Sunny Day in Chicagoland!

Good evening!

Hope everyone enjoyed the rest of their weekend! My Sunday was pretty much exactly what the doctor ordered – I slept in, cleaned, took a break for a yoga class and breakfast, cleaned some more, ran some errands, cooked, and spent the rest of the afternoon marveling over my sparkling condo. I didn’t just clean this weekend – I did, like, MY PARENTS ARE COMING cleaning, which you know is serious. I also finished up converting my closet to spring/summer stuff (but, yes, held onto a bunch of transitional items because Chicago) and donated 3 bags of clothes to Goodwill in the process. AND I changed a lightbulb in my family room light fixture that had been out for months – a most successful day.

For my meals I made “Greek Chicken with Orzo” for my lunches (feta and tomatoes are what make it Greek) and I put swordfish steaks on my grill pan for my dinners – they came out SO WELL! All I did was season them, brush them with olive oil, and squeeze some lemon juice and they were great. I spiralized squash and also added some oil, salt, and lemon juice. Good stuff!

I had toyed with the idea of a long run, but my muscles were still sore from Saturday and I wanted a rest. Plus I knew I was going to start a new running program today so I figured I would start it on fresh legs. I bought a program that two runner bloggers offer (“Nutrition for Runners”) and will follow the “Weight Loss for Runners” plan for the next 8 weeks. It has me running more consistently than I have been, and adds speedwork and hill work, with added emphasis on pre-run stretching and post-run cool down/core work. I did the first workout today – 10 mins or so of dynamic stretches, then a 3 mile run with 4 “strides” afterwards. I did it on the treadmill, so after the 3 miles I walked a minute to cool down, then just ramped up the speed to where I felt uncomfortable (but in a good way) and held that pace for 30 seconds, then went back down and walked it out for another minute and repeated it. I felt great – it was definitely challenging but I needed it! Then I finished up the core/cooldown stuff when I got home from work.

We’ll see how this goes. Part of me is apprehensive because I still have tightness/tenderness in my left hamstring/glute, and I don’t want to do anything that may take me out of NYC training this summer. On the other hand, I do need to build up my mileage base, and I’m hoping that since this program does include so much additional work, it’s a good way to go. I’ve been thinking for awhile about doing a marathon training program where you only run 3 days a week instead of 4 (which is what I did for Chicago), in order to keep pressure off my left leg, so I think this will be a good test to see where I’m at. Fingers crossed I can get through it!

Not much else to report – I must get my run in tomorrow before work, because we have an all-day staff meeting and then I’m going out for drinks, so off to bed I go. It finally warmed up a smidge here today, with more to come tomorrow, plus lots of sunshine, so inshallah that inspires me to actually wake up when the alarm goes off!!

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Happy Saturday!

Hi All!

Hope you’re all having a great weekend! I am writing from a very wet and chilly Chicago – and I can only blame myself. A few weeks ago when we had an unseasonably warm few days, I told a work friend that I could put away my tights for the season – completely forgetting that Chicago doesn’t really see springtime until after Memorial Day! I jinxed us!

So let’s back track to Thursday, when I had another pre-work run in the morning and felt sublime, then went to my Girls on the Run gala and had such a lovely time! The event was so nice – at a swanky and historic Chicago hotel, complete with a cocktail hour and 3-course dinner. I was worried I wouldn’t have anyone to talk to but ended up chatting with my neighbor (she’s the one who nominated me to join the board) and her husband during drinks, then sat at a table with another board member and got to know her better. Once dinner was complete, GOTR featured three girls who were in the middle of the program – one girl still in elementary school and another two in middle school. They all spoke to how the program benefited them and made them more confident, and they were all really composed and really engaging – they clearly stole the show! Immediately afterwards there was an auction – smart timing, since the crowd had been all warmed up! The auction items were a bit out of my price range (a trip to Hawaii started at $1K), but afterwards there were some additional items you could just commit to, so I pledged $150, which will pay for one girl to go through the program next year. I’m sure we’ll see final numbers next week – it looked successful to me!

On Friday I slept in and did yoga during lunch, then took my dance class in the evening. And that’s when my weekend plans drastically changed! I’d hoped to go home for Greek Easter this weekend, and was looking at an early Saturday morning flight and an early return flight on Monday morning. On Friday during the day, both had seats. Well by the time I got home from the gym, both were super tight. I had a feeling I’d make it home – but wasn’t confident I’d get back on my desired flight on Monday. And obviously I have to be at work. So this morning I checked again, and the return flight was fully booked. You never know about these things – there are almost always no-shows – but you can’t really count on that type of thing either. I was so sad, to miss my mom’s cooking and seeing my family in general, but I couldn’t risk being stuck in CT on Monday.

So instead of flying home, I went to the gym this morning for two good strength training classes, then just came home and caught up on email and blogs and some tv and cleaning. Then I took a nap – because what else does one do when it’s so damp and cold outside?! Finally I got my act together and went grocery shopping, and in a half hour or so I’m going to hang out with my neighbors and eat pizza and drink wine. Not the worst consolation prize for not being able to go home!

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get a nice run in – it’ll still be on the chilly (and breezy) side, but it should not be raining. I bought a banana in case I make it a long run – since I’m not actually in training yet, I feel like I should just play around with distances for the next month or so. Last weekend was my big 10-miler, so maybe tomorrow I’ll start again at 7 and work up to 10 again and then go back down – eh, we’ll see how I’m feeling. That’s the really nice part about not being in formal training yet – I decide when I run, and for how long!

Not too much else to report. Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

 

Back to the Blog!

Ciao, ragazzi!

Apologies for skipping a few days of writing – I kept turning off my laptop to go to sleep and then realizing that I hadn’t posted! Determined to write this evening.

When last I wrote, it was Saturday and I’d just had a great run. That evening I went to a friend’s birthday party and consumed my weight in margaritas and tacos – it was GREAT. 🙂 On Sunday I knew I needed something low key, so I went to a power yoga class. We had such gorgeous weather that I intentionally went to the gym franchise about a mile away (vice the one a few blocks away), just so I could get in a nice walk to and from. It was a challenging class, but good.

(side note: I hate being the biggest one in my classes, especially yoga. I see my reflection in the mirror and lose any zen that I may have possessed.)

The rest of Sunday was spent cooking for the week. For my dinners I made two meals, one with shrimp and asparagus in a coconut/ginger/cilantro broth situation, and one was steak with vodka sauce and zoodles. Oh that’s right, I am on the zoodle bandwagon! I was so skeptical at first – I love zucchini, but the idea of zucchini noodles just didn’t appeal to me – but I finally caved and bought a $10 spiralizer and am now a convert! For my lunches I made a “mediterranean” chicken barley salad – so-called because it called for feta and eggplant. It’s good…very filling.

Monday was my rest day, so that was low key, then yesterday I took a fab HIIT class at the gym during lunch. The weights I usually use were already taken, so I went up by 2.5 lbs each – it felt really cool. 🙂 Hard but cool! Then today I was supposed to run in the morning before work but defaulted to extra sleep, so I went after work and did a quick 4 miles on the treadmill, which felt fantastic!

Tomorrow night I have a gala event for Girls on the Run, so I must get my butt to the gym in the morning, no excuses! Technically I could go during work but I get so sweaty and gross – hardly in a gala state.

My love of podcasts continues…this week I’ve been catching up on episodes of a show that just interviews runners on their marathon experiences – I LOVE it! One of my favorite parts of runner blogs is the Race Review section, so this podcast totally speaks to me. This evening I listed to a recap from a guy who just ran the Paris marathon – so cool!

Ok, that’s all for tonight! I think tomorrow will be a late night so probably no entry till Friday – ooh, maybe with a pic of me from the gala, if I get a good one! Have a great evening. 🙂

A Post from a Happy Gal :)

Hello friends!

So happy to be writing on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, with fun plans for the evening.

But let me back up to yesterday. On Thursday night I said I had a little workout dream for Friday and wasn’t sure if I’d get through it – well, I did! And I have to say…eh…maybe not the greatest sense of accomplishment?!

I often do a bunch of classes on the weekends, and on occasion I’ve done two workouts on a weekday, but never three. Well the stars aligned for Friday – my gym just added a pre-work strength training class to the schedule, so I knew I could use it to realize my goal of a breakfast, lunch, and dinner workout. I figured I had the perfect balance – a tough but light-on-cardio workout in the AM, then I’d get zen with yoga during lunch, and end my day with my fun dance class that I love. And that’s exactly what happened. Only – I didn’t feel all that victorious! I’d do it again if I felt like it, but it wasn’t the end-all, be-all of workout days. I don’t regret it or anything, I just didn’t feel as elated as I’d expected!

I just wrote that I’d do it again if I felt like it, and I would – BUT – next time I would not be a moron and plan on running 10 miles the next day! Good lord – the strength class I went to yesterday focused a LOT on legs (not my favorite), and even though I felt like I flushed them out with the yoga and dancing, they were still really sore when I woke up this morning. So, lesson learned – you can do three workouts, but don’t plan on a big run the next day!

But I totally got through those 10 miles today, against all odds! Everything seemed to line up for a good run: it was super sunny but still a little bit chilly, perfect running weather. There was a breeze but it was not windy. I’d been saving a podcast for weeks and was super excited to listen to it. All my eating this week was more or less on point.

But I woke up – after, no exaggeration, over 10 hours of sleep – to a headache. And I knew I couldn’t get out there with my head feeling so cloudy. So I took an anti-inflammatory to help with that, ate a banana, and went back to bed for another hour (not exactly sleeping, just kind of lying there and waiting for the headache to abate). I don’t know if it was the painkiller or what, but running just felt like a STRUGGLE today, even at a less-than-ambitious pace. The podcast was lovely but my body just wasn’t responding to it. I felt like my heart rate was way up and that my breathing was a challenge. I wanted to run 10 but was definitely ready to quit after 3.

I ran 2.5 miles north and back, and let me tell you, I definitely was ready to just head home once I got back to my starting point. I was also weirdly hungry, which is not at all common for me, especially since I’d had the banana. I did bring energy blocks so I had those, and they did help, but it was just a strange sensation. Somehow I pushed through another 2.5 and then turned around and wrapped things up. I was able to keep a pretty decent pace, but it was a battle. I am really proud of myself for seeing it through – but aside from the headache situation, a bit mystified as to why it was so hard!

At any rate, by the time I got home it was nearly 1pm, so all I’ve done this afternoon is eat and stretched and foam rolled! But it has been very enjoyable. This evening I’m going to a birthday party for my neighbor. She’s featuring tacos and margaritas, and I’d be lying through my teeth if I said that dreaming of those margaritas didn’t help get me through the run this morning!

With that I shall say good evening! Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

Ignorance Truly Can be Bliss

Good evening from a nicely warm-ish Chicago! This is why I love spring and fall – by summer and winter you’re expecting hot or cold temps, but in the transitional seasons, every taste of warmer or cooler temps is a gift, a sign of things to come. I know it’s cooling down here tomorrow, but it’s going to warm up a bit over the weekend, then will be more moderate for awhile – all fine with me. I’m glad to put winter behind me…but summer can wait a bit. 🙂

I planned on doing a HIIT run at the gym this morning, but when my alarm went off I just wasn’t feeling the intensity. So instead I did another 4 miles outside, with a more moderate pace, and felt great. Even better, my hamstring felt better than it did yesterday, so I’ll take it! I took a nice walk at lunch and took a longer trip home so I could do a little more walking (and grocery shopping) – all in all a nicely active day. AND I forgot to take my allergy pill at lunch but am feeling pretty much fine, so hopefully I’m out of the woods in that department!

When I run outside, I almost always have my Garmin fitness tracker on – actually, since I bought it last summer, I think I’ve only run twice without it. I try not to get too fixated on it – after all, I’m just a recreational runner, and a non-competitive one at that, so the idea of holding a certain pace or heart rate or whatever isn’t a big deal to me. I more use it to monitor distance and to keep track of my 6:1 run/walk intervals (the watch beeps and buzzes when it’s time for me to take my walk breaks, and again to get me back to running).

When I run to the lake path from my house (sometimes I do, sometimes I use it as a walking warm-up), I go under a short tunnel, and every now and then it throws my GPS out of whack. Yesterday, for instance, my watch told me I ran a mile in under 9 minutes – even at my absolute speediest daydream I cannot imagine that happening! – and when I got back to my house I still had mileage to make up. So today that was on my mind during the run – the times were more accurate, but I felt like the watch told me I’d gone 2 miles a little bit earlier in the course than usual (you’d think I’d have distances memorized by now but since I vary it up – running north or south, from my house or from the path itself, etc., I usually don’t remember). But since I didn’t have time to screw around (had to get to work, after all!), I turned around and finished up.

I kept wondering if the distance really was accurate or if my GPS shortchanged me – it’s well documented that they’re not always accurate and tend to be offset not only by tunnels but even heavily wooded areas or super tall buildings, that kind of thing.

Tonight I was remembering the one run, over a year ago, that made me feel like I could really resume my running game. I’d been wearing a regular watch and just running for time – 30 mins out/back,  then 35, then 40, and so on. Then I downloaded one of the running apps and actually saw my distance. And after one run I took a look at the watch and gasped – 9 miles, and it wasn’t a huge challenge! I remember saying “well…if I can do 9, I can do 10. And if I can do 10 I can do a half marathon. And if I can do a half marathon…maybe I can try to actually finish a marathon this time!”

(I love my exaggerated logic…I’m surprised I didn’t tell myself “And if I can complete a marathon I’ll start running ultras! And then an Ironman! And then I’ll be in the Olympics!”)

Anyway, the point of all of this is – looking back, I wonder if I actually DID run 9 miles that day! Because when transitioned from the app to my Garmin, I noticed that I had to run just a bit longer with the Garmin to get to the distance my app was telling me I’d already reached. Nothing dramatic, but maybe crossing another block or two or whatever. And I wonder, if I’d looked at the app and it had said 8.5 miles, would I have been so confident of all the future stuff? Totally possible, but I could just as easily have been like “wow, 8.5 miles. Guess I hit my limit!”

So sometimes ignorance really is bliss. Maybe I ran 9 miles that day, maybe I didn’t – but I know FOR SURE that I ran 26.2 in October. Maybe I did get in 4 miles this morning, and maybe I didn’t – but I’ll keep going and it’ll all even out. I like to think I’m getting to a similar place with food. I only use calories on a label as a guide and I don’t freak out when I see an interesting recipe without a nutrition label – I focus on the ingredients and the serving size and just figure out if it’s going to be something I’ll make. Ideally if it turns out to be a heavier meal than what I’m used to, I’ll intuitively cut back elsewhere. I’m not there yet…but I’m getting there.

And that’s all for tonight. I have a secret workout goal for tomorrow – will hopefully be able to write about it tomorrow night! 🙂

Outcome Achieved!

Yay! So happy to report that I did get up before work and had a lovely 4-mile run at a decent pace. Actually – it was a harder run than I’d anticipated, but I’m chalking that up to the allergy pills I’m taking (I’m not making this up; Runner’s World says not to take decongestants before a big race!). Regardless, I got it done and felt great afterwards, especially while enjoying my post-run acai smoothie with kefir!

Hopefully we can make it two-for-two tomorrow morning; my work friend wants to go shopping during lunch so I want to run early again. Ideally I’ll get to the gym and do an interval run on the treadmill – there are so many workout suggestions online, incorporating speed and incline, so once I’m done writing I’m going to find a plan to follow. It’s always easy doing interval runs on the treadmill because you’re constantly fidgeting with the numbers on the machine and you have to pay attention to the workout – so time flies by!

And that’s about it from here. Truth be told, I’ve been feeling a little sad this week so I’m glad I was able to get my workouts back on track – definitely in need of some endorphins. Two days to go until the weekend. 🙂

Tuesday Evening Catch-up!

Good evening!

You may have noticed (or haven’t, haha!) that I haven’t written in a few days…for the girl who rarely gets sick, I was down for the count! It started Friday afternoon at work – I swallowed some water and immediately was like “that…didn’t feel right.” Sure enough, by the time I got home I had a full-on sore throat. I still went to my dance class at the gym since it’s such moderate intensity, but when Saturday morning rolled around I knew I was going to take a rest day. My throat was worse and my nose was all stuffed up – I definitely thought I had a cold.

I surprised myself by still going to brunch with some friends -I figured I so rarely commit to anything that I shouldn’t bail – and I had a great time. But as the day wore on, my cold got worse. By Saturday night I had a chill and aches and pains – really not pleasant!

Thankfully the Nyquil I took let me sleep through the night, and by Sunday I was feeling better – still not well enough to work out, but enough to run some errands and clean and get ready for the week ahead. I thought I was pretty much on the mend, but my nose had other ideas – around lunchtime yesterday I finally caved and bought Claritin, and decided I didn’t have a cold – I had allergies!

I guess I made the right call, because I’m really feeling better now, and was finally able to work out during lunch. I thought I’d feel guilty for taking 3 days off from working out, but I don’t! I read somewhere that if you’re thinking about bailing on a workout, imagine explaining it to a coach – if you can justify it, do it, but if you feel silly, get to the gym. Given how freakin tired and stuffy I was, I felt fully justified in the rest days!

And I think it was the right call, because I felt like I crushed my workout today. I used heavy dumbbells and was able to keep my form and speed and just felt overall great, really strong. HOPEFULLY tomorrow morning I’ll get in a run before work (I have a morning-long meeting so I can’t duck out during lunch), but if not I’ll just go afterwards.

I’m still a nut about podcasts, and two things I recently heard really resonated. One was from a former NFL player who is now a coach (his program is mostly on motivation). He was talking about the difference between preparation and outcome (he spoke more eloquently but you’ll get the picture), and how your preparation has to be flexible but your outcome has to be on point – apparently he stole this concept from Jeff Bezos, and given how Amazon rules the world, who am I to argue?! What I liked about the concept was that – just as I am preparing to get in a workout early tomorrow – I can be flexible and push it to the evening if necessary. Either way, it’ll help inform my outcome – a successful run.

But he took it a step further, and defined the outcome not as a tangible result – the completed run, in my case – but as an overall feeling. So, yes, I do want to achieve that run, but really my outcome by the end of tomorrow is to feel re-energized and stronger after coming off of my rest days. Similarly, sometimes I want to achieve a yoga class, but really I want to end my day feeling more balanced and calm, and to know that I did something special for my body. All good stuff to think about.

The second thought that resonated was from the same program but during an interview with an athlete. The coach asked her if she had any mantras or overall guidance, and she said she had heard this phrase and wasn’t sure where it came from, but that she attached herself to it. I’m paraphrasing, but the gist is: make sure the way you live your life reflects your dreams. I REALLY like that, and I think it applies to so much more than athletic goals. I know the things that I do that are moving me forward, but I also know the behaviors that hold me back – if I can just see them as being contrary to my dreams, or as stumbling blocks in achieving them, then I think I can work on them.

That’s all for me! I shall continue to share my podcast wisdom when appropriate. 🙂 Have a lovely evening!

Pre-Friday!

Hello there!

It feels sort of silly to blog tonight since I don’t have much of interest to report, but I feel like since I finally got back into the swing of things yesterday, I should keep up the momentum. 🙂 I did have a really great workout – my gym has a class called Total Body Blast, which I’d taken several times when it debuted and then forgot about when I changed up my exercise schedule. Today it was exactly what I needed – three circuits for core, strength, and cardio, with one-minute exercises performed twice. So, for example, I started in the core section with a 1-minute plank, then moved to the strength section for squats with weights, then did fast feet in the cardio block. Then we repeated that series and then it was time for new ones. So, all in all, a good blend of exercises and just what I wanted!

My podcast obsession continues…last night and this morning I listened to a coach interview a professional soccer player and on my trip home from work I listened to an interview with a girl who lost 100 lbs and her reflections afterwards.

Oh! One thing I forgot to mention yesterday, another fun thing that popped up during my big travel tranche – I was accepted to a board position for the Chicago chapter of Girls on the Run! It’s an awesome organization that teaches girls from 3rd grade through 8th the importance of self esteem, community, treating others well, etc., through running. Yesterday afternoon I had an introductory session with the executive director of the office and was just in awe of everything this group accomplishes. The Chicago chapter alone has 10,000 girls registered in its programs this year, which is incredible! I’m hoping to duck out of work early one of these days (esp now that it’s warm) so that I can watch one of the learning lessons the coaches have with the girls. I’ve only attended one board meeting and had my intro session yesterday, but I think this is going to be a great fit for me, especially to enrich my Chicago life a bit – which I really need.

Anyway, that’s really all for tonight! Time for dinner. Two weeks ago I started doing the cauliflower-for-carb substitution, so tonight I’m feasting on shrimp and “grits.” 🙂

My Fun Running News!

My last post was my travel re-cap, and since I learned about my big news during my time in Malaysia, I could have included it – but it’s, like, too exciting to tuck into that piece!

My big news – I am (planning on) running in the New York City Marathon in November!!

I have been wanting this so much, and I feel like all along I knew I was going to make the lottery. I read so much of the press coverage of the 2015 race and started getting really excited for the possibility, so the day after the race ended, I went to the website to find out when to sign up for the 2016 lottery. I knew it was a long shot because so many people want to get in – but I secretly suspect that my slow pace is my golden ticket. When you apply, you write in normal details (name/contact info/etc), but you ALSO estimate your completion time. My guess is that the algorithm factors in these times and spits out an acceptance list with various paces, and since most people are faster than I am, I had less competition!

Regardless if I’m right, all I know is that I knew I’d find out about the lottery when I was in Kuala Lumpur. I had it marked on my calendar and kept refreshing my NY Road Runners page to see if it had been updated (this is after adjusting for the time difference – I had to wait a LONG time before anything happened!!). It was really late in KL (so, like, mid-day in NYC) when I saw that my “status” box had changed from being empty to saying “NYC 2016” – and I knew that was a good sign! Then I looked at my bank account and saw my card had been charged the full entry fee – and I knew. But it wasn’t until I got the email – which I read in the terminal of the KL airport – that I whooped out loud and promptly updated my Facebook status!

This race will mean a lot to me because New York means a lot to me. My family is from there, for one thing, and I spent some of my best moments growing up in the city. I think it’s my love of New York that gave me my love of Chicago – the first time I came here, I said it was like a less bustling version of the city. I am so excited to run through streets that will feel like home, even though I’ve never actually run in NYC one step!

So all this means…training will begin anew in July! I’m not sure if I’m going to do it solo or use a virtual training program, but I have time to figure that out. Right now I need to focus on slowly and safely rebuilding my miles. Since my half marathon in January, I’ve deliberately cut back to let my hamstring heal, but it’s time to start coming back. I’ve consistently run at least two days a week, usually incorporating some sort of HIIT treadmill run one day and a long run on the weekend, so now I’ll just ramp it up to 3. Nothing crazy, everything controlled (as best as I can).

Last Friday I think I discovered a game-changer: podcasts. Yes, everyone on the planet has been listening to podcasts for what seems like decades, but I didn’t get into them until Friday. It really was just because I was sick of listening to my regular music on my way to work and my NPR app has been weird, so I decided to search around for good podcasts for runners and I downloaded the first one I saw recommended. I LOVED it! So far I’ve listened to a few from Runners Connect, the official Runner’s World one, and some other running-centric ones, plus a few diet/nutrition pieces and some self esteem ones. And one about the ancient kings of Egypt, but that’s because I love history and has nothing to do with this. 🙂

I was always leery of running with a podcast because I really depend on music to keep me motivated, but on Saturday I headed out and had a GREAT experience! I listened to an interview with one of Meb’s coaches and it was really interesting and made me feel like I was just overhearing a great conversation right next to me. I ran this morning with a podcast as well, this time with another coach who emphasized the importance of varying running workouts – again, really interesting and definitely held my interest. The one thing that I noticed was that my timing was much slower when I listened to podcasts vice music. But interestingly, during my long run on Saturday, I did 5 miles with the podcast and finished the remaining 4 with music, and my speed actually increased for the final miles. This makes me wonder if I should deliberately conduct my long runs with a slow, steady, podcast-based front half and wrap it up with a faster finish – something to experiment with for sure!

So that’s my excitement – just keep your fingers crossed that this hamstring situation calms down (it’s not painful per se…but it’s definitely tight) and that I can follow through with my training. I feel like my blog name will still be accurate…because Lani will still be running IN Chicago, just not FOR the Chicago marathon this time around! 🙂

Finally Back from the Travel Abyss!

Good evening, friends!

I am finally back from my whirlwind adventures and able to write again! Technically I’ve been back from my last trip for nearly a week, but it just took time for me to get back into the swing of things. Since late February, I have traveled to DC, Paris, Kuala Lumpur, Savannah, Cologne, Minneapolis/St. Paul, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Almost all of it was for work, but I was able to squeeze in a few days of fun here and there.

Remember how, prior to the trip, I was doing a LOT of workouts because I was worried that I wouldn’t have control over my exercise schedule? And remember how I was nervous about gaining a few pounds because I wouldn’t have control over food? And remember how I was worried that I was never going to leave Kuala Lumpur because I didn’t get a seat assignment on my return trip until about 10 hrs before the flight? (No? Well that’s because I didn’t want to write about it, for fear that I really would get stuck!!)

Well I am REALLY happy to say that everything worked out even better than I imagined. Before the trip I took a good, hard look at my schedule – when I was flying, whether each hotel had a fitness center, what my workload was going to be – and put together what I thought was a reasonable plan. I typed it out before I left and added a sentence in the beginning: Take it one day at a time. This was to remind me that all I could do was my best, and if work/jet lag/a crappy fitness center got in the way of a good workout (more on that in a second), then so be it – sometimes an extra rest day is hardly the worst thing.

I also tried to plan a lot around food. Thankfully I had at least one day at home in between each trip, so what I did was cook a bunch of meals in advance that I could just defrost (this warded off any “I’m so jet lagged and too lazy to cook so I’ll just grab whatever is in front of me”) and grocery shop in-between, when I needed to. Over the past few years I’ve been in the habit of cutting up an apple and bringing it with me – I call it my “just in case apple.” Even though I knew that I’d be in biz class for most of my long-haul flights (and hence well fed), having the apple in my bag was so helpful when I’d land and I’d be hungry at a weird time because of the time change. So even though I wasn’t eating the apple on the plane, having it for the hotel room was clutch. I also packed protein/fiber bars, which worked super well. And I used my time-honored trick of packing chocolate – either bite-sized Peppermint Patties or the dark chocolate Dove Promises – so that if I wanted something sweet, it was right there. I have definitely been known to order ice cream from room service from time to time (actually – no one really knows that – I just admitted it!), but the candy helped offset that.

Working out was SO much better than I anticipated. I ran outside in DC, Paris, Savannah, and Vegas, and supplemented the runs with a yoga DVD and/or free yoga sessions online (there are so many options, and I could just do them in my hotel room!), HIIT workouts that I’d do in the fitness centers, and I downloaded/printed out a few workout plans in advance of the trip as well. This way I was never bored. I will say that overall the hotel fitness centers were pretty serviceable (the Paris one was especially lovely), but good grief…Kuala Lumpur…definitely left a bit to be desired. I don’t want to “out” any brands, but let’s just say I stayed in one of the world’s luxury hotels (you’d know the name if I wrote it), and it was unfortunately in the process of remodeling. So all it did was move equipment into a conference room. So right away the flooring was weird (no gym has wall to wall carpet!), but the larger issue was the ventilation. KL is hot and humid to begin with, but I got on a treadmill first thing in the morning and there was already a layer of condensation on the machine – it was gross! And the second day I went down there to use weights and there were no towels. Also gross! But like I said – overall I was really lucky.

As usual, the fitness part came more easily to me than the food angle. I did have some wins, food-wise, but I really thought I was going to lose a few pounds and I definitely did not! On the other hand, I also let myself enjoy the local cuisine wherever I went, so it’s not like I was on some rigid food plan. It was actually harder for me to readjust to being Stateside again when I got back – I’ve spent this whole week trying to get back on track with food!

Overall, it was an awesome 6 weeks of travel and my only regret was not staying longer in some of the destinations – which I think is the hallmark of a good trip! Now I’m here in Chicago for the next 3 weeks and already feeling a bit stir crazy. But travel will pick up again in May – I already have  3 trips planned, so that’ll be good!

But my BEST news will come in a separate post that I will write next! Wait for it! 🙂