Friday, June 29, 2012

feeling better

I don't know what happened to me, but I finally snapped out of it! It seems like I've been in this awful slump for....well.....a couple of months.

I remember the the weekend that I sort of fell off the wagon, so to speak. It was near the end of April and we went to Omaha for my neice's confirmation. I started the weekend out good. The night we got there and headed out to a bar for a suprise birthday party, I didn't drink, I had a healthy meal, I was smart. At this time, I was deep into a clean eating run because I had a goal. But as the weekend went on and the healthy choices became less and less, I lost it. And for me and my damn all or nothing attitude, it spelled disaster.

Ever since then, I've been eating pretty much whatever the hell I feel like. And while it's nice not to be restricted, I just haven't felt right. I'm bloated all the time. Gassy (more on this later....c'mon, you know you're excited). I feel FAT. Yes, I really do. Even though my clothes fit exactly the same, I just feel bigger. I don't feel healthy. I don't feel great.

I've been beating myself up over it. I've got an angel on one shoulder whispering in my ear about how I should be eating for health and the devil on the other shoulder screaming about how I should live life to the fullest, consequences be damned. And the guilt. Oh the guilt! I feel guilt for how I've worked too hard to just throw it all away for pizza and ice cream. It's just not worth it!!

So I just said ENOUGH! I'm DONE with the guilt. And I'm done with this crappy food obsession. I just can't do it anymore. The only time I'm truly myself is when I'm eating for health and working out consistently. This week was my break from it all. I've not touched a barbell in an entire week. And I miss it. Not a day has gone by that I haven't longed for a good pump. The break has been good for me though, because it has given me an opportunity to realize how much it has become a part of me. And how it truly does make me happy.

I am going to continue to eat clean and healthy but I'm not going to restrict myself so tightly that I say "I can't" when we go to a birthday party or BBQ. I want to enjoy treats, just not 5 a day! Once or twice a week certainly isn't going to hurt. At least, I don't think it will. Some think that if you still have the taste for it, your addiction will never go away. But I've been on the other side too. And I've found that restricting myself to the point where I haven't touched sugar with a 20 foot pole for an entire month or longer, my craving for it doesn't completely go away. But just makes me more obsessed with it. This may not be the case for everyone, but it certainly is for me.

Oh, and as far as being....uh, gassy, I wonder if I might be a wee bit lactose intolerant. I'm going to try and experiment for the next week or so. I'm not going to eat dairy and see what happens. I don't drink milk but I eat cheese and have been eating frozen yogurt and it seems like every time I eat ice cream or frozen yogurt, I get stomach cramps and am in the bathroom. So I'll see if staying away helps. My next experiment will be with wheat. I think that isn't the best on my system either, but it's just speculation. If I can't eat wheat or dairy, I'll be pissed! haha....

p.s. sorry for being such a downer lately, I think I'll be more like me moving forward ;)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm a faker

I talk frequently about my body image issues on this blog. But usually it revolves around weight or muscle. There are other things about myself that I used to wish I could change, other than my thighs, I mean. But for the most part, I have gotten over them. The color of my skin, for one.

I'm white. Not just white but pasty. I always wished I had that olive skin tone that makes Mediterranean women so beautiful. So I would tan. Well, actually burn. But if I baked in the sun often enough, eventually the burns would turn into beautiful tanned skin. I can't count the number of times I had pretty serious sunburns as a kid. It wouldn't be uncommon for me to blister and peel several times over the course of a summer. My parents owned a cabin on the lake and I would spend my summers there, practically living in the boat. Really great for my waterskiing skills, not so great for my skin.

When I think back to all the damage I have done to my skin it makes me a bit nervous. Especially since I have two rather large moles. So I've been seeing a dermatologist on a yearly basis to ease my worries. So far so good. In fact, on my last visit, I was complemented on my skin.

I'm typically the girl who gets comments like, "Oh my God you are so white!" or "You need a tan!" so the fact that I was being praised for being "so white" was new to me. She basically gave me a big pat on the back and said congratulations for NOT being tan. And it made me feel a little bit better about being the pasty girl.

Of course I'd still love to be tan. But baking in the sun daily to get that way just isn't worth it. Eventually, (and quicker than I'd like) the tan fades and all I'm left with is pasty sun damaged skin.

We all know that a tan is a good way to hide flaws (like cellulite) but did you know that you are actually making it worse by tanning? Sun damages your skins elasticity, which means it won't be as tight and all those lovely ripples are going to show even more. Not to mention how much you are increasing your chances of getting skin cancer. Self tanner is a good way to fake a summer glow. I've tried the wet wipes and the spray and the lotion. I prefer the lotion that adds gradual color. It doesn't get too dark, which on my pale skin, can look more orange than brown. They used to have a horrid smell but they have gotten better over the years. I've gotten pretty good at applying to it where I can avoid streaks. Some people call it "fake" but what is a tan - it's fake! It's not your natural skin color. Call it what you want, I'll take my fake tan over malanoma any day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happiness is the best medicine

Since I seem adiment on not giving up the pleasure of eating sweet treats with my family, I decided that I need to come up with a plan that won't derail my efforts in the gym or compromise my health. Instead of depriving myself and ultimately suffering immense guilt when I give in to temptation, I should allow myself to eat sweets regularily. But instead of eating treats with tons of empty calories, I will eat treats that have the added benefit of nutrition. No bakery goodies or boxed treats. Just home made goodness with a healthy flare.

I've been really loving Darla's recipes on her Stay Healthy Fitness blog. She is dedicated to health and fitness but not giving up on the pleasures in life (like eating treats). She commits herself to the healthy lifestyle and comes up with her own healthy versions of things we all love to eat.

Cookies, brownies, mousse, bars, you name it! Also some fabulous dinner recipes as well. Are you bored with the same old same old? Check her out!

Today I have the tedious job of making my weekly menu and shopping for groceries. I didn't do it yesterday because we spent the day out in the sun. We are in the [slow] process of beautifying our flower beds. So I was in the dirt picking rocks. The previous owners of this house did very little as far as yard maintenance goes and now we get the fabulous job of trying to pick up their slack. It's not an easy job! There are a lot of areas that need fixing up. Mostly around the edges of the house and deck, but also some flower beds in the back yard and one in the front.

We have, what could be, a fabulous rose garden in the corner of our back yard. And it scares the crap out of me to think about tackling it because it's huge and overgrown. matter how much we pull them, they love to grow back bigger and fuller. So we basically have to remove ALL the rock and tear up the barrier underneath, then replace it with a new barrier and put the rocks back on top. It's a very slow and looooong process. Needless to say we are saving the two biggest areas for last. We probably won't get to them until next summer. Unless I am feeling overly ambitious.

In our rose garden we have white, light pink, dark pink and deep red roses. All very beautiful but the placement of the bushes is very sporatic and haphazard looking. Larger bushes are over taking the smaller ones and there is no real balance to the garden. Possibly because some have died out. I would like to dig them up and try moving them around but I'm scared they won't come back next year. I moved 3 peony bushes this summer and they didn't seem to like their new spots very much. But I cut them down and I am hopeful that next year they will come back.

We also planted a herb garden with our strawberries and raspberries and it is thriving! Our lavender came back this year to my surprise. When we lived in Denmark we had a circular brick patio that was completely surrounded by tall lavender. Sitting out there smelling lavender was like heaven! I really wanted that here. One of these years we will have it where we want it. And part of the fun, I guess, is doing it ourselves. We will appreciate it that much more.

So, since gardening all day can be a bit of a workout, I am not super gung ho about getting to the gym. I'm trying to relax and not let it run my life. I just want to be happy and enjoy the summer with my kids and appreciate my extra time with them. If I feel like hitting the weights, I will. If I feel like doing a little cardio, I will. But I'm not going to think "I HAVE TO!" I don't want to look back on my life and think of all the time I spent feeling unhappy about myself. It would be such a waste of a good life. And that would be a shame. I already feel a certain amount of shame for being so concerned about the way I look. I want to project confidence and happiness, not this controlling obsessive behavior I exude these days. That's not the picture of a happy woman. It's a woman who is plagued with low self esteem. One who feels the need, for whatever reason, to let one thing consume her life so much that she literally can't enjoy all the other things that are worth taking the time to enjoy.

It used to make me feel proud that I was doing something good for my body and health. It still does, and I still will make every effort to stay fit and healthy. But I'm not going to look at everyone around me, enjoying life, while I sit in my own prison of self made restrictions, longing to be like everyone else letting go and having fun. There is a certain amount of respect I feel for people that have the will and determination to make their body goals a reality. And for those who train endlessly for what they want to accomplish. But more than that, I admire the people who can find a balance for it all. I never could find a balance. My dedication always seemed more like an unhealthy obsession. I say unhealthy because I let it rule my life for so long. And it never made me truly happy. And maybe that's because I never really achieved what I set out to do.

I'm getting older and I know that one day, no matter how much I train or how well I feed my body, skin will sag and wrinkle, I will age. I will have to face it. Now is the time to relish being young, feeling young. I'm not 18 anymore. I won't look that young ever again. And that's OK. It has to be, because there is nothing I can do about it. Live life. Enjoy life. Don't let one obsession consume you too much. It doesn't produce happiness. Realize your limitations and focus on what you can improve. That's all you can do. Strive to be at your best so you can feel your best. Happiness is really the best medicine.

Monday, June 25, 2012

chicken balls

I am so sick of our internet lately. It's hit or miss as far as it working properly (usually miss) and generally when I need to look up something or have time to actually sit down and write a post, there is no connection. Seriously? We pay for fast reliable internet and when the reliable part isn't living up to it's name, I get very frustrated.

My phone isn't doing what I want it to half the time either. I try to upload photos to facebook and it won't. Or I try to view photo albumns and it won't let me. Ugh! This technology is supposed to be so great but half the time it doesn't do what it's supposed to anyway.

AND, on top of that, I wanted to edit this terrible photo you are about to see and make it look a little more appetizing and of course I get the error, "scratch disks are full" .... this won't even let me open Photoshop. Yet, my husband insists that we have plenty of space on the hard drive. I think I'm going to buy myself a computer that I can just use for photos and photoshopping.

Phew...ok, rant over.

So last week I made chicken balls. Meatballs made from ground chicken. My kids laugh when I say chicken balls. Anyway, they were really good and I wanted to share the recipe. All I did was mix ground chicken with pesto and chopped scallions, form them into balls and bake them. That's it! So moist and tasty! Very uncharacteristic of lean meat such as ground turkey and chicken, which tends to be dry. The more moisture you can add to the meat in the form of vegetables and healthy sauces, the better. I baked them at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (or was it 30, I don't remember).

Again, sorry for the horrible picture. Wish technology would play nice. It sort of reminds me of that Futurama episode where all the robots were rebelling against the humans. The coffee maker, the tv, garbage disposal....they were all acting up. Haha...I love that show.

But anyway, this morning, I sliced up the leftovers and added them to a hot pan with a little melted butter and fried them up to a crispy brown. OH DELICIOUS! If you don't mind a tish more added fat, I highly recommend doing this. They were divine.

This is my daughter, Eden. I was going through pictures from the weekend and guess what the first thing I noticed about this picture was?

She's got some little muscles going on in her arms! Got a little delt cap there! She's a very active girl and strong to boot. That's my mini me!

Unfortunately, in EVERY picture I took of her she is sucking on rice milk. She loves that stuff. Yuk!

Friday, June 22, 2012

pity party

Well, it happened. I had a breakdown yesterday. I do this from time to time. I was talking to my mom on the phone, whining about how I don't think it's very fair that I have worked so hard for so many years to improve one specific part of my body and I have very little to show for it. My upper body is "buff" (as my husband calls it) but the lower body is......well, just plain awful.

I am a realist. I can see the truth. Even when EVERYONE around me assures me it isn't that bad. I see. I know what it is. And it's bad. Literally years of working out, many sacrifices, and nothing improves in this one area. Nothing.

So my mom gives me one of her pep talks. Not just the usual, "you are too hard on yourself, you look fine" sort of talk, but an unusually griping -talk. She told me that I've been beating myself to death with this for years on end and it's causing me more stress than anything else. Just forget about it and see what happens. Maybe it will take care of itself. And as silly as it seemed at first, it's the one thing that I really haven't tried. Just relax, she said. Stop looking at it, stop worrying about it, stop living your life around it. And something just really got to me. I started bawling in the car. The tears were flowing so hard that I could barely see the road. And of course I was trying hard not to make it obvious to her that I was a snotty mess.

When I got home, I pulled into the garage and put my head on the wheel and just BAWLED. Forever, it felt like, I was in the car, parked in the garage, just crying and crying. What am I doing wrong? How is it possible for ANYONE to make such giant improvements on their physique and mine is so resistant? It's the most frustrating thing in the world. And it makes me sad. I feel that I really am deserving of some obvious change after all the time I've put in. Not just working out but for how long it's just plain consumed my life.

What if she's right? What if I slow down and just stop taking all the supplements, stop worrying about working out and a perfect diet, and just lived? Honestly, it sounds lovely but doing nothing isn't going to help. People have to work hard at it, I know, so I've just resigned myself to the idea that it will consume me. If I want it, I have to work for it. But.....I have worked for it. I have. It's not fair.

I don't want to be a walking hypocrit anymore. I want to LOOK like I train. It's awful to be such a fanatic yet, not really look like it. If I wear clothes that cover up the flaws in my lower body and wear a tank top, or something that shows off my upper body, I look great! I do, even I can admit it. Maybe too skinny to some people, but I see muscle and definition, and I LOVE it! I am proud to show it. I don't have large bulging muscles, but that isn't what I want. I have small feminine muscles that say, "I lift weights, and it shows." Now, if only my lower half would follow suit.

I really do feel like a teenager still. I feel great. I have no aging aches and pains. I have tons of energy most of the time. I don't feel as though I'm near 40. My body and mind are way younger. Yet, my lower half is that of a 60 year old woman who's never done an hour of exercise her whole life. And the thing I don't get is this: if you have to creat a calorie deficit to lose fat but you can't go under your RMR or you'll hold onto fat, how can I ever lose it??!! It seems an impossible feat, yet many people achieve their goals. Maybe it's just not meant to be. Maybe there is something to be said about what you're made for, and with these hips, I guess I'm just meant to carry babies. But if that were the case, why do I have such problems with pregnancy and carrying babies to term? It's all very confusing to me. I can't think too deeply about my purpose in life or it'll drive me crazy.

In my opinion, the girls that have spectacular bodies, probably aren't pear shaped. They probably are born with a boyish frame to begin with. Not to say they wouldn't accumulate fat or have to work hard at it, because I know they do. I'm just saying, I think that some people just have an easier time. That's just the way it is. So maybe I should just give up on this dream of mine. I've been working at it for YEARS and it hasn't made me any happier. If anything, it's caused me more stress than it's worth. So why do I keep at it? I must be insane.

Sorry for the pity party. I'm really in pain over this. I'm always telling my kids, "life's not fair" when they argue with each other over being fair when they play. Maybe I should just take my own advice and realize that life doesn't seem fair sometimes. Move on. Find a more positive outlet to consume your life. Summer only happens 3 months out of the year. Buy more board shorts and move on.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I'm team weight lifting

I have been obsessed with sauteed mushrooms lately. Can't get enough of them. Especially with green onion and garlic. And cooking sherry. Oh, delicious! I put them on everything. This morning, I put them on my eggs. My fingers have a perpetual garlic smell. I love it.

This morning, I just didn't feel like eating. I was hungry, but nothing sounded good. The thought of eating more egg whites made me want to gag. Do you ever get like that? Like you are just so bored and fed up with food you wish you could just take a futuristic meal in a pill and be done with it? I get that way some times. I usually love to cook and try out new recipes and try to make food look and smell appealing. But sometimes I get lazy and just throw together a quick and easy dish I know everyone will eat, like tacos or spaghetti. And sometimes, I just get sick of cooking all together. Being the one who cooks every meal ALL the time, it can get monotonous.

I am the one who puts together the weekly menu, does the grocery shopping and the cooking. It's something that is always on my mind because, well, we need to eat. And I am not making dinner from a box! So there is a lot of thought and effort that goes into this. Plus, the need for fresh veggies and other things that we run out of quickly, like eggs, sends me on multiple trips to the store each week. I should be on a first name basis with everyone who works there by now. It's almost embarrassing. And don't even ask me about our grocery bill! I've tried many times to budget and keep it below a certain amount but it's so hard! This is why I choose not to buy organic grass fed beef and other organic foods. The beef especially though, just a teeny tiny steak costs an arm and a leg. Some hard cores will say, "but it's so worth it". Well, I don't think it's worth putting my family in debt over. Seriously, if I ate those foods daily, we'd be broke for sure! Not that I wouldn't love to be able to feed my body all the healthful benefits of organic grass fed beef.

Moving on....

Needless to say, coming up with new, tasty and healthy dishes that my whole family will love is no easy task. I could literally spend hours researching it and I'd rather be doing some other activity which doesn't require me to sit so long. Maybe that's why it's taking me so long to get my photo website up and running?? Sometimes I will scan healthy blogs and save recipes to my computer, and then forget about them...haha. Or I will find dishes that I want to try and then by dinner time, I'm too lazy to do it. I know, lazy isn't something I love to be, but it is what it is. It's not always the case, but more often than I'd like.

This is probably THE reason I don't have my perfect body yet. Because I'm too lazy most of the time to do what it takes in the kitchen. I have the knowledge, I absolutely KNOW what it takes, but I'm not always 100% gung ho about it. I know it's a no-no to just eat carbs. I know that my meals should be mostly protein and vegetables. But preparing this stuff all the time feels like it consumes my entire life. After I've been on a real serious kick for a while it gets tiresome. I feel like all I'm doing is swallowing supplements, working out, prepping food, cooking food, eating food, shopping for more food, thinking about food, etc. I feel like it takes up so much of my day that I'm hardly able to keep up with my regular chores. Cleaning this gigantic house and cooking for my kids (they don't eat a lot of what I eat) and playing with them, running errands, helping my mom.....I'm really just plain exhausted by the end of the day. I'm falling asleep standing if I'm still up by 9:00pm. Seriously. And exercise is supposed to give you MORE energy, right?!

It's so much nicer to just grab a piece of toast and cheese and be done with it. It's easy, it's tasty, it's satisfying. Or, just throw a protein bar in my purse and head out with the kids. PRE PACKAGED (gasp!) protein bar, that is. Even though I know they are just "glorified candy bars". I know that a great physique comes with a LOT of sacrifice and hard work. Everyone that has a competitor's body has to go through the motions. There are no short cuts for them either. It's just as much of a challenge. Yet here I sit, whining endlessly about why I just can't get my dream physique. Sigh...

I wish I was a celebrity who had a personal dietitian and chef who would work together to create a diet that would fill my body with the proper macro nutrients, everything I needed to get to my goal, and I wouldn't have to think about it at all. Just be served and eat. That's it. Wouldn't that be great?!

One last thing, I want to try [I said try] to post a delicious healthy meal idea once a day (except for weekends). That way, it forces me to come up with new menu options for my benefit, and maybe will help inspire another bored-to-pieces-healthy-cook somewhere out there. I know that I always love to see other fitness bloggers post their favorite healthy meals because it gives me new ideas and inspiration. Plus, I need to do a lot less whining and do more helpful posts. I have very little traffic on this blog and I realize that is because there isn't much content. It never bothered me that I have very few visitors, because I started this many years ago as a diary to keep myself accountable. I figured if other people had a chance to read it, I'd be less apt to give up on my goals. It has been helpful. But now that it's been quite a few years and I've only got a few followers, it makes me think that I need to change something.

I still want to be able to come here and rant about whatever is on my mind, but I don't want to be depressing, I don't want to sound whiny, I don't want to be too preachy, and I don't want to offend people. I'm not going to please everyone, that's true for us all. I want to stay true to ME. For instance, I'm not a cardio queen, and I'm gonna tell it like it is about too much cardio, like it or not. Because that's me. That's my view. You can take it or leave it. We aren't all going to see eye to eye. Everyone has their thing. And we're all going to think our own thing is the best there is. Like the way I feel that weight lifting is far superior *wink* to cardio for countless reasons. You are going to find blogs with that exact same mindset all over the net. And for everyone of those, there is another that says CARDIO rules. Every body is different. We aren't all made to sprint. We aren't all made for endurance sports. We aren't all weight lifters. We do what we like. We do what we can. And on this blog, I'm team weight lifting. And I don't care what team you are on. We can still be friends ;)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

this is me

Well, second day with no sugary treats. Although I did have a protein bar for snack. I don't know if that counts as a cheat? My husband had apricot preserves on his toast last night and we all know that stuff is all sugar, so if that didn't count, I don't think my protein bar does.

Anyway, I had a huge headache towards evening yesterday and I'm wondering if that is the effects of getting off sugar. Could be, I guess.

Today I ate a lot of bread. 4 pieces over the course of 2 meals. I usually only eat MAYBE one per day and it's always Ezekiel sprouted grain bread. But today, I ate Andreas' 12 grain. I made oats for breakfast (as usual) and had 3 egg whites. I couldn't finish the oats, I just couldn't. I jumped on the elliptical (no bike this time) because I wanted to burn a quick and easy 350 calories. It took me 40 minutes. But I was drained by the end, probably from lack of substantial breakfast.

There is this picture floating around facebook of the rear ends of 3 different women. Maybe you've seen it? The first is fat and saggy and full of cellulite labeled: neglect. The second is thin but super saggy and with no tone labeled: diet. The last is a gorgeous round booty, obviously built with weight training labeled: diet and exercise. I want to "like" it so bad but I think it might be one of those pictures that could offend some people I know. So I didn't. But I truly believe this picture. Diet alone will only get you so far. And obviously no diet or exercise will get you flabby. There should be another picture on there though, the skinny fat girl. You know, the one that looks good in clothes but underneath it all she's a soft lumpy mess. That one should be labeled exercise - and whatever the hell food she wants. I'm the poster child for that one!!

I sometimes really hate the fact that I'm so afraid of offending people. It seems like more and more there is an over abundance of people who don't think before they speak and if they do they don't care who they offend. Honestly, I always wished I could be someone like that. But I'm also a little happy that I'm the quiet and shy girl because I tend to stay out of trouble that way. Of course that personality type hasn't won over tons of friends for me either. Why is it that the loud obnoxious people have all the friends?? Not that I mind, I'm generally too busy to have much of a social life anyway. I find it difficult to imagine how I would manage it. It always seems like I'm on the go. Running errands for us and for my mom. [Trying] to keep up with this house. Getting to the gym. Making sure I leave time for having fun with the kids. And really trying, but never seeming to have enough time to get my photos ready to sell. Yeah, I'm trying to start a business but it's SO time consuming and it's always on the back burner because there is always something more important that needs to be done.

I am so thankful that I don't have a job outside the home because to tell you the truth, I don't know when I would workout. Probably in the evening. I'm not the type of person who likes to get her sweat on right after I roll out of bed. I may be awake at 5:30-6:00am (as soon as it's light out) but I'm not ready to workout. Or eat. And I'm NOT going to workout on an empty stomach. People believe that burns more fat. But I think it just sacrifices more muscle. I'm totally content with my workout schedule. It works really well for me. Somewhere between 9 -10am is perfect. Eden is a light sleeper and early riser so she is usually up with me. But Emma is in bed until 9 or 9:30. That girl can sleep! Now that Hanna is gone I have had to leave my girls at Grandma's house when I go to the gym. Otherwise, it's SO AWESOME to have a live in babysitter at my disposal. She doesn't mind it either - cha ching$$!!

There are certain blogs that are so preachy at times. This one included, I admit! The one thing that gets to me a little bit is when people with jobs outside the home, who have to get up before the sun rises to workout, will actually sound like they are disgusted by people like me who can basically workout whenever they feel like it. They are so amazing because they wake up at 4am. I must not be as dedicated. Why the hell should it matter when I do my workout? I'm doing it, that's all that matters to me. You have a great time with your feeling of superiority, I'll be sleeping in (if you can call 6am sleeping in)....cuz I can. *wink*

Of course, anyone with a job outside the home that disses a stay at home mom like myself because they think we don't "work" is my number one annoyance in the world. But I won't get into that. My cousin blogs about her family and what's it's like to be a stay at home mom of 3 small children. She's a passionate and caring mother and very talented writer. She shares really great stories about her life at home with all the ups and downs of being a fellow "non worker". I know this is a fitness outlet but if you have some extra time, you should browse through her posts. Good stuff!

Monday, June 18, 2012

You are worth it!

What kind of wonderful incite do I have for you today? Uh...not much.

Everything is pretty much the same. Oh, except for that my husband and I have made another no-sugar-pact. Basically, I've been treating myself to ice cream a little too freely these days and I don't want my health to suffer. Or his. Because at some point in his life, the way he eats sugar, he'll likely develop diabetes. I know we won't give up sugar for good, but it will be good for both of us to slow down. So, we are not eating sugary treats. And the first one to cave has to do something the other wants. For instance, I think that if I hold out the longest, I will make my hubs come to the gym with me some Saturday. Muahahahaha!!! But shhhh....don't tell!

Despite not really giving a crap about what I'm eating, I'm doing great. I've toned down my neurotic behavior and don't kill myself with grueling daily workouts. Don't get me wrong, I still workout 5 days a week and I'm panting and sweating profusely, but I'm not driving my intensity up as high as it can go every. single. day. I'm done with that. I've already proved to myself that I'm a maniac hardcore fitness freak, there's no need to over reach all the time.

You know what's funny? Being fit has many advantages. When I go out to a bar (which is rare) we usually end up dancing. If there is a good song playing and I'm slightly lit up, I can't help but shake it. So one of the last times I was out with my sisters, we went to a karaoke bar. And in between singers, the dj would play awesome dance music and so I got up and started dancing. I think my sisters thought I was a lunatic but I didn't care. Eventually, a whole bunch of people joined in. I was requesting songs to dance to left and right and the dj was lovin' the music I was picking. I think there was more dancing than singing going on. And my sisters were like, "We have to start working out more. We can't keep up with you!" By the end of the night, everyone else was dropping like flies but I was still flailing around. Another bonus to being fit, I guess. The dj even gave me his card, he thought I was fun. I guess people don't typically turn a karaoke bar into a dance party :)

My current schedule is weight training 3 times per week and 2 sessions of cardio. As I said, I've been doing the recumbent bike. And it sucks ASS. I don't like it. But I'm curious to see if it does anything for my legs. I'm thinking that one of these nights I might get the urge to run outside. Every now and then the mood will strike. We have been biking together some evenings and it's very nice. We found a new bike path near our neighborhood that takes us through an area on the edge of town that is away from traffic, sort of in the middle of a field and has a's really quite lovely.

Next month my mother-in-law is coming to stay with us for a couple weeks and my husband is taking time off from work. I'm really excited because we'll probably spend a lot of time at the beach. We're also planning on taking a trip to Canada, just the two of us. It's been a long time since we've had any sort of vacation with just the two of us. We drove to Wisconsin together the first year we were dating and since then, we've never taken a trip together just because. We did spend a little time in Copenhagen together sans children but there was a hunting. So yeah, looking forward to some quality R&R.

Fitness advice for anyone looking for it: do what you like. It doesn't matter if you cycle, run, lift, roller blade, surf, or swim, as long as you enjoy it and it keeps you active, do it! More of us are becoming overweight and every body seems so intent on this "it's not your fault" slogan. I believe that some people are luckier than others in the weight management area than others. No question. But we still are responsible for a part of it. I don't buy into the idea that we can eat what we want without regard to our health and live a sedentary lifestyle and then claim that it's not our fault. Sure, some of us may have a greater likelihood for gaining weight than our neighbor, but that doesn't mean we should say, "oh well, it's in my genes to be fat" and continue to stuff ourselves full of junk. I'm all about loving ourselves the way we are but since when it is bad to want to be leaner and healthier? It's not narcissism. It's not selfishness. It is loving yourself. That you care enough for your health, your longevity, is saying you are worth the time and effort a healthy lifestyle takes. You are worth being around to see your grandchildren and great grandchildren. You are worth living into your golden years without being riddled with pain and disease. You are worth it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Attack mode

Ok, so I checked out this blog as per a reader suggestion and it was a fantastic motivator. On my off weight training days, I've been on the recumbent bike.

I have to admit. I don't like it. Not at all. Intervals are deadly and steady state is awful. I start out with intervals and it sucks. After about 10 minutes of intervals (because I can't take much more) I go to steady state. I'm on the thing for an hour. It's a constant burn in my legs, quads mostly. Then I start to feel it in my butt. And it really is unpleasant. But I've always said, I'll do whatever it takes. And so I'm trying this.

Maybe even worse than the hour long burn is the fact that when I am done and I stand up, I have two giant sweat circles on my butt cheeks. It's not subtle either. Embarrassing! Not to mention my back all the way down is drenched, so I look like a sweaty pig walking out of the gym. I could feel it but didn't realize how bad it was until I got home and Hanna said, "Why is your butt all wet?" I looked in the mirror and oh dear Lord! You mean I was walking around in public looking like this? Haha. Oh well, I don't go there for a fashion show. I usually look like hell when I'm done.

I've started my new supplements. The day I got my Yohimebine in the mail, I was so excited to start taking it so I took one that afternoon. And I was awake a lot that night. Stupid. So yesterday I took it in the morning and I was fine last night. I don't feel any side effects from it either. I was a little nervous because of the warnings for people who are easily anxious but so far so good! I'm also trying a mulberry supplement because it is supposed to help stabilize blood sugar and help free you from sugar addiction. I'm really hoping it works because I'm in need of some help in that area again.

I shared on facebook the other day a great post by Darla of Stay Healthy Fitness. She talked about her need for recovery time and that since she is nearing 50, she doesn't want her workouts to be so intense anymore. I think that's smart. I also don't see the need to kill yourself in the gym every single day. I think that people who do this are a bit nuts. I have been there. And it certainly didn't help me with my goals. I probably burned a lot of calories but it didn't help the shape of my body much. Just made me skinny. Muscles need time to recover.

I just have to quote her here because I loved this:

"What is the purpose…the point…really…do I need to lift enormous amounts of weight to put extreme pressure on my spine, joints, tissues, and grunt until I pop a hemorrhoid…YIKES… do I need to prove something to someone…NO, NO and NO. It is not my goal to further injure myself, or put myself at risk of re-injury. My goal is to take care of my body, nourish it with healthy foods, and REST when my body says…for goodness sakes Darla…lay the hell down already. "

And that is smart, really. I mean, unless you are a powerlifter or something, lifting crazy amounts of weight isn't necessary. I mean, what do I care what I'm deadlifting or squatting compared to the man next to me in the gym? If I was lifting heavier weight than him, what difference would that make to me? The only thing I care about it being fit, not outlifting some random dude at the gym. Sure, you need to create stimulus for your muscles to grow and heavy lifting has it's place. But you aren't going to be able to raise weight consistently at every workout. There is a point when you just can't. So what do you do?

You increase your training volume. A good way to do this is instead of pushing the weight up and up and up, is add more sets. It's easier to make progressions this way. So right now, I'm lifting the same amount of weight, same number of reps (generally) but I increase the number of sets I do. Then, after about 3 workouts (since I alternate between two different full body training routines, this takes about 2 weeks) I can move up the weight and lower the sets again.

For me, I reach a high amount of weight quickly, then get stuck there FOREVER. So I'm thinking, I have to increase weight, I have to....or I just won't progress. But when I simply can't, what do I do? I'm not going to risk injuring myself or put more weight on the rack and use poor form just so I can think I'm progressing. The way I've been able to solve this is adding more volume. It works better for me.

As far as split training goes, I'm on the fence. I know that people who are trying to build mass prefer it. And after summer, I will probably make the switch. But since I'm taking these supplements to get after my alph-2 receptors, I want to make every effort to get all I can out of them. That means, stressing every muscle in my body and creating a metabolic environment where my RMR is increased for a couple of days after my workouts. This results in much better fat burning and hormonal response from my training. As opposed to just a couple of small muscle groups. I'm still in attack mode when it comes to that fat.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My day

Have you ever done one arm DB snatches? I'm doing them with a 30lb dumbbell and they are REALLY good at getting an aerobic element into weight training. I'm literally out of breath after doing them.

Another good way to sneak in an aerobic touch to your workouts is walking lunges. I use a 25lb weight plate in each hand and take 20 long deep steps. 4 sets of them. I'm drenched when I'm done.

How about a clean and press? I'm at 65lbs right now and it's tough. Sometimes getting that bar from the ground to over my head seems impossible. But I do it.

I'm only deadlifting 125lbs. But today it felt on the easy side so I'll be taking that weight up next week.

Let's see, what else? Oh yeah, bench press today was at 85lbs.

I did 4 sets of hamstring curls at 60lbs.

My shoulders NEED to lift more weight. I would love to get above 10lbs weights on my side lat raises. That is one area of my body that I would love to build up more. But I'm pretty weak and the weight never seems to go up.

But man, I love this stuff!!

I asked my husband if he thought I was getting any bigger. He said my arms were. "You're upper body is BUFF" ....ah, yeah. Who wouldn't want that?? I noticed how he carefully avoided saying anything about my lower body..haha. I had been at Gordmans and their changing room mirrors do absolutely NOTHING for my self esteem. I've never seen so many lumps and bumps except on a 90 year old lady! So I was joking about it last night and told him that it looked like I was wearing coffee cake on my legs. You know how the top of a coffee cake is so bumpy? Yeah. But the cool thing about him is, no matter how hard I am on myself, he is always there to build me up. If I say that my butt is soft he'll say, "That's what makes it so lovely" or if I say that my legs are lumpy, he says "I think you look great" ....he is just what I need to keep me sane.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Recumbent Bike

I got a comment on my last post about stubborn fat that really made me think. The reader had mentioned how the recumbent bike had positive results in decreasing lower body fat. Naturally, I was curious, so I did a little checking.

I came across a blog that said pretty much the same thing. After an injury that left her no other choice but to use the recumbent bike, "Jill" had torched fat and sculpted her legs like she never dreamed.

Like many, I never associated the recumbent bike with a real workout. I thought it was generally reserved for people who couldn't handle much else. And this was the same way the writer felt.

However, this is what the blog had to say about it:

"Traditional fat-burning anaerobic exercise done via high-intensity interval training (HIIT) creates a hormonally and calorically favorable environment to lose inches. Ninety-five percent of exercisers want fat loss. And most females will point to various hip and thigh areas and want to get rid of localized fat in these places. Luckily, since the recumbent bike only works the lower body, the trainee can channel all exertion to the legs and glutes to create powerful pedal strokes through the fat-burning protocol. We know from recent studies that HIIT burns greater amounts of fat than low-to-moderate intensity aerobic exercise, as was shown via stationary bikes in an article published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism (Dec 2008). Fat burning increased 60% from baseline with interval programs such as those contained in My Gym Trainer. Even though the recumbent bike utilizes only the lower half of the body, the metabolic effect created by interval training on the bike generates a universal fat-burning ripple effect."

I know it sounds a little like they are telling us that you can "spot reduce" fat from the lower body using the recumbent bike. Although I know this isn't possible, it does make sense that the more you are using the muscles in the area you wish to burn fat, the more you are building muscle tone in that same area, thus creating a more sculpted look. Which is exactly what we want.

Another bonus, for me, it would seem, is that since I never use this type of equipment for more than just a warm up tool, it might be just the thing I need to shock my lower half into responding. We all know that when we reach a plateau the best thing we can do is switch up our game and give the body something it isn't expecting. Well, mine sure as hell won't be expecting this!

So I plan on doing HIIT for 20 minutes on the bike and then maybe another 20 afterward of just medium exertion pedaling for that extra fat burn in place of my regular running intervals. I might still do some sprints a couple of evenings a week just to make sure Hanna gets hers done.

I have a positive feeling about this!

Oh, and I went ahead and ordered some Yohimebine and L-Tyrosine too, for good measure. Look out alpha-2s.....I'm coming after you!!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

stubborn fat

Over the years, my main fitness goal has been to lose my lower body fat. And it always seemed so odd to me that no matter how much or how hard I workout or how good my diet was, nothing worked. Sure, I've gotten smaller, but I've pretty much hit a wall. I'm about as fit as I can possibly be, and thin, yet I still have lower body fat.

It's called stubborn fat. Some gurus on the Internet like to claim, "There is no such thing as stubborn fat. Fat is fat. You just have to workout more and eat better." I'm guessing these people have never truly experienced stubborn fat the way I have. Yes, there is such a thing as "stubborn fat", and here's what it is:

Basically in women, stubborn fat areas are the hips, thighs and butt (am I right, ladies?) and in men it's the abdominal region. That's why usually you see women with bigger lower bodies and men with "beer guts". These are the areas that fat gets easily stored. Although there are some women who are stick straight and have no hips, this is determined by genetics. What is also determined by genetics, and therefore will determine how easily you lose fat in certain areas of the body, is how many alpha-2 and beta-2 andrenoreceptors you have. And in the stubborn fat areas, we tend to have more alpha-2 receptors, which is why it seems almost impossible to lose fat there.

The type of andrenorecptors you have in certain areas of the body determines how well or how poorly fat is mobilized and burned off. Alpha-2 are the bad guys. They decrease fat burning and blood flow while the beta-2 receptors do the opposite. Unfortunately for us women, we can have 9 times more alpha-2 receptor in our lower body. And studies show that blood flow in this area can be 67% less than other areas of the body. Supposedly you can feel this. When you workout and get all hot and sweaty, other areas of your body will feel warm yet the thighs might remain cold to the touch. This is because of reduced blood flow.

Reading about this was really quite a devastating blow. To think I've been working so hard to rid myself of this stubborn fat and blaming myself for every mis-step, a slice of cake here, a potato chip there, and all the while my genetics were waging a war against me to which I had no chance at winning. So is that it? Is there nothing I can do? The odds are pretty stacked against me, with 67% lower blood flow and 9 times more alpha-2 receptors in those areas of my body that I so desperately want to lose fat.

Well, there are things that may help. According to Jimmy Smith (who has one of the top 50 fitness blogs out there) there are a couple things you can try. When it comes to the type of exercise you do, he had this to say:

While longer duration lower intensity exercise (like running) will burn fat effectively, it doesn't mobilize fat from stubborn areas efficiently.

Likewise, higher intensity training (think sprints or HIIT) doesn't give you the best of both worlds either. It will mobilize the fat from stubborn areas but not burn it off effectively.

So it makes sense to utilize both. It is commonly written that the first 20 minutes of a workout is spent burning readily available carbs and after that, you start digging into stored fat. If you are to do your HIIT during the first 20 minutes of your workout, then finish with some steady state running, you will first mobilize the fat out of those stubborn cells and into the blood stream where you will then be able to burn it off.

It all really just clicked. It's so very apparent to me that I must have a TON of alpha-2 receptors in my lower body judging by how hard I have struggled to lose fat there. My mom always told me it was in my genes. Even her doctor back in the day told her there was nothing she could do. I always refused to believe that there was nothing that could be done. I don't like to give up that easily. I know that for me, it won't be as easily done as someone who's genetics are a little easier on the hip and thigh region. That is just the way it is. But if I workout in a way that will compliment my genetic "defect"...haha, I might be able to see some results.

There are a couple of supplements to try also. L-tyrosine, Yohimebine, Phosserine.

L-Tyrosine is an amino acid, which we all know are the building blocks of protein. People can take this supplement for conditions ranging from depression, to ADD, to low libido. When used in conjunction with Yohimebine, it is effective at getting at those alpha-2 receptors.

Yohimebine is supposedly an aphrodisiac, so I'm thinking if L-tyrosine helps low sex drive and yohimebine is an aphrodisiac, and I start taking these, my husband will be pretty happy ;) Anyway, yohimebine blocks alpha-2 receptors. And according to one study, may actuate significant fat loss in athletes. Many supplement companies sell yohimbine for reduction of adipose tissue. But if taken in higher doses it can be dangerous, so be careful. Adverse side effects are rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and insomnia. And in rare cases, panic attacks and hallucinations.

Phosserine moderates the body's response to stress, helps you relax. So while it will have no direct effect on fat loss, if you are less stressed, you produce less cortisol. And cortisol is bad for hanging on to fat.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Is this worth it?

I'm sitting here, at 9:00 in the morning, trying to choke down steak. Flank steak. One of the leaner cuts of beef. I love it. I love steak. But it's just so weird eating it in the morning.

It's become hard for me to eat bigger breakfasts these days and I'm not sure why. I usually eat oatmeal and about 4 egg whites. Even that is hard to get down. When I'm done I feel SO full. But I have to try to get it down because I know I need to eat.

But I'm not super hungry right away in the morning. My hungriest time of day seems to be between 3-5pm. And I wonder if maybe that has something to do with not eating enough in the early part of the day. I could easily eat my oats and egg whites during this time, as opposed to 7am.

I also have the hardest time staying away from junk food in the later part of the day. After supper is the worst. We are a family who loves to have coffee and a dessert after supper. It's always been that way. So when we don't have a dessert of some kind, it almost feels like the meal isn't finished. It's like having your after meal cigarette, you just feel like you need it. There is such an intense craving.

I've stopped baking for the most part (sad face). I still do once in a while, but usually only for certain occasions or if we are having company. I really love to cook and bake so it's a shame. But if I bake, it's hard not to eat it with everyone else. I want to be disciplined and have the body I crave, but I also want to indulge in treats with the rest of my family. I'm having a hard time deciding which is more important to me at the moment.

The problem isn't indulging once in a while. I have no problem giving in to treats one or two (maybe 3) times a week. My biggest issue is my personality type. I don't seem to like to do anything half-assed. If I'm gonna do it, I'm gonna DO IT. I have an excessive personality. Which means (for instance) if I drink, it's hard to stop at one - although this has gotten way easier for me than it had been, say, 10 years ago. These days, I can certainly stop at one glass of wine, and most times I can't even finish one. But if I eat a chocolate, I want more. And more. And more. It's hard to stop. Or if I have something that I know isn't good for me, like a pop tart, I figure I've already blown my clean eating for the day, so I might as well pig out on everything in sight.

This is exactly what happened last night. Right before bed too, the absolute WORST time to do it. I didn't eat much for supper. Come to think of it, I didn't eat much all day because I was busy. So this made me hungrier than usual at bed time. I figured that I didn't want to go to bed without some protein so I ate some steak and sweet potato fries. Then I thought, I want to try the apple strudel pop tarts I got for the kids. They were delicious! I had two. Then I wanted to try the iron kids white bread I got for the Eden. It is SO soft, just like angel food cake. I toasted it and put butter on it. OH DEAR HEAVEN, what bliss! White bread. Seems so simple and harmless, doesn't it? So I ended up eating God knows how many calories and then went to bed. Nice.

Sometimes I really hate that 'all or nothing' attitude I have. But just like it effects my diet, it effects my workouts. Every time I feel like I went crazy in the kitchen, I'll go crazy in the gym. Because I had cake and chocolates over the weekend, I worked out twice on Monday to undo the "damage" I figured I'd caused. I lifted weights in the morning, then around 2pm I did sprints and then ran on the treadmill - something I don't particularly enjoy. And I was a zombie that evening. I was so incredibly tired. It's not like I've never worked out twice in one day before. Last summer I used to do my main workout in the morning and then if the weather was tolerable, I'd go for a jog while the kids tagged along on their bikes. That was really fun. But I think when I do sprints, it takes a lot more out of me. And I've been doing a lot of them lately.

I am nearing 40 (2 1/2 more years) and I want to stay fit and healthy. But I'm starting to really question my need for this body that I am constantly trying to achieve. Why is it so important.....really? I can't even answer that question. Which makes me think that maybe it isn't important. Even if I did achieve a body worthy of a figure competition, would it matter? I know that it's something I've wanted for as long as I can remember, but I seem to struggle with it more than it's worth. I won't get anything out of it other than to be able to say I DID IT! And that would be nice, but is it THAT big of a deal that I need to torture myself with guilt for the rest of my life if I eat a piece of cake or one too many chocolates?? Or kill myself with grueling twice a day workouts so that I'm too tired to enjoy time with my family? I don't think so. Having a figure body would be the highest feeling in the world. But that's not a body I could maintain. So even if I reached that goal, it wouldn't last. And if I wanted it again, I'd have to work just as hard for it and be just as disciplined. I'm not sure I want that.

On the positive side, it's nice enough knowing that I have abs - when I want them. What I mean by that is, I might not always have abs quite as visible as they are in my picture on the side bar, but I know that if I want them, I just have to cut carbs for a few days. If I eat pizza, they disappear underneath the bloat. But they aren't gone. To me, that is fit enough. I'm not sure I know many people that can bring out their 6 pack in a few days ;) It should be good enough. And I think, for the most part, it is.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Working out outside

Last night, the kids and I did some sprints outside. It's SO much better to do them outside vs. the treadmill because you can go as fast as you can without being limited by the top speed of the treadmill or having to push buttons. It...was...great! I think we are going to make it our "thing" during the evenings. Not every night, but if we can get those in 3 times a week, we'll be doing awesome. I'm sure our neighbors think I'm a bit crazy running down the middle of the street with my kids, but it's not a super busy road. It's really the only place we can get any distance. The yard is too small.

Speaking of crazy, I actually got on the treadmill the other night....for an hour! I don't remember what we had but I ate too much. So I decided that since I was such a cow I would punish myself with an hour on the treadmill. I started out with "sprints" (I use the term sprint loosely since my treadmill only goes to 10) then I finished up jogging. It felt good for a change. Honestly, the last time i was on a treadmill that long was probably around 2 years ago.

I've also been helping Hanna workout outside. She hates going downstairs to do the treadmill by herself so we thought of a different way to get her to move. Thursday evening she was practically in tears because she said being in the basement alone creeps her out. So on Friday, when she started up the whining again, I said, "Fine. I have something written up and all ready to go for you". It was a list of plyometric moves and some weighted exercises alternated with running and short rest periods. She likes being outside and having me guide her through it, but I work her hard, so there is quite a bit of whining. Surprisingly, though, she came up to me one night before bed and hugged me and thanked me for helping her. I was so moved. I am proud of how hard she has worked the last few days. Between that, the sprints and basketball on the driveway, she will be plenty active this summer. Just hope we can keep it up!