Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Mornings: A Present to Myself

Wow, where have I been?

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

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

Motivation and Intimidation

My good friend, BT, asked me a question the other night:

"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 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 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

What We Eat When We're Alone

I just read an interesting article called "What We Really Eat When We're Alone" and I'm slightly surprised.

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
Orange Juice

Fruit Salad
Scrambled Eggs with Cheese
Homemade buttermilk biscuits
White Gravy

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.