Monday, January 28, 2013

On Failure in Fitness

I saw an amazing Instagram post the other day, your typical quote on top of a photo type of thing, and the saying has resonated with me.

The iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The iron will always kick you the real deal. The iron is a great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the iron to be my greatest friend, it never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go, but 200 pounds is always two hundred pounds.
--Henry Rollins

I love that! The above is just a small excerpt from an essay he wrote for Details magazine, you can read the full essay here:

There are many different reasons to fail a lift. It all boils down to the fact that it is too heavy for you, maybe you didn't sleep enough, maybe you didn't eat your Wheaties, or maybe you left it for the end of your workout.

This is the face of a woman who failed a 180lb single rep deadlift and is determined to nail 3 reps at 155 lb

That was my mistake on Saturday. I left deadlifts for the end of my workout, not smart. So when I failed to meet the goal I set for myself that session, I didn't beat myself up about it. I'll plan better next time and see if I can't hit that goal.

Part of living a fit lifestyle is failing at the goals you set for yourself. When you do fail, you have to take a step back, assess why you failed, strategize, and set your plan in motion. Get SASSy with your fit self. ;)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Beef & Bean Stew

It is no secret that I hate the idea of cardio. Treadmills, ellipticals, stairmasters and exercise bikes all bore me and there's no way that I could hike every day for cardio... much as I would love that... it just isn't feasible. I've started doing circuit training, and when I say started I mean the last week and a half. It has been great. The cardio section of my workout is over quick and I throw enough variety into the plan that I've managed to stave off boredom.

But on a night like tonight when the roads are slick and nasty, I don't like the idea of heading to the gym. So what's a girl to do?

A girl suits up in her cold weather gear, puts a reflective harness on herself and reflective slap bracelets on her appendages and she dons her flashing LED hat... for safety!

Reflective shoelaces, pants, harness, slap bracelets and an LED hat. Clearly ready to rock and roll!
One thing I cannot run without is music, but if I'm running at night without a buddy, I make sure to keep my music down low and I will only put in one earbud. ALWAYS be aware of your surroundings. When I'm running through the residential sections of my neighborhood, I'll often run in the parking lane or the bike lane. The street is better lit than the sidewalk.

My run ended up being 2 miles long. It was the first time I'd gone out for a "long" run in months. I could have gone further, but I didn't want to. Wet shoes will do that to a girl. I need to invest in some wool socks!

I came back from my run craving beef stew. The original chicken, quinoa, and steamed veggies plan was not going to cut it, even if I already had it prepped and ready for the microwave. Instead, I looked through  my cupboards and made this!

Mmmmm, stewy goodness. 

Beef & Bean Stew (serves 2), ~30 min

1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T chopped garlic (I like Christopher Ranch)
6 oz lean top round steak cubed/chunked
2 C chopped kale
1 can of cannelini beans (white beans)
1 can of diced tomatoes

Add EVOO to a small saucepan on low-medium heat, cook until oil begins to ripple, about 1-2 min
Add garlic and cook til soft, about 4-5 minutes
Add beef and cook until just pink in the middle, about 7-8 minutes
Add kale, cover saucepan and cook until kale wilts, about 5 minutes
Add cans of cannelini beans and diced tomatoes, cover and cook until stew is heated throughout, about 10 minutes

Nutrition Facts (obtained by entering the ingredients into MyFitnessPal)
Total Fat: 13.5g
     Sat: 3.0g
     Poly: 1.0g
     Mono: 7.7g
     Trans: 0g
Cholesterol: 48.4g
Sodium: 1333.0mg
Potassium: 624.7mg
Total Carbs: 53.7g
     Dietary Fiber: 20.6g
     Sugars: 8.8g
Protein: 37.3g
Vit A: 223.5%
Vit C: 169%
Calcium: 30.3%
Iron: 37.2%

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Adventure Date Day - Coit Tower Edition

Part of leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle is setting aside some time to goof off. Yesterday, my boyfriend and I planned an adventure date.

But before the date......... I spent 3.5 hours indenting the chest of a crash test dummy in order to get that card down there! I am now officially certified to perform CPR and use an AED in the state of California. I hope that I never have to use those skills, but I feel pretty confident that I'd be able to help someone if needed.

I keep this baby in my wallet, seriously

After blasting through a back and biceps session at the gym and noshing on a delicious "clean" burrito, BF and I headed up to San Francisco.

One thing you learn quickly in San Francisco is that it is not worth it to drive around the city from place to place, it is much easier to stash your car in a garage somewhere and walk! So we left the car near the Financial District and headed over to Nob Hill to visit a very famous landmark.

Coit Tower, with Christopher Columbus looking toward the bay
the Golden Gate and Marin Headlands, taken from the base of Coit Tower
Yesterday was the first time I've ever made it up inside the tower. We managed to time our visit perfectly, the sun was just going down over the ocean as we got to the top. We were lucky enough to have a pinky-orange sky with wispy clouds.

looking out toward the aptly named Sunset District

Treasure Island is behind us, Oakland is even further back

Then we schlepped back down Nob Hill, meandered through North Beach and Chinatown over to the Mark Hopkins International to visit the Top of the Mark. We had some delicious cocktails and a wild boar flatbread (San Franciscan for pizza, how hoity-toity) and then jammed over to Region back in the Financial District for dinner. 

Region was a totally awesome Groupon discovery. We had gotten a gift card from my Aunt for Christmas and this seemed like the perfect way to use it. We had a lovely dinner of lamb shank stew (me) and salmon (him) and split a caramelized banana flambé dessert that was absolutely delicious. We overheard a few other patrons asking what on earth we were eating and then ordering it for themselves. We're trendsetters.


What motivates you?

It took me a long time to figure out what motivated me and an even longer time to figure out how to use that to spur myself into action.

Lately, I have been reading about the differences between "Intrinsic Motivation" and"Extrinsic Motivation" and how they inspire in different ways. Extrinsic motivation is an external source of motivation, it is a voice telling you that "you will do something" in order to achieve a certain result. Intrinsic motivation comes from within, you know that a certain action or behavior will bring about an outcome and you ask yourself "will I do this?"

Guess which one works long term. Intrinsic.

You can try and force a change in behavior and action, tell yourself "it takes 21 days to form a habit", but that modification gets dropped the second you are presented with an easy way out.

found here:

The trick is finding a way to enjoy this modification so that it becomes easy to answer "HECK YES" to the question of "will I do this?" Whether it be learning to eat better, work out more effectively or even at all.

I find myself being motivated by the possibility of being more efficient. If I can alter my workouts to incorporate one movement that takes the place of two, I'm a happy camper. If I find a new recipe for an old favorite that makes my huge pasta dinner a better fit for my nutrition plan (helloooooo spaghetti squash), I'm over the moon.

spaghetti squash with canned tomatoes, shredded chicken, spinach, zucchini, and roasted eggplant with a glass of wine

Finding what motivates you is a long and experimental process. Did I mention that it's a process you'll never finish? As you change, what motivates you also changes. What spurred you into action when you were a teenager is not going to cut it in your twenties and what motivates me in my twenties is probably not going to be what gets my motor going when I turn thirty and ascend the adulthood ladder. :)

So think about what motivates you, whether it be a person, images, sayings, or maybe even a poster with a kitten, I won't judge. But once you figure out what motivates you, immerse yourself and use it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Holy Fitness

My grandfather told me that the first quarter of your life is spent learning, I feel like that is pretty accurate. I spent the majority of my first twenty-five years of life in school or learning on the job. Since graduation, my thirst for knowledge has not decreased. I still read and educate myself on topics I find important.

Having what could be considered "spare time" after graduating, I turned my focus to a new topic. That topic was my health and body. I had spent the majority of my college years unhappy with it. I didn't eat right and I sure as hell didn't think I had time to "exercise" aside from taking the occasional pilates class long walks with my mom and sister (...I know... reading that now, I don't know what I was thinking).

After graduating and moving out, I spent the first year on my own experimenting with my diet. I found different combinations of food that were effective for my body and some that were not so effective, but my progress stalled around 2010.

For most of 2010, I was stagnate. Until December, when I joined a gym. At first, I had no idea what I was doing. I would go, find a cardio machine, and I would pedal away for 30-60 minutes because that is what I thought working out was. I might do some "leg work" with the abductor/adductor machine because I saw other girls on it, monkey-see monkey-do kind of things. I think I tried the assisted pull-up machine one time just to see how it worked.

Then came Body Pump. Body Pump, or BP, changed my life by introducing me to weightlifting. I had walked by the classroom while a BP class was going on and I'd think to myself "wow... that looks cool and they have awesome music?? I have to try that!" But I'd find some excuse to delay it. After I took my first class, I was hooked. I quickly became a regular, going twice a week, dragging my friends and eventually my sister to class with me.

Eventually, I stopped progressing in BP and wanted to try something new. I decided I would try weightlifting out on the gym floor with all the big scary dudes. It was great! I happened to use the smaller pre-fab barbells that were too light for most the people on the floor and I would stand in front of the mirror and execute the moves from BP albeit slower and with heavier weights. I played around with reps and sets and the order of exercises.

My weights started getting heavier, fat on my body was replaced with muscle, weights got heavier again, I started eating more and I started caring far more about what I ate. People started to notice. I loved it and kept going.

I looked through some old photos today and was AMAZED at how my body has changed over the past 10 years. I went from being a "normal" (whatever that means) teenager to what I will affectionately term "chubby" adult to being thin and finally to fit.

Looking back feels good. :)