Wednesday, April 28, 2010

My Exercise Journey

I had a request to give some more details about my exercise journey.

First, I hate exercising. I really hoped that by this time I would be hopelessly addicted. Alas, even when I know I will feel great afterwards, even though it’s exciting to conquer things I haven’t been able to do before, even though it tones me up and makes my squish disappear, I do not enjoy it. I truly wish I did. I enjoy the results of traditional exercise, but not the act itself. What I enjoy is the kind of exercise that doesn’t feel formal. I enjoy moving. If weather, money, and time permitted I would do the following all of the time: take dance classes, hike, and kick box.

I think some of this stems from being such an overweight child. If you recall, by kindergarten I weighed 75lbs. By the time I was in 4th grade (about ten years old) I weighed 148lbs. I know this because I distinctly recall going to the doctor toward the end of my fourth grade year. I even remember what I was wearing-a white t-shirt and crazy orange elastic waistband shorts (because when you are as chubby as I was and under five feet tall, this is all that fits you). I remember hearing how much I weighed and knowing it was bad and being humiliated inside. Shudder. I wasn’t athletic at all. I couldn’t run with any kind of speed, I attempted two unsuccessful summers of trying to play softball, I tried going to a little basketball camp, and I couldn’t ride a bike until I was eight. Now that I think about it, more than anything I was just embarrassed to be seen. I jiggled, I flopped, I was bigger than some adults, I felt like I looked ridiculous and I didn’t want other kids to laugh at me. Thus, I think I developed this self imposed limitation that I couldn’t do athletic things simply because I would be laughed at and I would embarrassed. Does that make sense? Somehow I found dance and I really loved it. I had fun, the other girls were accepting, and I was good at it. This was the kind of exercise I enjoyed. I think this is why I have a love for Richard Simmons. Sweatin’ To The Oldies 2 was fun. I enjoyed it. I can still remember some of the moves to this day. I didn’t feel judged. There was Jane Fonda in her signature striped leotard making me feel horrible because she was an adult who under weighed me by pounds and pounds and then there was Richard Simmons who speaks so sweetly and jubilantly encouraged me to dance and “shake off those fat cells.” (A phrase I still think of every time I am going through a tough exercise routine)
But I digress. Cut to my journey from the past eleven months. Having been on a yo-yo up and down weight battle all of my life struggling with same 25-30lbs and feeling unathletic, I wasn’t sure what the best way to begin was. Months prior I had taken some dance classes and worked out on my home elliptical machine to work off some medicinal weight gain and that got me to a decent starting point. I hadn’t been a good exerciser for about four months and I felt like I was back at square one with fitness. So…. I just moved. I made a vow that I would just start slowly by moving every day. I would take a walk after work for a few miles and/or spend 15 minutes on my elliptical. That’s how it began.
Once I had gently reintroduced exercise I started testing the waters by trying a two week magazine fitness jump start that involved a lot of walking/jogging intervals, then committing to exercising at least three times a week (typically 20-30 minutes on my elliptical), followed by an overly ambitious attempt to burn way to many calories in one week. The first few months were spent mainly on my elliptical machine. While this is always good cardio, I was bored and knew that I should be giving some attention to my abs and belly so around August I started incorporating some pilates into the mix (and the occasional date with Jillian Michaels).

Some days were better than others but on the whole I was at a steady 30 minutes three times a week situation. By mid September I was getting overwhelmed, had reinjured my bum arm and went a whole week without exercising. I was getting busy with rehearsals for a show, so I went back to basics and vowed to move every day. In my opinion this is the best place to go back to when you’ve fallen off the exercise wagon. After getting back on track I was soon deep in the heart of rehearsals and didn’t want to lose steam so I made sure to do leg lifts and arms circles every day since I could do those at rehearsal. You have to squeeze toning in when you when you have two jobs folks! Around November and the time of my opening, I’d had a light few weeks exercise wise, but I still did whatever I could with the very limited time I had. I think this is key. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF SMALL WORKOUTS. Every little bit adds up!

By December I had upped my number of workouts and started doing longer sessions and vowing to make at least two workouts each week one hour long. At this point I was doing mostly cardio/strength combo workouts from Exercise TV. (In December I also embarked on clean, animal free eating which really helped my bod and stamina.)

In January I knew I had only a month and half or so before I would be consumer by long rehearsals, so I began working out four + days a week and for one hour each time. I did mixes of strength training workouts (like the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Boot Camp, Jackie Warners interval training and pilates).

In March and April I hung on for dear life as I worked full time at my day job during the week and had four hour long rehearsals each night. My main exercise those weeks was walking to and from rehearsal. If all else fails, walk to your destination instead of drive-it keeps you moving and healthy! Now, I am just squeezing in whatever I can with the three days a week I do not have a show. I’ve jogged a couple of times with my husband, done some time on my elliptical (although my new elliptical is no bueno), and continued to walk as much as I can.

So really that was much more of a recap, but the basics are: I did what I could when I could and kept going no matter what and kept chnaging up what I did.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Little Milestone

I am almost back to normal. Thank you medicine buzz, hot tea, and you for your kind words and advice for getting me through my shows this weekend!

A week from tomorrow I will post my birthday pics and put on my party hat to ring in my 30th birthday. I don't have official plans, my husband has taken the reigns which is nice. This week I plan to exercise each day (cardio and stength) and be kind to myself. I have done what I could this year and should be proud. No need to kill myself in the last week.

This week I had a little milestone of sorts that I need to share.

Whilst sitting home draped like a snotty rag doll across my sofa eailer this week, I got word that I had a print look-see on Friday. The break down read like this:

One female talent, Caucasian, 30-35 years of age, with long, full, healthy dark brown shoulder-length hair. Fit and somewhat athletic.

Fit and somewhat athletic?! Moi? It was a big step for me to acknoweldge that my agent hadn't made a mistake in sending me out for this, but they didn't. I am considered a fit woman. Me. It wasn't a clerical error or oversight. I was sent out for this print ad because I am in good shape. It's a great feeling and a marker to let me know that I've done a good job! I have never been on this side of the spectrum. It's uncharterd territory for me, but I need to embrace it and celebrate the opportunities that have opened up for me now (and of course, how good I feel)!

Tell me about your recent successes!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Under the Weather

What do you get when you combine spring+27 cast members crammed in a 12 person dressing room? A germ party.

I'm sick y'all. So far my clean diet has kept all of the nasties at bay when everyone around me has been getting sick. My luck has run out. I've just been burning the candle at both ends for too long and my immune system is down. I've also had some personal toxicness lately that has made for some mega stress. Thus, I was the perfect target for a cold. Grrrr. I took today off of work to heal, but I am so clogged I can't even degunk with the use of a neti pot and I am super achy. That said, a couple of small walks around the block with my dog child is the most movement I can muster. This is no good when you only have a couple of weeks left before you must be photographed in a bikini (and hope to look like you should be wearing one). Thus, more stress.....and I have terrible about posting...more stress....I'm stressed if you haven't guessed. Apparently A+ blood types are more prone to stress (but since I have been such a bad poster I haven't discussed eating for your blood type which is a post I have been meaning to get up!)

I am up for hearing about any special cold remedies you have! I have to perform tomorrow night!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Women Food and God

Picture it-you’ve had a stressful day. All you want on the car/train/bus ride home is some alone time with your good friend Dorito, Oreo, or Marshmallow. Your stomach isn’t rumbling. You aren’t hungry, but you need to eat. Why do we do that? It doesn’t make us feel better for more than a few seconds and often times it can make us feel worse, but we still do it (and consume empty belly plumping calories in the process.)

In March, Geneen Roth released a book called Women Food and God that explores our connections with food. Saturday I had the opportunity to attend Geneen Roth’s Women, Food, and God workshop and it was a wonderful experience.

For me the big take away from the book and the workshop experience is: Eat when you’re hungry. If you want to eat when you’re not hungry, ask yourself why you want to eat. If someone has hurt your feelings, let it hurt. If an injustice happened at work, just feel the frustration. If you are tired, take a nap. No need for a buffalo wing flavored pretzel band aid. This is of course easier said than done for many people. It takes discipline, bravery, and hard work!

I thought it would be an overwhelming emotional experience (I had sooo much tissue stocked up in my tote bag), but instead I left feeling happy and light. I realized just how far I have come over the past few years, and especially the last eleven months. Honestly folks, I think my inner toning has exceeded my outer toning in the best of ways. Perhaps my sense of self was flabbier than my booty. Being surrounded in a room of lovely women who had the bravery to show up that day and take their first steps to not using food as a crutch, I recognized that while I have my moments, I look at food in a such a healthy way now.

Here are some excerpts from the notes I took:

KINDNESS: Don’t be abusive to yourself. Be kind to yourself. As long as you have judgment and shame-you won’t succeed. You can’t figure it out in your head; you must figure it out in your heart. If someone was beating you-you’d just want it to stop, so stop beating yourself up! If LOVE could speak it would want you to be good to yourself. Speak to yourself like LOVE would. In the beginning of my journey here I really didn’t know how to be nice to myself. One of the biggest changes I’ve made over this year is learning to be forgiving of myself when I fall off the perfection wagon or don’t make into a goal dress by a certain time. I still have to tune out that negative voice in my head sometimes that says, “You’re doing okay, but with those thighs, you’ll never wear skinny jeans,” or “look at (insert hot tv star here), she doesn’t have saddle bags and if you don’t get rid of yours you’ll never be put on camera.” I used to think things like this all of the time and beat myself up about it. Now I truly know and believe that this is crazy talk, and I am much gentler on myself.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOURSELF: One brave woman stood up and mentioned that she felt that long ago her body betrayed her. I can understand that. I am now in a place where I can befriend myself and compliment the goods things and feel blessed with certain aspects instead of feeling short changed in the physique department.

TASTE YOUR FOOD, LEARN WHAT YOU LIKE: One woman had a wonderful realization that she was going to treat herself like a baby and just like with her children test good foods to see if she likes them. What a perfect way to think of how to approach a new food life! She said when her kids were babies just learning to eat solid food she didn’t know what they liked, they didn’t know what they liked. So, she did the typical trial and error and figured out what they enjoyed eating. She said after reading Geneen’s book that she realized that she needs to approach healthy eating in the same way and try things to see if she really likes them. Makes sense. I’ve done this myself. The Naturally Thin way of approaching food touches on tasting your food, savoring it, and truly enjoying what you are eating. I’ve definitely stopped eating things that I don’t love. For me it started with movie theater popcorn. After a little it starts to be overly salty and not as enjoyable, so I would enjoy what I ate, but began stopping when it wasn’t at optimal enjoyment anymore. Baby steps.

BE WHO YOU ARE: Be who you are, you can’t live anyone else’s life. Pretty cut and dry. All of our experiences will be different. In my journey I’ve adopted an entire new animal product-free way of eating. This may not feel right for you (although of course I hope you give it a try), and some exercises that I love you won’t love and vice versa. I may feel happy at a certain weight or size, but you may feel happier in a different place.

MEDITATION: I was thrilled that we did some visualization work in the workshop. We imagined being in a favorite outdoor place. I went immediately to LAs Griffith Park where I’ve hiked with my besties. We imagined a table set with a feast just for us on it. Mine was a giant monastery table full of wooden baskets of grapes and cherry tomatoes and some strips of green bell pepper-all watery fruits and veggies. I lay down. I had a grape or two, but really I just lounged and rested and felt the wind. There was a lot of wind (typical in my mediations). It was cool outside but I wasn’t cold and uncomfortable (I am typically uncomfortably cold most of the time). I tried to look to see if there was anything else on my table like a casserole dish of mac and cheese, but it just wasn’t there. Many of the women there saw fruits and vegetables and fish and healthy food there. The meditation was to show us what our bodies truly wanted, not what our mouths or minds wanted. What I discovered in my meditation is that I am at peace with food and can calmly coexist with it now.

BEING THIN ISN’T THE SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEMS: Being thin and perfect doesn’t make my past of being a fat kid not have happened. Being thin doesn’t change my insecurities. Being truly kind to myself is a bit of a foreign process, but it’s the last step to feeling the contentment and true inner and outer fitness that I am hungry for. I love that I am in such a good place! (pats self on back) The parts of you that have been “damaged” will always be damaged. It doesn’t go away but you can give it less attention. Don’t get on the bus of unworthiness. You have the choice not to get on it. You don’t have to have something wrong with you. You don’t become a different person. If you eat when you are not hungry and are upset you just double the suffering.
INQUIRY: Always ask yourself why you want what you want when you want it. What happened to make you want to eat when you’re not hungry? What was the trigger? If want to eat when you aren’t hungry, ask yourself what you are actually hungry for.

THROWING FOOD AWAY: Throw it out or throw it in-either way it turns to waste. I love this. This is something I have incorporated this year. If I really want something “questionable” or a treat, I take some bites and throw the rest away. Yes, sometimes this means I spend more money than I should for a few indulgent bites, but I’d prefer the waste to be in the garbage than manifesting in a muffin top!

EATING WHEN YOU’RE NOT HUNGRY: You don’t have to eat just because it’s a traditional meal time. If you aren’t hungry, don’t eat. (just like Bethenny says)

By our 1pm lunch I was really hungry. The hotel and surrounding area had little to offer and there was no lunch provided (clearly to make us put the practices to use and make us all make choices on our own.) For lunch I finished a couple of walnuts and pretzels I had brought along and got a garden salad. Not ideal, but it met my watery food need and was the only animal product-free item they had to offer. I was still a little hungry, but knew I was satiated enough to make it through the last couple of hours. Me a year or two ago might have panicked a little, but I was a cool cucumber.

BLAMING OTHERS: If someone does something to you-they must undo do it. This won’t happen. It can’t happen. BUT if you don’t have a Velcro landing on you, nothing mean can hurt you. Sort of Geneen's take on the saying “I’m rubber, you’re glue…”

THIS WORK IS EXHAUSTING: We are familiar with struggling with food, just not this particular struggle. Yes when you first begin to really be present with food choices it’s tough work, but well worth it. I’m a prime example. While there are things I am working on, so much of it is habitual now.

GREAT QUESTION: What would our lives be like if we got the energy back that we spend struggling over food?

I encourage everyone to give this book a read!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Burger Time!

Recently while cleaning my kitchen I came across a recipe from a Curves newsletter that my mom sent me a while ago. I decided to make a couple of adjustments and make it my own. The results were a delight! It made six patties which I ate one of for dinner that night with veggies and a scoop of grains, one that I shared with my husband so he could taste the magic, and four that I brought for lunches during the week. I would bring a piece of my fave low carb soy flour based bread and cut it in half to toast. Then I would warm up my patty, find one of the many leftover mustard packs available in an office setting, and make a little sandwich to enjoy with some homeade soup. Perfect lunch!

Reinvented Curves Black Bean Burger

You will need:
1 can black beans (15oz), drained
1 Tbsp. tomato paste or salsa (I chose the salsa)
1/2 cup minced red onion
1/2 cup of bread crumbs (I used Panko)
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 egg lightly beaten (I substitued this with 1/4 cup of blended silken tofu)
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
6 whole grain hamburger buns (If you like)
6 cloves of garlic (my add)
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper (my add-red or green will do ya)
1 tsp Tony's Creole Seasoning (my add)
a dash or two of cumin for a bit of a chili taste (my add)
salt and pepper to taste

Corsely chop the beans in a food proessor or mash them with a fork. (I used the fork method and added a little warm water to help it along). Place the beans in a large mixing bowl and add all the ingredients except the cornmeal, oil, and buns. Mix it well and press the mixture into six patties.

Place the cornmeal in a shallow bowl or plate. Coat the patties on both sides with cornmeal. Set them on waxed paper.

In a large non stick skillet or heavy skillet coated with nonstick spray, heat up the oil over medium heat. Fry the patties for two or three minutes on each side, until they are browned. Drain them a paper towel.  Serve on the warm buns.

Mine came out delicious but a smidge dry. When I reheated them during the week I would add a tiny splash of water to my plate or bowl. That helped a lot. One day I added a pack of soy sauce to the patty before heating and that was great too (but of course upped the sodium). Next time I think I will add a little more silken tofu for extra moisture and possibly make five slightly large patties instead of six small ones. I am really looking forward to playing around with this recipe again. I think it may be fun to use it to make blackbean meatballs.

I found the egg subsitute idea here.
Have you had any buzz worthy healhty food creations lately?

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Month Eleven Results

Here are my latest measurements:

Mar 3rd Waist (at belly button): 29.75
April 3rd Waist (at belly button): 29.5
Down 1/4 inch! Down 4 inches total!

Mar 3rd Hips: 36 inches
April 3rd Hips: 35.5 inches
Down 1/2 inch! Down 3.5 inches total!

Mar 3rd Arm: 10.75 inches around
April 3rd Arm: 10.5 inches around
Down 1/4 inch! Down 1.25 inches total!

Mar 3rd Thigh: 21.75 inches around
April 3rd Thigh: 21.5 inches around
Down 1/4 inch! Down 1.5 inches total!

I am so thrilled. I had been worried about this month since I have been so busy in rehearsals at night! Could it be that I was just eating too little and pushing myself too hard? It seems as though this past month of doing shorter workouts or sometimes only getting in a walk actually helped me along? Did my bod just need time to process all that I've hit it with? Clearly I still haven't figured out the science of it all, and everyone seems to have a different opinion for what works best, but I've lost about two pounds this month and 1.5 inches of jiggle. Wow! Again, I will sing the praises of clean eating, calming deep breaths and meditation, doing the best I can, and making the choice not to beat myself up too much (surprisingly still tough!)
I'll leave you with this promising shot of me in a pair of shorts I bought a year ago for my honeymoon. They are big now! As we've gotten a small taste of warmth in Chicago the past few days, it's been really motivating to put on clothes from last year and see some results!
Happy Easter!