Working on my Fitness

Whoops! Ya get a little bit busy and suddenly it’s seven eight weeks since your last blog. But that is not to say I haven’t been keeping with my mission! Things have been going great!

As I declared when I hit the one year mark, I needed to amp up my efforts for year two. So ever since then, I have been going hardcore on the fitness side of improving my health (and weight). A long time ago, I wrote about how I didn’t think my body was ready for intense exercise but that I thought walking would be a nice way to build up to something more intensive. I don’t know if it was the walking or general weight loss or just an increase in motivation but for the last two and a half months my efforts have increased tremendously.

What has really changed is that I’ve gotten really into strength training. I tagged along with a friend who had a surplus of personal training sessions, and I found that unlike my first experience with it, the trainer was extremely helpful. It was a much more focused and effective workout than I might’ve put myself through, and it gave me ideas for what I should be doing for my own workouts. Then I happened to win two private training sessions. I liked the private sessions so much I ended up buying a training package. (To be honest I kind of think the raffle was rigged because they knew this would happen…)

It’s been about a month now since I’ve been in training and I’ve been able to get into a pretty good routine. Three days a week I do strength training and two days a week I do cardio, although I do some cardio every time I workout. For the strength training part, I separate each workout into an “isolated/split routine.” The schedule looks a little like this:

  • Sunday: 5 min. warm-up (exercise bike), 35 min. Back & Biceps, 25 min. elliptical
  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: 5 min. warm-up, 30 min. Legs (w/ trainer), 30 min. Cross Trainer machine
  • Wednesday: 10 min. abs, 60 min. elliptical
  • Thursday: Off
  • Friday: 5. min. warm-up, 35 min. Chest, Triceps & Shoulders, 10 min. stair machine, 10 min. walk on treadmill
  • Saturday: 75 min. moderate cardio (hiking, a bike ride, etc.)

That’s an example. The days vary based on what’s going on with work and other stuff, but the distribution generally stays more or less the same. It’s been two and a half months since I started exercising like this, and one month since I started working with the trainer and focusing my routine, and I can already see results. I was really pleased when my fitness-loving brother saw me for the first time in several weeks and said he could tell I’d been working out.

This stage where I am constantly improving my fitness levels but still not actually in good shape is a really weird time. I feel simultaneously really amazing and terrible. I’m tired almost all the time, and at least one body part is usually sore. Last week I actually took two days off in a row and did the moderate long cardio on the third day because my legs just felt so heavy I didn’t even want to walk up the stairs. On the other hand, I can feel my body getting stronger all the time. It’s hard to explain but even though my body is more tired, the rest of me has tons of energy, which is super awesome.

There are two main challenges I’m facing now that my fitness routine has perked up. The first is the sustainability of my schedule. I’m at a bit of a lull with work at the moment, so focusing almost all of my energy on fitness is fine. But as work picks up again and I (hopefully) get more gigs it will be more challenging to keep up this pace.

The other serious challenge is maintaining my diet. I don’t know what it is but when I get home from a particularly grueling workout, all I want in the world is some delicious cheese. My theory is that it’s because of the combination of protein and sugar. However, if you’ll recall, cheese is a big no-no on the clean eating menu. But, what makes it even harder is that in addition to craving bad foods, I’m burning so many more calories that it is extremely hard to meet my daily caloric requirements cleanly. Salad and grilled chicken only have so many calories…and I can only stand to eat them so many times.

So that’s my current project. In addition to continuing with my fitness regimen, I am researching and experimenting ways to stick to the kinds of foods I need to be eating but eating in such ways that I still get all the caloric energy I need. I’ve been reading a lot about vegan athletes, because even though I’m not vegan I limit my animal product intake to very small quantities.

Okay! Now we’re all caught up. I’m excited in the coming weeks to share some of my new fitness knowledge as well as more of the standard hippie food posts I’m used to.

-lj

The Holiday Challenge

Wow okay. So despite my early week efforts, the past few days were not my greatest, nutrition-wise. Between Halloween and stress with work, I feel like I ate 100 mini candy bars. Obviously Hopefully that is an exaggeration, but then again, any amount greater than like 5 is too much.

Side Note: Is Trick or Treating not as big of a deal as it was in the 80s and 90s? Because I live in a huge neighborhood and we had maybe 20 kids.

So if Halloween is any indication, the holidays are going to be a formidable challenge. Three really bad days are okay. Three really bad months? Train wreck. Monumentally not okay. So now I have two goals: Prevention and Preparedness. Yes, I am forming a task force of one to combat Holiday Season Malnutrition.

I think the strategy here should be threefold. Each element to the plan is probably obvious, but obvious and easy are not the same thing. If they were, we wouldn’t be here. Everyone knows to eat fruits & vegetables instead of sugar & carbs. The challenge is doing what we’re told.

So, my Obvious Plan for Prevention & Preparedness (the O.P.P. …P.)

1. Exercise! Exercise provides negative calories. Granted, exercise doesn’t combat the actual badness of indulgent food, but it at least combats the most glaring problem: the excess calories. So if I know I am going to be indulging a bit extra one day, I should workout a bit extra that morning. You would think I would have been doing this all along, but it’s time to be a lot more conscious of this strategy now that my healthy living is in peril. Anyway, I’m a lot less inclined to binge when I’m feeling all good from that workout high.

2. New things to try instead. Thanksgiving is probably the biggest holiday in my family. My parents always said it was the only one we were absolutely required to come home for. There is probably some kind of psychological causal linkage there, given that Thanksgiving’s only tradition is the plentiful feast. It is literally an entire national holiday devoted to overeating! And at our Thanksgiving, like probably your’s and everyone else’s, it’s not as if we’re overeating a bunch of raw fruit. At least, at our house it’s all homemade and there are quite a few vegetables, but there’s still a lot of simple carbs and butter.

I already have some ideas in mind for healthy alternatives to some things. And for the things I would really miss, like my mom’s stuffing, I will just have spend some time meditating to the mantra “PortionControl…PortionControl…PortionControl.” Maybe that should actually be it’s own step in this action plan.

So more exercise. Healthy alternatives to traditional holiday foods. And step 3.

3. Mental and Physical (and Digestive) Strength.This is where preparation comes into play. I’m gonna read some Michael Pollan. I’m gonna get back into my old routine. In fact, I’m gonna step up my old routine! I am going to try to do everything I can to live as healthily as possible for the next three weeks. And then the month after that. And then forever and ever until this time next year. To make up for the insane amount of sugar I consumed this past week, I’m going to try hard to avoid it altogether for most of November. I’ve been fairly lax, allowing myself things like frozen yogurt and other, similar seemingly-harmless things lately. But it’s pretty easy to see how with an already lackadaisical (thank you spell check) attitude, a holiday season where we celebrate glutton could really push me over the edge and back into bad patterns. I’ve come way too far to let that happen, and hence, my task force and the Plan.

I’m pretty excited actually. Just like with the exercise, the more in tuned I am to eating healthy, the less likely I am to lose my way. Plus, I think I am more likely to succeed when the challenge seems more cumbersome. “Eat healthy” is too broad, and too subjective. Eat like you’re stranded and living alone on a desserted island? That’s a challenge I’m into.

So now that I have a solid strategy, I am pretty confident that the rest of the holiday season will be less catastrophic than Halloween turned out to be. I am excited, like I said, for all the steps, but I am especially looking forward to seeing what I can do with step 2.

xoxo.

-lj