Day 17 Progress

I’m over the halfway point in my healthy eating and exercise experiment this month!  How are things?

Healthy Eating Progress

I would give myself about a B- for my fruit and vegetable eating efforts.  We have eaten every single meal at home this month so far but our produce quotient is below where it needs to be.  I started off the month strong but now at Day 17, I have lost a lot of that initial enthusiasm.  I still like my blueberry-orange smoothies and my 3-year old even asked for one for her the other day!  (For diadia’s benefit, I recently tried replacing the milk with water and it is just as yummy and cuts out about 1/3 of the calories, although it cuts the protein out too.)

This week I am stuck in a treacherous soup rut.  I dusted off a soup cookbook that has been sitting on my shelf for years now.  I bought all the ingredients for 4 different soups.  We have had two of them so far—a white bean and a beet soup—and we don’t particularly care for them.  These soups are probably extraordinarily healthy for you.  They are full of veggies and have very low salt.  But that’s also the problem.  There is nothing to draw you to eat them.  I struggle to make myself cook them and we struggle to finish them off.  Each soup makes enough for about 2 meals worth.  I have two more soups left to make from this cookbook.  If I were a better cook, I might know how to season them better or swap ingredients to make them more to our taste.  I feel compelled to finish the two remaining recipes because unless I come up with another recipe that uses the same ingredients, I will have wasted my grocery money—defeating part of the purpose of this month’s challenge.

White bean soup. Good but could use more seasoning.
Beet soup. Not my favorite.
Greek salad. One of the yummier vegetable dishes this week!

To compensate for my bland soups, I find myself eating more sweets, bread, yogurt and granola bars.  My “half your plate” balance is getting quite off.  After we get through the last two soups, I will look for vegetable recipes that have something else in them we will really want to eat, like cheesy veggie lasagna!  My 6-year old asks every two days when we will get to eat at Subway again.  “December,” I keep telling her.

Exercise Progress

I have kept to my 20 minutes of exercise every day and give myself an A for effort in this area.  I don’t see a dramatic difference in my weight as yet but I certainly do see a difference in my strength and endurance.  Push-ups aren’t as much of a challenge as they were on day one.  I still need to work on my cardiovascular fitness but I can “jump rope” in place for 30 seconds without dying now.

One big difference I have noticed is that there are a lot more aches and strains exercising now than when I was a teenager.  I don’t ever remember feeling any sort of pain when exercising when I was younger (unless I had some sort of diagnosed injury).  Now, I seem to encounter them all the time!  During the Level 1 workouts, I had mild pain in my mid to lower back when doing jumping jacks.  It was an odd pain.  I didn’t have it on day one but it showed up around days 2-8 or so.  I tried Googling a reason for this and didn’t find much of one but did find it was a common complaint among novice exercisers.  In my case, I think the pain stemmed from either a lack of leg muscles to absorb the shock of the jumps (sending it right to my back instead) or feeling stress about whether I would have the cardiovascular stamina to finish the set and subconsciously tensing my muscles during the movement.

Now 7 days into Level 2, there is no more back pain but instead my Achilles tendons are constantly sore.  I really don’t know whether I have injured something or if I am again working through some temporary pain while I build muscle strength.  Achilles tendon pain can be a sign of weak calf muscles.  According to this orthotics site, discussing the relationship between ballet and Achilles tendonitis, you can also shorten your Achilles tendons by wearing high heels too often (something I am definitely guilty of).

“The Achilles tendon, the largest tendon in the body, extends down the back of the leg to the heel and allows the dancer to rise onto pointe. Not lowering the heel completely down between relevés, ribbons that are wrapped too tightly around the ankle, and drawstrings or elastic which is too tight around the heel can all contribute to tendonitis. Symptoms include tightness, soreness, and swelling of the tendon, pain during relevé, and sometimes a slight stretching noise. Icing, stretching, and anti-inflammatory medications are recommended. While wearing high heels outside the studio may help alleviate the pain of Achilles tendonitis, prolonged wearing of high heels will contribute to it. . . .Though dancers are used to spending a lot of time on demi-pointe, it only feels natural to walk around in high heels. Over time this places additional stress on the balls of the feet and shortens the Achilles tendons.”

–“Ballet Dancers,” Foot Dynamics

I am trying more stretching and massage and wearing warm socks to bring heat to the area.  They do all seem to help.  Interestingly, the pain does not get worse while exercising and in fact tends to lessen!  The next day, especially in the morning, however, it can be hard to walk or go downstairs while the tendons (or muscles or whatever it is) get stretched back out.  I have kept up my workouts while I figure this out but I have kept my intensity level on jumps and other Achilles tendon exertions to the minimum.  Today, the pain seems to be dulling a bit so I am hoping that this is just part of the “breaking in” period.  Certainly if the pain gets worse, I will reduce my exercise and see a doctor.

I am glad there are only 13 days left in the month and looking forward to a change in routine.  But at the halfway mark, I am hopeful that I will be able to finish!