Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fitness Update (but mostly food)

Before we get to the food, I have an exercise comment.

I was not able to go to BCS Fitness last week at my regularly scheduled timed because I had to work later than usual, so Brad let me come on Wednesday instead. That means I worked out Tuesday AND Wednesday, and at the end of the workout Wednesday I wanted to lay down on the floor and not move again until Friday. Wednesday was hard - beyond hard - and I almost didn't finish. Luckily, during partner work I was teamed up with Patty (I think that was her name), someone who obviously is no stranger to hard workouts, and she encouraged me and maybe picked up my slack a little.

I didn't want to go from Wednesday to the following Tuesday without working out, so this afternoon I went to the gym. I decided ahead of time that I was going to walk five minutes and then run five minutes for thirty minutes total. This is slightly more rigorous than my usual gym routine of setting the treadmill on a breezy 3.5 miles an hour and watching Ice Loves Coco.

Unfortunately, as soon as I started walking on the treadmill my knee starting screaming at me. I thought maybe I could stretch it out and it would feel better, but it just hurt more. This turned out to be a good thing because I got on the elliptical instead. I ellipticalled (I have an English degree that allows me to make up words) for thirty full minutes, and I would now call that a pretty easy workout. That's a long way from where I was.

By the way, Ice Loves Coco wasn't on, or that part of my workout would have been the same. Guilty pleasure tv, anyone?

It dawned on me today that my knee has never bothered me while working out at BCS Fitness. I have no idea why - my guess is that it's either because there's someone there making sure I'm doing exercises correctly OR because I'm so focused on not passing out that I don't notice.

And now food.

Currently I'm munching on baked sweet potato chips from a recipe I found on Pinterest. They are delicious and wonderfully, well,  munchy. These are a little softer than I think they should be, and had I arranged them in a single layer on the baking sheet they would be even better.

Tonight for dinner we had shrimp with creamy orange chipotle sauce, and oh my holy goodness it was good. I found the recipe in a cookbook that a friend from work let me browse (thanks, Jenny), and tonight is the first time I've made it.  It makes four servings and has about 138 calories per serving according to my fancy app. The recipe says to serve it with linguine, but I didn't have any so we ate it over brown rice. YUM!

We also had sliced avocado and asparagus. I don't think I've cooked asparagus before (maybe once) but Trish gave me a quick explanation of how she cooks it when I asked for suggestions on my facebook (thanks, Trish). I put it in a shallow container with a small dollop of butter and some salt and just enough water to cover it. She said to microwave it, but it occurred to me that I had no idea how long. Well, it turns out I have a very smart microwave because it has a setting for cooking fresh vegetables (you just punch in the weight in ounces) and the asparagus came out perfectly.

Then, I spent about 45 minutes tonight preparing some things for this week so that I won't be tempted to just have pepperoni rolls because I don't have time to cook.

First, I made prosciutto and green olive pasta salad and packed it in containers for lunch. I haven't eaten it yet, but it sure smelled delicious when I was making it. At three servings per "batch" it's about 276 calories. The recipe says it's four servings, but I could only find three empty containers and since I'm having it for lunch I decided that my version would just be three.

The pasta salad came from Jenny's cookbook, too. I can't remember the name of it, but I'll find out. Maybe she'll just post it here. :)

Finally, I made the stuffing for apricot stuffed pork tenderloin, which we'll have for dinner tomorrow. We don't have to be at the baseball fields until 7:00, so I've got time tomorrow to stuff it and cook it for 30 minutes This came from my niece, Jackie's, Paleo cookbook, The Paleo Diet (thanks, Jackie). I did a little taste test on the stuffing, and it seems pretty good. I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

Also on the menu for the week, Trey's green enchiladas. He usually makes them the night before and they heat up really well, so those are great for a night when we have to be at the baseball field at 5:30. I also want to make individual meatloaves again because they were perfect for lunches and a quick dinner last week.

My new favorite breakfast recipe: spinach and feta frittata. It smells heavenly when it's cooking and it heats up really well so you can make it ahead of time and have it for breakfast during the week.

So far, so good. While I'm working out better, I think food choices are going to be a huge part of me participating (and hopefully winning) the contest. I definitely feel better. Getting dressed in the morning takes about twice as long because the pants I wore two weeks ago are likely to fall down which could result in a very unfortunate flashing incident at my elementary school. My smaller sizes don't quite fit yet, but I think I'll get there. I feel reasonably certain I haven't peaked at a week and half!

In the last couple of years I have learned to love to cook, but I get easily bored with cooking the same thing all the time. I especially love spicy food and food that can be prepped or even completely cooked ahead of time. If you have a fantastic healthy recipe, please share!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Triceps and Broccoli

Workout #3

This was the hardest workout I've done so far, and it might be the hardest workout I've done in my life. I guess that's not true. I'm sure I worked out harder during marathon basketball practices running a ridiculous number of bleachers and ladders, but I was in much better shape then. So that makes today my hardest ever non-sports workout.

The workouts are structured as half cardio and half strength. The concept for the cardio today was something about popcorn. We rotated through all four cardio machines, spending about 4-6 minutes on each one and going at around 70% most of the time. The popcorn part meant that one of us was going at 100% almost every second. Sam, the trainer, would say, "Okay, Stormy, you're at 100% for the next 20 seconds. Give it all you've got!" Then she would cheer me on as I tried to, well, give it everything I've got. Every person in my group got their turn over and over again on each piece of equipment. On the rower-thingy (its official name), I thought I was going 100%, and the number on the screen (I don't know what it's counting) read around 715. Sam came over and said, "Go for 800!" I thought she was insane, but I found myself going harder. Wouldn't you know it? I kept it over 800 on that round of my turn to popcorn. It surprised me a little bit.

Today I also ran. I have commented as an adult that I can't run. I used to run a lot when I was a teenager. But now I feel like my knees have been banged up too much and my ankles have rolled one too many times, and running is just impossible for me. Today, when I was on the treadmill and I was told to go 100%, I decided I should run. You know what? I did it, and it felt good. In fact, it was the easiest thing I did today. My knees and ankles didn't hurt at all, but that could be because my brain lapsed into a state of semi-consciousness from all the work I had already done. Either way, that surprised me a little bit, too.

The strength part today was mostly upper-body, I think. I pretty much hate weights, so I'm glad they make me do them. Maybe by the end of this thing weights and I will be able to find some type of dysfunctional relationship - continuing to dislike each other but recognizing that we need to visit every now and then.

I was doing some tricep thing, and I experienced something that has never happened to me before. I pulled the handles on the machine down, but my arms didn't move. It's like I was stuck. My brain was telling my arms to pull harder, but my arms were not listening, like a kid standing in front of me with his fingers in his ears. My friend and workout partner recognized my awkward situation, and she came over and gave me a little push. That was my very last one (#10) of that rotation, and I couldn't have finished without the help. It felt good to finish instead of just quitting.

Finishing with help is better than quitting by yourself. That's your little bit of philosophy for the day. You're welcome.

I saw today what I've heard from others who work out at BCS Fitness: I'll never push myself as much as someone else will push me. I think I push myself pretty hard in just about everything I do, and still I could never do what I did today without someone next to me telling me I could do more.

And now food.

Right this minute, as I'm typing, I'm eating broccoli.

Yes, broccoli.

I hate broccoli.

Or, I did hate broccoli.

I remember trying broccoli as a kid, and since then I've just always known I didn't like it. But it's really good for you, and part of me feels like a seven year old when something comes along that has broccoli in it and I say "no thank you" but what I really mean is "ewww...broccoli...gross." So, in my quest to have a healthier diet, I decided that I need to try broccoli again.

I bought those little single serving frozen broccoli trays because Trey loves them, so if I don't like it he'll eat the rest of them and they won't go to waste. Also, they're actually broccoli and cheese, and since cheese makes everything better I thought it would be good starter broccoli. I decided before I started that I would eat the whole thing.

It was fine, okay, alright, whatever. I could eat some broccoli, but I don't think I'll be craving it for every meal anytime soon. Maybe I won't turn up my nose at things that broccoli in them. Aren't I big girl for trying it?

The other thing I did tonight is precook some stuff for later in the week when we have baseball games. I made some individual meatloaves (maybe I'll take one for lunch) and some turkey burgers. They would probably be a little better if we cooked and ate them the same day, but if I don't make it ahead of time, we just won't eat it. That's the problem with meat courses around here - they take time and we don't have time on game nights, which right now happens to be four nights a week.

I have more to share, like my experience with yogurt (I don't eat that either because my brain knows it technically rotten milk), but instead I'll leave you with my favorite relatively healthy week night quick dinner.

BBQ Chicken Pizza: Take a whole wheat pita, add about a tablespoon of low-sugar barbecue sauce, top with roasted chicken, slices of red onion, about a 1/4 cup of mozzarella, and sprinkle the top with rosemary. You can cook in in the oven on a pizza stone, or, if you're really in a hurry, cook it in the toaster oven. When the cheese is melted, it's done.  My fancy app tells me it's about 363 calories. I love this because the boys also make their own pizzas (with tomato sauce and pepperoni or whatever else they want), and they always eat it because they made it themselves.

I hope I can move my arms tomorrow.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A World Without Cake

I am fundamentally against dieting. Jumping onto the latest diet bandwagon is something I have never done, and I don't plan on starting now. I figure either I eat healthy food or I eat bad for me food, but I refuse to say I'm on a diet.

Granted, this may not be the best plan because look how much I've grown (literally, and not taller) since I was 25.

With the BCS Fitness challenge, I have not decided to cut out all carbs or cut out all sugar or eat only vegetables watered only with the filtered, icy run off of Antarctic mountain streams. I don't want to live in a world without cake or margaritas or my mom's chocolate chip cookies.

Granted, I could live in a world with many, many fewer cakes and cookies, and that's what I'm working on.

(Wait, are there mountains in Antarctica? Whatever.)

I'm just trying to eat more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff and watch my overall calories in a day. I mentioned before that Brad suggested 100 grams of protein a day, so I'm trying to keep track of that, too.

I've been using this app that I've had on my phone for ages, My Fitness Pal. It's a web site, too, but I like the app much better than the site. It will track all of my nutritional intake and exercise as long as I use it. My favorite thing? The barcode scanner. If I'm having some HEB four pepper hummus, I can just scan the barcode, type in how much I ate, and all of the nutritional information is collected right there. That's everything - calcium, protein, sugar, cholesterol, fat, vitamins - EVERYTHING.

My second favorite thing about the app is that it has a recipe builder. I can enter all of the ingredients (with the barcode scanner) and tell it how many servings and it calculates the nutritional information for my recipes. This a) is awesome and b) keeps me from entering ingredients by hand every time I have the same meal.

I find this to be very interesting. I find that I usually get all of my recommended vitamin A with my breakfast. I find that 100 grams of protein is very difficult for me (I only got there once in the last week), I find that I have more sodium in my diet than I imagine I should (of course that's a guess because I really have no idea how much sodium I should have in my diet).

Brad the Fitness Guru gave me a food journal to complete so he can look it over and make recommendations, and I'm going to print out the diary and reports on my nutrition from each day of the past week and take it to him tomorrow. I thought about putting it in a spiral notebook with tabs for each day, but that might make me look like I'm trying to be an overachiever.

Things I love that I think I can eat and not feel guilty about:
four pepper hummus with baby carrots
sauteed squash
rotisserie chicken

I guess I'll find out for sure tomorrow when I hand over my tabbed notebook reports.

I've managed to stay around 1400 calories a day most of the week. I'll ask Brad tomorrow if that's even a good goal because we didn't talk calories before. (It's the magic number given to me by my magic MyFitnessPal app.) I've only been hungry a couple of times, like tonight when we didn't eat dinner until 8:30, but overall I have not felt like I'm missing out on anything by eating healthier. There have been a couple of days when I felt like I ate constantly all day long and still had less than 1200 calories.  Weird.

Saturday was rough because it was our family Easter, and there was food-a-plenty. I took my own chicken salad (this is my favorite chicken salad recipe) and tried to make healthy choices. Then I ate some chips, but only because there was queso and you really can't eat queso without chips. Then I ate a piece of cake, but only because it was chocolate cake and I don't want to live in a world without cake. Then, later, I ate a brownie, but only because it was Blessings and Brownies Day, a very important made-up holiday that requires brownies to be eaten. Overall, I hit the 2000 calorie mark, and I only felt bad about it for about thirty seconds. Maybe I should feel guiltier.

I'm thinking I ambushed my body with that cheese and chocolate and sugar and it had to work extra hard to fight off the unhealthy food invaders and I probably lost an extra pound or two because of it.

That's how it works, isn't it?

It occurs to me now that I'm talking about all of this nutrition stuff like I know what I'm talking about, and really I don't know what I'm talking about. I feel like I should add some disclaimer to state that. Consider yourself disclaimed.

The first question everyone asks about workout #2 (last Thursday) is whether or not I puked. I did not puke. Brad's staff is encouraging and pushing me, but I don't really think they want me to pass out. Everyone else did 40 of each of these 10-12 cardio exercises, and the trainer told me to do 20 of each and then go back and 20 more of everything I had time for (you know, since I'm the new chick and they don't want me to pass out). I don't like not doing as much as everyone else, so I made sure I did 40 of everything (in two rounds of 20). Those last few incline push-ups weren't pretty, but I did them.

It was about 15 minutes after I finished working out, when I got home, that I thought I might lay down on my driveway and stay there for a few days. But I had a PTO dinner and a baseball game to attend, so instead I got in the shower. I'm glad I kept moving. If I hadn't, I might still be in the driveway.

Tomorrow is workout #3.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Sometimes I'm a little nuts

I like to do crazy things and call myself adventurous because of them.

My latest crazy adventure is signing myself up for the Battle of the Sexes at BCS Fitness. The concept is this:  people on email to apply, and two guys and two girls are chosen to compete against one another. The contestants get eight weeks of free training and nutritional support at BCS Fitness, and the winners (guys or girls) get an additional eight weeks of training free. Updates are posted on the message board and BCS Fitness gets the advertising out of the contestants posting experiences and successes.

Of course I had to throw my name in. The possibility of getting in shape and being asked to write about the experience sounded right up my alley. I haven't been writing so much in recent months, and I blame a lack of material/inspiration. Lots of blog-worthy things happen during my days, but most of them are student related and I just don't want to get anywhere close to the line of breaching confidentiality.

I realize that I am not severely obese and in need of immediate health intervention. However, I do have clothes in my closet that I really like that also don't fit me anymore. The last two summers I've worn a swimsuit that covers as much of me as possible, and it ain't great. I recently did full blood work lab tests at a doctor's office check up, and I found that my cholesterol is pretty high. I've never once thought about my cholesterol! I realize that I'm headed down a slippery slope, gaining a few more pounds every year and slowly creeping up in sizes and down in health. If I don't do something, then I could be in really bad shape in twenty years. I sporadically go to the gym and I sometimes eat healthy food, but I can easily be talked out of a trip to the gym in favor of a cheeseburger.

So I entered, and I got picked.

Game on!

Wait...what the hell did I just do?

On Tuesday, I went for my first workout. Brad, the fitness guru, talked me through some nutritional stuff and asked me to work out with my group but only go about 80% because he needed to do some baseline tests for the contest. I have no concept of what 80% means, but I think I did okay.

Then the fitness testing began. I don't remember the exact order because I was a little nervous, but I do know the first thing I did was a plank. He wanted to see how long I could hold it.

"Ha!," I thought, "I've done planks in a class at my gym and I don't suck at them. I'm going to impress him with how well I can already do this!"

I started my plank, feeling focused.

After about a minute, he said, "Okay, that's ten seconds."

What?  I knew I had been down there at least three times that long, and I was starting to shake. I think I made a comment about the strange time-warp continuum that must be at play in the gym, and then I very shortly fell to the ground.

So much for me being in "not that bad of shape."

I did as many push ups as I could (I'm pretty sure it was single digits), and a couple of other tests I don't remember. I could touch the floor with my knuckles while bending at the waist, so I took that away as my one win.

I may not be in shape or strong, but it must be because I've spent so much time working diligently on my flexibility.  (wink,wink)

Then came the real challenge of the day. Measurements.

When Brad measured my waist and said the number, I thought I might have a panic attack. In that moment, I realized that I had agreed to have the size of waist posted on the internet. That, in and of itself, is true insanity. Not adventurous, only nuts.

I'll be no more specific here than "not small," but you can check out the mybcs thread if you really want to know.

Once I recovered from almost blacking out - not because of the workout but because of the measurements - I had Brad and one or two of the people in my group standing there telling me over and over again, "It's a starting point. Everyone has a starting point."  I took a deep breath, and got a little bit excited that the number had already, because of the day's workout, started getting smaller. I thought about my favorite pair of jeans and knew that I will be wearing them soon.

Honestly, I do love my current gym. It has great people and facilities and offers me flexibility in workout times. But if I had measured my waist at my gym by myself I may have just made myself feel better with a little ice cream shake on the way home. If you know me, you know without a doubt this is true!

I've worked out one other time since then, but that will have to be saved for another post because this one is already too long. I am working really hard to make good nutritional choices, and I hope I can post recipes and tricks I learn along the way. Brad did tell me to try to get 100 grams of protein every day, and I've realized that could be very hard for me. He made some suggestions I'm going to try, and I'm sure I'll find a way.

While I may be a little nuts for doing this thing so publicly, I'm thinking the results are going to make me very, very happy.