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28-Day Challenge - Day 2

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

So, I have Day 2 under my belt! I am extra-proud of myself for beating out all the excuses again tonight, especially since it didn’t look like I was going to make it and was considering doing Day 2 in the morning before work and my cardio/Day 3 after I got home tomorrow. But I got the last of the dishes done – a triumph in housework! – and figured, what the hell? 10 minute video: done.

I didn’t realize how much of an impact the Day 1 cardio would have on my legs, especially my thighs, but man, did it ever. I usually don’t have DOMS until two days after a workout, but I was feeling it by the end of my workday. That helped push me into going through with Day 2 tonight, since I knew that another short workout and a good stretch would help my muscles recover more easily. I missed the feeling, really – the physical knowledge that I did something yesterday worth doing. What a good feeling!

I didn't get as much cardio as I would have liked today, I'll admit. It was supposed to rain all day, but didn't actually start until late this afternoon so everything was miserable when I got home. Nonetheless, I took the dogs out as usual and spent 10 minutes walking the property with Mac. He got some exercise and some remedial field training, so everybody won there. I would have liked to get a little more in, but it didn't happen, so there it is.

I'm also pretty happy with myself for staying within my calorie count for the day, even if my other nutrient counts are a little over/under what the ideal is. Our pantry is a little spare at the moment (look past the cobwebs for the food, that is), so we're eating what we have. It's not organic health premium, but it's food and it's good and I'm happy with that. We cooked together tonight, something of a Hamburger Helper from scratch, if you will. I will have a post up on my blog about it in the next couple of weeks, but I plan on getting the recipe pushed through SparkRecipes before today's out, if anyone's interested. It's a good batch recipe, imo, and uses a lot of pantry ingredients, so it's good for frugality in both respects.

Not much else to report. I guess the fact that I'm upbeat about exercise and proud on two accounts should be enough for Day 2, don't you think? :)


28-Day Challenge - Day 1

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

"The hardest part is getting off the couch - and congratulations, you've already done that!" - Sensei Randy McElwee, American Black Belt Academy

I just finished Day 1 of the 28-Day Bootcamp Challenge here on SP. I had to force myself to do it for many reasons, all of which I'm sure anyone in this community is familiar with. It's mostly excuses - I still have a whole sink full of dishes to do, a house to sweep, laundry to fold and put away. My husband requested chocolate chip cookies that I said I would make, and still plan to (once I get those dishes washed). I don't have time after work - I'm exhausted already and there's so much left to do before I go to bed. How can I be so selfish as to take time to exercise?

It's only a ten minute video, I tell myself firmly. Ten minutes and you're done. You used to go to martial arts for an hour, three or four times a week. Ten minutes is okay.

Once I get myself over the excuse hurdles, then it's time for me to get past the fears. I have always had body image issues - I'd give anything to be back where I was earlier in college, when I was 155 pounds and mostly active, whining about the marginal amount of fat around my midsection. And with the body image issues comes the insecurity about working out. Like others, I would rather pretend that I'm happy with my body as far as everyone else is concerned, and keep my insecurities to myself. But I can't do that anymore. I can't pretend that I'm okay with looking in the mirror and seeing my stomach fold over my waistband; or having to wear Wranglers that are 38x36 instead of the multitude of 34x36 in my closet, some never even washed; or having to wear jeans and button-downs to work because that's all I can fit into anymore. I hate not being able to wear a bathing suit comfortably because of the fat rolls. I hate that two years ago, I was reasonably fit and active in martial arts and other activities, that a year ago I was on the beach in St. Augustine, Florida in a polka-dotted bikini and a tan line, riding waves on boogie boards with my new husband and no thought of how fat I looked. I hate looking in the mirror every morning when I put on my underwear and liking a small part of myself, only to have that thought ruined by the thousand other thoughts of how bad everything else looks.

Most of all, I'm conflicted. I don't want to be made fun of for working out. My husband and I are not small people. We will never be small people. And we don't want to be small - we want to be fit. He says he wants to get fit so he can get in the Army; I want to get fit because I was, once, and to support him. But I'm afraid of being made fun of for working out to a video on the Internet, or sticking to some kind of "diet plan." To be honest, fear is more dangerous to me than the excuses. I know I can beat the excuses if I follow Sensei's advice (seen at the beginning of this post), even if it takes a little time to get where I want to be. But the fear of embarrassment, the fear of starting new things and being mocked, almost kept me out of the dojo and now it's kept me from working off this accumulation of extra weight that is hurting my knee and causing back spasms. And that's the catalyst to all this - I'm still afraid of getting embarrassed, but the knowledge that my embarrassment will be overcast at the end of this 28-day challenge, or 3-month routine, or 6-month training schedule, when I have lost inches and gained back muscle; when I have proven myself to be stronger than my greatest adversary: myself.

I am done with old injuries hurting because I have amassed too much useless weight to support. I am done with hiding behind clothes that "just fit" and covering up all my old clothes in the closet because I am ashamed that I can no longer wear them. I am so over being poked at by family members because I've "gained a little" since I've gotten married/moved back home/gotten a desk job/etc. This is my declaration of war on laziness, fear and unhappiness.

I will choose better foods 90% of the time - fresh vegetables and fruits, more whole grains, fewer empty carbs and sugars - so that when I want to make less-healthy choices 10% of the time, I won't have to beat myself up internally. I will watch better what I eat, make most of my food at home and hopefully grow most of it, so I can guide myself and my husband's eating choices better than choosing a Double Stack over a Single at Wendy's. I will do this not only for myself, but for my husband and my future children, so that I can set a proper example for all of us. I do not want to worry about diabetes, heart disease, premature arthritis or any other preventable disease so prevalent in our country today.

I will buy a pair of girly jeans and love looking good in them. I will buy a polka-dotted bikini and look fabulous in it. I will eat what I like, in moderation, and exercise to maintain a healthy figure. I can do this. I am strong. And no amount of fear, embarrassment or judgment can stop me.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TORN_EDGE 2/1/2011 9:47AM

    You can do this. I could copy and pste most of your blog. The excuses and the fear are a big thing in my mind as well. You are making great choices and you are on the right road

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Strength, cardio and gardening.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

So, over the weekend, I bought an exercise ball. Two, actually - a 65cm stability ball and a five-pound toning ball. I'm a big fan of the stability ball, but a bigger fan of the toning ball. Not only is it a workout tool, it's a giant stress reliever! I've discovered a tendency to play with it when I'm bored of packing and folding and wrapping with newspaper. Luckily, the dog doesn't want a thing to do with it, since it's too big for him to eat effectively, so I have a toy all to myself. Unfortunately, I had to leave the big ball in my new apartment when I came back to the old place for the week because it was too bulky to load safely in the truck, so it's waiting patiently for me to return.

So far (all of these two days of the week), I've been really good about working out in the afternoons. I meant to work out this morning when I woke up, but sleep was more important. I've become addicted to Women's Health magazine in the past couple of months; they have LOADS of information online, and the site is a great supplement to SparkPeople. They have several workouts I'm a personal fan of, including the 'No Props? No Prob!' workout (I used it last night). I like their most recent 20-minute series, too, but I can't do most of the exercises since most of those exercises include gear that I either don't own (an aerobic step or bench) or don't have ready access to right now (the stability ball, or a stepstool). It makes me sad.

Also, I've recently discovered an affliction I didn't know I possessed: I can't decide my workout! I know you're supposed to change up your workout every 4-6 weeks, and I have no problem doing that - if I could just stick to a workout in the first place! I want a workout I'm satisfied with, one that I feel is working, which is part of the reason I keep bouncing from one to another. I kinda like this no props workout for now, but when I get moved, I'd like to move to the 'Ultimate Fit Plan 2008' on the Women's Health site. I just hate that I really can't do it without gear, which means I can't really get into it until I get moved altogether. Does anyone else have this affliction? :D

I also need to figure out a way to get in my cardio minutes. Y'all have no idea how much I HATE running... maybe I should start doing sprints. Any suggestions for cardio ideas (suicides, jumping jacks, walks, etc.), preferably some I can do outside? I know there are plenty - I'm just lazy. Plus, it will definitely help when I get into this ground-floor apartment, when I can do jump rope and jumping jacks without worrying about pissing off the neighbor downstairs.

On a completely unrelated note, I'm looking for ways to have plants in a small (read: economy) apartment. This month's Southern Living had a new idea, using tiered wire hanging baskets, lined with burlap and filled with fertilized potting soil. This is obviously an outdoor basket project, unless you want it to drip all on your floors. I've got a good-sized, fairly useless grill that I plan on converting, too. I think my carport space might become my go-to garden when I move in; it's just too much of a pain to park my truck in that tiny little space!


Stability ball!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I've wanted one for a while, especially since I got the notion to use an exercise ball instead of an office chair while sitting at the computer both at work and at home.

However, I am admittedly an exercise ball newb. How big should it be? What brand should I buy? Should I get a DVD with it? I'm so lost? Should I get a weighted ball or a nonweighted ball?

I'm looking for a good, sturdy ball that I can exercise on AND use for a sitting implement. I'll be living in a small apartment with tile floors and a slightly spastic dog, so anything that's gonna pop just from somebody looking at it is not good. I want one that's reasonably priced, preferably from Wal-Mart (I could sort of deal with Target, barring the almost unreasonable prices of some things). Also, I want an air pump included (obviously, 'cause otherwise how would I blow the darn thing up?).

Comments are wholeheartedly pleaded for today on this particular subject. Thank you in advance!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TANI_GA 5/31/2008 10:31AM

  I *LOVE* my exercise ball! It's big, it's bulky, but it actually got me doing ab exercises. Of course, (shameful look) the first time I ever sat on one, it was in aerobics class...I sat down and immediately rolled off of it, plopping onto the ground! Seriously a red-faced moment.

You're looking for height...
Your height = ball's size
Under 4'6" = 30 cm
4'6" to 5'0" = 45 cm
5'1" to 5'7" = 55 cm
5'8" to 6'2" = 65 cm
Over 6'2" = 75 cm

Basically, when you sit down on the ball, your legs/hips should be at a 90 degree angle (lap is as close to parallel to the floor as you can get it).

Some folks slightly underinflate an exercise ball when using it as an office chair. I chose not to use mine for an office chair after doing some research on it (sheepish look...I'm a librarian...I can't help myself. heh.). I thought I might share a couple abstracts with you, as like you, I had contemplated using the stability ball as an office chair because of what health magazines were saying. The academic journals sure said something else! In most scientific studies, the stability ball did NOT increase core muscle strength. It did, however, increase discomfort.

Abstract: The objective of the study was to evaluate the differences between sitting on a stability ball and in an office chair in terms of trunk muscle activation and lumbar spine posture. Background: Stability balls have become increasingly popular as an alternative to office chairs to help reduce the prevalence of low back pain; however, little research has been conducted on their use as office chairs. Methods: The 14 participants (7 men, 7 women) were required to sit on both a stability ball and an office chair for 1 hour each while performing various computer workstation tasks throughout the sitting periods. The activation of eight muscles and lumbar spine posture were measured and analyzed. Results: Increased muscle activation in thoracic erector spinae (p = .0352), decreased pelvic tilt (p = .0114), and increased perceived discomfort (p = less than .0001) while sitting on the stability ball were observed. Conclusions: The small changes in biological responses when sitting on a stability ball as compared with an office chair, combined with the increased reported discomfort while on the ball, suggests its use for prolonged sitting may not be advantageous. Application: Prolonged sitting on a stability ball does not greatly alter the manner in which an individual sits, yet it appears to increase the level of discomfort. Therefore, it is important to fully explore a new chair design and consult scientific research before implementing its use.

Source Citation:Gregory, Diane E., Nadine M. Dunk, and Jack P. Callaghan. "Stability ball versus office chair: comparison of muscle activation and lumbar spine posture during prolonged sitting." Human Factors 48.1 (Spring 2006): 142.

And another scientific study abstract:

Eight male subjects volunteered to sit for 30 min on an exercise ball and on a wooden stool. Muscle activity and spine position were used to model spine load and stability. An additional seven sat on an exercise ball and chair to examine pressure distribution over the contact area.

There was no difference in muscle activation profiles of each of the 14 muscles between sitting on the stool and ball. Calculated stability and compression values showed sitting on the ball made no difference in mean response values. The contact area of the seatuser interface was greatest on the exercise ball.

The results of this study suggest that prolonged sitting on a dynamic, unstable seat surface does not significantly affect the magnitudes of muscle activation, spine posture, spine loads or overall spine stability. Sitting on a ball appears to spread out the contact area possibly resulting in uncomfortable soft tissue compression perhaps explaining the reported discomfort.

Source Citation: S.M. McGill, , N.S. Kavcic and E. Harvey. "Sitting on a chair or an exercise ball: Various perspectives to guide decision making. " Clinical Biomechanics, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ont., Canada N2L 3G1.

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HILLRODE 5/28/2008 4:05PM

    If you just go to Wally world you could get one there. I got mine there I think. They are pretty tough. I do have a video which I love. Now that I am on here more and found all the exercises they have, you could get by with just printing off exercises here.

Not that I am much help on the subject. I would just suggest go to Wall Mart and look at them.

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Spring cleaning, grocery store nostalgia and cooking madness.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I had a pretty great weekend. DB was on duty, which I'm almost ashamed to say was a relief. It was nice to just get out to the barn and tool around with the girls or on my own, depending on what I was doing. I had the dogs - roommate's and mine - with me, and a new apartment to clean, and horses to work... I spent Saturday cleaning and moving little things from current apartment to new apartment, like pictures and a TV and the saddle - you know, important things. :D I don't think I've ever seen that apartment that clean, despite the red clay stains ingrained in the tile. I rode around Saturday morning running errands in DB's truck - he took mine to get the oil changed, bless him - and got minor groceries, cleaning supplies, checks deposited, etc.

If you clean with natural products like baking soda, vinegar and castile soap, good for you. I try to, personally. If you don't, try it some time. Baking soda in your laundry can make a world of difference, and vinegar will take soap scum stains out of a porcelain sink like you would never expect. If that's not your thing, though, I can recommend Clorox's Greenworks line of cleaners without much regret. I bought the bathroom cleaner on a whim and using it produces a clean, sweet smell of coconut and no harshness to burn your nose and throat. I didn't once have to stick my head out the door to breathe. However, the line is expensive, which Clorox justifies with the 'higher prices of natural ingredients.' I don't really believe that, since a gallon of vinegar and a bottle of lemon juice aren't high-dollar items, but I'm not on the marketing and pricing committee at Clorox. SP has an awesome article on 'green cleaning,' the link to which I've posted at the bottom of this entry.

I did all my laundry Sunday, played with the dogs, did a little workout and did a little riding before dusk. I felt pretty good by the end of the day. I didn't get my outfit for today laid out, but so what, right? I said goodbye to a friend who left for CO today, and said an early goodbye to my roommate who is on her way to FL as we speak. Everyone's got internships but me, 'cause I'm a collegiate late-bloomer. I'm still waiting nigh-patiently on summer classes at one of the local colleges to start, so that I can work hard on passing accounting I and getting into accounting II and then graduating in December and going home. And never leaving again, plzkthx.

Running errands on Saturday took me to the bank, which was closed (they changed their schedules without telling, the scamps). My preferred branch is in the same center as Dollar General and Food Lion - places I normally avoid because of the neighborhood behind this particular center. Saturday, I guess I was feeling brave (or more afraid of spending too much money than I was of the local citizenry), because I stepped right into the tiny Dollar General and bought half my list for ten dollars. Thrilled, I went to Food Lion next and was swept into a small grocery store reminiscent of home. Those of you who know small-town groceries (and I'm sure many of you do) know the intrinsic difference between a good downhome Bell's or Save-A-Lot or Ken's (does anyone else have those?) as opposed to Kroger or Publix or even Wal-Mart. The look, the smell, the smiles (most of the time) of the folks working there, whether they know you or not. I think from now on, I'll stick with Food Lion or the local Bell's. It makes me feel more like I'm at home.

Also, now that I'm supposed to be in the middle of moving, especially now that half the apartment's gutted (ideally), I have the worse craving to cook and cook everything. Especially bread. I desperately want to make a couple of loaves of brioche and a sandwich loaf, grill some shrimp from the recipe I got last week, bake some penne with mozzarella, Parmesean and spinach, make up a batch of the light potato salad I'm going to post in a moment, whip up a batch of pad thai and some croissants on the side, and maybe a quart of chocolate gelato to finish it off. Some of this I want to eat all the way, but some of it, I just want to cook it and say that I cooked it. It's positively ridiculous - I don't have time to be cooking up a storm and moving too!

'25 Green Spring Cleaning Tips: Good for You, Your Home and the Planet'
Link: www.sparkpeople.com/resource/wellnes


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