When you love to eat, you've got to move.

Go girl!

Posted by pjcloud9 on August 26, 2009

Sometimes you are able to influence other people.  Other times it is extremely difficult.  You may influence someone in an unintended way.  Or, when you are not even looking, not even trying, you influence by accident.

My four year old daughter is a sassy one.  She is strong-willed, opinionated, a fast & loud talker, extremely social – always looking to connect with another human being and have a conversation – especially with little people like her.  She is one to watch in my book, also, one to BE watched if you know what I mean.  Her own brand of trouble hovers around her.

Over the course of the summer I have enjoyed our time together as I take her to the pool a couple times a week for swimming lessons, then afterwards I let her swim until she drops the remainder of the evening.  She flits, she floats, she flies away in the pool as she talks to every kid that will talk back to her, shares their toys (yes, takes their toys to share back with them), and shows no fear.

It has been interesting to watch the difference in her attitude towards food and fitness and how it differs from my twelve year old son.  I truly believe it is due to my personal attitude toward the same at the two-to-four year old influential time period.  My son gravitates naturally toward burgers and naps, where my daughter likes fruits & veggies and loves to run around and play.  Certainly lots of twelve year olds go the same route as they hit 7th grade, but I see clear differences in how my daughter is at age four and how my son was back then.

The other appeal about my little daughter – who doesn’t love to go shopping for a little girl who wear a size 4?  The clothes out there for that size and age are darling – so easy to create a wardrobe for a girl that makes the closet burst at the seams.  Some of the fashion is a bit too edgy – it seems that the size 4-7 girls clothing starts to replicate women’s fashion from the bikinis to the low-cut jeans.  We do not go that route!  However, I am a total sucker for the Target C9 girls fitness wear.  There are yoga capris, tank tops, warm-ups, tennis skirts.  The stuff is really darn cute.

Last fall I picked up a black warm-up suit with white side stripes in a breathable mesh for the girl (as I love to call her).  To layer underneath, a black breathable Under Amour type t-shirt with a star design on the front and faux-layered white long sleeves underneath.  She took one look as was OK with it, not overly excited, but she did wear it.  A feat for a picky girl.

This spring the worst happened.  The zipper of the warm-up jacket broke.  And with how Target moves through merchandise, there was no hope to replace it.  We kept it around for awhile since it was warm out and she really didn’t need to wear the thing anyway.  But once we hit time for garage sale/closet clean out this summer, it had to go.  Looking back – wow – that was a mean, heartless mom moment.  I mean, who cares if the zipper is broken?  But, we discussed and got rid of it anyway.  She had been doing OK with the tennis skirts and tank tops for most weeks up until she came across the star shirt in her closet a few weeks ago and demanded the zipper jacket.

There is no zipper jacket.  Remember?  We talked about it and decided we should get rid of it because it was broken?  (She’s FOUR.  I suck.)

For the last several weeks every trip to Target I have glanced at the girls C9 fitness wear every time I go, in hopes that fall would bring some new selections to curb the girl’s need for warm-up gear.  To my surprise and delight – this past weekend – Target came through!  They have an almost identical black with white stripe warm-up outfit in girls’ C9 fitness wear for the Fall!  I grabbed the only sixe XS in haste and purchased right away, price being no object (although, it’s Target, come on!).

I had been redeemed!  The girl was thrilled, put the outfit on right away.  And proceeded to wear it the next day, too.  And the next.  And the next.  (Squeezed ONE washing in.)  Needless to say, I am horrified to take her to preschool everyday in the exact same outfit, also one that is not weather appropriate – long sleeves, black, jacket?!?  She is a sweaty little red-faced fireball each day when I pick her up – warm-up jacket on all day, with it zipped to the absolute top.

So what do I do to remedy this situation?  I spy a CORAL version of the warm-up suit at Target yesterday while running in to pick up some gift wrap and a card.  Again, I hurriedly grab the XS as if it is the last item of clothing in the store and dash to the checkout.  Super score, super spoiled girl, she is ecstatic and for the first time is four days I get her to wear different clothes.

Through all of this, I am partly annoyed, partly amused by it all.  And now, as I look at beyond its face, I am partly proud of the influence I have had on my little daughter.  She wants to eat fruit and veggies.  She wants to swim.  She wants to run.  And she wants to wear cute, fashionable workout apparel.  Go girl!  I am right there with you.


Posted in clothing, exercise | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cake gone bad

Posted by pjcloud9 on August 21, 2009

I was in the neighborhood of an upscale Twin Cities grocery on Sunday and made a decision to drop in to pick up a few necessities on the premise that I could also get myself a little sliver of carrot cake.  I do not make regular trips to this local provisioner, however, the cake is what tends to draw me in.  Go figure.

Their carrot cake was the cake of choice for my graduate school graduation party.  A serious treat that I indulge in.  Even though I get it infrequently, it has stood the test of time, a very special cake to satisfy myself in the face of having accomplished something so worthy.  Until this week.

Do you realize how disappointing it is when you designate a major calorie spend on a piece of carrot cake that is typically exquisite to find it completely unsatisfying?  I am telling you, such a let down.  The cake was dry.  The frosting was too sugary, not cream-cheesy enough.  The crunch and nuttiness was inconsistent throughout.  I kept eating it just to see if it would get any better, down to the last bite.  I am sorry to report it did not.

I am not completely writing off this maker of typically-fine cakes and pastries after one bad experience.  I will carefully consider the next purchase there after this cake gone bad encounter.  Will probably take me awhile to go back, I will seek my cake elsewhere for now.

When was the last time you were let down by a typically always consistent and there-for-you indulgence?  Let me know.  Let’s cry over this sliver of cake together!

Posted in cake | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Exercise & diet – a powerful combination

Posted by pjcloud9 on August 17, 2009

Seriously, she is running for cake.  What could be better?

Seriously, she is running for cake. What could be better?

Dear Time Magazine:

RE:  August 17, 2009 cover story “The Myth Abouth Exercise”

Back in the spring of 2005, my dream was to lose 100 lbs and wear “normal size pants” that I could buy in a store instead of online, while still eating cake and other assorted pastries, of course – as any normal American would strive for.  It took me one year to do it, but I was successful.  And three and a half years later, I have kept it off. At first I just started walking, eating more vegetables and less sugary snacks. Then four months later I started doing the elliptical trainer instead of walking. Then five months after that I started running instead the elliptical. Then a few weeks later I signed up for a triathlon with five months to train – and that was that! Since the summer of 2006, I have finished fifteen triathlons and several other running and duathlon races. I even got third place in my age group/category in the Life Time Fitness Minneapolis Triathlon in 2008 & 2009!

I think is extremely dangerous for a publication of your stature and influence to take a melange of interesting, thought-provoking studies and twist them into an article that purports that exercise is not where it is at to lose weight.  I would contend that if any of us tried hard enough, we could find some study anywhere supporting our point of view, no matter how outlandish.  I am living proof that exercise and diet are a powerful combination.

I am no scholarly expert, but it seems pretty common sense exercising is not something people should be discouraged to do.  It builds physical strength and endurance.  It builds mental toughness.  It enhances cognition.  I am 37 years old and I am in the best shape of my life because I have committed to eating well and exercising regularly.  I accomplished my weight loss while working at a Fortune 100 company’s corporate offices with a forty plus hour per week demanding job, two young children at home, and living the commuter life in the suburbs.  I contend I could not have been so successful at work and at home were it not for the exercise portion of the equation.  Take a look for some studies that support that.



Posted in cake, exercise | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nice new shoes

Posted by pjcloud9 on August 15, 2009

If you can’t think of anything else to motivate you to run, get yourself some nice new shoes.  A girl has to treat herself, right?

I always purchase two pairs of running shoes at a time – same style, different colors – and rotate from pair to pair on a weekly basis.  This allows the shoes to bounce back during their rest week, plus I only have to buy shoes once per year instead of every six months.

The shoes of choice?  I am on my fifth & sixth pairs of Mizuno Wave Riders, year three.  The current model is Wave Rider 12, found the best deal via Google Shopping at Goodden’s.   Their price is currently $70 and they arrived quickly.

I like the pink ones best!

I like the pink ones best!

If you have been running or walking for fitness for awhile and you have never switched out the insoles, I highly recommend it.  The insoles that come in the shoes are flimsy and do not hold up for long.  I like Superfeet – they are extremely durable and provide great arch support.  Watch out because you may want to purchase these to put in your casual shoes as well.

I chose Superfeet Blue because I have low to mid arches.

I chose Superfeet Blue because I have low to mid arches.

If you have never shopped with assistance from an expert for walking/running footwear, I highly recommend a trip to The Running Room.  They are very knowledgeable and extremely helpful in finding the right footwear for your foot and your stride.

Happy running!

Posted in running | Tagged: | 1 Comment »


Posted by pjcloud9 on July 29, 2009

Hey Urban Dictionary, usually I think you are pretty funny, true that.  Yeah, I am a follower of your “Urban Word of the Day” direct e-mail shenanigans.  Usually I LMAO.  Oftentimes I use the word you present in a sentence in conversation that very day.  Periodically, offending or pissing other people off.  I happily take the hit – for you (plus it’s fun).  But seriously, the way you chose to start off my week on Sunday was not appreciated.

My Inbox, Sunday morning:

Subject: Cankles: Urban Word of the Day

“The area in affected female legs where the calf meets the foot in an abrupt, nontapering terminus; medical cause: adipose tissue surrounding the soleus tendon, probably congenital, worsened by weight gain and improved in appearance only by boots. From the English “calf” meaning wide portion of the lower leg, and “ankle” meaning slender joint of leg with foot.

If I didn’t have cankles, I might be able to wear those Prada loafers with my capri pants.”

Cankles.  Cankles?  You had to go there, didn’t you?

Sure, I have used the related word thass.  Yes, right here on this very blog, as a part of the writing process, in an effort to try and release the body image issues that have haunted me my whole “big girl” life.   I look to unite others, especially us emotional women, around acceptance of who we are, what we can change and what we must accept.  This e-mail, this Sunday morning ambush, seemed to be a vicious reminder that if I don’t stand half of a chance in impacting my thass, then there is no way in hell that I will be able to affect the cankles.

Yes folks, the cankles have been with me my whole life.  Somehow, the combination of the Czech/Irish/Scottish DNA and I believe the environmental effects of hard farm & ranch living on my ancestors has made them all the more sturdy and tree trunk-like.  As a child, I was unaware that I was sporting cankles.  I knew I was a more sturdy girl in comparison to my fair sisters and friends, but I did not have an awareness of the ankle region at all.  I am thankful for that as I look back, being that today it is not uncommon for an 8 year old to discuss their need to diet at the dinner table.

I think the awareness hit in that junior high-ish, awkward time of life.  Oh, and it was the Eighties.  Mini skirts, cropped pants, tight rolling, anklet socks, ballet flats – much of the fashion of the Eighties did not allow to cover or enhance the appearance of my cankles.  What is a girl to do?  I was self-assured enough, and naive, to just go with it.  I did not hide.  I am proud of that.  Everyday in front of my full length mirror, I carefully smoothed, tightened, and arranged that day’s chosen outfit.  I practiced the best stance, the most flattering view of the cankles and hoped that I could pull it off at critical moments throughout the day.  I was masterful at minimizing them through a sort of special effects approach.  One of my favorites was just to make my hair bigger.

As mentioned in the “definition” of cankles above, the condition can be “worsened by weight gain”.  Word.  I have experienced that many a time in the past decade.  While I was working full time downtown, commuting from the ‘burbs, going to night school for my masters, the weight gain was upon me.  In those four years, the cankles (and other parts) ballooned.  I primarily went after masking it by wearing boot leg pants and super long skirts.  Heels helped as well to lessen the obvious appearance of straight from calf to ankle lines.

As you can see, I have become very strategic about cankle camouflage from a fashion perspective.  And even though I am in the best shape of my life right now, the cankles still rule me.  I do not wear skirts.  I do not wear shorts.  I am the girl who wears CAPRIS in triathlons!!!  (The longest pants I can swim in!)  I wear pants and jeans and keep the cankles to myself.  It is really not about me, I have simply decided it is best not to subject others to this unfortunate “adipose tissue surrounding the soleus tendon” that I have been given.  And I am OK with it, really, it is the “abrupt, nontapering terminus” I have been dealt in life.

And based on that rant, I will now get back to my body images issues and working on those bit by bit every day.  Join the club.

But really?  The definition of Cankles standalone, out of the blue, in a Sunday morning e-mail.  Of all the words, ouch – that hurt.

Posted in body, exercise | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

This is how I roll…

Posted by pjcloud9 on July 25, 2009

Yes, this is for real.

Yes, this is for real.

A receipt from Hy-Vee grocery store from Friday night before the Sunday morning June 28, 2009 Hy-Vee Triathlon.

Posted in cake, triathlon | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Will Run For (fill in the blank), Salty Edition

Posted by pjcloud9 on June 24, 2009

Again, apologies to those currently in some serious diet restrictions.  Just remember, there are days when you have worked hard, worked out hard, and you deserve a little treat or snack.  These are not normally on the list except for high activity weeks, and in serious moderation.

Super Pretzels are seriously super.  I love to slather them in Archer Farms Brewmasters Mustard – mmm, mmm.  I try to avoid this snack most of the time, but game on this week!

Plain, salted, or with mustard (my fav), a carby delight.

Plain, salted, or with mustard (my fav), a carby delight.

Chips, wonderful chips.  I don’t add dip to either of these.

First, the Dutch Crunch by Old Dutch.  Greasy, salty, kettle chips that satisfy with some major crunch – thus the name.

Cruchy Dutchy, Dutchy Crunchy

Crunchy Dutchy, Dutchy Crunchy

And an all-time favorite, the classic Pringles.  One of the most fun foods to eat ever.

You just have to pretend you are a duck, right?

You just have to pretend you are a duck, right?

Just discovered this combo, and it’s a keeper.  Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts mixed with cashews in equal proportions.  Taking cashews to a whole new level.

If only one of the islands came with it.

If only one of the islands came with it.


Posted in food | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Will Run For (fill in the blank)

Posted by pjcloud9 on June 21, 2009

This is the week I live for.  This is what this comes down to.  The week before a race when I begin to taper off the number of miles and I add more carbs into my diet.

May I remind you I am an AMATEUR triathlete, this is likely not the approach the pros take.  But it makes me happy and it works.  (My apologies for those of you trying to lose weight right now, this may not be the blog entry for you.)

First, if you dial back to November, you can read about my love affair with Chipotle.  What changes with my Chipotle order this week is I add the limey, delicious cilantro rice to my salad – mmmmmmmm.

How can you resist the deliciousness of Chipotle?

How can you resist the deliciousness of Chipotle?

Then it is all about sugar.  A couple of new products first, then a couple of classics.

Have you seen these Cinnabon bars from Kellogg’s?  I was running through Cub Foods last Sunday night late to get laundry detergent, and these little suckers were oh-so-strategically placed on the aisle.  Pop on in the microwave for 15 seconds – delish!

Cinnabon-y goodness in a convenient, individually wrapped bar!

Cinnabon-y goodness in a convenient, individually wrapped bar!

When Blue Bunny started cranking out Birthday Cake flavored ice cream about 2 years ago, I was so thankful.  The Cold Stone Creamery near my house recently closed and seriously, what could be better than cake flavored ice cream other than cake itself?

We're gonna party like it's your birthday.

We're gonna party like it's your birthday.

Now on to the classics, layering in some chocolate.  Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls have been around forever.  They are cheap, probably loaded with saturated fat, and full of white, sugary cream.  I think I can eat a pair of these babies in less than 30 seconds.  They satisfy!

Hey Little Debbie, you have never lost your charm, girl!

Hey Little Debbie, you have never lost your charm, girl!

And finally – the Oreo.  No post of mine about packaged food products with sugar would be complete without a mention.  Oreos are childhood in a box to me.  They were my grandpa’s favorite, I remember exactly which drawer and the Tupperware container my grandma would put them into.  I love them in the morning.  I love them at night.  I love them with milk.  I will even eat these bad boys with a Diet Coke at times.

I cannot imagine my life without Oreos: regular, double stuff, mint, golden, golden with chocolate frosting, you name it!

I cannot imagine my life without Oreos: regular, double stuff, mint, golden, golden with chocolate frosting, you name it!

This is one of the only weeks of the year that I eat this stuff with no guilt.  These items will not make up entire meals for me, but believe me, they will sneak their way in.  Running for cake people, running for cake.

Posted in cake, food, running | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Don’t Be Intimidated

Posted by pjcloud9 on June 11, 2009

Don’t be intimidated by people you perceive as athletics, athletic, or “in shape”.  They are no different than you.  They have simply prioritized and/or made a commitment to their fitness endeavors.  And if they have been at it awhile, your perception of them may be that they are advanced or partaking in workouts that you could never do.  Think again.  You can do exactly the same thing if that is what you want.  Just do it your own way.  I am guessing you probably have before at some time in your life, if not in fitness than in your education or in music or some other passion of yours.

When it comes to being active, only a small percentage of people have been consistent their entire lives.  Based on what life dishes out, often times people move in and out of a routine.  School changes, work changes, family changes, habits change, environments and access change.  All of these things make life exciting, but they also challenge your ability to be consistent in many things, a big one being physical fitness.  All of us are typically struggling to find the time and/or motivation to be active.  I know I do!  For me, triathlon has been the answer the past few years.

However, I go back and forth about how detailed I should write about triathlon on this blog.  When you hear the word “triathlon”, it probably invokes a specific image for you.  And I am thinking it may have sort of a negative connotation, in that it sounds really hard, thus the reasons I don’t want to write too much about triathon are:

  • Triathlon (swim/bike/run) is a daunting or intimidating exercise for most people
  • The perception could be that I am bragging or think I am somehow better than others because I do triathlon
  • Because of these two previous points, readers may tune out and think “this is not the blog for me”

The reasons I DO want to write about triathlon here are:

  • Triathlon is the personal motivator for me, it is a big part of my life.  I want to help you find the same thing, anything – that activity that catches your attention and keeps you engaged.  When I am in training for triathlon, I get to eat what I want – which I love.  I also have to stay on my training regimen so I don’t look stupid huffing & puffing on the race course – embarrassing!
  • If I can do a triathlon, seriously anyone can.  In the end, it is mental over physical in a tri.  Yes, you have to train your body appropriately to the distance you are looking at, but your mind takes you over the finish line.  This applies to a lot of things in life!
  • I love the community of athletes that participate.  If you ever get a chance to be a spectator at a triathlon, it is exhilarating!  You have weekend warriors, newbies, and at many big races – professionals – all together on the same course on the same day having a shared experience.  I cannot tell you how many strangers, race participants and spectators, have given me words of encouragement during a race that literally kept me from stopping.  I think of these people that I do not know all the time when I am working out on my own.

So there you have it, a little glimpse into why I do triathlon and a little encouragement to find what works for you.  I in no way think I am better than anyone else or have some need to intimidate others with what I do.  For me, triathlon is what works right now.  And I do not kid myself to think it will work forever.  It motivates me and gives me a quality of life I love.  I hope that you can find the same thing, and I am committed to helping you in that quest!

Posted in exercise, triathlon | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

‘Tis the Season: Part 2

Posted by pjcloud9 on June 9, 2009

‘Tis the season of triathlon training.  I am now 19 days out from the first test of my current endurance: the Hy-Vee Triathlon, Sunday, June 28, West Des Moines, IA.

I have participated and finished the Hy-Vee tri the last two years.  The problem with the race is this is the third year of it and the third version of the course.  This makes it hard to gauge personal progress year over year and is annoying because of the adjustments that have to be made.

The first year it was in downtown Des Moines, swim in Gray’s Lake, with a finish line at the Iowa State Capitol.  Pretty flat, except the bike hill on Grand Ave. and the run up to the capitol at the end.  Year two, 2008, there was flooding in Iowa and Gray’s Lake was not in condition to swim in (read: bacteria infested), so they moved the venue to West Des Moines.  For several days last year, we thought it would be a “dry tri” or duathlon, with no swim leg.  We would instead run – bike – run.  But because the race was an Olympic qualifying event, not for me of course, race organizers were very eager to get the swim in.  They decided on Raccoon River Park with a finish line at Valley Freshman High School, thus two transition areas – very cumbersome, and a hilly run in comparison to the year prior.  Plus mental gymnastics in the 10 days prior trying to track all the changes and keep training.

This year, we are back at Raccoon River Park for the swim, but the bike and run courses have changed again.  We will be starting and finishing at the park, which is great, one transition area.  The issue with this third course for the Hy-Vee Tri?  This year we are running up a huge hill we biked up last year and running up a hill that we finished on last year.  UGH!

How to deal?  Train on hills and mentally prep.  I ran the actual big hill – dubbed “the Neil hill” by my family – in WDM this weekend to get the mental picture going on it.  Back at home, I have decided to train hills in Bloomington in the Hyland Park/Mt. Normandale Lake area.  For the next 19 days, the running portion of my training will happen there.  I am pretty comfortable with this plan.  The missing piece here in Minnesota is heat.  It is inevitable that by the last weekend in June in Des Moines it will be in the high 80s/low 90s.  If anyone can please order some heat for the Twin Cities (or a cool weekend in June for WDM), please call that favor in.

The good news in all of this is the Life Time Triathlon at Lake Nokomis on July 11 will be a piece of cake with all of its glorious flatness.  And a trip to The Cheesecake Factory will follow, of course!

Posted in triathlon | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »