A Healthy Transformation

A blog about diet, exercise, and health

My August Fitness Challenge! July 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 9:37 pm

After a month of vacation, restaurants, and pampering, I think I’m more than ready to get back to a healthy lifestyle.  So it’s time for an:

August Fitness Challenge!

I’ve decided to design a challenge for myself based on what I want to improve, mainly strength, muscle tone, and weight.  So, here are my rules:

  • I will do 100 pushups, situps, squats, and calf raises everyday!  The pushups will probably be the roughest, and I know I might have to kneel for my last couple sets at first.  I also will vary the activity– so i might do a mix of crunches, leg raises, and Pilates for the situp portion, for instance.
  • I will run 3 miles everyday!   This is pretty self explanatory.  It can be on a treadmill or outdoors.  I won’t have any particular speed goals in mind other than keeping up the run at at least 6mph (which is pretty slow for me at this point).

The new sneakers my Mom got me for my birthday will be put to good use!

  • I will eat a gluten free and sugar free diet.  This one seems the easiest but will probably be what I struggle with the most.

What challenge would be complete without before and after data?  So here are some measurements and unflattering photos to kick off the month:


Weight:  143.6lbs

Shoulders:  40″

Right arm:  11 1/4″  (Flexed 11 3/4″)

Left arm:  11″ (Flexed 11 1/2″)

Chest:  34 1/4″

Waist (two fingers above bellybutton):  31″

Hips (at widest spot):  39 3/4″

Right and left Thigh:  22 3/4″

Right calf:  14 1/4″

Left calf:  14 1/2″

The fine print:  Month begins July 30th and ends August 30th.  I am allowed four "cheats" during this time frame, 1 a week, for each activity.
These activities will be in addition to my normal workout routine, and I will still be climbing, doing yoga, and taking YMCA classes throughout 
the month.
No kittens were harmed or measured during the creation of this challenge.

Half-Marathon Success! April 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 5:44 am

While I apologize for my lack of blogging this month, I promise that I have not been slacking off!  On the contrary, I’ve been busy training for my half-marathon, which I rocked this past Saturday!

One of my New Years resolutions this year was to run a half-marathon.  About five weeks ago, I started training for the Havasu Half, which takes place in Lake Havasu, AZ.  Fun Arizona fact:  The original London Bridge is in Lake Havasu, Arizona.  Some eccentric rich dude had it shipped here, piece by piece, in 1967. For my half-marathon I ran over it– and thankfully it did not, in fact, fall down!  The run took me around the shore of Lake Havasu for about 13 beautiful miles.  The day was luckily gorgeous– while it had been pouring rain the whole drive up, when I woke up the next morning I was happy to see the sun, with the perfect cloud/wind ratio.

I was running on 5 hours of sleep, so i uncharacteristically downed a coffee, popped some Advil, had a sensible breakfast of a banana with peanut butter and a Luna protein bar, and went down to the London Bridge Beach to pick up my “goodie bag”, which had my number, an awesome sweat-wicking t-shirt, and my tracker!

So, I’ll be honest.  I was nervous.  Super nervous.  I was silently (and sometimes audibly) cursing myself for not having run a race ever before– not even a measly 5k.  Also, while the cool weather was almost instantly appreciated once I started running, I was quite chilly waiting for the race to start.

But all my butterflies flew away as soon as I started running.  I wasn’t sure how fast I was going– at one point, I know I passed the 2:10 minute pacer, but I spend so much of my time running completely zoned out, I wasn’t sure that she didn’t re-pass me.  The run was absolutely beautiful.  And not once did I ever hit a wall or feel like I needed to stop or slow down.  I actually felt great– endorphin charged and happy– the whole run.

It was so amazing to see the clock when approaching the finish line and realize i was actually 6 minutes under time! Here are my official stats:

2011 Havasu Half Marathon, Women, 20 – 29 Years Old

Place Name S Ag Chiptim Split Pace Bib
Vanessa Phillips

I can’t believe I ranked 24th out of the women in my age group!  I have to say that, had I realized I was going to run so close to 2 hours, I would have tried to get under 2 hours– but now I’ve got a goal for next time!  Upon crossing the finish line, I had an amazing boyfriend, a medal, and a free beer waiting for me.  One of these things was a terrible idea– I’ll let you guess which.

(hint: it wasn’t the medal)

I’ve struggled with the idea of calling myself a runner.  What makes someone a runner?  I’m not going to win any Olympic competitions.  But I think that, officially, after this race, I don’t have any qualms about calling myself a runner.  Somewhere on this run, it just sort of clicked for me– the fact that, after a long car ride and little sleep, I could still get up and run 13 miles, and run them at a damn good personal pace– well, that’s it.  I might not be a sprinter, or the best runner, but I feel comfortable now with just that statement– I am a runner.

But to what do I owe my running success?  There are 5 things that I could NOT have done this run without.  So if you’re thinking of running your own half-marathon, here are some tips:

1.  Train! Train, train, train.  You don’t wake up one morning never having run and say, gee, golly, I think i’ll run a half-marathon!  For the past five weeks, I have been training, and the only reason that it only took me five weeks was because I already was able to run about 6 miles without stopping when I started the training.  Here’s a breakdown of my schedule:

2.  Have a rocking playlist.

This little guy made my training and race so much more enjoyable.  Here’s the music that got me through it:

  • Hot Boyz- Casiotone For the Painfully Alone
  • Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell-  Das Racist
  • Fembot-  Robyn
  • E.T.-  Kate Perry
  • Tonight-  Enrique Iglesias
  • Bottoms Up-  Trey Songz
  • Gold Digger-  Kanye West
  • S&M-  Rihanna
  • Monster-  Kanye West
  • Down On Me-  Jeremih
  • Blow-  Ke$ha
  • No Hands-  Waka Flocka Fame
  • Power-  Kanye West
  • I Gotta Feeling-   Black Eyed Peas
  • Somebody Told Me-  The Killers
  • We R Who We R- Ke$ha
  • Tik Tok- Ke$ha
  • Telephone-  Lady Gaga
  • Konichiwa Bitches- Robyn
  • Poker Face-  Lady Gaga
  • California Girls-  Kay Perry
  • Paper Planes-  M.I.A.
  • Merry Happy-  Kate Nash

3.  Never underestimate your footwear. One of the early snags I ran into was a sharp pain in the arch of my right foot after running.  I’d never felt this before, but I’d also never run so much outside.  I had good sneakers, but needed to add one of these little guys in my right shoe to make my budding plantar fascisitis disappear:

Thank goodness my coworker had a spare pair of these inserts from when she had a similar problem!  After using this for a week (and taking Advil/icing my foot), I was virtually pain-free!  So, if you notice something isn’t quite right, don’t just ignore it.  Proper foot-gear can have a huge impact on your running enjoyment.

4.  Carb load! I’d normally be the last person to say this, but when running long distances, you NEED your carbs!  Even though I was doing some pretty intense physical activity this month, I still gained weight.  But there was just no way I could run that much and not eat!  My pre-race meal?  My first ever trip to Carl’s Jr., where I scarfed down a guacamole turkey burger, zucchini fries, and a Oreo milkshake!  Healthy?  Maybe not exactly, but it’s full of the energy you need to finish such a long run.  So, if you’re planning on running a half marathon, don’t plan on dieting!

5.  Have an amazing, supportive significant other!

Or friend.  Or relative.  But really, I honestly don’t think I could have done this without someone there for me, and I was especially lucky that it was someone as supportive and wonderful as my boyfriend, Isaiah!  He drove the whole way (11+ hours), woke up bright and early to drop me off at the starting line, and was there waiting for at the finish to snap that photo of me crossing the line!  Not to mention all the moral support he offered along the way.   I very highly doubt I could have done this without him.  So, if you’re thinking of doing something like this, try to have someone you know you can count on, no matter who they are in your life, there.  Even if it’s not a long drive, having someone waiting for me at the finish line made all the difference.

So, that’s that!  While I’m certainly not going to give up running, I am looking forward to getting back to the YMCA and having a more well-rounded fitness routine.  I’m also looking forward to getting back to a healthy diet, and have decided to go paleo+dairy for the month in an effort to shed some pesky pounds and get my healthy diet back on track!  If you’re confused or curious about paleo, don’t worry– a paleo post is in the works!


Out of sight, but not out of mind. February 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 11:39 pm

So I’ve been admittedly absent from the blogging world lately!  But that doesn’t mean my healthy living quest has ended.  I’ve just been blog-neglectful!

So here’s a quick month summary of what’s been going on with me in the world of health:

The break-room at my job has struck again.  I’ve gained almost 5lbs from sugary sweets!  It’s made me feel bloated, sluggish, grumpy, and all around unhealthy.  So it’s ending now.  I’m officially starting my “last 10lbs goal”, which is mainly to lose my last 10lbs, have a 5lb fluctuation range, and stop thinking about my weight.

Recently I had an encounter with someone that made me really question why I cared about this.  Was it to please someone other than myself?  Talking to someone who has opposite body ideals than the norm made me question whether or not I’d consider gaining weight for a partner.  This was an interesting idea to me, since most partners have always wanted me to lose weight.  After giving it some thought, I realized that what I’m doing with my body is really, truly for myself, and not about whether or not someone would be happier with me thinner or fatter.  I make choices with my body based on what would make me happiest.  I’m confident being strong, feeling healthy, and with how I look.  And no one person can take that away from me.

So, does that mean I’m tackling one of my new years resolutions?  Slowly but surely!  I’ve been making progress at Rocks and Ropes as well.  I’m able to climb half of the 9+ routes there, though not without some pit stops.  Still, 10a is just one little jump away!  I’ve also cashed in my Groupon this month for Crossfit Purgatory, which I’ve actually really been enjoying (despite these incredibly embarrassing pictures they posted of me on their blog)!

Next month I’ll start my half marathon training, which I’ll hopefully run in April.  All in all, I feel good about my progress!

Also, while it’s a little unrelated to health and fitness, I did finally have my tattoo finished!  And I think not having to sit in a chair for 5+ hours of pain every other week has made me a bit healthier.



I’ve also been trying to go on more hikes lately on account of the gorgeous weather in Tucson.  I went on a pretty nice one to Tanque Verde Falls at the start of the month.

So, look forward to more frequent blog posts!  I’ve got a sweet potato shepard’s pie recipe and a Crossfit Purgatory update in the works!


The Obligatory Resolutions of A New Year January 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 1:51 am

As much as I think it’s cliché, I do make New Years resolutions.  So here are my 5 new year goals that will hopefully lead to a happier, healthier me both physically and mentally by 2012.

  1. I will begin graduate school. I have been putting this off for almost a year now, and enough is enough.  Where do I want to be in two years?  I’m not sure, but I feel like this year has been very tumultuous for me, and I’m still only recovering.  I need to do something for myself and my future, and furthering my education sounds perfect.  Hopefully, come this fall, I’ll be enrolled as a graduate earning an MA in English education.  I’ve already registered for the GRE;  wish me luck February 20th!
  2. I will run a half marathon. I will do this by April, hopefully, because running much later than that outdoors in Tucson sounds dreadful.  I’ll still continue running once or twice a week in the meantime, but come March I’ll start my training.  That being said, anyone who would like to start training with me or has any training tips for me, please let me know!
  3. I will comfortably climb 10s at Rocks and Ropes. I’d be happy with any 10s, even 10a, but 10b or 10c would be ideal.  I will also climb outside.  I feel like these two goals will be easily attainable if I continue at my present rate.
  4. I will learn to love myself. This includes loving my body, being happy with my weight/ass/legs/tits/everything, but not only that.  I now live alone.  This is both terrifying and thrilling to me at the same time.  I went through some big life upheavals last year, and in a lot of ways am only just starting to process them now.  I want to be happy with myself– with just myself.  I want to not need another person to make me feel complete.  I want to look out for myself more.
  5. I will begin to sell my artwork. Hopefully I’ll have a website with a gallery and a store soon.  I need to stop being afraid of doing this.  I’m finally starting to develop confidence in my work and abilities as an artist, and to make some extra money on the side from it would be incredible– maybe just enough to support it and continue to grow and develop.  In addition to this, I will finish the comic I have been working (albeit slowly) on.  It’s autobiographical, and I need to get down a layout of the events I’m drawing before I forget them like I forget everything.

So, cheers to a new year.  What are your resolutions?


Gluten and Sugar-free 4 life! November 4, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 2:14 pm

I feel that, health-wise, I had a really amazing month.  I now weigh between 134-135lbs (down a good 3-4lbs from the start of the month!), I feel better about myself, I’m more energetic, I’ve had less tummy troubles– all around good!  I ate more veggies, fruits, nuts and rice than I had been, and even cheated (about once a week) without feeling guilt-ridden, sick, or just generally bad about myself.  Success!

The hardest (and biggest) cut was artificial sugar.  I never realized how much refined sugar I ate before!  I feel so much better not having that junk in my life.  Why would I ever want to eat that way again?

That’s not to say I haven’t dabbled or occasionally indulged.  I think once a week is a good amount of cheating.  I’ve missed Ethiopian this month, so I’m looking forward to having that again.  But I think I’ll permanently stop buying sugary snack food to keep in the house (sorry, chocolate covered pomegranate seeds).

Also, in honor of Halloween (and a great way to spice up a Thursday night workout) a few friends and I went to our cheesy strength/cardio YMCA class decked out in full 80s gear.

Pretty pre-workout shot

Sweaty post-workout with Jennifer and Rowena!

How those 80s chicks worked out with hairspray in their hair is beyond me.  It was dripping in my eyes after the first fifteen minutes.  Yuck!  But it did make class more fun and was a great motivator!


Carb Lovers Diet, Day 5 September 3, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 3:45 am

Weight:  137.2

Exercise:  90 minute Bikram Yoga class


Green Machine Smoothie

I added 3 good-sized strawberries, but I felt like it was sort of a waste since I couldn’t taste them over the banana.  I would have rather just eaten them whole, or added flax instead!

Impromptu Snack

Gluten-Free Peanut butter Cookie

Damn that talented baking mother!  She was at it again, this time with the cooking class at my school.  They made delicious gluten-free peanut butter cookies (1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg=12 delicious cookies).  I had one small cookie as a mid-morning snack.


Isn’t my lunch box cute?

Leftover Chicken Primavera

I made this last night, and the 3 1/2 cups of it I had for lunch was filling and delicious!


Greek Yogurt

This time I added 2 TBSP oats, 2 TSP honey, and a handful of blueberries.  I needed something protein filled and filling before Bikram, which I go to straight from work, so I made sure to pack this in my lunch box!


Black Bean Tacos

  • 3 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 can black beans (low sodium, rinsed and drained)
  • 3 TBSP shredded cheese
  • 3 TBSP salsa
  • shredded carrots
  • lettuce

Toast the tortillas on a stove top, heat the beans in the microwave, and then portion and serve!  It was a super easy dinner, but honestly it wasn’t that tasty.  I should have taken the time to spice up the beans, and it was missing a lot of the protein I was craving.  I wish I had yellow corn tortillas, and that I could have added avocado and chicken.

They left me feeling unsatisfied, so I even had…


70% Dark Chocolate 100 Calorie bar from Trader Joes

I split this with my boyfriend, so it was pretty minimal in calories, but it bothers me that I felt like I needed it.  Maybe if the dinner had been more satisfying…


A Week Recorded: Day 7 August 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — fitnessie @ 7:54 pm

Last night I went to a wedding that had an open bar.  Consequently, I had too many margaritas to update my healthy living blog.  I’m sure there’s some sort of irony there.

I had a pretty good week, healthy-living-wise.  If only this installment were called “A Week and a Day Recorded”, because then you’d get to read all about the five margaritas, two plates of rice and beans, and two pieces of cake I ate last night!  If only.  Anyway, here’s my final day!

11:00 a.m.:  I woke up nice and late.  Later than I expected.  I had originally planned on making myself my weekend omelet, but since I had a Groupon to the 17th St. Market, a neat farmer’s market/grocery store in town, and I wanted to make it there before the cricket exterminator came, I didn’t have the time to make it.  I didn’t even have the time for the tea I usually drink!  I had a glass of fat-free milk with stevia and vanilla instead, and a cup of fat-free cottage cheese with a tablespoon of ground flax and two handfuls of blueberries.

12:30 p.m.-3:00 p.m.:  The 17th St Market is like a giant supermarket playground for me.  I got to walk around and see all the neat imported foods, buy my 5 ingredient challenge foods (which Ian was especially groany about– you’ll see why!), and buy some fresh sushi-grade Ahi tuna!  I ended up going a little over budget because of the tuna, but the rice-less sushi I made when I got home-made it completely worth it.

3:30 p.m.:  As the cricket exterminator started the cricket holocaust in my backyard, I munched on two rolls of rice-less sushi with tuna, avocado, and cucumber.  I had a couple of slices of the tuna sashimi-style also.  I really don’t have a knife sharp enough to cut through the sushi, so I just ate them like sushi-burritos.  High class, I know.  I munched on some of the neat new Cassava chips I picked up and split a piece of milk mochi with Ian.  Mmm, imported.

7:00 p.m.:  Right before I left for Rocks and Ropes, and very kind neighbor knocked on my door to let me know that the wire from the inside of my tire was showing on the front passenger tire.  Turns out I wore right through the tread on both my front tires and had to shell out $150.00 for replacements.  Goodbye, torch shop hours!  I was so depressed I ate my chocolatiest Luna bar in the waiting room that I had been saving for climbing.

8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.:  I didn’t have too bad of a climbing night.  I climbed three walls successfully, and failed on the 9- I tried, but I’ll work my way back up to doing 9s soon, I hope.

Mug for the folks at Rocks and Ropes I’ve been working on.

11:30 p.m.:  I only had two meals today and I was pretty hungry by the end of the night, so I had an extra serving of popcorn to make up for it.  Popcorn counts as a meal, right?

My favorite seasoning as of late.

1:30 a.m.:  I get to sleep a little late, but plan on doing Bikram in the late afternoon tomorrow so it’s no problem.  All in all, I’m proud of the week I’ve had.  It was my first full week back, and I got back into doing Bikram, tried something new (running outside at Sabino Canyon), started working my way back up the ranks at Rocks and Ropes, and even got my hands back in clay.  Also, when I weighed myself the next morning, I was down to 139.8lbs!  Not only does the appearance of that “3” give me a little self-esteem boost (even if it is only 2/10lb away from the 4), but it also means I’ve lost about 2 lbs this week.  I just hope my super indulgent wedding time doesn’t do too much damage.