Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

My new favorite blog and (believe it or not) it’s not about food!

I’ve never been one to follow exercise blogs, but I stumbled across this one a few days ago and have found myself returning again and again: GetFitTv with Jenny DiDonato.  I originally found her when I did a google search on Tabata Training and I was immediately riveted. For more information on Tabata, you can check on Jenny’s introduction, here.

So, why do I like her so much?

  1. She covers a wide range of exercises and for people at all levels of fitness (ranging from Tabata training to Kettlebells for beginners).
  2. She’s easy to follow.
  3. She looks like a real person – albeit with a body that any woman would envy.
  4. She’s really just showing you how to do the exercises without a lot of hype.
  5. She also covers a range of health topics, including things like strengthening tired knees, the health benefits of the contents of your spice rack, etc.  And for those of you who actually cook your food, she also has a number of healthy recipes you can check out!

Although I haven’t figured out her approach entirely, apparently she posts a new video episode every weekend and if you’re truly motivated, you can watch in real time via ustream, submit questions, and all that stuff.  Me? I tend to come to things late, so I’ve just been cruising the archives.

Anyway, if you’re looking for a no nonsense way to diversify your fitness routine, check her out!  I’ve certainly added her to my bookmarks!!!

H.I.I.T. – 1 Fox – 0

A little while ago, decided to hang up my long distance cardio shoes and have been been experimenting with shorter workouts, which have eventually culminated in a method known as High Intensity Interval Training (H.I.I.T). According to the latest gym logic, H.I.I.T., through a combination of short explosive movements and short rest periods in between cranks up your metabolism, in large part because you’re building muscle and generating heat in your core.

Because you only do it for up to 20 minutes you also trick your body into not releasing cortisol, which is a hormone that the body releases when you’re under stress (unlike what happens when you work out hard for periods longer than 20 minutes). Cortisol, for those of you who don’t know, is a stress hormone that signals to your body that it needs to store fat! And not just any old fat – but belly fat! (No wonder I couldn’t lose those last 10 pounds when I was spinning; my body thought I needed that to survive)!

Regardless, when I first started this, I began with 4 one minute sets of getting up and down out of a chair as fast as I could, with a minute of rest between sets.

(Yes, these are the basic equivalent of squats, but when you sit down each time, you get to experience that extra little gift of gravity – which, after a set or two, begins to feel like the gift that keeps on giving).

I must admit that when this was first suggested to me, I laughed. I thought, there is no way that this is going to get my heart rate up.

Wrong!

By the end of the first set I was huffing and puffing like a steam engine. (And keep in mind, I’m in pretty good shape!)

After a couple of days of this, I was able to keep in adding reps – not time mind you, but reps. So, whereas the first day I did 45-46-49-42, by the end of just a few days, I was well into the 50s, if not the 60s.

One of the big selling points about this form of training (besides only taking 20 minutes a day [or in my case less than 10]) is that it increases your ability to engage in short explosive bursts of intense exercise, because you are training your body to store excess energy in the muscles (as glycogen) instead of in the belly (as fat).

So, you may be asking, what does this have to do with a fox?

Earlier this week, I let Michael J’s cat, Harley, outside. We live in the country and Harley has been an indoor/outdoor cat for several years. Personally, whenever I let him out, I always tell him to have fun, to stick around the house, and not to get eaten on my watch.

(The indoor/outdoor cat policy is one of the few things about which Michael J and I truly disagree!)

As I went around puttering in the kitchen with my very cosseted indoor cat, I heard this God awful cacophony outside. The crows were literally going nuts.

My first thought was that Harley has killed a bird (another reason why Cat is an indoor cat) and is – quite possibly – getting attacked by crows.

Only slightly annoyed, I headed out onto the deck and was immediately struck by three things.

  1. Those birds are really loud!
  2. The sun is absolutely gorgeous hitting the trees!
  3. Why are the horses standing right at the edge of the stone wall (all three of them) staring at the same point like they’ve seen a ghost)?

Though it really did look like something out of a Disney film, I followed their line of their vision and lo and behold:

‘Where’s Harley?’

And like clockwork, there he was – curious little creature that he is – about 10 feet from our bushy tailed visitor.

The list of blood curdling expletives that exploded in my brain and were torn from my lungs are not fit to print, but it’s fair to say that I pretty much brought the house down! I certainly woke Michael J, who until that moment, had been enjoying a rare Tuesday morning lie-in!

The funny thing was is that I was so panicked that I literally could not figure out how to get off of the deck and down to the stone wall, which is maybe 150 feet from the house. I also was afraid that if I took my eyes off of the scene in front of me that Harley was doomed. (As if me standing on the deck screaming was really making that much of a difference!)

Eventually – it was probably only fifteen seconds, but it felt like an eternity – I figured out how to get off the deck (that is, I remembered that there were stairs!) and took off, literally, like a shot!

I have never moved so fast in my life.

Was it the H.I.I.T. or just the sheer volume of adrenaline?

It’s hard to tell, but I’ll say one thing: I learned in that moment that there are very good reasons other than what you’re going to look like in a bathing suit this summerto be able to engage in short, explosive bursts of concentrated activity!

As I got closer to them (the fox had not given up at this point), I slowed down and took a series of deep calming breaths.

The last thing I wanted to do was to scare Harley, who at this point, was getting a little jittery himself.

Let’s just say that the tension was pretty high on all fronts.

Did did I mention that the birds were still screaming? Seriously, the racket was deafening.

So, here I am, in my pjs, barefoot, standing between a scared house cat (who at least at this point had figured out that something was wrong), three spooked horses, and a predator. And all of this against a soundtrack that sounded suspiciously like something out of a Hitchcock film!

Luckily for me (and for Harley and for Michael J, who by this time was also on the scene), Harley actually came to me and allowed himself to be scooped up and carried back to the waiting arms of his father.

Interestingly enough, three things happened as soon as Harley was off the ground: the fox cut and ran, the horses cut and ran, and the birds – bless them and their ungodly warning system – fell eerily silent.

Well, four things, as my commitment to H.I.I.T. pretty much doubled.

Seems hard to believe

Men get peanut butter and pizza sauce while women get flaxseed and tofu?

What’s wrong with this picture?

Though, to tell you the truth, I’d take flaxseed over pizza sauce almost any day of the week!

More to the point, if I were eating meat, I’d certainly take buffalo over oysters!

Getting back on the horse

Two days ago, I was in the middle of a binge. It was the first one I’d had in months – a quick look at my electronic food diary revealed that the last one happened earlier this year on Monday, March 29.

For that one, I had an excuse, sort of.

If you recall, I was trapped in an airplane and hadn’t had any vegetables to speak of for several days. I went nuts – figuratively and literally on raw flax bread and almond butter.

It wasn’t pretty. And I felt like crap for at least two days after the fact.

This last Thursday, I had no such excuse. Other than I was completely stressed out and instead of choosing to manage my state, I surrendered to (well, in fact, I pretty much invited them in) all of my old standbys. In other words, I stuffed my face and didn’t think to clearly or consciously about what was really going on.

In the space of two hours, I had my lunch, my snack, and four high energy protein bars. Yes, you read that correctly: four. Not one. Not two. Not three. But FOUR! It was really over the top.

What was even more over the top is that I had another one in my hand. And I was actually thinking, “Well, if I eat these other SIX, this will never happen again.”

Thank goodness something – still not sure what it was (unless maybe it was a gag reflex) – snapped me out of it.

My normal routine following such a feeding frenzy would have been to beat myself both mentally and at the gym and probably skip dinner to boot.

This time, I decided to take a different tack. This time, I decided to forgive myself.

In fact, I ate dinner (albeit a very clean dinner of cauliflower rice [dressed with a touch of sesame seed oil and Braggs amino acid] and raw asparagus) and I went to bed, without exercise. It was a conscious choice not to exercise, because I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do it in a way where I wouldn’t be punishing my body for my mind’s bad behavior.

The only thing that I regret about that decision is that I didn’t do yoga – not because of anything to do my body (though one could argue that yoga always does a body good), but because of the potential it would have had for quieting the mind.

The day had been so bad – and there had been so much negative energy thrown at me from so many quarters – when I finally managed to go to sleep, I had nightmares. In fact, they so were bad that I woke Michael J up screaming! (As he pointed out to me the next morning, the reason you do yoga before bed is to calm the negative energy so that you can sleep more restfully.)

Even though I had nightmares – which could have very easily resulted in one or both of us getting a black eye – I did sleep over 10 hours, a sure sign that I needed it.

Yesterday, I decided that I had to get back on the horse.

In other words, no matter how bad the day before had been, there was no excuse for 1) engaging in negative self talk that might lead me back down the previous black hole or 2) continuing to overeat.

In the spirit of nurturing myself (because obviously the binge was my body – if not my mind – crying out for attention), I began to let go of things that were no longer serving me. I canceled all of my appointments that could be canceled without harming someone else, I discharged one of my pressing work obligations, I moved deadlines, I changed the things that I found myself consistently complaining about, and I made sure that I had plenty of fun, healthy food. In fact, in addition to my old favorites, which I may getting a bit bored with actually, I also tried @choosingraw’s Broccoli Hummus recipe, which, I must say, is absolutely divine. (Note: If you’re raw and you’re looking for a hummus recipe that doesn’t have tahini and a ton of olive oil, look no further!)

I also went for a walk and soaked up the sun, choosing to focus on my mental health (I took time out of my walk to watch the neighbors’ horses frolicking in the field) and increasing my Vitamin D than on burning off the calories that I had consumed the day before.

It was a nice gentle day and even though my tummy may be a little bigger than it was three days ago, I (the physical, the mental, and the emotional parts of me) felt loved and nourished.

This morning, I exercised normally and for the first time in a long time it just felt like good, honest exercise. It didn’t feel like I was punishing myself or, worse, like I was mad at my body. It felt good. It felt a lot like what I imagined it must have felt like for those horses who were playing joyously in the sun warmed grass.

Today I feel back to normal.

It took two days to feel physically better after consuming nearly the double of my typical intake of sugar.

It took two days to feel mentally better about the decisions I made (on Thursday) and all of the the ones prior that led up to it.

It took two days to feel emotionally better after coming to terms with the stressors in my life that I had pushed aside up until the point where my body forced me to listen.

Am I glad that I consumed 1,000 calories in less than 20 minutes? Not really.

But I am glad that I realized that the binge was a reflection on the state of my life – as opposed to the state of my body.

And I am glad I realized that there are things that I can do (and, as noted, have already begun to do) to make sure that days like Thursday become fewer and further between.

Wow – binge alert

I am in a full fledged binge. Talk about being far from one’s highest self.

I hope that just putting it out there will break the cycle.

I am going to take a deep breath, jettison some stress, and forgive myself as quickly and with as much heart felt sincerity as I can possibly muster.

Wish me luck.

Learning to Listen

Over the last few weeks I have been doing my best to learn to listen to and, subsequently, trust my body.

I’m doing this, in part, because I am beginning to appreciate that my longest term, most committed relationship to date is not the one I share with my 19 year old long haired white tortoise shell cat, but the one that I share with my body.

And unlike all of the men in my life, the relationship that I have with my physical self is literally, “Til death do us part.”

With a little help from some very talented weight loss coaches, I’ve come to understand that I need to love my body, because when I start loving her (notice I did not say it), she will start loving me back.

When I start trusting her, she will start trusting me.

And when that happens, we will begin to do what we want.

And what we want, ostensibly, is to feel great, have tons of energy, and live comfortably in our skin.

My journey towards self acceptance started about two years ago when I realized that there was some part of me that still linked weight loss to death. I named that part of me Kathy Jo and have since teamed up with her so that we can, in fact, reach our shared health goals.

Today, my body was hungry. Very hungry.

In fact, by 10:30 a.m., not only had I eaten breakfast, I had also had a couple of snacks and started lunch.

Was this a binge? No, not really. And I say that not because I didn’t eat 750 calories in the space of a few hours (which I did), but because I took several deep breaths between bites, drank quite a bit of water, and really thought about the question: Are you really hungry?

As it turned out, the answer was yes.

So, I ate: an Organic Raw bar, a handful of raw almonds, a serving of tomato and basil soup (also raw), and a zucchini sliced up like Ruffles Potato Chips.

Then, not surprisingly since I had just consumed all that energy, my body wanted to move.

Was this the mind, feeling guilty about all that food? Maybe. I hope not.

So my body and I packed up our work and went to the gym.

And instead of punching in a pre-selected workout, I did whatever my body felt like doing – at whatever length and at whatever level of intensity.

And the minute that she was done – the minute that it even whiffed of punishment – I stopped.

I didn’t push.

I wasn’t disappointed.

In fact, as it turned out, I actually had a better workout (body-wise, heart-rate-wise, and even calorie-wise) when I let her do it.

My weight loss coaches tell me that the body doesn’t like to be defined by a number on the scale and the body certainly doesn’t like counting calories.

While I have let her have her way on the former, I still cling stubbornly to the latter. I’d like to think that I am merely recording what I eat, without actually restricting what I eat, but – in practice – I know that’s not entirely true.

Sometimes I wonder what (and how much) I would eat if I stopped counting calories. Other times I wonder if it would be possible for me to sit down to a meal and not automatically know how many calories were adorning the plate.

My biggest fear is that I would overeat (whatever that means) and that I would do it often.

My coaches, however, would say that if I were truly listening, I would only do it once, because the body doesn’t like to be numbed out, overfull, or stuffed. That if I truly listened, I’d reach for the salad naturally instead of the tahini or the cacao or, better yet, the full-fat, full-sugar ice cream that I haven’t had in months, if not years.

Needless to say, I’m not entirely there yet.

But I am listening – or at least I am trying.

And, perhaps even more importantly, I forgive myself for my inability to trust.

I also keep reminding myself (particularly every time I fire up LoseIt) that the more I listen, the more likely it is that I will eventually hear.

Finally, a woman who knows how to make a salad!

One of the things I really dislike about trying to eat raw out is the sad definitions that non-raw people have of salads.

Even if you say – without any equivocation whatsoever – that you want a big salad, you’re still likely to get something that looks like something that wouldn’t satiate a six year old.

Indeed, my best results have come when I’ve actually brought my own food (that is, avocados and sunflower seeds) to dress up whatever meager offerings they’ve brought.

My favorite story about trying to order a raw dinner salad is thus:

KJ: I would like a large salad – -I mean huge – with all raw vegetables – anything you have is great. Any and all veggies – as long as it’s raw. Charge me whatever you will. I don’t care if it’s $25.00.

Server: Would you like grilled asparagus?

KJ: No, nothing grilled. Raw asparagus is fine. In fact, it would be great.

Server: You want raw asparagus? As in uncooked? You can’t possibly want that.

KJ: Actually, I do. Raw asparagus would be awesome, in fact.

She looked at me like I had just sprouted raw asparagus from my head!

Salad comes out: no asparagus.

Instead, I am offered a veritable feast of two scant cups of spinach, about a 1/2 cup of broccoli, 4 mushrooms, 4 tomato wedges (not even full quarters), 1/8 cup of grated carrots, and two decorative radishes.

Yum (as an appetizer…maybe).

I whip out my avocado and nuts and the waitress looks downright offended: “We have avocados in the kitchen. Would you like one?”

KJ: “No, I’ll use mine.” What part of any and all fresh vegetables did you not understand?!

Next time, I think I’ll just take a copy of this blog post to show the restaurant industry the difference between a side salad and a dinner salad! It might save everyone a lot of hassle, not to mention a couple of servings of raw indignation.

As if I needed more reasons to eat avocados!

You gotta love the internet!

Avocados, a staple in Mexico and Central and South America, were considered an aphrodisiac by the Aztecs, who called the pear-shaped fruit ahuacate. Avocados were first grown in the U.S. early in 20th century.

In the 1920s, farmers changed the name to avocado because ahuacate was difficult for Americans to pronounce. Worse yet, it is the Aztec word for testicle. As it turns out, the ancient Aztecs may have been onto something!

Just in case you ever need a little extra incentive to dive head first into a bucket of guacamole – I know I certainly don’t – keep reading….