Saturday, March 06, 2010
I wish I had a brilliant idea of what to blog about today, but instead I'm borrowing a question that Yoovie posted on her blog....
What have I done today for a healthier me?
I mean, there are many things I maybe should have done but haven't, but...
I will drink my water
And I have eaten some fresh fruit.
So.... What have you done today for a healthier you?
Tuesday, March 02, 2010
According to www.realage.com I'm not actually 34.... I'm only 32.6. Which is a lot better score than I had gotten on a another on line healthy assessment I had done recently (unfortunately, I can't remember the name of it off the top of my head and the bookmark is on the computer that is dead) where I scored roughly a D (6 points out of 10) on their health assessments.
The first health assessment, the one I didn't do well on, looked at a number of factors such as whether or not you smoked, how much you exercised, did you eat fish, vegetables, and whole grains, etc., and measured them against the chance that I would live to be 90. Some of the problem areas were just that I couldn't remember the numbers on some of the tests--I have had my cholesterol levels and fasting blood sugar etc. measured, but not super recently (and in fact have just received a reminder from my doctor that it's time again) and I'm not good at remembering numbers. So I know they were okay, and that everything but my HDL levels were acceptable (my HDL levels are really low. There's nothing I can do about it that I'm not already doing, though) but I didn't have numbers to put in.
Part of it though was that they used a stricter guidelines for the target numbers than I had been told in the past. I've always been told my blood pressure is pretty good, for example, and my last measurement was 120/80 (it stuck in my head because it hit it exactly). But according to this assessment, that's too high.
Where I got really discouraged though was that I scored terribly (didn't get a single point, in fact) on diet. I didn't get enough whole grains, didn't eat enough vegetables, didn't eat enough fish, eat too much salt (again, a much stricter guideline than what, for example, sparks uses) and ate red meat more than once a week. I've been working so hard to improve my diet for the past year--to get essentially a big fat F felt like a slap in my face.
In fact, the only things that I scored well on were the fact that I don't smoke (never have; allergic to it, so it was easy to never start. I like breathing), that I work out regularly, and that my blood sugar is good. Which is good, and I have certainly put a lot of effort in increasing my physical activity, but I had really expected to do better over all.
The RealAge quiz is longer and more detailed, and what it does is try to factor a mix of genetics/family history, diet and exercise, current health issues such as arthritis and asthma, and how good you are about visiting the doctor and following his/her directions and adjusts your current age up or down accordingly.
Some of my answers "aged" me, according to the test, while others make me younger. For example, in diet it agrees that I don't get enough vegetables , whole grains, or omega-3's (though I do take a supplement, which it didn't ask about) and too much red meat, and some of that are things I'm working on (though not red meat. With my husband's food allergies, red meat is a staple. But we buy organic, low fat cuts of meat, so it's not that horrible, either). It says that I'm not getting enough Potassium, which I knew but I'm not sure what else I can do about it. On the plus side, though, it says I'm doing well getting enough folic acid, calcium, and Vit. C. I eat a lot of fruits and a varied diet. I live a reasonably healthy lifestyle, though I have too much stress, drive too small a car (?) and ideally should get a pet. I see my doctor regularly and follow his directions, though they don't think I'm taking care of my asthma and headaches well enough--but I'm trying. We just haven't found anything that worked yet. And of course, my BMI is too high.
It says that I'm doing well on strength training and flexibility, but that I don't get enough cardio, which both shocked and frustrated me. Not counting the last couple of weeks when exercise has been, frankly, hit and miss (mostly miss, it feels like), I do 30 minutes of cardio 5 days a week, and it feels like I'm shoe-horning exercise into my daily routine forcibly. I'm not doing things I want or should be doing in order to find time to exercise... and they are saying it's not ENOUGH? Nor does it tell me how much IS enough, so I don't even know how close I am to my recommended goal.
While it was far from a perfect score--there were a LOT of things that added to my age--I was doing more right than wrong and many of the things that aren't as high as I'd like are things that I'm working on (though not all of them). I can't do anything about the chronological age, but maybe if I continue to lose weight and eat healthy foods etc. I can improve me RealAge score.
Friday, February 26, 2010
I confess I feel a bit... sheepish. Wed. I got out my Wii Fit and did some lighter intensity exercises than normally. I stopped doing the Wii regularly mostly because according to sparks I can burn in 20 minutes on the elliptical what would take me more than an 45 minutes on the Wii to burn. But I figured a less intense exercise would probably be good for me, and I think that was a wise decision, because when I was done I was a lot more tired than I probably should have been.
I started off with 20 minutes of free stepping, just listening to music and zoning while making sure to make big arm movements while stepping up and down (so what if I looked like an idiot? I was home by myself). I was still feeling pretty good, so I did the two other step games (which I think are kind of fun), making big steps and large arm movements, and then finished it off with the 10 minute boxing, which is my favorite of the aerobic activities on the Wii Fit (one of these days, I want to get more exercise/games for the Wii fit, but for now I just have the one it came with).
Unfortunately, I didn't stop to think of the fact that I haven't done the boxing in 9 months--and apparently it uses different muscles than my strength training activities, because I'm really, really sore--both my arms and my upper back. More, at some point I did something to my right calf--just my right one, almost like I pulled it a bit or something. So that hurts, too. I took yesterday off--could barely move so I figured aerobic activity was out. Was hoping that I would be up to doing it today... but still am really, really sore.
Maybe I'll be able to make yoga tomorrow. Or something. I don't know if I'll be able to pull 130 minutes off this week, though, which makes me sad. But breaking my streak is better than really hurting myself.
But I feel kind of like an idiot overdoing it on the Wii Fit of all things....
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Yesterday I read this blog in the daily spark:
There was some controversy over the blog in the comments, as some of the commenters felt that too much emphasis was being placed on the alternative body time image (one of not just fit but powerful or athletic builds) and not accepting of the fact that some women would prefer slim over powerful. But it got me thinking. I can understand the appeal of slim and feminine--but why not strong and powerful as well?
I've been watching the Olympics, and more than once I caught myself thinking "that woman looks thick" or "big" when seeing the women in form fitting gear--never "fat" but still, each time that stray thought it surprised and dismayed me, because these women are not just fit, they are exceedingly fit--in far better shape than I ever hope for. And I never have this thought when it comes to the male athletes--just the women.
Why? Women Olympians have, as a rule, exceptionally low body fat compositions. Some of them have bigger frames to start with, but a big part of it is that they work out hard--driven, even--and have the muscles to prove it. Not a one of them has the kind of muscles you see on men--women don't develop muscles like that--but still they have a lot of strength--upper body, lower body, and core, and when wearing form fitting clothing, you can see it. They are incredibly fit, healthy women--from a physical fitness perspective, they, not those skinny models in their skinny jeans--should be my role models and ideals.
I can understand why some of the commenters are drawn to slim but less fit body images--for example, one of the downside of having such a low body fat percentage is that women athletes tend to have smaller breasts--breasts being mostly composed of fat, after all. Call it vanity if you like, but full breasts and visibly feminine hips are one of the few things I *like* about my body.
I'm not really worried though that my workouts will get rid of them or give me a more manly appearance--for one thing, my goal is to get down to a healthy weight/fat ratio--which is no where near as lean as serious athletes can get to. I have neither the time nor the dedication to get my body fat down that low. Similarly, I can look forward to fitter, trimmer, more muscularly defined arms and legs etc. without worrying too much about bulking up--I have no need or desire for that kind of muscles. I want muscles to facilitate every day activities--stairs, chores, walking, dancing, maybe play some pick up soccer or tennis matches, that kind of thing. I am not competing against the world's best in bobsled or luge or skiing or figure skating.
But what the blog made me wonder again why I didn't think "strong" "fit" or "powerful" when I saw some of these women athletes--and I think that she is right, it's in our cultural programming. The media--television, fashion magazines, etc.--have so skewed our ideal of "normal" or at least "slender ideal" that even exceptionally fit women don't always meet that impossible ideal. Not that long ago, Marylin Monroe was considered the epitome of female beauty--and I've read that she was a size 14 (though I don't know if that's a modern size 14 or size 14 of that time--not the same thing at all). Still, she certainly wasn't stick thin, and yet very attractive--yet by modern standards, many would criticize her for being chubby or over weight. By these standards, how can any of us hope to achieve the ideal? Or be healthy in process?
One of my exercise dvds has a woman instructor wearing a short top that stops shortly under her breasts, leaving her stomach and ribs mostly bare. Every time I see that video, I just want to feed her--all the bones in her ribs are clearly visible, she's so thin. She looks anorexic, though that doesn't mean that she actually is anorexic--she could be like my brother and just have a high metabolism or something. But still, this is the body type many of us want--tall, extremely thin, and yes, even beautiful and blond! And yet for most of us, this isn't healthy at all. It's like there's this disconnect between our body image ideal and the body reality--the real limits of what is healthy for our bodies.
I confess, I want to be thin again. I want to have my 26 inch waist back, to be 125 fit pounds again. Yet I know that when I was that thin, I could count my ribs, too. Is that healthy? Should that even be desirable? Back then, I was younger, more active, and had a high metabolism--I didn't have to worry about dieting and I certainly wasn't anorexic. But now, a decade older, with a metabolism I abused, I don't know if it's realistic--or at least healthy--to want that. My weight goal is 135 lbs--which brings me well within a healthy BMI, but still heavier than I was in high school and college.
And I want to be fit--what Sparks calls "FUNctional fitness" in that I want to be fit to better enjoy my every day life. I have (well, not so much the last two weeks, but in general) been working out fairly regularly--40 minutes of strength training 3 days a week, aerobic activity 5 days a week and sometimes an hour of yoga. I want to build up enough upper body strength to be able to lift and carry things without always having to ask a guy for help; I want a strong core to protect myself from back pain, and I want legs that can take me where ever I want to go--quickly, if I want/need to. I want the freedom of independence, to make choices based on what I want to do, not what I'm able to do.
And I'm making progress. I can feel the muscle tone improving, especially in my legs. I can lift heavier weights now than I could a year ago. My physical therapy/weight training is also helping to build up muscles I'd lost in my legs and hips (slowly, painfully--I hate the physical therapy part because it hurts Take care of yourselves, my friends, because therapy stinks) but my hips are finally getting the rest of the way better and not hurting all the time--unless I stop working out (a good motivator to keep going).
And it may be that someone will see me--maybe a friend who hasn't seen me since my skinny days, for example, or a stranger--and think "that woman is thick and/or big." And you know what? I don't really care, so long as I'm healthy fit and slim (which is different from skinny--slim means not pudgy or chubby or overweight, where as skinny means overly slim). I want to be feminine and slender, but I would rather be fit and trim than skinny. The problem then isn't my body but rather our culturally skewed perception of it. I want to have lean muscles, feminine curves, and flexibility. And if that means only losing down to 135 lbs--or maybe even only down to 145 (still, I believe, within my healthy BMI), than so be it. The scale isn't what matters. And maybe I won't be doing a triple axle any time soon, but I want to be out there, living my life, enjoying it--healthy and fit, feminine and slim.
Monday, February 22, 2010
I did the math. If I work out my normal schedule all week AND do yoga, I'll be able to get my 1000 minutes for February.
Except I feel really crummy today. I was starting to feel under the weather last night, woke up last night sneezing and struggling to breathe, and am coughing and stuffed up today.
Bah humbug. I really want to get back on track--I'm even wearing my work out clothes--but I just don't know if it's a good idea since I'm still stuffed up and coughing and generally feeling lousy.
Discretion may be the better part of valor today.
But I'm sooo tired of getting sick all the time.
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