Category: health

My Standing Desk

One of the things that really surprised me when I entered the working world is how sedentary it is. After years of walking to and from my classes in college, it was a big adjustment to sit in front of a computer for 8+ hours of the day and then come home at the end of it exhausted… only to sit in front of the TV for the remainder of the evening.

There are hundreds of articles out there talking about the benefits of getting up and moving throughout the workday and the benefits of stand up desks — it increases your metabolism, improves your posture, and reduces the health risks of sitting for long periods of time.

Last November I converted to a stand up desk, and absolutely love it. A coworker of mine had one, so I decided to try it out and see if it improved my health and energy.

Would you like a peak into my office to see it? Of course you do. :)

Stand Up Desk

My “standing desk” is really just a simple desk shelf that I keep my mouse, keyboard and notepad on. I like that it’s easy to convert back to a sitting desk without changing the furniture drastically (like a lot of standing desks out there). I don’t think standing desks are for everyone, either because your work environment doesn’t allow it (aka: this would be awkward in a cubicle), or because you can’t be on your feet for long periods of time, but for me it has definitely helped, and I don’t plan on ever going back to a sitting desk.

Here are a few FAQ when I tell people I have a standing desk:

Did it take a while to get used to?
It took me about a week for my body to get used to. The first few days I came home feeling exhausted, like I do after spending a long afternoon of shopping. But by the end of the week, I noticed I had a lot more energy throughout the day, and didn’t even notice pain in my feet or back.

Does your back or your feet hurt at the end of the day?
Honestly, not at all. I’m technically not standing the whole day, but leaning against my desk and occasionally I’ll rest my foot on my chair to help transfer the weight from my feet. That has a lot less impact on my body than just freely standing.

Do you wear heels? 
I work in a corporate office setting, so I try to wear heels at least two or three times a week, and flats the other days. All of my heels are pretty comfortable (that’s one thing I don’t mind spending more money on), so it doesn’t bother me too much standing in them. However, it does start to weigh on your calves by the end of the day, so I keep a pair of cheap black flats under my desk as back-up and slip on my heels when I walk around the office. So far, so good!

Have you seen an improvement in your health?
I have! This was unexpected, but I’ve seen a lot of improvement in my digestive health. For the past few years, I have experienced stomach aches later in the day (read more on that here), and I really think part of the problem was eating lunch fast and then immediately sitting for the rest of the afternoon. Now that I stand, my food seems to digest easier and I have fewer stomach aches. I have also noticed my core and posture are improved.

Do you ever sit?
I sit when I am reading or editing, but try to stand whenever I use the computer. I have at least one or two meetings a day, which are all sitting around conference rooms, so I have a few breaks from standing.

What is your favorite thing about it?
I love that when I come home at the end of the day, I don’t feel guilty relaxing on the couch and putting my feet up.

Have you ever considered a standing desk?
Do you have this option at your office?
What other questions do you have? :)

PS – You may or may not find me occasionally in the tree pose behind my desk. ;)

Update: I asked my office manager and I am using the Safco Heavy Duty Desk Shelf, for those curious.

My April Goal: No Processed Food

I only have one goal this month:*

If it comes out of a bag, box or wrapper, it’s off limits.

No Processed Food Diet

It’s been a long time since I’ve shared much about diet or fitness… which means I haven’t been doing either very well. Because when you’re on a diet, it’s hard to keep quiet. You want other people to know the agony you’re going through. :)

January and February were very disciplined months for me and I felt really good. Looking back it’s a shame it was winter because my legs and arms were more toned then than they have been in years. I had just trained (and ran) a marathon, and was eating a very strict diet to determine any food allergies.

I almost wish the outcome of my fodmaps diet was a severe allergy to all bad foods. Perhaps that would give me incentive to avoid them all together, but seeing as my nutritionist lightly recommended I avoid high fructose corn syrup and gluten and everything else in moderation, I took her recommendation loosely. Between eating too many cadbury eggs and not running my normal 50 miles per week (which, by the way, was crazytown), it’s no surprise that I’ve gained a good 3 to 5 pounds in the past month. And to some of you 5 pounds is not a big deal, but to my 5’3″ frame, it feels like a lot and I am curbing these pounds before that number grows.

So that brings me to my month’s challenge! I am getting back on track by eliminating all processed foods. It’s not going cold turkey because if I want to have sweets, I still can, so long as I bake them from scratch. But no more jelly beans sitting in little dishes around the house or casually picking up caramel cremes in my office break room on my way back from the bathroom. I better not do any unwrapping or eating from a box this month.

I am not going to omit dining out altogether, especially since we will be celebrating our anniversary in a week, but I am going to try and make wise decisions when I do. I want all these pounds off by Memorial Day. More and sooner would be nice, but I’ll take maintaining where I was a month and a half ago fine for now.

As for my fitness goals… I’m not there yet. I am still doing yoga and running a few miles a week, and I dusted off my free-weights to help tone up my arms. But I’m not ready to create any specific fitness goals, and I kind of like it that way. That six-month marathon training really took a mental toll on me, and for now it’s nice just working out when I feel like it and not having the pressure of a schedule dictating me. But we will see how this month’s eating plan goes and see if I need to kick up my fitness up a notch.

There you go! My one and only goal this month.*
How are you doing on your new year resolutions?
Anyone else struggling with their weight?

If you have monthly goals and want to link up, feel free:MyMonthlyGoals

*PS – Actually, I have a lot of goals this month, but most of them have already been mentioned on my spring bucket list (celebrate our anniversary, spend every moment outside, etc.) and the others are basic monthlies (try a new restaurant, stay under budget, cook more, read a book, etc.).

(photo credit)

Fodmaps Diet Results

my nutrition journey

Guess what! I’m done dieting!

Ron Eating Food Gif

I know. It’s exciting!

Like I have shared before, a few months ago I decided to see a nutritionist for a few digestive issues I was dealing with, and she put me on a Fodmaps diet. Fodmaps are trigger foods that can affect your digestive system negatively. There are five different Fodmaps groups:

The Fodmaps Diet

Basically I couldn’t have bread, lactose, beans specific fruits and vegetables, and anything with high fructose corn syrup. For two weeks I had to eliminate all Fodmaps from my diet; here is an example of what I ate during that time. After the two weeks, my nutritionist gave me a plan for testing which Fodmaps gave me the most trouble. This is what the next month looked like:

Lactose Challenge:
Day 1: Small portion of lactose, including milk, yogurt, cheese
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: I felt fine after both days!

Three days back to the elimination diet.

Fructans Challenge:
Day 1: Small portion of fructans, including bread, onions, garlic
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: Felt fine the first day, didn’t feel great on the second day.

Three days back to the elimination diet.

Excess Fructose Challenge:
Day 1: Small portion of fructose, including apple, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, etc.
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: Didn’t feel great at all; had an immediate reaction both days.

Three days back to the elimination diet.

Polyols Challenge:
Day 1: Small portions of polyols, including artificial sweeteners, sugar-free candy, fruit
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: Didn’t feel great, but no major symptoms.

Three days back to the elimination diet.

Galactans Challenge:
Day 1: Small portions of galactans, including beans and hummus
Day 2: Larger portion
Results: Felt fine!

Three days back to the elimination diet, and go see the nutritionist to discuss the results.

Every day I had to write down everything I ate and closely monitor how I felt. It was very time consuming, but definitely necessarily to pin-point which area was giving me the most reaction.

I met with my nutritionist again and the verdict is:
My body has an adverse reaction to Fructose, Polyols and a mild case of Fructans.

All this really means is that I should avoid high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and healthy breads (such as rye, bran, and whole wheat since they are high in fructans).

So that’s where I am now! It was so nice to go back to normal and eat without constantly thinking of all the eliments behind it, and I have been able to tell a difference in my body.

My next challenge is to try and get 25-35 grams of fiber in my diet every day naturally (aka: without supplements). Do you know how hard it is to get that high without eating bran? I’m getting creative, though, so as soon as get in a good rhythm with this new eating plan, I’ll be sure to let you guys know an average week’s meal plan. :)

What about you guys? I got a few readers say they had tried this diet or the paleo diet — how has this helped your health? Do you have any food sensitivities? I’d love to hear stories!

PS – I don’t recommend anyone to test this diet without consulting a nutritionist or doctor. This is merely the plan that I was put on!

What do you like about yourself?

You are beautiful

When it comes to our appearances, no one thinks less of yourself than you do. We immediately pin-points our flaws and make lists of things we’d want to change. My nose is too big, I’m too short. I’m too tall. My skin is too oily. My hips are too big. My thighs are too big. My neck is too long, etc., etc.

The prime, sad example is Heidi Montag when she underwent crazy surgeries to alter her body. Why would someone so naturally beautiful want to change? She was adorable, and someone I would want to look like. Now she just looks sickly and sad. God has made each of us unique, and I think He is grieved when we look at His creation and say I don’t like it. 

So I thought today we could talk about what we do like! The things that you love about yourself, that makes you feel beautiful and special.

I’ll go first:
I like my hair color. It is a rich brown that gets natural highlights in the summer and has a red tint to it in the winter. I have wanted to dye it before, mainly because it’s popular, but have always decided against it because I like it just fine the way it is. (Also it saves me hundreds of dollars a year maintaining the color, an added bonus.;)

Now it’s your turn:
What do you like about yourself? What is your favorite feature? If you have a hard time thinking up something, what do most people compliment you on? Maybe you like being tall, or you have pretty blue eyes. Maybe you have great freckles or you tan easily. Maybe you have a high metabolism or have really strong, healthy finger nails.

Whatever it is, leave a comment and share it! (And try, if you can, not to use the word “but” or have any exceptions or say anything self-deprecating. It’s harder than you think.:)

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

(Photo is from Pinterest. Contact me if you know the original source!)

The Charleston Marathon

Y’all, I did it. I finished the Charleston marathon. I didn’t run very fast, and it took me waaaay longer than I thought it would (over five hours in case you’re wondering), but! it is done, and I did it. I will spare you the boring details of recapping every minute of the race, but let me just share some of the highlights. There are three.

The first 14 miles
The first half was fantastic. It was chilly, sunny, and we ran through the most beautiful parts of Charleston. We ran along the Battery, up King Street, and beside the water. Allison took this picture on mile 6 and we were all smiles at that point.

Allison was pacing a little faster, so we separated from her about mile 10 and Christen and I continued to run at a slower pace. I was feeling up for multitasking, so I took a few of these pics on a pedestrian bridge at one point. It was the perfect running day.

Miles 16, 18 and 22:
Throughout the race, people were scattered in different neighborhoods to cheer the runners on, and I heard a loud bunch coming up at about mile 16. Yay, I thought, I need some encouragement about now.

As Christen and I approached, the group got louder. I thought maybe there was someone behind me that the group knew, when I realized it was me they were shouting for. I saw my little sister first, and then my older sister, and then my mom, (mom!!) and then my dad, and then J with Leia, and then Andrew, my brother in law. What! What were they doing there! They all had signs and were cheering and I stopped for an instant to give everyone a little hug. I started tearing up — I couldn’t believe they spent hours in the car just to watch me run. It was too much.

I saw them again at mile 18, and then again at 22, the best parts of those hours. The last hour was hard. Really, really hard. My ankle started hurting me about two hours in, and every time I stopped to get a drink of water, it was torture starting up my jog again. Christen and I walked a little bit in the last few miles and tried our best to encourage each other. We were so close.

The finish line:
The last mile felt like it was five miles long. We finally reached a stretch of road with volunteers and they told us the end was near — 26 was right around the corner. We picked up our speed and finally passed mile 26. People cheered that there were just two more corners and the finish line was close. We ran faster and saw the white banner a few yards away. I saw everyone I love at the finish line and ran fast. I crossed it, cheering, and nearly collapsed into my mom’s arms, overcome with exhaustion and relief and happiness.

We hung around to take pictures and celebrate with the greatest cheerleaders. We reluctantly said goodbye to my family, who headed back to NC that afternoon. I am still in shock and awe that they came so far, just to see me run. It meant so much. The rest of us walked limped to the car, picked up some pizzas on our way back to Folly Beach, and ate as much as our hearts desired.

It was one of the hardest and happiest days of my life, and one I will never forget.

Confessions of a Marathon Trainer

confessions of a marathon trainer

I feel weird telling people that I’m running a marathon this weekend. It feels like I’m talking about someone else. When I first signed up, I told everyone! I was afraid I would chicken out, so if I knew there were umpteen people keeping me accountable, I felt like I could keep going. But now? I just feel really silly when someone at work asks what I’m doing this weekend. Oh not much, just running a marathon. 

Two months ago, I secretly hoped I would have injured myself by now and, like a martyr, not been able to participate in the marathon. I admit, that was a low moment.

I can’t do math while I run. During my 16-miler, I was on a trail that would count down every half-mile until the end. I saw “2.50” on the pavement and thought of it like a clock — 1/5 of the mile was over, instead of really 1/2. So half a mile later I saw “2.0” written on the pavement, I thought it was the fastest mile of my life. But it really was quite an average half-mile for me.

I also can’t spell when I’m running. I once listened to a sermon and they used the word schizophrenia. I literally spent the next ten minutes in my head trying to figure out how to spell it. Is it skitsophrenia? skitsofrenia? (Both wrong.) How do they come up with words like this? How would I type this? And then I start pretending to type the word with my fingers while I run. Which reminds me of my piano lessons and I then I pretend to play the piano with my fingers songs I have memorized. I remember the chorus but forget the beginning. How does this song start again? Oh why am I thinking about spelling, typing and piano playing –JUST KEEP RUNNING! 

I wish I had raised money for this marathon. Why didn’t I? What’s the point in running 26.2 for the fun of it? Maybe there are retroactive fundraisers. Look, I did this. Donate! 

I can’t run any more than what I have mentally prepared for. If I am going out to run 5 miles, then there’s no way you’ll convince me to run just another. Which is why I’ve been practicing finishing each long run with an extra 0.2 to prepare for the race. That tiny 1/5 of a mile is longer than you think!

Running has a way of –ahem– getting things moving, if you know what I mean. I am proud to say I have never gone to the bathroom in the woods, but I admit I have stopped many a time in Walgreens. You runners know what I’m talking about. ;)

Drivers are very nice to runners. Almost too nice. I personally look forward to traffic lights because it means a forced break. A chance to take a swig of my water and relax for a moment or two. But these drivers must see my running belt and exhausted face and think, Oh, she’s a serious runner, and will give me a little wave like You go first! And I’m all like, No, seriously, you go first. And they politely insist No you go! with another wave and since it’s me against a person operating a heavy machine, I reluctantly pick my feet up and continue running.

There’s one thing I for sure am going to miss: The Calories. When you get home from running two and a half hours straight, you can pretty much eat whatever you want.

Showers are the greatest things after a run, especially a long run when you have crystalized sweat on your forehead. Has anyone else experienced that? It sounds gross, but that’s just what happens when you run for over an hour in the cold. It feels so weird and wonderful to wash it off.

Once after a really, really good run, I was so elated I fist-pumped the air and high-fived myself. I didn’t really think about it, until I realized I was near a busy intersection and a dozen cars probably saw me. Haha oh well! Maybe I’ll do that when I finish on Saturday, if I survive.

Ok, I know I sound a little jaded in this post, but I’m so scared and nervous and excited and ready, but not ready! I am taking a four-day weekend, so I’ll catch you on the flip-side!

Week 1 on the Fodmaps Elimination Diet

Alright, let me just step down off my soapbox from yesterday’s post and talk to you guys about someting a little less… raw. Like DIETS! It’s been a week since the new year started — who’s off their diet by now? ;)

I started the Fodmaps diet last Wednesday, and so far, so good. Quick refresher: I have been dealing with cronic stomach aches for the past couple of years, so I saw a nutritionist and she recommended the Fodmaps diet. Basically it’s a gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free, high-fructose-free diet.

Here’s what a typical day looks like for the past week:

– Coffee with unsweetened almond milk and a little bit of sugar. It’s basically black coffee with a teeny tiny bit of flavor.
– Oatmeal with 3/4 cup of oats, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 tablespoon brown sugar and a pinch of sugar

Morning Snack:
– 1 Clementine. It’s hard to limit myself to just one.

– 2 Rice cakes with organic peanut butter
– Cucumbers
– Gluten free crackers with 1oz Colby jack cheese

Afternoon Snack:
– 1 tablespoon of Nestle dark chocolate chips. Okay sometimes 2 tablespoons….
– Few tablespoons of raw almonds

– Baked potato with 1 tablespoon of sour cream, a little butter, and salt
– Grilled chicken breast with seasoning
– Salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, and balsamic vinaigrette. I miss my feta and goat cheese. :(

– Flourless cake that was leftover from NYE; it’s all gone now. :)
– Pickles. Yes, pickles for dessert. Yum!

I thought it would be super hard, but it’s basically just eating clean with zero processed foods. And so far I have felt better! I have had a couple of stomach aches in the past week. One happened the first night, so I don’t know what that was about, and the second time happened after I ate a salad at Moe’s. There must have been something hidden in the salad dressing I ordered. (Probably soy — it’s hidden in everything I tell you!) But otherwise, I’ve felt great and my symptoms have decreased significantly, which is really encouraging. I have also been sleeping better, which I’ve always struggled with, so I am hoping that’s an added benefit of the diet too. I still want to go to sleep at 9:30 every night, so I don’t have the energy everyone talks about when you go gluten-free, but maybe that still come with time.

The next steps is to visit my nutritionist again and create a plan to slowly add in more fopmaps to my diet to try and determine which category gives me the worst symptoms. I hope it will be easy to pin-point, but we shall see. :) I’ll be sure to share more as I learn!

Have you ever done the Paleo or Fodmaps diet?
How was your experience?
Did you ever get increased energy, and how long did it take for you to feel that way?
If you’re on any other diets, which ones are you on and how are they going?