A Dark Truth, in Numbers

When I was fat, (yea I said it) I would avoid numbers like the plague. Clearly the most avoided number was always the number on the scale. Alongside that was the number on my jeans indicating the size, the number of calories in the meal I just had, the number of promises to myself to make a change I had broken and the list goes on. My life was basically a game of numbers, or avoiding them. 

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Now, 60 or 70lbs later I find myself in a similar dark place. At least a year ago when I was avoiding numbers it was out of sight and out of mind. Now, I obsess over all kinds of numbers! How many calories/carbs/protein were in that meal I just had? How much did I do on my deadlift/squat/barbell curl last week in comparison to this week? How many miles did I run/not run? What’s my body fat percentage like these days? How many inches have I lost? I find that at times I have made myself crazy over these numbers, but then I STOP.

I force myself to collect my thoughts; I breathe in the positive and let go of the negative. Or better said, the anxiety of numbers that overwhelms me. 

This method of breathing in the good shit and breathing out the bullshit is a constant struggle, much like keeping up a healthy lifestyle is. I’ve posted before about moderation, trying and being happy with small accomplishments and I believe that in my heart of hearts but sometimes that voice in the back of my mind is so loud I cannot silence it. 

I debated whether or not to share this part of the “journey” but I have to share my truths. If there’s a chance others feel this way too there’s no reason not to put it out there. We should all know that this can happen, that it’s ok and that you can get over and keep on going.

I’m done feeling sorry for myself (yet again). I’m getting over this hump and I know, if you find yourself on it, you can too. 

I’ll file this under the first world problems category and go kill my next workout. xo

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“Something to Try on Tuesday”

It’s just, something to try on Tuesday, she says. She being the yoga instructor at my local gym. During her Tuesday evening practice she always adds in a bit of a challenging move and encourages us to give it a try. Try getting one toe off the ground in crow position or try an elbow supported arm stand in peacock pose; her words challenge us to reach within and conquer a fear no matter how small it may seem to be at the time. 

I try to carry this advice with me outside the studio and today I conquered a little fear I had been battling for a while now. I took a new class! I know it’s really silly to say out loud, but this class always looked really hard and I never had anyone to go in with me so I avoided it – until today! I’m so happy I finally went! The class was challenging, engaging, fun and I finished standing up! So take a new step towards your goal, don’t get stuck in a routine rutt and don’t be afraid of something new! 

I am so happy I tried something new on Tuesday and I hope you will too! 

New Year, New You! Tackle Gym Anxiety in 2014!

 

You thought the hard part was over after you signed your new gym membership contract. You eagerly packed your gym bag and made your way to the land of free weights and cardio after a long days’ work but just when you thought you were ready to tackle your fitness resolution for 2014, you walk into THIS!

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You immediately feel like this… 

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How am I supposed to get a workout in? How long am I going to have to be here? What are all these people doing? All these questions come into your mind and you immediately want to run back into your car and go home where your couch and pjs are waiting for you.

Before you go home, destined to trash another New Year’s resolution, read these tips for managing the mayhem! 

1. Avoid peak times

While I know most of us cannot avoid working out after work, if you can avoid it you should. If you’re gym is nearby try working out during lunch. If you’re a morning person, try working out before your day starts. 

2. Avoid the most popular areas of the gym

I am talking to all you treadmill and elliptical lovers! Make this time at the gym more about improving yourself and less about committing to a number of minutes on any given machine. This is not 30 minutes of punishment for eating all those Christmas cookies. Check the class schedule at your gym and pick something challenging or have someone at the gym show you around the weight area. Gym employees are there to help you navigate the intimidating waters. 

3. Create your own space

I don’t know about you but for me gym anxiety always stemmed around the idea that people were looking at me. I got over this by building my confidence about my workout in my own little corner of the gym. Grab a few free weights and a stepper or yoga mat and you’ve got all you need for a great workout. 

Sites like POPSugar and Bodybuilding.com have TONS of workouts at your fingertips like this one, 
http://www.fitsugar.com/Full-Body-Circuit-Workout-Dumbbells-2825394#opening-slide

If you’re just getting into weight lifting don’t be afraid to start off lite, but don’t stick to those for too long! 

4. Take your watch off

Your workout isn’t done at 6 or 2 or 12, your workout is done when you’ve completed all the exercises you’ve set out to! If you’re going to beat gym anxiety you’re going to have to spend more time there! 

5.  Don’t get discouraged! 

Whether you’re worried about the crowds or your first day back has muscles aching you didn’t even know you had, keep at it! Let’s be honest, you didn’t gain all this weight overnight and you’re not going to lose it that way either. Be patient with yourself! 

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Namaste, people!

It’s a pretty well known fact that my weight loss and fitness journey has relied heavily on lifting weights and high intensity interval cardio training. I love to lift! That should be enough, right? Wrong!

Well, wrong for me at least. Reason number one being, I am a terrible stretcher. I don’t stretch very often and when I do I get distracted or I’m just too tired from my workout to give it my all. Knowing full well how important stretching is to my routine, because my hamstrings won’t let me hear the end of it, I decided to incorporate yoga.

What a life changer! No, seriously! Let’s go beyond the spiritual connection to yourself that yoga brings and go right to those endless minutes spent in positions that stretch your body to what feels like it’s outermost limits!

From the moment I hit my first downward facing dog, I knew this was for me.

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Right there before my eyes I could see how tight my hamstrings, calves and quads were. I was looking at my feet and how they could not hit the ground in the above position.

Reason number 2 why I love yoga is the balance work involved! I’ve suffered through a couple of injuries while working out. I have never been graceful and learned that my workout injuries were related to my lack of balance. If you’ve taken a yoga class you know there are a lot of balance positions involved.

Exhibit A. Eagle Poseeagle

Just picture me fumbling all over myself trying to make this pose happen. Now that you’ve had a good laugh know that week by week I am improving! This will hopefully help me avoid injuries in the future.

Now, if you want some research to back up the benefits of yoga for all types of athletes it exists!

Check out some of these links:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/392864-yoga-benefits-for-athletes/

http://life.gaiam.com/article/how-does-yoga-help-athletes

http://www.shape.com/blogs/working-it-out/why-every-athlete-should-do-yoga

So next time your muscles are feeling tight and your usual stretches are not doing it, why not try some yoga?

Here are some links to poses that help relieve achy muscles!

http://www.shape.com/fitness/workouts/top-5-yoga-poses-athletes/slide/6

http://www.fitsugar.com/Yoga-Poses-Runners-3081127

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/11/yoga-journals-21-day-yoga_n_1198627.html

Namaste!

What I Eat! or Food: because the word “die” is in Diet!

“How did you do it?” This is currently the most asked question in my life. “It” is lose all this weight over the past year  (actual weight loss numbers to be shared soon 😉 ).  After answering this question a half-dozen times, the answer finally came down the the clear concise notion of eating!

This makes a lot of people scratch their head and look at me sideways. They think there is no way I can eat and lose weight. They all want me to be some cranky pants whining about lettuce — I’m not!

If you follow me on Instagram (shameless plug) you’ll see a lot of pictures of what I eat. Some of it is boring, like yogurt with fresh fruit in it, but some of it straight excites me! Yes, I do eat clean and find it exciting, it is possible! I attribute the attitude towards my food to a lot of my success. I get a kick out of taking a recipe apart and modifying it for my nutritional needs. I squeal with excitement when I find a new recipe with healthy mods already built into it. I live for this stuff!

You notice the missing word from this and many other posts? Yea, I don’t use the “D” word! I am not on a diet! I have made a choice to eat better, indulge when I want to and work out to make my body work better. It’s working! You know why? It’s because I follow the science not the snake oil!

It's more about food than you think!

It’s more about food than you think!

So what do I eat? It’s simple!

1. Lean protein! Things like ground turkey,  chicken breast and Greek yogurt come to mind for most people when you say this. I take it a bit farther and make sure to add tofu, beans and vegetables that are high in protein.

2. VEGETABLES! I cannot stress enough how important EATING your vegetables is! I am not talking about the fun ones like corn and potatoes. I’m talking about getting brave and eating brussel sprouts, all kinds of kale, chard, cabbage, squash, zucchini etc. etc. etc. Go to the market, pick something up you’ve never eaten before and google a recipe for it.

3. Good fats. If you’re scratching your head while reading that line I need you to know, that all fats are not created equal! This is where the quality of your calories kicks in. You choose good fats over bad fats. Good fats are those that come from things like nuts, avocado and fish. I am not talking about the fat that comes from those fries you had at lunch or that burger you got from the drive thru! Those are bad, bad fats!

4. Carbs! Don’t click away or throw your hands up in the air because you think I’m off my rocker! Read on… because the truth is you need carbs in your life! If you are working out, you need carbs! Again the difference here is making the choice to get your carbs from the right places. Fruits have carbs, veggies have carbs and starches like quinoa and brown rice have carbs. You can even have bread! Imagine that!

Sure, I make it sound soo easy right? Well, it really is once you get used to it! But I don’t do it all on my own, I have major support at home! Online I have a handy dandy app to help me track all my food intake and keep up with friends who are also getting healthy, I have Pinterest that helps me find like-minded people who are pinning recipes I benefit from, I have BodyBuilding.com which is my source for information about workouts and all things exercise. I also have 2 gym memberships so I can take advantage of different class schedules and work out with friends at their convenience. That helps me not get bored with workouts as well as keep my friends in the loop even though my presence is lacking at 9 out of 10 happy hours.

The bottom line is quality versus quantity! Make your calories count people! Your days will go better, your workouts will go better and you’ll take a nice boost in progress in the gym!

Workout Wednesday!

I’m trying out a new workout routine to try and get over my latest plateau so I thought I’d share it!

Now I know a lot of women are intimidated by free weights, but don’t be! Watch the videos, check out the instructions and walk into the gym with a plan! Remember, start with light weights, no shame in gauging your abilities. No one is out here to hurt themselves. If you have questions don’t be afraid to tap a guy working out nearby or gym employee a question — you might get a date out of it! 😉

This workout is challenging, but focused on form, which I love! A lot of these moves I have done before, but a co-worker recently got me to up the ante by adding the dreaded Stairmaster and more weight training.

Don’t be afraid to go slow! It is more important to get the form right — pay attention for where you are feeling the burn.

This is what I’ll be doing during my lunch hour:

*5×5 = 5 sets of 5

Squat 5×5 http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/barbell-squat

Squat!

Squat!

Deadlifts

Deadlift 5×5 http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/barbell-deadlift

Standing Military Press

Barbell Row

Standing Press 5×5 http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/standing-military-press

Barbell Row 5×5 http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/bent-over-barbell-row

Straight Bar or Incline Curl 3×8 http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/barbell-curl

Kneeling Cable Crunch 3×10-20 http://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises/detail/view/name/cable-crunch

Barbell Curl

Kneeling Cable Crunch

Disclaimer: I am not a trainer. I’ve researched these workouts and gotten tips from trainers and friends. These workouts work for me and my goals but may not work for you.