Archive | Fitness RSS feed for this section

Listen

5 May

I’ve learned a lot over the last few months, and I don’t mean the plethora of information stuffed into my college-mode brain. I’ve learned to listen to my body, closely.

Change is hard, on so many levels. It’s hard to change the way I eat, hard to adjust to stress loads, and hard to slow down when my body is screaming at me to do so. I’ll start with the more prosaic lesson learned- and that’s my attempt at incorporating more grains into my diet…mostly due to added stress and seeking comfort in delicious food. It didn’t work. With my continued workout habits and more toast, sandwiches, and oatmeal, I gained inches in places I’d rather not. So the “here and there” bread has gone back to the “rare occasion.”

Then there’s this running thing I’ve been doing. To compensate for my ungainly gains, I decided that I needed a short term goal to keep my motivation up. About a month ago I signed up for my first half marathon. I purchased new shoes that would enable me to train and run on pavement. I ran more in that month than I had the previous three months combined. I saw improvements in my endurance as I ran farther and farther. I researched about fueling for long distance running, carb loading, paleo compatibility for distance runners, the works. I was prepared mentally and physically to finish the race. It wasn’t about getting an awesome time. Running the race was about finishing. If I didn’t absolutely hate it, then that time would be my base to improve upon for the next race. Six days before the race, I came down with strep throat. The first day, I was still optimistic that it was just one of those 24 hour bugs that I’d get over with and recover just fine. I stuffed myself full of OTC drugs and dragged my sick self to physics. I wasn’t going to miss a lab for some silly illness! The second day, that lovely streptococcal pharyngitis knocked me on my arse, to put it lightly. I do not recall ever feeling so miserable. I missed class the rest of the week, which was previously unthinkable. I’ve always been under the impression that there was no illness that could prevent me from attending class. Earning the best grade possible is a high priority and missing a class can severely harm any grade. I had to come to terms with being unable to attend; it was tough. Thankfully my husband took over care of the kids and myself- he was unwavering in his support.

When I saw a doctor and received my diagnosis, my husband mentioned that I would definitely not be running that Sunday. My doctor was sympathetic and said that it was possible that I could bounce back in time to run, but to listen to my body. I knew my outlook wasn’t good because my hydration had taken a dive once it became difficult to swallow anything. Three days later I felt much improved and I went to the marathon expo to pick up my packet. In my car, I stared at the blue and yellow tech shirt, emblazoned with the Tacoma City Marathon and it’s sponsors. I held my bib with my name on it. It stirred within me my illness-suppressed determination.

I wanted to run. My goal was one day away and I was mentally ready to take on the challenge. Unfortunately, mental toughness alone doesn’t run races. My severely dehydrated and undernourished body could not run thirteen miles. I had to listen to my body; I didn’t want to risk injury. I talked myself down from getting my hopes up and researched when the next closest half marathon will be.

Now my bib sits on my mantel- not mocking me for what I couldn’t do, but motivating me to recover and get back up to speed.

bib

Pumpkin Spice Coconut Cookies

4 Nov

I made it to the other side of midterms week alive and mostly unscathed. I had a good 60% reduction in homework over the weekend, so I took full advantage of it! In the past weeks, my only “me” time has been working out at JTS. So what do I do with a whole day without studying? More exercise, naturally. I went falling  hiking, even though I don’t have the correct shoes for it, especially in the snow. I had a blast. It was much needed.

Yes, I'm laughing so hard my eyes are hardly open.

Yes, I’m laughing so hard my eyes are barely open.

If you follow me on facebook, you might have seen my purchase of a certain coconut product that came in the mail- Nikki’s pumpkin spiced donut coconut butter. It’s amazing on any fruit or baked good. Or…on a spoon. With some Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Yep, I went there. I would recreate this wonderful coconut butter myself, but my food processor just isn’t sharp enough nor powerful enough to make coconut butter. I’ve made plain coconut butter three times, and those will be the last until I can upgrade my processor. It should not take 60 minutes and a ton of melted coconut oil added to make it the right consistency.

Maybe the world has gotten a little too obsessed with pumpkin-flavoring-everything. I spotted these in Fred Meyer the other day. While I’m a don’t-knock-it-till-you-try it kind of person, I am  just going to say no to pumpkin and potatoes. Plus I don’t eat chips anyhow.

20131101_165927

No thanks.

My fridge had run out of sweet snacks for my husband to put into his lunch. I hadn’t noticed; so he kindly asked me to make my chocolate coconut no-bake cookies and I eventually got around to obliging a few days later in between the hectic whirring around the city and formidable study-homework-test-report-study-homework tornado. Staring at the recipe on my fridge, spatula in hand, I thought about the almond butter and what I could substitute in for it. I have gotten in the habit of smothering bananas/apples in it right before I take off for biology class, and therefore wanted to preserve what I could for that bad, delicious addiction.

It was like one of those cartoonish lightbulb- epiphany moments. Pumpkin spiced cookies! It’d be so easy. And it was. These are even better than the originals.

025

  • 2 cups dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1/3 cup raw, local honey
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup Nikki’s pumpkin spice donut coconut butter, softened**
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla
  1. Measure out your softened coconut butter and have it ready.
  2. Put honey, pumpkin spice, cocoa powder, and oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Watch it as you bring mixture to a boil for 1 minute, stirring with a spatula to prevent burning..
  4. Immediately remove from heat.  Stir in the coconut butter and vanilla.
  5. Stir in shredded coconut until everything is coated evenly.
  6. To get the shape of my cookies, I used a spatula to press a little of the mixture into a small Tupperware and packing it firmly. Then add a little more and pack it  in more. Because of the coconut oil, it’ll fall right out onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I have found that this shape crumbles less when bitten into.
  7. Alternatively, you can simply scoop out spoonfuls onto the parchment paper.
  8. Toss into the fridge until set- a few hours at most. Once that happens you can transfer them into a container and store in the fridge. Serve cold.

**Softened coconut butter and an extra 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice may be substituted.

024

Have you seen any weird or wondrous pumpkin spiced anything lately?

Ch-ch-ch-changes

30 Sep

My life is near unrecognizable to the one I led one or two years ago. I live an active life, following a paleo approach to my nutrition. My focuses are on positivity and progression in all aspects of my life, and I’m a better person for it.  The obvious changes are better strength, higher endurance, elevated confidence, and a much smaller body. Then there is all the little, weird stuff that changes that I, oddly, have taken note of…

Twelve Months of Changes:

 

  • Half my wardrobe consists of clothes that are too big and the other half is progressively tighter workout clothes.
  • My Amazon wish list is filled with my dream crossfit shoes, specialized ingredients for gourmet paleo, workout clothes, and clothes that I would never have worn 42 lbs ago (like dresses and shorts, gasp!)
  • Sore feels good. So good.
  • It’s easy to get out of bed super early when I know I get to go workout.
  • I’ve inspired friends to change their lifestyles (workouts and nutrition.)
  • Didn’t get sick for 11 months.
  • I don’t jiggle while brushing my teeth. Seriously, this was a secret new year’s resolution two years ago.
  • Drinking sucks. Even a little bit noticeably dehydrates me and affects my workout performance. Plus big time bloat.
  • Eggs. I could eat eggs for days and still want more.
  • Getting extremely excited when I find a place that uses almond or coconut milk for lattes.
  • Fruit is dessert. It’s a treat that I enjoy 100 times more than I did when it was just food, not fuel. Dried pineapple is like candy.
  • Coconutcoconutcoconutcoconutcoconut obsessed. Can you tell? I use some form of coconut every single day.
  • I flex in the mirror. Oh yes, I do. Not in a vain way, just checking out my growing muscles. Ok, sometimes in a vain way.
  • My entire week can be made by a new accomplishment at JTS. Like going up in weight, or getting my first (insert bad ass movement.)
  • No more ankle problems- the occasional swelling that I barely feel. Other than that, I’d consider my ankle in better shape than it ever was. (I had torn many ligaments, had two surgeries, and permanent hardware.)
  • When I sleep, I sleep. Working out and getting up early translates to great recovery sleep.
  • Goodwill jeans are totally acceptable. They probably won’t fit right in four weeks anyways
  • My bubble got bigger. No, not my butt. My comfort zone. Social functions with strangers? I can totally handle that. Kinda. Talk to my lab partner? No biggie. Ask for help in a store? A breeze. A year ago? Not so much.
  • After many experiences, I find I don’t crave the food that makes me feel like crud: the food that my body isn’t designed to digest easily.
  • New techniques/ingredients/tools in the kitchen are an exciting adventure rather than an anxiety-inducing nightmare. Dates? I’ll give them a go. Coconut flour? A great challenge. Kombucha? Let’s do it!

So there you have it. Now you know 20 random things about me that you didn’t before. So, tell me something random about you. Have you made a change for the good and had other aspects of your life change because of it?

Waffles, Round Two

29 Sep

I’ll be doing the Tough Mudder in one week from today. I’m excited and only apprehensive of one of the obstacles- the Arctic Enema. For those that don’t know much about it, the obstacles of the Tough Mudder are meant to test your abilities to the maximum. I hate cold. I really hate it. When I had a bad ankle injury and was told to ice it all the time, I hated every minute of it. Ice is supposed to numb. Well, for me, it just hurts. So…I’m going to be jumping into a huge dumpster full of ice water and wading through to the middle where I will be forced to submerge my entire body to get through to the other side. Does that sound crazy stupid? Yes. Am I going to do it? You betcha.
Completing the Tough Mudder is more than bad ass bragging rights. I’ve come so far and changed so much about my lifestyle to better myself and live a fuller life. To me, finishing such a mentally and  physically trying challenge will signify “victory” over my fitness. Reaching new heights in my physical capabilities is the ultimate “high” for me. That feeling from getting seventeen double-unders in a row for the first time  or using a heavier weight correctly or squat jumping twice as many times before getting tired is exhilarating! The Tough Mudder will be chock-full of new, difficult challenges all in one eleven mile course. I’m ready for it.

I posted about waffles a few weeks ago, using Paleo Parent’s recipe. This morning I woke up nice and early on the only day of the week that I can sleep in (thank you circadian rhythm!) and I wasn’t quite ready to be super productive (like studying or housework) so I decided to make a big breakfast. I had purchased and set aside a banana and apple earlier in the week specifically to make waffles to freeze, but never got around to making them. Since the banana was nearing the end of its usefulness, I figured it was now or never. I grab all my tools needed and put the banana in my ninja to puree. Then I go to grab the apple to peel and core and it is nowhere to be found. Some unknown family member had already eaten it.
I had already peeled the banana. I was committed. Improvisation to the rescue! So I tweaked the recipe here and there, dumped it into my fancy Goodwill waffle iron, closed the lid and crossed my fingers. Thanks to my culinary genius (or sheer luck) the waffles turned out spectacular. I’ll be using this recipe from now on to save me the trouble of peeling and coring an apple.

The cool part is the waffles turned green this time. The last time I made them I used 50/50 sunbutter and almond butter and they were normal “waffle color.” This time it was all sunbutter and vividly my favorite color. Chlorophyll (in sunflower seeds)+ baking soda = green!

image

Waffles
Grain-free, dairy-free, nut-free.

image

  • 1 cup sunbutter
  • 2 bananas, pureed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 TB arrowroot powder
  • 1 TB real vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • Melted coconut oil for waffle iron

Thoroughly mix your sunbutter to distribute oil evenly. I use a whisk on a hand mixer.
Added pureed bananas. Mix.
Add everything else. Mix.
Slather your waffle iron in coconut oil. I use a silicone basting brush.
Fill each waffle space 3/4 full and cook for 3-5 minutes depending on how hot your iron gets.
Watch for the steaming to decrease and check to see if they’re floppy. Of course, you may like floppy waffles. If not, wait for them to stiffen. This is best if you plan to freeze them and later throw them in a toaster.
If you’re not eating right away, cool on a wire rack to prevent sogginess.
Enjoy!

image

 

Have you ever done a mud run or obstacle course? What was your experience like? Have you ever thrown something together and it turned out great?

My Journey

13 Sep

I did and didn’t want to write this post. I don’t like a lot of “look at me! I want attention” stuff. That’s because of who I used to be. I’m only able to spout out my story here because I’m typing. I don’t have to directly confront anyone who doesn’t want to listen. I know if I tried to relay my journey to health and fitness in person, I’d stutter. I’d blush crimson and forget half of what I was going to say because all I can think about is how red my face must be. That’s because I’m still overcoming the person I used to be. See the first pic below. Always an introvert, I have struggled with my body image and self confidence for a decade. I’ve kept to myself, and kept very few close friends. I have a hard time coming up with the self-assurance to make new friends. That’s because of who I used to be.  I struggle with starting conversations among those that I am not already close to. I don’t expect everyone to understand how much of an affect one’s body image can have on certainty, courage, and determination; but I know some of you will. Even now, after my body image has dramatically changed, I have many days where I have to look in the mirror and remind myself of my capabilities. I have to remind myself that every little imperfection doesn’t change the fact that I have the potential and aptitude for great things. 

In August of 2012, I was married to my wonderful, loving husband. I weighed 177 pounds- the heaviest I’ve ever weighed. The summer before my wedding, I had gained weight and was a size 16.

On my honeymoon. 177 lbs.

On my honeymoon. 177 lbs.

For many years before that, I was a somewhat stable size twelve. I exercised, sometimes. I didn’t eat junk food, often. I wasn’t happy with my body; that’s for sure.

May 2012. 160 lbs

May 2012. 160 lbs

My entire outlook on life turned around when I walked into Jowers Training Systems a year ago. I wasn’t too sure anything would help me lose weight. But I had a yearning for confidence. I wanted to feel good about myself. What I have learned about my body, my mental and physical capabilities, and nutrition since then is enough to fill books. I figured out fairly quickly that before I had been exposed to this wonderful place, I had never really pushed myself. I didn’t know what it was to test my limitations.

Sometime around October, Jeff, the owner, asked me to keep a food log. After reviewing my week’s worth of food and drink, he’d ask me to change one thing. He’d say, “have less wine next week,” or “have less greek yogurt.” Slowly, I came to realize he was leading me toward the Paleo nutrition I had heard about and absolutely resisted. No pasta? No greek yogurt?? No sandwiches?? Cheese too? That sounds terrible. Honestly, I thought the whole Paleo thing was ridiculous. After several weeks of cutting out one thing, I decided to just try it. Something in a “Monday Motivation” newsletter from Jeff had me really thinking. He said something along the lines of I’ve been eating the way I eat my whole life, so trying something for one month isn’t that big of a deal. If I don’t like it, I can just go back to the way I want to eat. Through November and December of ’12, I eased my way into Paleo. I put my toes in the water to see if I liked it. By February, I was fully submerged and I haven’t looked back since. I had more energy and mental clarity. I slept 4,000 times better (that might be an exaggeration.) I could eat all I want and be full, and I was losing not only pounds, but inches. And inches. And inches. All I was doing was eating real food and showing up to JTS three times a week. I will be writing another post on how much paleo has affected my life.

Learning how to deadlift. January '13. 160 lbs.

Learning how to deadlift. January ’13. 160 lbs.

Then I thought, why don’t I try running? I’ve never, ever been good at running. It always felt like I couldn’t breathe and I was going to die. I’d noticed that after so long at JTS I wasn’t gasping for air…so maybe running wouldn’t be so bad. So I started slowly and kept going.

Then I thought, why don’t I try yoga? It’d be so beneficial and complement my movements in running and working out. After one sweaty session, I fell in love. Even after being unable to continue at the studio, I still roll my mat out onto my living room floor and turn on yoga videos on my laptop.

The picture below is a 35 pound loss between September and June.

35lbs side progress

142 lbs. June ’13..

From September of 2012 to August 30 2013, here are my numbers:

  • 41 pounds gone
  • Body fat from 33.4% to 22.5%. 10.9% gone.
  • From my chest, stomach, hips, (one)thigh, and (one)upper arm, 25.5 inches gone
  • Size 16 to 6

That’s results. That’s tenacity. Hard work. A lot of sweat and accomplishments. My confidence in my abilities has skyrocketed.

Here I am today, 135 pounds and still going strong.

2013-09-07_17.18.06

Why I did write this post- what I like hearing the most is “you’re so inspiring,” or “you’ve motivated me.” It’s a much better thing to hear than “you look amazing,” because I know what the struggle is like. No matter how corny it sounds, helping someone else on their journey is the biggest reward of my journey to fitness.

033 copy

Creamsicle Gummies

9 Sep

Oh goodness gracious. Today is the day my daughter started kindergarten. I’m sitting in my quiet house, all awkward. By myself. She will be gone most of the day and I don’t know what to do with myself. Before he left, my husband asked me what my plans were for the day. I told him I’d probably work on developing a nervous tick by 2 pm.

I, at least, started my morning off right with a great 6 am tabata. It felt fantastic.
image

And because there was a birthday, we had this finisher that left me shaky. I haven’t done that many burpees in a row in I don’t know how long. With as much as I was sweating throughout, it was a cleansing experience; especially after a sugary dessert last night.
image

I read about the benefits of gelatin from many different paleo/health bloggers and knew I wanted to give their recommended brand a try sooner or later. Well I finally took the $19 plunge and I’m ever so glad I did.  I’ve been putting a teaspoon in my coffee in the morning and tea in the evening; and whether by mere coincidence or the gelatin actually had a noticeable effect so quickly– my nails stopped breaking and have actually grown passed the ends of my fingers for the first time in two months. Plus, I’ve been munching on these gummies ever since I made them less than two days ago.

Squishy

Squishy

What I like about these:

  • Taste. Yum, creamsicle!
  • Balance- fat, protein, and carbs.
  • Collagen! Read about that in the link above.
  • Super simple.
  • Filling.
  • No artificial coloring, flavoring, or preservatives like the store-bought counterparts.

The little squares I cut the gummies into are so filling that I’m hoping this batch lasts a little longer than most of the snack foods I make. I’m not going to go into the science of absorption of protein, carbs, and fat together (I’m too busy drumming my fingers waiting for it to be 3 so I can go sit in the parking lot for 20 minutes waiting for my daughter to get out of her first day of kindergarten) but just know that having a great balance in one bite is an extra bonus on top of great flavor.

The pre-set flavor of the gummies is not a good indicator of the finished flavor. It might seem like a lot of honey or vanilla, but all the flavors mellow after it has set and is solid. My advice is to make the recipe as is first, and then tweek it to your liking after you taste a finished batch.

Creamsicle Gummies

Recipe tweeked from Tiffany of The Coconut Mama

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups orange juice
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream (separated cream on top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk)
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup gelatin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Directions

  • Heat juice and cream over medium heat in a saucepan.
  • Pour gelatin over liquid. Whisk gelatin into mixture.
  • Add honey and salt and continue to stir until the gelatin dissolves.
  • Bring the mixture to a light boil, stirring constantly. This could take several minutes, depending on your burner and pan.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
  • Let cool 5-8ish minutes, stirring a few times.
  • Pour mixture into a 8×8 square pan. Cover pan and refrigerate until gummy snacks are set, about 4 hours or overnight.
  • Cut into small squares and store in air tight container in the fridge.

20130908_122223

As successful as these were, I’ve added some fun shaped, silicone molds to my wishlist. They would be so cute in star, heart, or bear shapes, don’t you think?

Are there any snacks that you buy that you wish you knew how to make at home? Tell me in the comments below and I might give it a try!

CONSTANT VIGILANCE

28 Aug

Attending a gym that is a boot camp/HIIT/crossfit training sort, I am always exposed to new movements. Learning new movements is exciting in a way that has me giddy like a 16 year old on a date. When I walk in the doors of JTS , I grab a foam roller and read the whiteboard as I walk towards a spot to sit, stretch, and roll out (usually) tight or sore muscles. In the event that I see a foreign movement written up there, I attempt to recall if I’ve ever tried it before; and I search my long library of movements stored away with millions of song lyrics, recipes, and math equations. This is not always an easy feat at 5:45 am. Occasionally a new word for an action ends up being a variation of something I’ve done before. I think of new movements as new opportunities to functionally use and develop my strength and endurance. I love a challenge and learning new ways to use my body for more awesomeness than I realized. Sometimes I make a fool of myself. But no matter how many times I stumble on a box jump or hit myself in the face with a wall ball, I laugh it off and continue on.

At the beginning of the workouts, a trainer explains how the workout is set up– reps, rounds, tabata and whatnot. Then each movement is demonstrated by a knowledgeable member as a review of proper form or to show new people what to do. Even things like push ups and squats that seem simple enough are demonstrated, because no matter how much of a fitness veteran you are, proper form must always be a forefront priority to get the most out of every movement and to prevent injury.

So to quote good ol’ Mad Eye Moody (or should I say Barty Crouch Jr.) CONSTANT VIGILANCE is needed in any type of exercise you do. Even if some things come naturally, always pay attention.

Running? Pay attention to your posture and step. Yoga? Pay attention to your breathing and using the correct muscles. Lifting? Pay attention to your form, from eyes to toes.

CONSTANT VIGILANCE
image

I learned how to do kettlebell swings long ago. Since then, I’ve become familiar with the many components to a kettlebell swing. It’s a quick and powerful movement. I’ve slowly built up to using a 53 pound kettlebell. Recently my trainer caught me using my quads and less of my hamstrings to make the heavier weight doable. I was letting my knees go passed my ankles. Even though I was reciting in my head the different elements to make my form perfect (natural neck, natural neck, butt back, butt back, and thrust, thrust, shoulders back shoulders back) I had, in my weariness, forgotten to pay attention to where my knees were. CONSTANT VIGILANCE. Thankfully I have fantastic trainers who look out for the newbies and the “veterans” during every workout.

Ever catch yourself or have it pointed out that you’re doing something a little (or really) incorrectly? What were you doing? Always take advice (from someone knowledgeable) as a learning opportunity.