Tag Archives: exercise

Learning the Lessons of My Own History

4 Oct

There was a point last week when I was just bursting with big plans for this “Me Time” and had great expectations that I’d be in the gym working out like a maniac and dropping pounds equivalent to a toddler each month….and then I actually thought about it.  Yes, I have the capacity to drop quite a bit of weight during this first month, but I also have to realize that there ARE lessons that I’ve learned about myself in a lifetime of intermittent diet and exercise and that I’d be a total moron if I didn’t absorb them and make changes this time around.

The truth of the matter is that I’ve been all fits and starts for a long time. I’ve tried more diets than I’ll bore you with and have leaped into exercise routines like Snooki jumps into a tanning booth. The problems, however, have always been the same.  There ARE many diets that are sensible and effective, but I realize that I need accountability. I need to have to answer to someone other than myself at the end of the day because realistically, while I may be the person friends want to talk to about their missteps because I’m comforting and forgiving, I’m a bit too comforting and forgiving with myself. I’m not saying that I should give myself a beating or a Mel Gibson tongue lashing because I had a little ice cream, but I could probably use a little balance.  Let’s face it, ice cream is awesome, but I just have to remember not to let a small indulgence bleed into a whole week or a complete abandonment of my plan.

As for exercise, I DO get a bit nutty sometimes. I’m not saying that I spend 6 hours in the gym, but I develop this feeling of pride that morphs into a weird moral superiority when I hit the gym every day. My father might be a little like that..and as he likes to say, “I come by it honestly.”  The problem with being a jerk about this stuff is that when I miss a day or two everything goes to hell. I backslide like Charlie Sheen within an hour of being released from rehab.

Moderation is my new byword. I started today with a reasonable, healthy breakfast and lunch, drank a lot of water, and hit the park for a lovely, crisp, mid-afternoon walk. As I write this, I’m cooking a great dinner with a mix of bright colored veggies and a perfectly individually portioned turkey and mushroom meatloaf.  I’m going on the theory that if I don’t place unrealistic expectations on myself that I can create and maintain a routine that lasts.

This weekend I’m going apple picking with some terrific people and I’m already thinking of the delicious and healthy things that I can make with the spoils of the trip.  Trips like these are great because they’re social, fun, outdoors, and active.  What are your plans for the weekend to get moving and have a great time?

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Emotional Eating Poster Child

22 Sep

Ah, good intentions!

From my last post you can probably tell I’m going through a slightly…turbulent time. While it’s true that I’m focusing a lot of energy on keeping positive, there have been some situations that have had the same effect on me that kryptonite has on Superman…that is, if Superman reacted to it by putting on sweats and eating macaroni and cheese….in bulk.

The job situation, despite my best efforts and intrinsic charm, has not resolved itself.  While I have a phenomenal support system, the people who can’t see beyond their own noses are taking center stage and pushing every hot button I have. Yesterday the combination of some bad news and a migraine sent me into a tailspin that drove me out of the office at lunchtime and straight to the grocery store. I filled my basket with every comfort food I could think of and then drove home to hole up for the rest of the day.

There was carnage my friends. There was salt and fat and carbs. There were cookies. It ended with a faceplant/nap on my couch that lasted til about 5pm, followed by a fog that didn’t want to lift.  If I ever had a single question in my mind about the connection between my emotions and my eating it exists no longer.  The hardest thing to reconcile, especially as I climbed on the scale this morning to welcome back 4.5 lbs, is that all this “comfort” is doing nothing but hurting me.

I felt so disgusted with myself today that I didn’t want to eat anything but last night’s overindulgence kicked my metabolism into high gear. My stomach was like something out of Little Shop of Horrors; growling “Feed me Lisa! Feed me!” I fed it a turkey sandwich that made me simultaneously overfull and sleepy.

The irony of all this is that I KNOW not to do it. I KNOW how I need to eat to be healthy and knock off the pounds. I SHOULD be eating a nutritious breakfast to keep the hunger and cravings at bay. I SHOULD be eating vegetables and moderating carbs….but I’m worn out and my logical self and willpower have decided to sound the retreat and lay low until I get my shit together.

So I obviously have to get my shit together…and fast…before that Chris guy from Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition starts ringing my doorbell and asking me to weigh in on the loading dock. Which reminds me, how IS it exactly that these people are too heavy to weigh in on a regular scale and then three months later can get on a scale that this dude carries in his Jansport backpack?  But I digress…

I know they say “We plan. God laughs.” but I need a plan. First, I need to REST this weekend. That may mean shutting off the phone and watching too many episodes of Dance Moms and Toddlers and Tiaras. Next, I need to get back to giving my body actual FUEL. If I eat right I have more energy and I won’t feel like couch potato-ing my way through the next couple weeks or months.  Starting Monday, October 3 daily gym visits are back on the schedule. Yes, I’m delaying the gym a little, but I find from my own experience that if I give myself a week to re-adjust to a healthy diet and drop a few preliminary pounds I’m uber-motivated to get into the gym.

I need to re-establish some control and there’s a limit to the things I CAN control. Maybe while I’m at it I can try to convince Fitness, Shape, or Self that they need a chubby on staff. Think about it, they could reach a whole new audience…road test workouts on someone who is in…less than optimal physical condition. They could have “real life” editorial input (a.k.a. “No, I would NEVER eat lawn clippings for lunch no matter how much Minka Kelly raves about the results.”)  There! I have a new pet project….one that keeps me from eating a pint of ice cream while watching The Biggest Loser.

Boys and girls, there’s always going to be a time when things suck and you just-don’t-wanna…those are the times when we have to summon our inner parental voice that says “Do it anyway. It’s good for you. Ok, do it because I said so.”

Hiatus Hernia

15 Sep

So I dropped off the face of the earth blog-wise.  I wasn’t watching a Lost marathon. I haven’t been committed to a mental hospital.  The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.  I didn’t exactly fall off the wagon – there just seemed to cease to be a wagon.  Things just went wrong…all the things.

Back in June I had just turned 36, I was seeing a guy I liked a whole lot, was back on my feet after ridding my life of a relationship the previous year that fiscally and emotionally drained me, I was totally grooving at work, and had started making new friends and creating a happy, stable life for myself.  The only challenge on the horizon was trying to shed the unwanted pounds I’d put on while I was healing through burgers, fries, and milkshakes.

And then things broke down.

I knew the fire had gone out in my quasi-relationship though the object of my affection, to this very day, refuses to hurt me by admitting it.  He’s an amazing person and the woman who manages to capture his undying affection will be so VERY lucky. As I promised him and myself, I didn’t break. I took it in stride.

Then my body betrayed me. No matter how careful I was with my food…no matter how much exercise I was doing I COULD NOT lose weight. To make matters worse, it repeatedly came up with new and colorful ailments to prevent me from exercising from cysts to a spectacular display of food allergies for which I now carry an Epi Pen.  I thought perhaps it was my body’s way of telling me not to forget I’m half a Jew by rejecting traif like shellfish, but as it turns out it does not like any of God’s creatures that make their home in water….clams being the most offensive. The thought of never having linguine with white clam sauce again brings a tear to my eye.

And then work. I can’t really talk about that, but it ain’t good.

I felt like I was in the perfect storm and I just dropped out…of just about everything. I lost my patience for everything.  I didn’t feel like I had anything worthwhile to say to anyone.

But then great things happened.

None of the problems disappeared but suddenly I found that the foundation I had built over the past year hadn’t washed away and, in fact, was solidly in place to support me. The friends I had reconnected with have kept me laughing and smiling. My long-time friends, my Laura, my knitting ladies and gents, and my co-workers have kept me caffeinated and listened and tolerated my nasty moods and still answer the phone when I call.  I even got to go on a very promising first date with someone amazing from my past who endlessly makes me laugh and with whom I have no shortage of conversation.

I admit I still struggle with keeping the negativity at bay. Sometimes it seems to surround me – in the form of both my own problems and those of others.  Still, I’m so incredibly grateful. I have great faith that everything will work itself out and I hope it’s sooner rather than later, but I have so many people in my life to be thankful for…I feel really lucky.

So now I can say with conviction that the wagon exists and I’m back on it. Starting this weekend it’s back to Weight Watchers and the gym.  I want to feel better, healthier, more energetic, and I want my fucking jeans to zip without me having to lie on the ground.  Onward and upward my friends…or downward…yeah, in this case downward would be far better.

Crimes and Misdemeanors

13 Jun

Remember last week when I promised I would tell you when I fell asleep in the control tower? This was the weekend. It was an awesome weekend, don’t get me wrong – my beautiful, brilliant, cousin Lucy graduated from high school and had a wonderful party full of family and friends. I co-hosted a baby shower for my equally beautiful and brilliant friend Kate who is anxiously awaiting the birth of her son Tiberius. Ok, his name isn’t Tiberius but I like calling him that. The shower was terrific – lots of fun and funny womenfolk eating, drinking, and generally making merry.

The truth is that I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off all weekend. I didn’t work out and I didn’t have much control over my food options. I also made really good friends with a pitcher of mimosas which was entirely my own fault.  The scale was well aware of my indiscretions this morning….so much so that it didn’t even show my weight – it just screamed.

So, I fell off the wagon for a couple of days….and my 36th birthday is tomorrow and I have less than 60 days til my brother’s wedding.  Here’s the thing – I did TRY to take control of the situations.  I kept my portion sizes small, passed on hors d’ouevres, and drank a lot of water. I think the chief downfall here was sodium (which I couldn’t control) and alcohol (which I could but didn’t).  Thus, I must gather the lessons learned, dust myself off, and move on.

  • I CAN have a mimosa at a party – I cannot have 8
  • Orange juice has a lot of sugar and empty calories, as does champagne
  • I have to make more of an effort to slow down and be mindful of what I’m drinking
  • Drinking more water and going right back to eating right will nip this thing in the bud in no time
  • I’m really fun when I have a pitcher of mimosas in one hand and another pitcher in my belly…but that’s not exactly a good reason to do it
  • Weekends like this happen. It’s done. Get over it.
  • I REALLY need to work out tonight

I really have more important things to dwell on than this weekend’s crimes and misdemeanors…like the fact that my Gyno is asking me if I want to freeze eggs.  I want to bring her a dozen grade A jumbos the next time I see her and tell her to freeze them because I might want an omelet later.  I could also dwell on the fact that driving my rental car (car is in the shop for body work) is like driving a shoebox….or that my maid hasn’t cleaned the apartment, done laundry, or gone grocery shopping in at least a week. I’d slap that bitch around but I’ve been told by leading experts and the Catholic Church that self-abuse is wrong.

And on that note, please refrain from abusing yourselves and try to leave the weekend in the past and start the week fresh. Hope everyone has a great week!

Me and Snotty McWii

8 Jun

Last week I was benched from working out and some hygienic practices that I consider integral parts of my toilette and being in polite company. It sucked. Julia Roberts may like to rock the natural look but it’s not my bag. A week later Mulder and Scully (yes, the lumps – they were something out of the X-Files) are nearly gone and I broke protocol.  I didn’t wait for an alien abduction, but a couple things led me to “get back on the horse.” First was the fact that through eating carefully and keeping my water intake high I was able to lose 2 pounds without exercise. Yes, two pounds would put me below the yellow line on The Biggest Loser, but it brought me to my legitimating ideology – if I WAS exercising imagine what I would be losing….I HAVE TO exercise! The other deciding factors were that they didn’t really hurt anymore and that I had a friggin date coming up. There was NO WAY IN HELL I was going to be puffy and hairy.

So I shaved, deodorized, and exercised.

And nothing bad happened.

I grabbed my Wii balance board and the platform I bought to raise it to Jane Fonda sadism level and I went to town….and the weight has kept coming off so far and The Captain and Tennille haven’t really noticed. Jacking up the balance board made me want to drop dead. I had been doing Advanced Step for a while and all I can say is that a couple of extra inches really do make a world of difference (yes boys, we’ve been lying – size does matter).  I was determined to get in at least 40 minutes even if I arrested and I won’t tell you that I didn’t whine like a little bitch. I REALLY wanted to stop but I thought of all those amazing people on The Biggest Loser who were getting the tar beaten out of them every day, working out for more hours than I care to be conscious – they toughed it out.  I thought of all of you who are reading this, to whom I feel accountable. I promise you that if I peter out halfway through and give up or don’t work out because I’m sick, hurt, or busy I WILL ADMIT IT.

This is reality – we get hurt, we get sick, we get busy and some days we just don’t feel like we have it in us. It’s okay. No need to beat ourselves up…there are plenty of people willing to do it for us.  I will tell you my little rule of thumb that helps me get through the moments I just want to give up or skip a workout and it’s incredibly simple – give it 10 minutes.  No matter what kind of workout I’m doing, the first ten minutes (post warm-up) I think I can’t do it, that I’m a moron for even attempting it, and that I would really be better served by going back to bed, but at the 10 minute mark something awesome happens. I’m over the hump, pumping adrenaline, feeling totally badass – I could do this shit all day! I could beat up those menacing teenage hoodlums that hang out in the Krauszer’s parking lot. Frankly, I become dangerous, but I can get through the damn workout.

Long story even longer, I did 45 minutes of Advanced Step then moved on to 2 other aerobic “games”, did a bit of strength training, and finished off with a little yoga. I was so sweaty by the time I went to do the plank that I slid off the balance board and the snotty, smug trainer couldn’t resist telling me that she “noticed I stopped halfway through.” There’s no option to tell her your balance board had become a slip-n-slide.  Enough about that bitch. I worked out for well over an hour…she can suck it.

Sometimes you really can’t do it. Sometimes your body really needs a rest. I will never tell you that you should ignore your doctor completely – it’s about knowing your body well enough to know when to push through and when to stand down.  So as you’re working out this week give it ten minutes and ask yourself if you really can’t or if the waaaaambulance is coming for you.  You’ll surprise yourself.

 

Ask a Trainer: Christian Villanueva

2 Jun

Christian Villanueva, NASM CPTJoining us for our first “Ask a Trainer” post is Christian Villanueva. After being inspired by an old college friend, Christian decided to take a leap into the exercise and fitness field. Having limited knowledge about training, Christian’s interest and curiosity lead him to earn a certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. As a certified personal trainer, he has had the opportunity and pleasure to meet with an interesting and diverse group of individuals. He has also learned from other fitness professionals who have shared the same passion. It was also during this time that he realized that working out superceded the idea of just looking great. The important benefits soon became a reality for his clients and the experience(s) couldn’t be any more humbling and gratifying. Through his clients, he learned that people are stuck living a more sedentary lifestyle due to the popular culture of working in an office setting. As a motivated individual, his goal is to reverse that lifestyle and suggests people “to keep it moving”.  He continues to share his knowledge/experience and is excited to help more people he meets along the way.

Education: William Paterson Paterson University B.S. in Business Administration
Currently Studying: California University of Pennsylvania M.S. Exercise Science and Health Promotion (Performance Enhancement & Injury Prevention)
National Academy of Sports Medicine CPT since 2006
Currently Preparing for NASM-PES and NSCA-CSCS

Now on to your questions:

Q: I recently purchased a set of resistance bands but after yanking on them a few times, I’m not entirely sure of their effectiveness. Is there any point in using them or are they as ineffective as they feel?

A: Depends on the quality of the bands. Cheap resistance bands will lose the resistance over a period of time and some bands lose its resistance after one strong stretch. My suggestion is, “Perform Better” sell quality bands. Personally, I prefer the Slastix Bands which has a cloth like cover protecting the rubber tubing from wear, nicks and cuts, as well as from the tubing being over-stretched.

Q:  I don’t have a lot to spend on exercise equipment. What pieces of equipment are versatile and worth picking up?

A: Before even spending any money on equipment, household furniture such as “the chair” make an excellent tool for squatting up and down, stepping up and down for advanced individuals, and also being able to do triceps dips with the elbows tucked in at the side with the palms on the edge of the seat. Also, water bottles and canned foods can be used as dumbbells. The stairs at a nearby park, building, or even your house can also give you a great leg and cardiovascular workout. And if you’re really broke and the budget has been eaten by your mortgage and car payments, there’s nothing better than doing body weight movements. Your body can give you enough resistance as it is depending on the exercise you perform. Last but not least, you can purchase inexpensive dodge balls and fill it with sand to be used as a medicine ball. By Googling or YouTubing  “medicine ball exercises”, another tool box of exercises is revealed that will help you achieve a challenging and more beneficial workout.

Q:  I’m a woman with more than 50 pounds to lose and haven’t worked out for awhile.  How long should my cardio sessions be and how many times a week should I do it?

A: Since the fitness level varies among individuals, a woman with more than 50 pounds to lose and haven’t worked out for awhile can go for a walk on a treadmill for 10 minutes on an incline to avoid impact on joints but still increase the heart rate. Also in this situation, the person has the option to increase or decrease walking speed as well as increase or decrase the treadmill’s incline. In time, she can increase the number of days and length of time until she plateaus. She can start doing 1 day a week doing 10 minutes and progress from there while supplementing with other workout regimens such as strength training and stretching.  As she progresses, she can increase the amount of cardio days, increase length of the workout, or even both to train the body burn more calories leading to weight loss.

Q: I want to do some strength conditioning but don’t know how to start. What do you recommend as an entry-level routine?

A: Every time you strength train, never neglect the major muscle groups. These muscle groups are your glutes, quadriceps, hamstrings, chest muscles, back muscles, shoulders, biceps, and triceps. In a weekly basis, pick an exercise that would strength train each muscle group. It would be sufficient to train them 1-2 twice a week all in one training session with recovery days in between. You can change the pace by training one muscle group after another without rest or you can train each muscle group separately for 2-3 sets until you can move on to the next muscle group.

Q:  The muscle weighing more than fat thing. Seriously? Is that just something to make us feel better or is it actually not BS? 

A: Does a ton of bricks weigh more than a ton of feathers? A pound is a pound is a pound. The only difference that we need to know is volume. Muscle is compact and tightly intertwined taking less space in the body, while fat is loose and takes up more space.

Q: Is the new rush on “colon cleanse” and acacia products just another fad, or does it help? 

A:  While certain people stand 100% behind it and others think it’s bogus, the two opposing views only represent “it worked for me” vs. “it didn’t work for me”. Obviously, the population who stand behind it represent the claim that says it “worked for them” and vice versa. There are many factors to consider such as lifestyle, environment, and diet. But the reason for the inception of these ideas or fads is that we hope we can accomplish the goal of being nutritionally balanced to attain healthy physical and mental state. Once we figure out what our body is lacking then those nutrients will work together to replenish, repair and finally the body recovers. Therefore if we can improve on our unhealthy diets and find that right balance, we wouldn’t have to turn to certain extremes to compensate for the bad habits (excessive drinking, processed food, cigarettes, etc.) we’ve participated in. Call it a fad or call it helpful, but it’s neither. Knowing the amount and types of nutrition such as antioxidants, increased fiber, sufficient macro and micronutrients are what’s going to maintain your body’s capability to combat free radicals, increase metabolism, maintain healthy organs, be physically strong, and having beautiful skin.

Stop, Drop, and Roll

31 May

Holiday weekends are tough for everyone. We have more time on our hands, less control over the food available, nice cold beer, and parties and barbecues seem more amusing options than exercise.  Since I’m talking the talk with you I had to walk the walk this weekend.

I wrote Friday about being prepared so I kept my scout uniform on for the weekend.  I got through the dinner that night without a problem, in part due to the fact that my hostess had read my blog and is totally supportive of my effort. She offered me fixins to make myself a nice, big salad which made it SO much easier to manage my portion control where the pasta was concerned. There was fresh fruit and great conversation and I came out of it feeling like I’d done a good job.

You know that old saw “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”?  Um, yeah. Welcome to my life. I never eat as much as when I have time on my hands. Although I had a number of things to do, I also had more time than usual with no work and an extra day of weekend.  So I started talking to myself. Ok, this isn’t something new for me…at work I frequently walk in circles in the parking lot, talking to myself out loud trying to figure out the right phrasing for a marketing piece, I mutter to myself at my desk about what a douchenozzle someone is – basically I’m a step away from being that guy who sits on a bench on Bloomfield Ave. in Montclair yells at random people in cars (sometimes rather graphically).

So I decided to use my crazy for good rather than evil.  When the temperature went well over 80 and exercise was the last thing on my mind I told myself that I was allowed to watch old episodes of The Biggest Loser as long as I drank water the whole time and that as soon as the sun set I would go walk in the park.  Good deal. Done.  Better yet, that walk energized me and when I got home I spent an hour doing activities from The Biggest Loser Challenge on my Wii (more on that in an upcoming post).

I talked myself into exercise every day this weekend by making deals (as long as I kept them) and thinking things like “I feel like running” and “walking outside will feel good.” I know I can’t really run but every lap I did in the park ended with a short sprint to satisfy the urge.  It was good. I felt good….until…

I GOT ON THE SCALE.  I was 4 lbs. heavier. WTF?!?  I panicked. I freaked. I raged. Then I calmed down and thought about it. What went wrong? I exercised every day. I moderated my portions. I slept.  Then it occurred to me that a TON of water had been going into my system but very little had been coming out. It was hot, I refused to turn on my air conditioning and I was drinking a lot of water to keep cool and hydrated. Bottom line, my body needed that water but it wanted to hold on to it. Sometimes my body really pisses me off.  I really had to fight the impulse to say “Fuck it all.  I’m doing everything I can and I’m gaining weight.” It’s what I’ve done in the past and, frankly, it hasn’t worked out that well for me…although every store whose name ends in “Woman” sends me Christmas cards thanking me for giving up on “that ill-advised diet and exercise thing.”

Logic my friends. Cool, calm logic kept me from eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.  Ok, logic and talking to myself.  I had to say OUT LOUD “You are retaining water because it’s hot and because all those muscles you are using need water. Your body will keep it as long as it needs it and then it will release it. This is not a permanent gain. Oh, and by the way, put the AC in the window you dumbass. You make enough money to pay the electric bill.”  Like an infant, we have to learn to self-comfort, but we also have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we’re having a self-sabotaging temper tantrum.  It made me think about when we were kids and fire safety education taught us “Stop, drop and roll.”  I think that’s what we have to do when we’re having a diet or fitness related freakout – stop in our tracks, drop our anxiety and frustration level, and just roll with it.

Coming soon: my first trainer post!  Do you have questions you’d like answered?  Leave them in the comments and I’ll grill a certified trainer for you.

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