Monday, March 29, 2010

Weddings and Babies

It seems that when you reach a certain age, all of your friends and perhaps yourself, are getting married and having babies. If you're not doing one of these things, you're being asked when you plan to do one of these things. As if they are the end-all be-all of life. Which leaves me asking the question - are those my only options? Is that all there is?

I don't want kids. I don't have a problem with them per se, I just don't have a strong desire to have any of my own. When I say this to people, the general reaction is like "You don't want kids...ever?" That is often followed up by "Well, do you wanna get married?" And I'm not sure that I do. However, I don't like the connotation that if I do get married - babies are inevitably a part of the equation. It's as if they're saying "good luck finding a husband if you don't want kids."

If marriage and babies are for you, then that's great. I'm happy for you. I have zero problem with either one. I just don't know that they are for me. As far as marriage goes - I feel like a lot of people get married simply because they don't want to be alone. Well, I don't have a problem with being alone. Sure, it can get lonely at times, but I'd rather be alone than be with someone just so I have someone. The prospect of spending every single day with someone for the rest of my life seems pretty daunting. I mean, there's a lot of times I like being by myself. I like only having to spend MY money on ME. I like making decisions without needing to consult someone else because it inolves them too. I like how easy it is to do my taxes. Most of all, I like not being required to put up with someone else's bullshit.

As far as babies go, well I've never been much impressed with them. While everyone else is "oohing" and "aahing" and commenting on how cute they are, I'm hoping the parents will figure out a way to make that baby shut the hell up and stop screaming. And newborns...really...none of them are cute. Not a one. I don't care what you say, no human covered in blood and secretions who is purple, wrinkly, slimy and crying is cute. Aside from that, you're telling me that there is WORSE pain than being on my period? It gets multiple times worse? Why would I want to put myself through that voluntarily? I already have no choice with the monthly pain, why would I want that pain multiplied to ANY degree?

I can barely afford to pay for me to live, I can't fathom the amount of money a child costs. It's seriously mind blowing. And then you have to hope and pray that nothing crazy happens to them in their lifetime. Somthing like getting snatched from the playground, or abused, or shot in a classroom - any of the insane things that happen to children nowadays.

I don't know, it might be weird but I've never been one of those girls who dreamed of living in a house with a white picket fence, being married to a doctor and having 2.4 children. Of course I've dreamed of a wedding - but that's because it involves me wearing a pretty dress, being the center of attention and planning an epic party. But trust, I'll figure out a way to do that without a groom.

I'm quite aware that my opinions may change. Perhaps one day, I'll meet someone who makes me all googly-eyed and forget all rationality and promise the rest of my days to him and have 4 of his children. I'm sure it's a possibility. But as for the moment, I'm really ok with the idea of living in a house by myself with two dogs.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Baby Steps

Although there are only a handful of things that I'm working on improving in my life, the work it takes to improve all of these things can sometimes be overwhelming. I try to keep reminding myself that I don't have to accomplish anything overnight. When I try to focus on the steps that will get me to where I need to be instead of always taking in the big picture, it helps.

I have some debt to pay off. Paying down debt amidst living expenses and "luxury" money is tough. Typically my "luxury" money is used for groceries and gas. But I do believe you have to invest in things that are important as well as "splurging" here and there. My investments include work out clothes that fit (since the old ones are too big, yay!), my next work out program - INSANITY, and my meal replacement SHAKEOLOGY. I know to some people - these seem like frivolous things to spend money on, but these are all contributing to me working on goals that I've set. It just so happens that most of my goals require financial investment.

Of course losing weight is a huge goal of mine. As I mentioned above, I'm investing in it financially as well as physically. I know where I want my body to be and how I want it to look. It does feel like it's taking longer than it should, but I have to focus on my day to day efforts. I have to focus on the fact that I did pull ups for the first time last week. And on the fact that I ran for 50 minutes straight. I have to focus on the fact that I'm still losing inches, even if it's only one or two at a time.

My hair has grown. I wouldn't consider it long, and it's definitely not as thick as when I was younger. But it has grown. As evidenced by the fact that the back used to be bleached from the root, and now it's all my natural color.

Job hunting is daunting, especially in this economy. Applying for job after job and hearing NOTHING in return can really wear on your self esteem. It makes you wonder, start asking questions - is my resume horrible? Am I unqualified for everything? But you have to keep trying - or stay at the job you're miserable at.

I've started going to church again. I was mainly trying to find a place where I felt like it actually related to my modern life. The group is really nice and inviting and not judgemental at all. However, I sometimes just feel "not as holy" if that makes sense. When the pastor talks about living your life for God, that seems like a pretty tall order. Aren't THOSE Christians really boring? Wouldn't my life be really boring? I do believe in God and I am a Christian, but sometimes the rules that go along with that seem pretty difficult to follow.

Luckily, I am currently employed. So I don't NEED a new job this second. I want one, but for the time being I'm not desperate. I'm making more than the minimum payment on my debt. I want it all to go away right now. I would love to be debt free. But my credit score is good and I'm making gains toward getting things paid off. Does my hair grow slower than everyone else's? Sure feels like it. But I do have hair, and it is growing albeit slower than I'd like. I'm putting effort into all of the areas of my life that I want to change. I'm not just sitting back and wishing for a difference. I am taking the necessary steps that will eventually lead me to reach my goals. Baby steps, though they may be, are still moving me forward.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"I Don't Wanna Get Too Bulky"

I just gotta get this off my chest - because it makes me crazy. I hear SO many women say they don't want to lift weights or do P90X because they don't want to get too bulky. Honestly, how many fit and in shape women do you know PERSONALLY that you would describe as bulky? Ok, how many have you seen - outside of fitness magazines and competitions?

I personally know 2 women who compete professionally, and they are the closest thing I've seen to "bulky". Ladies, you're not going to pick up a weight and all of the sudden turn into a professional male wrestler. It doesn't work that way. Our bodies were not made to get large like that. There is so much work and effort and supplements that you would have to purposely invest to manipulate your muscles to a point that could be described as "bulky". It's not gonna happen by accident. It's certainly not gonna happen by you picking up a 15lb. dumbbell.

Excuse #2 - I don't really need to build muscle, I just want to lose weight

Guess what? Muscle burns fat. Yup, you heard me. So when you're sitting at your desk at work, doing nothing - your muscles are burning fat. The more muscle you have, the more efficiently that fat is burned. That's why lots of women who are slim also have very toned muscles. Those muscles helped them get slim. And how do you get toned muscles? You need to lift weights. Or - use your own body weight as resistance.

Take it from someone who knows.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Personal Best!

I did not feel like working out tonight. I felt tired and stressed and bloated and I really just wanted to curl up in bed and watch TV. So I hemmed and hawed and procrastinated, but I finally got my butt out the door and to the gym.

I've been working on improving my cardio-vascular endurance. It's one of my weaker points and I'm especially trying to prep to start Insanity. There's a couple ways to work on your endurance - the method I'm going with is just trying to jog/run for long periods of time without breaks. I remember the first time I managed a 15 minute jog without stopping. At the time, it was the longest I'd gone actally jogging and not stopping and it was AWESOME. More recently, I've been able to get up to 25 and 30 minutes of continuous jogging with no breaks. Improvement is happening.

So tonight, I figured I'd just do a half hour on the treadmill and then a half on the elliptical. The elliptical is way easier and I don't count it towards endurance because it's too easy to vary speed. I do ten minutes of walking on an incline as a warm-up, then bring the incline down to 2.0 and jog at around 5.0 speed, increasing by 0.1 every 5 minutes. The last 5 minutes I go up by 0.2 every minute so I end with a "kick". Knowing I was doing less than my usual 45 minutes - I started the jog at 5.3. By the time I hit 29 minutes and 5.6 speed, I felt really good. I decided to keep going and upped the time to 45 minutes. Well, at 44 minutes and 5.9 speed, I thought "How awesome would it be if I could make it to 60?" So that's what I did. At 45 minutes, I upped the speed to 6.0, at 50 minutes to 6.1, at 55 minutes to 6.2 and knowing that I've done a kick of at least 7.0 before - at 55 minutes I started upping the speed in increments of 0.1 every 30 seconds. In the 59th minute, I upped it every 20 seconds.

I didn't stop or slow down once in the entire hour! I started running at a 5.3 and ended the run at 7.2! This is a new personal best for me. The fastest and longest I've EVER run. And that includes doing the mile run in high school. I'm kind of in shock and disbelief. Like, I don't know if I could do that again. I don't know how I did it in the first place! I'm hoping I can be consistent, and of course get better. So maybe I'll make it past day one of Insanity.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I'm Sorry, But That's A Size What?

I refuse to buy anything in a size large. It's a matter of principal. I was a large for so long, that now I just don't want anything that says "large". But I fully expect to be a medium in most things - unless it's a line of clothing that runs big. There are very few things that I purposely wear loose, it's just not my style. However - in some of the teeny bopper stores that I still shop in (hey, someone thought I was 22 this weekend - so why not) I understand that the clothes are made for a younger demographic and tend to run a little smaller.

So, needless to say I went shopping this weekend. A very dangerous field for me since I have little self control. I wanted to find some sweatshirts to wear to and from the gym. I have some now - but they're like sweatshirts I actually like to wear for fashion and I don't want them forever smelling like sweat, as will happen with any gym clothes. I managed to resist buying any new jeans at Lucky Brand, which believe me - is not easy. I was able to remind myself that I don't want/need any more jeans at my current size. I really have plenty that fit me now, I want some that will fit new me. Size 4 me. Well, Lucky Brand size 4 anyway - which is basically a real size 6.

But I digress.

To get to the point, I bought a couple sweatshirts and a shirt-dress. Shirts = size XS. Shirt-dress - size small. My gut reaction when I fit clothing that small is to think - it must run big. I can't be an actual small or x-small in clothes designed for teenagers. No one with hips, thighs and a butt this large could truly be a small. But, here it is....

It makes me wonder how other people see me. I suppose I could have a case of body dysmorphia. I look in the mirror and only see what needs fixing, as opposed to what looks good. I'm still a little disbelieving. A couple size smalls does not a small girl make. But it could make a small girl in the making.

Friday, March 12, 2010

No Muffins For Me, Thx

So I noticed something today, or should I say I've been noticing something lately. Though I am still disappointed with my reflection and the scale - I must admit I have passed a milestone. One of my major issues is that my thighs are industry-standard one size larger in proportion to my waist. This means, in order to find pants that fit me - they have to fit my thighs and not so much my waist, making them one size too large for my waist. The only realy way to fix this is belts. Wearing the belt tight enough to keep the pants up creates the dreaded muffin top. Unlike some women, who are completely oblivious to this ridiculous orb of fat that sits on top of their jeans - I am ever concious of my muffin top. I can feel it sitting on top of my pants especially when I'm wearing a belt. I can usually strategically have my pants sitting in just such a way, that the muffin top situation is avoided. However, when I sit down for long periods of time (which is all the time at my stupid sit down do nothing job) the strategic placement of my pants shifts. So every time I stand up, I have to re-adjust to hide the muffin top.

My office is covered in mirrors at every corner - so there's no forgetting to cover the muffin top. This week - I have not had to adjust my pants at all. Today, I'm wearing one of the most epic examples of pants that fit my thighs and not my waist. (Side note - American Eagle pants fit me HORRIBLY! I should stop buying them. Lucky Brand Jeans come the closest to a real fit - particularly the Lolas. Anywhoo......) I kind of had to double check a couple times so far this morning. I just can't believe that I don't have to re-adjust to hide my muffin top! Don't get me wrong, it's still there. I absolutely still have a spare tire of flab that NEEDS to go, but since it's smaller it's not noticeable under my sweater. That's the advantage to cooler weather.

So, while I'm still not where I want to be - I will fully acknowledge this as a milestone in my journey. Or a pit-stop, on the way to banishing the muffin top for good.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Magic Pills"

Some people have asked me about taking weight loss supplements and here's my take. Firstly, I want to make the distinction between weight loss supplements and diet pills. As someone who's tried both, this is my opinion.

Diet pills are crap. Diet pills are those things that say you take two of them a day and don't diet or exercise ever and you'll lose weight. They say they make you feel fuller or expand in you stomach or some crazy crap like that. These kinds of things work for 2% of the population and those are the people that will basically starve themselves with or without the pills - so it's not the pills making them lose weight, it's them deciding not to eat. I would never take a diet pill that "made me feel fuller" because I know the key to long lasting weight loss isn't simply eating less. It's eating the right amount of the right things.

Weight loss supplements are those classified as ones that help you lose weight by boosting metabolism - so you burn more and increasing energy - so you can do more. Two popular supplements are Hydroxycut and Xenadrine. I have taken both of these in different generations of their conception. I'm pretty sure the kind I used to take have since been re-called, but hey - I'm still here. Do I think these pills help you lose weight? For me personally - no. I do not. What these pills have done for me is boosted my energy level enabling me to have killer workouts. I have never been someone who was drastically affected by sugar. Aside from too much of it hurting my teeth, it doesn't make me hyper or keep me awake. But nothing else in my body works the same as it does for everyone else, so I'm not surprised. I'm not really sure of caffeine's affect on me because I don't drink coffee or dark sodas. However, taking hydroxycut before a workout definitely gives me a huge boost of energy. Their new formula has done away with all the harmful, sketchy stuff that got it pulled from shelves.

Now - I'm not saying these supplements are for everyone. Some people can feel very jittery and on edge with these pills. I used to feel that way when I would first start taking them, but now I avoid that by starting with one pill at a time and working my way up. They can also make you feel nauseous or give you the runs. The latter is not a problem for me and I only feel sick if I take them without working out - which is why I ONLY take them before a workout. I pretty much have to work out once I've taken them because I have all this energy which will build up in my stomach if I don't get it out on a treadmill.

So am I saying you should take these? No, I said it's not for everyone. Am I saying that I've lost 20 pounds in 10 weeks using Hydroxycut? Absolutely not. It doesn't work that way for most people. What I am saying is that I use it as one of the many tools in my fitness journey. I drink protein to help maintain my muscles, I take a multi-vitamin to aid in overall health, and I use hydroxycut to help me have energy to do a really awesome workout. I don't like to use them for too long a period of time. A)I don't want to become dependent and B)I think they stop working after a certain period of time. Then I'll stop taking them, forget they exist and re-discover them a couple years later when I need them.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Things Are Clearing Up...

The weather has been getting warmer, the sun is rising earlier and setting later and the skies are clearer. Thank God spring is on its way. I think we all could use the mood lifter. The sun being up earlier makes it much easier to get up early for my workouts in the morning. The sun setting later makes it seem like I'm getting much more done with my day. And I think my skin is clearing up with the weather too!

Well - I'm actually not sure if it's due to the weather or due to the GNC Hair, Skin and Nails vitamins I'm taking. I do remember that my skin looks much clearer in the summertime, but is also more oily. I've yet to find a regimen that I feel works really well for my skin. I guess that ship has sailed for a winter regimen, time to work on a summertime one. I was considering trying Bare Minerals - but it looks like that can hold off until the fall. Thank God, because all of my money is being diverted into fitness issues at the moment: groceries, new workout clothes (the old ones are gettin' big -yay), another workout program and supplements.

When I finish this round of P90X, I'll be starting Insanity. I know it's gonna be incredibly difficult but I'm ready for something crazy so long as it works. My weight loss progress is slow, but changes are happening. Little by little, I'm gettin' there. My skin seems to be getting better - I'm gonna give the GNC pills one more bottle to see how they're working. My hair - eh - it's still thinner than I'd like and I'm not seeing crazy amounts of growth. But I think it's grown back out to where it was before I chopped it (2 years ago! Never Again!)Now, I just need it to grow longer and grow in thicker. Money? Mmm, still don't have enough of that - but I am managing to pay off my debt on a schedule and still have enough for the things I need/want. Or at least I have the ability to save up for those things. Still working on finding the new job - that's probably the toughest thing of all right now.

All in all, I'm ready for spring and whatever new challenges it may bring.

Monday, March 8, 2010

"Into each life...

some rain must fall. Some days must be dark and dreary."
The Rainy Day, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This was the quote I had printed with my Senior Portrait in my yearbook 11 years ago. It still holds true and still means to me now what it meant then. Obviously, not much in my life has changed. I remember someone commenting on how depressing the quote was and remember being surprised by them feeling that way. Depressing? That wasn't how I meant it at all. It's a fact of life. If calling it to your attention is depressing, you must live a very happy, blessed and trouble-free life. Some days must be dark and dreary. Not every single day of your life will be perfect. Sometimes, bad things happen that make you sad. Fact. If anything, I found it to be a hopeful statement. If you take the quote in the context of the poem it was written in, it's making a universal statement. The line that precedes this famous quote is "Thy fate is the common fate of all." Basically saying that - you know what, you're having a bad day. Everybody has bad days sometimes and it's o.k.

I'm having one of those days today. Everything seems to have been going to crap for me since I woke up - late, this morning. I keep trying to stay positive and move on, but with every positive thought comes another negative thing happening in my day. I'm just not strong enough to shoulder all of the outside forces affecting my reality. It's too much.

What I really want to do is eat a big bowl of ice cream and chocolate and peanut butter and lay in bed and cry and watch movies. And add popcorn while you're at it. In reality, would one day of binging on sweets completely kill my diet? Well, speaking long term - no. Would eating and watching movies do anything to help my mood? MMM, it might - but then again it might not. Would it fix any of the problems that are causing my terrible day? No. But will sticking to my diet and working out fix any of those problems either? No. It's kind of a draw there.

I'm having a horrible day. And I really want to make myself feel better with dairy and chocolate and salt. But I have the presence of mind to know that those things ultimately won't make me feel better. Or will only do so temporarily. And that though unconnected to my current state of mind and my current issues, sticking to my diet and working out today will be better for me in the long run. I'll be happy at the end of the week that I stayed the course, even if I may not feel like it today.

I certainly hope tomorrow is a better day for me.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Challenge Myself

So, I am starting Phase 3 of P90X. This phase is 5 weeks long. So far - on this round of the X, I have lost 6 pounds. But really, most of that has come from the change in my eating habits. So for this last phase, I am really trying to "bring it" in the kitchen as well as in the workouts. I'm still kind of trial and erroring with how many calories I should have a day, but we'll see what happens.

Here, for your viewing pleasure and for my accountability is what my meal plan will consist of for the next five weeks. This is my own personal food challenge, but I invite ANYONE to join me if they'd like :) The calorie intake can be anywhere from 1500 to 1700, depending on the number of workouts that day and on how I feel. When my body tells me I'm truly hungry, I listen to it.

My P90X Phase 3 Diet
All food must be from the top two tiers of Michi's ladder
No dairy
No salt
I get one cheat day per week to eat what I want (I wouldn't make it without this)

Pre-Morning Resistance Workout: Banana with almond butter

Post-Morning Workout: Whey protein, blueberries & flaxseed oil
(OR Shakeology if I order it anytime soon)

Breakfast: Scrambled egg whites with spinach, corn, onion and pepper ~ either on tomato, mustard and veggie chicken pattty
on tomato, avocado and whole grain flatbread

Snack: rye crisps with hummus
veggies and hummus
brown rice cakes and peanut butter

Lunch: stir fry veggies, brown rice, black beans, protein (chicken, tuna, salmon)
protein (chicken, tuna, salmon) broccoli or green beans, sweet potato

Snack: brown rice cakes with peanut butter
carrots with peanut butter or hummus

Dinner: salad greens, green pepper, hard boiled egg whites, olives and protein(chicken, tuna, salmon) with fat-free, sugar-free, everything free dressing

Post-Evening Workout: Casein protein with almond milk and strawberries

Quick-Grab Options: whole wheat bagel, oatmeal, veggie burger, peanuts, apple

Well, there it is folks. My food layout for the next 5 weeks. As my coach says, if you fail to plan - you plan to fail. Let me know if you have any questions/suggestions.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

You Need A Mantra

Recently, I've been waking up at 5am to fit my second workout into the day. I am NOT a morning person. Not in the slightest. In fact, DO NOT attempt to conversate with me before I've had breakfast or before 9am, whichever happens first. You would think that after 29 years, my mother of all people would have realized this about me. And yet, she repeatedly attempts to start conversations with me at 8 am and then wonders why I'm so pissy. I remind her of this constantly, and change. I hope it's not Alzheimer's.

Anywho, I do not enjoy waking up early - but I do it. I'm not the hugest fan of not being able to eat what I want, whenever I want and instead counting calories and tracking carbs - but I do it. I don't neccessarily want to work out every day, twice a day - but I do it. Is it because I'm crazy? Perhaps. But more because I know what I want and I know what it will take to get there and I'm willing to work for it. It's worth it to me.

What's it worth to you?

I have several phrases, sayings, "mantras" if you will, that come to mind during my fitness struggles. Some of them may seem corny to you as other people's seem to me. That's ok. Get your own. What phrase is really gonna hit home for you and cause you to work harder? "What's it worth to you?" Is one of my favorites. Is it worth me waking up at 5am and working out twice a day if it will eventually get me in a size 4? - YES. Is it worth forgoing that piece of chocolate that I will literally remove my left arm for if I can drop an extra pound? - YES. This is what it's worth for ME. It does not have to apply to you, but when it comes to the amount of dedication you're willing to put in, ask yourself - What is achieving my goal worth to me?

You don't have to like it, you just have to do it.

It's a misconception that I love working out. Sometimes, I do. Sometimes, I really enjoy being on the treadmill or kickboxing. Sometimes - I hate it. Sometimes, I want to rip Tony Horton's head of his muscley body and frequently, I'd like to punch Debbie Sieber's in her rock hard gut. You can bitch and moan and whine as much as you want to. You just have to do the work. You don't have to be happy about it all of the time, but you have to do it regardless. Think about it as when you were young and your parents made you clean your room. Whether you agreed with them or not - it had to happen. Then once it's done, you get your allowance and everyone is happy. Only instead of an allowance, you get an awesome body - WIN!

"You gots to work and deserve it, earn it to own it."

That one's from G. Love and Special Sauce. That's for when I sing to myself. It's pretty self-explanitory.

"Change is a process."

This one is from my BeachBody coach and I love it. You are not going to go from a size 10 to a size 2 in a month. Not healthily and not permanently anyway. It takes time. You're also not gonna go from a sedentary lifestyle to the workout and diet queen/king in a week. Just do a litle at a time and always do your best.

If you put in the work, change will come

So many people kid themselves as to the effort they're making. They'll say things like "But I worked out and stuck to my diet this week and saw NO results! I mean, I missed ONE workout and I cheated on my diet here and there, but STILL $%#$^" I hate to break it to you - but to a certain degree - that skipped workout and those litte cheats count! They don't count to a degree that little slip-ups will kill your results. But if you're on a steady regimen that your body is used to, every litte thing counts. You probably still made progress - just not as much as you would have if you hadn't cheated. And one little slip up is not gonna stop your progress. If you are constantly working, refining and putting in the effort - it's not possible that you'll see no results. But you have to be honest with yourself and you have to put in the work.

I hope this helps. I hope that finding a mantra will do as much for you as it does for me. Often, I'm the own voice inside my head guilt-tripping myself to do better, to do more, to try harder, to work harder and to push farther. After all,

No one else is gonna do it for you.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Chain (Ingrid Michaelson cover)

I like to sing :)