They totally made me feel so loved! 

It was a nice relaxing night and after our husbands got home (they were both at the meeting together), we stayed up until like 2am catching up with our friends who we hadn't seen in way too long. 

In the morning, Pete and I decided to go climbing at Black Rocks since it will be closing in a couple weeks due to the fact that it is a nesting area for the protected tortoises that live down there (that I have never seen). 

It was such a beautiful day! Can you believe these colors!?

You hike out on red dirt to the canyon where it suddenly turns into black rocks. It's a really cool place and fun to just hike around in! We went climbing here last almost exactly a year ago.

Here's the first route we decided to do. Pete went first, then pulled the rope so I could lead it too. It was so scary! So much harder than the gym!

But I did it!

I came down and we both lead it again. I cleaned it this time which is still scary for me so I had a lot of practice keeping calm under pressure.

Then we moved over to find our next route, and some guys that were leaving told us this one was his favorite route out here so I guess we had to do it! Pete went up first and it seemed much harder so I decided to just top rope it.

I started out like a trooper, not using the rope, and made it over that big boulder! Yeah!

But then it got really hard and scary. Here I am hanging on the rope, talking myself in to finishing it. I  got really frustrated and almost started crying, but I eventually made it to the top! I even managed to clean it. Whew, it was hard! It was getting really warm in the sun on that black rock so we decided to call it a day after this route.

It was such a great day! We got some sun, got out of our comfort zones, and got to be together. I loved it so much! It was a perfect start to our anniversary trip!

As soon as we finished, we just stopped at a gas station for gas and snacks and headed to Las Vegas!

We didn't get to check into our hotel until 2 hours after we got there so we walked around the complex a little and hung out in the hot tub while we waited. It was a little cool to hang out by the pool for too long.

We ate at Lotus of Siam again, and I got some really spicy food again! You'd think I'd learn...