A Healthy Transformation

A blog about diet, exercise, and health

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

Ingredients

  • 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?

 

I’m still alive! December 12, 2010

Filed under: General health — fitnessie @ 4:22 pm

But barely.  I’ve been so -so- sick this past week.  I certainly wouldn’t call it anything close to “healthy”.  I’ve been mostly bed-ridden, and though I’ve been feeling better, I’m still feeling just bad enough to think exercise is a bad idea.  I’m waiting for blood results to see if my tonsillitis was mono-related;  cross your fingers for me that it wasn’t!  I can’t wait to go for a long run.

It’s so difficult to be “healthy” while feeling sick, because what being “healthy” is changes.  While sick, I just eat whatever I feel like eating at the time and am thankful I have an appetite.  Exercise is out of the question.  I get anxious, sad, and tired.  It’s a heck of a way to end what I think was a really healthy, positive year for me.

Sometime soon, I promise a nice, long update with my recipe for mandelbreit, pictures of my new tattoo (that most likely induced my terrible illness), and maybe even some easy instructions for homemade, delicious cranberry sorbet.  Until then, I’ll try to keep my sick binges under control, go for long walks, and start to do YMCA yoga.  Sigh.

 

My Weekend Run November 15, 2010

Filed under: Exercise — fitnessie @ 5:11 am

Every weekend for the past month I’ve been going on a 6 mile run.  Because I’m no longer doing Bikram yoga, I have some more free fitness time on my hands, and running has always been my activity of choice.  So, usually, every Saturday I hit the treadmill and sweat my butt off.   When I started in October, I could do my 6 miles in nearly 59 minutes– not bad, but not that great.  By last week, however, I finished up my 6 miles in just over 53 minutes– nearly a 6 minute improvement!

While I’m proud of that, this week I thought it was nigh time to hit the real road.  The weather has finally turned gorgeous, and today was the perfect, sunny, breezy, cool, clear day.  I went online and checked out a nice looking route on the Rillito River Walk that was about 5 miles long.  I grabbed my iPod, threw on my sneakers, and headed out.

Now, here’s a question for all you runners out there– what on earth do you do with your keys/iPod while you run?  I shoved my key button in my sports bra (classy, right?) and held my iPod in my soon-to-be-sweaty hand.  It was really rather cumbersome and annoying.  At least the Prius doesn’t require me to ever actually take *out* my key (that would have been a little too much class), but does anyone have any advice for this?

This is the path I initially set off on.  However, after running  for about a mile (and having a lot of trouble getting used to pacing myself after so much treadmilling) I got confused about where to go.  The path I looked up showed a loop that I unfortunately never encountered– and nervousness made me turn back and run back to my start point prematurely and not ever find the elusive  loop.


So I started off in the opposite direction.  I had a lot more luck this way– I only got a little confused once, and made it down to Alvernon before turning back, about 1 1/2 miles.  I was feeling more comfortable and was able to pace myself.  At first, I found myself going a little bit too fast– somehow running outside makes me feel like I’m going slower– but I found my happy spot and was able to maintain it for the rest of the run.

There I am in all my sweaty, red-faced, post run glory.  I actually really enjoyed this experience, though my left knee was a little extra-achy by the end.  It’s difficult to gauge a time/distance, but what with all the confusion and re-tracing of steps, I’m happy with doing about 5 miles in 53 minutes.  Not a great time, but a good start.  Once I get more comfortable with a route, I can start improving on my speed.

So, to all the would-be runners out there, here are my two absolutely MUST have running accessories:

Sneakers!

If you are going to run at all, the #1 thing you should invest in is a damn good pair of running shoes.  Blowing about $100 on shoes may seem like a lot, but if running is something you are serious about doing, your feet, knees, and body will graciously thank you.  If you don’t believe me, just trying running in your cheap-o target sneakers for a week.  If you end up with sore shins, knees, and feet, don’t blame the running, just go get your cheap ass out to get a pair of good shoes.  I strongly suggest trying out different shoes to see what works best for you– I went to Jack Rabbit in NYC, where they analyzed the way I run with a video and recommended the shoes that work the best for me.  This was a super neat, free service they offered, and while I did get my shoes there, there were basically the same price as any other store, and now that I know what shoes work best for me, I can get them anywhere!

 

A Rocking Playlist!

I can not emphasize enough the importance of a good playlist for running.  Not only with it help you pace yourself, but it will also completely motivate you.  Just think of how you feel when you hear the latest terrible pop song at a club– you just NEED to get up and dance!  Well, running is no different.  Pick out the songs that you skip around to at home when no one is looking and throw them on your iPod.  Sure, I was out in nature, and I could have been listening to the beautiful sounds of the desert– but that wasn’t what I was there for.  When I go hiking, nature can be my playlist, but when it comes to trying for a good-paced run, no one can top Flo Rida.

My current playlist:

  1. California Girls-  Kate Perry
  2. Hot Boyz- Casiotone for the Painfully Alone
  3. Get Low-  Flo Rida
  4. Merry Happy- Kate Nash
  5. Single Ladies- Beyonce
  6. Disturbia-  Rihanna
  7. I Gotta Feeling-  Black Eyed Peas
  8. Tik Tok-  Ke$ha
  9. So What- Pink
  10. Worked Up So Sexual-  The Faint
  11. Sexy Back-  Justin Timberlake
  12. Poker Face-  Lady Gaga
  13. When I Grow Up-  The Pussycat Dolls
  14. Somebody Told Me-  The Killers
  15. I Kissed a Girl-  Kate Perry
  16. Paper Planes-  M.I.A.
  17. World Go Round-  Busta Rhymes

Anyone have any good songs that get them pumped?  I’m always looking for additions!

So, comfortable clothing, a sports bra, and a good pair of socks are also nice, but as long as I have the my sneakers and iPod, I’m set.

That being said, here’s my running wish list:

  • an iPod nano with armband case
  • a pair of headphones that WON’T fall out of my ears every five minutes
  • a nice pedometer/timer/watch
  • a pair of good running pants with a POCKET to hold my car key

Anyone want to give me an early Christmas present?