26 February 2010

Rules for a lifestyle of healthy eating

I've done a lot of research and have practical experience with fitness and weight loss. I've been active in sports most of my life, from being a small child participating in gymnastics and soccer, floor hockey and other intramural sports, to being on a travel team for soccer. Then I transitioned into gym activities (cardio and other classes, and weight training).

Only recently have I joined SparkPeople online. It's a free resource that-honestly-is the best thing I've done in a long long time. If you don't know what it is, it's an online community and resource that is simply irreplaceable. You have forums and articles and the support of millions of other people, but you also have a nutrition tracker (where you can track every thing you eat so you can fix and maintain your eating habits), a fitness tracker, and free videos that show you everything from how to make the perfect meal to how to perform a bicep curl with free weight. There are even full-length exercise videos available for free. FREE!

I've learned that losing weight-and maintaining your goal weight-is 20% exercise (cardio and weight training) and 80% diet. You can work out all you want, but if you eat crap, you're never going to drop those pounds.

Last night I was awake, thinking about the 3 most important things I've learned when it comes to diet. And when I say "diet", I don't mean "Only eat ______ for 3 days" or starving yourself. "Diet" to me means lifestyle. Eating to live, not living to eat. In any case, here are the three things that I feel are MOST important to being successful in being healthy and being at a healthy weight:

1) PORTION CONTROL - this is, for me, probably the most important thing to be aware of when eating. Most people eat WAY too much. A regular serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup, not those huge bowls piled high that you get in a restaurant. Also, that bottle of soda you're about to drink actually has 2.5 servings in it, so when you read the nutritional info on the side, you need to multiply it to get the actual count. Tricky.

2) EAT SMART - sure, you have a range of calories you should consume in a day. Mine is set according to my activity level, current weight, and nursing status. I aim to consume between 1800-2400 calories a day. I try to stay near the low end, but some days I just want more, so I go into the higher end. I'm still seeing weight loss, so it's working.

Having said that, the part about being smart is this: 100 calories of crap isn't going to do much for you by way of filling you up or providing any nutritional value. Have your treat of a couple pieces of dark chocolate, if you have a craving, but don't eat that entire family-sized chocolate bar.

Eating smart also includes healthy fats: almonds and other nuts, olive oil, butter, full-fat milk products, lean meats, and coconut oil. We don't eat any other type of oil. Highly-processed vegetable oils contain nothing good for you. In addition, you need to eat fat. Fat is instrumental in delivering many vitamins (A,D,E and K) as well as making you feel fuller for longer. I dispute the lipid hypothesis in that eating fat makes you fat-I think eating unhealthy fats make you fat. Think McDonalds, highly processed foods, and high-fructose corn syrup. Disgusting stuff.

3) DRINK WATER. I can't stress how important this is. Not only does virtually every function of your body require adequate amounts of water to be at optimum levels, but drinking water makes you feel full. Many times when I felt "hungry", I was simply thirsty. It's amazing how much better I felt (and looked) once I started drinking 8-10 glasses (or more) a day. Lines that have been on my face for YEARS look shallower and in some cases have even disappeared. My hair is shiny. I have tons more energy, and I feel great. I think a large part of that is due to my increased intake of water.

The first thing I do when I get up in the morning (after bathroom break and weighing in) is to drink a full glass of water. Then I drink my coffee, have some breakfast, and have another glass. I keep a 750 mL glass jar with lid full of water through the day and drink at least 3 of them. I drink a glass of water before each meal and that ensures I don't overeat.

I barely miss drinking other beverages. I would much rather EAT my calories instead of drinking them. Of course, once in a while, I'll have a bit of juice or a half-glass of soda. Most of the time, a glass of kombucha totally cures my craving for a coke. Otherwise, water totally satisfies me. Sometimes I'll throw a bit of lemon or lime into the jar or pitcher of water for a bit of added flavour and some vitamin C.

All in all, I think these three things are the most important things I need to do in order to be successful at losing and keeping the weight off. Follow these rules and you should be on the track to good health. Good luck!

08 February 2010

Insanity Workout Review-Week 3 Day 1: 2nd Fit Test!


I just completed my second fit test. I didn't have my first test results in front of me, because I wanted to push myself because I was better, not to just beat my last test results. So I just got the chance to compare and I am impressed!

Here are my results (first week results are in burgundy):
Switch Kicks 80/88
Power Jacks 37/47
Power Knees 77/90
Power Jumps 25/29
Globe Jumps 7/9
Suicide Jumps 16/16
Pushup Jacks - I did 34 girl pushups, my hand was still too sore to do the pushup jacks.
Low Plank Obliques 45/56

Looking at these numbers, I can see that I've improved quite a bit. I feel a lot stronger, and my endurance has improved a lot.

As for my weigh-in and measurements, it seems as though I haven't lost any weight, but I'm sure that's just water weight. I've lost (since my last fit test) 1 inch off of my waist and hips and thighs. (That's 1 inch off of each). That's 3 inches lost in 2 weeks. And I can really tell the difference!

06 February 2010

Insanity Workout Review-Week 2 Day 6 Pure Cardio AND Cardio Abs

What a GREAT workout today! I think the only way I got through it was remembering that I have tomorrow off!

Seriously though, today was my first day doing both a regular workout plus Cardio Abs. Needless to say, I was a little worried, especially since it was Pure Cardio I was doing first!!!

Pure Cardio seems to get a little less intimidating each time. I dreaded it this morning, but once I got going, it wasn't so bad. I just focus on getting through one exercise at a time-in 60 second blocks. Then, move on and start over. I didn't take many breaks-just a couple times when I realized my heart rate was a little high.

Instead of doing the cool down and stretches at the end of Pure Cardio, I moved straight into Cardio Abs (does that make me crazy??) and when that was done, I rewound to the cool down for Pure Cardio.

Cardio Abs-what can I say? Feel the burn, baby! I tend to have really strong abs so I didn't find it super challenging, but it was a good workout. I had to alter the high plank to the low plank, as my thumb is still really bruised and sore.

All in all, today was a good workout, but I'm glad I don't have to do that all the time! Intense, but good.

On a side note, I made vanilla pudding a couple days ago for my daughter. For lunch today (salmon salad on D'Italiano Whole Wheat Thintini buns, a slice of extra old cheddar cheese, and water), I had a half cup of pudding with 1 tbsp of organic strawberry jam mixed in-YUM.

Now I need a nap.

04 February 2010

Insanity Workout Review-Week 2 Day 4 Cardio Recovery

I hadn't realized that for the first 3 weeks, Thursdays are Cardio Recovery Day. That's cool. But I feel as though I should be doing cardio-funny, huh? I guess that means that exercise is becoming a habit. That's good.

I must say, though-each day when I'm doing the workout, I think to myself, "maybe I'll just do the warm up today" and then I mentally kick myself in the pants and push myself through the workout. Amazing how that works.

Last night I had a breakthrough. I was having a hard time fighting cravings/night time hunger. Even though I was at my limit for calories, I'd feel like I needed something more. But when I was researching the importance of water, I learned that many people confuse thirst with hunger, and eat when they should be drinking. So yesterday I really focused on getting enough water and after dinner, when I felt "hungry", I drank water. I ended up drinking 10 glasses of water yesterday-that's 2.5 L of water! The best part-I didn't cave to those cravings AND I ended up being closer to my lower range of calories.

03 February 2010

The Importance of Drinking Enough Water

Water is a basic life requirement. Our bodies are composed of (approx) 70% water-practically every system uses water. Blood, brain, breathing, organs, joints, muscles, skin...all of these things and more are dependent upon water. Dehydration is the #1 trigger for daytime fatigue-not lack of sleep!

What may be surprising to some is the link between weight loss (or optimal weight maintenance) and being adequately hydrated. I read on weightlossforall.com that water makes your metabolism burn 3% faster. In addition, being sufficiently hydrated allows your body to be working at peak performance. That's a desirable outcome.

Another issue linking water to weight loss is this-and I can attest to it's veracity, as I have experienced it myself: sometimes people confuse thirst with hunger and eat instead of drinking water. Imagine if your body was trying to tell you to drink water, and instead, you ate a bag of chips. So not only are you eating all those unnecessary and unwanted calories (and fat, and salt...), but you're still not getting the water your body needed in the first place. Interesting. I have noticed, today especially, that if I concentrate on drinking when I feel "hungry", I was actually just thirsty, as the sensation went away after drinking a glass of water. Now of course, I could be filling myself up with water, but that's not a bad thing, either. I know I've consumed enough calories for my energy output for today, so anything that might stop me from going out to the kitchen and grabbing a handful of those Oreos is a GOOD THING.

Recommendations for water intake vary, but the general rule seems to be to consume at LEAST 8 cups (that's 250 mL, or 8 oz in each cup) of water daily. Some say that a person should consume 1 oz of water for every 2 pounds of body weight-so at 141 pounds I should be drinking a minimum of 8.8 cups of water a day (and that minimum doesn't take in to consideration people who exercise-they have a higher requirement).

Don't like the taste of water? Throw some lemon wedges in there, or orange, or lime. Or all three! Any citrus will freshen up your water and provide a bit of vitamin c, at the same time. A bit of lemon in your water will also assist in suppressing appetite, as well.

One last bit of water info: keeping your body sufficiently hydrated will also assist in keeping your skin healthy. People who drink enough water look younger, have fewer wrinkles, and generally, just look good.

So go and have a glass of water-you probably need it!

Insanity Workout Review - and my first Derby Injury

Today was Week 2 Day 3 of the Insanity Workout. The workout was the Plyo Cardio Circuit, and I found it a little easier to keep up this week, as compared to the very first time I did it (which was Week 1 Day 2). I didn't do any of the pushups this week (explained later in this post), but did wall pushups instead. My heartrate was pretty high so I ended up doing simple squats rather than power squats on the 2nd and 3rd time through the circuits.

As for why I didn't do the pushups-well, it's because I got hurt at roller derby practice last night. We were practicing whips and I skated up to Connie, who was the whipper, and even though we were on the bend I took the whip. Unfortunately, I let go of her (and she let go of me) too early thru the bend and I ended up headed for the concrete wall. I didn't have time to stop, so I slowed down as much as I could and ended up wiping out-CRASH. I went down really hard on my right wrist and smashed into the wall (which is entirely too close to the edge of the track) and a piece of wood and a saw table (left there by the owner, I'm sure). I went down pretty hard on my left hip but my right hand took the brunt of it. Even with the wristguards on, I immediately felt that I had done something to the base of my thumb. I got up and skated off the track and got some ice on it. I didn't feel it was broken but knew it was bruised, at least.

Driving home, the thumb felt worse and worse. It was throbbing constantly and when I tried to touch my thumb to my pinky finger or actually touched the base of my thumb, I had sharp stabbing pain. Then I tried to go to sleep and tossed and turned for almost 2 hours, trying to find a position that didn't make my hand throb even worse than it did already.

This morning, I figured I had better make sure I hadn't cracked or broken any bones and took myself to the ER (small town has no urgent care clinic) where they did some xrays. Turns out I just severely bruised the thumb. What a relief! It would suck to injure myself and have to take time off of practices-or stop doing the Insanity workouts. Having said that, it hurts enough that I can't do push ups. Grr.

Pictures of the spectacular bruising will follow.

02 February 2010

New Blog Layout

I'll be messing around with the blog design in the next little bit. Please be patient.

Insanity Workout Review-Week 2 Day 2 Pure Cardio

I'm supposed to do Pure Cardio today, but tonight is roller derby practice so I am going to skip it.

I've been browsing SparkRecipes and have found some good ideas for changing up dinner. We're having roast chicken tonight, along with roasted broccoli and roasted garlic rosemary mashed potatoes. Yum.

01 February 2010

Insanity Workout Review-Week 2 Day 1 Cardio Power and Resistance

Wow! Only one week completed and I feel the results already! I feel like I'm working harder and jumping higher on all exercises. This is great!

I really felt this workout today. Last week, the first time I did it, I felt like it wasn't as much of a workout as the Plyo Cardio Circuit-but today I pushed myself just that little bit more and really noticed the increased heartrate. I maxed out my heartrate at about 162 bpm, which is on the high side, but when I noticed it that high I backed off a bit. I figure I burned about 400 calories today, just with Insanity! Then I did an abs workout.

I had some soaked rolled oats for breakfast-last night I splashed some whey into some oats and added water, then put it into the fridge for the night. Soaking grains reduces the phytic acid and improves the nutrient content. The great thing about oatmeal is that it fills you up, but is low in calories. I added some organic raspberry jam (low sugar) and the entire meal was only 135 calories-and tasty, too! Oatmeal also helps reduce cholesterol. Now I'll have some eggs scrambled with some peppers and onions and mushrooms, and half a bagel with some labneh (yogurt cheese) for some protein and good fat.

I'm really happy that the muscle soreness has departed, for the most part. I did experience some tightness in my left calf this morning, but since the workout it seems to have loosened up, thankfully. I've always had issues with calf muscles being too tight, and spasming at night-not fun! I think the biggest issue was my lack of stretching after exercise, but I'm trying to do that really well now. Now if I can remember to stretch after derby practice!

My Weightloss Progress