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

Carboholics Anonymous Made Easy: Recipes and Tips

If you’re anything like me, saying no to bread, pastas, and desserts is one of the hardest things that you’ll ever have to do. There was actually a point in time where I HOPED to develop Celiac’s disease so I physically could not eat those things. Sick, right? I know.

But it actually turns out that it doesn’t have to hurt to give up (read: consume in moderation) these things. There are a ton of delicious ways to change up your carb heavy meals and keep them delicious, actually delicious, not kale chip “delicious”.

Recently, I discovered that I LOVE barbecue. When this passion developed, I have no idea. While barbecue is usually dripping with sauce and just flat out artery clogging, I’ve found a few ways to make it lighter on your heart and the scale.

Hickory Bourbon Pulled Chicken Tacos with Vinegary Slaw

Lets just say, I love these. The only thing that they were MAYBE missing was some chipotle aioli, but they were thoroughly delicious without it. The best part was that it took me probably 5 minutes of active cooking time and just as little clean up time.

Aside from the fact that they’re so easy, they’re also pretty good for you. The Stubbs BBQ sauce only has 40 calories for 2 tablespoons and 8 total carbs. For a while I had been buying Mission Carb Balance tortillas for tacos, but decided to change it up with corn photo-43tortillas instead. These are lower in calories, have less ingredients over all, and just taste better.

Recipe:
Pulled Chicken
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs (you can use breasts too, I just like how these shred)
1 bottle of Stubbs hickory bourbon BBQ sauce

Vinegary Slaw
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 T olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Warm corn tortillas for serving

Place chicken thighs in the slow cooker and cover with BBQ sauce. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours, or until the chicken shreds easily.
Mix cabbage with vinegar and oil and let sit for at least an hour.

If you want to crisp up the corn tortillas to make them even better, add a little butter or coconut oil to a frying pan, slightly wet the tortilla and heat on medium high for about 30 seconds per side. I highly suggest opening a window while doing this if you don’t want to irritate your smoke alarm.

Zucchini Linguine

I love pasta. I have tried every single alternative to the real stuff that you could possibly imagine. Gluten free, Dreamfields, spaghetti squash. With the exception of the Dreamfields, none of the alternatives are as satisfying as the real thing.

Then I came across zucchini linguine. I first had it in a restaurant that prepared it in a really watery sauce so I didn’t really feel the need to make it again. Soggy noodles are gross no matter what they’re made out of apparently.

Then, a few weeks ago, my grandmother called me to say that she bought a container of zucchini linguine from a local farm stand. The best part? She got me my own!photo-42

I had no real plans for how I was going to make it, until I got really hungry yesterday and decided to have it for lunch. I just sauteed it in olive oil in a frying pan until it was hot, then added some left over grilled chicken, spicy tomato sauce (Classico), and sprinkled some feta on top because I was out of parmesan.

It was exactly what I’ve been looking for. Apparently there’s a contraption for making the linguine, so tracking that down is going to be my next project.

Eating cleaner seemed a lot harder in theory than it is in practice. That being said, I have not had a cheat meal in two weeks now, but we are changing that in about an hour. Our favorite restaurant just reopened after being closed for expansion for about six months and tonight is opening night!

KBF

Shakespeare Diet Update: Extreme Progress is Coming

So the semester ended on a bit of a stressful note, with papers piling up and finals presenting themselves as actual realities, not just scary tasks that may some day happen, somewhat akin to zombie apocalypse and nuclear meltdown.

I continued to do short, 15 minute workouts almost every day in my driveway until about two weeks ago, when I realized that as soon as it gets hot, I’m not going to want to do that anymore. I could say that I want to do outdoor workouts every single day, but the second that it hits 85 degrees with a ton of humidity, I’m going right back inside (or to the beach).

With this in mind, I also admitted to myself that I will never go back to that gym where the women yelled at me. I know that it sounds ridiculous, but I had no interest in continuing in that kind of environment. Also, as somewhat of a gym snob, I couldn’t really imagine going to a place without a TRX and a set of kettlebells for very long, no matter how nice the other members might have been.

I finally made the decision to go back to the gym I used to work at. I stopped going there when I left because I felt awkward seeing former coworkers and I rationalized it by saying that it was too expensive ($50 a month). While the other gym had only been $20 a month, I finally decided that although it was cheap, it wasn’t worth it to settle on a place that I wasn’t completely happy with.

So back to my former gym I went. You have to invest in your health, right?

Going back has turned out to be one of the best decisions that I’ve made in a long time. I’ve gone at least 3 times a week since I’ve joined, usually spending over an hour each time. This is made easier by the fact that I’m done with classes for now, but going back also enabled me to remember why I loved working out so much to begin with.

Here are some highlights:

Spin
Two years ago, I used to go to spin 6 days a week, sometimes more than once in one day. While that wasn’t overly healthy as I was a vegetarian who already wasn’t eating enough, I went because it was fun. I loved the group mentality that made me push harder, but also that I didn’t actually have to interact with anyone and get distracted.

I loved spin so much that for a long time I was going to get certified and start teaching my own classes. When I stopped working at the gym, I stopped going to spin for almost a iStock_000014641916XSmallyear. Last Tuesday I went to a 5:30 (p.m.) Spin with one of my favorite instructors.

There is NOTHING that says “you’re out of shape” quite as loud as your first Spin class in over a year. Sitting in front of me were a group of women my mom’s age, all in matching LuLuLemon tank tops, pedaling way faster and using way more resistance than I was.

At the end of the class, they all cheerfully and gracefully exited the room while I debated crawling to my car. Definitely a wake up call.

Kettlebells
The best part of my new (old) gym is the fact that they have not one, but two sets of kettlebells. When I was in the best shape, I used to be able to swing a 50 lb kettlebell for 8-10 reps and a 35 lb for almost 100. photo-41

Recently, I’ve been using a 15 lb and a 25 lb as my higher rep weights, and 35 lbs for 10. Yesterday, I picked up a 35 lb at the gym and decided to see how many I could comfortably do. I was able to do almost 40 before I had to put it down. If that’s not improvement, I don’t know what is!

Not Weighing Myself
For the past few weeks, I’ve been weighing myself pretty obsessively and getting really upset when the weight stayed the same. I had been blaming the prednisone (which I am back on) and just assuming that it would all come off at once when I stopped.

I finally decided to stop weighing myself a few days ago after Billy pointed out that if I lost 6 pounds of fat and gained 4 pounds of muscle, it would show that I only lost 2 pounds but I would look way different.

So for now, I’m pretty happy with the fact that my clothes fit better and I’m starting to look like my old self again.

Diet
I was in the best shape of my life last summer, but I was only working out with no changes made to my diet. Two weeks ago, I sat down with Billy and we calculated our daily calorie intake as well as our macronutrient percentages.

My current goals are 1650 calories a day with 25% carbs (103 grams), 35% protein (144 grams) and 40% fat (73 grams). My first few days with the lower carb intake were definitely difficult, but as I started to cut out really sugary foods and processed breads, I stopped craving them as much.

I feel like I definitely have more energy without them and my stomach feels a lot better, which may be the prednisone, but I’d like to think it’s my diet. photo-42

The best part is that I still get to have a few Mike and Ikes every night when I take my medicine because I don’t like the taste it leaves in my mouth. All I really want are about 5, which is a quarter of a serving. I can meet my fat loss goals and still eat candy every day? Yes, please.

The lower carb intake has also led me to become a bit more creative with the foods I cook, so I’ll be putting up a ton of recipes really soon.

KBF

Anxiety, Ruts, and Other Concerns

Now that I’ve finally gotten my colitis under control (with medicine, not diet unfortunately), I’ve come to a few realizations.

The first is that if I want to live my life in a way that makes me happy, I am not going to cure my colitis through diet. I have zero desire to live off of bone broth soup, completely cut out gluten, and eliminate all allergens.

I love delicious food. I’m not saying that allergen free, gluten free foods can’t be delicious, I’m just saying that my days will be a little less bright if I know that a cupcake just isn’t in my future. That being said, I’m sure that there are some people who are able to fully commit to the diet and that it really helps them.

I cannot commit to this. I am sure of this, because after three days with no gluten, I had thoughts of stealing a baguette from an elderly man leaving a grocery store. Therefore, I am back on gluten and loving every medicated bite.

Although the colitis is better, I’ve started to have panic attacks whenever I leave the house because I’m so afraid of getting sick in public. I’m working to deal with them, but I’ve also decided to stop apologizing for my anxiety.

If Iron Man can have anxiety, so can I. I mean granted, Iron Man fell out of the sky trying to save Manhattan from a nuclear bomb, and I did not. But still, if Iron Man can save the world while suffering from panic attacks, I can make it through my classes.

Regardless of these things, the past few weeks have been great in terms of keeping up with my exercise schedule. I ended up with a bad headache on Monday and I haven’t worked out since. I can sort of feel myself slipping into a rut, so it’s time to start motivating myself again.

I did a really great, really short workout last Wednesday that I might repeat today to get myself back into it. It was three rounds of 30-20-10, each round consisting of Kettlebell swings, Goblet squats, and rows.

It was so tough, I felt it the next day, and it only took me 10 minutes to complete. Holy worth it. 

I think sometimes we recognize that we’re slipping into a rut and let it happen any way because it’s too easy to continue along the way we’re going instead of trying to change directions.

Time to change directions.

KBF

Shakespeare Diet: Update

Since deciding to lose 20 pounds while writing my senior thesis, I’ve had a few set backs, but a ton of success.

While at times colitis is great for weight loss, steroids are not. I haven’t put on a ton of weight from them, but there are definitely days where I’m super puffy from retaining water. The good news is that I’ve been off of them since Thursday and I can already see a difference in my face!

Though I hated the weight gain side effect, the steroids were just what I needed to start feeling better. Now that I’ve been having less stomachaches, getting to the gym and squeezing in home workouts have been easier than its been in months.

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Mini Broccoli Cheddar Frittatas

When we started meal prepping, it just seemed like common sense that breakfast would photo-33have to be made right before we wanted to eat it.

Just the thought of making an omelette and storing it in a plastic container for a few days was repulsive and there didn’t seem like too many other options.

We both were looking for something low-carb (overnight oats were out) with a good amount of protein. Since it’s not realistic to set aside time every morning for delicious omelette making and there’s only so many protein shakes you can drink first thing in the morning, I figured there had to be another solution.

Quiche had been something that we had experimented with before, buying pre-made, organic quiche from health food stores and using them throughout the week. These sometimes got expensive and I still wanted to cut out the pie crust.

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What Being Diagnosed With a Chronic Illness Taught Me About Willpower

When I found out that I was sick, I didn’t think much of it. My doctor seemed pretty confident about his abilities to fix the colitis and told me that I’d be back to normal in no time.

Three months later, I’m finally beginning to feel normal. 

Whether it’s due to the diet changes I’ve made or the Prednisone, the stomachaches are becoming less and less frequent. While I’m loving the new freedom that’s coming with an improved digestive system, I’m not a huge fan of the side effects that the steroids have been causing.

While at first being on the steroids gave me a ton of energy, lately it feels like I’m unable to think clearly, focus, or find motivation to do much of anything. On top of this, I finally started to see what people mean when they say that steroids make you gain weight. My face has gotten so puffy despite the increased activity level.

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Winter Motivation (Or Lack Thereof)

There is nothing worse than trying to stay in shape in the winter. When it’s cold and snowy, all I want to do is snuggle up with Sheldon and read a book or take a nap. 

While neither of those things get me in shape, I have come to terms with the fact that I will also never be one of those people who is outside running despite what it’s doing outside. For example, the woman who was jogging down a main road during one of the worst snow storms we’ve had this year.

It took me 3 hours to drive a distance that usually would take a half hour, but she was out there with a ski band and thermal leggings. To me, that’s not motivation, that’s just insanity. I mean, aren’t you cold?

Finding time and motivation to exercise has never been a problem for me until recently. Lately, I’ll spend all day thinking about how excited I am to work out, only to decide later that it’s just too cold to move. To top it off, when I’m cold, all I want to do is eat heavy, carb or fat saturated foods that leave me feeling lethargic when I’m done.

Even as I write this, I get annoyed at this mentality. How can I be so motivated some days and other days just allow myself to be overcome by the winter blahs? 

Because I know that I’m pretty unmotivated in these months, I’ve decided to take a step to force myself to get back into it. Starting tomorrow, I will start working out with a trainer at Billy’s gym and start further cleaning up my diet.

Hopefully this gives me some motivation to get back on track!

How do you stay motivated in the cold months?

KBF

Recipe: Chicken Chili

When it’s snowing, there is literally nothing better than soup, chili, or stew.

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Because this winter has been excessively snowy, I have entered into a long term relationship with my CrockPot. (I’m actually convinced that it really is the best thing since sliced bread.) The thing is actually magic. You put whatever ingredients you want in it, put the cover on, come back 8 hours later, and BOOM! Dinner.

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Anyway, I’ve noticed that CrockPots and winter dinners involve a lot of red meat. Now don’t get me wrong, I love red meat just as much as the next recovering vegetarian does, but too much isn’t good either.

Unwilling to break up with my CrockPot, one day I decided to simply replace the ground beef in my chili with chicken thighs. The result was delicious as the chicken falls right off the bone and stays juicy the throughout the entire cooking process. The best part? It requires minimal ingredients, planning, or preparation.

Here’s the recipe:

2 14.5 oz cans of Del Monte Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles

1 can of black beans (I used Trader Joe’s organic)

1 can of red kidney beans (Trader Joe’s organic)photo-23

1 lb of chicken thighs (or two sweet potatoes and some extra beans if you want to go veg!)

Chili Powder to taste

Cinnamon to taste (don’t overdo it, this one will sneak up on you)

Cayenne to taste

Mix all of the ingredients together in a CrockPot and cook on Low for 8 hours.

And there you go! Simple, delicious, and perfect for a cold night!

Enjoy!

KBF

 

Colitis Cure Update

You know how sometimes you know you need to do something but you sort of need a push?

Well, I got my push.

While trying to stick out my first batch of medicine to try to heal any currently damaging inflammation, I was hit with seriously debilitating stomach pains. While my mom was convinced that the hospital was the solution I needed, I decided to call my regular doctor’s office for a second opinion.

Since it was a weekend, I was transferred to a doctor on call.

He decided that the current medications were not strong enough and proceeded to put me on steroids and two other medications. This all seemed a little extreme, so I decided to only take two of the medications until I could talk to my doctor.

Around 6 o’clock on New Year’s Eve, my doctor called.

When I explained what happened, he told me that I made the right decision by not taking all of the medications. Apparently, I had described what he called “a severe allergic reaction”. Awesome.

So problem solved right? I’m allergic to the medicine which I had stopped taking, so all is well? Wrong.

While the doctor on call had taken me off of the medicine which caused the problem, he proceeded to prescribe me two other medications with the same active ingredient as the original culprit: Mesalamine.

As I had taken the pills containing it on New Year’s Eve, only a few hours after getting off the phone with the doctor, I started exhibiting signs of a stomach virus. After looking at the information on the bottle, I saw that again, I was having an allergic reaction. Not the kind of celebration I was looking for to start the year off.

As it was a pill designed to release slowly, three days later, I am still miserable. 

If this wasn’t the push I needed to find a new solution, I’m not quite sure what is. There comes a point that you need to question how much medicine is helping you when you’re sicker than you were before you started.

KBF