Friday, June 26, 2009

Belly Dancing with Confidence

I've been radio silent for a few days, but probably because it hurt to stand up straight from Belly Dancing.

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

Scott Adams talks About Misdirection

Misdirection is the idea that you can disguise a bad or negative thing that is left in plain view by having something else more distracting/more attractive/more positive that steals the show.

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

Kickboxing and other favors for friends

A fellow instructor of mine teaches at both of the gyms where I work. She was out of options and needed a sub for last night's Cardio Kickboxing class.

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

Learning a Way Out

Workouts 8 and 10 have become substantially harder. Substantially.

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

Sleep or a lack thereof

I was googling trying to find an article to back up what I believe about sleep--but instead I received disturbing news:

Exercise does not improve the quality of your sleep:

Very irritating.

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

Results: Week 1

So, here we are on day 8.

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.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Day 1 Review

Day 2 of the 28 Days.

My old roommate, we'll call her K, has joined my gym. We had a great time last night, trying out the first weight work out in the 28 day plan, battling the crazed new version of the elliptical (has anyone seen this bizarre thing?), and chilling out in the Hamam that was recently opened downstairs.

Day 1 Work-Out Review:

Focus: Upper body, primary: biceps, triceps
Difficulty (1-10): 6; I need to jump up to 10's, instead of babying myself with the 7.5's (who makes that size weight?)
Time required: 35 minutes (I had to reference the book a few times)

Review: This was a good work out; I'm goign to have to train myself to only do that work out. We'll see how it goes, but the point is to really target one area per work out. I definately need to boost my weights, but since I'm still getting over being sick, I figure 7.5 pound weights was okay for now. None of the specific movements were hard to understand or difficult to do.

I really appreciate the guy who wrote this book--he's realistic. At first, you flip through and go, oh hell no, I'm not going to make it to the gym 6x a week. Then...if you read the intro, you see that there are technically 6 workouts a week--but you can combine your cardio and weight days to make it into three days of workouts--topping out at about an hour at the gym for each of those days.

This guy took the time to consider how people make it to the gym. If I had been conscious of myself during those weeks of crazy work, I'd probably have been able to stick to this schedule.

Day 1 Food Review:

Saitey (1-10): 8
Yum Factor (1-5): 2

Review: My biggest gripe about the food is that I prefer choosing what I get to eat. While the calorie counting was a pain, it was also a lot more free than the menu you see in earlier posts.

Today, while I haven't cheated, I didn't start out so well. I am not myself in the morning. I'm groggy and totally undedicated. There was a huge thunderstorm in the DC area around 6 this morning, so I hit snooze until I should have been leaving the house because I lost an hour of sleeping wondering if the cat was throwing up, if the windows were going to blow in, if a tree had fallen on my car.... Needless to say, I didn't make my 6 egg white and portabello mushroom omelet. It's my dream to get up an hour before I have to leave the house. Maybe that'll be the goal for next week.

I did, however, try the oatmeal again. I made it at work, which was probably a bad idea since it exploded all over my client's microwave. Once I cleaned it up, added my whey powder, it wasn't half bad....but I was also starving.

Meal two was an ounce of dry roasted peanuts.

Lunch should be promising...turkey sandwhich and large salad (which I forgot the dressing for...sad panda.)

Meal three is a cup of raspberries which is quickly liquifying in my lunchbox.

Meal four consists of the bay scallops in my freezer and a whole bunch of spinach. Last night's tilapia was actually pretty good.

My version:
- one small filet, a few slices of onion, bunch of capers, lemon juice, in a pan with a tiny bit of water, tented, and poached for 5 minutes. Two whole yellow squash, steamed.

Chadd's version:
- three filets, dipped in cream and egg mixture, tossed in bread crumbs, fried in vegetable oil. New potatoes, steamed.

Clearly, I'd prefer his version to mine. This is why I usually make his dinner after mine. Otherwise, I'll lose control. The key to sticking with this diet is to eat before you get hungry (meaning, I should eat right now), and to eat exactly what's on the menu.

I'd better start looking up ways to make scallops delicious without sticks of butter...

ps. my coworkers crapped out on Biggest Loser. Why am I not surprised?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cupcake Fail

I feel weird.

I can't determine if it's because I'm still sick, because the cat basically slept on my face, or because I should go make oatmeal (eew).
I am back at the office, sadly. The hardest thing about this is that instead of being all perky and ready to get back to work and ease into the swing of things, I'm basically dragging myself through the motions.
But that's neither here nor there.

Since I was sick last week, I didn't have the energy or desire to get through the first week of the 28-day diet.

Right now, at 11:42, I've had my strawberry smoothie (scroll down for recipe) and a cup of tea. I missed my window for the oatmeal, but man am I about to eat my hand. It doesn't help that I hate oatmeal...

And much later in the day, I have epic failed. Should have eaten that oatmeal. Instead, after a marathon of meetings today, my first day back at the office after being sick...there was a giant box of Costco cupcakes...which means they themselves were giant...


But, I refuse to beat myself up. I'm going to the gym tonight with my old roommate, then coming home to poach some fish and fresh veggies and then curl up in bed and pass out early.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Good News, Doctor Seekers!

Good news on all fronts.

First, it's Friday.

Better yet, I went to the Urgent Care place in Arlington yesterday and had my chest x-rayed--no pneumonia (whew!!). I can probably start running next Wednesday. They also gave me a z-pack and strict instructions to do the following:

1) Make an appt. with an ENT (ear nose throat) doctor.
2) Find a primary care physician and go there when I get sick--my tendency towards sinusitis is more than CVS can handle because they're not keen on giving out more than the standard antibiotics, said my urgent care doctor.

According to my last post, no one is taking patients.

The really good news?

The physician referral line for the DC Area:

703-Dial-VHS (703-342-5842).

Tell them what insurance you have and they'll give you a doctor. I haven't tried this out (bad, I know)...but just to make all you seekers out there sleep a bit better.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A [Good] Doctor Is Hard to Find

I have one of those weird personality issues where I'm constantly paranoid: see below post re: HIV.

Right now, I'm swept up in the idea that I have pneumonia. I highly doubt that I do, because according to WebMD and my other WebMD (my best friend in Med School), if I'm not coughing up blood and my chest doesn't hurt, then I'm fine. My chest hurts, but more like "I've been coughing too much and my muscles are sore" type pain.

I'll probably wind up in the walk-in clinic on Saturday if I don't feel better over the next few days. I guess three days won't do me in forever.

I have a tendency, also, to feel like I'm never going to get better. I do this every time I get sick. The first time I remember having this feeling was when I twisted my ankle in the 4th grade. I remember watching a cartoon and wondering how it felt to walk and it seemed like it would be eons before I'd walk again. Every time I get sick, I wonder when I'll breathe normally, stop coughing, whatever.

This leads me to the real topic of discussion:

Why are primary care doctors no longer taking patients?

The girls I work with called about 20 people a month or so ago to see if we could find a primary care physician. No such luck. The nearest walk-in clinic here, aside from the CVS minute clinics, is out in Rockville.

How are we expected to take care of ourselves if we cannot find primary care doctors? Why are they not taking patients any more? As Chadd asked, isn't this a bad business decision? Does anyone know the reason? My dad suggested that it's because doctors are leaving their practices for hosptials. Less insurance blah blah blah to deal with.

It's scary. What if I didn't have a car? What then? GW Hospital? I don't even want to think about how expensive that is.

And apparently, there IS a clinic close to me...over in Arlington. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow afternoon...

Whey Powder and Flax Seed Oil

Last night, things took a turn for the worse.

I picked up Chadd and came home ready to go to bed. I lay down...and the coughing started. I expected it. But after an hour of coughing, many cough drops, glasses of water, and cough medicine later...I was coughing so much I was choking, which turned into vomiting. I say choking and I don't mean "I couldn't breathe," just more like "aaauuuggh cannot stop coughing."

I wrote an email to my boss and to one of my team mates and told them I wouldn't be coming into the office today.

My original intent was to go to a walk-in clinic this morning...but the closest walk-in clinic is in Rockville. I don't have a primary care doctor here because no one is taking new patients.
That's the health update.
But, as promised, here's the flax seed and whey powder update.

At the direction of the man at Vitamin Shoppe, I purchased a low calorie whey protein powder called Necter:

90 Calories for a scoop and since I was going to be mixing it with fruit, oatmeal, etc, I opted for vanilla.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Usually, they taste chalky, have a chemical after taste--but this one was very clean, almost milky.

Good recipe:

1 c. strawberries, 1 c. ice, 1 scoop nectar, 1 tbsp. flax seed oil. Very thick, but light at the same time. It was enjoyable, I recommend it.

Bad recipe:

1/2 c. oatmeal, 1 scoop whey powder, but that's probably just because I hate oatmeal.

As for the flax seed oil, I have positive things to say about that. It made the smoothie thicker and rich.

For now, good diet days. I don't know if I can take down the chicken and salad right now. I've had enough medication and I'm starting to get tired. Law and Order SVU is on. Which means, I'll be napping before my hair appt.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Day 0

I'm back in DC, away from the land of wonderful, plentiful food and wine (Florida).

Sadly, my trip this time was marked by my lovely chest cold of death. My coworker is going to get an earful from me tomorrow since he was the one who was kind enough to come to work with the plague. I missed out on a huge paella dinner. One thing you don't want to miss out on from a true Spanish family is a paella dinner. I guess I made it just fine to the other million graduation parties that my brother and our family attended.

Regardless, an inhaler, antibiotics, tussin DM, mucinex, and flonase later...I'm stable, kind of. I'm on the upward swing of being better and feeling better. Ever since I saw a few seasons of Gray's Anatomy, I have become entirely too paranoid of every time I get sick. I actually convinced myself the other night that I had HIV. Don't ask me how. I'd have to have contracted it in one of those fwd'd spam mail scare mail ways where you sit on the pin at the movie theater. All sorts of paranoia. Suffice to say, I'm very glad that I'm feeling better.

While it's my first instinct to go to the gym since I got home around 6 today (post grocery, vitamin store, and fish market), both of the N.P.'s that I saw at CVS told me that chest cold + exercise = delayed recovery. I mean, I already knew this, but I figured, unless I want a serious set back, it's time to chill out. This is a challenge in and of itself. If you're like me, once you get an idea and dedicate yourself to it, it's go time.

Its no secret, but I'm unhappy with my job. It's more of a growing displeasure than anything else, but it's making the search for a new distraction ever more imperative. I think things probably would have worked out better if I hadn't had those 6+ weeks of horrible hours. But things are what they are and it's time to move on and just cope until the time is right to make a life change.

For now, I've determined that the best way to combine my displeasure with being back in the same city as my job with my desire to get started on my new to start on the part of it that isn't exercise relevant--the diet part. Remember when I say "diet," I mean the literal definition: what one eats.

I went to the grocery, and tried something new--buying only food that was on the list (I had to pick up some stuff that was only Chadd relevant). Minus Chadd food, I wound up spending about 10/day--so around $70 for the week. Vegetables are cheap, aren't they? Then I went to the Vitamin Shoppe and picked up a huge thing of low calorie, whey protein powder. I also picked up a high calorie whey protein powder for Chadd. While I'm busy losing weight, I'm tasking him with gaining weight (about 10 do I wish I had that task.) I also got a bottle of flax seed oil. I'm skeptical of anything that requires a trip to a specialty shop on par with GNC. But we'll give it a 28 day go round.

My last stop was to Slavin & Sons, the great fish market in Alexandria. I picked up sea bass, tuna steak, and a good piece of flounder. All for around 16 bucks.

The hardest part is going to be doing the smoothie thing. I think I need to rearrange the first two meals of my day. For example, tomorrow has been moved around to look like this:

Meal one:
- strawberry smoothie (with whey powder and flax oil)

Meal two:
- 1/2 cup oatmeal with whey powder

Meal three:
- grilled chicken breast
- large salad

Meal four:
- medium pear

Meal five:
- flounder
- grilled yellow squash

I figure, a week of getting used to this food will ramp me up to being ready to work out again. This week is going to be hectic too. I have a large "extra-curricular" work thing going on that will finally wrap up, after months of work, on Friday.

So, tonight marks the end of my yaay no eating guidelines. I plan on taking care of the rest of the red wine that's looking at me. Hopefully it will end the coughing for a bit, too.

Tomorrow, I'll let you know how flax seed and whey protein powder goes...