Monday, August 30, 2010

Like Clockwork

It happens every time.

Girl dreads running.  Girl goes running.  Girl tolerates running. Girl goes running again, begins to enjoy it, begins to look forward to it, begins to look for more opportunities to do it, and finds herself talking about "getting in some miles," and sending jittery messages on Facebook and Twitter looking for someone - anyone - who might be running the next morning.

Anyone running Tuesday?  Yeah, you?  Hey, you mind if I come?  Just this once man, I just need to get some miles in before Thursday. 

Hey, anyone running Thursday?  Not far, just six or seven miles, man. Just a little something to get me to the weekend.

Once I got over that OMIGOD I AM GOING TO RUN SIX MILES thing, and now six miles is like, whatever, I want to see what else I can do.  Saturday I had a great brick workout - bike to the run start, run five miles of hills, and bike home - and it felt incredible.  It feels really really good to be endurance training in a challenging way. 

This weekend I registered for the half-marathon!  I am really looking forward to running in it, especially since my sister is also doing it so we are training together via text messaging.  We have about six weeks of training to go, and I feel completely confident that we can do it. 

I just regret that there isn't a triathlon to do before the end of the year!  

What's your by-December-31-or-else goal?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sticker Shock

Calorie shock
affects everyone.
I've known for a while that restaurant salads aren't all they're cracked up to be, but woah.  I got a reality check last night!

We found ourselves for dinner at Ted's Montana Grill after admitting to each other on our homeward commute that going home to bake chicken and steam brocolli sounded about as fun a root canal.  Yeah, food isn't fun, I know, but it wasn't the food we were dreading.  It was preparing the food!  We were pooped and wanted someone else to do the grilling and steaming for us.  Correction: we wanted Ted Turner and his cronies to do the grilling and steaming for us.

So we settled into a booth.  Wanting fuel, I logged into, a handy website that lists the nutritional content of a lot of different restaurants.  It did not let me down - this booger is detailed, yo and told me everything I wanted to know. 

Like how the grilled chicken ceasar salad is 1,090 calories.  Woah, buddy.  It pained me to see because I know plenty of folks who would order that because they think, "grilled," "chicken," and "salad," equal healthy.  The other salads, shown with dressing, rank right up there in the 700 - 1,200 calorie range.  For real. 


What???? I'm just giving America what it wants:
juicy hamburgers and classic movies!  Why the hate?

Yeah, I could have dissected the salad and ordered a bowl of vegetables, but I didn't.  I ordered the veggie burger on the wheat roll with a side of fresh tomatoes.  It was good, and only about 500 calories total.  And no, I don't actually think the veggie burger was real veggies. :)

When we got home my husband commented that he had gotten his annual Ted's burger and didn't want to know what the damage was.  Of course I volunteered to look it up for him but he declined.  Smart man.  But since he didn't order a salad, I am guessing he is pretty safe.

The lesson here is simple: don't assume salads are healthy for you, and take the intiative to make adjustments that will get it into your happy zone. Skipping the cheese or bacon toppings, going skimpy on the dressing, and sticking to fresh veggies and lean meats are the best idea.  But you knew that.

Have a great weekend, and if you eat out, be smart about it! 

Good day!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kids Meal No Equal Chicken Nuggets

Today my husband handed me a coupon for our local grocery store, saying, "you might get a kick out of this."

It's a coupon for $1 off of a kid's meal from the deli.  I was cynical.  I expected to see processed meat and cheese on enriched crackers, sugar-soaked fruit, and artifically-sweetened cookies. 

I was pleasantly surprised.

It's pretty much what I pack my kiddo for lunch almost every day.  The picture shows a sandwich, yogurt, carrot sticks, and juice. The yogurt is YoKids by Stoneyfield Farms, which is a trusted brand for quality, and while carrots aren't exactly the most powerful veggie to eat mid-day, I don't really expect a grade-schooler to munch on asparagus or eggplant. (Healthy Heather tip: pack berries instead for brain power!)  Only real drawback is that bottle of juice, which is waaaay more juice than anyone needs in a day.  But the concept made me happy.  The sandwich is on actual wheat bread, the lunchmeat is Boar's Head (still lunchmeat, but no fillers), and it sends the message that lunch is just that: lunch.  Fuel to get through your day.  Thank you Publix for not being part of the "food is fun" movement.

So will I use the coupon?  I might.  I enjoy preparing healthy meals and have the time to do it, so a pre-made lunch is not really a necessity for me.  But, I think it would be a great alternative or picnic-type thing, and it is nice to know it's available.

Thanks Publix for giving parents a break!  Download coupons and check out other clean eating help in Publix's Greenwise section. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Clutter-Free Workout

Like most people, one of the big reasons I like to exercise is to clear my head.  People talk at me all day long and to be honest, I love you guys but sometimes it just plum wears me out.  So I center myself through exercise. 

And I throw stuff out.

Way back in the day, my husband proposed marriage by saying he wanted to have "a garage full of junk" with me.  Well, mission accomplished.  Over the 13 years of our marriage we have done our patriotic duty of accumulating lots of STUFF.   We have a small house.  I like my small house.  All of the stuff?  Not so much. 

So for the past couple of years, I have done periodic PMS-fueled closet purges, bringing carloads of stuff to Goodwill or leaving it out for neighborhood dumpster divers.  It feels amazing.  The less stuff I have, the happier I am.  

This is me after decluttering.
Except I wouldn't have the
scarf-thing because I would
have decluttered it.
And, as it turns out, my workouts are better as a result.

I've started noticing a pattern: whenever I declutter, the next week's workouts are absolutely exhilerating.  I'm sure there are other bigger-picture things going on at the same time that contribute to it but I have decided that this is the reason and it's my blog so get over it.  My runs are better, I am more flexible, I lift heavier, and I am faster.

I am happier.  Instead of focusing on stuff, I am focusing on life.

The clutter-free life is leading to clutter-free workouts.  Clutter-free workouts lead to a happier me.  I am totally in favor of that.

But don't worry, the hubs still has his garage full of junk.  It's called the Man Cave.  The Man Cave makes a happier husband. A happier husband means I can train more.  Me training more makes me happy.  Everyone wins. :)

Want to declutter your life to declutter your workouts?  Check out these tips. 

Just don't print it out. :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Oh Captain, My Captain

It's a bittersweet week at the gym.  It's Captain Awesome's last week.  Well, it's his last week training the morning crew.  A couple of weeks ago he announced that at the end of the month he would be changing his schedule and working at night.  Something about grad school, an MBA, blah blah blah, I don't know, I wasn't really listening.  I was too busy trying to pick up the pieces of my broken life.

Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration.  I think I took it pretty well, actually.  The last time he said he was leaving I almost cried.  And then he didn't leave.  But this time he really is.  We met our new trainer, Justin.  He seems cool and I am sure he will be great.  If he's not, I'll make him be great. 

So now we are in our week of lasts.  Today was our last Plyometric Monday.  I jumped over the box.  I JUMPED OVER THE BOX.  For real.  Four risers.  Jumped over it.  I was so estatic that I stood up on my box, saluted Awesome, and said in my best theatre-student voice, "Oh Captain, my Captain."  Unfortunately, Captain Awesome is just a wee whippersnapper who was probably in daycare when that movie came out.

Here's the clip in case you fall into that category.  I highly recommend you watching the whole thing because:

Robert Sean Leonard is soooooo cute. 

I should add him to my Facebook album of Cute Boys Who Look Like My Husband.  Ethan Hawke is cute, too, but not so much in the tall, dark, and handsome way.  Robin Williams is annoying.  Robert Sean Leonard is not in this scene because, well, if you haven't seen it I don't want to ruin it for you.  Anyway, watch it and you'll understand.

So, this week is a tribute to Captain Awesome, who is by far the best trainer I have had to date, and which will likely inflate his already secure ego and make the rest of the week miserable for everyone.  I will really miss working out with him, so much that I kind of hope he flunks out of graduate school so he will come back and teach me how to do cool stuff.

Have you hugged your trainer today? 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Five is the new six

Okay, so I didn't run six miles today, but I did run five, thanks to my friends Emma, Vicky, and Co. 

A 5:30 am start and a nice drippy humid jaunt around the neighborhood was just what I needed to reconnect with the reality that yes, my legs can actually move continuously for more than three miles.  And it was easy!

And now I am really looking forward to my Saturday morning group run because it kicked my butt last week and now I'm all, "shut up humid hills, I am soooo over you."  And the hills are all, "whatever, you said that last week and walked half of it," and I'm all, "well that was then and this is now so shove it," and they're all, "yeah, well, your shorts look dumb with that shirt," and I'm all, "talk to the hand 'cause the face ain't listening!" 

Anyway, group running is a new thing for me.  I've always eschewed group fitness because, well, as hard as this may be for anyone who knows me to believe, I am actually pretty anti-social.  Stop laughing.  It's true! I guard my workout time like a dollar I found in the dryer - it's mine, allll mine! People who tried to talk to me in the gym got short, curt answers that said, "I'm busy, please move on."  I don't work as hard when I am chatting, and I try to follow the same consideration for others when they are working out. 

People who workout with me in the mornings will tell you I fail miserably at this

Anyway, group running is a whole different story.  Listening to the chatter of others, engaging in conversation with a fellow runner, or just having the accountability of being with other people makes running infinitely more enjoyable.  In fact, studies (translation: articles I read on the internet) show that running in a group increases motivation, provides a more supportive environment, challenges us to beat a personal best, and can even enhance your career.  And naturally, running in a group is a lot safer, too, especially when a group of women run together long enough that their periods start to sync up and they can combine that primal aggression. 

Seriously, a whole pack of women high on hormones?  I'm scared of that
and I'm one of them.

Anyway, my five miles this morning were a cinch because I made myself more accountable and surrounded myself with distractions from what would normally have been a boring run.  I really can't wait to do it again.  If you're interested in finding a running club in your area, check out this resource that can help you do it. 

Good day!  And good run!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Ask Me About the Day I Overslept

Short story short: I didn't run 6 miles today.

I totally planned to.  I laid out my clothes, gave myself a pep talk, and then proceeded to sleep through the whole dang thing.  When my alarm rang at 6:30 I realized I had set it wrong and developed a new-found appreciation for the power of my subconcious.

So now I have to run six miles tomorrow, which will be a huge pain because I'll have to get up monster early, but whatever. It's gotta happen eventually and there is no time like tomorrow!

I'm actually really bummed.  I know I needed the sleep but I was looking forward to battling it out with the pavement.  But the bright side is that I have the rest of the day to anticipate my run tomorrow!

And figure out when I am going to fit in today's cardio.....hmmm....hello lunchtime elliptical!

Well, at least there is a bright side.  And, its a reminder that wellness isn't a one-shot deal.  Just as wellness is something that needs constant awareness, it is also a self-renewing goal.  Every day is another chance to be awesome at it, and that means you never lose. 

I missed the mark today but I racked up some needed sleep and feel better as a result.  No worries; tomorrow you can ask me about the six miles I ran. :)

Good day!

Monday, August 16, 2010

I am going to run 6 miles

I am writing this here so I will actually do it:

I am going to run 6 miles tomorrow. 

See, I'm training for a half-marathon in October, but have yet to consistenly run more than 4 or 5 miles at a stretch.  On Saturday I went out with this new running group that does 5 miles (plus more for people who want to add on) and it kicked my butt.  After a summer of doing intervals instead of distance, I am way out of running shape.  Since it is so miserably hot here in the summer, even at 5:30 in the morning, I usually take a break from distance running until the fall. 

So like the kids who will be getting those cruel back to school wake-up calls next week, my body is trying fruitlessly to find the snooze button once the running portion of the workout extends past 45 seconds.

My body: Make it stop!  I'm not ready yet!

Me: You'll thank me later, freshman.

So, purely for accountability, I am making a public declaration that tomorrow I will run six miles.  Please ask me about it later in the day if you see me.  Maybe I should make a little pin to wear that says, "ask me about the six miles I ran today."  :)

Six miles is nothing to some people, I know that.  But to me, it's an accomplishment.  A short attention span and fear of boredom have prevented me from breaking out of the standard 30-minute 3-mile run for years.  And I guess that's why I signed up for the half marathon - its a mental challenge as well as physical!

Okay, so there you have it.  I'm issued myself a dare. The next time you hear from me will be for the continuation of this post!  I know you are just sitting on the edge of your seats!  LOL 

Well try to contain yourself.  In the meantime, check out what Runner's World has to say about transitioning from 5k to 10k. 

Hey, it beats actually running one. :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Four Surprising Reasons Why You're Not Fat

Everyone wants to know why we're fat.  Why are we so fat???  More people are (claiming to be) exercising than years prior, more food manufacturers are coming clean about food quality, and education abounds on how to decifer food labels and know what we're eating. 

But we're still fat.  So we click on links to articles like the one I read today: 4 Surprising Reasons Women Can't Lose Weight.  We want to know, because we're stumped.

So we read the article and discover that again, it's not our fault.  It's our body's fault!  It went and got a lazy thyroid!  Its in menopause.  It's allergic to something.  It's our medication.

And it might be.  I don't know you.  You might have all of that stuff.

But I am willing to bet that most of us don't.  Most of us are just not putting in the real effort that it takes to maintain or lose weight: clean, healthy eating and regular, vigorous exercise.

I had my thyroid tested.  I checked my hormones, did selective food exclusions, got on and off meds...all because I was convinced that there must be something other than my own actions and decisions standing between me and wellness.

There wasn't.  It was my own actions and decisions.  When I stopped looking for excuses and started acting on reality - the reality that most people have perfectly functioning metabolisms and just need to read the instruction manual - my "medical" problems disappeared.

Give reality a try today!  Make better choices!  Take better action!

You might be surprised.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Tri-Fit Friday: Meet Nicole!

It's Tri-Fit Friday!  That means I am focusing on another athlete from the Ultimate Fitness Challenge that inspires me in some way.  This week it is Nicole Rae Spitzack - athlete, fitness model, personal trainer, mom, and all-around nice person. 

Nicole Rae Spitzak.
FYI: This is not part of the Tri-Fitness Obstacle Course.
Nicole trains her clients in her kick-ass garage, sets up obstacles in her yard, and has what looks in pictures like a really dedicated and tight-knit training group.  I admire that, and I try to channel that can-do spirit in my own workouts.  I asked Nicole what drew her to this unique sport.

WWOP: How did you first learn about tri-Fitness?
Nicole: I saw it in Oxygen magazine and was immediately drawn to it. At the time I was a stay at home mom and military wife looking for something to dive into.  I came in contact with a girl in my area that had competed in the competition once before and she was very helpful. The more I researched the organization and started talking with other former competitors the more I realized this was what I wanted to do.

WWOP: Did you have a sports background?  Have you always been athletic?
Nicole: I played basketball in middle school and managed a soccer team in high school. I was very awkward as a student and def more of a book worm than an athlete.  I regret that I didnt get involved more in gymnastics ...that would really come in handy now! lol... I have ZERO athletic background. No gymnastics, dance, track, sports, cheerleading, etc. 

WWOP: So how did you end up in fitness modeling?
Nicole: I started fitness modeling three years ago with Con-Cret Creatine and that really opened a lot of doors for me. Then I started working expos and fitness conventions and meeting different people, networking, and making connections. I landed a gig with Power Systems Fitness Equipment two years ago and that has been really great!

WWOP: Describe a typical training day for you.
Nicole: I wake up every morning at 6 am ...whether I want to or not. I have an internal alarm clock that keeps me running. I get my workout done by 7 am and have breakfast by 7:15. I have my own gym and start training clients around 8 am thru 5 pm on most days. I workout with my husband when he gets home around 6 pm and have dinner by 7pm. Fitness hasn't always been such a huge part of my life, but I am so blessed to be able to say that I turly love what I do and there is never a bad day at work. My daughter is home with me and encouraging clients everyday in the gym! Its so awesome to see her interest in health and nutrition already at the age of 4. I workout 5 days a week with one day of outdoor activity (mow lawn, yard work, etc.) and have one day of rest.

WWOP: Okay, we all know tri-fit is awesome but what is your favorite thing?
Nicole: Definitely has to be the tri-fit "family." Al Rosen is amazing. He is so passionate about Tri Fit...I have never met anyone like him before. His fiance Bernadette couldn't be any sweeter and more genuine. Everyone is all about helping everyone! No matter who you are, where you are from, or what your capabilities are every person involved in Tri Fit is right there pushing you beyond your limits. Al has trained thousands of people on that course, but ask him what your first time was and he will be able to tell you. He sees everyones strengths and weaknesses and does everything he can to help you overcome any obstacle.

WWOP: What message would you send to someone reading this wondering if she should give tri-fit a shot?
Nicole: If I can do this can do this! Never sell yourself short, never doubt your abilities or capibilities, keep pushing forward, and don't be afraid to try new things and make new friends! Right now you may be looking to be inspired .... but one day you could be the inspiration that someone else is leaning on.

Thanks Nicole!  I have to say, she is 100% right about all of that - tri-fit is one of the most supportive and encouraging fitness environments I have ever been in, and as a non-athlete, that is saying a lot.  I am motivated each and every day by seeing her workouts and experiencing the enthusiasm she has for fitness.  Thanks for being such an inspiration.  By the way, you can join her Facebook fan page and get all of that motivational goodness, too!

It just so happens that a tri-fit training camp is coming up in a few weeks in Tampa.  Check it out here (the link is to the right of the page) and consider challenging yourself by attending.  You will not regret it.

Have a great, active weekend!

Good day! :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Back to School Brain Food

It's back to school time!  Pretty soon my Facebook page will be filled with picture of my friends' kids, smiling on the front porch, backpack and lunch sack in hand.  At least, I hope they'll have a lunch sack!  Before you send your kids off to school to feed their little genius brains, stock them up with some food that will actually help them learn.

You know I love the concept of functional food.  When I was in school I would actually research what kinds of food would be best to eat before a test, following a hunch that there had to be a connection between the energy my brain had to work off of and the ability of it to function at high capacity.  It was also a good compensation for not studying.  I was a terrible student and needed all the test-taking help I could get!  My cringe-worthy PSA-style video on the same subject is probably now at the bottom of a dusty pile of VHS archives in my high school.  I still remember the manager of the local grocery store kicking me and a friend out for attempting to videotape her holding a piece of fish.  Fish is brain food, btw.

So I really enjoy putting together my son's lunch for school and include foods that are high in antioxidants like berries and spinach.  Yes, he eats the spinach. I also include mac and cheese or homemade pizza.  It makes me feel good that I'm doing something to create an environment condusive for learning, and since my child is a genius it is obviously working. HA! :)

But while I always knew that antioxidant-rich foods like dark-colored greens and fruits were healthy, I didn't really understand why that was.  This video really sums it up and drives home why a lunchable and pudding cup are more sabotage than treat for your little Einstein.

Good day!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fingers Crossed for Fall

Not me, just so we're clear.
I don't want to jinx anything, but this morning when I opened my door to head out for my boxing workout, it didn't feel like a sauna. 

That was weird.  Really weird.

It felt...nice.  Almost cool.  Okay, cool for a southerner.

And then when I dropped my son off at school, it was breezy.  I wasn't sweating.  It is August, right?

I am hoping against hope that fall is on the way.  Running inside on a treadmill is messing with my head, man, and I can't wait for some lower temperatures to coax me out onto the pavement.  That back-to-school feeling is in the air and I for one am ready to start seeing some jack-o-lanterns on my morning run.

And, I am hoping for nice, non-humid, weather for my friend Edie, who is competing in her first triathlon this weekend!  GO GIRL!  You are going to be great!

Fingers crossed for fall!  I'm guessing this is just a tease on Mother Nature's part, but I'll take it.

What's your favorite outdoor workout for cooler weather?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Red Beans and Brown Rice

I'm from Louisiana, so comfort food for me isn't necessarily mac and cheese or mashed potatoes; it's more along the lines of jambalaya, gumbo, and red beans and rice.  Over the years I have crafted my own clean-eating versions of these by abstaining from using broth, substituing brown rice for white, and relying on fresh, organic vegetables when possible. 

But since these dishes contain sausage, which falls right smack in the middle of my "you are or at least look like what you eat" category of foodstuff, I thought making them would forever include a nutritional compromise.

Well those days are over!  Thanks to the people at Al Fresco, who make this all-natural, 100% clean chicken sausage, my hometown favorites get a new life.  Granted, cajun purists will chastize me for not using andouille sausage, and I have to admit nothing beats the original.  But if you're jonesing for home but committed to eating clean, this is a great alternative!

I cooked up a mess of red beans and brown rice over the weekend to test my theory and it was pretty darn good if I say so myself.  And I say so.  What makes this Healthy Heather Approved is the reduction of oil, substitution of sausage, avoidance of canned beans, and the use of brown rice instead of white.  Brown rice has a slightly different texture, but I like the flavor better and it is better for you.

Even the quick-cooking versions - check it out!

Okay, here's the recipe.  It's gooooood! And good for you!  Note - this is not a low-calorie meal.  It is a healthy version of something not designed to be eaten in volume! :)

This expensive-but-worth-it
sausage is the secret ingredient!
Healthy Heather's Red Beans and Brown Rice
1 pound dry red beans, rinsed and soaked overnight
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz. Al Fresco chicken sausage (I used Italian), sliced
1 tbsp minced garlic
6 cups water
Thyme, pepper, sage, cayanne, whatever you like however you like it
2 cups brown rice, dry

Cook onion, celery, and pepper in olive oil until your house smells reaaaaally good, and then add to a large pot with the rinsed, soaked beans and six cups of water.  Bring to a boil and add the sausage.  Add seasonings, reduce to a low simmer and let it go, covered, all day.  Serve over cooked brown rice. This is seriously good.

Approximate nutritional content for 1 cup beans and 1/2 cup rice:
394 calories
6.4 g fat
62 g carbs
4.7 g protein

Bon appetit!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Housework Workout: Myth or Reality?

How am I going to find time for my treadmill
intervals with all these dishes to do?
A few months ago I wrote about a friend who claimed housework as an excuse for why she could not exercise during the day, and hypothesized on how many calories she could potentially burn while cleaning her house.  I was skeptical about whether housecleaning would really burn enough calories on a regular basis to get someone off the hook for a workout.

I mean, I guess it really depends on how bad you let your house get before you really clean.  If you're the kind of person who cleans every day, this burn is probably minimal because the deep clean doesn't require as much work.  But if you put it off until 45 minutes before dinner guests show up, well, we may have something there.

When I was a stay at home mom, my house was spotless.  I swept, mopped, dusted, and tidied every day and wow, it was nice.  Then I went back to work, and when my sister came to visit me she very delicately suggested that I get a maid.  Yeah.  True story. It was so awesome.  And if I had a proper broom I would have smacked her upside the head with it.  But I don't; I use an electric broom. My old-school broom fell behind the fridge and has half its handle cut off and a face painted on it, which is a whole other story that I won't get into now.

ANYWAY.  So now I get to do my deep cleaning about once a week, and apparently I suck at it.  Maybe its because the deep clean is happening while simultaneously making rocket blast-off sounds, impersonating Darth Vader, building forts, and troubleshooting the rescue of lego men from the clutches of a garbage truck gone haywire. Did you know that Chewbacca's favorite thing to do on the Millennium Falcon is sweep under the beds?  You do now!

So ANYWAY, last weekend while Princess Leia (why do I never get to be Han Solo?) was fighting the Stormtroopers that were hiding in the cobwebs in the skylights, I thought to myself, "I have been in constant motion since I woke up.  I'm bound to be burning some fuel with all of this cleaning and playing. I wonder if this could count as cardio!"

That's actually what I thought, like, word for word.  Then I said, "I got 'em all, Luke!  Mission accomplished!  Back to the X-wing!"  I don't know if that's something Princess Leia would say or not but it sounded good.

SO ANYWAY, I decided to use my GoWearFit to see just how effective a house-cleaning workout could be.  This particular workout was done in the span of two hours, during which I hauled/sorted/loaded laundry, emptied and reloaded the dishwasher, swept/mopped/vacuumed floors, washed windows, dusted ceiling fans and furniture, scrubbed kitchen appliances, emptied trash cans, changed the litter box, changed bed sheets, and put away clothes.  I was in constant motion, I even worked up a sweat! 

And at the end of that hour I had burned 425 calories.  Not....exactly....awesome.

I mean, its better than sitting on my butt watching HGTV, but I wouldn't call that a workout.  I had burned 325 calories in an hour that morning at the gym and had not been working that hard.  To burn just 425 in two hours of housework, considering the volume of stuff I had done and how realistic it is to think the average person is doing that three to four times a week, well, sorry friends.  In my book, unless you are a professional housekeeper for a rock band, cleaning is not a reliable source of cardio.

So, in my opinion, we should just forget about cleaning and workout more.

That's what Princess Leia would do.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

From the Archives: The Cheat Day

Today, something from the archives. Way back in December I wrote this about surviving the holidays...but it works just as well as regular old weekend advice.  Enjoy!

Last night I was reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to my son (and thanking the Lord in heaven that I was not reading Wheels for the millionth time) and found myself wondering once again whether author Eric Carle wrote the book after coming off of another crazy diet. If you're not familiar with the book, it follows the story of a very hungry caterpillar who spends his week trying to satiate his hunger by eating through pieces of fruit only to find himself on Saturday doing what most people who have lived on fruit for a week do: pigging out.

After a week of eating one apple on Monday, two pears on Tuesday, three blueberries on Wednesday, four strawberries on Thursday, and five oranges on Friday, he then arrives at Saturday and eats, "one piece of chocolate cake, one ice-cream cone, one pickle, one slice of Swiss cheese, one slice of salami, one lollipop, one piece of cherry pie, one sausage, one cupcake, and one slice of watermelon." As you can imagine, "that night he had a stomachache!"

And I think, "been there, done that!"

The caterpillar's diet sounds like one or two ill-fated schemes about to inundate the post-holiday airwaves with promises that America's overweight can eat whatever they want and still lose weight. And I guess that is true in a way, if everything you want to eat is clean, natural, healthy food in reasonable portions eaten in several small meals throughout the day. But I'm guessing it's more along the lines of cheeseburgers and pizza, according to the commercials.

I used to spend my Saturdays like our stuffed and woozy little caterpillar, because I thought that after a week of "being good" and eating well, I deserved a cheat day. I read in fitness magazines about diets that encourage people to have one day when they can eat whatever they want without guilt. I hear about celebrity trainers who give their clients a cheat day to go off of their diet. I even read message boards filled with advice from one fitness guru to another about carb-cyclingre-feeds, and splurge meals all designed to trick your body into revving up its metabolism and get out of a plateau. And it might work, I don't know, I'm not a dietician. All I know is that when I spent six days taking care of myself by eating well and one day abusing and sabotaging myself by having a "treat," I spent a lot of time being frustrated at how bad I felt and how little progress I was making in my quest to become a fitter person. It took me a long time to realize that a cheat day only cheats me.

Your cheat day only cheats you.

I can't say it enough! As you go through the holidays and attend parties, bake goodies, receive tempting calorie-laden gifts, and browse the grocery shelves, please remember that we live in a country where food - healthy or not - is abundant. Food is not a limited-time offer. People are. This holiday, focus on the people, not the food. You can bake yourself whatever Christmas cookies you want any ole time of year. If you really feel like you deserve a treat after being so "good" on your nutrition all week, go get a pedicure after a day of shopping for gifts! But don't let yourself be lured into thinking that you are treating yourself by eating something you know will sabotage all of that hard work.

Oh, and that caterpillar? On Sunday he ate through one nice, green leaf. And after that he felt much better.

You know, just sayin'. :)

Friday, August 6, 2010

I Cannot Tell a Lie. About Food.

Okay, I will never claim to be the perfect mom.  I have a DVD player for the car; I routinely bribe my child to do basic functions like get dressed, go to the bathroom, or eat breakfast; and I let him wear black rubber fishing boots to school every day because it is just easier for everyone that way.  So let the finger-wagging begin.

But one thing I cannot do is lie to him about science, even when it would be way more convenient for me.  I've tried, and I can't.  I can't tell him that the sun is "coming up," when technically the sun does not move.  It always bugs me when people tell their kids that they used to be "in their stomach."  If your child was in your stomach, you have a problem.  Yes, its semantics and yes I am being too literal but seriously.  I can't do it.

So it stands to reason that I also can't tell my kid that eating unhealthy food is a good thing, and this is where I find myself stuck between being honest with him about the function of food and creating an eating-disordered food-obsessed robot of a child who over-analyzes everything he puts in his mouth. 

You know, someone like me.

I think I do an okay job of demonstrating how to use food for function, and I think I do an okay job of straying from that path once in a while for something that we acknowledge is not good for us but we eat anyway.  I lose a little bit of my soul when we do that, but we do it.  I'm learning, too.

So anyway, I take the role of a parent in teaching their child about nutrition really seriously, so when I see stuff like this, I get really ticked off.

This was an ad in a magazine that I ripped out and stole from a waiting room.  Don't worry, there wasn't anything important on the other side so I didn't ruin any quality reading experiences for anyone who came in after me. 

The ad shows a mom and her daughter doing yoga together (because that happens all the time, I'm so sure), and how the mom is so happy that her daughter wants to follow in her healthy footsteps, all the way to McDonald's where she can continue her healthy lesson over a lunch of chicken nuggets and apples.  Because, as we all know, ordering fruit at a fast-food place is the new way- virtuous thing to do.

But here's the thing, mom - chicken nuggets at McDonald's are not healthy for your kids.  It's just the truth, no matter how much the marketing people at McDonald's wants you to believe otherwise.  Is your kid going to die from eating chicken nuggets once in a while?  No.  But don't tell them they're good for them.  It's not true.

I'm not the perfect mom, and I can't say my kid has never eaten fast food.  But he hasn't eaten it under any pretenses that what he is eating is good for him.  I just can't lie about science.

I can lie about other things, however.  He totally thinks the frozen yogurt we get after swimming lessons is ice cream, and as far as he knows Santa Claus is keeping track of his every move. 

But then again Santa Claus is totally real.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Click: Have you heard it?

People get healthy on their own schedule, when they're ready.  It's common to hear someone describe hearing "the click," and knowing that from that point forward, things were different.  Others make attempts to change their life and fail over and over, because it hasn't "clicked".  They want to, but they're not ready. 

I've heard the click.  I tape recorded it just in case I forgot what it sounded like.

Well, this guy heard the click, but instead of it being a metaphorical click in his brain, it was the click of the seat on a ride at the new Harry Potter park at Universal Studios.  Or, rather, the absence of the click.  He was dismissed from the ride because he was too overweight for the little handlebar thingy that goes over your head to tighten to the three clicks required by the park's insurance company.  So, he had to leave.

This can't be good for me.
Now, most Americans would throw a big three-year-old hissy fit over this and get all mad about how they have a right to be fat.  Not this guy.  He knew he was fat. He knew he needed to get healthy.  And who really cares if is motivation to finally do it is so he can ride a roller coaster at the Harry Potter park?  Harry Potter is awesome.  I am totally going to figure out the number of calories in a butter beer so I can run them off at the hotel gym before I visit. 

Anyway, I'm just tickled that this guy is having such a positive reaction to what could have been a really crappy experience.  Naturally, he's started a blog, which you can read here, and I really hope he makes it to his goal and beyond.

Losing weight isn't magic (but I am pretty sure that the magic metaphor will get plenty of play in his blog), but sometimes hearing that click is.  I'm glad he heard it, and I hope that soon, he hears three.

I will buy him a butter beer.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Highly Successful Snackers

I was recently reminded of this article about the Seven Habits of Highly Successful Snackers when I was asked what food to pack for a day of walking around in the city. As usual, my clean eating criteria was put into effect:

1. It must be clean and natural.
2. It must be portable.
3. It must be functional.

I'll be honest: I like to chew. I'm like a cow. I've talked about the CHEW FACTOR before - my theory that any "diet" that doesn't allow you to chew frequently is destined for failure, based solely on my own personal experiences of being very close to commiting a violent crime because it had been four hours since my last meal and I was getting ornery. Don't stand between me and my snacks. I will cut you.

My own lunchbag this morning, complete with all
of my fuel for the day. Well, until 5:00 anyway. :)

Anyway, it just so happens that my penchant for chewing is just fine because frequent fueling is important for metabolic processes, blood sugar regulation, and just general well-being.  But it's easy for me to pack on the pounds if I am not smart about what I am munching on.  Luckily by following some common-sense rules of science, I can easily chew my way through the day without needing to wear stretchy pants at the end of it.

Check out these simple tips and remember to apply my rules to them when you pack your bag: Is it natural? Is it portable? Is it functional? 

Good day!