Archive for fitness

Buy this! Do that! Subscribe here! Don’t eat that! And other expensive extreme stuff that doesn’t work…

Posted in come back, health & fitness, Mom, training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2018 by runmyssierun

“You need to eat low carb and high protein. Lots of meat!”

“No, you need to stop killing animals. Go vegan. Eat fruits and berries and vegetables and you’ll be fit naturally.”

“No, all you need is this meal replacement shake that you can buy from me.”

Everywhere I turn, there seems to be people who tell me how I’m supposed to be doing things… and yet, here I am… still.

I remember growing up watching my mom drinking tab and being on the grapefruit diet. I’m guilty of buying a Shake Weight, thigh master and some ridiculous balance thingamajig that a couple of fellow Realtors® convinced me to get with them – and never used.

I remember my husband’s grandmother eating a full box of chocolate exlax every other night and being surrounded by a bunch of beauty queens with other notorious eating disorders that seemed oddly ordinary at the time. In my house, there was a full set of Gilad, Jane Fonda, Buns of Steel and Cindy Crawford on betamax tapes.

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I pay an $80 monthly membership for my husband’s jujitsu gym that he went to a couple of time about 7 months ago. Also pay for a monthly membership for us to go to another gym and now pay extra for spin classes that I can get free with my monthly gym membership at the other place. I’ve paid for medical weightloss programs like HCG and tried every diet known to mankind like keto, adkins, paleo, bone broth, vegan, vegetarian, fasting, juicing, eating five servings of air a day, etc…. only to find that my triglycerides go through the roof, extremities swell up like the elephant man and end up gaining more weight than when I started the silly diet! I’ve tried to melt off pounds with saunas, hot yoga and trashbag looking sweat suits and even tried to freeze off love handles with cryotherapy (although cryo is really good for other things and muscle recoop that I love and saunas for simple peace) and continue to remain the flabalanche that I am.  I’ve hesitantly bought into programs where if I just drink this shake, I can magically melt off the pounds…. really just look at these before and after pictures of one of their clients yada yada yada. And have now had the horrible thought go through my head where I’ve reduced myself to giving up and thinking if I just go get a mommy make over now, could I possibly have enough time to recover and be perfect for my son’s wedding pictures? Every possible option has been entertained, hesitantly entered, jumped in head first 100% and still failed miserably.

Thousands of dollars spent and hundreds of pounds lost and gained and lost again and gained back… I’ve come to the conclusion that health and fitness is NOT a one size fits all solution. Until I did things the old fashioned way – the hard way – the long way – and even then, got hurt and have found myself starting over.

Each one of our bodies are different from the other and so are our genetics, our good habits, bad habits, every day physical behaviors, customs and beliefs. To get sucker punched hard enough to think that there is one magic pill, shake or exercise and diet program that can conquer this multifaceted dilemma is seriously far fetched.

What I write about in this blog is what my own personal family history, upbringing, genetics and experiences have brought me. It may NOT fit you. If you have just started reading this blog, go to the search box and type in “How it all started” and read the entries in chronological order, How It All Started I, How It All Started II and How It All Started III.

I’ve learned through the course of all this time, expense and great lessons is simple:

  1. Make better food choices: If God didn’t make it naturally, don’t eat it. If you ate something you aren’t supposed to and/or too much of it, just get up and get yourself back onto the band wagon and start over. We all fall down some time.
  2. Move: do something you like to do so it’s not such a downer chore. Gardening, Zumba, Soccer, Marathons, Triathlons, Hiking, Roller Blading, Walking, Crossfit, nigh club dancing… whatevs… just do something and do it consistently.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others or yourself from way back when: I have ONE nemesis, 22 year old Myssie.   You remember that girl, the one who ate pizza and nachos and cheese puffs and still had the body to die for? Ugh! I hate that girl!!!!

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Simple huh?

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Yeah right. I’m still and will always be a work in progress. Always seeking out something fun to keep me active, and open to new ideas… yeah, even a shake weight. I do good on the food choices… MOST of the time and other times, eh, not so good.

I work – a lot. It’s not an excuse. It’s my personal priority at this moment. Yes, there IS a difference. I am a mom. It’s not an excuse. It’s a priority and although I’m not having to deal with changing diapers and lack of sleep like a new mom, I do deal with the stress of having a son being deployed, not knowing where he is, what he’s doing, if he’s healthy, hurt, etc… and another son who is a teenager in that stage where he is going through some of life’s most difficult challenges. I’m still a mom. It is my priority. I am also a wife. It’s not an excuse. It is a priority. His job is dangerous – like REALLY dangerous. I stress out about that, too. And equally dangerous is the temptation of countless other women who throw themselves at him in hopes that he gives them the life they see us have. It’s an endless, daily struggle balancing, prioritizing, executing, conquering, failing and doing it all over again day after day. I’m a stress eater… see where I’m going with this???

Get to know yourself, what sets you off, what is the root cause of your unhealthy behaviors and find solutions that work for you to chip away little by little to make yourself better each day.

If I sound like you… a working woman, midlife, tons of stress seeking ways to live a longer, healthier, happier life, follow/join me. Let’s try to help each other out. No subscription, no monthly payment, no book to buy, no club to join, no magic powder to put in your meal replacement shake. This is me. Just me. Wanting to help you. All of you. In hopes that in the end, we just all help each other help each other.

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Unqualified Criticisms

Posted in health & fitness, training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 8, 2017 by runmyssierun

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It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The above was posted by a friend who had endured personal defeat. Along with that, they endured immediate criticism, both constructive and destructive. From the novice eye, the two types of criticisms seemed similar in nature, however, the intent was worlds apart and could be understood by those few who could truly see.

If you find yourself in a similar situation… and many of you readers are success seekers and with great success come a great number of failures… you may likely encounter the unqualified criticisms from those who have no clue what you’ve been through and what it takes to get to where you want to be. I hope you learn a lesson from my friend who posted this above and I hope you learn it sooner than the forty plus years it took for me to learn!

Learn from those who have been there and done that before you. It is likely that they made similar mistakes along the way to their own success. Humbly accept their advice.

Ignore the squawks from the others who have never treaded near the journey you have. The envy they have of how far you have come is indicative of how quickly they gave up on their own journey.

Cryotherapy is so hot!!!

Posted in half ironman, health & fitness, ironman, rio grande valley, training for my first half ironman, triathlon training with tags , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2017 by runmyssierun

In my adventure towards finding a way to keep challenging my body physically and mentally via marathons and triathlons while staying healthy, I was introduced to cryotherapy. Not going to lie… I like my hot tropical South Texas and was scared about the thought of standing in an ice cold chamber with temperatures of -145 degrees!!! FOR THREE MINUTES!!!

But I did… and it was freaking awesome!!!

My husband is training for his first ultra run: a twenty-two hour weighted ruck “walk”. He’s specatated at one of my marathons and one of my sprint tris. He’s never even done a 5k with me!! And he decides to do an Ultra for his first event!!! Do I doubt his abilities? Absolutely not!!! That man is a beast and can do anything he sets his mind to.

So when our friends decided to open up a cryotherapy business, they asked us to check it out and see what we thought about it. I eagerly watched my hubby to see what his reaction would be…

I was first to enter the chamber. They asked what music I wanted to hear while freezing; “Rage Against the Machine please”, I said. My small group of friends sort of didn’t expect that and it showed on their faces… and I think they also expected me to turn into a whacked out ice cube.

I did ok.

Hubby went in twice!!!

He had just finished a long run the day before so his body was perfectly worn out for cryotherapy. Add to this, he has always had serious problems trying to get solid sleep. What I witnessed was a husband who became a completely different person.

He’s gone back every day since!!!

I used to dunk myself in a tub of ice cubes after a tough workout. I don’t think I’ll be doing that any more 😀


And y’all know that I believe if someone else says it better than I do, I just let them say it. These are the words from one of my other girl friends that did this with me that night just so you know it’s not just me saying it.

Let me just start by saying that the subzero -145° experience isn’t as scary as you would think!!! I’m naturally prone to being cold… ALL THE TIME. I have a space heater in my office which I use regularly to get my office to 78°. I’m happiest when HOT, what can I say. So when our friends invited us to try their new machine, I was honestly terrified.
But thanks to them, McAllen now has the very best, top-of-the-line cryotherapy unit. You may have seen those pods that you stick your body in and the head is exposed. Those use a mixture of nitrogen/oxygen. The mix must be perfect or you can pass out from lack of oxygen. THIS ONE DOESN’T HAVE NITROGEN IN THE CHAMBER!!! The reason they chose this system? It’s safer. Safer is better!
So what can you expect? The cooling chamber is about the size of a walk-in shower. You walk in. The glass door isn’t locked. You can walk out anytime you want, but the idea is to persevere thru 2 min to 3 min in -145°. How long really depends on your body. The goal is to drop your surface temperature by a certain amount. They will start most people on 2:30. They’ll measure your temperature before and after and will adjust future sessions as needed. You can safely get one session per day.
After your temperature is taken you put on a cozy hat and/or ear muffs (I used both… once again, I no like cold). They provide warm wool mittens and long socks (but I recommend you take you own socks, perhaps a couple pair). Warm fuzzy slippers and a surgical mask are also provided. The machine works regardless of clothing, but light fabric is recommended. I had a light short sleeve sport shirt and workout yoga pants. The more skin that is exposed the faster it works. Obviously you’re going to want to cover certain parts. I’m sure the staff is very professional, but I don’t expect they need to see your nakedness.
The next step is critical! PAY ATTENTION!! There are speakers in the chamber which play YOUR music. Three minutes goes by A LOT faster if you have good music to dance to. Pick your song ahead of time and they’ll plug in your phone!!!
So once everything is ready you walk in while a trained attendant supervises. The door opens and a blast of cold air comes out. Immediately, the chamber fogs up and the temperature raises to about -115°. After you close the door the temperature re-stabilizes and will quickly drop. Until then you’re in a fog and it’s hard to see out (just think of the freezer department at HEB when you go grab your popsicles and how the glass fogs up… only it’s about three times colder and YOU are on the other side). But your music is blasting thru and in no time you’re in the zone!!
I had them set my time for 2:30 and I have to say it went by in a flash. Not once did I feel like time was dragging, but the music really made the difference I’m sure. Strangely, I didn’t shiver like I thought I would. I do recommend you breath in/out of your nose though. Humidity will escape your mouth faster and will create snowflakes in the air. Ultimately, you WILL have snowflakes on your eyelashes, hair, clothes. They’ll disappear the instant you walk out.
Upon exit is when your body is at its peak to burn calories. A recumbent bike and stretching bars are currently available (more machines to come) to help get your heart rate up and take advantage of the boost within your core to warm up the body. Now, I’m not prone to sweating. I’m guessing it has to do with the fact that I like it hot and since sweat is the body’s reaction to cool you off, my body doesn’t feel the need to cool me off most of the time. But after 4 minutes on the recumbent bike I was breaking a sweat. After 7 minutes beads were rolling down my back.
In all, allot about 15 minutes for the entire session. 2-3 minutes getting prepped. 2-3 minutes in the chamber. 8-10 minutes of exercise.
Athletes have long since known of the vast benefits of cold therapy. I’m not going to go into them all but it helps reduce inflammation, promotes cell regeneration, helps with sore muscles and muscle recovery, improves skin tone, alleviates chronic pain, oh and they say your body burns 500-800 calories (if you take advantage of post-session cardio). Plus it’s a beast of an adrenaline rush!
I’m so very excited for this new venture for Rosendo and Dora Almaraz, and Steven and Summer Barrera Garcia. Steven and Summer have long since been involved in the local fitness industry and are dedicated and knowledgeable in helping people on the road to having healthier and stronger bodies. They have a long way to go with me, but I’ll get there one day. Rosendo is a local attorney, and he and Dora have traveled the world searching for remedies for his chronic back pain. His cryotherapy sessions allow him to sleep in comfort. I always say a business will thrive when the owners have their heart and soul in it. This isn’t about making money for them. They’re successful business men and women already. This is about fulfilling a need and I wholehearted support their endeavor. Godspeed Cold-Fit! – Irene Thompson

#coldfit #cryotherapy #justtryit

Stranger stories

Posted in cancer, training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2016 by runmyssierun

Last night a young man and his wife asked if I was “Missy B”. They shook my hand, hugged me and asked for a picture with me. “I’ve been following your Instagram and blog for years” he said.

Both he and his wife had lost loved ones to cancer. They spoke to me about their stories and how they had followed my story for hope and inspiration. They renewed my passion and sense of purpose.

Not too long ago, my family and I went bowling and a woman whom I’ve never met did the exact same thing.

I have to admit, it gets a little scary when a complete stranger comes up to you out of the blue and asks if you are you. I’m certainly not a celebrity because occurrences like this don’t happen EVERY single day.. but often enough to know that I must be on guard, observant, cautious yet caring, compassionate and true to my promise.

So many of us struggle with hardships. It’s difficult to speak about them. One of the things I have learned from this is that once you get over that first step of difficulty – you know, admitting it – letting others know that this is a tough thing you’re going through. It releases you from it. Saying it allows you to let it out, let it go. And it gives permission to others in pain to do so, too. This little blog of mine has given me that power and permission to let others let go of their pain, struggles and suffering.

Whether it is about cancer, achieving a goal that was once thought of as impossible, proving yourself to others or yourself, becoming healthy, fit, happy or just simply becoming a better, kinder person… if you have found a connection here through my silly journey, then that brings me great joy. We all go through ups and downs and although I truly believe in my heart of hearts that any one person can get through it by themselves, trust me when I say, it’s so much better when you have support of others who sincerely understand and help you and others through it. Together we are a stronger, kinder and more effective force.

There are many, many more stories out here. We all need to hear them, feel them and do something about them. TOGETHER. Tell your story. We can all help each other and sometimes when we least expect it.

 

Back in the Saddle again

Posted in cycling, health & fitness, rgv, rio grande valley, Running, texas, training for my first half ironman, triathlon, triathlon training with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2016 by runmyssierun
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That moment you are forced to recon with the realization that AFTER your first ride back on the saddle, you forgot to use Butt Butter. Lesson learned 🙂

MY BUTT HURTS!!! My legs hurt! My back hurts! My shoulders hurt! My feet hurt! My tummy hurts! Even my dang earlobes hurt!!!! Can you tell I have re-entered my training program after a long, long, long, looooooonnnnngggg hiatus?

Honestly, it is so much harder to get back into training seriously after you’ve stopped the habit for so long. I will admit though… I do feel stronger. Maybe my body really did need a break to heal. Maybe, just maybe, this is a good thing.

This week, I went back to my roots. I did so because clearly the way I approached my health and fitness patterns worked the first time. Why wouldn’t they work this time, right?

I ran this week exactly like the very first time I ran. I went in the evening at sundown (so no one would be able to see and recognize me and judge me on how fat I had become or sloth-like slow) and began with a brisk walk for two blocks. After that, I jogged at a comfortable pace – withOUT my Garmin or runkeeper or Nike+ on – for as long as I could manage before I felt that my heart would beat too fast and/or my body would collapse… and then went just a bit further… you know, just to push myself and not feel too comfortable. Then I walked a good length until I balanced out my heart rate and ran to the next light pole. I ran. Not jogged comfortably. I ran. Then brisk walked to the next light pole. Then ran again and so on and so forth.  I did six miles like this. It took me longer than I expected but I did it and surprisingly… I really missed this in my life.

That’s been the farthest I’ve been able to do since my “episode” earlier this Spring.

My legs were so sore that night. When I cuddled under the covers in bed that evening to sleep, I couldn’t bare the pain. I took an ibuprofen in the middle of the night. Felt better and secretly wondered if some of that pain was actually cellulite being destroyed. He he he… I’ll take it if that’s what it means. 🙂

I wore flats the next day to work. Humbled and a bit ashamed of how out of shape I quickly became over the last few months. I have so much work to do on myself!!! But I know I can do it.

Following day: Stretch, yoga, plyometrics, the realization that I should never, ever, ever, ever stop being physically active. Ok, THAT was tough!

Today: I joined up with the Bicycle World Saturday morning ride. It is a casual 30-mile ride designed to be ridden for enjoyment at a comfortable pace. Ha! It may have been everyone else’s “recovery ride” for the week but this chick was putting everything she had into it trying to keep up with the gang. Shortly after the halfway marker, I bonked. I know I was dragging the whole group down with me. And I was super embarrassed about it.

I noticed goosebumps on my leg. I had been drinking water but now that I’m more attuned to  the way my body communicates with me, I knew it was signaling a request for electrolytes and hydration. I asked the group to pull into the next closest convenience store to pick up some cool Gatorade. They graciously stopped the ride to tend to my goosebumps. Seriously, cyclists are the nicest people ever.

Have you ever tried to interrupt someone during a crossfit workout? You’d get your lights punched out for that if you took seconds away from their time. But a cyclist, nu-uh. They understand the importance of the pack and what each individual needs because ultimately on rides like these in this area, we are better together. All I needed was some Gatorade.

And coffee

Ok, so it is what it is. I’ve never ridden with this group before for a few reasons… probably the most important reason was that there wasn’t a coffee shop along the ride course nor was there a coffee shop at the end of the ride.

The riders in the new group – whom I’ve never met before today – also obliged me with a cup of coffee at Moonbeans and some great conversation after the ride. Have I mentioned how friendly cyclists are???? I have? Ok, just making sure.

All in all… it’s been a great comeback week. I’ve tried to come back before and I think I pushed myself the wrong way, had the wrong motivation and/or didn’t have enough motivation or support or accountability. I had been seduced by old bad habits and excuses up the wazoo. I was mentally weak, spiritually lost and physically exhausted. I now feel stronger in all these aspects. I think it shows, too.

Eh. Maybe it was all good. Maybe my body needed the rest. Maybe I needed to really miss this part of my life so much that it took something like this week to bring it all back to me the right way.

Whatever the reason, I’m glad it happened. It feels great to be back! The soreness will eventually give way to smile in my heart.

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Shark Bait Who-Ha-Ha

Posted in training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 16, 2016 by runmyssierun

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Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, 19282014

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.

 

Two shifts one turn around

Posted in end of summer, health & fitness, training for my first half ironman, triathlon training, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2016 by runmyssierun

Not many people would correlate training for the sport of triathlon with training for a successful real estate season during a shift market… but, of course, I would.

Triathlon Real Estate

As in anything that you want to succeed at, you must learn all you can about the subject, put in the time and effort on a consistent basis, surround yourself with those who have succeeded and learn what worked with them, hire a coach, practice daily, learn from your mistakes, fill your body and mind with nutrients and be better than you were yesterday.

In my case, I have something pretty coincidental going on with both triathlon AND real estate. There is a SHIFT.

Injury, health and priorities created a shift in my competitive standing in triathlon. Politics, lending and demand have created a shift in my competitive standing in real estate. The ubiquity of a shift works well with my personality in that most humans resist change… I thrive in it. The core of my nature stands firm in most turbulent circumstances. Well, so long as I can keep my emotions and that sarcastic voice in my head tamed to a level of civility, I can stay pretty impervious.

The great thing about both shifts happening at the same time allow me the opportunity to not have to start from scratch but to re-evaluate my original plan to success, hone in and master

 

 

 

Stress, Signs of Stroke and staying sane while training

Posted in training for my first half ironman with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2016 by runmyssierun

This last month has been quite eventful. If your life is anything like mine, events can be a bit overwhelming. Balancing everyday life, family, work and training is always a challenge so adding any type of unplanned occurrence on top of what already beats you up can quickly beat you down. I can’t say I learned a new lesson from it but I can say a lesson sure was reinforced this month and culminated to a point to where I had to force myself to step out of the Capital of Texas Triathlon.

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On Saturday the 14th, our family lost it’s patriarch. The death of this great man was not a great surprise. Our great Lord took about a month for his loved ones to get used to the idea of living life without him. However, no matter how much in advance notice you are given, when the death of a loved one happens, it still hurts and the lives of those who remain are forever changed. Being so relatively close to the deaths I had already experienced made me go toe to toe with some dark moments I probably wasn’t ready to deal with yet.

I guess I had wanted to convince myself that I had healed and that I could overcome the pain and grief that death brings that I found myself holding in emotion and trying desperately to show nothing but strength and determination. Truth be told, I’m still pretty squishy and soft inside. Clearly the stress got to me.

Early last week, I noticed my right ankle was swollen. It concerned me but thought little of it since I had been traveling so much lately. Because of time constraints, we had gone through a Jack in the Box drive thru and I ordered a teriyaki rice bowl on the 13th (a  day before my father-in-law’s passing) and that night had two beers at The Cure concert we attended. I chalked the swelling up to a combination of the hours sitting, the MSG in the to-go order and the beer.

On May 17th, the swelling had not stopped. In fact, it got worse. So when my left side became numb and my hands got tingly and the headache throbbed and my vision blurry… I knew I couldn’t ignore the symptoms any longer and I was in danger.

KNOW THE SIGNS OF STROKE (click here for the symptoms)

I calmly told one trusted co-worker what was happening to me. I told her what I was going to do and to check in on me at a specific time. I instructed her to tell my husband what had been happening if she did not hear from me because I did not want him to have additional worries until I knew exactly what was going on with me. I went immediately to my cardiologist.


I can’t thank my medical team enough. Many of them are athletes themselves and understand all too well the emotions, concerns and questions I have as it pertains to my health and well being. Coupled with their medical knowledge, I go to them just as often or more than I go to my triathlon coaches and gurus.

Not one of us are immune to the dangers of heart disease or stroke. And just because we can finish marathons or triathlons or gazilliathons does not make us less of a candidate for heart attack or stroke. 

Doc told me that he was very impressed with the way I had changed my life to make better food choices and incorporate fitness into my daily life style. However, there comes a point where sometimes genetics becomes a bigger player in many of our lives and medication is needed to better control your health. Next week, we will have a clearer picture on the blood clots that plague me but until then, it is best that I sit this next triathlon out and cheer on my courageous triathlete amigos from my home.

10257690_10154247617120068_4653284247583456940_oCapTexTri is one of my absolute favorite triathlons to do. It is one of the best courses, incredibly well organized, publicly cheered, fun-filled events in Texas. Whether you are a first time triathlete or a seasoned champion, this one is always a favorite event for both and everyone in between to participate in. Best of luck to all this weekend!!!

And again, let my lesson sink in. None of us are immune. Get checked up regularly and listen to your body. Last week at Ironman Chattanooga, a very experienced triathlete fell to cardiac arrest during the swim portion of that triathlon. As I look back at my own experience in Galveston, I now see the signs during my own swim and how it could have ended so much more tragically than a simply DNF. Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe this and will do my best to remember not to fight the signs from God too much from now on.

 

In the ZONE – Heart Rate Zone Training 101

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2015 by runmyssierun

I’ve been asked a lot lately about Heart Rate Zone training since posting a bit about it on some of my social media accounts. Now let me be clear about this because there is a group of cynics out there who are quick to bash this way of training and/or quick to simply bash me and all that I do – I am no pro at this. Heart Rate Zone training has honestly become the most rigid, difficult, brutal and merciless type of training that I have ever done. But I’ve learned so much about myself, my body and my level of health and fitness in the process. I highly recommend you give it a try because knowledge really is power.

HRZ training is NOT about how fast you go or how far you go.

I’ve spent these last few years focused in on how fast my marathon time was, counting my strokes while swimming laps, adding and subtracting and adding again on the weight scale, or calculating how many miles I ran or rode. While all of these things I did are important, I completely missed the boat on what should have been the foundation to this whole journey.

HRZ training is all the above while measuring how effective and efficient your body is becoming while doing all these crazy workouts.

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Here’s the basics:

Get a heart rate monitor and strap it on as per the instructions. Find your resting heart rate by laying down, relax in a quiet peaceful setting for at least 20 minutes (preferably when you first wake up in the morning before any coffee, caffeine or ANY heart rate inducing/reducing medications or foods have been ingested). Note the number on your heart rate monitor. If it bounces around for a bit, that’s ok. Take the average. This should be your baseline to work with. Check your resting heart rate once a month and note any changes… hopefully you’ll see a reduction in that number as time goes by and workouts increase.

Don’t have a heart rate monitor and want to know your heart rate right this very moment so when you continue reading, you’ll know what to do and what to expect during your next workout? No problem. Heart rate is measured in beats per minute. It can be measured at your carotid (neck) or radial (wrist) pulse. Be careful not to place too much pressure on your carotid artery as you can compress it and block blood flow. Once you find your pulse, count the heartbeats for 15 seconds and multiply by four to find your current heart rate.

See the table below and find your age

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Heart Rate During Exercise

Measuring your heart rate during exercise gives you an indicator of how hard you are working. As your workload increases, your heart rate will increase. Heart rate is also an indicator of fitness. The more aerobically fit you are, the lower your heart rate will be for a comparable workout than someone less physically fit. This also means that you will have to increase your workload to achieve the same fitness benefits as you become more physically fit.

Target Heart Rate

To maximize performance and get the most benefit from your workout, you need to find and stay within your target heart rate zone throughout your workout. Calculate your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. A 30-year-old woman’s maximum heart rate would be 190 beats per minute. Depending on your level of fitness, the American Heart Association recommends a target heart rate between 50 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. To calculate your target heart rate, take your maximum heart rate and multiply by 0.5 and 0.85. For a 30-year-old woman, the ideal training window is a heart rate between 95 and 162 beats per minute. If you are just starting to exercise, keep your heart rate closer to the 50 percent target. Those who have been regularly participating in aerobic activities should aim for the 85 percent range. When measuring your heart rate during your workout, do it as you are exercising or stop briefly and take it immediately as it will decrease rapidly with rest.

Additional Tips

You should be working out at a level that feels challenging. If it feels easy, pick up the pace a little. If your breathing is labored, you are extremely fatigued or your form is suffering, ease up. If you are exercising in water, your heart rate is an average of 17 beats less per minute, so decrease your target heart rate accordingly for an aquatic workout. Also check your medications. If any of them have a blunted heart rate response as a possible side effect, the use of target heart rates can be dangerous for you as heart rate is not a good indicator of how hard your body is working.

The following is taken from Runners World magazine (click here for the full article) 

Once you figure out your zones, the rest is like following the speed limit signs on the roadway. Since they are based on your redline, or lactate threshold, that becomes the point from which all the other zones are based—anything below the threshold heart rate zone (zone 4) is more aerobic in nature and easy in intensity, and anything at or above it is more anaerobic and high intensity.

The key to optimizing this knowledge is to train purposefully based on these zones. In a typical training schedule you’ll follow the flow of easy and hard workouts. You might have a tempo workout on day 1, and follow with an easy effort workout (or two) on day 2 and 3. By alternating hard and easy workouts, your body is able to recover efficiently, adapt to the demands of the workouts, and get stronger.

Many make the mistake of training solely by pace and end up training too hard most of the time (la la pace). It’s an effort that is too hard to be easy, and too easy to be hard. Somewhere in between purpose and the point of no return.

This doesn’t happen when you tune in and run by your body (effort) because pace becomes the outcome of every run rather than the purpose.

There are many variations of the zone percentages so don’t let that confuse you. The idea is to make friends with what they mean and then create a training plan based on the purpose of the run rather than the pace.

Here is a percentage chart by authors Foster and Edwards and how to use each zone in your training.

Zone 1: 60-70% of threshold heart rate: A very, very light intensity effort level marked by easy breathing and complete conversation. For many runners, this zone comes in the form of a walking pace as it is a very low intensity. Use it: for warm up and cool down, easy recovery workouts.

Zone 2: 70-80% of threshold heart rate: A light intensity effort level where you can still hold a conversation. Use it: for easy/recovery runs, warm up and cool down.

Zone 3: 80-90% of threshold heart rate: A moderate intensity effort level where you begin to hear your breathing, but you can still talk in sentences. Use it: long runs, training runs.

Zone 4: 90-100% of threshold heart rate: A comfortably hard intensity effort that is just outside your comfort zone where you can talk in one-word responses. Use it: for tempo runs and mile repeats to raise the lactate threshold (redline) and be able to run faster at easier effort levels

Zone 5: 100-110% of threshold heart rate: A hard intensity effort well outside your comfort zone where you can’t talk. Use it: for interval workouts and the final finish of your race.

The aim is to match your training workouts to one of these zones to maximize every run and its benefits. When you do, you’ll notice your recovery dramatically improves, your performance improves, and you’ll have fewer aches and pains from pushing too hard.

How has Heart Rate Zone training helped me?

My family’s history of heart problems go deeper and further than cancer so I do take this VERY seriously. I understand and am taking measures to reduce my caffeine addiction that clearly affects how hard my heart works, especially during tough workouts. Learning about my own personal heart rate efficiency and effectiveness is has been a huge wake up call to me.

I’ve learned that you can be a 30 year old size 2 and jacked up on pre-workout, diet pills and in greater risk of cardiac arrest during a half marathon that she attempts to finish in 1:20 pushing herself at a Zone 5 than a 40 year old size 20 pacing herself at a manageable Zone 3 pace and finishing that same half marathon in 2 and a half hours.

Currently, I am building my body up at a Zone 2 with longer workouts so that when I do my tempo and interval trainings as Zone 4, I actually increase my pace and endurance. By controlling my heart rate at a Zone 2, my body becomes more efficient with it’s power and effectiveness.

How is this different from what I’ve done before? I love pinterest. Before I go to bed, I try to unwind, zone-out and get “inspired” by asking pinterest for workout motivation. What comes back to me almost every single time are posts that have “no pain no gain”, “train insane or remain the same” and other such motivators that tell me push harder and not give up no matter what. To me, this means I need to go further, harder and faster. How heart rate zone training has changed my workouts is that it has worked on my patience. It has made me understand that while at Zone 2, it is still training my body for endurance. I can spend 4 hours on a tiny, uncomfortable bicycle saddle – which is a tough feat for any human – but not have the fear of going into cardiac arrest or muscle strain and injury because I’ve built up the stamina and an easy zone. I can jog for 9 miles, smile and sing and two days later sprint a couple of miles at half the pace of my long run.  It’s the toughest thing for me to be riding or running at Zone 2 and get dropped or passed up by fellow riders and runners because I want to be with them, push with them, be a recipient of their encouragement… and I can’t do that when they’re a mile ahead of me.

Yesterday, a group of riders passed me up and as I yelled out to them “Y’all are dropping me like a bad habit!!!” I remember the wise words of Ramon Hermida:

One thing I learned a while back was: ride your own ride, at your own pace. I know what my goals with cycling and exercise are. I don’t let others dictate what I should be doing, and don’t even bother attempting to explain to others my rationale for doing the rides that I do. What matters is: there is a reason and I know what that reason is. Another thing that I learned is not to pay attention how others want to define me: whether it be by my spirituality, by my race or ethnicity, by my looks, by my weight, by my career, or by my material possessions. That is their problem, not mine. I am in charge of my own story. I can sincerely tell you that each year that passes has been the best one in my life. If not, then each day I have the opportunity to change it and make it so.

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So I smiled as they all zoomed by me and I rode my own ride at the pace my coach designated for me to ride. And while I am explaining to you all why I’m doing what I’m doing, it is done in the hopes that it educates those who WANT to learn how to become a healthier, more fit version of themselves… and not for comparison sake or to compete against anyone. I am not looking for validation or acceptance from anyone but welcome everyone’s cheers and advice. I encourage the whole world to join me in this adventure but HIGHLY encourage you to join TEAM if you have a connection to cancer. Doing this is MY choice and I’m doing it the way I want to for my own reasons and I love that I am still learning something new about all that I do and all that I am every single day.

I hope that I have the patience to go slow when I need to go slow. I hope I have the power to go fast when I need to go fast. I hope I have the energy to go the distance when I need to go far. I hope I can do all of this so that I can make this the foundation of WHY I started this whole crazy journey in the first place. I am building my foundation.

I am in my now, investing in my future so that I honor my past and help make a positive impact on someone else’s future.  

I watched a movie last night that I got a great kick out of. It’s called Hector’s Search for Happiness and it chronicled this man’s journey around the world in search of happiness. During this movie, I was taken back to a time when I was sitting at the little bistro table with my bike guru at the front of his shop. He asked me how things were going and I responded with something like “what I would do to have just a normal average week with nothing super monumental or super devastating” implying that there were always ups and downs in my life.  The movie had one particular scene where Hector was in Tibet and a group of Tibetan monks were happily celebrating “all of it”. Hector couldn’t see it and didn’t understand. I think that was me. I couldn’t see it nor could understand it. At the end of the movie, the powerful flood of all the emotions is what clicked finally. It was all of it, the good the bad the ugly… it is all of it that has been my happiness. So I get it now.

In my own pursuit of happiness, I have found happiness in the pursuit and it is all of it and I celebrate it. (Confused? Watch the clip in the video link below) My wish today is that we all become as enlightened into the mystery of happiness. My journey has made me happy and I know my destination is still so very far away. Taking the difficult (higher) road has been hard but in the good, the bad and the ugly… I have found happiness. I hope you do, too. Cheers. May this journey continue on for a long time.

The Shape of my Heart – Valvular Heart disease and April’s Heartaches

Posted in Running with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2015 by runmyssierun

This April, like the many Aprils before this, has been notoriously and expectedly damaging to my heart. I don’t know why so many bad things happen to me in April but it does. However, because I am now aware of April’s intentions, I find myself more prepared to deal with it so that I can shelter my heart from more damage. Well… at least I’d like to think that I protect my heart. Sometimes there’s just no way to shield yourself from the pain that hurts your heart.

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April is the time of year when seasons change and Spring arrives. It is a new beginning.

April 8th was the day that we lost my mother to cancer.

April 11th was the day that we lost my brother.

April 17th was the day that Eddie Arguelles was hit and killed on his bicycle by an intoxicated driver.

April was when the Boston Marathon bombings occurred. I could go on and on about death and heartache… but here’s the truth about April. It’s when bad things happen that the opportunity to make good things happen from them arise. Events like this can either make you or break you. It’s your choice.

Now, don’t get me wrong, misunderstand my words or try to turn this whole thing around. The pain of the loss from all these mentioned above is still agonizing. I don’t want you to think that it’s all ok now. Because it’s not. I doubt it ever will be ok. That pain will always be there.

However, watching the way Monette gracefully and eloquently handled the one year anniversary of the loss of her husband, Eddie Arguelles, was so inspirational and uplifting. I have so much yet to learn!!! My mother died on Easter Sunday and I haven’t been able to keep a dry eye even thinking about an Easter Egg hunt. This woman bravely goes out on a celebratory 5am morning bike ride along the route that took her husbands life. She was able to hold her head up high and celebrate his life in the way that he loved to spend his life doing… cycling. It’s times like this that make me question my strength and courage and validate to myself that I still have so much more to do, to grow, to achieve.

It was an emotional day as the UTPA family and friends gathered to celebrate the life of Eduardo “Eddie” Arguelles. This picture montage video was created in loving memory of Eddie. He will truly be missed by all whose lives he touched and everyone that had the pleasure of knowing him.

Posted by UTPA – Division of Information Technology on Friday, April 25, 2014

Considering all that was happening, it was understandable that there was a lot of emotional drama that not only I had to live with but many of my other family members and friends dealt with as well. Too many of these issues interfered with my training and state of mind. For now and until some of these personal matters become better managed, I am stepping down and out of all of the events I had prepared to do. There is no way that I can properly train for the big events I had hoped for. I’m not quitting… I just know better than to risk my body and health for the ego of the finish line. My time will come. I’ll see the sign when it’s ready.

It has been hard to train on my own. I am not the self-motivating type… in fact, I’m pretty self-defeating. I’ve written several times about the mean voice in my head… she’s actually worse in person. I’ve had to edit much of the language here in the blog that she actually says to me. and quite honestly, just between me and you… I think she really needs a life. 😉

I am very much a goal oriented person. I see a finish line and I work myself towards it. But in this case, today, there is no more finish line. The ironman I was looking forward to is no longer there. I won’t be attending CapTexTri for family reasons. And it’s just too late to sign up for other races without proper training… so I’m basically just going through the motions.

But isn’t that the goal?

Tada!!! Helllloooooooo!!!

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sigh So, I’m having a hard time dealing with not going for that gold star on my head, not having accomplished something and putting a check mark by it to note that it’s done. What I’m working at is never ending… and I’m having a hard time adjusting my thought process around it for proper motivation. This is my struggle today.

I need to find it in my heart. Last thing I want to do is quit on myself after all this hard work has been done, with or without the support I’ve had thus far.

So in my search for motivation, I figured I needed to start with my heart. If I can’t find motivation in my heart.. then were else would it be??? Coincidentally, a symposium was being held by my running guru and a group of cardiologists that are experienced marathon runners. There it is!!! Answers to my heart 🙂

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I attended the meeting, late of course, and stood in the back of the room listening in awe to those doctors who ran the courses all over the world that filled my bucket list. They gave advice that, for the most part, I had already been following.

Dr. Paul Manoharan and me as he gave me my  cardiology exam results. Yes, that IS his happy face :)

Dr. Paul Manoharan and me as he gave me my cardiology exam results. Yes, that IS his happy face 🙂

Prior to taking my initial first steps towards my marathon journey, I went to Dr. Manoharan – my cardiologist who also worked with my baby brother, Donny Cardenas, and knew better than most other doctors about my family history and my personality when it came to accomplishing a goal. After several exams, stress tests and even went so far as to offer me the option to choose the dye that my brother sold to him (my brother was his pharma rep for this product), he discovered that my heart had a malformed valve.

My grandmother and grandfather on my father’s side both died of heart disease. My grandmother had this same heart defect. My father and my brother have/had heart disease. My brother died of it. My father is living with it.

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Dr. Manoharan carefully went over all the pros and cons of this genetic oddity with me and after all the discussion, we decided that I would continue cautiously while he monitored me closely and often. After the first year of running, he removed the cholesterol medication I was on. After the second year, he was sarcastic (his normal self – whew! – that’s a good sign) and I think pretty stunned that I stuck with it and kept improving. Now into my third year, I’m curious as to what his numbers show.

So… long story longer… and getting to my point: Your body doesn’t have to be perfect to do amazing things. You can have things wrong with your body and still do some pretty neat things you thought you never could. I did. However, you do have to be brave enough to ask the right questions and do all the right tests to know all the right answers about your body. You have to communicate correctly with your doctor, not just once in your life or once a year – because your body isn’t what it was 10 years ago, 10 months ago, 10 days ago. You aren’t supposed to be the same. You change and change often. It’s knowing if you are changing for the better or for the worse that’s important.

Know what’s in your heart. And know what’s in your heart.

Now, go run and set up that appointment with your docs.

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