Sunday, May 03, 2009
Wow, what can I say about the Sparkpeople Convention that hasn't been echoed by everyone else who attended? It was an amazing experience, with so many great lessons to be learned from the people there!
I got to meet up with the volunteers and staff members the day before the convention. Spark Guy Chris, Coach Nicole, Dietitian Becky, Expert Jenny... these people were wonderful, warm, and genuine. It was like meeting Spark Celebrities! It was so great to get a chance to hear them and converse with them for a few moments before the hectic race got under way. It was also super to see familiar faces from the message boards at Spark San Diego Team- Leah (how I missed her!), Diane, Felicia, Violet, Jocelyn... Awesome ladies!
The next day was convention day! I'm glad the media-induced hyper-panic about the swine flu couldn't keep these fellow Sparks away! Spark Guy Chris started off the morning with his story. It was a great story to hear... truly inspirational. Start with 10 minutes of activity a day... It was the birth of the Spark Streak! :-) After that we had the real-life member panelists do their presentations. This was particularly touching. They told us their stories- from their weight gain, to feeling terrible about themselves, to doing something about it, to their successes, triumphs, setbacks, etc. There were more than a few tears shed! The audience was given an opportunity to ask questions for tips and advice. The ladies shared some truly invaluable ideas with the crowd- Jocelyn's (Wolfkitty) point about holiday eating not being "special" eating was right on! There will always be another holiday, another opportunity to eat those foods. Is Thanksgiving going to be the last time you'll have your turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc? NO! It won't be. There will be a Thanksgiving every year. Dana (Zircadia) emphasized portion control awareness and self-control during holidays. Don't deprive yourself of holiday foods, but be aware of your hunger level. If you're full, stop eating! If you want a piece of pecan pie, eat it! Just eat one piece. And everyone on the panel emphasized not beating yourself up for your "bumps in the road". Everyone is going to mess up. Don't dwell on it. Just move on. Don't convince yourself that you have already screwed up once and justify letting yourself screw up the rest of the day. Jocelyn said "I'm not a member of the Start-Over Club. I don't have do-overs." Just accept that you are human and prone to human compulsions. Don't fix the situation later. Fix it now. No do-overs, just keep going. Leah's (Spring4Fal) enthusiasm is so contagious! She wants to see everyone succeed and she puts herself out there to help you! Just take the first step if you need it and reach out!
The next speaker was Fitness Maven Nancy Howard. She was a bubbly, warm woman with a cheery Texas accent! She's an avid runner. She gave us tips and ideas about working out. Her message of "something is better than nothing" fits perfectly well with the idea of Spark Guy's streak. If all you have time for is 10 minutes of exercise, it's better than doing nothing with those 10 minutes. So, do something! Each time, do something! She said that we are all athletes. We just need to channel our inner athlete and get moving! Also, she said when it comes to working out on a treadmill, never run/walk on less than 2% or 3% incline. She indicated that studies have shown a 0% incline is equivalent to walking DOWN a hill! That leaves you more susceptible to injury like shin splints and whatnot. Also, alternating inclines and speeds during your workout is more like walking naturally outdoors.
After Nancy's presentation was Food Guru Becky Hand. She had lots of fun handouts for us to do during her presentation. Obviously, I've scanned one of them. I have it hanging on my fridge! (Which was her intention, I'm sure!) Anyway, aside from some obsessive-compulsive kitchen ideas ;-) (alphabetize and mega-organize your spices and pantry by building your own specialty shelves!) she had several good points regarding eating and nutrition. Canned and frozen items are just fine! It doesn't always have to be fresh! Sit down and plan out a weekly dinner menu. No joke! It helps not only the organization process, but it keeps you on track and makes sure you make healthy, good decisions regarding meals instead of leaving it up to chance at the last minute. Reduce the junk! My eating style (as per the results of the quiz) is "Scratch is where it's at!" meaning, I make most of my meals at home and try new recipes, have several spices in my spice rack (20 or more), and sit at a table to eat. I don't usually practice a grab and go lifestyle, with ready made meals and I was almost borderline "Mix it, Fix it" where I do a combo of eating out and eating in. In general I'm a home meal type of gal. Lately, thanks to my lack of groceries, I'm a mixed eat in/out gal. My eating personality scored high on both Emotional and Relationship eater, but wasn't too far off for Stress and Pleasure eater, either. Almost even across the board, actually. Also, I think I spaced out what a "Food Phantom" was... can anyone fill me in? :-S Her next message was 4 mindful bites. Take your time with eating those first four bites of food. Pause and savor each bite. Put down the fork. Close your eyes. Focus on what is in your mouth- taste, temperature, texture. Eat to live, not live to eat. Also,
The next presentation was from Life Coach Cheryl Richardson. As rousing and important as all the presentations were this day, I wish hers was longer. She had so many great things to say about "Toxic People" in your life. Even if they aren't directly derailing your success as a new, healthy, maybe skinny person, they can inadvertently do so. Especially for stress/emotional eaters! Toxic people don't make you feel good, so why keep 'em around? They "puke" their stress and toxin on you, and you take it in and turn it into your own. Its hard to tell these people, especially if they're family, about their behavior and how it affects you, but it is highly super important that you do! Its YOUR LIFE. They do not get control or power over you! That's no way to live! If its too difficult to talk to them because they drain you of your life force, something needs to change. Don't give them attitude, don't give them excuses, don't explain yourself, don't dismiss their behavior (whether they claim to be joking or not). Be neutral, but be firm. The less words you say to them, the better. Anything you say beyond "I do not like it when you do/say/act like this" is more fuel for them to come back at you with the same thing or something worse. Keep it short and sweet. And give them three small chances. If they say it again, gently remind them you do not appreciate their behavior/comments. If they do it a third time, walk away. Let them know you will not be victim to their spew/puke/toxin any more. Its not fair for you to have to accommodate them when they make you feel so horrible. They aren't accommodating you and they get to make you feel horrible while they still feel good. F*** that!!!
Spark Guy ended the day for us by previewing the new Sparkpeople book, entitled "The Spark" due out December 29th of this year! How awesome is that?! Finally, a book! Its got great stories from people, as well as tips, advice, etc. It looks like it'll be a must-read! I'm very excited about it. I wish I could remember more, but there was sooo much information, and it was the end of the day, and I was simply exhausted by that time. A final guest speaker, who's name I regret I do not remember, came up and briefly shared her story. Then, Spark Guy said his good-byes and that was it!
It was an incredible day. I just felt empowered and blessed and part of a big family of people with similar health/fitness goals as I did. It was amazing!!! I left there with lots of goodies! A sweet tote bag, 3 shirts (gratis), a calendar, a water bottle, one of them cute technical shirts!, SparkGoodies from a few people, and lessons, tips, and advice I can and will apply to my own journey.
Feel free, for those who have actually read this far, to add your favorite lessons learned, correct anything I got wrong, or share your favorite memory. Put up your pics of the convention and be sure to upload them to the Flickr group! (See convention team page for the link)
I lost 3 inches in my hips, waist, and neck this month. I gained??? 1 inch in my bust! Woo!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
So, for my Spark Team, we've all decided to select a clothing item that we currently own that does not fit and make it a motivator to get back into it. I happen to have two items. And, since I'm not able to sleep, I will now commence posting my embarrassing pictures to track my progress in these items.
The first is a cocktail dress I bought and wore to a charity event a few years ago. It USED to look fabulous on me (as you can see, sort of).
The next item are a pair of Dickies Girl pinstripe pants. I had wanted a pair for FOREVER and I finally lost a ton of weight in Boston and was able to get a pair. Now... THIS:
So, there's my humbling experience in my time of sleepless crankiness. I gotta say, maybe its just me PMSing, struggling with change, my lack of sleep, intensely high stress level, disappointing weigh-in yesterday (gained BACK 4lbs, WTF!!!), poor eyesight without corrective lenses, fluctuating weather, posting extremely unflattering pics of myself for all of Spark to see... But, is there a way to make a team private by invitation only? Perhaps I'm skeptical from the last experience, but the point of our newly revamped team is so that each member functions as a constant support for the others. The idea of having another willy-nilly person show up and then decide they don't want in is simply irritating me right now. I learned my lesson after a year of being on Spark... if I'm not going to actively participate in a team, don't join it. We set down rules, goals, and a very well thought out plan for this year and discussed in depth how we wanted this team to be run and what we wanted out of it. If someone wants to join because they think "we'll be fun, or we seem nice or something" then not take the active role our team is founded on, they aren't fulfilling what I need them to fulfill in our team, what we all agreed we needed. Ok... I'm done ranting. And I've spent waaaaay too much time at this computer doing homework. I'm out. Peace, ya'll!
Sunday, February 01, 2009
I lost 3 more pounds in the last two weeks! Another victory for stressed out and burned out! Woo!
School is still hectic and crazy. It feels like this quarter is constantly fluid. Each week my schedule changes. My four classes are so much more demanding that I was originally led to believe. The workload is equal to 5 or 6 classes, easily. But, that's okay. I should be graduating in December and ya know what? That makes it so much better... knowing I'm less than a year away from such a big life goal! A can practically see that degree hanging up on my fridge! ;-) Hahaha!
Mostly, though... My stress is stemming from other things. Its about my feeling of imbalance. Like, I'm not juggling the elements of my life correctly or efficiently. Normally that's not the case. I'm pretty darn organized and methodical. Not so much lately. I feel like I have all these responsibilities and that everyone expects so much of me... and I already expect so much of myself. How can I live up to all these expectations? How can I do what I need to do for those who depend on me?
I'm the co-president of a club on campus for transfer and commuter students. I have two other leaders of this club: the other co-president and the vice president. I thank God I have the both of them because I could not be that responsible for the club. But, in all honesty, I feel like sometimes the responsibilities of the club become imbalanced. Last quarter I felt like I was having to do a lot of the work for the club. We have to have a representative go to an external committee to keep track of our club’s activities. I was doing that myself. I have to pay for the club’s supplies (I get reimbursed later), but that was always a hardship for me. I dunno if the others thought I was made of money or what, but I was not always okay going without groceries until I got reimbursed! I’m just as broke as they are. I’m always keeping track of what the other clubs on campus are doing. I’m arranging meetings. I’m making sure our events are organized and go off without a hitch. A lot of the time, I feel like I’m doing it all alone.
I’m also the transfer representative on our Student Council at Eleanor Roosevelt College. That’s not too terrible of a gig, actually. I sit through a meeting for 2-3 hours, once a week. Its when all the other things get added to the mix. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday weekend I was required to march in a parade. Next week I have to help set up for an honored speaker that will be giving a speech at my college for our 20th Anniversary celebration. That night I have a dinner to attend with my friends- something that’s supposed to be fun and relaxing, but at this point in time feels like yet another obligation. And of course, I feel terrible for even feeling that way.
So that segues into my friends. I’ve been so busy this quarter (actually, we all have) that I haven’t seen my friends nearly as much as I usually do. I know they feel neglected. But, my priorities have changed slightly this quarter. I can’t sacrifice my time for them if I want to do well and graduate on time. I think its creating jealousy among them and to some degree, some resentment. There’s only one friend I have this quarter who’s schedule is actually very similar to mine, so I see him all the time. In fact, Mike’s the only one I really see on a regular basis. But, even then, when I’m “hanging out” with him, we’re studying or working out. He’s the only one of my best friends here that will work out with me.
And thank goodness he does. Cuz I’ve dropped 5 pounds in the month of January! I could have done better, but the first two weeks of this month were quite spotty. But, I am doing work on stage again (SO AWESOME!!!) and that gets me hot and sweaty (and filthy!), so I’m at least doing a lot of working out during that time! Then I get to my Pilates class once or twice a week. I play extreme racquetball or do a regular workout with Mike, once or twice a week. I eat healthy- making sure to get in lots of veggies and lean meats. I don’t deprive myself, but I watch my portions to make sure I don’t over do it. And even under all this stress, I still do well with activity and food intake!
So, why am I not sleeping well? Why is my stress not being managed? My insomnia is back, with a vengeance. And when I do sleep, usually 4-6 hours a night, I have these crazy vivid dreams all through the night. I wake up from them feeling just as exhausted as I did before going to sleep. Its like my brain never shut off and rested during my sleep. My doctor has expressed concern over this and is prescribing me some sleeping medications. I have to say, I’m pretty terrified of taking them. I don’t want to develop a dependence on them. It’s a medication that will be in and out of my body quickly… Like, 3-4 hours and then its out. It’ll help me fall asleep quickly, stay asleep for about 4 hours, I shouldn’t wake up groggy, and my few hours of sleep should be refreshing and recharging good quality sleep. I’ll only take them 3-4 nights a week. Because of the small amount of time the drug will be in my system, my body will have less of a chance to form a dependence on it. I have yet to fill the prescription. I don’t have a car… or money… so, that has to wait.
Oh yeah. Someone broke my only pair of prescription glasses last night. So, I’m screwed on that front as well. It’ll cost in the ‘hood of $260 for a new pair, if I’m not mistaken. Yup. That sucks. That’ll have to wait, too.
So… to make myself feel better: 5lbs, woohoo! Let’s see if I can beat that in February.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
The last two weeks have been extraordinarily tough and stressful. Winter quarter started at UCSD and my schedule is already hell on earth! I am taking 4 classes, which believe it or not, is INSANE! They recommend sticking to 3 per quarter. But, I took 4 classes last quarter and still managed a 3.4 GPA. Booyah for me. Anyway, this quarter is going to be 10x harder than last, with practicum requirements to meet (that's where I work on a show; I am a lightboard operator for a dance show in March), as well as lab work for two classes, lectures, projects, papers, etc. for all the rest of them. I managed to schedule in a Pilates class, which I thoroughly enjoy! Too bad its only twice a week. Plus, I have a club meeting on Fridays, Student Council on Thursdays, and in my insanity would like to add a job to the mix!
The second week of school proved to be more stressful than the first! Unusual. Wednesday of the week was particularly horrible. I ended up in tears twice that day! Jeez. I still managed to get in a good workout.
I've been eating very well and healthy. I've only eaten out on weekends, and during the week pack my meals, breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner, to take to school with me (tricky, since I don't always have refrigeration available so I have to take non-perishable foods). Yay for me and healthy food!
At our gym on campus, they offer this thing called FitStop once a week. Its free! I was tested on all sorts of things... blood pressure, fitness endurance, body fat. It turns out I am in slightly better shape than I thought!
So, in all this, I managed to lose 2 more pounds of this horrible fat! Woot for me! I look forward to losing more and more as this year progresses.
Friday, December 26, 2008
From Elle magazine
TAKE IT LYING DOWN
For each exercise, aim for two to three sets of 10 to 15 reps each. On the final rep, hold position for 10 seconds. Depending on how many of each you do, you’ll need about an hour to complete the routine.
• Grab your knees and roll like a ball back and forth along your spine.
• Straighten your arms in front of you and lift legs and trunk to form a V, then lower.
• Holding legs at a 45-degree angle to the floor, do sit-ups rotating toward opposite knee.
• Extend arms straight, palms on floor. Raise legs perpendicular to floor. Lower without touching the ground. Repeat, but only drop legs halfway.
• Lift legs to a 90-degree angle, lower to one side, center, and rotate to opposite side.
• Raise arms and legs to meet directly above body. Lower without touching the floor.
• Bend knees at a 90-degree angle to floor. Lift chest straight up in three small steps to reach legs. Pulse chest up to either side.
• Flip onto stomach, and extend arms straight ahead into Superman pose. Raise all limbs as high as you can, then lower to floor.
• On all fours, raise one leg into an L, and extend arm on opposite side perpendicular to body. Hold for 10 seconds, then switch.
• Still on hands and knees, prop on forearms, raise bent knee and circle, changing directions after 20 reps. Switch sides.
• Extend into a push-up and lift one leg straight up, cross it down over the opposite leg, raise it again, and return to start, alternating legs.
• Lift one leg, then squeeze shoulder blades and release. Switch legs.
• Roll body to one side, balancing on hand. Stack feet and raise top leg, holding for 10 seconds, then rotate sides.
• Sit up, put one foot on the ground, and extend other leg. Trace an L in the air, then circle leg, changing directions after 20 reps. Switch.
• With legs and chest at 45-degree angles to the floor, write Social Security number with legs.
• Put hands and one foot on floor, and lift your bottom. Flex and extend elbows to raise and lower trunk, working triceps.
• Move up into a runner’s stretch, with one foot on the floor, knee bent 90 degrees, and opposite leg extended. Hold for 10 seconds, then place both hands inside of front foot, lift heel, and push slightly onto hind foot. Switch.
• End by lying across the floor, closing eyes, and meditating for five minutes.
Other excerpts from the article:
An independent clinical trial of 40 women commissioned by Nude skin care found that after three months of twice-daily application of its Smoothing Body Refiner lotion, all participants had shed weight—an average of 6.1 pounds—without dieting. (The control group lost nothing.) It sounds insane, I know. The company founders claim that fig and organic mountain ash help the body flush fat cells. I don’t know about that, seeing as countless doctors have told me that lipo is the only way to remove fatty tissue, but I slather on the Nude lotion like a woman possessed. Before, I’d never moisturized below my neck on a regular basis. (See? Lazy.) I don’t lose six pounds, but then again, I test it for only 30 days. However, my figure gets slimmer (but could it be my new floor plan?).
I also make a change at the office. In France, Contrex water bottles litter their desks the way coffee cups litter ours. That’s because the H2O, loaded with calcium, is rumored to accelerate weight loss. It’s not crazy talk: A study published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology found that the mineral speeds fat-burning in mice. I already swig three liters of water daily; swapping in Contrex is easy, though it does leave a weird broccoli-like aftertaste.
Then there are the FitFlops, brainchild of Bliss founder Marcia Kilgore, who designed the shoes with the help of biomechanics experts at London’s South Bank University Centre for Human Performance. FitFlops are reputed to deliver “a workout while you walk.” This is due to the differing density in their soles, which supposedly destabilize and strengthen leg muscles, the same principle as MBTs, those vaguely orthopedic sneakers. Unfortunately, FitFlops don’t come in my size (11), so I enlist a coworker to give them a spin. We agree on one commonality between these sandals and MBTs: Both are quite ugly. (There’s hope: Manhattan’s ultracool Kirna Zabête boutique is carrying an exclusive, and more attractive, Gladiator version.) But she reports FitFlops are comfortable and that she can tell they’re working her feet, as well as her tush.
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