Monday, May 31, 2010

What I Learned on my Memorial Day Weekend

 I consider gardening to be a necessary evil.  I don't particularly care for it and I am not particularly good at it.  But, after six years of living in our house, we've finally decided to do something with our yard, and since my husband was out of town for most of the weekend and leaving a kid at home to go for a run is generally frowned upon by law enforcement, I had the perfect storm of cardio brewing in my backyard: 

calories to burn + can't leave the house = get your butt outside and grab a rake

I did so much work that I think I qualify for some kind of Midwesterner Seal of Approval.  And, I learned a lot along the way!  What might that be?  Why, I'm glad you asked! 

Healthy Heather's Top 10 Things Learned While Working in the Yard
  1. My backyard makeover imagination knows no limits.  My checking account tells a different story.
  2. The solution to most landscaping "problems" is mulch, and lots of it.  "Mulch" is loosely defined as any crap you rake up in the yard.
  3. A long time ago, there was a righteous party in my backyard.  Unfortunately for Mother Earth (and me) no one recycled.
  4. It's best not to think about what you saw scurry under the house.  It's the "turn up the radio" method of solving car problems, only applied to houses.
  5. Bugs lack even the most basic of reasoning skills and are therefore unfazed by verbal threats.  They do, however, respond to poison.
  6. Applying bug spray shortly after shaving your legs is a whole new kind of pain, and not the  good kind.
  7. There is a bird living in my Topsy Turvy. 
  8. It is possible to have a nice yard on a small budget, but it requires a slightly skewed moral compass.  Plants that grew through my fence are mine, right?
  9. Raking piles pine straw when you live in the woods is pretty much like washing your car in the rain.  But it still needs to be done, about the time when they resemble Nebraskan snow drifts.
  10. If you keep moving, you can pretty much ignore the fact that you really have to pee.

According to this calorie-burn calculator, raking leaves burns about 272 calories an hour, so I estimate that I burned about eleventy billion calories.  It doesn't list how many calories you burn cursing, but I feel comfortable adding on about 75 just for that.  

I'm happy that I was able to get a workout and get some work done around the house, and that's a good thing because there is a lot more of it to do!  Good thing Memorial Day Weekend is only once a year.

Good day!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Backpacking in your Own Backyard

A friend of mine has an adorable little baby girl, who is so precious and sweet and cuddly and adorable, and so effective at thwarting any hopes for a workout once she wakes up at the crack of dawn.  As you can imagine, her mom is getting pretty frustrated at not having a reliable time when she can get her butt outside and work up a sweat and shed that pregnancy weight.  I've been there, and today I remembered what I did when my son was a little over a year and I needed to increase the intensity of our daily hour-long walks:

I strapped the little booger to me and used him as resistance training.

No, not in a sling or a front carrier, in a Kelty Wanderer hiking backpack.  We had intially bought it for a Blue Ridge hiking trip, but also used it to haul our kiddo across New York City, Chicago, and anywhere else that was not stroller-friendly.  And besides, who wants to sit in a stroller and look at people's knees and butts all day?  Not me, and surely not someone at the mind-is-a-sponge stage of life.  At the rate kids learn at that age, I am motivated to give him something more interesting to look at than the bottom of some lady's purse.

But even when we weren't traveling, I shoved his little legs into that seat, lathered him up in sunscreen, and we took off on an adventure in our own neighborhood each morning.  The heavier he got, the better it was for me, because the added weight of a 30-lb baby+backpack was a great workout for not only my heart but my calves and glutes as well.  It wasn't exactly 900-calorie-an-hour cardio, but it was better than pushing a stroller and more satisfying for him as well.

Now my kiddo is too big to fit in his backpack, and wants to wear one of his own.  But if you're ready to kick it up and have a kid who would appreciate living the high life, give it a shot!

Good day!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Method-Acting for Triathletes

So my brother, sister, brother-in-law,  husband, and I are doing a good old-fashioned family triathlon in September, the swimming portion of which will take place in the Gulf of Mexico, assuming it has not turned into a sewer by then.  I am planning to do the Olympic distance, which means the swimming leg will be double what I did in April, on top of battling the waves of the gulf instead of a relatively-placid lake and the added excitment of irritable jellyfish swimming around me instead of bored, unimpressed alligators.  Wow, I can't wait!

The last time I trained by just swimming in a pool.  But this time I need to get myself acclimated to swimming in rougher waters.  I saw a book called Triathlon Swimming Made Easy: The Total Immersion Way for Anyone to Master Open-Water Swimming, which cracked me up because I couldn't imagine any method for learning open-water swimming that didn't require total immersion.  But luckily I don't think I will need to read it because a great guy I follow on Twitter called Iron Brandon posted a link to a very helpful video that cut to the chase pretty quick:

Having participated in a triathlon, I can attest to its accuracy.

Have a great weekend of training and of course, clean eating!  Be safe out there!

Good day!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Introducing Erika

I am so so so so so proud of my wonderful friend and client, Erika, and am up on the rooftops shouting about her wild success as a clean eater.  Everyone who asks me about eating clean, every person who tells me they want my help getting healthy, and every friend who knows in their gut what to do but just hasn't worked up the gumption to do Erika's story.  I've asked her to share it in her own words, which she has done beautifully (and I'm not just saying that because she says I am awesome, LOL).

Erika, over to you!

Take it from someone who’s been dieting in some form or another for more than 25 years: Heather Fuselier is the best lifestyle/wellness coach a woman (or man) could have, and if you’re willing to do the work, she will change your life. But first, she’ll shut down every excuse — and I mean every excuse — you have for not achieving your goals. That’s what she did for me. The result? At age 40, I’ve lost more than 73 pounds, and I’m 10.5 pounds away from my goal weight.

When I met Heather, I was carrying 224 pounds (an all-time high) on my 5’4” frame. I’d always been overweight, but I was now at a point where my joints and feet hurt constantly, and I was miserable. As a working mother then in my late 30s, I didn’t exactly have time, circumstances or even genetics on my side. I was ready to take responsibility my health and start changing my body, but I didn’t really know where to begin.

With her trademark combination of compassion and toughness, Heather helped me cut through the clutter of diet and fitness mythology (Just take the stairs!) and negative self-talk. First, she helped me clean up my eating and disabused me of the notion that nutritionally bankrupt food qualified as a “treat” or a “reward.”

Whenever I complained or felt deprived, Heather listened patiently, reassured me that the feeling would pass, and then asked me if I’d planned my workouts for the week. It’s not that she didn’t sympathize, because she knows from personal experience how hard it is to ignore the siren scent of waffle fries. But if I was seeking an enabler, I’d come to the wrong place.

When I moved on to complaining about the workouts, she reminded me that a) changing your body through regular, vigorous exercise is supposed to be challenging and that b) I would never regret completing a workout. I couldn’t run for a full minute 18 months ago. Thanks to Heather’s guidance and encouragement, I completed a 3K before my 40th birthday. Since then, I’ve completed a difficult-course 5K, and running has become my cardio of choice. I’m certainly not breaking any time or distance records, but as someone who always thought of running as something far beyond my capability, finishing a 30-minute run — and enjoying it — makes me feel like a gold medalist.

Losing weight hasn’t been the gimmicky, quick-and-easy process I always dreamed of. But even when I didn’t believe in myself, Heather did — and it made all the difference. I am thinner and in better shape than I was at 30. I no longer leave clothing stores in tears or avoid being photographed. Most of all, I like setting a good example for my kids, who now have two healthy, active parents.

When I began this journey in earnest, Heather promised me that the short-term discomfort of pushing myself would be worth it in the long run. She was right, and I can’t thank her enough.

— Erika D. Peterman

Heather's Note: Not only is Erika is a clean-eating wellness champ, she is also one of the hilarious and kicky women of Girls Gone Geek, a highly entertaining comic book blog, as well as the writer of I Don't Read My Blog Either, where she never fails to crack me up with her commentary on pop culture as she sees it. Check her out!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Crummy Ideas

You know when you get to the end of a box of cereal and all you have left are the crumbs?  What do you do with those crumbs?  Throw them out, right? Well, if you're me, you carefully sift them through a colandar and save them in a ziplock...because they are a great source of homemade breadcrumbs!

It all started back when my brother and I were trying to perfect my black bean and turkey burger recipe. They were way too mushy, and I knew I needed breadcrumbs but just could not bring myself to use commercial breadcrumbs made with inferior ingredients.  Then one day, as I was tossing out an empty box of flax flakes (to which I add pure raisins for my own version of raisin bran), I saw the crumbs. 

I sifted the larger cereal pieces and put the finer crumbs into a ziplock, stashing them in the pantry with a small flutter of excitement at my breakthrough.  The next time I made a batch of turkey black bean burgers, I stirred in a quarter cup of my crumbs.  Perfect!  I felt very smug and bragged to my brother about my discovery. 

He wasn't outwardly impressed.  He, a gourmet-foodie with far more culinary talent than I, thinks my cooking and eating ways are nutso.  But as a 6-foot tall twenty-something soccer player he also has the metabolism to justify that opinion.

Anyway, a couple days ago my darling little boy sweetly asked if it would be too much trouble for me to make him some oatmeal for breakfast.  Okay, it didn't go quite like that but regardless, I stirred in some of my magic flax breadcrumbs into his oatmeal, too.  He scarfed it down in minutes as I stood by, beaming. *cue the angels singing and bestowing me with "Miss Healthy Well-Balanced Meals" sash and tiara*

The next day, applesauce waffles....with a little crunch.

So the next time you start to toss out those crumbs, think again - they're a great way to add some healthy fiber to recipes that may (or may not) call for breadcrumbs.  Just don't tell my brother. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not Only Are You Poor, You're Also Fat

Okay we've all seen the People of Wal-Mart, and maybe sometimes we are the people of Wal-Mart. Hey, I change into robot-emblazoned men's pajama shorts when I get home from work. I won't judge you.

But this headline yesterday made me think there may be a little more than a social stigma attached to being a regular at discount grocery stores - the rising level of obesity among customers at economy grocery stores versus higher-end stores such as Whole Foods, Fresh Market, and the like. In fact, results from a small study cited in the article shows that the percentage of food shoppers who are obese is almost 10 times higher at low-cost grocery stores compared with upscale markets.

And since I shop at both, I guess that puts me at moderate risk for both obesity and fashion-related crimes.

This informal study, which was only conducted in the Seattle area, reaches the conclusion that poverty is a main contributor to the problem of obesity, since people who are stretching their grocery dollar are more likely to buy food with the most calories per penny, and these are likely to be processed foods like pizzas, pastries, white flour products, and other convenience foods.

But I'm a Wal-Mart shopper.  I loathe being there, but I go because I am a cheap bastard and I buy a lot of high-dollar food.  But each time I go, I completely skip the part between the eggs, milk, meats, and produce.  I manage to fill my buggy with fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, eggs, and clean ingredients for breadmaking every time.  The difference here is education - I suspect that the People of Wal-Mart who are trapped in the cycle of buying cheap, processed, unhealthy food are plagued by poverty, but also by lack of education regarding how to make healthier choices. 

It is possible to shop at Wal-Mart and buy healthy food. 

I do it all the time.

Here are some great tips for saving cash on healthy groceries no matter where you shop.

Good day! :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

What's In Your Cardio Wallet?

Never, ever, ever, ever pass up the opportunity to do extra cardio.  Trust me.  They don't come often, but when they do, pounce on them like a tabloid on Heidi Whateverhernameis (or vice verse).  You will never regret it, and will almost always regret not doing it.

I get up really insanely early to work out, and sometimes by Friday I am just pooped.  So when what alarm goes off at *ahem* 3:40 am, it is really easy for me to agree with that little voice in my head that promises I will just do extra cardio before Pilates at lunch and I can sleep another 30 minutes.  And I have good intentions.  But then someone wanders into my office, or I get sidetracked on a project, or I just plain don't make it in time, and I don't get the cardio in.  Then I am left with no cardio.  That sucks.

That's why I like to treat cardio like a bank account and make deposits whenever I can.  There is probably no scientific basis for this behavior whatsoever, but I figure calories burned are calories burned, right?  So if I have the opportunity to "bank" some calories for a rainy day, I take it.  Because inevitably, when I slack on cardio Wednesday because I figure I have a long bike ride ahead of me on Saturday, it will rain on Saturday.  But I will still have calories to burn, so I will be facing my elliptical.  And I really don't like doing my elliptical on a Saturday when I could be cycling. 

No offense to ellipticals, but they're more of a 4:00-am-watching-a-P90X-infomercial kinda thing.

So on a day like today, when I accidentally slept late and only got 45 minutes of cardio (and no weights, ACK!) I am glad that on Friday I had a random hour in the middle of my day with nothing to do and snatched that puppy up and banked it with some sprint intervals!  And today at lunch, I'll replace my little withdrawl with some elliptical time. Sure, I already worked out and don't *need* to do it again, but you never know what will happen tomorrow.  I might be waylayed by a surprise meeting, or my kid could be sick, or I could win the lottery and spend the day signing important papers and stuff.  I need to be prepared for anything.

Be reasonable - I mean, there is only so much physical activity one body can handle in a day and you should never exercise if you are truly exhausted - and make sure you are fueling those workouts appropriately.  But, be proactive.  Look for opportunities to "bank" some quality cardio for a rainy day (or in my case, when the alarm doesn't go off) and then when it does rain, you can curl up with a book and enjoy it! 

Good day!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Coffee: Breakfast of Champions

Somehow, over the years, I have become a coffee lover. I never used to drink it, but now I can't get enough. And, I soothe my healthy conscience with the knowledge that coffee offers some legitimate health benefits, only one of which is me being much nicer than usual.

It's what we put in our coffee that makes it so toxic and laden with calories and sugar. I stick with good old cafe au lait.  Coffee and milk - perfectly clean and healthy!

But sometimes, I have a hankering for an extra power boost, usually on a Sunday morning before a trail run.  So then, I mix up my own personal version of a Frappuccino: iced coffee, milk, a banana, 1 tbsp of natural peanut butter, 1 tbsp of dark cocoa powder, and ice blended together into a frothy concoction that is part milkshake, part energy drink, and all wholesome, clean, and healthy for you.  And it only packs  260 calories in total, so it's a great pre-workout snack.

Mix some up today!  And then go for a run - bananas are high-glycemic so you'll want to take advantage of that energy boost right away.  Read more about the glycemic index and how to choose the right foods for your activity level here.

Good day!

Friday, May 21, 2010

No time to workout? Shut yo mouth!

A friend of mine just told me that she can't workout because she has to clean her house before she goes out of town.

Uh huh.  You know who you are.  That's right.

I can totally relate - nothing zaps away all of that R&R from a long relaxing weekend like coming home to a house that looks like it was used as a set in the next kids-go-crazy-when-parents-are-gone movie, complete with the tiny family pet whose cage was left open and now resides inside your dryer vent.  I even go so far as to pre-set the table or lay out my work (and workout) clothes that I am going to wear the day after I return so I don't even have to think about those things.  Yeah, I'm that girl.

But, we all know that the only workout that is optional is the second workout of the day.  Right?  So, we have three choices here:

1. Clean the house really really fast so there is time for a workout.  Totally doable.  I've been known to get my house to Martha Stewart standards in less than 45 minutes when properly motivated.  Two words: scrubbing bubbles.  I spray that crap on everything that doesn't move.

2. Workout really really efficiently so there is time to clean.  Another good option.  There are many compound exercises, circuit routines, or interval training sessions that can burn major calories in as little as 30 minutes.  Not prime, but managable for those busy days.

3. Turn your housework into a workout.  Crank up some music, grab a dustpan, and get ready to clean where the sun don't shine. 

Well, my domestic little friend, this is your lucky day!  Choose any of the above and you are a winner.  And if you choose number three, here is a handy guide to help you clean out your house and your workout excuses.

And more!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Case of the Catered Lunch

Each month I go to a luncheon meeting of a professional association I belong to, and it's great.  Except the food, naturally.  You knew I was going to complain about that, right? :)  I'm sure you're familiar with the fare: a basket of bread, a tiny plate with tiny little pats of butter, a salad, a slice of cheesecake, and a dozen pieces of silverware.

Cue the chit-chat about how to remember which bread plate is yours!

I was starving, so I scarfed down that salad (no dressing thankyouverymuch) like a baseball team of teenage boys at a pizza joint.  I stopped just short of licking my plate.  But this is where my catered-lunch experience ceases to be like so many others were in that room (which would be boarding the afternoon-coma train with a stop at TransFatVille).  Instead of eating this:

Some kind of chicken wrapped around some cheese mixture, with a side of mashed potatoes
and a lonely little tomato drenched in oil. (No one ate the tomato.)

I ate this:

That's right.  TWO SALADS.  Get this - it's crazy - when the waiter comes along with the Heart Attack Special, I just say, "May I please have another dinner salad?"  He then looks at me with a look of confusion and asks, "you just want...another salad?  Like....a salad?"  Its as if everything he has ever known and believed to be true is crumbling before his eyes. And I smile and say,

"yes, that would make me the happiest person in the world." 

Sometimes I bat my eyelashes if I feel it is necessary to express just how very important this request is to me.

And then, he brings me another salad.  I eat it. We're done.

I attended a meeting where a catered lunch was served but I was able to avoid eating it.  And then when I got back to my office, I ate my real lunch.  Which was another salad, btw.

The next time you think you're stuck eating catered food, think again.  You can always pack a snack to eat on the sly or just ask for more of the rabbit food.  Hey, give 'em something to talk about back in the kitchen!

Good day!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 which of these words doesn't belong here?

Today my lovely and lively friend Tabitha (not pictured above) sent me a link to the Chocolate Milk Diet, an article about how drinking chocolate milk three times a day can help you lose weight and shed fat.  This gimmick is brought to us by the fabulous fellows at Eat This, Not That, which is actually a hugely helpful resource for great nutritional information.  I get their e-newsletter and its always got great info in it.

That's why I was so disappointed to see this!  They cite four reasons to drink chocolate milk every day:
1. Calcium (the same calcium found in oranges)
2. Vitamin D (like from, oh I don't know, THE SUN)
3. Endurance boost (you mean like the kind I get from actually exercising?)
4. Protein to build strong muscles! ( in lean turkey and fish, right?)

...but fail to mention that any and all of those benefits can be gained by not drinking sugarmilk all day, and that the added sugar and subsequent calories in the chocolate milk may very well cancel out all of its goodness.

Friends, come on. 
Chocolate milk is not going to help you lose fat. 

You can get the same fat-burning punch without the paunch.  Check out these low-calorie sources of Calcium, Vitamin D, Protein that allow you to actually chew. 

Good day!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hey, you gonna eat all that?

Every day, people comment on how just about every time they see me, I am eating.  I take up more than my share in the office fridge and sometimes even use the one downstairs when I start to feel guilty.  And at least a couple of times week someone peers into my lunchbox as they heat up their Ramen noodles and asks, "okay so what do you eat all day?"

Well, I'll tell you, one meal at a time. Today, my mid-morning snack: plain non-fat Greek-style yogurt, about 1 cup of frozen blueberries, and 1/4 cup of muesli.

Nothing like a delicious meal of yogurt, fruit, nuts, and spreadsheets! Yum!

I love this snack because it is tasty, filling, and chock-full of really great fuel.  The Greek yogurt (I buy either Chobani or Dannon Plain Greek) has the obvious bone-building benefits of calcium but also the digestive-enhancing benefits of probiotics for intestinal health.  In a recent study in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that obese adults who ate three servings of fat-free yogurt a day as part of a reduced-calorie diet lost 22% more weight and 61% more body fat than those who just cut calories.  I like it especially because it is nice and thick.  Sometimes I make my own, but by the time I get the consistency the way I like it, I've invested $6.00 and 15 hours of my life into three cups of yogurt.  I could be doing cardio!

The blueberries are great because, according to researchers at the USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, one-half cup gives you twice as many antioxidant nutrients as most Americans consume in an entire day, says lead researcher Ronald Prior, Ph.D in this AARP article. All with just 40 calories, no fat, some vitamin C, and nearly two grams of fiber.

And the muesli (I buy Bob's Red Mill) is the chew factor.  I am big on the chew factor.  If I don't get to CHEW, I don't count it as eating.  I love muesli because it is made with whole oats, nuts, fruit and sometimes seeds. Since it uses whole grain it has a good amount of fiber, and since it contains fruit and no added sugar, its also relatively low in sugar. Depending upon the amount and type of nuts and/or seeds, it can also be high in protein.  But watch the calories - only 1/4 cup of this good stuff packs 110!
It's delicious, good for you, and everyone who pops into my office when I am eating it (chew, chew, chew) wants some.
So make your own!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Get On Your Bike and Ride!

It's National Bike to Work Week!  I loooove to ride my bike.  I like just randomly riding around, exploring things, peeking into people's yards to see what kind of patio furniture they have, and most of all, I like not driving.  I'm a really bad driver and I really despise it. Driving is such a waste of time!  I'd rather be my own machine.

So I bike.  Today, I biked to the produce stand.  When I got there, it was closed.  Oh well.

Me at the produce stand that was closed. Bummer.

A few weeks ago I mentioned to my wonderful, cycling-enthusiast friend Jennifer that I wanted to start biking more for errands and whatnot.  She's a city planner who has spent much of her career developing bike-friendly communities, as well as a fellow preschooler mom to a precious little boy who I think had a bike helmet before he had a pacifier.  So, a few days later, some handbooks on urban cycling appeared in my son's cubby at school -- two cycling and walking-related coloring books (I assumed those are for my son), and one pamphlet titled, Riding Confidently, Legally, and Safely.  Apparently she had heard about my driving skills and had concern for my safety should I make good on my plans.

When I was a kid, I would ride my bike all over town and just look at things. I explored neighborhoods.  I looked at spooky houses. I remember the first time I figured out that riding against the wind was much more satisfying than riding with it as long as there was a hill immediately following.  And, if I am being completely honest, I rode around and picked up dead, flattened frogs and saved them in a paper bag in case I needed to exact revenge on someone. It's true. I'm disgusting. So if you went to Clearwood Junior High School and ever found a dead frog in your book bag, it was me getting you back for wronging me somehow. But let's be clear here - I didn't ever touch them with my hands. I picked them up with leaves. I mean, I do have my limits.


I'm not going to get to bike to work every day this week, but I am going to shoot for at least one.  Why don't you give it a try, as well? Here are some tips for urban cycling in case you do. But please leave the dead frogs on the ground.

I might need them.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Little Bit 'o Faith

Have you seen my Zen?  I lost it. I had it, like, two weeks ago.  I was floating through my days, happy as a clam, feeling strong and well-fueled and smug about how nicely my little life was going, and was gone.

Well, some of it remained.  Just enough to remind me that the rest wasn't there.  LOL  And then, I got an email from a friend who was going through the same thing.  She's been on a quest to get in shape for a while,but hasn't yet hit that spot where enough things are going well that she's motivated to keep it up.  You know what I mean: that mental zone where you actually look forward to plyometrics because you can see the physical results of doing them, and you feel so much better from fueling yourself with good food, and you're getting proper rest and everything is just great. 

Instead, she was in "why-haven't-I-lost-weight-I've-been-doing-this-for-three-days," mode.  We've all been there. Our instant-gratification lifestyle has programmed us to believe that weightloss can and should be as quick and easy as downing a protein shake.  So it's hard to be patient while we wait for our hard work to reveal itself in results, and it is hard to have faith that the zen will happen.  But it will.  It takes patience and faith, but if you are putting in the hard work, it will happen.

I promise.

Okay I'll be honest - I don't know if I will ever look forward to plyometrics. But I do know that whenever I am consistent with clean eating and regular, disciplined, challenging this euphoric natural-high state of happiness just finds me.  And it is sooooo worth the wait.

Have a little faith. It's happening right now.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Eating for Two? Not so fast.

Hell hath no fury like a pregnant woman who has just been denied chocolate.

Have you seen a one lately?  They're everywhere, and if you're smart you'll steer clear because their emotional state is usually somewhere between slightly annoyed and ready for battle. I've been pregnant, and I have to admit it I was pretty bad at acting happy about it.  Don't get me wrong - the end result is definitely worth it and I hope to do it again.  But as an ultra-competitve wellness overachiever, having restrictions placed on the who/what/when/where/why of my body had me spewing fire in about two seconds.

Plus, I gained 75 lbs.  Yes, s-e-v-e-n-t-y  f-i-v-e. Much to my dismay, my baby was not 75 pounds.  It was seven.

It didn't help that I didn't exercise for most of it, and during the time I spent not exercising I was eating mayonaisse, sour cream, ice cream, and anything that used to moo.  I'm still monitoring my son for mayo fetishes because seriously, I ate a lot of it.  I have the stretch marks to prove it.

Well, now I have bambinos on the brain again.  And, that weight gain.  I do not want to do that again.  I'm hoping that I will be able to maintain a running regime throughout any impending pregnancy (I am not pregnant now so just put down the phone, mom) and also steer clear of the dairy section of the grocery store. 

So I was interested to read this article about a study that is analyzing the results of obese women (between 50 and 100 lbs overweight) intentionally diet during their pregnancy with the intent of gaining far less than the conventionally  recommended 11-20 pounds (25-35 lbs for women who are not obese).  The theory is that these women already have the energy storage required to supply their babies with needed nutrients, so additional weight gain is not necessary.  Now, naturally there is some weight gain that is unavoidable, but you know what they mean.  They mean my 75 lbs.

The program is still accepting participants, so if you're interested, check it out.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It's the weekend! Well, close enough.

Woo hoo!  The weekend is (almost) here!  Finally a chance to relax the rules, sit back, take a break, and party!

But wait - before you down that margarita, take a look at this quick guide to - you guessed it - making sure that weekend calories don't wreck all of that hard work you've been doing all week.  I am specifically referencing those tough workouts and all of that healthy eating.  You did do those things, right?  Okay, good.  Just checking.  Anyway...

There are some really great ideas for making sure that Monday morning doesn't include a walk of shame into the gym.  How do I know they're so great?  Cause I do them myself, duh! :)  One of my personal faves - weighing yourself on Friday morning and then on Monday morning.  No, you didn't actually gain 3 lbs, but seeing a dramatically higher number on Monday could indicate that you're eating more sodium than you need to (especially if you're eating out) and retaining water.  My goal is to have the same weight on Monday as I did on Friday.  I get there about 85% of the time.

Okay, so off you go!  Have a lovely weekend!  I'll be here Monday. Waiting.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hey! Have you seen my nutrients?!?

I get concerned when I read or hear about people declaring that they need a cheat day or a day to eat "whatever they want."  I understand what they're saying, they want to indulge in something sinful to take a break from their usually regimented nutrition plan.  But they're missing the point - a cheat day only cheats them!  If there is some taste, texture, or other element so missing from your diet that you feel the need to go crazy and eat in reckless abandon, it's time to take a look at your nutritional intake and check for deficiencies.  Then, find healthier ways to satisfy that need without going crazy.

Crazy talk, I know! 

This handy little tool makes it easy to determine where you're getting your nutrients...and where you're not.  I use every day to track my nutrition, look for trends, and basically keep myself honest.  Over the years this site has developed some pretty nifty tools that, while not as robust as some others out there, I have come to rely on.  What I want you to pay close attention to is the tool that allows you to see where your calories are coming from, and look for areas where you may be lacking.

Then, before you head to the store for a bottle of vitamins, look up some actual clean food sources that can provide that nutrient.

And if you're still jonesing for chocolate, try this clean eating chocolate chip cookie recipe courtesy of my lovely friend at The Gracious Pantry.

Now go get some nutrients!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Crystal Light Pure Fitness: Like water, only more calories!

Saw a commercial for Crystal Light Pure Fitness yesterday while huffing through some bike intervals.

And it made me think - really? No artificial sweeteners? What's sweetening it, then? I headed to the grocery store and took a gander for myself. Ah. Sugar.

Here's the low-down: It's sweetened with evaporated cane juice, which is a fancy way to say sugar, and stevia, which is also sugar. It also contains electrolytes, which of course we all know is what plants crave.

Electrolytes are also important for maintaining a healthy balance of nutrients, which can be altered by heavy exercise. Marketers of processed foods would love for you to believe that this can only be done by drinking their product, but you can replenish electrolytes with natural foods. Electrolytes really refer to salt, so eating unprocesed foods high in potassium such as bananas, kiwi, oranges, peaches, potatoes, legumes, and tomatoes can provide the same benefit as a sport drink, or Crystal Light Pure Fitness, in a more natural way.

And, you get to chew, which is always a bonus for me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Pen to Paper! This week's workout.

Ack! My head is swimming with deadlines this week and I need to get a workout schedule on paper - so here's what's on tap for me this week. How bout you?

Today - 45 mins elliptical intervals (while studying ACE Personal Cert stuff - multitasking at 4am!), then 25 mins bike intervals, some bicep/chest/hamstring stuff, and then I had to leave, sadly. I HAVE to start getting to work on time, yall. And I had to stop and pick up some greek yogurt for my afternoon snack. So...that means some sprint intervals at lunch before - you guessed it - Pilates. And that is Monday.

The rest of the week:

Tuesday: Spartacus circuit, 5-mile run, upper body class with Pomeroy (bring it), and...*maybe* some elliptical intervals if I need to study. And I need to study.

Wednesday: More elliptical/study (six weeks to test day!), cycling the hills, back/triceps/quads, and...that whole getting-to-work-on-time thingy. Bah. At lunch - Pilates. Ahhhh.....

Thursday: rest day! And a lower body class, cause you know I can't really rest.

Friday: long day! Spartacus, elliptical intervals, bike intervals, shoulders/calves/hip flexors, the dreaded plyometrics, and at lunch - sprint intervals and Pilates. Maybe an outside bike ride that afternoon if the weather is nice.

And soon I need to start swimming! Hmmmm, I can smell the chlorine already.

So... whaddya doing this week to be well?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My 3.5 Pack Abs

Lately I've been doing a little fitness challenge each month, mostly just for myself but also anyone else who wants to play along.
  • In February I worked on incorporating more moderation in my diet and workouts (and immediately went back to my rigid structure as soon as I could because I was so miserable).

  • In March I challenged myself to beat my 85% success rate at earning stickers each day for good nutritional choices (smiley face sticker) and solid workouts (star sticker) for the month, and ended up with a 5% increase! Yay me! High five!
The purpose of the challenges is simple: find a creative and fresh way to keep personal wellness at the top of my mind and tackle a specific hurdle that I am dealing with. Since my attention span is pretty short, I keep the challenges short, and it is really rewarding to hear my friends talking about their own progress in the challenges, whatever spin they choose to put on it to suit their personal goals.

So last month I launched Operation Muffin Top, because when I pulled my summer clothes out of hiding...well...they didn't fit as well as they did last year. So I took a good look at my portion sizes, had a little come-to-Jesus meeting with myself, and tackled the problem head-on: a solid month of really cranking out the cardio and keeping those portions in check. After all, even healthy calories are calories!

After a couple of weeks my hard work began to show. And, to my complete shock and awe, so did my abs. Now let me get one thing straight - we all know people who won the genetic lottery and have slim, flat, muscular abs despite the fact that they regularly eat peanut butter straight out of the jar while frosting a cake, which they then eat. In this instance am referring specifically to my brother's former girlfriend. And then there are women who work their tails off by eating clean and sweating out their body weight every day to bring out their core muscles, and their discipline shows. I am neither. I have never, ever, ever, despite years of Pilates, hours of Abs of Steel, Richard Simmons-esque cardio marathons, and monk-like nutrition, had great abs. I just don't. It sucks and its not fair but it's true.

Or at least, it was true. One day last month, I saw something strange. It looked like...could it be? No! But there it was - the very first beginnings of my very first six-pack. More of a three-and-a-half pack. Hell, I'll take it!

I was stumped, and more than a little humbled. You see, while I had been cranking out the cardio and being religious about my nutrition and portions, I had also been doing something else: resting. On purpose, not doctor-mandated rest like I'm more accustomed to. I've been taking Thursdays off of exercise, going to bed earlier, and even sleeping later some mornings. Yeah, it's meant that I don't have as much time to watch TV or interact with other humans, but it's how I roll right now. And apparently, I'm rolling in the right direction.

So for May, I have a new challenge - do not make eye contact with any of the good work I did in April. Now that I've noticed this nice little development, I'm having to restrain myself from my usual modus operandi of poking at it with a stick until it bites me.

It's funny how life reveals these little lessons when you least expect them, but then "forgets" to include the instruction manual. I'm not quite sure what to do with this small victory over myself, and I don't want to screw it up.

Something tells me the best way to do that is to sleep on it.