Healthy, Not Jacked

Every time I start to diet, I get into the same rut. I’ll restrict myself so much that I get sick of what I’m eating and I end up binging. That binge will result in me diving face first into a tub of ice cream, never to be seen again.

What I’m realizing lately is that there needs to be a balance between “I’m going to be so strict with my diet” and “eat all the carbs!”

The biggest problem that I’ve had so far with my “dieting” is that I force myself to eat things I don’t like. It turns out that I really hate eggs. I hate the smell, I hate the texture, and I hate the taste. There are very few things that I can put in eggs to make them taste good, and after forcing myself to eat them for about a year now, I just can’t eat them at all.

I ate eggs because I felt like they were the only breakfast food that was packed with protein. Now that I’ve pretty much sworn off eggs, I’ve been drinking protein shakes for breakfast with yogurt and peanut butter. I’m usually sort of nauseous in the morning, so drinking my breakfast is probably the best option anyway.

I also was eating a ton of plain grilled chicken and vegetables. I like grilled chicken, but it’s by no means my favorite food. Besides being bland, raw chicken freaks me out and slightly overcooked chicken is rubbery and gross. I’m not a bad cook, but I’m also not overly attentive when grilling.

My new solution has been to find alternative protein sources that don’t disgust me as much. Chicken sausage and chicken meatballs have been a pretty solid option, especially because you can buy them precooked from awesome brands like Applegate naturals.

Chicken also started to get kind of played out because I was ordering it in restaurants. Billy doesn’t eat seafood, so I never make it when we eat at home, but I’ve been ordering more fish and shrimp when I go out now to mix up the protein I eat.

The biggest thing that I’ve been trying to do is to not deprive myself, but to not just say “screw it, I’m eating this”. I used to not eat hummus because I felt that it was too high in carbs, and now I basically eat some every day. I also wasn’t eating fruit because it’s high in sugar, but I’ve been buying more lately to get extra fiber and nutrients.

I still eat dessert sometimes, and probably more often than I should, but that’s okay. I was so focused on losing the most weight I could, as fast as I could, as I wasn’t enjoying the process. Every workout was calculated and every meal was selected meticulously.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that I won’t have a six pack in two months, or maybe not even ever if I don’t want to. I would rather eat food that tastes good and be in good shape, than eat boring, bland food and be shredded.

KBF

How a Change in Priorities Can Lead to Progress

When I first started to work out, my main goal was always “skinnier. get skinnier”. I mean, isn’t that what everyone’s goal is at first? 

I got down to 114 pounds from taking about 8 spin classes a week and being a vegetarian.  I thought I looked great, but I’ve heard that at that point I was too skinny and even looked unhealthy at some points.

Between taking steroids and not going to the gym frequently for a few months, I was pretty discouraged at what I looked like. Actually, at one point I was up to 148 pounds, a realization that made me cry in the gym.

As I keep working, I’ve come to a few realizations. The first is that my priorities have definitely changed. If I was trying to get down to 110 pounds again to be as skinny as possible, my method just wasn’t going to do that.

But I don’t want that again. 

I want to be strong and look strong. I want to be able to sprint and pick up heavy things and move like an athlete, even though I’m not one. How many athletes do you know (besides long distance runners) who are just skinny? I don’t know many.

My second realization is that I am not built to be skinny, truly skinny. There are girls out there who are long and lean and who can get away with being thin girls. I’m not one of them. I have bigger legs and an overall “thicker” frame, as much as I hate that word.

People can tell you all they want that everyone is built differently, but until you’ve seen your body at all stages, you’ll never actually believe it. You’ll continue wanting to look like whichever Victoria’s Secret model is currently dating Leonardo DiCaprio, even though you’ll never be 6 feet tall with a 26 inch waist.

It’s once you become realistic about how you’re built and what your goals are that you’re able to make the most progress.

I will never be 114 pounds again, and I’m damn proud of that.

KBF

Carb Cycling and Other Revelations

For a few weeks, I was attempting to eat 100g of carbs a day. This made me feel restricted and somewhat angry at times.

Then Billy told me that I could carb cycle so I could eat more carbs on days where I actually needed them. This led to the construction of a chart, based around workouts:

Monday: Lift (100g)
Tuesday: Conditioning (80g)
Wednesday: Lift (100g)
Thursday: Conditioning (80g)
Friday: Lift (100g)
Saturday: Off (60g)
Sunday: Lift (175g)

By having a couple of low days and medium days during my week, I can have one much larger day to reboot my metabolism and just have fun with what I eat. Yesterday we had an unexpected date day, so I ended up eating 175g on Friday instead of Sunday.

It worked out though because I had 60g on Thursday, positioning a low day before a high day as originally planned. 

The biggest thing yesterday was that I didn’t overdo it. Usually when I have a heavier carb day I feel like death for a few days after. I had a really big lunch of shrimp tacos and chicken nachos, with a margarita for good measure. Then we went to the movies and had popcorn and half of a bag of Reese’s pieces between the two of us.

Usually, when we would get dinner after, I would figure my whole day had gone to hell so why not just get a huge plate of pasta. I broke this mentality last night when we chose a Persian restaurant for dinner and I chose to substitute the rice for grilled vegetables. 

Everything about that meal felt good and enabled me to feel pretty good this morning too. I started my day off with eggs, spinach and feta and a slice of white bread, and I’m going to have a protein shake before going to see King Lear at BAM at noon.

Hopefully by loading up on protein this morning I’ll be able to make better choices in choosing a restaurant after sitting through a three hour play.

The concept of planning a higher carb day (but not recklessly high) breaks the idea of having a “cheat day”. Cheat days always end up as “cheat weeks” and even “cheat months” for me. It might work for some people, but I can’t just go crazy one day a week and expect to go back to normal the next day.

The cheat day mentality signals that you’re doing something wrong for your body, while increasing carbs to boost metabolism is actually benefitting it.

KBF

Eating Crap Will Make You Feel Like Crap

For the past few days, I’ve been a little more lenient with what I eat, and by lenient I mean I just ate whatever I felt like eating. I actually danced the entire way to Carvel last night for an ice cream cone. It was bad.

I somehow passed up the bag of bagels on my mom’s kitchen table this morning, only to go to brunch and have donuts for dessert. In my defense, they were homemade donuts. Then I went to my aunts house and ate EVERYTHING there as well.

As much as I regret eating poorly these past few days, I realize that it needed to happen. I needed to feel like absolute crap to realize just how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

I’m exhausted, bloated, extremely thirsty, and kind of a jerk. I also get hungry a lot more frequently. The sad part about this whole thing is that I realize that this is what I used to feel like all the time and it’s a very real every day for a lot of people.

The way I feel now shows exactly what it feels like to be undernourished and overfed. It’s not always about what you look like. Sometimes it’s about not wanting to feel like you’re food hungover and wanting to punch everyone in the face, because trust me, when you start to feel bad enough, the rage monster just comes out of no where.

Having a great body is awesome, but it’s hard to have one if you eat crap all the time. Eating junk food sometimes is great, especially in moderation but it’s when it starts to become a more consistent thing that it starts to effect you.

Food is supposed to give you energy so why consistently eat something that’s actually going to take your energy away? It doesn’t make sense and yet we continue to do it just because it tastes good or feels good in the moment. It’s after that moment passes that it starts to catch up and you start to feel the effects of a poor diet.

Looking in the mirror and not liking what you see sucks, but so does being tired all the time and not feeling full from the food you eat. Although these things aren’t fun, they have an easy solution: eat good food that makes you feel good and the rest will fall into place.

KBF

 

Quit Lying About Your Body

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot about body image and how every woman should love her body just as it is. I’m all for female empowerment and self-love, but the whole “just as it is” part doesn’t sit right with me.

Where is the desire for better in that sentence?

By saying “I love myself just as I am” we cut off an entire part of ourselves that seeks better. If we applied the “just as I am” to other parts of our lives, chances are we would be really disappointed.

Think about it. “I love my career, just as it is”. “I love my house, just as it is”. Chances are we can think of some improvement for both of those things but when it comes to our bodies we’re suddenly the female Mitt Romneys regressing women’s rights back to a pre-suffrage era, and who wants that?

To say that we’re satisfied with our bodies the way the are is basically saying “I am too lazy to fix what I don’t like” but saying it in a way that makes other women not only agree with us, but respect us. It makes gives the impression of “wow, she’s so brave. I wish I could do the same”. Well, why should you have to? Why shouldn’t you want more than you already have? If you wanted to make a certain salary a year or get to a certain level in your company, chances are you would work your ass off to get to it, instead of just saying “I love my life, just the way it is”.

But when it comes to our bodies, most of us are more than satisfied to lust after the bodies of Victoria’s Secret models while claiming “I love my body, just the way it is” and never doing anything about it, all in the name of feminism. Women spend hours every week putting on make-up and picking out clothes, but the second weight comes into the picture, you’re an asshole for suggesting improvement. I think this is the most ridiculous thing ever.

Spending time to improve ourselves, for ourselves, can be the most empowering thing a person can do. The last time I checked, just saying that I was comfortable with my body didn’t make it true, and being truly unhappy about it wasn’t a very empowering feeling.

But looking at the improvements I make in the gym every week is crazy empowering. I feel pride looking in the mirror at abs and muscle cuts and thinking “hey, look what I did!”. That’s what empowerment is. It’s deciding you want something and stopping at nothing to get it. It’s saying “I am going to be the best me I can be” and actually doing something about it.

It’s not slowly putting on weight while saying you’re happy with yourself as you are then getting upset when swimsuit season comes. 

Your body doesn’t have to be your identity, but it can definitely be a part of it. Your weight doesn’t have to define you and it shouldn’t define you. But by refusing to admit that your appearance matters to you, you eliminate the desire to be better and who really wants to stay the same?

KBF

Why Choosing a Gym is so Important

When I was in the best shape, I was going to a gym I loved. Once I stopped working there, I stopped working out almost completely.

I repeatedly said that I would go to the school gym or workout at home, but I hardly ever did. I gained weight every week and continued to tell myself I would start working out again the next day. I never did.

I eventually joined a new gym, which I hated, and stopped going to it after only a month. The decision to go back to my old gym has proven to be the best decision I could have made and made me realize one thing: you need to find an environment you love before you can get in shape.

That place can be a gym, a park, or your house, as long as it makes you comfortable and you enjoy going to it. My gym has turned into my happy place. I wake up in the morning and look forward to going to it instead of dreading the thought of checking in.

When you like being somewhere, you tend to go more often and spend more time there. At the other places I went to, I would try to get in and out as fast as possible, even if that meant sacrificing big parts of my workout.

Now, I’ll spend more than an hour in the gym without even realizing because the environment just makes me happy. I go at a time when the gym is basically empty and I like having a big area to myself to swing kettlebells and deadlift.

The decision to switch happened when I asked myself why I wasn’t going to the gym and I realized that the answer was “because it makes me sad”. A gym should never make you sad, it should do the opposite. You should leave energized and happy and in a better place than you were in before you entered.

If you’re not going to a gym that you’re paying for, ask yourself the question as to why you’re not going. If your answer is similar to mine, maybe it’s time to test out some new ones. You can almost always try them for free or really cheap for a few days.

Don’t let your environment be your excuse. Let it be your reason.

KBF

What My First Solo Spin Class Taught Me About Motivation

Today I really didn’t want to go to the gym. Like REALLY did not want to go.

Usually just the bright lights of the gym are enough to make me want to work out, but I’m not sure if it was the rainy weather or just an off day, but I still didn’t want to do anything once I got there.

Although I told myself that I only had to do 15 minutes and then I could leave, I actually thought “fine, but only if I can do it sitting down”. So, I decided to create my own spin class.

At first, my plan to go into the Spin room and do my work out was more an excuse to be lazy than an ambitious desire to come up with my own interval, cardio workout. I figured that if I was alone in the Spin room, I could safely sit on the bike and pedal as slowly as I photo-56wanted with as little resistance as possible.

The first five minutes were awful. I thought about getting off the bike and just going to lay down on a mat somewhere pretending to stretch. I’m really out of control sometimes.

After I got through those five minutes, a man came into the room. I was very annoyed at first because I had been happy with my lazy solitude. It turns out that I actually NEEDED this man to come in as his presence made me feel like there was someone in the room judging me and holding me accountable. 

Was he doing either of these things? No, not even kind of. He was actually very content to do a very difficult Spin session of his own. But sometimes, we need to feel like there’s a bit of embarrassment in quitting, even if there is none.

In the end, I made it through a 30 minute session of sprints, jumps on a hill, and a few steep climbs. I’m still not back to where I used to be in terms of resistance and speed, but the longer I was on the bike today, the easier it got.

That has to be a good sign, right?

Today was such an important lesson in why we need to push ourselves sometimes. I woke up feeling sore and lazy, but I went to the gym and had a great work out. If I let myself believe the story I was telling myself about why it was okay to stay home on the couch with photo-57Sheldon, I wouldn’t have gotten to have such a good time on the bike.

There are definitely times where you shouldn’t work out, like if you have the flu or if you’re hurt, but a lot of times we’ll tell ourselves that we shouldn’t when we really should. I did it for months, thinking “well, who would really know anyway?”. It turns out that although no one will know if you go to the gym or not, it’ll definitely become obvious when you start gain 20 pounds like I did.

While the weight gain definitely sucks, it honestly isn’t the worst part of putting off exercise. The worst part is being unable to do push ups anymore, or suffering through a spin class that used to be easy.

The knowledge that my body used to be able to do so much that it can’t now is my motivation to go to the gym on days like today. In a year from now I want to be looking at how far I’ve come, not how I’ve fallen.

How do you stay motivated?

KBF

 

 

Badass, Not Bulky: The Argument for Lifting Heavy

Today has been a lazy week, but I’ve pushed through it so far. Although almost every day I’ve come up with some excuse not to go to the gym, I’ve gotten there on all of the days I had originally planned to go.

My new plan for what to do when I don’t feel like working out is to tell myself that I only have to go to the gym for 15 minutes, and if I still don’t want to be there I can go home. By the time you get moving, you don’t want to leave!

Yesterday was a pretty awesome day and I’m definitely feeling it today. I went into the gym planning to do a kind of lame workout, just some swings and maybe a few Turkish get-ups.

As soon as I walked in, I remembered that on Sunday I had originally planned to do some heavy deadlifts and an overall heavier lower body day. Once I remembered this, I felt like a failure for not wanting to do it anymore.

I started with some heavier swings than I’ve been doing (40 pounds) and then went over to the trap bar to deadlift.

I put a 35 pound plate on both sides and did three sets of 5. When I told Billy about it, I told him that my 95 pound deadlift felt a lot harder than it usually was. Well, that’s because I photo-55can’t do math and it was actually 115. Yay for accidental improvement!

The funny thing about deadlifting yesterday was seeing a girl that I know from high school in the gym. We had talked a few times before, but we don’t really know each other very well. When I saw her, she had just gotten off the treadmill after an 8 mile run, something that the very thought of makes me want to cry.

She took one look at the trap bar and said “Don’t hurt yourself! Girls shouldn’t lift heavy”. I think this is a really interesting (common) belief for a lot of women. We’re told that we aren’t supposed to lift heavy because we might hurt ourselves.

Well, a lot of things can make us hurt ourselves, but we do it anyway. Wearing heels can damage the length of your calf muscle, but there are girls who wear them every day. That kind of muscle damage is deemed acceptable, but lifting up 115 pounds seems insane to a lot of women.

It’s another side of the whole “you’re going to get bulky” argument. It’s all said with good intentions, but a lot of it stems from a lack of knowledge. How can we know all of the benefits of lifting weights if no one explains it to us? For so long, lifting weights has been for319903_la men and scary looking bodybuilder women.

Most girls don’t want to look like that. So instead, they use the argument of getting bulky or getting hurt to justify hours on the treadmill that don’t accomplish the goals they had in the first place. 

I was one of those girls for a really long time. I would go to back to back spin classes and strictly do yoga even though I thought it was boring and somewhat a waste of my time, all because I had an image in my head of what I wanted to look like and a skewed idea of what would get me there.

That doesn’t mean that lifting is for everyone. I know a lot of people who just flat out hate it and actually enjoy long, endurance sessions on the treadmill or the elliptical. I’m not one of those people.

However, I do think that it’s so important that we talk about why lifting can be so great for women, instead of focusing on what it used to mean. My favorite conversations are with friends of mine who tell me that they want to look like specific celebrities or Victoria’s Secret models and are completely dumbfounded when I tell them that those girls all lift.

Being strong is awesome. It allows you to be independent in ways that you might not have been able to in the past. One of my favorite moments I had recently was helping my dad shovel piles of rocks and wood chips after we had a tree removed. A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that, but now I can.

You can be a badass without looking like a She-Hulk or ending up in a body cast. You just have to take the first step and trust yourself.

KBF

Health Shaming: Don’t Let Others Guilt You Into Eating Garbage

Does anyone else ever find themselves apologizing for eating healthy? I know I do.

A few days ago I saw this photo that summed it up perfectly: “Eat a whopper, large fry and soda…No one bats an eye. Eat chicken and brown rice out of tupperware and everyone hohpr1loses their mind.” It resonated at the time, but the more I think about it, the more I see the truth in it.

When I bring my own food to my classes, everyone seems to be looking at me funny. Meanwhile, the kid a few seats over with the value meal from Wendy’s isn’t getting a second look.

I remember in one class, a girl sat next to me who was very overweight. She had a bag from McDonald’s and she was talking to me about all of her various health problems. During that time, I took out my lunch: spaghetti squash and meatballs. Without skipping a beat, she looked at me and said “I could never eat like that”.

At the time, I felt uncomfortable that she had said that. My food was delicious, but was there something wrong with me for not eating what everyone else was? No. Quite the opposite actually. We’ve all been so programmed to eat overly processed, high carb, high fat meals and overlook the fact that it’s actually killing us.

The girl sitting next to me that day had such bad asthma from her weight and was Type 2 diabetic starting at age 16. She had a million reasons for why she was so sick, but the real answer was that her food was killing her and that she either didn’t realize, or more likely just wasn’t willing to stop.

When someone makes a decision to not eat these things, especially in public, people look at them like there’s something wrong. I believe that it’s because when someone choses the healthy option, it exposes just how unhealthy others are being.

The best way I can describe it is like being the only non-smoker in a smoking section. The people who make up the majority of the group feel like it’s the outlier who is doing the wrong thing, but deep down it’s a response to what they feel is judgement. It’s almost like they are saying “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.”

For a while, that mentality bothered me. It made me feel uncomfortable and often led to me making less healthy decisions for the benefit of others. But how stupid is that? It’s just like everyone’s mom always said “if everyone else was going to jump off the bridge, would you do it too?” Obviously not! So why do we let the pressure from those being unhealthy impact our own wellbeing?

I think the best answer is that no one wants to be an outsider. If everyone else is doing it, it really does make you want to do it too. It’s just easier to say no when the stakes are higher, like jumping off a bridge or doing drugs. When it’s food, it’s easy to just say “screw it, how bad could it be?”

This is not an argument to miss out on great, delicious food at a party or other kind of social gathering. It’s a declaration of our ability to make our own choices. The food may be killing you, but you’re ultimately the one putting it in your mouth. Don’t let others make that decision for you, and especially don’t apologize for not letting them.

I’m sick of being treated like there’s something wrong with me because I don’t want to eat junk food that I wouldn’t enjoy all that much anyway. If I eat fast food, I tend to feel sluggish and just downright sick after. For me, food should taste good and make you feel good, and I see no reason why we should sacrifice one for the other.

Food is fuel, and it’s time that we start treating it like it.

KBF

Frequent Meals to Avoid Getting “Hangry”

Yesterday I did a really tough workout. It didn’t feel like it at the time, but today I definitely notice some soreness.

I also learned a really valuable lesson: I can’t eat three meals a day and expect it to be photo-53satisfying. I could eat the perfect amount of calories, but if I ate them in three meals, chances are I’ll feel like I’m starving to death around 8 o’clock.

I’ve always just kind of ate smaller, more frequent meals but yesterday I ate three bigger ones. I had an egg sandwich from the deli in the morning, a burrito bowl with barbacoa and minimal rice from Chipotle, and Italian sausage and pasta salad for dinner.

Not exactly low carb, but not crazy either. 

What really killed my day was the Chipotle. It wasn’t overly high in calories or carbs, but I ate it all in one sitting. During my workout I was already starting to think about how hungry I was and by the time we were leaving Chipotle I was “hangry”.

When we got home, I realized that I had eaten the entirety of my meal without saying a word, or even looking at Billy, who had eaten only half of his to save some for dinner. He’s way better at planning ahead than I am.

So two hours later, when we were both hungry again, Billy got to eat the rest of his deliciousness and I had nothing. 

I was so hungry by the time I went to my parent’s house to feed Sheldon that I “casually snacked” (read: ate all of) the sausage and pasta salad that I originally wasn’t going to have any of.

pugs love protein

pugs love protein

By the time Game of Thrones came on, I had made up a Hungry Song. 

While some people can definitely eat three meals a day and feel fine, I think my blood sugar drops too much for me to do this. When people say that you should eat as a source of energy, they probably mean “a source of constant energy”.

That doesn’t mean that you have to be constantly walking around eating food, but for me small snacks in between slightly larger meals just feels better. It usually means the difference between overeating and feeling hungry or eating just enough and feeling awesome.

Smaller doesn’t have to mean deprivation. It actually should mean quite the opposite. It’s easy to feel like you’re not trying as hard when you don’t have to think “just finished breakfast! Only 5 more hours until lunch!”. It can also add a ton of variety to your day that wouldn’t otherwise have been there. I loved everything I ate yesterday, but I never truly felt satisfied.

When I had an awesome omelette for breakfast, then get to have a chocolate protein shake two hours later, it’s like I get all of the benefits without all of the willpower. It’s photo-54awesome.

Although yesterday wasn’t perfect, today’s a new day, so I’m going to start off with a high protein breakfast. Egg whites and goat cheese here I come!

What are some of your go-to snacks for in between meals?

KBF