Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Gobble Up Some Nutrition Information

Nutrition is one of those things that is just common sense, right? We all feed ourselves and our families and do just fine. Maybe we eat fast food now and again, or enjoy some chips with our lunch. You add a vegetable side dish to your dinner. You have a bowl of one of those General Mills big check whole grain cereals. You pick the light dressing, or you took the major step to have the dressing on the side. See? You know exactly what you're doing, and why fix something that isn't broken?

Then why is the United States as a whole at its heaviest? Why are we arguably the least healthy country in the world? We watch shows like Biggest Loser and think, "They just need to use common sense and eat less." The truth is that people who aren't weighing in at Biggest Loser levels still don't really know that much about nutrition. I have been trying to learn more about nutrition lately. I can't say that my diet is amazing. In fact, it is pretty awful. But as my Anything for 10 Sister points out in relation to all situations, once your eyes have been opened to the truth, it is so much harder to continue on as you did in ignorance. So why do we know so little about diet and nutrition?

Think back to elementary school or high school health class. Do you remember that Food Guide Pyramid that they had you look at to teach you about nutrition? I love that old thing. Yes, those of you who think you are particularly up on your nutrition information are scoffing in your head because you already know that it has been replaced by the My Pyramid. You may remember the old one with the giant base section for breads, grains, and cereals. That is what I love about the old one. I absolutely love carbs. I even used to joke with my friends in college that I was on the all carb diet. I used the old pyramid to justify my carb addiction. Carbs aren't bad overall, but I wasn't eating the good crabs. The old pyramid did need revamping because it promotes the type of thinking I had. It is also that driving force that tricks people into buying the low-fat yogurt for example, instead of the light yogurt. You don't need to get rid of the fat, you need to get rid of the sugar, but the old pyramid made us think of fats as bad. Just like carbs, there are good fats and bad fats, and we all need healthy fats. The new pyramid is even less helpful than the original. It is often promoted just as the graphic without any nutritional information at all. Thanks, USDA!

But surely we can get the information we need if we just make sure we are well-rounded citizens who watch the news on a regular basis. They report all the newest medical findings that will guide us in the right direction. Wrong. Today on Good Morning America, they had two health and diet segments back to back. The first one I am calling the Goldilocks Coffee Report. It reported that a new study shows that 1-2 cups of coffee is juuuuuuust right for lowering your risk for heart disease by 11%! But more than two cups of coffee could be too much just like Papa Bear's bowl of porridge. Then they gave a report that I am going to call the Dunkin' Donuts Diet. This was where they reported that a new study shows that people who ate a sweet treat at breakfast lost more weight than people who stuck to a 300 or fewer calorie breakfast. Yes! Now, these both sound great in theory, but keep in mind that the two cups of coffee shouldn't be loaded with sugar, cream, or flavored syrups, which was not in the report they gave. And they were on the right track with the breakfast report because it is better to eat a large breakfast, than a large dinner, which is the norm in our culture. We need a paradigm shift on our eating habits in general.

How necessary is a paradigm shift in our culture? Take the word diet into consideration. Most people would tell you that it is some kind of reduction or limitation on what a person eats in order to lose weight, and while that is an accurate definition, we need to get back up to the top of the list in the dictionary. We need to think of diet in terms of food and drink considered in terms of its qualities, composition, and its effects on health. We need to be proactive in learning about nutrition, fitness, and healthy living. I know that I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to things like this. We all just want someone else to do the digging for us. Someone else can spend the time learning it all and then just give us the highlights. We don't have the time to read a book or consult a doctor or nutritionist, right? Well, the truth is that we really can't afford not to spend the time because if you don't take care of your body, then you may have far less time than you want.

Currently Reading: Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy by Walter Willett, M.D.

Interested in  the revamped Healthy Eating Pyramid developed by Willett and Harvard's School of Public Health? Check it out here:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Biggest Anything for 10 challenge yet!

I know that the premise of this site is pushing through things that we don't think we are able to do. Anything for 10, right? So how about 10 days? In the challenge set before me, I am not sure I can make it 10 days. Remember that awesome spin class I took last week? Yeah, it turns out that it gave me an awesomely torn muscle. I tore my right quadriceps.
The Instigator
I didn't feel it too much at first, but I wasn't sure how much pain or discomfort to expect after a spin class. I was more "sore" than I had ever felt before. I told Matt that I didn't even feel that sore after either one of my half marathons. Well, it all makes sense now that I know I wasn't just sore. I had been hobbling around for a day or so and my leg just kept getting tighter and tighter. I kept attempting to stretch it out..For those who don't know, that is apparently the absolute wrong thing to do. When I finally noticed the grapefruit sized lump in the top of my thigh, I knew it was time to call Nurse Noelle. My oldest sister is an RN, and I spent a full day on bed rest at her prescription. Matt was sweet enough to wait on me all day.

The Challenge
I finally felt fully better today, so I hit the gym, and finally finished the unpacking. It has been 20 days after all, so I just needed to be productive and tackle the spare bedroom that was filled with boxes. I conquered the boxes, or so I thought. Turns out that all the carrying, lifting, climbing up and down, and a workout were just a little too much too soon. Touche, boxes. Touche.  Nurse Noelle wasn't happy with my report for the day, complete with a description of the lump that has reappeared, and an ending note to the conversation of my screams into the phone as my leg began cramping up even more. And this is where the 10 day challenge lies. My challenge is to stay off my leg as much as possible for the next 10 days. I must also ice the area and take an anti-inflammatory. The hardest part of all will undoubtedly lie in the return to the gym afterward, which comes with the strict dosage of "freaking taking it easy."

Tip from Nurse Noelle
When forced to use stairs while recovering from a leg injury, always remember, "Good things go to Heaven, and bad things go to Hell." When walking up the stairs, always place both feet on each step, and take it slow! Lead with the good leg when going up the stairs, and lead with the bad leg when going down the stairs. Now you know.

This post is complete with a tribute to Nurse Noelle, as I just picked out my fall half earlier this week. I am waiting to register until I know that I will be able to start training on time after recovering, but if all goes according to plan, I will be running my half on Nurse Noelle's birthday! Happy birthday, Skiss.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Big wheel keep on turnin, thighs just keep on burnin!

Ok, I may have changed the lyrics a bit, but there is no experience in the world quite like having a staring contest with yourself in a mirrored, black lit room while a 50 year old woman on a spinbike is kicking your butt. I went to my first spin class today. It was easy to tell that I was a newbie by the fact that I was the only one in the room without at least one towel, a bottle of water, and some kind of sweat-catching headband. Ever since I decided that I wanted to try out spin class, my fiance has been commenting that he doesn't understand what could be so challenging about the whole thing. Well, here's a challenge; I challenge him to go to spin class with me this Sunday. Yeah, he needs to have that one of a kind experience that I had the pleasure to experience today.

At the beginning of the class, I was thinking over and over that I wish I had asked how long the class was before it started. I thought to myself, "It couldn't last longer than 15 minutes, right?" 15 minutes came and went, but the class just kept on spinnin. I was sad that during the standing jog reps at the beginning, I had to sit down early. I was also stunned by the idea of "transitioning into a sitting position" after each jog or climb. Let me tell you, there was no transitioning about it. This big hipped girl was not a fan of the mirrored walls during those rocky "transitions." I hit a major low when I noticed that Lucy, the old woman next to me, was using the "resting" parts as dance breaks as she pedaled along. And once again, it was apparent to everyone that I was dying because Lucy, bless her heart, she not only danced along, she started cheering me on. Awesome.

I started feeling better about halfway through class. I had been thinking about how my 2 half marathons were nothing compared to this spin class. That was part of what helped me get through an hour long torturous class. I  realized that I could do it. Spin class surely falls under the category of "anything," and I can do anything for 10,  right? I figured out part way through the difference between seated pedaling and standing pedaling. I had no idea there was a difference, but if the toes are relaxed while standing, it keeps the knees from buckling under you, which is sure to tip everyone off that you are new as you trip over yourself without actually being able to fall looks quite ridiculous. I am already excited to go back though, and I will have a towel, water bottle, and fiance in tow!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Green Monster Recipe and Tips

What is a Green Monster? People ask me all the time what I am drinking when they see me with one in my hand. A GM is a smoothie with spinach or kale in it. I had been on a pretty regular schedule of about 5 GM's a week, and when I stopped during my move, I could tell the difference in my body. I am a picky eater, so this was one of the first ways I started to add more vegetables into my diet. I am trying to get better at healthy eating, but for now, at least I have Green Monsters! I am going to share my favorite recipe!

Peach & Grape Green Monster

1 single yogurt--I like raspberry
Water (fill the yogurt cup)
1 scoop whey protein --I am thinking of switching to plant protein
       **Tip: blend the water, yogurt, and protein first for 1 minute
several cups of spinach or kale
1/4 cup green grapes
1/2 cup frozen peaches
      **Tip: put heavier fruit on top of the lighter spinach to blend
Blend for 2-3 minutes

I like to make mine before I go to bed to have it ready when I wake up in the morning for a smoother start to my day!

       First Green Monster!
1/2 C Skim Milk, 4oz Vanilla Yogurt, 1/2 scoop vanilla protien powder, 1/2 C water, 1 tsp olive oil, 2 C organic baby spinach, 1/2 C frozen mango, 1/2 C frozen peaches. Blend well!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Let's Get Physical! Assessments, that is!

We would all like to think that we are on track. I know I sure thought I was doing ok. It may not have been my best performance, but I ran a Half Marathon 3 weeks ago! I was shocked and disappointed when I got the news today about the kind of shape my body is really in. Because I recently moved across the country, I also had to sign up for a new gym. The gym my fiance and I chose gives all members an initial physical fitness assessment so that they know where they started. I know that in just a short time I had already lost much of my stamina, and I was nervous to meet with the trainer, but I did not expect to find out what I did. So, what did I find out, how did the assessment go, and what am I going to do about it?

Fred kicked my ASSessment!

When Matt and I signed up for our training sessions, we were informed that the crazy-muscly guy behind the desk would be giving Matt his assessment, and I would be with a guy named Fred. As we were leaving, we saw a trainer walking in drinking a Monster Energy drink. I was so pumped. He TOTALLY looked like a Fred. He was not Fred. Fred was bigger than the aforementioned crazy-muscly guy behind the desk. Ed, the trainer giving Matt his assessment, did our weights, BMI's, and body fat percentages. I am fairly ashamed of my body fat percentage because I just didn't know it was so high. I looked it up on the internet when I got home, and I am still in the "healthy" range, but I am on the verge of tipping into the overweight range. 

Fred had me warm up on the elliptical while he set up a circuit for me. It was killer. He even had me hold a plank for longer than I ever have before...repeatedly. I was so sweaty after 4 rounds on the circuit he designed, but that wasn't the end. Then we went to weight training. I would normally set the adductor on about 30 lbs. Fred set it at 60 lbs. I did all the reps, and I didn't complain or quit. Now, my legs are much stronger than my upper body, so I was just sure he was crazy when he more than doubled what I would normally set the shoulder press at. Once again, I did all the reps, and I didn't complain. During the last set on the shoulder press, Fred asked me if I had eaten breakfast. I assured him I did. He asked if I was ok. I told him I thought I was ok. The truth was that I seriously felt like I was going to puke everywhere. I hadn't fooled Fred. He made me stop, and said we would just cut a few minutes short. I found that we had been working out for 45 minutes. That was honestly the longest and shortest 45 minutes of my life. Thanks, Fred!

What's the plan?

I recently hit my one year running anniversary, so I knew that I would need a new log book. I also knew when looking for one that I would like to start incorporating more than just running so that I would be more inclined to do other activities. I purchased "The Ultimate Workout Log" by Suzanne Schlosberg. I decided that today was as good a day as any to get started recording goals, workouts, and reflections to get myself headed back in the direction I want to go. It is only a 6 month log, but I have already ordered another log I want to try out when this one is full. The first section is a page to record goals for the next six months. There are individual pages for each day with spaces for weight, cardio, strength training, nutrition, daily notes, and a daily rating. The last feature I will share is a weekly wrap up with a section for goal tracking, training totals,  reflections, and a weekly rating. I want to slim down and tone up. I am starting on the path to better and smarter fitness.