The Argument Against Scales

Yesterday, when I was weighing myself at the gym, a woman was standing behind me. Usually this bugs me. If I’m weighing myself, I probably want some space and not for someone to be looking over my shoulder.

I got on the scale first and I saw that I weighed 142 pounds. The woman behind me looked at me and said “where do you keep that! I’m bigger than you and I only weigh 130″. At the time, this was not a flattering statement.

I don’t really like the fact that I weigh 142 pounds, three months after I stopped taking steroids. I’ve been working out and eating really well so I keep getting upset when I notice that the scale doesn’t even slightly budge.

I’ve noticed that I look like I’m making progress and I definitely fit in my clothes better, but I was still bothered by my weight staying the same.

Then, this morning I took my body fat percentage.

Three months ago I weighed 144 pounds and was 27% body fat. I was in the “acceptable” range, even if it didn’t feel like it. Today I am 142 pounds and 21% body fat, putting me in the “fitness/athletic” range.

Realizing that I put on about 6 pounds of muscle made me feel a lot better about the weight on the scale. While I’ve been trying not to weigh myself for the most part, sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me and I check anyway.

Taking my body fat percentage today made me realize that there really is no point in weighing yourself to determine your progress, especially if you’re lifting. From now on, I’ll be tracking my body fat percentage, with a goal of 18%.

So today I say goodbye to the scale once and for all. Wish me luck!

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

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

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

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.

photo-40

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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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The Shakespeare Diet: How I’m going to lose 20 pounds writing my thesis

When I started college, all freshmen had to take what was called College 101, a freshman seminar where you learned study skills and played getting-to-know-you games. Because I’m in the honors program, I was put into a section with others who were also in honors.

As the semester went on, I kept hearing about this “senior thesis”. I didn’t know what it was so one day I asked the teacher. “Oh, it’s a 50-100 page paper that you need to write by the end of your senior year with a faculty advisor of your choosing”. From then on I became obsessed with coming up with the perfect idea and the best advisor.

I found both. 

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