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!