A Healthy Transformation

A blog about diet, exercise, and health

Healthy Fail June 17, 2011

Filed under: Diet,General health — fitnessie @ 2:06 am

Oh health blog, how I’ve neglected you!  I wish I had a good reason for it, but the truth is, I don’t.

I just haven’t felt very healthy lately.  I’ve been continuing to struggle losing the last bit of weight I want to lose, but I’m not sure exactly why i’ve had so much trouble sticking to a healthy diet.  Over the past three years, I’ve lost about 40lbs, and I am really proud of that.  But I don’t want eating healthy to have been a phase.  I feel better about myself when I eat right, so what’s been the problem?

The truth is, food is something I’ve struggled with my whole life.  People use the term “intuitive eating” a lot now, but I’ve never been an intuitive eater, unless intuitive eating means a large fry, chicken nuggets, and a milkshake.  I’ve come a long way these past three years, but the truth is, whenever I try to “listen to my body” it just tells me it wants ice cream, peanut butter, and french fries.  They’ve done some interesting studies on youth, self moderation, and food intake, and (while I don’t want to use this as a crutch), I think that maybe at a very young age I messed up my internal food-regulator.  Very scientific sounding, I know.  But eating healthy for me is exactly the opposite of intuitive.  I know it will make me feel better to eat something healthy, to stay away from gluten, and to not eat until i’m vomit-full.  But every inch of my body screams for me to do that, and it takes will-power and determination to not.  It’s like a drug.  If I stay healthy for a bit, it gets easier, the cravings lessen, and it becomes (while not intuitive), not a daily trial.  But one slip up resets it.

So that’s why diets that are similar to the paleo diet, that label “good and bad” foods, are so much easier for me.  Eating everything in moderation is a daily trial for me.  Recently, I went to a new gym where they did a personal training meeting, and gave me a little print out of my goals, weight and measurements, and a plan.  The plan included eating a 1600 calorie a day diet.  When I eat “paleo”, this is roughly what I end up doing, though I don’t calorie count.  So i thought i’d give a couple weeks of calorie counting a try and see what happened.  In the end, I think too often I just end up over indulging on something that isn’t healthy and cutting out a meal to make up for it, thinking it’s ok as long as I stay within a calorie count.  I also end up eating when I’m not even hungy to try to reach 1600 calories some days, while other days I’ll eat over and feel bad.

It’s hard to write about failure, especially a failure that is completely within my control.  So I’m going to write down positive, proactive steps and ideas I have.  For those of you who are intuitive eaters or paleo eaters or struggle with food in genearl, I would love to hear your feedback/ideas.

  • I will feel good about myself.  This is huge for me.  I will feel good about the way I look no matter what I weigh, what I ate the day before, or what the scale says.  I will put on something sexy and not take it off because I feel fat.  I will naked sexy-pose in front of my full length mirror all by myself just because I want to see how good I look.
  • I will not shortchange my accomplishments.  This entry is focused on diet failures, and not exercise, but exercise is one thing I’ve had little trouble maintaining.  I still run a couple times a week, climb a couple times a week, go to gym classes a couple times a week.  I’m strong.  I can do more push ups in 10 minutes than my boyfriend!  I am, no matter what the arbitrary numbers say, in good shape.  I have muscles.  I can run for an hour without stopping, I can climb a 10a at the gym, and I can do 3 pull-ups.  I feel good doing these things.  That is pretty huge all by itself.
  • I will eat better.  I will not count calories, I will not eat paleo, I will not binge and purge.  I will try to limit or eliminate gluten from my diet.  I will eat roughly three balanced, healthy meals a day with a couple snacks in between.  I will try to limit my intake of refined sugar and starchy carbs.  I will eat portion sizes of my food.  I will eat plenty of protein and fat and vegetables and fruit.  I will occasionally eat gelato and feel great about it.  I will not substitute my meals for dark chocolate pomegranate seeds.  I will say no thanks when someone offers me something and I will be empowered by doing so.

I know that a lot of my journal has been informative or cute, but another reason I made this journal was for these occasions, where I just need a forum or community to talk to who understands and maybe even shares my struggle with health and body image and food and everything.  So forgive me for not having a recipe or an update on the new gym I went to this month (which was actually quite neat!) or cute pictures of everything I’ve been baking for Isaiah.  I will try to get back on top of things!   So, I’ll leave this post with cute pictures from my trip to Mexico with the boyfriend, where I un-apologetically ate my weight in guacamole, and a promise for more proactive living (and blog posts) in the future.

San Carlos, MX

Snorkel Beach!

Why you should always wear sunscreen.

Crane-won sunglasses + pirate Isaiah= awesome


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!


A Month of Purgatory March 7, 2011

Filed under: Exercise,General health — fitnessie @ 3:35 am

A few months ago I bought a LivingSocial deal for a month of unlimited classes at Crossfit Purgatory.  This past month my favorite step teacher at the YMCA quit, and I decided to put my membership on hold and give Purgatory a try.

I’ve done a few crossfit-style workouts before.  Typically they’re short, high intensity work outs that combine cardio and strength training.  If you’re curious, here’s a list of common crossfit exercises.  So I had a rough idea of what I’d gotten into.

I found that my difficulty with the WOD (workout of the day) would vary greatly depending on whether or not i’d done the activity before.  For instance, I’d always been a bit intimidated by these:

But after a couple weeks at crossfit, we were good friends!  I found myself using weights I’d have never picked up on my own and doing things with them I never thought possible (like 65 clean and jerks with 55lbs in 10 minutes).  I always felt like such a wimp there compared with some of the weights the people around me were using, but I was proud of myself for using them at all!  And for the record, one of the best new exercises I learned had to be the overhead squat. It works everything!

There were snags, of course.  Like the damnable jump rope!  I never jumped rope as a kid, and I just couldn’t seem to get the hang of it.  So when it’d be a part of the WOD or the warmup, it was always a bit frustrating for me.  I did improve by the end, though!

So, here’s my very last WOD:

For the deadlift, the goal was to use the max weight possible (since the repetition number was so low).  I actually think I could have done more, but I felt good for doing 145lbs for my final set!   My partner very kindly took a few shots of me throughout the sets.  I look very determined!

Then it was on to the WOD.  I thought this would be a relatively tame one for me since i’m pretty familiar with sit ups and push ups.  Box jumps are just what you’d imagine– jumping onto a box.  Here’s the one I used (I had to stack a weight on top to up the height since all the bigger boxes got snagged):

By the end I was panting on the ground, barely able to move!  I said that I did 7 rounds, but I actually think I did 8.  But when in doubt, I go for the lower number!  When you finish with a workout, it gets written on a big white board for all to see.  This is one of my favorite parts– it builds both a competitive and cooperative environment, where you get to cheer on friends, congratulate them on a workout, but still turn it into a sort of game where you want the best “score”.

All in all I REALLY enjoyed my month at Crossfit Purgatory!  It had a really welcoming environment, and was a great way to make some new friends.  The workouts were COMPLETELY kick ass, and I can tell I’m way more buff.  The instructors were supportive and pushed me just the right amount.  I also noticed my climbing improve from all the strength work!  The only problem?  The cost.  It’s way more $$ than your average monthly gym, and I sadly can no longer afford it.  But if you’ve got the money to spend, I completely recommend it!

This month I’m going to be training for my half marathon!  Expect an mid-month update on my training!


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?


When life gives you snow, you make… a parking spot!? December 28, 2010

Filed under: Exercise — fitnessie @ 4:21 pm

I’ve officially survived the blizzard of 2010!  I’m sure that snow for a lot of people just means a hassle and a mess, but to this Tucsonian it means 20″ inches of fluffy white fun fell all over the state!  However, it definitely meant no running on the track for a couple days.  I guess I’m just not hardcore enough to try to wade-run!

However, this didn’t grind my exercise resolution to a halt.  Save for Christmas day, I’ve exercised every day of my trip!  So I couldn’t wait to go outside yesterday and shovel my Mom out of this winter wonderland!

As long as the wind didn’t blow, I wasn’t too cold, despite how ill-equipped for the snow I was.  No snow pants, no snow gloves (by the end of it I went through three pairs!), and certainly no snow boots.  But I completed the walkway in no time, and thought to myself, this is going to be easy!

And then I saw my Mom’s car.  This was some intense shoveling!  The snow plough had made drifts half as high as me all around her SUV, which needed a pretty sizeable space shoveled around it.  So, I shoveled.  And shoveled and shoveled and shoveled.  I was a shoveling machine!  My Mom helped a little, but has been feeling sick, so most of this was all me.

So, here I am, about to fall over one sweaty, shovel-tastic hour later.  Afterwards I felt some well-deserved snow fun was in order, so we headed to the park!   My Mom and I built a snow man, made snow angels, and frolicked.  After all, how many times will I get to play in snow like this again!?

Here’s the worlds smallest little snowman chilling out in the park.  My mom brought out a bag of the carrot chips we’ve been eating all week for the decorations.  Cute little guy!

And let me just say… I woke up this morning with a practically paralyzed shoulder!  That was some GREAT exercise!  Now I just need that snowman to come to life and give me a massage!


Home for the Holidays! December 24, 2010

Filed under: Diet,Exercise,General health,Recipes — fitnessie @ 6:02 pm

So, eating healthy this time of year is near impossible– but that doesn’t mean ALL healthy things have to go down the drain!

I haven’t done much exercise the past few weeks, and I could feel it.  I hate losing muscle!  So this trip home to NJ I resolved to exercise, in some way, everyday.  This is going to prove to be a challenge, since my Mom’s treadmill sadly bit the dust right before my trip!  But a resolution is a resolution, so on my first day here I bundled up and headed down to the beautiful outdoor public track at Hudson County Park.

By the time my Mom and I got out of the house it was already 3:15.  To my Arizona readers, I should explain that during the winter in NJ, it gets dark at like, 4:30.  So, the sun was already starting to go down.  Needless to say, I was incredibly thankful that my mom insisted we stop and get sweat bands to keep our ears warm.  And had an extra pair of gloves in her car.    I ran about 3 miles in about 30 minutes (I didn’t clock myself, but the cold air takes my breath away much quicker).    The run left me florid cheeked and winded (and somehow simultaneously hot and cold) but it felt great!

It was almost made infinitely better by this (re)gift from my Mom:

I actually gave this little guy to my mom a few years ago for Christmas, but after she read my blog post she admitted to me she never used it much, and that I could “borrow” it until she thought she’d get some more use out of it.  I reluctantly accepted, but am very glad i did.  It was GREAT to have on my run and will be a nice motivator for me to run outdoors more in Tucson!  I’ve also made the new addition of the new Kanye West song, Monsters, to my running playlist, and highly recommend the entire album.

Yesterday I did calisthenics (squats, push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips, & calf raises) which I am TOTALLY sore from today.  Hopefully I’ll get out for another run today since there’s snow predicted for tomorrow!

Everyone knows this time of year is filled with sweets and I am definitely having my fair share.  So, after devouring an entire container of holiday cookies/chocolate, I decided that my mom and I should try out a recipe I got from a student for super amazing sugar/oil/butter free cookies!

Jordan’s Super Amazing Healthy Cookies


  • 2 bananas (mashed)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter (sugar-free)
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 dried fruit (I used raisins)
  • 1/2 cup nuts (I used pecans)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp all spice, ginger, cloves, or really any warm spice you want (though we sadly only had cinnamon)
  • 1 TBSP vanilla (optional)

Add the ingredients to a mixing bowl in the order they’re shown, stirring after each ingredient.  Then, spoon dough onto a greased cookie sheet.

You can make the portion sizes smaller than this if you want to.  I added pecans to the tops of half the cookies since my Mom’s boyfriend is allergic, but I think they’d be better mixed into the dough.  Bake them at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

When they came out of the oven I drizzled honey on top of them just to give them a little added sweetness/texture.  Fair warning:  these little cookies aren’t your typical holiday sugary sweet treat.  They taste more like little granola bars.  I think they’ll make great pre/post workout snacks! I’m also of thinking of making some variations to the recipe– either adding applesauce or just eliminating the flour entirely.

And of course, no holiday season would be completely without my Grandma’s homemade matzoh ball soup!  Normally we eat it together for Hanukkah, but since it came so gosh darn early this year, I had to have a belated bowl.

So happy holidays everyone!  Tonight I’ll be headed to a Spanish restaurant to celebrate my Mom’s boyfriend’s birthday, and tomorrow I’ll wake up and tear open gifts in front of our tree and then feast on our traditional Christmas pork roast!  What do you do for the holidays?  What are your healthy (or not so healthy) holiday plans?