63 Days Until the First Snow

How is it August? Is anyone else shocked that somehow summer is almost over? If you live in Colorado, we only have 63 days until the first (average) snow. That means we are closer to the first snow than to Memorial Day. So I ask you, have you been enjoying your summer as much as you should be? In two months the daily runners and hikers that are enjoying the post-work sunshine will retreat inside to treadmills, or bundle up in gear like this just to take quick run in the dark.

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Mountain bikers will have to fight the frost and climbers won’t be able to soak up the sun on a rock slab midday. The days will get darker, the couch will be more appealing,  and the childlike delight that summer brings will be retired for another 9 months.

So make the most of these last two months.  If you’ve been trying to get in shape, it’s better to start now and get into a routine/habit before the cold and darkness comes. It’s harder to break a habit once it’s formed and will keep you from staying planted on the couch during the cold days.

Is there anything you’ve been wanting to try but are too scared? Hiking? Climbing Mountain biking? Paddle boarding? Sailing? What have you got to loose? If you don’t want to try it alone ask around to see if a friend wants to try it with you. If not, try meeting people on sites like meetup.com to find people with similar interests. Whatever it is, don’t let fear hold you back and get out there and do it!

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I flew to Boston this weekend to surprise my mom for her birthday. After the initial screams and tears she asked me what I wanted to do while here. The only thing on my mind that had been missing from my summer was the beach. We headed out to a small island about 45 minutes away for some salty air and sand dunes.

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It was mainly empty as we played in the water and strolled alone in the sand watching the boats. It was a blissful day that I’ll remember during the dark evenings of the winter when I long for the warmth and sun (I’m not a cold weather person can you tell?) Image

So I plan to make the most of these last 9 weeks. Go on more hikes after work. Choose to sit outdoors when I read instead of on the couch. Go a lake. Go for more trail runs. Soak of the sun and the amazing bliss of being surrounded by other people happily enjoying the warm weather and the beauty of the outdoors.

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Friday Fun: Fitness Survey

So, I wrote a long post that actually had substance to it, but my computer deleted it last night. So until I have time to re-write it, let’s have some Friday Fun! Definitely stole this from Runner Ritsa

1. What did you eat for breakfast?

Today’s breakfast was three eggs and two pieces of bacon. Gotta love the protein and fat combo to kickstart your day!

2. How much water do you drink a day?

 I’d say about 90 oz. I’m trying to bring it up to 128oz (a gallon)!

3. What is your current favorite workout?

Some times I love HIIT ( CrossFit MetCon style) workouts with lots of sprints, box jumps, rope work, ball slams, etc. But I also love slower workouts where you just lift heavy and see how far you can push your muscles. I’m also a swimmer, so I love getting in the water, although I don’t do that nearly enough. It really just depends on my mood and how much sleep I’ve had.

4. How many calories do you eat a day?

I have no idea, I don’t count calories anymore. Listening to your body and determining when it’s hungry vs. when you are bored or thirsty is more important than monitoring your caloric intake. Also, satisfying that real hunger with quality foods.

5. What are your favorite healthy snacks?

Banana and Almond/Peanut Butter, Nuts, Cucumbers, Carrots, Apples, Cherry Tomatos (the yellow ones only), canned tuna etc. But to be honest I don’t really snack that much, usually just an afternoon one if I’m working out in the evening before dinner, and then it’s always almond butter.

6. What do you usually eat for lunch?

This changes on a daily basis. If I have leftovers from the night before, usually that.  A staple if there’s no leftovers is grilled chicken and veggies (lately it’s been squash and asparagus), or a jalapeno beef burger and veggies.

7. What is your favorite body part to strength train?

I love abs. I know most people hate them, but they are definitely my favorite. Planks, Sit ups, Grave Diggers, Mountain Climbers, Rock Sit Ups, Russian Twists – throw them my way. Even partner planks/pushups.

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Also, to be honest, my butt. Growing up getting made fun of for having a “pancake a$$” will do that to you.

8. What is your least favorite body part to strength train?

My shoulders, mainly because they are so weak. But I’m working on that shoulder cap!

9. What are your “bad” food cravings?

Ice cream and chicken wings are the top two. If I’m really craving ice cream and nothing will satisfy it, I usually go and buy these to at least have a “healthy” version of my craving.

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I also am obsessed with pickles, but I don’t consider that “bad”.

10. Do you take vitamins or supplements?

Nope, I feel you don’t really need them if you eat healthy with enough variety. If I’m in a jam I’ll use protein powder, but I’ve cut back on that a lot.

11. How often do you eat out?

Friday is date night, so usually we go out then, sometimes Paleo sometimes not, almost always there are chicken wings.Usually one other time during the week with friends or coworkers.

12. Do you eat fast food?

Nope. If I’m in a crunch and really need something, I will get a salad at Chipotle. But my days of McDonalds #2 Meals are long gone.

13. Who is your biggest supporter?

As far as fitness goes I would say my Dad, his mouse pad has a picture from my last 1/2 marathon printed on it and he always loves seeing pictures/hearing what I did that day; my boyfriend, he really helped me pursue my desire to be more fit and continues to educate me everyday on lifting/training; and my old roommate Rachelle who, when I stopped wanting to go out drinking/partying as much and focus more on being healthy, was one of the few people who whole-heartedly supported me and didn’t make me feel guilty about it. I am very grateful for that.

14. Do you have a gym membership?

I do, I currently have a membership to the Colorado Athletic Club, but I’m considering ditching that this fall when school starts again and trying CrossFit Sanitas more regularly. I also work out at my boyfriend’s gym 2-3 times a week.

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15. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

I aim for 7-8, but usually it’s more like 6-7. One thing that Paleo definitely helped with was not being as sleepy during the day. I used to need 9 hours at least to not crash in the afternoon, but I noticed right away when I started Paleo that I didn’t have that afternoon crash anymore.

16. Do you have a “cheat”day?

Not a designated one, no. Like I’ve mentioned before, I try to keep 80/20 Paleo. If there is something I really want, like the above mentioned ice cream and chicken wings, I will have it as long as it’s not too much or too often.

17. Do you drink alcohol?

Occasionally. Probably two-three drinks every week, sometimes more sometimes less. I don’t go out to party at clubs like I used to, now I just hang out casually with friends, so it really depends on the week and what I have going on.

18. Do you have a workout buddy?

I train with my boyfriend 2 times a week and am joined by a friend on Saturday, but other than that I usually fly solo.

19. What is the best thing that has changed about your life since committing to a healthy lifestyle?

I’m happier. I’m sure that came about through a combination of things, but working out/competing in races/making goals definitely gave me a stronger sense of pride and respect for myself than I had before. Eating healthy/Pale helped me come to peace with my body, not constantly fighting it to fit a mold I envisioned for it. I found that doing those two things made me not want to go out as much, not want to drink. Partially because I wouldn’t be able to work as hard if I had drank the night before, but also because I didn’t need that buzz to feel happy and social anymore, that just came naturally.

20. What was the last healthy thing you did?

I chose to take the stairs when getting out of the bus terminal instead of the escalator. It’s a small thing, but making it a routine to always take the stairs pays off in the end! I am usually the only one who does it, too.

Fill it out and tag me so I know you did it and can check it out! Happy Friday everyone!

“Obesity isn’t the problem, it’s the solution to the problem”

Over the weekend I watched the documentary Hungry For Change. I’ve watched a TON of “food” documentaries in my day, but I’d definitely still recommend this one. One of the reasons is because it discussed the mental struggle behind obesity (hence the quote from a psychologist from the movie as my title) and the fact that many people use the high fat/high sugar foods that send happy signals to the brain as therapy, instead of addressing the issues in other ways.The food industry capitalizes on this psychological problem, as well as designing their products to make us addicted.  It also gave a more simple “how to” for eating healthy (aka what I like to call “J.E.R.F – Just Eat Real Food”).

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Some of the best take-a-ways from the movie I found were:

~ On average, we (Americans) consume 150lbs of sugar a year. The level of sugar in our everyday foods is ridiculous. The other day I was trying to buy chicken stock only to find it had cane sugar added to it. A recent Princeton Study showed that sugar is in fact addictive and had a similar addictive effect on lab mice as drugs.

~ 90-95% of “dieters” end up gaining the weight back. It discusses the various reasons behind this, but the one I found most interesting was the problem with Diet Sodas. The artificial sweeteners in Diet Sodas actually cause you to crave sweeter things more, as you become desensitized to naturally sweet things like fruit. In mice, artificial sweeteners increased food consumption in meals that occurred after consuming the sweetener. This, besides the negative effects of artificial sweeteners in general, make it something to definitely have in moderation, if at all.

~ MSG, which is present in 80% of flavored food, is used in mice studies to fatten mice, as it excites the part of the brain used in fat production (as well as making us happy). Look to see if some of your favorite foods contain monosodium glutamate (MSG)

~ We are the first generation who might not have a longer life expectancy than our parents due to the increase in obesity related diseases/health problems.

Part of the film talked about using juicing as an important way to get in vegetables. I personally don’t like juicing, since it leaves a lot of the fibrous parts of the veggies/fruits behind. It did, however, inspire me to start making green smoothies every morning/another around 3 when I start to fade in the afternoon.

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A lot of people have asked me if it actually tastes good. Surprisingly, yes! The cinnamon and ginger help make it not only tolerable, but enjoyable. Especially if you add a banana for some natural sweetness.

It seems to be working as it helped me get through a tough workout last night, including 25 reps of 180lb dead lifts. Getting closer to my 200lb goal!

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With all that said, I hope you all enjoyed the Holiday weekend and ate plenty of foods you enjoyed, even if they weren’t they healthiest. We all gotta indulge now and then! Moderation is key 😉

One Year

One year ago this weekend I broke my ankle running to my friend’s defense in a pair of 4 inch heels and started 4 scary months filled with nerve damage, uncertainty, and self reflection. 

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This weekend  I urge you to take the time to do something you would miss doing if you woke up tomorrow not able to walk. Go for a walk, a hike, a run. Play with your dog, your kids. If you live in CO, enjoy the foot of snow that is currently dumping on us. get up off the couch and take a moment to be grateful for the amazing things that our bodies are capable of. 

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Planning for Success (Includes 1/2 Marathon Training Plan)

Guys, I’ll admit it. Past couple weeks I’ve fallen off the wagon. I could blame it on being sick, but in reality I’ve been lazy. I just haven’t been that motivated to cook/eat clean or work out that much. In fact, I haven’t really been motivated to do anything, including the piles of reading I have to do for school.

My dog thinks Corporations reading is boring too.

My dog thinks Corporations reading is boring too.

I definitely go through phases of being super motivated, I can totally do this, I’m a rockstar, YAH!… and then I just burn out. It’s hard once you lose that drive to try to find it again and re-motivate yourself to be the best version of “You” that you can be.

There’s a two phase plan I used to try to get myself back on track when I fall of.  Phase 1 starts with watching this video, which always makes me want to go take on the world This. Very. Second.

Then I look up and see it’s cold and grey outside and I decide the world can wait.  But no one ever got what they wanted out of life by watching Grey’s Anatomy reruns for hours on end, so then Phase 2 kicks in. Success doesn’t just happen. You have to work for it. You have to plan for it. So, I make a plan. I make it detailed. I make sure I stick to it.  It’s hard to fall off track when you know exactly what you are supposed to be doing at any given moment.

I’ve been really slacking in the cardio department. Like, really slacking. Like, I’d probably be wheezing after a mile or two if I went for a run. Since one of my 2013 goals is to  break a 1:45 1/2 marathon time, we can’t have that. So last night I sat down and drafted a training plan. It’s an easy one, one just to get me back into the grove of running. I still want to keep my lifting, so I scheduled Three “PT” (Personal Training) times in there, along with interval runs to work on speed, hills, and tempo runs.

Week Mon Tuesday Weds Thursday Friday Sat Sunday
Week 1 PT 2 Mile Tempo PT 2 Mile Easy REST 4 Miles &PT 1 Miles Easy
Week2 PT 3 Mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Tempo REST 5 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 3 PT 3 Mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Interval REST 6 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week4 PT 4 Mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Hill REST 7 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 5 PT 3 Mile Interval PT 4 Mile Easy REST 8 Miles & PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 6 PT 4 Mile Interval PT 3 Mile Tempo REST 9 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 7 PT 4 mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Easy REST 10 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 8 PT 2 M. Hill, 3M. T PT 4 Mile Tempo REST 11 Miles &PT 3 Miles Easy
Week 9 PT 5 Mile Tempo PT 3 Mile Interval REST 9 Miles &PT 2 Miles Easy
Week 10 PT 5 Mile tempo PT 4 Mile Interval REST 1 Mile EZ RACE (?)

As of now I haven’t registered for a race, but I know in a month or so I’ll start looking some up.  I’ll have another week’s worth of groceries/recipes this Saturday to help get me back into making my own food again.

I know I’m capable of more than I’ve been giving the past couple weeks in school, in working out and in life. I’m ready to get back on track. I’m ready to be successful.

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How Psychologists are making you addicted to junk food.

I have a confession. I love Cheetos. Back in college, they were my go to junk food. Especially the spicy kind. I couldn’t get enough. I could eat multiple bags and still not be full.

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Thanks to an article last week in the New York Times, I now know why. Cheetos, along with every other type of junk food/processed food, is the result of thousands of hours of scientific research with the ultimate goal of making that food as addictive as possible. Not just the marketing. It’s a well known fact that primary colors attract kids, especially orange, that red stimulates the appetite etc. What I didn’t know is that everything down to the sound that the chip makes when it crunches, or how fast the cheetos dissolves in my mouth (a term dubbed “Vanishing Caloric Density”), has been tested over and over to find what is most appealing to consumers.

The article follows one of the prominent Food Psychologist, with a PhD from Harvard, as he talks about several products on the shelf today, from Dr. Pepper (high carbonation added to it’s popularity) to Prego Sauces (as much sugar in a 1/4 cup as two oreos and chunks of mystery meat skyrocketed it to #1), Lunchables (built with a three month non refrigerated shelf life, “cheese” and all, as well as almost much saturated fat as a kids supposed to have in a day) and Potato Chips( the perfect mix of starch to give you a quick glucose sugar rush, fat to send happy signals to the brain, and salt to satisfy our most basic animal cravings).

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If the idea that your food is being psychologically designed to make you an addict doesn’t disturb you enough to make you think twice about processed foods, then I’ll bring out the gross factor. Lots of ingredients that make up anything from your Starbucks to your ice cream to your gummy bears are “enhanced” by ingredients that aren’t publicly advertised.

Let’s take the natural flavoring “castoreum”. It’s used to enhance vanilla flavoring, like in ice cream or candy. It is indeed natural, that’s no lie, but that’s because it is made from Beaver Anal Secretions. And it’s even FDA Approved. 

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Don’t eat vanilla? Well how about that mushroom pizza you ordered? Or should I say, that Maggot Mushroom pizza? The FDA approves up to 19 maggots and 74 mites in every 3.5 ounce can of mushrooms. Next time, buy them fresh.

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Lastly, I’ll leave you with the one that hurts me the most, because I love them. Gummy Bears/Worms/Fish you name it. First, if you’ve eaten any gummy item that has red dye in it you can proudly say you’ve eaten a beetle, because that’s how it get’s that lovely red color (Same with those Strawberry Frappuccinos you love so much..).  But Gummy Bears don’t stop there, the gelatin used to create that fun texture comes from boiled connective tissue, most likely pig.

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Now don’t get me wrong. I still love my gummy bears, pig skin and beetles and all. I try to follow a 80/20 rule, as in 80% of the time I eat clean, 20% I allow myself cheats. But keep in my mind how much junk food you may be eating and whether the hours of time put into making it addictive are working on you.  Remember they don’t have your best interest at heart.  As the head of General Mills said, “Don’t talk to me about nutrition, talk to me about taste. Talk to me about sales.”

Rest days were the best days…

Last week I woke up for CrossFit, stumbled into the bathroom and was half way through washing my face before I realized I was using toothpaste and the little granules exfoliating my face were whitening stain-lifters. Once my face was removed of its minty freshness, I stumbled back to bed and decided that sleep was more important for my success at work that day than Snatches and dead lifts that morning.

Rest Day 1

Even with the extra hour and half of sleep, I spent the whole day in a slight fog, giving myself internal pep talks to focus and pay attention. Somehow, when I got home I decided it was a good idea to go for a quick run anyway. It has been a while since I went running and I figured it would still be a break from lifting. The next day I woke up still tired, but chugged some pre-work out and headed to the gym. I was feeling pretty good, ready to sweat and feel those endorphins flood my body.

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And then I hit a wall. My lungs tightened as I desperately sucked in air, I felt nauseous and my muscles were burning. Two weeks of double days had caught up to me and I had to call it quits. But my body wasn’t ready punishing me for neglecting to listen to it. I spent the next couple days curled up in bed, fighting away flu like symptoms that left me drained and weak.

What did I learn from all this? Don’t be a stubborn meat head – take rest days. I know that it’s easy to get excited when you see yourself making progress, and there is the tendency to want to keep going so you don’t lose it. Truth is-I’m not going to lose all the progress I’ve gained if I take a day or two off. In fact, it will actually help my muscle tissue to recovery and help replenish my energy stores.

What else did I learn? I need more sleep. Not getting sufficient sleep decreases glycogen synthesis, decreases muscle tissue repair, decreases activity of human growth hormone and increases the stress hormone cortisol. Also, if you are trying to loose weight numerous studies show that a lack of sleep can increase over eating.

So next time you are feeling overly sore or tired, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Go to a movie, go out to dinner, do anything except try to push through it. Your body will thank you.