Wednesday, December 30, 2009
It's hard to believe that 2009 is coming to a close tomorrow, so expect a New Years Resolution post from me tomorrow or Friday! For now, I want to talk about something that we all consider to be a negative: holiday weight gain.
It's no secret that we gain weight during the holidays--tis the season of overindulgence, after all. I've read various reports that, on average, an American gains anywhere between 5 and 7 pounds from Halloween to New Years. Yikes!
It's gotten me thinking. I thought about why, if we know it's coming, we find ourselves shaking our heads on Jan. 1, dusting off our running shorts and gym memberships, and vowing "this year will be different." But will it really be different?
I'm having a hard time articulating what I mean, so allow me to use myself as an example.
Remember when I told you about the private blog that my dear friend and I are keeping to stay accountable? We recently had a conversation about sticktoitiveness (it's a word now, just keep reading) and what happens when you start to crumble.
I am an embarrassing yo-yo health person. For being an instructor and having a blog, I'm pretty ashamed to admit this. Chadd could probably regale you with the number of times I've come in after 3 weeks of solid working out and a healthy eating habit and say "I feel so good being thin and in my healthy weight range. I'm going to stick to it!" And then something happens. Friends come into town, I fit into tiny jeans and feel entitled, I go on vacation and it suddenly all goes to hell and I'm bloated and irritable and the cycle begins. Chadd is kind enough to at least pretend to believe me that "this time, I'm going to keep it up."
You see, I follow this pattern:
Week 0: Planning phase. I pick out recipes, make gym schedules, tell everyone I know that I'm losing x number of pounds.
Week 1: Beginning of the workout. I'm embarrassed with how much my athletic prowess has suffered, but I SWEAR I feel like a new person by day 2.
Week 2: Slight changes in my body. This keeps me going.
Week 3: More significant changes in my body, this is where Chadd starts noticing a difference, my yoga pants aren't skin tight, and my right out of the dryer jeans only require a deep breath in rather than a few jumps around the room.
Week 4: Doom.
My co-blogger recently hit Week 4, for what I believe is the first time, though she can feel free to correct me. This is that point where the realizations of what a lifestyle change is kick in. We will always be watching calories, fat, carbs, in restaurant meals where they cut corners on making delicious health food to make delicious, faster to make, fatty food. We will never be able to really truly let loose and we'll likely look at the menu online before going out with friends and be "that girl" at the table who has about a billion special requests. This is a choice, at least if we wish to never yo-yo again, we have to stick by.
It feels like a loss. I could point to articles about why we emotionally eat or how the happy chemical dopamine is created by digesting chocolate, but it would only tell you why and, to some people, marginalize how this point in a lifestyle change feels.
It's a scary decision. It's ONE MORE THING to think about, and on long days (and short days, too), that's a tall order. It's also hard socially. We are a polite society--whether you're trying to lose 5 pounds or 50, we're never going to tell our friend who announces this fact "good for you! I agree with that decision and I support you," because it's sounds like saying "you're right. you did need to lose weight" (even if it's true). Instead we say "really? You definitely don't need to!" It's usually a lie (sorry Miss Manners). At dinner we say "are you serious? Just enjoy yourself, one night won't hurt" but it does. Because 1+1+1+1...rapidly adds up. Do me a favor and stop saying this to your friends at dinner. Be an uplifting supporter in a better way. "Wow good for you! I admire that" sticks with that person a lot more than a dismissive/permissive comment does. We are a difficult society to live in to become healthy.
Doesn't that sound odd? It seems like there is a gym on every corner, hotel, office, right next to the Starbucks. Almost every magazine has some sort of health related tip about losing weight and we obsess over it on a daily basis. It's like Chadd's analogy to money--we're all obsessed with it, but we're too "polite to talk about it."
We are also sharers of guilt. If you and your best friend are out at dinner and she orders something health conscious but you were really eye-ing the creamy luscious pasta...inevitably one of two things happen--you try to convince her to fall with you, or you go the healthy route. Unless your friend has a will power of steel, I'll let you guess what normally happens.
Just socially, there's a lot against you. Don't even start with me on what lies ahead of you when your own willpower begins to fade and a snickers bar sounds good.
This is where as your weight is following the downslide of the yo-yo, your morale is running right along side. It's what happens to me at least 3 times a year and every single time, I tell myself it won't happen again. I've heard that the percentage of people who quit smoking drops with every attempt they have. If you go that route, then quit, and find yourself down the same path again, it becomes well worn and familiar. It's why people who quit quit quit the first time are so much more successful.
Do you see what I mean about the whole New Years Resolution thing? Is this year REALLY going to be any different? Are you going to get to Feb 1 and crap out?
Please don't mistake what I'm saying. What I'm asking of you is something that will change, hopefully, how you go about achieving your health resolution in 2010. I am not saying that you cannot or that the odds are against you, instead, I'm asking you for the next....let's say 48 hours, to really really contemplate what it is that you want to achieve. Making your resolution list should take more than 10 minutes. Put some thought into it and make the decision that you will follow through. Don't let this be a yo-yo year for you--weight or resolutions.
I made it through Thanksgiving to Christmas losing 8 pounds, stayed solid the week I was home with my family, and am back on track to keep losing down to my goal weight just before my February birthday. How am I going to beat the yo-yo?
I acknowledged the yo-yo in my life.
I confronted it and banished it and Promised myself (remember the 2 P's) it would not return.
I made a pact with my co-blogger that will not likely be broken because I found someone who will hold me accountable and who understands/is battling the yo-yo with me.
What were your resolutions last year? Did you achieve them? Yes or no--how did you achieve them or what made you stumble?
Stay tuned for a Resolution post!
Friday, December 25, 2009
I'll keep the message brief today--Merry Christmas to everyone! I'm currently surrounded by new fitness clothes, low fat cook books, a beautiful set of knives, and my new favorite gismo....the body bugg from 24 hour fitness that monitors calories burned! EEE!
Expect a full review shortly, but for now, Merry Christmas to you and yours and I'll be back to blogging in the next couple of days!
Sunday, December 20, 2009
1.42 lbs of Pork Loin
Mesculin Salad with Grape Tomatos
Butternut Squash Ravioli
Roasted Winter Veggies
So, I made the mistake of putting the pork chops in too soon, but I did roast a head of garlic, make a baslamic garlic sauce for the pork, roasting veggies, and currently boiling water for the ravioli. I really failed on timing my meal correctly, but it's okay, Chadd's pretty forgiving.
Pork was a bit tough, but I think that's my fault. The taste of the pork was very good, even when I overcooked it, it was flavorful with just salt and pepper. Also, the pork was very very lean. Loin cut, the guy from the market told me, doesn't have a lot of fat between the muscle fibers.
It was crazy--we had snow falling for at least 24 hours and had up to 2 feet in snow. After I went to pick up Chadd on Friday night, we were glad to have no plans for the weekend. We went to bed late, then got up late to see at least a foot on the ground already.
After a breakfast of biscuits and gravy (I know, I know....), we went for a walk around the neighborhood, then up towards the zoo to see Rock Creek Park covered. A group had gathered with sleds, make shift sleds, and beers to go sledding down the steep slope.
We grabbed a cardboard piece with garbage bags wrapped around it. It actually worked pretty well. We'd rush down the hill and then trudge back up a steep slope, slipping a few times in the process.
All in all, we were probably outside for about 2 hours. And let me tell you--that wasn't 2 hours of easy walking. I have no idea how many calories I burned, but despite not working out Friday or Saturday, I think Saturday's 2 hours of playing in the snow count. My heart rate was up while I was chasing Chadd through the snow that had been plowed onto the sidewalk from one of the more major roads.
Which leads me to my thesis of today:
Look for exercise in places where you won't call it exercise.
I probably burned a couple hundred calories yesterday, just playing in the snow and climbing the sledding hill. You can burn calories doing your laundry--I pack all our laundry in an ikea bag, climb the stairs to the top and work my way down with the laundry in the bag, getting lighter.
You can take the long walk back from the grocery story carrying groceries, etc.
Exercise doesn't have to take place in the gym. So when your gym is closed due to incliment weather, take it as a cue to enjoy the storm.
As a PS....don't be one of those crazy runners who were out yesterday. I worried that each of them were going to sprain an ankle or twist a knee.
Pps--look tonight for my first cooking locally experiment! I've got locally raised pork loin, radishes, salad greens, grape tomatos, and locally made pasta. It's going to be delicious!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Until last night.
I was at one of the many office holiday parties I had to attend and after an unsuccessful attempt to help my team build a gingerbread house (mine collapsed after I finished the pez tile roof), a co worker of mine, who I ran into at my gym earlier this week, said she was headed out and that she was going to try and make the 7:30 yoga class at our gym.
I had been whining to anyone who would listen that I would likely crap out once I got back from the party and not to go the gym, but that I had wanted to go. This was all the motivation I needed. Do I like yoga? No. Did that occur to me when I asked if I could join her? Not really.
I'm going to sound like a real snot for a moment, so bear with me. Here are the reason I've never liked yoga:
- I do not like the yoga culture. I want to. But I just don't. I don't like having to be enlightened and superior in that enlightment. It's incredible exhausting to me.
- I feel like yoga is the club to which I was never invited. I am terrified to go to a class because, truthfully, I have no balance. Chadd can attest. I don't want to be that moron in the back of the class who starts the domino effect. And all the superior yogis will break out of their floating trance and look at me like some unenlightened twit (which I am). This is a serious fear of mine.
- I like having my heart rate high when I am working out. I am a product of Americanism. I like things fast. I do things fast. When forced to sit still at a desk for 8 hours, I have at least 4 tabs opened on a browser. I make lists upon lists of things I.Must.Do.ASAP. And this translates entirely to my workouts. Heart rate up, sweat pouring down, which is why I'm a runner.
- I like being the best. Look. I'm an instructor. I teach. I am typically the best one in my class when I'm not teaching because I'm damn good at it. Call me cocky (I am), but when in a group setting, aka, group fitness, I have to do it right. I don't know the first thing about yoga. I will not be the best, or even close to it. See domino effect fear above. I recognize it takes practice, but you can usually pass as "good" at step after 4 classes. That happens in yoga in like...4 years.
- I can't find a good starting point. I've been to beginning yoga (I lay on my back and thought about birds or something.) And then I've been to other yoga classes where, when they ask who is 10 classes or less into yoga, and I raise my hands, the instructor furrows their brow and goes "this might be a reach class for you." I'm sure this is bad timing on my part and I fully admit I haven't gone out of my way to try yoga, but it hasn't exactly welcomed me with open arms.
- My feet cramp up. Any suggestions on beating this one?
But, all those aside, I went because I wanted to go to the gym and for whatever reason, yoga sounded like a good idea.
And it was! I loved it. I had the best time sweating my butt off, exhausting my muscles, and truly feeling my body. I didn't have the ability to think beyond what I was doing, which is different that most yoga classes I have attended. I was neither bored, nor overwhelmed.
I enjoyed challenging myself. I was totally unaware of the people around me (aside from the woman who farted and the glistening specimen of the male species, shirtless across from me). But mostly, if I noticed someone, it was because I was just looking in their direction. I never felt scruitinized, I never felt intimidated. Instead, I felt like I got a great workout and a great stretch all in one.
It didn't hurt that the instructor was very funny, forgiving, and not at all militant like some yogis I have known. He played caribbean christmas music (steel drums!) and the grinch's song. People asked questions through class, murmured to each other occasionally. It really was a relaxing, but good workout.
I managed to do a full "wheel" pose, also known as a back bend, and for about 3 seconds, some sort of thing where my knees were on my forearms and I was standing on my hands. Accomplishment!
I'm glad I went last night because this morning I had agreed to meet my morning gym buddy at 6:30. Let me tell you. Without class last night, I would have fallen right back into the pattern I've been in. It wasn't that it wasn't a good class, it was, it just wasn't as friendly as the night before.
Of course, this is because it's apparently a level 2-3 class (this is not on the schedule, mind you). It was also held in the spa...steam room doors open, sauna doors opened (also not on the schedule). Almost bikram yoga (again, not on the schedule). All of this alone would have scared me away from the class.
Thankfully, the instructor picked up on the fact that we were not enlightened yogis, so she described a lot of the movements. But, people, is it just me, or are all the real words for yoga poses almost impossible to distinguish from each other? The one for childs pose and lie on your back are astonishingly familiar to my very untrained ear. She asked if we were ready for garubaisghvarish and, face down on my mat, sweat driping down my back, I was terrified to ask what that meant. Turns out, it mean lie on your back and doze off.
I think this is a new thing for me. I want to keep it up. I may not stick to having Niagra Falls of sweat running down my back on Thursday mornings, but Wednesday nights I can do.
What's your exercise aversion/fear? I encourage you to try it out, it might not be as bad as you think.
(Don't forget to give me 20!)
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Please also keep in mind that there are others who go cold and hungry through this time of year which should be filled with love and celebration.
Today I joined the Pound for Pound Challenge, sponsored by The Biggest Loser and their affiliates.
I pledged 10 pounds, meaning that 14 cents per pound I have pledged will go towards food at my local food bank.
It's not a lot, but it is some. Also, consider taking that $5 you found in your coat pocket from last winter and putting it in a salvation army can, or writing a check to your local food cause. Personally, I'm a big fan of So Others Might Eat (SOME).
No one deserves to be hungry, even if they've made choices that put them in that situation. Now is the season for compassion. So skip that third piece of pie and share the Christmas spirit with someone who really needs it!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Let me tell you about my Achilles Heel. Pretzels. Auntie Anne's Pretzels. Those things, as bad as they are (and they're not even that good sometimes), they're one of my biggest failures. I think it's probably because I always go to the mall at a bizarre time, am in a rush, and don't want to eat fast food. What do I wind up doing? Pretzel! A buttery, slightly chewy, warm pretzel and a diet coke. Man that goes a long way with me...
A pretzel from Auntie Anne's is 340 calories.
Take that in and then consider my lunch today:
4oz. salmon, pan cooked: 233 cal
1 serving instant brown rice: 150 cal
1 Apple: 55 cal
For a little less than an 100 calories, I could have a billion times the food...but yet the pretzel calls.
I'm also not in a place where I can get some water, so one of my tricks is unavailable. If I can get home, I can make it to the kitchen, hopefully bypass all of the chex mix I have sitting around from the party (note to self: send left overs with Chadd to work), and make some quick stir fry, with a ton of veggies and a little bit of pasta.
Time to calculate that...
1/2 Bell Pepper: 15 cal
1/2 Zuchinni: 20 cal
1/2 Onion: 14 cal
1/2 serving linguine: 100 cal
1/2 cup grilled chicken: 115
4 tbps soy sauce: 40 cal
Total: 304....which will probably leave me room for a small nibble of chex mix and a 4oz glass of red wine (95 calories).
Just gotta make it past the pretzel...
Don't forget to give me 20 this week! If you can't do the push ups, try doing wall push ups, at least for half of them, or down on your knees. Another option is to do 2 sets of 10 push ups/sit ups. That way, your body has a little time to rest. It's 20 situps/push ups every day this week and next!
What is your Achilles Heel?
Monday, December 14, 2009
The Pact is kind of a social experiment for both of us--a combination of social media and gym-buddying. We have different schedules and live too far away to be reliable gym buddies, so we began a blog only visible to ourselves where we:
- Update daily the amount of calories we've eaten
- Update daily our workout
- Update Sundays our weight
- Update win/fails
- Post recipes we'd otherwise have to email to each other.
The beauty of social media!
We have agreed to keep the blog internal between us since sensitive information (such as numbers...eek) are post on there, but I will be cross posting only my own updates that are interesting enough for the larger general public.
I have had a hard time with one or the other--just a gym buddy or just technology. I've kept blogs, I've used online calorie counting software, hell I've even built my own spreadsheet that tracked things for me. The problem that I have with them is burn out. I obsess from between 2-8 weeks and then have one day where I don't get around to it and boom. Three weeks go by and I havent' touched my calorie intake.
Also, my blog or my tracker sheets don't call me at 6 am to remind me that I need to go to the gym or slap my hand when I'm about to eat pizza. They just chug along and do exactly as I tell them. And let's be honest, who doesn't lie from time to time? I mean, really, is anyone's driver's license accurate under "Weight." It might as well say "My Ideal."
I've been through an unreal number of gym buddies...and usually the problem is that we're on different fitness levels or interests. K, for example, hates the treadmill. While I don't love it, I don't hate it to the point of avoidance. Also, I enjoy going to the gym to talk to her. Not to work out. Additionally, my morning gym buddy is a good friend of mine and since we no longer work in the same area, our morning coffee walk is out of the question, so I am yet again eager to chat with her while I walk for a half hour. I should get real. If I'm going to get up at 6am, I'd better damn well be ready to run, not to chat.
So, hopefully this will give me the independence to keep up the gym routine that I need to have while getting the support of my gym buddy.
Results to come!
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
I decided last night that before I could get my nails done and my eyebrows waxed (let's talk about a mess), I had to go to the gym or go for a run. Since I had a full hour of toning on Wednesday night, I was due for some good old fashioned cardio. I was all pumped, getting ready to leave my office, to throw on my running pants, a long sleeved shirt and a zip up and get out there.
The winter gods punched me in the face when I walked out of my office and into the metro. I didn't even go outside! Sucker punched by the frigid weather. No thanks.
By the time I got home, I was at least 30% ice and really in the mood for my favorite nails place (Dupont Nails on 20th, FYI), to rub my hands. But I made that promise (one of the P's) and I had to go through with it. Logical choice says go to the gym where it's warm. But for whatever reason I was really craving a good run up to the zoo (about 2.5 miles round trip).
Despite my better judgement, I suited up....in just running tights, a long sleeve shirt and a fleece, complete with my pink and white skulls bandana and went out for a run. Great googily moogily, as my mom would say. FREEZING.
I did get the whole way there and back with pretty good time (despite a few ill timed stop lights) and got back in time to dethaw before hypothermia set in. It was that cold. A good run didnt' help me warm up. Then the winter side effect that I had forgotten about set in: coughing.
I spent the next 30 minutes coughing my lungs up, my chest burning. I need to do the research on why this happens--so prepare for an update. Suffice to say, I let my friend know who is doing the Jingle All the Way 10k this weekend to wear a bandana over her mouth to keep some of that air going in a bit warmer and not ice pick cold.
Don't forget to give me 10! Next week, starting Monday, we're going up 10!
Thursday, December 10, 2009
This is seemingly a contradictory love affair...you know, having to lie to one about your whereabouts when the other calls to ask where you are.
For example. Last night, I taught at good ol gdubs and it hit me that I had three beautiful cuts of salmon in the freezer from this weekend. I took one out and left it close in the microwave to defrost.
While at the gym, I thought about how I'd poach the salmon, put a little bit of lemon juice and dill over it with some spinach with a tiny spritz of apple cider vinegar. Food was calling and leaving voicemails on my cell phone while I was in the middle of lunges and bicep curls. It was saying "buuutttteeeeerr."
I got home, browned a bit of butter, threw in the beautifully thawed salmon, dusted with sea salt, black pepper, and dill weed. Perfect.
You can see my dilemma. Poaching salmon is too easy and boring. Browning butter and doing [what I assume is] a butter bake of the salmon is very Top Chef (which also happened to be on last night) and totally a middle finger to the hour long class I'd taught before. It didn't help that the spinach kinda sucked since it was frozen. As I was choking through spinach, I had that stroke of genius.
Now that I won't be teaching two classes on Sundays, I can go to the amazing Dupont Circle Farmers Market on Sundays....and I can do what I saw featured on the marathon of Top Chef. Local cooking: Cook Locally.
One of my favorite restaurants, Founding Farmers follows this concept. Their menu revolves based on what is in season in the area (being about a 100 mile radius)--not what is flown in from Peru. Not to mention, their food is awesome. Soon to be guest-blogger Jill and I used to go there for brunch and girls nights out. Check them out and see what local food can do--great wine list as well.
And don't forget my favorite place: SweetGreen . SweetGreen is awesome to follow on Twitter, especially on Sundays where they let you know what they're picking up at the Dupont Market. Every week they have local featured items from the market, the farm they're from, and how far away it is. Step back and watch support of local organic food thrive and turn into the best salad you've ever had. You can also find me there about 3-4 nights a week.
So. As of this Sunday, provided I survive my Have Yourself a Merry Little Cocktail party on Saturday, I will be at the market in the morning.
- I will bring $30 in cash. That's it.
- I will be cooking for 2 people.
- I can only use items from the market, unless it's spices or dairy
- I will create my own menu/recipes (though I know I'll start out using the interwebs as a cheat sheet)
- I will post the results every Sunday night and give you a breakdown of where everything came from, how much it was, and how good it tasted.
In the mean time, check out Founding Farmers and SweetGreen and then give me 10!
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
But back to business. I promised my class that I would post today about why I almost always do 3 sets of 12-15 reps in every exercise we do.
First of all, I'm a big beliver in no-rest sets--switching between exercises one after another, then looping back around. I like to work the same area of the body, switching between antagonizing muscles to keep the heart rate up and exhausting the muscles faster. Let's admit it. Everyone wants to get out of the gym as soon as possible. For example--1 set of bicep curls, 1 set of tricep kick backs, 1 set of military presses, repeat.
So, why do I do it? It has a lot to do with a book I read in the very beginning of my teaching career: Sculpting Her Body Perfect. Brad Schoenfeld is a very very good exercise specialist. I've seen results using his techniques in myself and my students. If you're interested in technique and theory, I STRONGLY recommend this book. It's not a lot of jargon, most anyone who is familiar with a gym will understand it. It's also great for picking up new exercises as he has a great appendix of moves.
He espouses the following about reps and sets:
Note: He and I differ in one aspect, he doesn't believe in one right after another, he believes in rests, but I've combined some theories I learned in Personal Trainingn with his Toning only approach. Neither of us is wrong--it's a style thing.
"Sets: You should perform 3 sets of each exercise. This provides ample muscular stimulation without overtaxing your muscles."
My note: 3 sets is a good mental goal. It's enough to do a warm up set, a stabilization set (standing on one leg, let's say) and then a combination set...maybe bicep curls to a military press. The third round of sets is usually shorter because I like to do combination movements
"Repetitions: The target is 15-20 per set. It is essential to train with good form and apply continuous tension to your muscles during each repetition."
My note: I believe 12-15 is appropriate for a class, primarily due to lack of time, but also because I teach cardio in my classes. Schoenfeld's theory is based only on a conditioning work out. Trainers use the 3/12-15 a lot too.
So. Rule of thumb? In a group setting, 3 sets of 12-15 is appropriate. On your own or with a trainer? 3 sets of 12-15. However, what takes precedent is that you do the exercises the right way, and if that means you can't do more than 2 sets of ten, don't push it.
Don't forget to give me 10 today!
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Today, I'd like for everyone to give me 10. Give me 10 push ups and 10 sit ups once a day.
Really need to start out slow? Give me a wall push up. Just 10. Or start on your knees and do 10 modified pushups. Work your way up slowly to a full pushup. I would rather you do 3 right than 10 wrong.
The situps are not your high school gym class PE sit ups. Keep about a fist sized space between your chin and chest. You should lead the sit up with your chest, not your forehead. It will feel like you're being pulled towards the ceiling by a rope. 10 there. Need a challenge? Lift your legs to a table top (knees bent at 90 degrees).
Do 10 a week, slowly adding 10 more a week. Do that for 4 weeks and tell me how you feel. If you're not doing anything for yourself, do at least this during the holiday season. I'll do it with you.
Give me 10!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Having been in DC long enough, I should know better and winterize properly, but I almost never do.
Think about winterizing your car. Also, something I never do but always need to. You change the oil to a lower temperature oil, you either put air in your tires or vice versa (never remember), and you keep that handy dandy heated ice scraper in your glove compartment (check!). You do these things because the cold is a little harder on your car than the summer.
Well, the same is pretty true with winter and your body. It might not seem like it. You always here about people worrying about working out in the summer (or maybe that's just the south.) You have heat stroke, heat exhaustion, dehydration, etc.
But in my experience, no one really talks about winterizing.
When it's cold outside, remember the following tips:
1) Warm up and cool down longer than normal. Your muscles will take longer to warm up and shorter to cool down. Both can cause injuries. Two examples: stretching a rubber band that's been in the freezer doesn't work very well. Likewise, if you put a hot plate into a cold freezer, you run the risk of a crack forming in that plate. A wise decision is at least 7 minutes on both ends.
2) Stay hydrated. It's hard to remember this one because your body doesn't give you the same cues it does in summer. When it's cold outside, we give off a lot of moisture. It's why your skin gets so dry in the winter. Keep a bottle of water around and try for at least 3 of them a day. 4 is your best bet. See what happens to your winter skin!
3) Related to (1), make sure you have warm gear on before and after you go out to go to the gym. Between home/car and the gym, keep sweats, jackets, hats, gloves, etc. at the ready, especially when leaving. You may have cooled down enough, but keep the benefit of the stretch that you got by keeping your muscles warm! If you're working out outside, don't just run out with shorts and a long sleeve shirt. Even if you're the type of person who gets to that point where it's too hot, please consider long running tights or a jacket you can take off and tie around your waist. Major injury prevention here!
4) Wear sunscreen. Just becasue it's cold doesn't mean there aren't UV rays out there. Protect your skin and get the added benefit of moisturizing dry winter skin. Find a good basic body lotion with an SPF of at least 15 for winter days. ESPECIALLY your face.
Finally, this isn't a winterizing tip per say, but it's important in the winter---
Don't let the cold weather and holiday season keep you way from staying active. Trust me when I tell you, you don't want to be huffing away on the treadmill Jan. 2. You'd rather be one step ahead of everyone who enjoyed the pie but didn't work it off.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
1) Don't go more than two days without posting
2) Don't go more than two days without working out
I posted that No Excuses link just a bit before the holiday season started (Happy Thanksgiving!) and I'm proud to say that it actually carried me through what I consider to be the hardest part of the holidays as far as staying healthy is concerned--being home.
That should speak to the quality of the time I get to spend with my family--I so enjoy hanging out and having (a few) glasses of wine with mom and talking and watching tv that the last thing I want to do is go for a run.
In good fitness news, I'm proud to announce that my mom completed her first 5k on Thanksgiving morning! She did it in just under 40 minutes, which is a huge accomplishment on top of finishing!
My brother and I also ran it, he smoked me at 23:28, but I did have a personal best of 24:28.
I can't tell you why specifically I was motivated to actually get up and go for a run twice more while I was home (I know, it wasn't much, but it was something.) I think mostly because this time while I was packing my workout clothes, I promised myself that I would get out there at least twice more on top of the 5k.
The secret to coming up against what is traditionally a hard season to stick to diets and exercises plans is two fold. Remember the two P's:
- A Plan
- A Promise
Make a REALISTIC plan. That's always my down fall--the realistic part (haha, says the Realist).
Unrealistic Plan: I will work out every day that I'm in Florida with my parents.
Realistic Plan: Out of the 6 full days that I will be home, I will exercise on three of them.
Making a plan realistic is the hardest part, especially when making the plan. A good rule is to make a goal two thirds of what your first instinct is as a goal, but have a bottom line that's half. Keep in mind that realistic during the holiday season isn't always the same as every day realistic.
Idealism: I will work out 6 days a week.
Goal: I will work out 4 days a week.
Bottom Line: I will work out 3 days a week -- no excuses.
I've pretty much sucked at keeping my act together once I got back to DC. I got in late on Monday night. Tuesday, my coworker threw a Christmas Kickoff party, and I was in no shape to work out when I got back from that. Last night, I put up our Christmas tree (which is looking kind of pathetic right now). And this morning I slept in.
To combat that, take planning to the second level.
I've read (and learned first hand) that when you sit down on the weekend and plan out the menu for the week, people eat better and save money at the grocery. I havent' done this in forever, but I'm looking forward to getting back to it. The same goes for working out. Sit down on Sunday night and plan, as best you can, your workouts. I suggest setting plans on your calendar/outlook and giving yourself an "or" option.
Goal: Work out 4x a week.
Monday: 7 pm Cycle Class
Tuesday: Morning Run AND/OR
Wednesday: Morning Run OR 7 pm Cycle Class
Thursday: 6:30 Gym with K
Sunday: 10 am 20-20-20 Class
Right there are 6 options for me to acheive my 4x a week goal. Set a few times that are required for you (make yourself a priority), but give yourself the flexibility to deal with life, because it happens.
Now for the second P. Promise yourself and mean it. Make yourself and your health a priority and promise to stick to your realistic goal. If it's not realistic, you will have a hard time making that promise. Review your goals again if you have a hard time saying the p-word.
Unrealistic promise: Every week, I will exceed my workout goal and I promise to let nothing get in the way of the gym.
Realistic Promise: I promise that I will do my bottom line number of workouts and that I will not be mad with myself if I don't go above that this holiday season.
Be kind to yourself. It's the holidays, afterall, and while we're busy trying to be nice to each other, we often forget about ourselves (and sometimes the ones we love).
For example, last night I went to Target last night to buy our first fake tree. The place was a mad house and while I was pretty blissed out and honestly enjoying obessing over the tone of the silver in a box of ornaments....a couple in the tree area was buying decorations for their first Christmas together.
I was secretly happy for them because I remember how much fun Chadd and I had last year picking out stuff for our garlands, etc. But then, the whole thing spiraled out of control. A disagreement over the type of lights caused a major meltdown.
Don't let holiday stress get to you. Don't stress yourself out trying to look like a bombshell for that holiday party. Instead, enjoy the vacation days you take, spend some time for yourself, but don't stress yourself out over giving yourself the gift of health--it's counter intuitive!
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I want to print this out and hand it to every single person in my classes for this holiday season/life in general.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
So after all of those days eating well, working out, making good decisions, I blew it for like a month. I basically ate what I wanted, when I wanted. I had copious amounts of wine, pizza, and whatever else was in front of me. Horrible.
And let me tell you, it caught up with me because I didn't keep up with it.
I read a while ago that someone calls that the "two day gym monster." And man is it true.
After two days, it's such a hassle to go. It's not that you've fallen out of the habit, so much as that you KNOW it's going to suck. So rarely have I been away from the gym only to come back to a wonderful workout. It always hurts. It's never empowering....in a word: crap.
So, I decided to out-wit myself, which, I'm sure loyal readers, you've noticed I do often. Examples:
1) Pasta: If I have minced veggies that LOOK like pasta, I'll think it's pasta.
Result: Gas and irritation....but good minced veggies, if I was in the mood for that sort of thing.
2) If I set my alarm in the kitchen, the cat will get up and won't shut up and I'll have to feed him then go to the gym and I wont' get back in bed.
Result: Near strangulation of cat, four letter words, and a missed workout (sometimes...I actually do make it most of the time, albeit begrudgingly)
3) I won't shower tonight so that I have to get up and go to the gym so that I shower.
Result: Hitting snooze a million times until I sleep later than I normally would have, skip a shower, and try to hide in a corner of my cube so no one sees that my hair is greasy.
SO. I came up with a new brilliant plan. Sign up for a billion 5ks. 5ks are no big deal in my world. It's only the fact that it's less than pleasant to get up at 6am on a Saturday to go for a run, but over all, I do enjoy them. I enjoy the crowd, and the group warm ups, and the other runners stretching and chatting. It makes me wish I belonged to a running group. I can't commit though, even to the ones who drink afterwards.
But regardless. I had my first 5k (ever, unbelievable) a couple weeks ago, the Step Away From Cancer 5k, which I cleared in 25:53, which I considered a victory.
Then there was the disaster that was the Wolf Trap Howl-o-Ween Fun Run 5k. There was NOTHING fun about that. It was basically the Hills of F*ck You 5k. The ENTIRE thing was uphill with tiny downhill breaks that artificially sped you up, then slammed you right into a monster hill.
I was going to barely clear that thing in 30 until some guy ran up next to me, probably early 40s and was like "nope, come on." I.Ran.The.Damn.Thing.With.Him. That was like 1.5 miles and it was unkind. I barely scraped in at 27:17.
I have two more scheduled, which is probably dumb. One in two weeks, the Get Your Rear in Gear 5k for Colon Cancer (ha...ha.) and then a Turkey Trot with my mom and brother. I was all confident until my brother moved off to Colorado for college and started running almost every day. His lung power will blow me away, even though I'm used to teaching and talking...it's a whole different thing to be a mile above sea level.
In other news, while I'll keep blogging probably every other day, I will be on blogcation this Friday and Saturday. I'll be out at a workshop for fledgling personal trainers like myself. I expect to come home in pain.
Until then. Say no to the fries or yes to the treadmill.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I'd be curious to see what you all think about this. Here's the reason. I agree with both side of the article and I'm actually slightly conflicted by it.
If you don't feel like reading the article, here's what it's all about:
Some colleges are starting to post caloric and nutritional information in their cafeterias. There's a big uproar among doctors and some college students/counselors that showing these calorie counts, etc. will probably encourage disordered eating and eating disordered (in case you're wondering, they are very different things). There is fear that with these calorie counts facing young people who are constantly teased about the potential freshman 15, there will be another jump in ED/DE/EDNOS. The last jump was nearly 10%, to a staggering 38%
If you recall the start of this blog, then you'll remember that I was frustrated by the lack of calorie counts in places and the irritation of having to try to calculate calories, it's handy. I'd like to be able to have the calorie counts if I desired. I'd also like to see restaurants try to cook a bit better--especially college campuses. When people notice that the lasagne is 800 calories and stop eating it, maybe the cook will start using Pam instead of butter...or the lowfat cheese instead of the cheap 100% fat kind.
Can we compromise? Can we have a little booklet that people can pick up if they WANT to? How about we dont' plaster it across the salad bar Lettuce: Service: 1 leaf Calories: 2 or some such. I can see overly skinny heroine chic girls with calculators trying to figure out how many calories are in their lettuce leaves. But I can also see myself, while training for some race or another, going "whoa, 800 calories in a square of lasagne? i'll make take the stir fry instead"
Now that being said, for me...I never had a cafeteria since GW is all about not having to provide. But, if I'd had that luxury of a dining hall, I think I'd have approved of a booklet of nutritional information.
I started training for my 5k last night. This, to a marathoner, sounds ridiculous. A 5k was my "whew, almost done with my long run" thought.
I've had to retrain my brain and it's taken almost three years to accomplish this. However. As I mentioned before, I have the goal now to accomplish at 5k in 25 minutes. This requires that I maintain about an 8 minute mile...something my marathon trained muscles (even though they're out of practice) dont' understand.
So last night, I got 2.1 miles in. I should have gone for 3.1, but I was eager to sit with K...which didn't happen because other people sat next to her on the bike...so I wound up on an old cycle bike for the last couple minutes of my cardio. The first mile or so was at an 8:30 pace (7 mph) and then the last mile was at an 8 minute pace (7.5 mph). Let me tell you. I'm not sore today, and I'm kind of surprise...but it was a workout.
I need to figure out how to translate my treadmill pace to my outdoors pace....which I assume will be rather trying considering I can't get myself out of the door in the morning without relying on my gym buddy. Perhaps I'd have made it this morning if I hadn't decided to stay up until 1:30 watching the afore mentioned More to Love.
For now, I project I probably wont' make my 25 minutes a week from this Saturday...but I'll definately make it Oct. 3, provided the crowds don't prevent it. Fingers crossed.
Well, last night was the finale. And now I remember why I will never again watch a show like this. The girl who was not chosen was heart broken. Was she really in it for love? I have no idea. Will Luke and the Israeli girl, who is absolutely stunning, stay together? No idea there either.
But I felt like the whole show was really the shows that I already hated that jumped on the "Fat Tv" bandwagon. There was a clan of desperate girls who were eager to land a well off man and were insecure because of whatever. The whatever this time was "I'm Fat." The majority of these women, while overweight, were total stunners.
Lately, there have been a lot of articles talking about "Fat TV" and why it's so popular. The Biggest Loser (which also started last week and awaits me on my DVR tonight). Some theories are that America is sick of seeing people who don't represent who they are (a tiny percentage of people look like the girls on The Hills or whatever is popular now) and there's an ever increasing percentage of overweight and obese Americans--especially those who fit in the age demographic that the producers of More to Love/The Bachelor/Bachelorette, etc.
Is it because people feel they can look down on others that they want to watch these fat shows? Or is it, as I hope, is it that people enjoy seeing other overcome struggles that are similar to their own? Like I said, many people in this country struggle with their weight at dangerous levels (I'm not talking those extra 5 pounds we all want to lose), and something like The Biggest Loser shows them that it truly is possible, though perhaps not in the same manner.
As far as More to Love...everyone can find love, but I don't think it takes or should take a TV show that combined trend with horrible dating show to prove to young women (and men) that you can find someone to love you for who you are.
Suffice to say, I love the Biggest Loser, mostly because, even though I disagree with losing 100+ pounds in however many weeks that is (I only support it if you're literally at the point where you could die or incur a weight related serious health issue ie. diabetes), I think it's a transformative process that not only changes the participants lives, but the lives of their families, and potentially, the lives of those watching the show. Or maybe that's just me being overly positive. Who knows.
And it means that I can't stand More to Love because it's not about "positive self image" (though I think it probably had that effect without it intending to for some people)--it's about pointing out "WOW even though you're FAT (here, get in this swim suit), you found LOVE! OMG NO WAY!!!" These women were beautiful inspite of being over weight--not just beautiful because they were beautiful (and believe me, these women were knock out).
I have no idea what the conclusion of this post is coming to, probably because I'm multitasking. But anyway. Can't we all just celebrate women being beautiful and end this stick thin thing? There are hints of change...but will it stick?
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
I recently decided that it would be fun to run 500 miles in a year. This is clearly a poor decision. Maybe not a poor decision, I'm sure I'd be close by accident anyway, so much as it's just another stressor on my workout regiment. I like running. In fact, once I get out the door, I usually love running. But forcing myself to about 10 miles a week (no matter if it's really only about 1.5 miles a day)...just seems a little insane. I'd probably lose my mind if I didn't make my goal or missed a week.
Ah the mind of the hyper obsessive!
I also decided last year that I'd do one race a month. That worked well for about three months, then totally fell apart when I got too tired to carry on. There was a 10 miler (which was my personal best, oddly), a 5 mile trail run (wow, that was a really poor choice, i've never felt so out of shape in my life), and the 10k jingle all the way (6.2 miles with jingle bells straped to your feet and cold wind blowing in off the basin = fail).
But, for whatever reason, I've suddenly decided that no, no, this would be brilliant. I'm going to try AGAIN!
In less than two weeks, I'll be taking up a 5k and doing the 5k for Cancer Awareness downtown.
In October, I'll probably be joining BT for the 5k AIDS Run/Walk, and then going out to Wolf Trap for the 5k for the Arts at the end of the month. After that, I've just convinced my mother that she should do the Turkey Trot back home with me and my brother. Another 5k.
It's my hope (and lunacy) that I'll stick with running as it gets colder and the mornings get darker as opposed to hiding away in my gym.
I'm going to the gym with K tonight, so hopefully that'll be the kickoff to my 5k week and a half training. The goal is less than 30 minutes, which should be fine, considering I run faster in a group and I already run faster than 1mile/10 minutes. Ideally, I'll have a 25 minute or lower time.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I do, I can't help it. I love jalapenos on my burger, on my pizza, my quesadillas dripping in crystal hot sauce. There was the one unfortunate incident that my best friend in med school (I can't remember what I'd nicknamed her in this blog, sorry dear) will recall. It had a lot to do with a few coronas, chicken wings, and hot sauce that basically glowed from being so orange....but for the most part. I love spicy things and eat accordingly.
This is a good thing considering there is some pseudo/potentially true though (haha like the rhyme?) science out there that shows that if you eat spicy food, you eat less of it...and also, that the qualities in a pepper that makes it spicy also potentially speed up your metabolism.
All this talk about the spicy things, though, leads me to the point of this post.
Spices. Not just the spicy kind.
I think one of the hardest things about staying on a diet, eating plan, healthy cooking spree, etc. is that the food can be bland. I will totally admit that.
I'm in what I'd consider an "Advanced Beginner" or "Pre-Intermediate" use of spices place right now. I know vaguely what spices do what to the food, and kind of what culture they align to (don't put curry in an Italian dish, etc.), but I haven't quite figured out, on my own, how to move beyond garlic salt, all seasoning, salt, pepper, oregano on foods.
I took a short cut the other day and relied a little on my friend BAM Emeril. I share with you, the newest combination of spices (with a spicy kick) that works wonders for all food types: scallops, shrimp, steak, chicken, burgers, fish...I haven't tried pork yet, so maybe not ALL food types....but here it is:
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
It makes about 2/3 cup and you can find the link to the recipe here. Foodnetwork.com is my best source for recipes and my secret for the meals Chadd loves. Next, I should delve into their low-cal options...
For now, I'll keep leaning on Emeril.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I do want to address the Time Magazine article about how working out makes you gain weight or some nonsense like that, but rigth now, I'd rather just talk about how much I love boxing and this weather.
Boxing is a phenominal stress reliever for me. I instantly feel better after starting class, and when I'm done, I'm often times too tired to over analyze anything, or criticise myself or others. I feel released.
I had the benefit the other day of stepping on a scale and noticing that I'd lost 5 pounds in two weeks. I'm not saying it's a miracle, I still FELT better physically when I was eating within my caloric range and staying with the Volumetrics based cooking...but it's still nice to see that the hard work (which is really more of a stress relief session than anything) is paying off.
On top of that, I still make it to the gym in the mornings with my workout buddy (especially since she gives me a ride to work) and while those workouts are rarely immensely hard, it's another couple hundred calories expended. I usually get to the office refreshed, too--and awake. If there's one change I'm glad I've made, it's that I get to the gym in the morning.
Now to tackle the hard things.
I need to cut back on the crappy eating habits.
I'm talking about the glass of wine on a week night, or the cookie instead of a piece of fruit when I didn't really want anything. Or the eating beyond being satisfied.
I do believe in eating the burger, drinking the beer, and hitting the gym. Especially after my weeks of calorie counting and obsessing. I realized that it was was restrictive. It was extremely informative, nonetheless, and I'll think twice before ordering something or eating something that previously would have sounded like a good idea.
I just need to marry the two concepts--eating well and working out frequently and then I will have achieved what is usually considered the impossible.
But before that, I have two action packed weekends of fun and wine.
Friday, August 14, 2009
This week has been very stressful for everyone in my office and it seems that none of us have the stamina to make it the next less than half hour. Time for blogging.
Tonight at LA Boxing is mixed martial arts (MMA) workout.
A side note. I've never had children and I'm far away from that time, but I hear that women "forget" how much childbirth HURTS. My mom disagrees and says that she remembers quite well. But it makes me think about the MMA workout I'm going to tonight.
Last time, we started out in the ring doing a 30 minute endurance workout. I was unfamiliar with what an endurance workout meant.
It was roughly 5 solid minutes of some core based exercise to another 5 minutes of core based exercise...etc. In essence, 6 exercises, 5 minutes of each. Now, 5 minutes doesn't sound like a long time, but just try some of this stuff this guy tells you to do and then let me know if 5 minutes doesn't sound like an eternity.
I dont' actually remember the other 30 minutes of the workout (that's the honest truth). It was that painful...and yet, I'm telling myself right now "it wasn't that bad." Like childbirth, I assume, I've forgotten how epicly painful it was to try and make it through that workout. I recall stopping halfway home and wondering if I was going to puke on the street.
Normally, there wouldn't be a debate. My boxing gym buddy, unforunately is detained this evening, so now I have to rely on myself to go, on a Friday afternoon, to the gym, where I'll get my ass kicked. I'd probably be considered clinical for wanting to go. And yet, I do...kind of.
So, I took the issue to my fitness twin. We'll call her Gray for now.
She raised a good point saying, "tend to feel better about not working out when I've planned my day off ahead of time like today: is day off from the gym and I'm ok with it because I put it in my schedule."
Gray's right. I need to go tonight because I planned to go. I took Monday off and I'm probably taking tomorrow off.
12 minutes to freedom and a good beat down.
Stay active this weekend--you won't regret it.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The presentations went well, the feedback...as expected. Everyone walked to the hotel, I walked to the metro, got myself to my front door, threw on gym clothes, then went to boxing.
It was refreshing to get all my energy out, go home and cook for a bit, then hit the sack. I didnt't even drink my own beer, I was too tired.
Boxing is truly one of the most transformative things I've done. It's been just 4 workouts and I see a big difference. Granted, I've also cut back on my "crap eating" but...all in all, it's great.
Except for this new shoulder pain. I should probably get to class early tomorrow to talk about it.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tonight, my coworkers and I have to partake in an unenviable task of presenting a stressful presentation to upper management from 4-6. It's only about 30 minutes in the lime light, which is not something I get nervous about (it's the aerobics instructor thing), but it's a stressful situation regardless.
After this presentation, our company is sponsoring a happy hour for us...which means that our tab goes onto the company's credit card. Lubricated team bonding time in addition to the classic way to blow off steam from a stressful week at the office.
In another sphere of my life, I've taken up boxing at LA Boxing, which is the boxing club chain that is becoming increasingly popular around the country. For a long time I had the misconception about these clubs that they were a place to go and get beat on/beat on others. Not my style, I prefer injury free aggressive workouts. Cycling, for instance. The most intense I get with combat is TurboKick, and while it may be fun, it's not scary.
Boxing is scary. See it on tv...that hurts and I hate to admit to being a chicken, but I don't like getting hit in the face. Or getting hit anywhere else, for that matter.
But for some reason, I thought it might be worth checking it out. I think I heard somewhere that only 2-3 of the classes are sparring based and the rest of them are bag contact only.
I went to a free class with my now boxing buddy...and was addicted immediately. I signed up on the spot, bought my gloves, and now crave boxing every day.
More than a 1000+ calorie workout, it's stress relief, anger managment...it's hard to be angry, or even emotional after an hour long beat down on a bag. Talk about leaving it at the door, you can't even leave the gym with energy to be angry, much less make it to your door.
So this leads us to the great debate.
Do I go to the work sponsored happy hour after an 11 hour day that started at 7am, which is several metro stops away from home, with coworkers, who while I greatly enjoy a good deal of their company...I also see them 90% of my waking hours.
Do I head back home after the presentations (6), hopefully getting home by 7, in time to change and go to boxing to relieve stress and get home before 9, alcohol free, ready to shower and go to bed. Do I give up the free drinks and social interaction for some much needed stress relief and a good workout?
It really is up in the air right now. Report to follow on what I wind up doing. Your bets are welcome.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The good news these days is that I've been working out and fitting it into my busy schedule. With the help of my friend K, at least three times a week, we get together to go to the gym and push in 30 minutes of cardio or weights. On top of that, I'm still teaching on Sundays (and my second class has just started up)...and most recently, I have accomplished something wonderful:
I'm getting up early.
I did a lot of thinking about how to accomplish this, honestly. I wasn't getting up setting multiple alarms. I couldn't think clearly enough to convince myself that I wanted to get up and spend an hour in the morning doing things while I could be sleeping. Beating that logic hard especially considering that Chadd and I have radically different schedules. So that hour of hitting snooze is really the only time I spend with him during the week.
But I thought it out Monday night and decided to make things easy. I took my ipod dock that has a clock radio and put it in the kitchen, volume on full blast, and set it to 99.5. I figure that if I have to leave the bedroom to turn off my alarm (getting out of bed and walking across the room is my current system and has failed), then I'll get up.
Also, Monday night, post gym, I rinsed off with soap and water, but I didn't wash my hair or blow it dry. Now I HAVE to get up and shower, regardless.
Then, on the futon, a stack of my running clothes and shoes. Bingo.
For the past two mornings, my phone alarm has gone off at 5:30, which I have turned off and used as a sign to subject Chadd (who is probably dead asleep at this point) to intense cuddling. 6am, the radio goes off in the kitchen. Today's morning radio topic was about dead bodies or something (clearly I was still asleep when I hit snooze).
I got up, fed the cats, put in my contacts, changed and was out the door. It's not too hot at 6:15 in the morning. Just right, actually. I go to the zoo, say hi to the cheetahs (who get up around 6) and take advantage of the water fountain at the visitor center, then head home and cruise down the hill on Connecticut Ave.
When I get back, it's just before 7. This gives me an hour to drink coffee, check email, take a shower and do my make up. Choose an outfit and pack a lunch. And watch the morning news. Who knew!
It's given me a new lease on lilfe, it seems. I feel like I somehow upgraded. While I've known all along I'd prefer getting up...there's nothing like actually doing it. I feel calm throughout the day and I sleep like a rock at night...and I feel like I'm giving myself a present. The "I can make time for myself" present. At night I'm too busy doing what I need to do and making dinner for Chadd (my daily present to him) to really be focused on me. I'm hoping to focus enough on my run to add prayer tomorrow.
One of my coworkers thinks I'm a nut because I'm doing a few 2 a days (morning and night workout), but it's not that much different because instead of adding it to the day I was already having, I'm adding time to my day by getting up earlier. Ha!
Additionally, here is something my mom sent to me the other week that I found to be very true. I'm going to print it out for my fridge:
This is from Zen Habits and was guest written by Adam Gilbert of MyBodyTutor.com
The Healthy and Fit Algorithm
- Eat every 3-4 hours. By doing this you’ll keep your blood sugar stable which is the key and also turn your body into a fat burning machine. Think of your metabolism like a camp fire. If you don’t want a camp fire to burn out, you have to constantly add wood and logs to it.
- Never let yourself get hungry! This serves many purposes. It keeps your blood sugar stable, keeps that fire burning, but also when you’re very hungry it’s extremely hard to make good decisions!
- Eat only complex carbs. Refined and simple carbs will spike your blood sugar which is exactly what we don’t want. Eat whole wheat bread instead of white, whole wheat pasta instead of regular, brown rice instead of white, etc.
- Eat lean proteins! Depending on your lifestyle stick with proteins like chicken, eggs, and fish. Beans, nuts, legumes, and lentils are also awesome choices.
- Veggies! You can never have too many vegetables. I say everything in moderation. Even moderation. Not with veggies!
- Fruit is nature’s candy. Eat fruit when you are craving something sweet. You’ll be amazed at how little you miss junk food!
- Drink lots of water. No need to get obsessive but try to drink a glass of water with each meal, and in between every meal. Your body will love you for it.
- Don’t eat 2-3 hours before bedtime. And if you must - make it a protein rich snack.
- Don’t eat until you’re stuffed. Instead, eat until you’re satisfied. You should feel like you can exercise right after you eat.
- Eat slowly. The best way to eat until you’re satisfied is to savor every bite. The slower you eat the more full you’ll feel. It takes 20 minutes for our brain to realize we’ve eaten. We don’t need nearly as much food as we think we do!
- No such thing as perfection! No one eats perfectly. We’re not robots! Remember: It’s what we do most of the time that generates most of our results! If you eat unhealthy make your very next meal healthy! No big deal. Just make that U-Turn! Every meal, every healthy choice, every compromise, really and truly makes a difference. Your body never lies!
- Am I hungry? Or am I eating to change the way I feel? Ask yourself this before you eat. If the answer is yes, you’re eating for the wrong reasons! Physical hunger comes on gradually. Emotional hunger comes on suddenly.
- Focus on eating foods that make you feel good. What does this mean? I like ice cream and cookies as much as the next guy. But I hate how it makes me feel afterward. Tired, lethargic, unfocused, etc. Instead, focus on foods that make you feel good before, during and after you’re done. You’ll never regret making a healthy choice!
- Do it 4 times per week for at least 30 minutes. Seriously, doesn’t matter. Basketball, jogging, weights, push ups, etc. Unless you have a specific goal just make sure to get it done!
- The two day rule! You can’t miss 2 days of working out in a row. You can skip one day. But not the next!
- Don’t let the “Exercise Monster” build up. When I don’t do laundry for a while it becomes what I like to call the ‘Laundry Monster’. It builds up in my mind and I avoid doing it at all costs. Until finally, I have to. And it’s never as bad as I think it’ll be! Don’t let it happen to you. Follow the two day rule!
- Don’t focus on exercising at a certain time. Just focus on making time to exercise!
- Make it fun! Listen to music; join a nice gym; etc. Bonus: If you love working out with music as much as I do, only listen to your favorite music while you workout. I’ve actually exercised just to listen to my music.
- Focus on how you want to feel. We always feel energized after we workout. Yet, we usually skip exercise when we’re feeling tired! Remember: Exercise will give you energy. Want more energy? Exercise more!
- Exercise and eating right pays off big in your quality of life! If you need to spend extra money on groceries, a gym membership, trainers, etc., do it!
- Warren Buffet said it best. “The best investment you can make is in yourself!”
And if you’re able to follow these rules consistently you’ll be well on your way to getting in shape!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
"Do you want to go on a vacation?"
We discussed the options, the dates, and did a cursury glance at some of the discount travel brokers...and came upon an all inclusive 5 days, 4 nights in the Dominican Republic and a hotel on the beach.
The trip is tentatively schedule for Columbus Day and we are thrilled...but in the back of our minds, or perhaps the front of our minds, is motivation.
Last night, we were both exhausted, as evidenced by our mutual pasta downfall. We confessed and vowed to do better. Which leads me to the topic of rewards. I read this article today about how a monetary incentive and/or punishment will likely not encourage weightloss in people.
You can read about it here.
I admit, I watch the FLN show "Ruby" about the woman who weighed close to 500 pounds, then decided to change her life. To me, it seemed like death was her big motivator. But even THAT doesn't change some people's minds. Perhaps only negative reinforcement works for weightloss. I'm going to bet it has something to do with people being unable to grasp the reality of what just 10 pounds would do for them. 10 pounds sounds huge, unattainable. It sounds unreal. So when they mess up, they say "oh, I was so pie in the sky anyway, oh well" and move on to the pick-up window at McDonalds.
Then there are the people who make unrealistic goals. I'm guilty of this. I'd love to weigh about 30 pounds lighter. In reality? Pipe dream and probably unhealthy. I keep promising measurements, and I'll do it...but you know where I'm going with this. We have unrealistic expectations and desires and when we get bored or hit a wall, we don't see the progress we've made and we lose it.
But I think this time, for this vacation, I'm going to play the numbers game. Not the weight numbers, but the inches numbers. I have a particular bathing suit made by a certain company that is known for their buxom models...and I love to look good in it. More to come on my theories of how to prepare for this trip...
Now for a discussion on intimidation.
Unfortunately, I'm one of the lucky few who live across the street from MTV's Real World DC house. Apparently, in their quarter block mansion, they didn't have room for a home gym...so they have started using my gym. K and I went to the gym yesterday to discover cast and crew taking up entirely too much room (i.e. about a third of the gym). Really people? At peak hours, have some respect for those of us who pay to go here.
While we were assured by management (who got to meet the angry polite version of myself) that we would not be on TV, my friend K, was intimidated nonetheless. The channel that embodies sex, beauty, and all things superficial was in the room next to her while she was trying to go about her workout. Proper gym etiquette is to ignore all others around you while still being considerate of someone else's needs. Improper gym etiquette is having a camera, sound crew and producers looking at you while some clown asks "when will you be done with your sets?" (gym speak for: I want to use that machine, will you move asap?). That's initimidation and it's everything I work against in the gym world. I've mentioned before that women especially have a difficult time using the free weight area (even though they'd benefit greatly from it)....and now that my gym features four Real World tough guys and their entourage....so much for a comfortable, open setting, which I thought my gym had done a nice job acheiving. It's less "weight room" more "area with weights and benches."
The good news is that management heard me out, I got to speak my mind, and I don't care who sees me hot and sweaty, because that's what I do on my weekends at my other gyms. But that doesn't mean I'm okay with it--if only because I, unlike the corporate offices of Washington Sports Clubs, care about the comfort of other women at the gym.
Monday, July 6, 2009
Maybe because one thing that the book excerpt lists is an actual recipe for something called "Johnny Cakes." They seem to be a pancake of sorts, really rich and buttery and sound wonderful. I thought this quote was really poignent:
"Eating alone is nothing less than a luxurious, even decadent, act," [Kate Manchester] says, "because I get to think about myself. I don't have to think about someone else."
I would love to believe that when left to my own devices (as I am at least 5 nights out of the week), that I would creat a beautiful, nutrious, and mouth watering dish. Sometimes I do. But mostly, I grab a salad on the way back from the gym...or I make a grilled cheese, or sinfully, a bowl of white pasta with some butter and salt.
Perhaps the difference between my alone eating and this article's "Eating Alone" is this: timing. I much prefer cooking for people.
Take, for example, this past weekend. Chadd's family was in town for the 4th of July. They were exceedingly generous to us and took us out for dinner Friday and Saturday night and for brunch on Sunday. I felt that it was more than necessary for me to invite everyone over for a meal. It also satisfied my intense desire to play hostess. Saturday morning's breakfast included:
Hot New Orleans Coffee
Scrambled Eggs with Cheese
Homemade buttermilk biscuits
I was reigned in when I went to make sausage.
By myself...breakfast is mostly likely in the form of greek yogurt with some kashi crunch, eaten at the office.
When Chadd is home for dinner, we have things like roast beef and scalloped potatoes, salmon and rice pilaf, baked chicken with roasted potatoes....
When I am home by myself, I feel that I have no energy to cook. It does help that I'm usually putting something full of simple carbs, fatty proteins, and butter together for Chadd that can start out as low fat and carb free. But even then, I wish that I had the energy to make a beautiful and sumptuous dinner for myself.
Perhaps it is as elusive as my desire to get up at least more than 15 minutes before I have to be out the door. Both are due to exhaustion and are usually instigated when I realize that I can "get away with it." I slept through my alarm one morning and learned that I could be ready enough in 15 minutes.
I eat triscuits and cheese when I get home and suddenly, I'm not hungry anymore. Add a bite of whatever I made for Chadd and my brilliant dinner plans are too much effort.
I guess it all ties back to sleep, or a lack thereof.
What did make me feel better was that, on the audio of the article, the authors of the book mentioned that there is an entire chapter in their book dedicated to the stories of people who turn to sardenes...and what one woman called "Spaghetti Sandwhich."
At least, for the most part, my meals alone aren't made of fish with edible bones and carb overload.
I really do want to turn my sleeping habits around. Time to give it a shot this week....fingers crossed.
Friday, June 26, 2009
BT and I went to Saffron, the dance studio in Clarendon, for our first ever belly dancing lesson. A few things:
- I did not know that Belly Dancing has such a feminist draw. I was unaware that there really isn't a male counter part.
- I LOVED that my instructor quit her high powered lawyer job to open this studio and now is a full time belly dancing instructor. I see this as a sign of hope for me.
- While I often balk at group discussion based entirely on "let your inner goddess glow" crap (I'm not a sit in a circle, talk about feminist ideals kinda girl), I did appreciate that every person in that class let go of their inhibitions, even if just a little bit. One woman, who I will love watching, has a bit (read: a good deal) of what our instructor calls "residual" (the three letter "F" word is banned at the studio). She rolled her shirt up underneath her bra, all her residual hanging out...and shimmied. I was thrilled for her.
I appreciate the ability of an instructor, class, facility, dance, whatever, to make people, especially women, comfortable in their own skin. It's not just a self image thing, it encourages people to try a bit harder. That woman was clearly comfortable...and she was moving with confidence. I'm convinced that moving with confidence is probably directly related to an increase in the amount of calories burned.
It relates to the commentary I had earlier about women being resistant to working out in the free weight section that is often dominated by men. It might not be labled as confidence in some cases, but more a good self image.
Regardless, I'm loving shaking my residual all over my body, and having dinner/drinks with BT afterwards. I haven't shown Chadd my new moves yet. Maybe I need to borrow my classmate's confidence.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Case in point, from Scott Adams' Blog:
"Years ago a suit salesman gave me a tip that has always stuck with me. He said that people won't notice you're bald if you keep yourself very fit. He was a good example of this. I literally hadn't noticed he was bald until he made the comment. My first impression of him had been dominated by the fact he was so obviously fit. It was a brilliant case of misdirection. And it made me think about all the ways people mitigate their bad luck.
Generally speaking, a high level of fitness can compensate for whatever imperfect genes your parents gave you. Fitness is enough to achieve good looks if you bother to dress well, take care of your skin, and get a good haircut.
And fitness, along with a good diet, can also suppress the most common killer diseases that your genes might predispose you to. You can't prevent bad luck, but you can keep it at bay."
Amen to that.
I have two other cases of misdirection. The first is not fitness related, it has everything to do with my day to day job. If I truly worked on all six cylinders, as my Dad says, then I'd probably have finished all work our contract would have required from us. Seven times over. But we don't get paid like that (rather, my company doesn't get paid like that). That's why most of the posts that you see here are made between the hours of 9 and 5. Typing away furiously gives me the impression of looking busy. My impressive process flow flashes on the screen now and then. My appearing to be busy is my misdirection to the fact that I'm just screwing around. Or maybe that's just called deception.
The other case is fitness related, but this has to do with a topic that is less about health, more about gym time. And maybe it's not called misdirection, maybe it's just ways to combat preceptions. Go with me here, it's a Monday...
The first and only personal trainer I've ever had was at my college's gym, which was and is still the best gym I've ever used. As she was putting me through the paces on what exercises I needed to be doing, she stopped short before we entered the glassed off section that featured free weights. My college is not known for having meat heads, but they do exist. It seems they all ate, slept, and socialized there because I never saw these hulks outside of the gym. Regardless, she asked "before we go in, are you comfortable in there?"
Turns out, some people (women, typically) have a big issue using the free weight area that is typically dominated by men. Some gyms have responded to this fear (and growing evidence that women need to do some form of weight lifting) by creating a "women's only" area. I wasn't actually adverse to the idea of going into the weight room until my trainer had pointed it out.
The misdirection works in two ways. First, negatively for the guys. While there are some dudes in there who are all about coming in, getting a workout, peacing out without bothering anyone...they are lost in the crowd of glimmering, grunting, gym aholics. I literally saw a guy with a protein shake in a water bottle when I was at the gym last. Talk about misdirection from the other 8 normal guys who were there.
The second type of misdirection in a gym is as a chick who has anxiety about using the weight room but still wants to. Give the impression that you know what you're doing and the hulking idiots who are too busy checking themselves out/checking everyone else out to see if they have an audience, will lose interest. Less misdirection, more camoflage, I guess.
I happen to have no issue using the weight room, but that was after a bit of misdirection practice with the free weights by the ab mats.
Regardless. Scott Adams' suit salesman remains correct. Be fit and healthy and you're going to get away with a lot of mistakes.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Many people enjoy kickboxing. I used to be one of those people. I was diligent about attending every kickboxing class I could when I was growing up. I even had the wraps to show how "hardcore" I was. Then something happened. What, I'm not sure, but I just didn't like kickboxing anymore.
Fast forward and while I enjoy turbo kick, you're kidding yourself if you think that's kickboxing. It also probably stems from my own lack of confidence in my kickboxing teaching instruction. But my friend was in a bind.
Sore from my crazy leg workout on Thursday, I limped over to the gym and prepared to teach.
Everyone loved it. I thought I looked like a cracked out monkey. But let me tell you, if there's one class that will destroy you, it's kickboxing. Just the boxer shuffle and speed bags are debilitating after 45 minutes. I capped it off with a punishing round of planks and pushups. But everyone loved the class and I think, if asked to do it again, I would.
Its always a nice boost of confidence to teach a class I normally don't and get a positive response, but if it's all the same, I'll leave the flailing to others.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Week 1 workouts, I have since learned, were basically created to get your body used to working out. I did wonder why there were only 8-10 reps for every set. Surprise!
Week 2 workouts have, so far, tried to kill me. Monday were arms. The last thing I did were nosebreakers. The bar was only about 15 pounds and it wasn't heavy, but the movement itself was nearly impossible because my arms and shoulders were shaking so much.
Last night was a surprisingly intense session. It was mostly legs/butt. I later told Chadd that crawling home probably would have been easier. He suggested that since I haven't done a good job going to bed early (or getting up early), that I should pour a glass of wine and take a hot bath.
Horror of horrors. We don't have a plug for the bathtub. Most depressing. SO...I am still sore this morning, my hamstrings are tight and my calves feel like they're spasming. But at least it feels like a good work out.
In other news, I truly enjoy learning. I also enjoy learning while not at my job so that I feel like I have a life outside of this place. This week has been a rash of signing up for classes.
I found that Sur la Table has cooking classes. Steakhouse workshop: check. Additionally, my good friend BT has asked me to take belly dancing lessons with her...check? The shimmy and shake begins next Wednesday. I've been told that if you're really good, you can flip a coin on you stomach. I doubt I'll be coin flipping good. I have high hopes for belly dancer abs.
And finally, I registered for my NASM live workshop. NASM, the National Academy of Sports Medicine, offers one of the best personal training certifications. My live workshop will be less test prep, more hands on. Once I have the money, I'll be signing up for the certification exam (which is almost $600).
One of the best ways to get out of a rut is to learn something new. Cheers to that!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Exercise does not improve the quality of your sleep: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090608071937.htm
However, I'm inclinded to believe that it actually does help you sleep. This is all just from personal experience. My mother will tell you that she knows when I'm tired because I cry. Chadd has also learned this as evidenced by a mental breakdown sometime on Saturday.
I'm also one of those people who stays up and tosses and turns if something's bothering me. I need to be tired to fall asleep. I need to destress to be tired enough to sleep. Bingo, for me, exericse = better sleep.
Quoted from the article above, I'm clearly Type A:
"Dr. Eliasson speculates that these findings may be explained by personality types: Individuals who are Type A (ambitious, active people during the day), may also be more hyper-vigilant at night and therefore sleep less; whereas people who are Type B (lower-key people who are less active) may have no difficulties falling or staying asleep. Another explanation may be that job and life stresses lead to busier days, more exertion and more calories burned but may interfere with sleep."
I'm getting better sleep here on day 9, but it's not enough. Last night, I stayed up too late to watch Extreme Home Makeover (which I had DVR'ed...). Then Chadd came home around 2. Clearly, I didn't say goodnight and go to sleep. Instead, I got up, lay on the sofa while he had dinner. Spending time with him is also another way for me to move from Type A to Type B.
I figured, another 20 minutes awake with him was worth 20 minutes of sleep.
I paid for it this morning (not the 20 minutes so much as the 2:30 bed time.) Clearly, I did not make it out of bed an hour before I had to leave. Instead, I slept in much later than I normally do. I haven't even had time for makeup these days. Thank God for Rodan + Fields or I'd really look like a mess.
I really do vow to go to bed early tonight. Mostly because I'm so exhausted that I've been fighting falling alseep at my desk all day. But also because I really do want to get up early tomorrow and have time to put on make up and eat breakfast at home...So we'll see. Lights out at 11, Real Housewives will be over by the anyway.
The greater issue at hand is my new favorite topic of how a job you dislike (read: loathe) can mess with your greater health.
I have now reached that point in time where I just don't want to go to bed because it means I'll wake up and have to go to work. Less sleep.
I'm stressed out, so even when I do get in bed, I lay there thinking about how much I don't want to go to work. Less sleep.
You know the drill.
Monday, June 15, 2009
I've surprised myself with how often I've gone to the gym. It helps that K comes with me. I was skeptical at first--30 minutes a day, that's it? But strangely, it works. Chadd has noticed little things here and there. Yesterday, the flattering commentary went something like this:
"You're looking good, honey, keep it up"
"I think your arms look like you're toning. I like it."
When I said I thought my legs looked leaner, he agreed.
There is no greater motivator, aside from major events, than a boyfriend's encouragement. Chadd has taken on the brutal duty of being honest with me, at my request. To most men, this is equivalent of lighting your last cigarette, blind folding yourself, and standing before a firing squad. He's taken his share of flack, but for the most part, he can feel free to correct me, I think I've taken his commentary well. (The definition of well may include tears). But truly, I don't give him the credit he deserves.
But back to working out. I'm a big fan of the 30 minute workouts. When I can do more, I do, but I never feel stressed out about going to the gym. The workout is very inclusive, I am often sore the next day, but I never feel like the exercises are too hard--for that matter, I'm still a little concerned that I'm not using heavy enough weights. I vow to try a bit harder tonight.
The eating is not for my lifestyle. I could do it if I had access to a kitchen to make some of these things throughout the day. But for the most part, I have to be able to pack and store 3-4 of my 5 meals a day. My new theory is to stick by the concepts of the food.
For example, this morning was probably something along the lines of oatmeal. I combined my first and second meals and had dry kashi cereal, a cup of coffee, and a thing of raspberries.
Dinner tonight will likely be a big salad with grilled chicken.
I would, however, like to be in the habit of using the protein powder (oatmeal = tolerable), and the flax seed oil. Apparently it's good for your heart and potentially good at cancer prevention. I like the smoothies, so I guess flax seed will be sticking around for a bit.
But the bottom line is lots of fish (some chicken--stick with lean lean proteins), very few carbs (all complex), and an abundance of vegetables and a few pieces of fruit. It's very similar to eating a lot of unprocessed foods.
So the two things holding me back?
1) sleep: despite sleeping a ridiculous amount this weekend, I'm still deprived. Mostly because I made a huge dinner last night for Chadd and since I didn't get started on roasting the beef until sometime around 9:30, we had a late late dinner. I fell asleep around 2 am.
Part of my fix on this is getting onto a schedule. While I failed this morning, from now on, I'm going to be in bed no later than 11 with the lights off. If I need to (though I doubt I will), I'm going to take a tylenol pm and get on track. I will get up every morning an hour before I need to leave (something I haven't done since before I was in high school). I need time to put on make up, straighten my hair, choose an outfit, feed the cats, eat at home, and head out with a clear head. I will probably be a lot happier. This will start tomorrow (at least I hope).
For now, time to go home, find a suitable snack (I'm thinking cottage cheese and a few triscuits) and hit the gym with K.
Also, I need to buy a measuring tape. Measurements (am I seriously that brave?...) to follow.