Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas from GA!

Merry Christmas!

So, I will admit that maintaining a blog is a bit more work than I thought it'd be. I changed the layout a bit to be a little more "professional", although it is still in the works. While the blog has been on my mind, I'm making a larger effort on enjoying my 3-week vacation in the sunny south with friends and family. I don't regret moving to Colorado last month, but I'm not sure if I'll ever get used to having to layer up in hats, gloves, boots, jackets, and two layers of pants just to go for a thirty minute bikeride. Sigh... Yes, as much as I whined, I do miss you, Florida...

Good things are coming in 2013. My first year out of college, although I have learned you're never really "out of school". Every day is a new lesson, a new learning experience. And I wouldn't have it any other way!

I'm looking forward to a new set of personal training clients, as well as new career as a physical therapist assistant. After jumping through many hoops to officially get my CO license, I am now finally ready to work. In the meantime, I am spending time with my lovely boyfriend, Mark, and his Georgia family. I have been eating an excessive amount of animal flesh (fortunately my boyfriend's family is "okay" with us picking at the turkey carcass like animals) and a bit too much rum (with iced coffee), sleeping in until nearly 11am every morning, and doing "unstuctured" workouts to keep myself feeling good. So far, I've gotten in a ~2hr hike through the Palatka, Florida gardens with my father, a 90 minute ride on Jacksonville beach (wow did I miss that!), a killer weight lifting session in dad's garage gym (still not used to Colorado altitude, so I kicked major ass that day), a morning run in the brisk Georgia air with my man (with our matching Vibrams!), a bodyweight circuit of jump squats, dips, and elevated push-ups (in the pouring rain!), and completing over 100 push-ups throughout the day. In the next week, I'm hoping to get in a 90 minute yoga session, perhaps utilize a 5$ day pass for the local gym, complete 50-100 chin-ups in a day on the rugged bar in the backyard, and throw in another run or two for good measure. Who said it's hard to exercise on vacation? You have more time than ever, you've just got to get creative!

Palatka, Florida
I've also condensed my "feeding window", or the time that I am consuming food, from about 12pm to 6pm (brunch and dinner). Keeping myself on this schedule reduces the chance of mindless snacking on "off-hours" and eating only when I'm hungry. I've been mostly eating "low-carb" to reduce the cravings to consume holiday sweets, which means I've been eating a lot of chicken skin, bacon, and fatty sausage. My favorite sweet indulgence so far has been these flattened bananas that my boyfriend surprised me with from Trader Joe's. They are literally just flattened bananas, but they're delicious and have a good texture. I'd never buy them at home, but they're a good treat to have for the holidays if you're tempted by other sweets. Literally, just bananas!
I don't focus much on food during the holidays anyway, but moreso on completely relaxing and spending time with the people that I love. I feel INCREDIBLY fortunate to have such great people in my life. I was fortunate enough to visit my father, my "Jacksonville family", my classmates and old roommates/friends, and my boyfriend's family for this holiday season. I couldn't ASK for a better holiday! Hope you all are enjoying the season as much as I am!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finding My Way...

I wanted to elaborate on the phases of fitness and nutrition that I've taken since starting my journey as a self-conscious sophomore in highschool. Can you relate?

The "Healthy" (Excessive) Way
Eat less and move more. Consume low or non-fat (specifically saturated fat) "heart-healthy" products like whole grain bread, margarine, bland cereal, fat-free dairy, and canned soups. Do a LOT of cardio. As a female, don't lift heavy weight because this will result in bulky, unsightly muscle. Continue until you experience frequent IBS symptoms, hair thinning, and irregular menstruation cycles.

The Paleo "Met-Con" Junkie
Eat only real foods; no grains, dairy, legumes, soy, vegetable oils. In the newbie phase, this may include consuming a happy amount of lara bars, dried fruit, and generous amounts of sunflower nut butter. Eat skinless chicken breast and egg whites because animal fat is still a little scary. Do "met-con" (metabolic conditioning) Crossfit workouts 4-5x/week like your freaking life depended on it. Go hard, fast, and intense. Sprint up hills, jump up and off boxes, do push-ups until you drop, and then repeat until you can't. Continue until you experience an increase in injuries, total exhaustion, and crazy exercise addiction.

The Paleo Weight-Lifting Beast Woman
Continue to eat real foods, but eat low-carb (30-70g per day) and fattier cuts of meat. Enjoy chuck roast, pork shoulders and chicken skin. Get a gym membership already and lift progressively heavier weights on compound movements like the back squat, deadlift, overhead press, chin-ups, lunges, and weighted push-ups. Nix all cardio because this will interfere with strength gains. Continue until you gain five pounds of mostly muscle (and therefore a very pleasant change in body composition,) intimidate all the men in your gym by your abilities (and demand their respect,) and start focusing on how much weight you've been adding to the bar than the weight on the scale.

The Burnt-Out Over Achiever
Continue to add weight to the bar and train regardless of outside factors (stress, lack of sleep, poor nutrition.) Fail to realize that adding more weight to the bar, regardless of whether "ready" or not, will require more days of recovery. Fail to schedule in "active recovery days" such as foam rolling, stretching, or meditation during a particularly stressful fifteen months. Continue until you experience restless sleep, lack of interest in training, and a "cortisol" belly (weight gain around the belly button.) Get really upset and try interventions to "get back on track" such as intermittent fasting, reducing carbohydrates even lower, and adding former lover, Mr. Met-Con, to the end of strength training sessions (which all inherently add more stress to the body.)

The Patient Learner
Begin to listen, respect, and accept any changes in your body regardless of how undesirable they may be. Evaluate frequently and focus on the way you feel rather than inappropriately pushing for a PR (personal record) on a bad day. Make small changes (like going to sleep an hour earlier) that can be maintained for at least 4-6 weeks before adding in a new intervention. Instead of focusing on carbs/fat/calories, focus on consuming the most nutrient-dense foods possible (fermented food, bone broth, organ meats, vegetables) in sufficient quantities. Participate in yoga, meditation, slow movement throughout the day, and seemingly "unproductive" activities like lying outside in the sunshine, listening to your favorite album, or cuddling a ridiculous amount with your significant other.

Did each of my phases work for awhile? Yes, and then they slowly destroyed me. I felt awesome as a Paleo Met-Con Junkie, but if I tried that now then I might as well just grind my poor adrenal glands into a pulp. In all honesty, my workouts still aren't anywhere near what they used to be (or what I think they "should" be,) but I'm working with it. This is where I think it's truly important to hire a trainer, coach, mentor, whatever. Sometimes you can't see the "forest for the trees" because you're blindsighted by your must-have goals and neglect to see that your chosen path may have some pretty dire consequences. Sometimes you really need that objective point of view to scream, LISTEN!!!

I'll be writing another post on "evangelism" and how being too sold on an idea or concept may also breed an unhealty, and perhaps damaging, quest for optimal "health". ...