Monday, June 17, 2013

All Kindsa Progress!

Holy cow! I started lifting heavy 12 weeks ago! How time flies. I am shocked at how much I've fallen in love with weight lifting, how it has changed my body, and how it has changed me psychologically. It's pretty effin cool.

About a week ago, I had a fitness assessment at my gym. It's free for members, and included using the BodPod, which is pretty much a rocket ship shaped like an egg that uses science and lasers to measure your lean body mass. I knew going into it that I would also do a mile run and a push up test in my fitness assessment, along with some other measurements.

My expectations vs. my reality

Body fat percentage: Expected 30-25%. Measured 22%
Mile run: 9:30. Measured 8:42.
Push ups: 12. Measured 16.

So I exceeded my expectations in every area! I told the woman who measured me that my goals for the year are to bench 100, squat 150, and do a pull up. They now include an 8 minute mile and 20 pushups in a set. I can do it!

The coolest thing was getting my true metabolic resting rate. It was 1349 just to keep me alive. She said that even if I were sedentary, I would still need to take in about 1700 calories just to live. This was so eye opening. Any time I diet, I tend to limit myself to 1500 calories a day, no matter how much I exercise. Ridiculous! Ain't nobody got time for that. So I bumped up my consumption, and I'm much more interested in getting in macros than worrying about calories. It's been an amazing shift in my thinking.

That's what I mean by a psychological change. Not only do I look forward to going to the gym, but I've stopped thinking in terms of losing weight/cutting calories and started thinking in terms of making gains/getting stronger/getting in all my macros. I'm more worried about not eating enough protein than I am worried about eating too many calories. I am more interested in the weight on my squat bar than I am the weight on the scale.

I'd be lying if I said that there isn't a definite aesthetic component to all this. I started weight lifting in the first place because I wanted to gain muscle and burn fat and look like all the fitness competitors I follow on Instagram. And I still do it for those reasons. But now I also do it because I am in a competition with myself to get stronger, to rep for my girls in the weight room, and to feel a huge sense of accomplishment when I leave the gym. Talk about progress!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

In Again Out Again Finnagan

My dad always says that, mostly about their cats or about baskets that just sit on the hoop and don't go in. But at the moment, it describes my situation.

Recently I've been reading some really cool Tumblr blogs, my favorite being Health and the Fat Girl. I want to say that I'm pretty ashamed of some of the stuff I've written on this blog. Some of it might come off as fat-shaming, and I'm sorry about that, because these blogs have opened up my eyes. The other night I was talking to a (similarly fitness loving) friend, and I told him that anymore I see fat people as brave. To live in a world that hates fat people and to have the courage to say, "Fuck it, I won't let you ruin my life just because you don't like the way I look" is pretty damn ballsy. If you follow that link, you'll find links to lots of really compelling articles- many of them debunk myths that I "knew" to be true, like that fat people always eat more than thin people and fatness is a bigger drain on our health resources than anything else. These are excuses I hear a lot of people make as to why they feel being overweight is bad- because it is "unhealthy." So it was pretty eye-opening to read that maybe that assumption is just... wrong. Whether or not some big study comes out tomorrow to prove that fatness is directly responsible for world wars, the fact stands that IT'S JUST FAT AND IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL. YOUR WEIGHT DOESN'T AFFECT ANYONE SO EVERYONE NEEDS TO CHILL.

But sadly, the image here describes my truth. I really do think all women are beautiful. In fact, recently I heard someone say that, "You fall in love with a person, not the vessel in which they move through life." Since then, I have made a concerted effort to not judge ANYONE on their appearance, which has extended to not comparing my body to other women. But it's hard. Really hard. It's ok with me for any other person to have whatever body they were born with, and I think they are all beautiful. But that kind of unconditional acceptance does not extend to my own body, most of the time.

About ten weeks ago I made a huge change in my working out. I began lifting heavy and making a true effort to eat clean, and I've loved it. I feel powerful and strong and I actually look forward to working out every day. I have to admit, though, that I went into it to change the way my body looks. And though I have seen so many changes other than that (better sleep being number one, but feeling more hydrated/no daytime sleepiness are close behind), it's been the changes I see in the mirror that I was most excited about. I ate too little and became really preoccupied with food. Inevitably it led to binging and unhappiness and I just wasn't listening to my body, which was saying, "Bitch, you cannot work out this hard and not feed me."

It seems sometimes like being an athlete/wanting to be fit is incompatible with having a normal relationship with food, but I'm determined to try. I've been reading a lot about "unconditional permission to eat." Can't remember if I've written about it before, but I know I've thought about it. For me, this means that I am going to eat when I'm hungry. Sounds so simple but SO MANY of us struggle with it. I know for me, I have a big time restrict/binge mentality. It's walking the line or going HARD at the junk food. That not only is bad for me physically, but it's bad for me mentally, and not just because it puts me farther away from my goals. I want to get past this cycle, and be able to trust my body to tell me when I'm hungy and what it needs, without undoing the progress in muscle building I've made. So for now, I'm "out again." Still eating clean, but trying not to be so focused on calories. I'll probably still keep track of macros to an extent, but essentially I am saying, "As long as it's an unprocessed food, I can eat it till I'm full, and have more later if I get hungry again." (Unless it's a special meal, in which case you better believe I don't be givin a FUCK if it's healthy or unprocessed or full of lard or whatever.)

If you've followed my blog before, you know I will probably repent and fall off this wagon at some point too and start over. But I do want to take a time out and remind everyone who reads that every body is beautiful, and eating is a good thing, and you don't have to look like people say you should look or eat the way they say you should. It's your life!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Low Carb Kool Aid

I want to make one thing clear really quick before I write the rest of this post: NO AMOUNT OF PSEUDO SCIENCE WILL EVER CONVINCE ME WHEAT IS BAD FOR YOU. A lot of people who follow a low carb diet, ESPECIALLY people that follow a Paleo diet, will tell you that wheat is bad for you and point to all sorts of studies that are probably all funded by the Crossfit Society or something. Wheat is only bad for you if you have a gluten allergy. It provides quick energy, fiber, and is heart healthy.

That said, recently it made a lot of sense to me when I was reading an article about why low-carb diets work for quick weight loss and the author said, "Think about it- they use grain and corn to fatten up livestock." Good point. Short version of the science part: when you eat a lot of carbs at once, your body burns the carbs for energy first before burning fat. Protein is essentially the least efficient source of energy for you body- it burns slower and your body has to use more calories to metabolize it. Google it if you want a deeper explanation. Largely, it's psychological- carbs and sugar tend to be the things we crave and when you just eliminate them from your diet, you aren't bingeing.

All that said, I kinda drunk the Kool Aid on the whole low carb thing. I realized I just wasn't getting the results I wanted to see with my current diet. I was monitoring my calories and working out really consistently, but I just wasn't seeing the kinds of changes that I wanted. I recently joined Instagram and my new hobby (ok, obsession) is looking at pictures of women who do the bikini/fitness competitions. Their muscles= so hot. A lot of them shared their nutrition plans, and a lot of them were low carb/high protein/lotsa veggies. So I decided I would try to limit my carbs, up my protein, and start lifting heavier. Currently I try to keep my carbs around 130 g a day (lots of sources will say the true sweet spot for weight loss is between 50-100g a day but that is just too low for me) and I've been hitting the weights four times a week (1 heavy leg day, 1 heavy upper body day, 2 intense ab days, and 2 sessions of Body Pump where you lift a somewhat lighter weight but lift for a lot longer. Eg: on heavy leg day I squat 75 lbs. At Body Pump I squat 45 lbs.) I have only been doing this with serious dedication for about 3 weeks, and I'm pleased with the results. Nothing major YET but I see tiny differences. I promised myself I would stick with it for ten weeks and if I'm not pleased, I'm treating myself to a personal trainer.

The thing I like best about this low-carb diet is that I don't feel hungry and angry and depressed. I really don't feel deprived, which is a miracle. In fact, psychologically, it's given me "permission" to eat so that I can almost follow a more "intuitive eating" approach, which I would really prefer (too bad my intuition tells me to eat three cupcakes and a giant pretzel. Can't trust that bitch.) For example, though I still use MyFitnessPal to track my carbs/fat/protein, I don't stress when I go over my calories because I know that if I stay within my carbs everything will be fine. I actually added an extra 100 calories to my normal goal because hey, I'm hungry.

An anecdote: the past two weeks, I was traveling a TON for work. I always gain weight when I travel, because I try to track my calories then eventually say fuck it and just eat whatever with the promise that when I get home, I'll go to food confession and get food born again or some such bullshit. Well, I'm over that cycle because it's just not worth it, so I decided that I would just low carb it. I ate in restaurants in the Bible Belt, full of butter and crap, but I ordered burgers without buns, fajitas but skipped the tortillas, and ate eggs for breakfast instead of cinnamon rolls. When I got home, I had actually lost a pound. That is unheard of for me.

They say the best diet is one that you can follow. Well, I'm following it and (currently) very pleased. Bring on the mashed cauliflower.

Miracle mashies may be copyrighted by HungryGirl- you should google her recipe. But I don't believe in "light buttery spread" so I tweaked it. Here ya go!

1 yukon gold potato of a normal size
1 head of cauliflower
1 clove of garlic
1/4-1/3 cup almond milk
1 tablespoon low fat Philadelphia cream cheese

Fill a big pot with water and put it on the stove to boil. Meanwhile. peel and cube the potato, and cut the head of cauliflower into florets- they don't have to be small. Mine weren't.

Once the waters is boiling, toss in the potatoes and cauliflower. Make sure the water returns to a boil before you turn the heat down and put a lid on it. Let it cook for about 15 mins.

When the veggies are soft, add almond milk, cream cheese, and garlic. Mash and mash. Add salt and pepper to your taste.

It is VITAL that you add the potato. Just one potato is not gonna hurt you, and it make all the difference with the taste and texture. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The last time that I recommitted myself to not counting calories, something weird occurred concurrently: I lost my taste for some of my favorite convenience foods. The two I relied on most were protein bars (mostly Luna bars) and Lean Cuisines/microwaveable lunches.

At work we only get a half an hour break, which is sort of criminal but has the bonus of making it nearly impossible to waste your money by going out for lunch every day (don't worry, we still have the option of paying $9, or $8.50 with our discount, in the cafeteria for an "artisan" turkey sandwich, meaning they put pesto on it.) I turned to microwaveable lunches because they're cheap, easy, and the nutritional stats really aren't bad- generally a fair amount of protein and fiber with some micronutrients thrown in. I still don't think they are a terrible option for you, but I started to realize how much sodium and sugar and, frankly, weird ingredients that I can't identify they contain. I started to get the feeling that they (conspiracy ahead, please disregard if you don't like woo woo) were engineered specifically to make me crave their products because of the stuff they contain. Overall, I just thought it might be healthier to pack my lunch with something that wouldn't survive the nuclear holocaust.

The main options have been: leftovers from the night before, pasta salad, pita pockets stuffed with cheese and apple and turkey, and salad with whatever protein I can find. Now, I have not sworn off all convenience foods- who the hell has time to make EVERYTHING from scratch? I guess I could order a wife from Russia to do that for me but she might be prettier than me and my apartment is too small. So I do rely on some packaged stuff but I try to make sure they don't contain weird stuff. Like my new friend, Trader Joe's Tabbouleh! Nothing but bulgur, parsley, garlic, lemon juice, tomatoes and some other spices. Nom. I'm currently eating it on a salad with mixed greens, persian cucumbers, mini bell peppers and Gruyere. Tasty. Just crying out for a giant bowl of figgy pudding to make up for the healthfulness (yes, I'm craving figgy pudding and I don't know why.)

Let's go to Trader Joe's!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Xtreme Coopining

I've felt like a bit of a fraud since I'm not as into sugar free/diet food stuff. For the most part, I've given them up in favor of eating only stuff I really like, which generally translates into not eating as much as I once did so the calorie intake is probably pretty much the same. I even purposefully seek out the Greek yogurt with some fat (which can be hard to find.) But I still love food and like to blog occasionally, so let's just agree that on those occasions I will just write about food, whether it be healthy food or not. Sounds good to me.

So today I wanna talk about grocery shopping, and more specifically, the best way to save your broke as some money by using coupons. There is great controversy on the pronunciation of the word "coupon." I believe in my heart that the proper way is "coo-pon", but other pronuciations include "cue-pon" and, on the "warsh" and "pitcher" end of the scale, "coopin." I kinda like "coopin", so much so that I wrote coopin on the front of my coopin envelope and henceforth will always refer to them as coopins.

I really can't remember if my mom used them when I was a kid- I think she did and I probably found it mortifying so I've blocked it out. I started using them when I moved out of my parents' house a few years ago and experienced what it is to buy all of your own crap. Here's how it is: lame. Enter coopins.

I read a message board that snarks on TV shows, and they love to hate Extreme Couponing. Lots of people on the board claim that coupons don't really save you any money, and they refer a lot to "coupon math" with a fair amount of derision. I just think they aren't doing it right. It took me awhile to get good at it, but now I'm a coopin queen. Here are some tips:

1. Coopins won't help you if the generic is cheaper. Don't be a dummy- your coopin for 50 cents off Campbell's chicken stock isn't doing you any good if the generic stuff is a dollar cheaper anyway. Make sure it's actually saving you money. BUT don't forget that sometimes the generic sucks, so know your limits.

2. Coopins work best when combined with sales. I think Kroger is the best grocery store because their prices are better AND the Kroger plus card can save you a shit ton of money, especially if you coopin. Most of the time, I won't use the coopin unless it's also on sale with the plus card, because in general, generic is always cheaper (though I prefer not to buy generic for boring philosophical reasons and if you wanna hear them, leave a comment.)  A good example is AlmondBreeze almond milk. Regularly, it's like $3.59 a carton, but it's often on sale with the plus card for $2.99, and they put out coopins all the time for $1.00 off. So really, you've saved $1.60. Most of the time, if it's not on sale too, I won't even buy it. Which leads me to the next tip:

3. Know when to say, "Not this week." Be patient. Wait till it's onsale unless it's something you need desperately. This also lends itself well to not buying food you'll waste just because you have the coopin. That doesn't help you.

4. The circular is my friend. I get the Thursday paper now, and literally the only part I read is the Kroger ad. I take a look, sit down with my giant binder of recipes and my coopin envelope, and plan my meals for the week. It saves a tremendous amount of money and cuts down on food waste. For example, last week I saw that top sirloin was on sale and immediately thought of a recipe I had for mushroom-sirloin skewers that I hadn't made yet because top sirloin is fucking expensive! But it wasn't that week, so I made it, and all is well. This is especially useful for meat: if you have room in your freezer, ALWAYS check what kinds of meat are onsale and stock up if something special (this week it was center cut pork chops) is a good price. Also helpful for canned pantry items.

I have more but this is getting boring. I used these tips to do my grocery shopping today, which will make me lunch every weekday, breakfast every morning, snacks, and 3 dinners with lots of leftovers, plus a few pantry stocking items & the porkchops that were onsale. My receipt says that I saved $26.60 with my plus card and coopins- 29%. Keep in mind that I buy at least 50% organic, and this is all pretty healthy food, and I'm pretty happy with it.

Good luck with your coopins!

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Excuse the really lame title of this post. But it's been a long while. I think it's been such a long time because I thought, "No one really cares what diet I'm indulging in or what I'm putting into my mouth. I don't take pictures of my food or post the incredibly boring meal I'm having on Facebook, so why make a fuckin blog about it?" (Seriously everyone on my timeline, lay the hell off of the status updates that say "Chicken salad with roasted red peppers on ciabatta for dinner!" as if you deserve a medal for actually getting in your kitchen and cooking something for yourself. Big deal. People do it all over the world, all the time. Yes, I realize I used to do just that on this very blog but I've grown up and realized nobody cares.) But I'm posting tonight because something on TV caught my eye.

I'm currently settled in my chair in front of an episode of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition and Lord, is it pissing me off. Did anyone ever think that our culture places such a premium on thinness that just being a normal weight is not ok, so people who have perfectly normal bodies just give up and let themselves go because, hey, I won't ever be perfect, so fuck it? Clearly that doesn't explain the fact that people make a lot of horrible food choices and are sedentary and are just misinformed about nutrition and what they're REALLY putting in their mouths. I know that.

But come the hell on. I think a lot of my own issues with my body stem from this very idea. For a long time, I was always on the slightly heavy end of normal weight for my body. I thought this was totally unacceptable and I don't think I've ever really gotten over it- I needed to be THIN because THIN was the best weight to be. Conversely, I am at exactly the normal weight for my height (smack in the middle of normal BMI) and when people call me skinny, I have to acknowledge that it's Just Not True. Just like normal weight is not Fat, normal weight is not Skinny just because nobody is a normal weight anymore. And I still sometimes feel seriously crappy, like my totally normal body weight is just too big, because it isn't skinny, and damnit, I want to be skinny. But I also want to eat cake sometimes and not be totally neurotic about every bite I put in my mouth and be a complete prisoner to food, so FOR NOW (it's always just for now) I am going to move the hell on with my life. I quit counting calories. I feel better. Can we just accept that our frames/body types have a lot to do with genetics, and that some of us are naturally more thin and some of us are naturally a bit more stocky and that it's ok? Can we? Obese= not normal but variations in frame/weight= totally normal.

Back to the TV show. Two things are bothering me. 1: this lady has lost 77 pounds. It's time for her weigh in. Sprightly young gay trainer is very optimistic that she will be down to 250 pounds. She steps on the scale. Breathes are held, prayers said, commercial break is shown, and when we come back, she weighs 258 pounds. Everyone is absolutely HORRIFIED. Let alone that she lost 77 pounds, which is incredible. Nope, she is a FAILURE and WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH SALLY??? I think losing 77 pounds means that Sally deserves a damn minute to celebrate. Give her a damn minute.

But Sally isn't off the hook with me, which leads me to thing that is bothering me number 2. This quote: "I don't know how I'm going to work, look for a job, AND work out." Really, lady? I work a LOT. Some may say I'm a serious workaholic. I work my day job and I am rehearsing all week and I have shows every weekend. And I make time. I think the RDA of exercise is 45 mins 3 times a week. I know this lady spends 45 minutes 3 times a week either sitting around, watching tv, playing on the computer, or doing something else to waste time. You have time to work out. Walk, ride your bike, hula hoop. Move your ass. The fact that this lady is CRYING because she can't do 20 minutes of stationary bike is too much for me. I don't care if you are fat, thin, or normal- you have 45 minutes 3 times a week. The benefits are numerous. Do it.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Why I cooked a turkey burger on the stove instead of eating out in one of the culinary capitals of the world

I'm blogging for my apartment in NY today! I guess it isn't really mine, but it is for the next week because that's what my badge says. My friend was nice enough to sublet me his apartment while he is touring with Tokyo Disney, but the management will only let him sublet for two weeks at a time- which is the perfect amount of time for me, because if I miss work for longer than that I'll have to be scouring the Kroger for organic ramen. He was nice enough to do this for dirt cheap, so I am attempting to see how much money I can save.

One of the best things about this trip is that I have a kitchen, so I can cook. So shortly after arriving I walked up to Columbus Circle (I'd never been before- I don't think I've been that far uptown since I first visited NY when I was in junior high- I'm a lower-Midtown girl) to go to Whole Foods. In my last post I talked about how freaked out I am about non-organic stuff, so I thought this would be the best way to stick to that eating plan. I knew I'd still want to eat out sometimes (hello, it's New York, I need bagels and pizza and Crumbs cupcakes) so I mostly picked up stuff for breakfast and dinner. I get some Peace cereal, almond milk, Applewood farms turkey burgers (organic, no hormones- nom nom!), Willshire bacon (no antibiotics!), ground lamb (didn't say anything on the pack about how it was raised, but this was Whole Foods so I'm hoping it was humane), tons of organic produce, salad dressing, etc. (Side note- I couldn't believe that I was the only one I saw leaving the store who had brought her own bags- but this is NY, not San Francisco.) This is NY so stuff is more expensive, but it only set me back $81- that would last me maybe 2 days if I were eating out. So it's win-win! I'm saving money, I know where my food is coming from, and I know the nutritional info so I don't have to guess. I know having a kitchen isn't always possible, so I'd suggest researching chain restaurants (or local places, because those are best, but I know they aren't always around) that use organic or local ingredients- Chipotle is a big one, and tasty, too.

Patrick is coming to visit next week so all of this will be blown out the window (Shake Shack, here we come), but I at least feel like I've done damage control on my environmental impact.

It wouldn't be me without an obsession with working out, so rest assured that I brought Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown with me because it requires no weights and very little space (which is exactly how much space I have- this place is about 180 sq feet.) I've also been dancing my ass of at the Broadway Dance Center (5 and a half hours of classes yesterday!) Thus, I feel not a single pang of remorse for eating whatever the hell I want when I allow myself to eat out.

I'm off the the Village to hang out at The Strand (18 miles of books- holla!) Enjoy your weekend.