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Challenges

I know it's been a while since anyone was active on here, but I thought I would do a quick update of the challenge I posed myself in November. After a particularly sweet filled October (Halloween treats in the library), I made the decision to cut out the three C's: cookies, candy, and cake. If any of you haven't worked in education then you might not understand exactly how difficult this can be, and it doesn't get any easier when you start entering the holiday months.

The first weekend of November was especially tough. I was in Detroit with friends for Youmacon and was surrounded by lots of goodies. We had free dessert access in the Maid Cafe (just enjoyed my coffee and the special time with friends), we had free pastries every morning for breakfast (fresh fruit for the win), and of course there are always things like cookies and pastries available at every single place you eat. I passed with flying colors despite some whining on my part. 

Once I made it past that I knew I could do it. I turned my focus to eating more fruit when I wanted some dessert. Chocolate is a major weakness of mine so I discovered ways to incorporate chocolate in a healthy way. My favorite choice was my morning oatmeal. I could have Chocolate Covered Cherry Oatmeal or Almond Joy Oatmeal. I also let myself have the occasional bit of Nutella on a piece of toast or an english muffin.

By the end of week two most of my sweet craving was gone. The rest of the month went pretty easily. The more you think about food the more you realize what you really need. I'd say the only cheat day I allowed myself was Thanksgiving and even then that was pretty healthy. We had sundaes/parfaits with hagen daaz vanilla ice cream, coconut pirouline type cookie, and espresso chocolate chunks. It was small but tasty enough that it was all I needed to round out a delicious (and really healthy) Thanksgiving meal.

So here are the things I've learned as a result. It's easy to say no when you really take a minute to stop and think about your motivations when you choose what you're eating. Trying to just fix a quick craving? Are there other options? Is the quality of the food really worth the calories you're consuming?

The last question was proved to me after I had my first candy bar of December. I decided to have a Twix bar yesterday after I finished lunch. I bit into it, started chewing and something just tasted off. The chocolate flavor was so faint, too much sugar, and a strange waxiness that I had never noticed. I think I'm done with candy bars. As for cookies? I'll enjoy one every now and then, but I prefer home baked and flavorful. Oh... also, yesterday Krispy Kreme Donuts were to be had in the lounge yesterday. I don't like Krispy Kreme's, but i can't tell you how many times I've had them in the past. This time, I passed on them. 

I challenge those of you who are trying to make some changes in your life to give yourself a challenge this month. What's something you over indulge in or something you should be having more of? Figure out a way to make the needed changes and do it.

If anyone is interested in the oatmeal recipes let me know. They're super easy, delicious, and they'll save you time in the morning.

Intervals

I've seen a couple of posts about interval workouts and it seems like a lot of people had questions about them so I thought I would share.

Interval workouts are any type of cardio (running,walking,biking,swimming) that are made up of a steady state tempo that can be maintained for the duration of the workout with small bursts of high intensity work.   For example, a running interval would have a person running at a comfortable speed then every few minutes sprinting a certain distance (50-100 yards) certain time (1 minute) or keeping the same speed but increasing the incline.  
The ratio for the intervals should be anywhere from 3:1 to 10:1.  For example, a person might swim 3 laps with an easy stroke, and then 1 lap with a more difficult stroke or at a faster speed.  
One thing to remember is that the workout should be sustainable/hard.  The time inbetween your high intensity intervals is NOT a rest period.  Your heart rate still needs to be up and on a scale of 0 to effort, you should be at about a 5 or a 6 (out of 10, which is where you are at during the interval).  But remember that max intensity for one person is completely different than another.  Not everyone's intervals need to be the same length or speed. 

The purpose of interval workouts is to prevent the body from becoming more efficient during the course of the workout.  The body's ultimate goal is to burn as little calories while accomplishing what it has to accomplish.  Adding intervals to the workout makes it so your body cannot settle into a low-energy burning rut over time.  By sprinting or changing how the body moves occasionally during the workout keeps the body's metabolism up because long/slow activities use a different energy system than short/quick activities.

Not only do interval workouts burn more calories, they will increase speed and strength faster than a steady state over the same amount of time. 

Argh

I know there are a few others on here who are into weights, and I wanted to share the annoyance:

Went to the gym yesterday, and someone had left a good 80kg worth of weights on the bar in the squat rack, on the highest pegs. I had to unload the bar, including lifting down 25kg plates, from my eye level. Someone, I assume the same person, had also left the other bar on the floor, also loaded up although only with 40kg this time. I still had to manoeuvre out two 20kg weights off the bar and put them back where they should be, then put the bar back on the bench press rack.

I swear I could get a good workout just clearing up after people!

Unfortunately my gym is a college gym, so not staffed, and it's the holidays, so there was no one around to help out. I've emailed the guy in charge to complain though, so hopefully he'll send out a reminder...

Getting back on track

Hi 2_liners!

So, my efforts to get back in shape have been...um, minimal recently. I let my gym membership run out, in favor of focusing more on yoga. But then when my last yoga class ended, I didn't sign up for a new one. Money was the issue for both letting the gym membership run out and not signing up for more yoga (yoga is really pricey!)

However, the gym is offering a 50% off 3-month membership for the summer and I figure this is the perfect way to get myself back into the swing of things! I didn't lose much weight during my last fitness craze, and gained it all back when I stopped :( But I honestly felt so much better and energized while I was exercising regularly!

This time I will be making sure I incorporate diet changes along with the exercise and will be weighing myself weekly.

I have an idea of a goal weight...I'm around 20 pounds higher than my "normal weight"...which is about 5 pounds higher than my ideal weight. So I've got a ways to go.

And I'll be making posts here, too, to let you guys know how I'm doing :)
 After a rather sad week I feel like I'm back on the wagon. I'm a very schedule oriented person which made for great success on my first week off from school. THings got shifted around last week when I started working summer schools and all my workout plans kind of got pushed to the side. I've reworked my schedule and I'm starting out with a bang. I just spent about an hour and a half doing Zumba and an hour doing a BodyAttack class. 

What were your successes/let downs this week?

Salsa!

My workout routine is slowly getting much better. I used to be very much a lazy bones.

I've been going to a salsa dancing class on tuesdays now for about a month and a half and I love it. It's not salsa dancing with a partner, it's more of a hard, workout salsa class. We work with weights, as well! A lot of it is working your legs and after we've been dancing for about 45 minutes, the class does abs for about 10 minutes and then a cool-down dance. It's a lot of fun music and all of the ladies in the class really know how to have a good time!
I've been thinking about going to zumba as well (it's all the rage!), but classes are expensive. I think for 10 zumba classes it's about $75. Is that expensive? I'm not sure.
My workout plan also includes usually trying to get a run in two to three times a week. I've sloooowly been doing Couch to 5K. I'm enjoying it! I like getting out of the house and being active. I come back feeling really good. After a run for a half an hour, I usually do the ab work I learned at salsa.

Instead of exercising to try and lose weight, I've started to do it mainly for being in shape and staying healthy. Being active makes a difference in my attitude and I feel better! I haven't lost any weight (says the scale), but I'm not bothered by it too much because I know that I'm being healthy by working out.

Except now I'm eating a Blizzard from Dairy Queen.

Dance Fitness

I had my first day of Dance Fitness for the summer session this morning. I used to pop in and take it once or twice a month, but I haven't for a long time since my work-study hours were going towards my ballet class. But now, with my pre-pro thing, I'm required to go to it every week. And it kicked my butt this morning. Holy crap. I mean, it's always hard, but I was literally dripping sweat everywhere, and now I don't want to move for the rest of the day.

The class is a really easy-going mix of a lot of things. We do stretches at the barre, strength work with resistance bands, some yoga, a lot of abs work, some cardio, etc. It really works everything, and we do it all to fairly popular music so it's fun, but it definitely takes the wind out of me.

Today's Workout

Besides my bit on the elliptical, my stretches, and some arm workouts, I also did this video and this video. And oh boy, was that too much. I felt like I was going to puke afterwards. I mean, great workouts, but ow.

Weight Training

 I am a big proponent of weight training. I love it; LOVE IT. The feeling I get from it is enough to keep me doing it, but just in case some of you aren't certain if you should add it to your routine or just want a few extra reasons to keep it up you might want to check out this article

If you feel like you can't do weight training because you aren't a gym member or don't know where to start then do some searches online.  Sparkpeople.com is an excellent resource for all things weight loss and improving health, and they have tools to help you on your weight training journey. Youtube is filled with videos of people that want to share their plans with you. The library is a great place to check out books on weightlifting. You can find workout DVDs on Netflix (and at your library).

Don't have equipment? Use your body weight and look for body weight related exercises. Some easy places to start are with the very basics: push ups, squats, lunges, sit ups, and tricep dips. There are many variations on all these exercises that will allow you to work different muscle groups in different ways.  

Still wishing you had some equipment? Fill gallon jugs with water and lift those. Soup cans fit right into your hands and are a great weight for beginners. You can also find resistance bands and weight sets for about the price of a single month of a gym membership. Don't forget about any sport resale retailers near you.

The possibilities for weight training are unlimited. Don't make excuses and deny yourself at the chance of ramping up your workout and making yourself even healthier. 

If any of you have some additional resources about weight lifting that you like please feel free to share them.
Yesterday I found an awesome fitness blog: http://www.blogilates.com/ It's mostly fitness/workout stuff along with nutrition posts. It's really cool!