Food, Weightloss

Gloriously addicted

Praise Eywa! I have seen the light once again!

It’s been a sickeningly long time since I have felt such a strong sense of myself. My legs are strong, my mind is engaged, and I can once again tell the difference between hunger and sheer boredom.

Feeling connected to my body once again, I am now comfortable, content, and positively jazzed at the thought of eating healthy and exercising. I don’t really know exactly how long it has been, but for quite a while I was carrying on with my exercise out of reluctant obligation rather than religious devotion. A healthy lifestyle can be so gloriously addicting!

When you make a strong effort toward achieving a healthy body, your life sort of falls into place and you feel like you’ve got (or are at least getting) your shit together. A typical day for me looks like this: walk half a mile to class, participate in the learning process, have a light lunch, more learning, walk home, relax, go for a run, make a healthy dinner at a decent hour, socialize with friends. My life feels complete. It feels well-rounded, productive, structured, and fruitful.

As much as I’d LOVE to bash my head into a giant cake, eating healthy is now more satisfying than eating pizza, cake, and candy. It’s so empowering to know I’m disciplined enough to resist this junk.

However, it’s not all brute strength of the mind. I’m a sucker for cake and ice cream. A lot of the time it takes some premeditation and trickery. Meaning, I have to make plans to trick my brain into eating healthy. Because I am well aware of what I will be craving around 1 am (ice cream), I can manipulate myself into choosing healthier options like a Skinny Cow (which only has 1.5g of fat per sandwich!) by making sure that the fridge is always stocked with low-fat treats. (Oh, and on a side note, I just found out that you can get little tubs of Skinny Cow ice cream…Ben and Jerry’s Style! You know, when you have your individual bucket of ice cream that no one else is allowed to eat. And it’s low-fat!)

If I think I want to eat, but am not sure if I’m actually hungry, I usually try drinking water, or eating a small but filling snack to tide me over until dinner time.

My new favorite thing is almond butter. Between meals and before my workout, I usually need a little extra energy. So I toast half of a whole wheat english muffin and put about a table-spoon of all natural almond butter on it. Although it’s a small snack, it still fills me up so that I won’t binge, and it gives me enough energy for my workout. It’s also quite scrumptious.

Reassigning the meaning of the word “treat” to mean anything ‘good tasting’ can make you feel like you had a treat when, in fact, you ate something worthwhile. I now consider raspberries a treat and shamelessly eat a container(s) every day. And yes, I’m addicted to those too.

The difficulties of cutting out sweets, fat, and complex carbohydrates can be painful. But once you get over the hump and get all those unfortunate instances of weakness out of the way, you can get into a nice little rhythm. It’s kind of like when you get up to running two miles, and then if you keep going you just get in a nice little groove and it’s as if you could sustain it forever.

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Exercise, Weightloss

I swear by workout videos

The topic of today is something that I’m sure many men automatically dismiss: workout DVDs. As my close friends and tolerant roommates know, I swear by these novelties.

Photo by Ryan Mowery

Why, you ask? They can provide the benefits of group exercise while conveniently allowing you to stay put in front of the TV! Personally, I need that skinny, spunky ball of energy at the front of the room barking out instructions. It’s much easier to do two sets of push-ups when someone more fit and competent demands it of me.

But when I don’t feel like being looked at or pressured by a room full of strangers, I stay home and take orders from my TV. For me, it’s sort of a way of being lazy and active at the same time. Meaning, I’m sometimes far too lazy to pack my bag, get in my car, and drive to the Student Recreation Center, so I just pop in a DVD, move some furniture aside, and move around (sometimes barefoot) in my living room. The scene usually involves me bouncing, bursting, springing and stretching across my living room, dressed in a pair of (probably too-tight) shorts amongst a few onlookers and a nearby water glass.

I have observed that many people don’t think they can get a good workout from workout videos. Silly geese. I have found that it is actually quite the opposite! Workout DVDs are easy only in the sense that you don’t have to put together your own workout routine and you don’t need to leave your house. But I get a more thorough workout by doing the videos than I would if I went on a run or did some strength work at home. This is likely because it’s so difficult to push yourself to your peak potential when you’re directing your own workout.

The hardest part about committing to workout DVDs is finding ones that will give you an effective workout even after your fitness level increases. Over the years, I have found easy ones, difficult ones, fun ones, waste-of-time ones, more than mildly irritating ones, and great ones. Here are my top three favorites that I currently use in my workout regimen:

The Biggest Loser Workout: Cardio Max

This is the most challenging workout video I have ever attempted. I often procrastinate doing it for weeks at a time because I become frightened at the thought. I almost never do it alone, and usually make my boyfriend, Philip endure it with me so that I can have someone to whine with during the process and recovery.

There are three levels of cardio that are designed to be added on to your workout as you become more fit and able. However, I’ve had this video for about a year and a half, and have only been able to do all three levels ONE time. The level 1 cardio is extremely taxing, involves hand weights, a lot of lunges, squats, and push-ups. Each of those exercises is made more difficult after one of Bob’s infuriating suggestions to “make it a little harder.”

Push through the power moves and you will feel a great sense of accomplishment afterward. You will sweat. A lot. And you will be sore the next day. In fact, as I write this all down I am enduring an extremely sore tushy brought on by my completion of Cardio Level 1 Wednesday night.

The Ultimate Fat Burn

The first time I did this workout I was VERY sweaty and surprised by the fact. Because of Amy Dixon’s peppy attitude and innate cueing ability, I soon became obsessed with it. I would do this video for most of my workouts (which I don’t recommend to anyone since it’s more effective to mix up your workouts), and it consequently became easier to execute.

I can tell when I’m out of shape if this video feels like it did the very first time, (this was precisely the case until fairly recently). However, even when I am in shape, I still get a sufficient workout from this video, and do it when I feel like a slightly easier, familiar and fun workout. One suggestion: use 5lb weights in place of 3’s.

No More Trouble Zones with Jillian Michaels

It’s great for picking and choosing which areas you want to work on a given day. But for an intensive, full-body strength workout, do the entire video. It is very difficult and long for a workout DVD, but also a very effective one. In the video Jillian uses 3lb weights, but I have only used 5lbs. About 24 hours after doing the workout, my shoulders are so sore that I can barely move them. And what an amazing feeling! It’s as if I can actually feel them changing shape, becoming more angular and chiseled. I’ve done the entire thing a couple of times, but I also like to pick and choose specific circuits.

Bonus suggestion:

Perfect Abs

I bought it on Amazon for around $8 and was really impressed by the difficulty level. The day after doing one of the challenging routines, I always feel the tightness in my abdomen. The routines are so short (6-9 minutes) that it’s difficult to find an excuse not to do them.

Next on my list to try is another DVD by Women’s Health Magazine, called “Total Workout in 10,” and Jillian Michael’s “Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism.” Let me know what you think about any of the workouts mentioned, or of any that you would suggest.


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Recipes

Smoothie savior

One night I was up watching The Ugly Truth and decided to satisfy my dessert craving with a giant bowl of Caramel Caribou ice cream.

Needless to say, the guilt set in about 24 hours later. If I would have had the ingredients for my smoothie at the time, I could have saved myself a lot of self loathing brought on by my late night binge. Although there are a lot of carbohydrates and sugar in fruit smoothies, it’s a better option than a milkshake.

So for those of you who want to make a healthier treat, here’s my smoothie recipe. It’s also great for breakfast!

What you’ll need:

  • blender
  • 1 and 1/4 cup orange or pineapple juice (or something island-y)
  • 1 cup frozen berries of your choice
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup yogurt (I usually use the fat-free  individually packaged ones by Yoplait)
  • 1/3 cup nonfat dry milk (optional)
  • ice (optional)

Give or take a little on these ingredient measurements. It’s all very approximated. I really just sort of throw it all in there. Add more or less to the mix depending on what you like or how many people you’re making it for. For example, two bananas or one and a half cups of berries would be just as delicious.

Directions:

  1. Pour the frozen berries, pieces of banana and nonfat yogurt into blender.
  2. Add small handful of ice for a thicker, colder smoothie (optional).
  3. Add nonfat dry milk for an extra dose of calcium (optional).
  4. Pour orange or pineapple juice into the mix.
  5. Blend and enjoy!
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Weightloss

Decisions, decisions.

People have been asking me how I lost the weight for almost three years now. “What’s my secret?” They say. The secret is that there is no secret.  It’s plain and simple: buckle down, drastically change your lifestyle, and maintain. No slim fast, no silly crash diets. I’m also anti-nutrisystem, weight watchers, detox/fasting solutions. Although I know people who have successfully lost weight with methods like these, all of them gained back what they lost…and sometimes more. This is undoubtedly because these systems are impossible to uphold for an extended period of time.  Try to build a healthy lifestyle that you can maintain by eating a balanced diet and working out consistently. This is not to say that these methods won’t work for some, but that to maintain a healthy weight you must move past your initial weight loss solution and make a lifestyle change.

This is a link to a project I did for a digital arts class I took Winter term (I’m a multimedia minor). I thought my faithful readers might find it relevant and amusing. Click here to see what I did!

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Exercise, Weightloss

Strength schpeel

As I’m sure many of you already know, strength work is very important for getting in shape, losing weight, toning-up–whatever it is you’re trying to improve about your body. Particularly for women, strength workouts are conducive to preventing the onset of osteoporosis later in life. Being super thin should not be the goal here. Becoming fit, however, is a healthier goal since “fit” implies that you are strong-bodied.

Photos by Ryan Mowery

It really is saddening when women have goals to just be really thin because it’s kind of indicative of women’s tendency to keep themselves figuratively and literally very small. But that’s a topic for another time. What’s important is that strength training is most effective for burning fat and keeping it off, building positive body image, and protecting your body from injuries and joint damage. Here are a few reasons to incorporate some serious strength training into your workout regimen, and also some pointers for getting the most out of your strength workout.

The She-Hulk Complex

A lot of women think that if they start lifting weights and doing resistance training, they’re going to bulk up and look like a dude. That is just simply not true. First of all, women don’t have very much testosterone, so it is pretty difficult to put on a lot of muscle mass. If a woman wanted to beef-up she would need to be eating a very strict diet containing 40% protein, 40% carbs, and 20% good fats. On top of that, she would most likely need to be taking some sort of testosterone and protein supplements. And on top of THAT, the amount of weight she would need to be lifting is far greater than 5-8 pound hand weights.

In order for a gal to gain muscle mass, she would want to be maxing out on how much weight she can lift (push, pull, whatever). Meaning, she would lift as much weight as she could, doing very few reps. To break it down even further, I could lift 5-pound hand weights all day long and still not look like a muscle man.

Not bigger, just better.

Would lifting 5-8 pound weights change the way my muscles look? Sure would. Would it change the appearance of my body to be more toned and tight? Hell yes, it would.

Last year, I took a body sculpting class all year and saw so many changes in the way body looked. I now look at pictures of myself last year and think of how much more tight and toned I was. It’s irritating actually. My body didn’t change much in size, but my abdominals, though still covered in a stubborn layer of fat, appeared higher and tighter. It’s kind of like when you do 400 crunches and then you look in the mirror and they look tighter. According to this article from Women’s Health Magazine, it’s not just our imagination!

Burn calories after you workout

Besides the great results you get just from working out your muscles, your body will also burn calories for up to an hour after  your workout because of the energy your body uses to recover. According to the Women’s Health Magazine article, when you burn 200 calories lifting weights, you really burn 250.  If you’re incorporating strength training into your workout regimen, you will burn more calories just by going about your post-workout day.

Some Pointers

Now I know I’m no professional or anything, but I’ve taken a lot of exercise classes and I take them very seriously. I’m not just there to just lollygag and slack off through them with a half-ass attitude like some people. (I’ll let you know when I get my Group Fitness Instructor Certificate so you can know for sure that I’m not just talking out of my ass). Here are some pointers that I thrust upon myself and others who have asked for my advice.

1. Correct form is CRUCIAL. Practicing incorrect form can obviously lead to injuries, but what’s most infuriating is when it takes away from the effectiveness of the exercise you’re doing.

  • For instance, when doing crunches, you should have your elbows wide with your finger tips placed lightly behind your head. Press your lower back into the floor. When you come up, do not just lift your head. Think of lifting upward rather than curling inward. Your neck, shoulder blades and upper back should be in a straight line as you lift up towards the ceiling.

When doing a workout video or participating in group exercise, really pay attention to what the instructor is saying about body positioning as you try to match what they’re body looks like.

2. Strength training exercises should be done S L O W L Y. Doing strength work at a rapid pace increases your chance of getting injured. By doing the movements slowly and thoroughly, your muscles get a full range in motion and you get a more effective workout.

  • Take bicep curls for example: Your elbows should be locked to your sides; do not allow movement from your elbows. After doing your reps at a moderate pace, add another set of 8 VERY SLOW curls. Starting at the top of the crunch, count up to 8 as you lower your forearms in to the extension. Do those slow curls 7 more times, and then another set at the moderate pace.

3. No Moore girl push-ups! I’m insulted that these poor excuses for an exercise are called girl push-ups. The only reason why women “can’t” do real push-ups is because they have been using the excuse of being a girl since grade school. It’s time to give up the girl push-ups. I don’t care if you can only do one, but real push-ups should be the standard when getting in shape. When I was a sophomore in high school I didn’t think I could do push-ups because I was fat, I was a girl, and I was never forced to push myself.

But my club volleyball coach, Leilani Kamahoahoa, who is perhaps the most hardcore coach/trainer I’ve ever known, pushed me to find my real fitness potential. She lined all of us girls up and made us do consecutive timed sprints until we just about threw up. In between sprints she’d make us do push-ups and wallsits. The first time we were forced, most of us could barely do one. We whined, cried and tried to wimp out, but she scolded us for saying “can’t” by making us do more sprints followed by more wall-sits…followed by more push-ups. By the end of the season, we were all pumping out push-ups in sets of 15.

So the moral of the story is, one real push up is better than any number of “girl push-ups.” Start with as many as you can do, and keep at it until you can do more. Believe me, the pros of push-ups are well worth the pain.

4. Go all out! The moral of the push-up story applies to all strength exercises. You should to the exercise in its full range of motion. When doing a lunge, lower your knee all the way down to the floor. When doing a wall sit, your legs should be in a 90 degree angle. If you’re not going to do the exercise fully, what’s the point of doing it at all? Also, if you are doing a half-assed wall-sit, how will you know how much you’ve improved later on? Always do the exercise all out. There’s no point in doing it if you’re not going to do it right.

5. Be conscious of your breathing. First of all, it’s not good to hold your breath because that tightens the muscle you want to be loose. Second of all, you want to get air to the muscles you’re working on. Third of all, it distracts you from the toughness of the exercise, and makes it feel a little better. You should exhale on the contraction, and inhale on the extension.

After reading that article and writing this out, I think I’m gonna take a break from cardio today and do some strength training instead!

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Weightloss

French fry incident

I’m not a woman who likes to make excuses, especially when it comes to eating right for the purposes of getting in shape. You know the type. When you’re validating a cake binge because it was your boyfriend’s brother’s Birthday, it’s clear that you’re not mentally prepared for your weight loss. But sometimes there is such a thing as an extenuating circumstance. In which case, you must recognize that you are making yet another pathetic excuse for your unnecessary eating and choose to not let it happen again.

To my dissatisfaction, I became ill two nights ago. Don’t worry, it’s nothing serious. Just the common cold. Albeit, a nasty and relentless common cold that kept me up all night and made me more than slightly miserable the next day. Lucky for me, I was already planning on taking Thursday as my day of rest for the week. But it didn’t stop there, and I was well past pissed when I went to sleep and woke up with the same balloon of a head.

I’m sure I was offensive to all the senses throughout my day. And ironically, all of my senses seemed to be failing me. For some reason when I’m sick I usually have a hard time tasting my food. I usually have a desperate and illogical craving for pizza when I’m sick. It’s as if the only thing that I can really enjoy when I’m sick is complex carbohydrates. What am I going to do, eat salad and an apple? I’m so sure.

So today I got home around 4pm after enduring what I perceived to be a stressful day of class, errands, and house work. I had been starving myself all day due to a lack of June-Plan-appropriate foods on hand. I left my house in search of food that would satisfy my hunger, my plan, and my taste buds.

I pulled in to Newman’s Fish and walked into the marketplace. (I actually wasn’t aware that they had such a large selection of fresh fish!) But I wasn’t in the market for a large slab of salmon at the moment. I was pursuing a weakness for something fried. As I walked around to the side of the building, I meekly walked up to the order window and felt ashamed for being there. I knew what came with the fried salmon pieces I was about to order: french fries.

I won’t go into the horny specifics of how I devoured my fish and fries, but I’m sure you can imagine the scene.

I’ll admit right here and now that I made an excuse for myself, and a pathetic one at that. I think that my being sick right now is a bit of an excuse for a less rigorous (or skipped) workout requirement, but it’s no excuse to go soft over a silly little basket of scrumptious french fries. I said to myself, “french fries weren’t on your ‘NO’ list,” “You’re sick, and starving.” I was clearly not in my right mind.

I realize that there is no excuse for eating french fries during this month. I hope that my cold will not carry on until tomorrow so that I can proceed with my intensive workout regimen.

One of the worst things that we can do when trying to lose weight is to jump off the wagon and say, “whoops, I ate french fries. May as well give up.” The french fry incident was something that happened. It’s not something that I am going to dwell on any further. It’s also not happening again. The end. Now lets move on with our skinny  lives.

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Recipes

Curry Craze

I make curry around two to three times a week. I cook it so often that it’s kind of like driving; I’m completely on autopilot. The bulk of my focus is usually on barking out orders to my boyfriend, Philip who is the designated chopper when we make it together. We’re trying to cut back on the amount of curry we consume because lately it’s just been downright excessive. That being said, I know for a fact I’ll be making it tonight.

I’m finally posting this recipe because my house guests are always commenting on the tempting aroma my curry gives off, and I’ve had several people ask me for the recipe. I wish I could say that I came up with this fabulous recipe all by myself, because it is, in fact, my favorite meal to cook. Truth be told, I took the original recipe from my friend Michelle who got it from her father, Tom Hiskey. Since I first tried it out, I’ve adapted it significantly to fit my own taste. It’s relatively low in fat and you can remove and add whatever veggies you want!

Chicken Curry

Adapted from a recipe by Tom Hiskey
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped broccoli
  • 3/4 cup chopped bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1 can Campbells Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 2 Tbs light sour cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2-3 Tbs curry powder
  • Garlic Salt
  • Pepper
  • Basil

First things first, start cooking the rice. It’s preferable to use a rice cooker for this, but a pot will also do. Defrost the chicken in the microwave or under running water. Combine chopped onion and garlic in a large skillet and drizzle with olive oil. Bring heat to medium so that the olive oil is hot and simmering. Add sliced chicken to skillet and drizzle with more olive oil if needed. Add garlic salt, pepper and basil throughout according to preference. Cook chicken over medium until white.

Meanwhile, chop vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Add broccoli and bell peppers to skillet. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables are no longer crunchy (about 10-15 minutes). Add zucchini and cook until tender.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Add cream of mushroom soup, large dollop of light sour cream, and milk. Stir mixture until it’s a solid color. Bring heat back to medium. Add curry powder and stir thoroughly.  Make sure the curry powder is completely stirred in before adding more. I usually add a hefty amount because I like it pretty yellow.
Serve in large bowls over brown rice and enjoy!

For making curry with shrimp:


First cook all the vegetables (except the zucchini) as the recipe directs above. Then add in raw shrimp with a tablespoon of butter. Continue to cook over medium heat until shrimp is completely pink. Add zucchini and continue the recipe above. Do not overcook shrimp.

Serves 2-4

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Food, Weightloss

The power of NO

I’ve recently rediscovered the power of the word ‘no.’

It’s funny because I recently watched the movie, “Yes Man” with Jim Carrey (whom I love), and decided I wanted to start saying yes to more opportunities. Before a couple of days ago, the majority of things I said ‘yes’ to were opportunities to feed my face. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so much of a verbal agreement as it was a swift and hasty reach into my roommate’s bag of tortilla chips.

Today my inner fat girl challenged me with carbohydrates in the kitchen. My roommate Sarah, who was casually munching on some bite-sized pretzels, offered me some of her devil food. As I began to consider whether I actually had an interest in her offer, I stopped myself from furthering the thought and simply said, ‘no.’ By stopping myself from even deliberating the consumption of the pretzels, I gave myself a sense of security from the fact that I can assert self-control. It felt good. Really good. It felt so much better than eating something tasty without thought. Having that sense of power and control over my body and mind is really empowering. It’s a way of changing your inner fat girl into an inner thin girl.

It sounds overly simplistic, but being conscious of the food you take into your body is the most important part of losing weight. For instance, today I was aware– perhaps overly aware of all that I consumed. It may be helpful to have ‘no’ as your premeditated answer to all food offerings. That way your deciding factor for consuming your food will be if your body tells you it needs fuel.

So I’ve discovered that the value in being a Yes Woman is in the taken opportunities to exert physical activity and eat healthily.

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Weightloss

Goodbye muffins and cheesecake

Photo by Ryan Mowery


My reason for starting a brand new June Plan and is that I need to officially shake hands with myself on my pursuit of my best body. The June Plan  is meant to reincarnate the system that I carried out three years ago when I weighed in at 238 disgusting pounds: no more junk food, increased exercise.

However since I am now roughly 60 to 70 pounds lighter, my level of intensity will be much higher. Obviously when I was at rock bottom the pounds flew off due to my drastic lifestyle change. I am now merely a relatively fit and healthy human being who wants to achieve a smokin body.

Over the past three years I have been an endorphine junkie, if you will. Steadily working out an average of  five times a week, I try to eat healthy foods and prevent myself from binge eating. However, over the past year I have grown tired of being so strict on  myself. Perhaps the initial load of weightloss took all the determination out of me for a while. But now I’m ready to take my goals a step further since summer is right around the corner.

My goal is to lose 20 pounds, but what I really care about is the shape and tone of my body. I’ve noticed a significant difference in my body’s appearance since I’ve neglected strength training and been more focused on cardio.

I’m excited to be committed to my new plan and my new blog. My greatest hope is that some of you will follow along with me on this path throughout June, July, and August…however long it takes to get there! Feel free to leave me comments on your successes, difficulties, ideas, or if you’d just like to rant. I’ll be giving some of what I hope are good suggestions, recipes, and insight based on my experience.

June Plan

Focus:
Fewer carbs
Strength and Cardio
Drink more water
Increased general activity

Workout Rules:

2 miles (walk or run) six days a week at the very least
2-3 strength workouts a week
3 cardio workouts a week
1 day of rest OK
4 Abs workouts a week

Food Rules:

NO cookies
NO pizza
NO thin crust pizza
NO ice cream
NO candy
NO muffins
NO chips
NO cake
NO Birthday cake
NO piña coladas
NO white chocolate mochas
NO alfredo (only veggie homemade is ok)
NO milkshakes
NO coffee cake
Nonfat frozen yogurt OK
Skinny Cows OK

  • 5 Glasses of water a day (minimum)
  • BLOG 2 Times a Week on Progress, Difficulties, Thoughts, Ideas, etc.

First Week Example:

Tuesday: Go home for grilled cheese and apple at 3pm. Go to gym at 6 (strength).
Wednesday: Cycling
Thursday: Walk the track or go to gym after work
Friday: Workout at gym at 3pm (strength)
Saturday: Cardio
Sunday: Strength or rest.

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