Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The half marathon training plan

We are all registered for our half marathon.  The entrance fees have been paid, hotel reservations made, and training has begun.  Three months to go!

I'm a serious Run-Walk-Runner, and we're following Jeff Galloway's Half Marathon training plan.  It's the same one I used last winter for my first half marathon.  I even put it into a Word document, and added a column on the right for the date of my long runs, so I can update it every time I start training for a new race.  Yes, I'm that big of a geek... Anyhow, it's posted on the fridge, so we can tell at a glance what the long run is each weekend.

This Saturday we'll be doing a 6.5 mile run.  We actually did that last weekend, quite by accident.  Long story, but lets just say there was a little misunderstanding as to what I thought the map said, and what it actually said.  Oh well... This Saturday we'll be doing a familiar route, so it should be fine. And the beauty of run-walk-run is if you end up having to go longer than planned, the walk breaks will save you. Literally. 

By the way, if you are interested in running, but don't think you can, I can heartily recommend checking out Jeff Galloway's website.  The man has coached hundreds of thousands of runners, and I can personally say that I would not be running anything over 3 miles if it weren't for his help.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why marketing is like exercise

Let me just start off saying this: I like marketing.  I find advertising to be pretty cool.  I love watching clever commercials, following long-running ad campaigns (GEICO, anyone?), and analyzing copy in direct mail pieces to see what emotions the writer is trying to trigger.  Fascinating stuff.

Marketing is great.  Self-promotion, however, sucks.

Why is that?  Why is it fun to promote something or someone else, but sheer torture to promote myself?

I think most people were raised to be humble.  I know I was.  And that's not necessarily a bad thing.  After all, who wants to be around someone who is constantly bragging about their achievements?

But now that I'm a freelance writer, if I want to get paid, I have to tell the world what a wonderful writer I am.  And it's tough.  Because part of me still thinks it's wrong to brag.  Even though I know that self-promotion is vital to my new business, Kismet Copywriting, I still find myself coming up with ways to avoid it.

To be successful, I had to find a way to consistently stick to my marketing schedule, and make sure I got it done every day.  I'm not sure how it happened, but one day it dawned on me: just suck it up and do it!

Okay, the tough love approach isn't for everyone.  But if you have everything in place for your marketing program but are still having some mental resistance, try this:  Think of marketing like exercise. Set aside a regular time, make a list of your tasks, and just do them.  No excuses.

Here's what I do:  Every morning, after my first cup of coffee, I set aside an hour for my marketing activities.  Right now it's a lot of researching companies to contact, finding their contact information, and shooting off personalized emails to them.  An hour gives me enough time to get through my marketing list, put it behind me, and go about the rest of my day. 

Having a set schedule takes the thought process out of the equation.  I just do the tasks I need to and move on with my day.  And if I start procrastinating or thinking I'll just skip a day, I tell myself to suck it up, stop being a weenie, it's only an hour, I gotta do the work if I want the results...basically the same things I say to myself when I'm tempted to skip a workout.

The next time you want to blow off your marketing plan, try approaching it like you would exercise, paying bills, or any other task that you know you have to do but don't necessarily want to.  It just might work.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My gluten-free weekend preview

I'm so excited about food this weekend! 

Okay, I know that's nothing new.  I'm always excited about food.  But this weekend there are a couple of things going on that I'm really looking forward to.

First, let's just say it: coconut flour!  If you've been following along on my other blog, you've already heard about this.  But that doesn't make me any less excited.  I think I'm going to make bread or biscuits.  Something savory.  Not that I don't want cookies...don't be silly.  But lately I've been craving something, well, bready.  I've found a couple of recipes and I'm going to try them out over the weekend.  Watch Li Loves David next week for recipes.

Next, it's a UFC weekend, which means: Duffy's!  Duffy's has a great gluten-free menu, and they even have primal-friendly choices.  I love to cook, but sometimes, it's just nice to let someone else do the dishes, ya know?

Finally, in a word: s'mores!  You heard me, s'mores!  S'mores! S'mores!  Say it with me, S'MORES!!

(No, I'm not very excited this...)

I was offered a free sample of Kinnikinnick's S'moreables, their gluten-free graham style cracker. Now, I don't normally eat things like this anymore, now that I'm following the Paleo Blueprint.  But you know me, self-less to the core.  So I decided to take one for the gluten-free team, and graciously accepted the sample. 

My box arrived this week.  I took one look at the ingredients, and realized that when I eat them, I'm going to be in a world of hurt.  Not only do they contain rice flour and all kinds of sugar, which I now stay away from...they also have pea protein, pea starch, potato starch, pea fiber, tapioca starch, guar gum, and soy lecithin.  Any one of those ingredients would mean a stomach ache.  All of them together?  Well...

But I did promise to try them, and write a review.  Plus, I admit it, I'm curious how they taste.  So I'm still gonna eat them.  And I thought, if they are going to cause a reaction anyway, why not go all in?  Why not make s'mores?  That's right, I said it.  I went there!  Chocolate candy bars (soy lecithin) and marshmallows (too many things to list) cause reactions for me, too.  So I'll just enjoy them all together!  S'mores at my house!

Tune in next week, either here or at Li Loves David, for the outcome.  And have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ever so slowly

The half marathon that I'm planning to run in November is raising its price at the end of this month.  If I want to take advantage of the discount, I have to register in the next week.

I think I'm going to do it!

My hamstring is still an issue, but the gentle exercise I've been doing the last week hasn't hurt it.  In fact, I think my hammie has gotten stronger.  And I don't think I'm just imagining it...

I've been really careful not to push too hard, and when I have (like when sprinting across a busy road in between cars), it has reminded me to slow down.  For the most part, I've been really good about listening.  Each time I work out, I feel the tightness in the muscle, and some residual soreness the rest of the day, but the following day it feels stronger.

Maybe it's finally healing?

To recap what I did after I strained my hamstring: First, I tried tough love.  Then I babied it.  When neither of those did anything, I resorted to fooling it by walking a lot (which doesn't hurt), and mixing in small amounts of jogging (which does hurt a little).  I guess fooling it did the trick.

Whatever.  I'm just glad to be running again!

Monday, August 22, 2011


It's amazing what you can get done if you have to.

Today I'm battling some sort of bug I picked up over the weekend.  The main symptom is an overwhelming dizziness that makes being vertical rather difficult.  I'm trying to take it easy and drink lots of ginger tea, and trust that it will pass quickly.

But in the meantime, Hurricane Irene has decided she wants to pay a visit to southern Florida in a few days.  Wait...I haven't cleaned yet!

I actually did a bunch of hurricane prep yesterday when the storm first got organized, so I was already ahead of the curve.  Today, I pulled it together with sheer willpower (and ginger tea) and got to the store to pick up the last few essential supplies.  Now I just have to freeze as much ice as possible and twiddle my thumbs until it's time to shutter the windows.  Luckily, hurricanes usually give several days' notice, and if Irene does show up, she won't be here until the end of the week.

And with a little luck, she'll decide to take a cruise out into the middle of the Atlantic before then, and just spin herself out of existence.  I can hope...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The big decision

I thought, I discussed, I agonized, I rationalized, then I came to my senses...

The marathon is off.

But the half marathon is still on!  My spousal unit is going to sign up before the entry fees raise at the end of the month.  I'm going to wait and see how training goes...or should I say, wait and see if I can ever run again?  I may be watching from the sidelines instead of participating.

Either way, race road trip!

I'm sad, but happy at the same time.  What a weird feeling...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Criticism, or 3 ways to deal with trolls

There's no way around it: criticism sucks.  No one likes it, no one wants to hear it, and no matter how great your day is going, one critical comment can ruin it.

It's true.

Criticism is always going to be a part of our lives.  Unless you live under a rock, there is always someone, somewhere, waiting to knock down something you worked so hard on.  It doesn't matter whether it was deserved, constructive, or done just out of spite.  Criticism hurts.

So how do you deal with it?  I have 3 methods that work for me.

1.  Ignore it.  (Okay, I didn't say they were the most emotionally healthy methods...) There are always going to be people out there who will tear you up just to be hurtful.  Sometimes, the best thing you can do is just ignore the trolls. 

2.  Cry.  No, wait, really.  Someone told you your clever idea was stupid, and it hurt your feelings.  Let it out (in private).  You'll feel better.  And if not, see # 3.

3. Grow from it.  Sometimes the critic says something that we don't want to hear, but we know is true.  This is often the case when I get feedback from others on my writing.  That's right, I actually ask for criticism!  I seek an opinion from a trusted source, and use it as a chance to improve what I'm working on.  But what if they aren't a trusted source, or they don't have anything constructive to say?  See # 1.

Now, I know that there are a bunch of good ideas out there on how to deal with criticism.  If you've got a great coping mechanism to share, please leave a comment below.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Eating gluten-free: more or less expensive?

Does it cost more to eat gluten-free?  That's today's burning question.

And I don't have a definitive answer for you.

Personally, I don't keep track of how much I spend on food.  I spend what I spend to get what I need.  I watch sales closely and stock up when prices drop.  Some things get ordered from Amazon because we use them a lot and it costs less to have them shipped than buy local.  If something is just way too expensive, we either substitute or do without.

But as far as hard numbers, I don't have any.  Sorry...

I can tell you that since going gluten-free, we have almost completely stopped eating out.  The risk is just too great, and frankly, I'm a really good cook and it's rare that a restaurant does a better job than I can.  Not trying to brag here, but just calling it like it is.  So the amount of money we spent on restaurants has gone down significantly.

As far as groceries are concerned, yes, gluten-free food substitutes can be expensive.  Six dollars for a loaf of bread?  Um, no, thank you.  Four dollars for a bag of pasta?  Seriously?

Before going grain free, we baked some bread, but not a lot, because we live in Florida and who wants to heat up the kitchen with the oven during the 9 months of summer?  Occasionally I would pick up a loaf of Udi's or Rudi's bread for my hubby, because he likes it.  But we're talking 3 or 4 times a year, if that.  We found cheaper sources of gluten-free pasta, and got creative with substituting rice.  We found cheap rice flour and I made all of our sweet baked treats.  No way was I paying a small fortune just to eat a gluten-free cookie!

So yes, we had a few indulgences.  And most of those are gone now, too, because we're grain and sugar free.

Another thing that helped our grocery bills was that with all my other food intolerances, I can't eat most junk food.  That means no potato chips, candies, and most processed foods, even if they are gluten-free.  Even with sales and coupons, junk food is still junk, and is simply extra money being spent.

Really, since going gluten-free, the major increase in our food budget has been for higher quality products.  We eat a lot more organic, local, fresh produce and higher quality meats.  That's because we know so much more about food now, we have to invest in healthier options.

Our household has been gluten-free for several years now, so I don't even have the data to compare how much we spent before.  But if I had to guess, I would say that we pay right around the same amount as we used to for food (if you include all those restaurant meals we used to eat).  The difference is we eat so much better now, which is an investment in our health and well-being.  And when I look at our annual blood work results from the last few years, I can tell you that our investment is paying off.

A lot of what goes into a food budget is discretionary spending.  If you find that your gluten-free spending is higher that you'd like, it might be time to examine where the money is actually going, and decide if that's really how you want to spend your hard earned dollars.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Saw this coming...

On Saturday I went running.  My hamstring was still a little sore off and on, but I tried to do a good job of warming it up and taking it easy.  It really wasn't too bad.

So I ran an extra mile and a half.  And the hammy has been screaming at me ever since.

Can you say, "Stupid?"

Yeah, that's me.

So I've been icing and resting, and it's feeling much better.  As in, no pain today.

Yup, you guessed it.  I'm going to run tomorrow!


No seriously, I'm running tomorrow.  But I'm going to only do a couple of easy miles.  Which will hopefully keep it from flaring up again.

And for those that are keeping track, I'm very close to cancelling the marathon.  I'd still like to do the race, because it looks like a lot of fun.  But I think I'm destined for the half, and not the full.  This year.  The hubby and I need to discuss it, and it also depend on how the next couple of weeks go.  But I'm trying to mentally prepare myself.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Update on my reading list - 2011

It's been a while since I've updated my reading list, and honestly, it's been a while since I've read a book.  Lots of articles and such being read here, but not much reading for fun lately.  I'm going to have to do something about that soon.

If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won't)If You Ask Me: (And of Course You Won't), by Betty White.  What can I say, Betty is a national treasure!  Now I want to go back and read some of her other autobiographies (she has several, evidently).  And I'm on a mission to see every movie she's been in.

Spinning ForwardSpinning Forward, by Terri DuLong.  I picked this one up because it had a main character that knits.  It was a fun, light summer read, perfect for the beach.

Casting AboutCasting About, by Terri DuLong.  The follow up to Spinning Forward.  Not as good as her first book. But there was still knitting, so it was okay.

The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram your genes for effortless weight loss, vibrant health, and boundless energy (Primal Blueprint Series)The Primal Blueprint, by Mark Sisson.  You knew this one had to be coming, right?  If you want to try the Primal lifestyle, this is the book that brings it all together.

That brings me up to 24 for the year.  I'm shooting for at least 50 books read in 2011, so I'm a little behind.  It looks like a trip to the library is in order!

Friday, August 5, 2011

How do you feel about the FDA's proposed gluten-free labeling laws?

The other day the FDA re-opened discussion on their proposed gluten-free labeling laws.  You know, the ones they started drafting in 2007?  Yes, the ones that have been languishing for 4 years.  Those laws.

Here is the FDA press release, containing relevant links, should you want to find out more about it.  No, I haven't read all the details yet.  I've only just glanced at the release.

I did happen to be on Twitter right after the FDA teleconference on Aug. 2 ended.  My computer screen literally exploded with tweets containing #gfFDA.  There were comments about the proposed language of the law, what was included, what was left out, and what did it all mean.  OMFSM!  (Oh My Flying Spaghetti Monster, the best expletive I've heard in a long time.)  Seriously, with all the traffic, I really thought something big had happened...

Yes, this is kind of big.  Let's call it "big-ish." I do think it's a big deal that the FDA is finally (in October or so) going to specify what "Gluten-Free" on a label means, and what standards companies have to meet to qualify for such a designation.

The new labels will have a profound effect on the lives of millions of people.


Let me just say something here, something that I suspect is going to make me very unpopular among the mainstream gluten-free population:

The new FDA laws, whatever they may be, will have little (or no) effect on my normal life.


There, I said it.  It's out in the open now.

<but how can this be? gasp!>

Well, the first reason is I have so many food intolerances and restrictions, I have barely eaten anything labeled "gluten free" in the five years I've been gluten free.  I haven't tried the new GF Bisquick (and I'm not going to).  My box of Betty Crocker GF Devil's Food Cake Mix is still sitting unopened in my pantry.  (Thank goodness it was complimentary from the company!)  Nearly everything made and marketed to the gluten-free community contains potato starch, soy, canola oil, or something else that will make me ill.

To top that, the second reason is I recently went grain-free and stopped eating almost all processed foods.  And I feel wonderful, and so does my husband, so this is probably going to continue.  That means I no longer have any use for GF Rice Krispies, Glutino GF Crackers, or Udi's GF bread.  Not that they aren't all wonderful products, but they just aren't on my radar any more.

<so...what about things you CAN eat?>

Um, you mean, like meat?  Eggs? Seafood? Dairy? Fresh vegetables and fruit? Nuts? Well, the last I checked, those things are already gluten free.  Okay, yes, there are a few types of bleu cheeses out there that might contain gluten. So I am looking forward to the new labels for that reason. But for the most part, I only eat whole, natural foods now.  I don't need a label to tell me what's in them; I can already see the contents.

It's amazing how liberating it is to realize that no matter how the FDA writes their final version of the gluten-free labeling law, I am going to be able to eat safely and be healthy.

However, for those of you that do like the convenience of ready made food, don't forget that the FDA is soliciting comments for 60 days from August 3, 2011.  Do be sure to tell them how you feel.  Don't assume that they will just automatically get it right, okay?  It's up to you to take action to protect your own health.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Cautiously optimistic

I went running on Sunday.  For the first time in weeks.

It went okay.

It was humid and about 150 degrees out.  (Well, maybe not quite that hot.  But above a certain point, does it matter?) Hubby and I went to a nearby park that has a one-mile paved loop, and ran laps.  The heat was brutal, and I was dead tired after just three miles.

And the hamstring?  Well, it's a little shaky, but it seemed to hold up. 

It's not 100% yet.  I've spent a lot of time icing it, and resting it again.  Another run this morning, and more ice today.  Did you know that a blue ice pack, the kind you use in coolers, works really well on a sore hamstring?  It's's flat and easy to sit on.  Don't laugh, it's the easiest way to ice the back of your thigh and still get some work done!

So yes, it's still a bit sore.  I'm going to give it a few more days, then try it all again.  And again.  And again...

This morning, while I was slogging along in the early morning heat, trying to step gently and not jar my hips too much, I was thinking about my future.  Or at least, my future as a runner.  I was thinking about the marathon I have planned at the end of November, and what my chances are of being able to make it through the training, and the race itself.  I was wondering if I should just give up on the idea of a marathon this year, or even next year.  Maybe the distance is just too much. 

Then I thought, who cares?  I want to do the marathon.  So I'm going to continue to try and heal up, and keep training.  And I'll run the marathon.  That will be great.  Unless I can't do it; then I'll do the half marathon.  That would be okay, too. 

And if I can't do either in November, I'll still live. Because someday my hamstring will be okay.  And there are always more marathons.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Three Tips for Time Management

Today's topic is time management, which is kind of funny if you realize that I was actually going to post about this yesterday, but didn't manage my time well enough to actually get it done!

Okay, well, I guess it's just funny to me...

Anyhow, work (and life in general) is getting a lot busier, so suddenly, time management matters to me.  A lot.

Here are three things that are helping me get a handle on my time.  Admittedly, I don't have my system refined down to a science yet (see my little snafu above).  But after the nice long break I had for the first few months of the year, these tips are really helping me get back on track.

1. Write my to-do list on a post-it.  I read this in an article from AWAI.  Basically, if it doesn't fit on a post-it, I have too much to get done in a day and I need to re-prioritize.

2. Write early.  Dang it, I didn't want this one to be true.  I wanted to wake up when the sun woke me, have some coffee, relax, plan my day, maybe do an errand or a chore around the house, then get going creatively.  But if I don't start working early in the morning, I don't get any real work done all day.  So now I roll out of bed, get my cup of coffee, and start writing.  Even if I move on to something else, I come back to the writing and my creativity flows all day.  (Dang it.)

3. Listen to music.  This one has helped a lot.  I love music, but I also love quiet.  One of the things that I relish about working from home is not having to listen to other people's phones, conversations, footsteps, and noise in general.  But I recently heard a recommendation to listen to baroque music while working.  Slow baroque music is supposed to have a positive effect on your brain waves.  I personally find it does have a positive effect on my concentration.  And I love baroque!  If I get tired of my Bach and Vivaldi CDs, I switch on a classical music station, and it has a similar response.  Although, anything that I can't sing along to works, too.  If you are new to baroque music, go to Sunday Baroque for a great playlist.

What are your favorite time management techniques?