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

A Short Workout is Better Than No Workout

This weekend was definitely a disaster in willpower to say the least. Although I ate everything, the only day that I did not complete a workout as planned was on Sunday.

Usually Sundays are my toughest lifting days, but this week I just felt sick from eati

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ng so bad and couldn’t do it. The fact that my eating choices effected what I did so much was definitely an eye opener. A year ago I would have been able to eat that way and feel fine, but now my body is like “Hey! What gives!”

On Monday we forced ourselves to do two workouts to kind of jump start our week back up. I noticed how hard it was from the very beginning. 25 kettlebell swings with the 35 pound kettlebell made me so winded that I thought I was going to throw up. That’s not normal for me.

 

Everything about the first half of the workout was exhausting and nauseating, and needless to say I took a lot of breaks. That’s not how I like to work out, so it was just anotherdownside of eating so much crap.

The kettlebell workout we did at night was a little easier on me. I kept it short with 35 swings with the 35 pound, 25 swings with the 25 pound, and 15 swings with the 15 pound.photo-59 It was tough and fun, and if I had more energy and wasn’t getting eaten by mosquitoes I probably would have done more rounds of it.

After Monday’s workout from hell, I decided not to let things catch up to me again. Although I had planned to workout before class yesterday, I ran out of time and promised myself that I would do it when I got home. This time, instead of just saying I would do it, I made sure that I actually did something when I got home.

I was tired so I did a short workout of 100 kettlebell swings and 4 minutes of jumprope. The entire thing lasted about 10 minutes.

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Usually when we are short on time, the decision ends up being to not workout at all. It becomes an all or nothing mentality. However, a 10 minute workout isbetter than nothing, especially if it becomes a consistent thing.

 

I got right back into the gym this morning and actually deadlifted 135 for 5! It was another short workout (30 minutes) but it was tough. Not every workout has to be the best one you’ve ever done and it’s not a contest of who can spend the most time in the gym. The most important thing is how you use your time, because that’s ultimately what counts.

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

 

 

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

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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