Tag Archives: health

Mile 750: Ugh. Calorie Counting.

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“And these flames boil in reclaim
On the way down.”
–Young the Giant, “12 Fingers”

Miles Last Week: 48
Total Miles: 750

Well, here we are. The halfway mark. Seven hundred and fifty miles down, seven hundred and fifty to go. So, why don’t I feel very satisfied or accomplished?

Because, as of today, I’ve only lost nine pounds.

Now, I know that losing nine pounds is nothing to thumb my nose at, but it’s not exactly great, either. After four months of working out, I think I should have a bit more to show for it–or a bit less, depending on how you see things. In six miles, I can easily burn at least one thousand calories if I believe what the machine tells me, which I do–robot apocalypse permitting. So, what’s the deal?

My only conclusion is that my eating habits are even worse than I originally thought. Apparently just trying to make healthier choices and having a bit more fruit isn’t going to be enough for this chickadee.

Ugh. As much as I hate it, this week I’ve had to force myself to reconcile with the idea that, no matter what I do, I’ll never be one of those people who can eat whatever they want, even if I’m burning a thousand calories per workout. Again I say UGH.

I’ve put off calorie counting for so long because I know myself well enough to realize that once there is a number out there, I’m going to obsess over it. It’s all I’m going to think about every time I eat something. It’s the same reason that I barely weigh myself once a week and I don’t measure myself. (Plus, and I’m loathe to admit this, but I might be just a little scared of what those numbers are.) I’m already obsessing over miles every week, and I didn’t want to worry about another number. I mean, it’s been a long time since I’ve taken a math class. I may nor may not be entirely certain how they work anymore.

So, I had a piece of pizza and a moment of silence as a small part of me hated those people who never have to worry about dieting. Then I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app.

For anyone who doesn’t have it, MyFitnessPal is online calorie counter/diet and exercise journal. Based on your current weight and activity level and your goals, the app will calculate the number of calories you should have per day. Then, you can either scan the barcode of your food, search for it in the database, or just add the number of calories every day into your journal. Plus, you can add the calories you burn while exercising. When you’re done for the day, the app tells you your projected weight loss for the next five weeks.

Not my food diary, but a good example. Source

Not my food diary, but a good example.
Source

My new goal in using MyFitnessPal is to just be more conscious of what I’m eating. Call me crazy, but I still think I can get a handle on this “all things in moderation” thing.

In just the few days I’ve been using the app, I’ve been really surprised with how the projection will change from day to day. One day, it will say that I could lose twenty pounds in the next five weeks. The next day it will say that I might only lose ten. Of course, that has everything to do with what types of food I’m eating and whether I exercise. In fact, the only days I’ve had trouble staying under my calorie goal are the days that I haven’t been able to work out.

So, I suppose that the only way to really do this is to be conscious of both diet AND exercise. The experts have been right all along.

How much does that suck?

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Mile 708: Planking Vs. Planking

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“It’s got to happen, happen some time.
Maybe this time I’ll win.”
–“Maybe This Time,” Cabaret

Miles Last Week: 47
Total Miles: 708

In this world, there are two types of planking.

The first type looks a bit like this:

My sister planking on a semi truck, back when it was cool.

My sister planking on a semi truck, back when it was cool.

It’s really simple. You just lay there, face down with your arms at your sides and your legs together, very much like a plank of wood–hence the name. Planking in weird places kind of became a big thing a couple of years ago, but it’s pretty much over now. If you don’t remember the movement, don’t worry. You missed a couple of chuckles and “That person is crazy for doing that on a billboard,” and that’s about it.

The second type of planking looks a bit like this:

This one’s a bit trickier. You have to hold yourself up on your elbows and toes while keeping the rest of your body straight. If you’ve ever done it, you know that you really feel it in your core and it’s usually only about ten seconds before your whole body starts shaking from the effort.

When a friend of mine recently posted a 30-Day Planking Challenge on Pinterest, it was unfortunately the second type of planking that was challenged.

My reaction to this pin came in three stages:

  1. Oh, planking for thirty days. Maybe I could do that.
  2. YOU GET UP TO FIVE MINUTES?! Oh, no. I definitely can’t do that.
  3. Well… maybe I can…

So, yesterday I did that second type of planking for twenty seconds, and I’ll do it again today. Tomorrow, I’ll do thirty seconds, and I’ll keep going until I can perhaps get up to five minutes on September 1st.

I’m sure there will be several points at which I will wish that I can substitute the second type for the first type of planking, but, unfortunately, that’s not what Pinterest dictates. I’m ruled by the Internet.

Mile 661: Treat Yo’ Self

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“It’s a low, low road you gotta roll down
Before you find your way, my friend.
And it’s a high, high hill you gotta climb up
Before you get to the top again.”
–Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, “Low Road”

Miles Last Week: 51
Total Miles: 661

In Parks & Recreation’s October 13, 2011, episode entitled “Pawnee Rangers,” Donna (Rhetta) and Tom (Aziz Ansari) celebrate their “Treat Yo’ Self” Day, during which they completely pamper themselves with massages, new clothes, etc. As a viewer, this sounded pretty genius and I’m still shocked that it hasn’t been instated as a national–nay, INTERNATIONAL–holiday.

We would probably really need two days so that people who work in spas and such could enjoy it, too. Still, I’m down.

How does this relate to fitness?

This week is the first week in my 1,500 Mile Project that I have put in miles every single day with no skipping. Actually, it’s been everyday since last Saturday, but who’s counting besides me?

Call me crazy, but I was pretty excited when I realized this. I’m on a streak!

I thought I deserved a little reward. I needed to treat myself.

Scratch that. I wanted to celebrate. I could be wrong about this, but I’m pretty sure that Tom and Donna’s “Treat Yo’ Self” Day is meant to be a celebration of how awesome they are.

Smarter people than myself have expounded long and hard about reward systems. It’s pretty simple: getting a reward makes you want to keep doing the thing that you associate with getting that reward. I guess I’m arrogant enough to think that I already have enough incentive to keep going to the gym (not embarrassing myself on my blog, health, blah blah blah). I just wanted a small celebration for myself. But what kind?

In the past I’ve been advised against food “rewards.” A former boss of mine who was a major fitness/health guru once pointed out that that kind of system doesn’t help a dysfunctional relationship with food. You can’t celebrate a fitness accomplishment by having a milkshake, especially when you and milkshakes have a bit of an abusive history. You have to find other ways to treat yo’ self.

I immediately knew that I wanted a new CD. I’m not much of a spa girl, but lately I’ve been in desperate need of some new tunes, man. I used to frequently purchase new music whenever I felt the whim, though a recent personal crackdown on miscellaneous spending has trimmed that down quite a bit. The last album that I bought was The 2nd Law by Muse, which was a graduation present to myself in December.

So, yesterday I fired up my iTunes account and downloaded The Lion the Beast the Beat from Grace Potter & the Nocturnals. I’ve been pining over it for over a year and now I have it and I am super excited for my commute on Monday. Treat Yo’ Self.

The first time I recall hearing of Grace Potter & the Nocturnals was when I listened to “White Rabbit,” their song on the Alice in Wonderland-inspired album Almost Alice. Then I heard “Falling or Flying” on the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack. Then I heard “Paris (Ooh La La)” and rushed out to get their album. Then I was fortunate enough to see Grace Potter & the Nocturnals perform live and I’ve been mildly obsessed ever since. The band’s 70s pop-soul-rock flavor is defined by the amazing Grace Potter’s raspy voice and retro swagger. I have to say, the girl has plenty. When my sister and I went to the concert in 2011, we both left exclaiming about how amazing the show was and how Ms. Potter danced and shook her way around the stage for an hour and a half. Seriously. It was a little difficult to get a good picture of her because she NEVER. STOPPED. MOVING.

If you think about it, she could really be a fitness inspiration. Someday, when we’re BFFs I’ll be sure to tell her how her shaking in a little mini-dress (that I would never have the courage to wear even if I looked like her) really helped me through many miles on the treadmill. I assume a massive dance break will ensue shortly after.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, 2011 in OKC.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, 2011 in OKC.

In summation:

  1. Grace Potter is awesome.
  2. Treat. Yo. Self.

Mile 491.25: What Your TV Choice At The Gym Says About You

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“Pictures came and broke your heart,
Put the blame on VCR.”
–The Buggles, “Video Killed the Radio Star”

Miles This Week: 46.5
Miles Total: 491.25

My gym has exactly four televisions that patrons can enjoy as they work up a sweat. The machines have headphone jacks that you can plug into in order to listen to what’s happening on any one of them. In almost two months of going there on a semi-regular basis, I’ve noticed that certain channels and programs are a regular feature, and being an American, I’ve taken the opportunity to assume things about people based on their viewing patterns.

Here’s what your TV choice at the gym may or may not say about you:

Anything on the Food Network
You are a sado-masochist and enjoy making everyone suffer.

Cake Boss on TLC
See above.

TV at the Gym

Not my gym.
Source

Fox News (which is on at least one TV everyday–I live in Oklahoma)
I just…can’t…

Any movie edited for television
You’re a “leave the TV on for noise” kind of person.

Local news
You’re training to run away from the next tornado. (Like I said–Oklahoma.)

ESPN/any sports game
You like to have an example when you are doing something.

HGTV
Working on yourself + getting ideas for your home = Multi-tasker!

The Bachelor
You are considering applying for The Bachelor or one of it’s many spin-offs.

CMT
You’re a fan of the boots-and-shorty-shorts look. (Side Note: I’m a bit surprised by how often CMT airs The Karate Kid.)

Since these are just my assumptions, I’m assuming that they are 100% correct. I mean, I have a real sense about people.

You may be wondering which of these I am. Well, all of them and none of them, in a way. At the gym, I listen to podcasts on my phone. So, in my ears I’ve got the Nerdist or StarTalk Radio or another pop culture/comedy podcast going and sometimes I mentally fill in the dialogue I’m not hearing from the television. It really makes the time on the elliptical pass quickly.

Mile 444.75: Fruit and Cake

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“A kick in the teeth is good for some,
A kiss with a fist is better than none.”
–Florence & the Machine, “Kiss with a Fist”

Miles Last Week:  47.5
Total Miles:  444.75

So, last week I decided that I was going to focus more on having fewer “rest” days and eating healthier.  Here’s how I did:

  1. I only took one rest day, and I used it to see a stand-up performance by the hilarious Chris Hardwick. So, that could count as an ab workout, right?
  2. My dad’s birthday was last weekend.

If you are in my family, you probably know what that means.  If you’re not in my family, you need to know that my dad’s birthday is usually around Father’s Day, and my mom always makes a family member’s choice dessert for his/her birthday.  We don’t even have to ask my dad what he wants on his special birthday/dad celebration–it’s always the same and has been for as long as I can remember.  My grandma even used to make it for him.

Source I don't know if this is close to the recipe my mom uses, but this is what that wonderful dessert looks like.

Source
I don’t know if this is close to the recipe my mom uses, but this is what that wonderful dessert looks like.

Italian Cream Cake.

If you haven’t sampled a bite of this cream-cheesy pecan/coconut goodness, you are definitely missing out.  Italian Cream Cake is considered so special in my family that my dad’s birthday/Father’s Day gathering is the only time a year we usually get it.  (Unless your younger sister was gone that weekend at Bonnaroo and your mom might be talked into making another one.  I mean, it’s still up in the air.)

You may think I’m overstating the deliciousness of this cake, but, let me assure you, I am not.  Seriously.  I found out today that my mom made this cake for a charity baking auction and it sold for $150. IT’S. THAT. GOOD.

So, how did I do on making healthier food choices?  There was Italian Cream Cake in my house–how do you think I did?  What was I supposed to do?  NOT eat the cake?  We apparently waste, like, forty percent of our food everyday, and call me crazy but there’s no way that I can stand for perfectly wonderful cake to be thrown away and not eaten by me.  YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND–DO YOU HEAR ME?

I may have a problem…  Hmm.  I should think about that later.

My diet philosophy through this 1,500 Mile Project is to try to achieve balance.  All things in moderation.  If I know I’m going to have something less-than-nutritious, I try to balance that out with having something slightly more nutritious.  Or, if I know I’m going to have to miss a day of working out, I try to do extra another day.

The best way I knew to balance out my increased consumption of cake was to likewise increase my fruit/granola intake.  Several of my lunches last week included apples, grapes, half a peanut butter sandwich, a granola bar, and Greek yogurt.  Then I didn’t feel too terrible about having a piece of cake after dinner.

I want to focus on balance and moderation because I believe that is the best way to maintain a healthier lifestyle.  I plan to stay away from extreme diets because eventually you come off the diet.  Because you haven’t focused on building better habits, everything comes back and you are right back where you started.  I want to change the way I live.

Did I make any progress?  Maybe.  I still have a lot of miles to go.