Monday, May 28, 2012

Body Image Breakdown

This weekend, I hit the stores looking for some new running gear. I haven't had much luck finding shoes yet, but I figured I could at least get some proper clothes. The shoe section was mobbed, but there was a great girl in the running wear section who picked out some things for me to try. The shirt and sports bra were perfect, but the pants... oh the pants.

My salesgirl recommended something tight and I was leery, but willing. I mean, I practically live in yoga pants and those are tight, right? Not like this. These pants hugged every single lump, bump and cellulite spot from ankle to waist. And it was not a good look. Actually, it was a horrific look. The pants didn't feel tight or uncomfortable in any way, but they looked hideous and they highlighted every spot I had become sensitive about since gaining back some of the weight I lost. The next pair I tried was no better and I called it a day.

For now, I can probably just run in my yoga pants and when I'm ready to try again I'll take a look at proper running pants. Shoes are definitely the priority, so I'm hoping to get to a Running Room and get properly fitted for those soon. I'm going to be doing P90X workouts this week, so other than the treadmill at the gym, I won't be doing a ton of running this week anyway.

But the whole thing at the store highlighted how body conscious I can be. I think of myself as not worrying too much about this little backslide - I still feel pretty good and I'm not at a point where I feel overweight. But seeing my legs stuffed like sausages into those pants made me realize that I have a long way to go before I'll feel comfortable showing them off again. 

Part of it is mental - we are so preconditioned to feel bad about our bodies that it's easy to do, but part of it is also disappointment in myself for not being able to just shake it off and buy the darn pants. Who cares if I don't look perfect in them?  Maybe I'm not there quite yet, but I'm hoping it will come.  In the meantime, I think I need to spend a lot more time reading Operation Beautiful - and you should too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sticking to the Plan

This weekend, we’ll set out to purchase the groceries needed for our up-coming fitness challenge. It’s a good opportunity to look at our grocery list and our meal planning and to see what changes we can make. I’m not sure we’ll follow the meal plan to the letter, but it’s a start – and it looks to be a good one. There are lots of tasty options and it seems pretty well-rounded.

I’m concerned about a few of the things suggested– consuming protein bars for one thing – but we’ll see how it goes. I’m pretty open to trying new recipes and I’m eager to see if this will help kick-start my lunches. I’ve felt that those were seriously lacking in the creativity department of late.

It will also be interesting for me to find substitutes for turkey and pork – two things that I don’t eat, along with red meat. I know some people think turkey and chicken are the same thing, but I’m not one of them. If I have to substitute chicken for all three meats, it will mean A LOT of extra poultry in my diet. Hopefully, I can figure out some lean seafood options that are high in protein and low in calories.

I’m already worried about how we will manage to plan all these meals, on top of everything else. Right now I have my morning schedule pretty much down – adding in making a different breakfast means getting up even earlier. My current staple of plain oatmeal with ground flax, almonds, walnuts , cinnamon and a few raisins is fast, easy and delicious. Plus, it’s packed with good-for-me nutrients and keeps me feeling full well into the morning.  Creating omelets and hashes means extra time and more dishes to wash.

For lunches, my hubby usually takes over and makes everything. But with personal training clients and MMA classes after a work day that ends at 7pm I’m not sure that will hold up with the new plan. He may make a lot of it on the weekends, but that would mean some serious planning (and working around our already too-full schedule). I’ll definitely help out as much as I can, but cooking is not my strong suit.

Dinner, well, again that will be a tough one. Currently, he cooks most of the time. That means we often eat late. But if he’s not home until 10pm, it’s all me. And I am not great at coming up with healthy options unless they’re spelled out for me. I also hate cooking raw meat – so the meal plan will definitely have its challenges.
Add in that we need to do a one-hour workout six days a week and this is looking more and more like a major mountain to climb. But I’m willing to try. After all, you’ll never see any results if you don’t put in at least some effort.

Have you ever followed a specific meal plan? How did it go? Were you able to stay on track?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another Fitness Challenge

So I thought that running a 5K would be my big challenge for the next few months - turns out that will only be the beginning. My hubby bought the P90X system recently - he's a personal trainer, but felt he wanted to challenge himself with a new program. When I told my amazing co-workers, they both said they had the system too - and that we should all do a P90X challenge. I'm not sure how I ended up saying yes, but I figure that if my husband AND the ladies I spend all day with are doing it, it might just work out.

I've been feeling so run down lately - my weight is up and my fitness level is down. Maybe something like this is the kick in the pants I need to really get back in shape again. So far the nutrition plan looks pretty good and I'm excited for the new workouts (I may modify things a bit so that I'm still going to the gym too), so we'll see how it goes. I've learned there's no sense putting too much pressure on yourself - I'll just start on Sunday and see how I do.

Has anyone else tried the system? What did you think?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Running Wild

Recently, my cousin invited me to do a 5k with her. She loves to run and has done many 5ks and 10ks. I’m a total novice. I walked a half marathon in 2008 and a 5k last year. Running is not something I’ve ever really thought much about until recently. Now, however, it seems like everyone is running – friends and coworkers all seem to be lacing up their sneakers and hitting the pavement (or the treadmill) on a regular basis.

Growing up, I hated running. I was the kid who got excused from the running portion of phys-ed. I was never the fastest or even the somewhat fast kid. I just wasn’t that interested either. I played volleyball until the 6th grade and then I packed in my ball and decided to sit on the sidelines. I participated in zero team sports all through high school – unless you count the marketing club – I was just not a person who ran.

When I started working out a few years ago it was mostly strength-training. I walked 40 minutes to the office each day and hit the elliptical twice a week – I felt great. But running? Nope. Not going to happen. I felt resigned to just being a gym rat – I’m good at that, after all.

I posted my fears about my cousin’s invite on Twitter, though, and several very wise women who I follow assured me I could not only do it, but that I could do it really well. They sent me links to apps to help track my progress and were so positive and supportive. I realized that there was nothing holding me back from trying besides me. One of my goals for this year was to try things that scare me – so why not? I think I will sign up for that 5k and for the one in October that we’re doing to support the charity at my office. Challenges are good.

And I have to say that if you want a cheering squad for something like this – the Twitterverse can be a great motivator. I haven’t met any of the women who sent me info and support in person, but they were all there to tell me that I could and should do this. Now I have to show them that they were right!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Pants on Fire

Most of my Facebook friends are used to my occasional posting of articles from sites like Weighty Matters, which show just how twisted advertisers can be when it comes to hawking their wares. I was particularly incensed by Nutella and their assertion that their product is a healthy breakfast option – one that will really get kids going. Let’s be clear – Nutella in the morning is not likely to make your child climb a rope in gym class better than her peers, more than likely all the refined sugar will make for a short sugar high followed by a pretty big crash. I’ve been the kid in class hitting a sugar crash and it didn’t make me smarter, faster or more productive. It made me tired and inattentive.

When I posted about Nutella originally a lot of people pointed out that most parents know it’s just a sometime food and I shouldn’t be too hard on them. I get that. I actually like Nutella – it tastes really good, especially on warm toast. If their advertising showed happy people eating Nutella on warm toast, I’d have no issue. It’s when they start promoting it as a healthy breakfast food for kids that I want to throw things at the TV.

I was thrilled when one mother finally sued – she was recently given a very large settlement – because regardless of whether you or I know it’s a sometimes food, that’s not what they are saying in their ads. And let’s be realistic – there are a lot of parents who can’t or don’t understand that advertising isn’t always honest. Companies should not be allowed to promote unhealthy foods to children and claim that they’re healthy – it’s just wrong.

Case in point, McDonald’s. Today, Weighty Matters pointed out that their new “fruit” drink for kids is being promoted as having five servings of fruit – making it a healthy alternative for kids. There is no mention of the excessive amount of sugar that the drink contains. I’m not anti-McDonald’s – I like that they offer apple slices and milk in their kid’s meals. I like that they have made a real effort to create some healthy alternatives on their menu. And my husband really, really likes their coffee. What I don’t like is feeling lied to by a company. If I was a parent taking my child in and opted to take their advertising at face-value, it looks like a reasonable alternative to pop. But it’s not.

I’m not saying that all consumers aren’t going to know that they’re being misled, but why is it that it’s even an option? Shouldn’t we have a right to honesty in nutrition claims? Maybe I’m being too optimistic, but I’m still hoping it will happen.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Jessica Seinfeld Syndrome

When Jessica Seinfeld’s somewhat controversial book about hiding veggies in your child’s food came out a few years ago I was definitely not on board. Hiding vegetables in baked treats seemed a bit off to me – wouldn’t it be better to work on encouraging kids to try a wide range of fruits and veggies? How about looking at how nutritionists suggest introducing different tastes and textures? But I didn’t have kids and as my friends with toddlers and preschoolers have assured me, it’s not always possible to get your child to eat their veggies no matter how hard you try. If baking broccoli into brownies or whatever it is works, why not?

Looking at my own life, I am starting to see that I need to focus more on eating fresh fruits and veggies. This isn’t a new problem for me. Before I met my husband I pretty much subsisted on frozen dinners and mini-desserts. I had the occasional salad and tried to have a few pieces of fruit every week, but I was getting a big, fat fail on overall nutrition.

Enter my super-fit, personal trainer husband who quickly took over meal planning and execution – he got me eating a protein-packed breakfast (no greasy meat, though), nutritious lunches, lots of salads and meals that were teaming with veggies. He also made sure I had fruit in my lunches and that there were always cut veggies in the fridge for snacks. It was fantastic – until it made me sick.

Turns out, I don’t digest raw veggies all that well. And I ended up at the doctor’s office thinking I had gallstones or something worse before discovering that I can’t eat that much broccoli or cauliflower without serious stomach issues. So we dialed it back. And I was still eating healthy with a few tweaks – but I’ve definitely realized that my veggie consumption is way down. I hit all the marks when it comes to whole grains, lean proteins and even fruit (although sometimes I slide on that too), but because I’m limited in the veggies that I can eat in any quantity, I tend to skimp there.

I do still eat a salad every night made with dark, leafy greens (hubby’s rule number one) and he is always putting veggies into the things he makes for lunch (currently roasted mushrooms and a frozen veggie mix including carrots, edamame, beans and a little broccoli and cauliflower with a small side of sweet potato), but it doesn’t feel like enough. Today I brought some raw carrots as an add-on, but  when it comes to getting the number of servings suggested I’m still not making the grade.

So I’ve been reconsidering Jessica Seinfeld’s method. Should I try hiding my veggies in something else? Kale in my smoothie? Greens powder in my oatmeal? What works? What would taste good? Suggestions are readily welcomed – how do you get enough greens into your diet?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shouldering the Load

In January, I was diagnosed with an inflamed tendon in my shoulder. Nothing major, it just hurt when I moved it in certain directions. At the beginning, it hurt all the time – when I answered the phone, typed, read, slept, breathed… That was a problem. But the doctor said it was fine – no tears, nothing major – I just needed to do some exercises and avoid lifting anything heavy. At the gym he suggested concentrating on reps and not weight.

I found this frustrating, but I managed it. The trainer I saw at the time (I do one upper and one lower body program with a trainer every month) was very cautious. He gave me rotator cuff strengthening exercises, but anything that caused so much as a pang of discomfort in my shoulder was off limits. I know it’s how things needed to be, but I wasn’t a fan of my new workouts. I went to the gym less and I found excuses easier.
But recently my shoulder has started to feel a lot better. I’ve been going to the gym regularly and have taken on increasingly more difficult programs. It’s still important that I avoid re-injuring my shoulder and the reality is that it will always have issues, but working out harder seems to be helping me feel better. I’m strengthening my shoulder and I think that’s really going to help avoid re-injury in the long run. My current trainers think that my slower-paced program probably did help me in the long run – it gave my body time to rest and heal - but now I’m ready to go. I just need to make sure I’m  more aware of what my body is telling me.

Listening to my body isn’t always easy. When I originally injured my shoulder (and to be honest, I’m not even sure how that injury occurred), I knew I was hurting during my workouts. I would hop on the gravitron and pain would shoot through my shoulder. But I didn’t want to miss a workout. By not listening to what my body was telling me (‘hello, that’ hurts – stop it’), I probably made things worse and my recovery a longer one. Now I’m not afraid to speak up when the trainer gives me something new and it aggravates my shoulder. I know that I need to share that information with them so that they can create a plan that will help me get better.

And even though I'm bored to tears doing rotator cuff exercises with little or no weight every time I’m at the gym, I understand that I’m doing what I need to do. I miss my toned arms and baby guns and I know that if I want to get them back, I need to take the slow and steady approach. It’ll happen.

Have you ever had to recover from an injury? How did it affect your workouts?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book Club Update

My book club continues to choose interesting and challenging books, which has been fantastic. I’m loving being a part of a group that encourages me to read things I might not otherwise choose. We recently read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Sixtyfive Roses by Heather S. Cariou. Both were good reads and I definitely wouldn’t have picked up Sixtyfive Roses without the club. It was thought-provoking and heartbreaking to learn more about living with cystic fibrosis – especially in the 50s and 60s.
Our current pick is one that I suggested – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I read about it in O Magazine ages ago and then a friend had raved about it. I bought it one day when I needed an extra book to get the free shipping option on my Chapters order and it had been sitting on my shelf ever since. But recently it seemed to be calling to me – an odd sentiment since I’ve never really thought about a book doing that. But as I’ve been reading, I can’t help but wonder if Henrietta was thinking it had taken me far too long to get to her book and gave me a little bit of a psychic nudge.
Whether she did or not, I’m so glad I picked up this book. The story is fascinating – a poor, black woman goes into the hospital to have her cancer treated. Doctors scrape off some of the cells from her tumor and send them off to a lab where they go on to be the first cells in history to reproduce on their own. And they’ve continued to reproduce ever since – aiding in the research for the polio vaccine, cancer treatments and countless other medical breakthroughs.
But she never gave her permission for this. Nor did her family. In fact, they had no idea that her cells had been used until years after her death. And they had little understanding of the complicated medical issues that surrounded their use. They did understand, however, that something had been taken without their permission and that that something had been profitable. While they could barely afford insurance, their mother’s cells were being sold for hundreds of dollars a vial.
It seems cut and dried, but it really isn’t. The researcher who initially discovered the cells gave them away for free in the name of medical research and at the time that sort of usage of ‘medical waste’ was common and accepted. The author does an amazing job of looking at the issue from all sides and I am looking so forward to picking up the book again tonight to learn even more about how this story will unfold. I’m so glad that I took the time to read this one and I can’t wait to discuss it with my group in June.
Have you read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks? What did you think?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Workout Music Musings

Today at the gym I accidentally set my iPod to play all Kenny Chesney. Usually, I put it on random and mix things up a bit. Kenny is great, but he has a lot of slow burn songs that I wouldn't necessarily think about working out to. In the end, it was actually pretty great. I found myself remembering all the Kenny Chesney shows I've seen over the years and just sort of drifting away on the music. I was done working out before I knew it and I felt great. Maybe Kenny is better workout music than I thought.

I'm currently doing a more intense program at my gym, as I make a better effort to take off some of the additional weight I've packed on of late. I'm not proud of the fact that I'm almost back to the weight I was  when I started my healthy living changes a few years ago - too much backsliding! With the tougher program I've felt the need for more intense music. I had a bunch of Rob Zombie and Volbeat programmed for tonight, but when the shuffle somehow slid to all Kenny, I decided to let it go - and it worked!

I always think that what you listen to makes a big difference to the quality of your workouts. For awhile I was downloading podcasts of CBC's Q and listening to those while I worked out, but I found it hard to concentrate on the show and my workout. When I was on the stationary bike or the treadmill it was fine, but when I was doing weight training I would lose track of things and that was a pain. Plus, there were segments I found dull and it's hard to break your rhythm to fast forward through them. So podcasts didn't work out for me.

What do you listen to while you work out? Is there something that you recommend? I'd love some suggestions for my workout playlist.

P.S. The new Norah Jones CD ...Little Broken Hearts is fantastic. Not a good workout record, but a great listen and a very different sound for her. Worth checking out.