Saturday, May 4, 2013

Running at that special time of the month?

If you're female, and you do any kind of exercise, you'll have fought the battle of "what to do at that-special-time-of-the-month". It's filled with grueling decisions.
Before exercise became my drug of choice, I would pretty much just sit it out on those days. And my sit it out, I mean barricade myself indoors with pillows and blankets and maxipads and chocolate and chick-flicks.
No more.

But it's a battle. And what irks me the most is all the super fit women who have never experienced PMS, cramps, sore ta-tas or any kind of discomfort associated with their female time. They're all ooh-ing and aah-ing that you need to run MORE, not less because it alleviates symptoms and cramps.
Said only the girls who's never had a serious cramp, I'm sure...
They're right, though. I did the research, and all signs point to yes. Increased body temperature and  the release of endorphins counteract the chemicals that make your muscles contract and cause cramps.
Do yoga, the internet says. The movement is gentle and makes you feel better.
Are you kidding? I run so I don't have to do any kind of activity that involves me being any kind of coordinated. Running is easy for non-graceful people like me. Left foot, right foot, repeat.
I'm not doing yoga.

But now that we got that squared away, and we've decided I'm still going to run; what to do about it? I mean... for protection?
I went to a bunch of runner's forums and runner's blogs, and let me tell you, these women are full of it. Maybe that's just my PMS talking, but seriously...

The number one tip I found was "just go commando and let nature do it's job. Wear black pants or shorts and noone will notice."
Maybe I'm just closed minded, but seriously... that tip must have come from women who bleed like 3 drops for 15 minutes and then they're done. They obviously can't have anything close to a normal or heavy flow, can they? Or am I the abnormal one?
Uhhh.... right. Noone will notice the streams of red liquid running down my thighs and calves, creating a pool of blood at my feet. Nope, not if I'm wearing black shorts. Seriously? And even if nobody did, who says I want to soak my running pants in grossness? And what about the fact that I'd get wet and uncomfortable? And what about general hygiene concerns?

Another thing a lot of female runners were raving about, was the Diva Cup.
I tried it.
Let me tell you, there's nothing "Diva" about the Diva Cup.
That attempt cost me $39, my dignity, my blissful, innocent ignorance of what it looks like "down there" during that time, and lots of pain.
For those of you not familiar, the Diva Cup is basically a little rubber cup that you shove "up there" to collect the menstrual fluid.
It's messy. It's painful. It's disgusting. It's gross.  Don't bother.

So now I'm spending my time wondering how to get around this, rather then just getting up and running.

Just throw me a freakin' tampon and I'll go for a run. I'll moan and cry and complain that it's painful and I'm tired, but I'm gonna do it.
And I'll be happy I did, I know it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My favorite Genghis bowls

After the quest I got some questions about my favorite bowls, and thought I'd share some of my self-invented combos!

Cajun pork bowl

Step 1 (Protein): Pork(1)

Step 2 (Seasoning): Cajun Seasoning(1)

Step 3 (Veggies): Carrots(1), Celery(1), Mongo Peppers(1), Mushrooms(1), Onions(1)

Step 4 (Sauce): (none)

Step 5 (Starch): Brown Rice(1)

Calories: 377.7
Protein (g): 29.3
Carbohydrates (g): 43.4
Dietary Fiber (g): 9.8
Total Fat (g): 8.4
Saturated Fat (g): 3
Cholesterol (mg): 75
Sodium (mg): 245.3

Citrus-y Fish Bowl

Step 1 (Protein): Marinated Fish(1)

Step 2 (Seasoning): Black Pepper(1)

Step 3 (Veggies): Carrots(1), Broccoli(1), Mongo Mix(1), Green Onions(1), Squash & Zucchini(1), Tomatoes(1)

Step 4 (Sauce): Ginger Citrus Sauce(1)

Step 5 (Starch): Brown Rice(1)

Calories: 353.5
Protein (g): 24
Carbohydrates (g): 59.1
Dietary Fiber (g): 11.6
Total Fat (g): 2
Saturated Fat (g): 0
Cholesterol (mg): 60
Sodium (mg): 322.9

Sweet & Spicy Chicken
Step 1 (Protein): Chicken(1)

Step 2 (Seasoning): Cayenne Pepper(1)

Step 3 (Veggies): Broccoli(1), Bean Sprouts(1), Mongo Peppers(1), Onions(1), Pineapples(1), Water Chestnuts(1)

Step 4 (Sauce): Sweet N Sour Sauce(1)

Step 5 (Starch): Brown Rice(1)

 Calories: 418.7
Protein (g): 31.4
Carbohydrates (g): 64.8
Dietary Fiber (g): 8.3
Total Fat (g): 1
Saturated Fat (g): 3.5
Cholesterol (mg): 60
Sodium (mg): 745.9

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Last Day ... but not really.

Some of my favorite moments from the Health Kwest

It's almost over! These past 2 months have been the most exhausting, hard, fun and rewarding days of my life!
I have accomplished more than I had ever hoped for.
Even though I know I haven't lost enough weight to win the entire competition, I have still won. I have won my health back, I have won a new found confidence.
I have won the ability to go into a clothing store and pick out what I like, rather than searching for something that fits.

Sure, it's been hard. I thought the hard part was going to be finding time to exercise every day. Turns out that was one of the easier challenges! Learning about nutrition was a whole other aspect of the quest. I thought I knew a lot about healthy eating, turns out I was a lot more clueless than I thought.
The media challenges were possibly the hardest, as I'm not the most outgoing person in the world. But I've become fearless. Once you've shaken your booty in the parking lot outside of Genghis Grill and put it on Youtube, there's really nothing that can embarrass you any more in life. Once you've approached strangers at Starbucks to tell them about your journey, there's no reason to be weary of talking to strangers any more. And once you've posted pictures of yourself in the middle of a workout to Facebook, there's no more need for worries about being ugly.

I still have more to lose before I reach my goal, and that's OK. I hit some plateaus and frustrating times where I just didn't seem to be losing weight. I cried after some bad workouts. But I never considered quitting.

Results? I'm down from a size 16/18 in pants to a size 12. I can hardly recognize myself in my before picture. It's only been 60 days, but that sad, pale face with no features seems like a distant past.

Left: My application picture from February 2013.Right - at Genghis April 5th. I got my facial features back!

It didn't take long before I learned to love exercise. I run because it feels good now, not because I have to. My goal was to finish a 5K race during the quest. I finished 3! I've been dabbling with the thought of doubling and doing 5Ks, and in a year or 2 maybe I'll be ready for a half marathon?
I never EVER thought I'd be considering running a distance like that! Exercise for me used to be walking to the mailbox every few days.

Race for the cure April 6th.

I'm so grateful to Genghis Grill for the opportunity to change my life. It's been an amazing journey. The support from the team at my store has been amazing. The challenges and the accountability has been so motivating. I'm sad that it's all over already.
But, even though the 2013 Health Kwest is almost officially over, my quest continues. Without Genghis Grill it may never have started.

Left: February 12th. Right: April 10th.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

For goodness' SAKE ...

I thought that living healthy and losing weight would include living alcohol-free. I've never been a big drinker anyway, so it didn't seem like a big loss.

Turns out, certain alcoholic drinks aren't all bad in moderation. Some of them even have certain health benefits!
(remember the red wine blog? It's here: Red red wine)

Now, I have also discovered Sake; yummy yummy Japanese rice wine. Mind you, it's not low calorie, it contains 156 calories in a 4-oz. serving. Perfect for a special little treat, though.

As far as health benefits goes, sake is full of potassium, vitamin B1, calcium, iron and magnesium.
It's proven to help strengthen the immune system, stimulate brain function, promote good blood circulation and regulate cholesterol levels. It's also said to reduce the risk of degenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Diabetes.
It doesn't stop there; sake contains amino acids and peptides which can improve skin. Someone even suggested I apply it directly to my skin instead of drinking it for perfect, glowy skin. It may work, but I'd rather drink it!

My favorite sake is  TY KU , especially the coconut flavored one. So ridiculously good and almost guiltless. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Super quick workout

One of the questions I get asked most often, is "how do you have time to work out every day?"
My answer is, I make time. Physical wellness has become a priority in my life.
There are certainly times, though, where the day just doesn't seem like it has enough hours in it. I still exercise, but it has to be intense, quick cardio exercises that  burn fat. The trick is adding resistance (weight) while getting your heart rate up at the same time.

Here are a couple of my time-saving exercises; i found them at Women's Health magazine and love them:

Squat swings:

Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a single dumbbell, kettlebell or medicine ball with both hands in front of your hips. Squat while you swing the weights behind you between your legs. 30 repetitions.

Snatch Pull & Push-Press:

Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place the weights (dumbbell, kettlebell or medicine ball) on the ground between your feet. Stand up and lift the weight to chest height. Grab the sides of the weight and push it straight overhead. Lower it to your chest, return to start. 30 repetitions.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What do I wear now?

I cleaned out my closet last weekend, getting rid of everything that was too big. No less than 4 giant garbage bags made it's way to Goodwill, and my closet is almost empty.
I have nothing to wear.

Women always say that, don't they? That even with a full closet they have nothing to wear?
In my case it's true. My closet is almost empty.

But I found a treasure in there.
A couple of years ago I fell in love with a summer dress. It was blue with a bunch of seagulls on it. I thought it was so adorable, I bought it.
It wasn't until I got home that I realized I had bought the wrong size. The dress was 3 sizes smaller than I wore. Yikes. My intent was to exchange it, but I never got around to it. It's been sitting in my closet, and I've been looking at it, fantasizing about one day being able to wear it.

Today, I tried it on. And it totally fits.

I'll be wearing this all summer.

Actually, I take that back. By the end of the summer, I hope it will be way too big!

Coca Cola is one my sponsors and supporters in the healthkwest. They support a campaign called "little black dress", where they support people in their attempts to live healthy and fit back into the outfit of their dreams.
I guess my blue dress with seagulls is my "little black dress".

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ch-ch-ch- Changes

I can't believe the competition is 2/3 of the way done. It's gone by so fast!

I've seen so many incredible changes in myself the last weeks. Both physically, mentally and emotionally.

Physically, I feel awesome. I work out, I have energy, I have stamina.My body is on my side now, not fighting me. I'm friends with my body, now that I know that I control it.
The improvements have been astonishing.

When I first started the challenge, I had a terrible chafing problem. My upper thighs would be bleeding after a long run (too much info, I know...) because of the constant rubbing. No more!
When I started running, I had to wear a knee brace. My thigh muscles weren't strong enough to support my knees, so it hurt when I ran. Now I don't need to anymore.
Look at me! I have calves!

I look different, too. Leaner, healthier. I wore a sleeveless shirt today. I don't think I've done that since I was 19, because I hated my flabby arms.
I went swimsuit shopping this weekend. I usually dread that every year. Most years I have resorted to wearing jogging tops and spandex shorts when swimming, because it has been so hard to find a swimsuit that fits. This time around I tried one on at Academy, it fit and I bought it. No tears, no curse words, no broken spirit.

I'm more confident than I've ever been. Just a few weeks ago, it would never occur to me to leave the house without a full face of makeup. Now I'm not afraid of showing my real face anymore. I still want to look nice and presentable, of course, but it takes less.
I ran a 5K race this weekend. I remember mentioning to my husband on the way there that I felt weird and naked going out in public with no makeup on. After the run, I had an epiphany. I looked at my face in the mirror when I washed my hands, and I saw that the saying that beauty comes from the inside is truer than I ever thought it was. I saw rosy red cheeks from the fresh air, I saw the smile of someone proud of what they had just accomplished. I have never felt more beautiful than I did at that moment, even though my hair was wild and sweaty and my face was naked.

I have more courage than ever. Some of the media challenges I've had to complete involved talking to strangers, making videos, putting pictures of myself all over the internet. Those challenges have possibly been harder for me than the physical ones. But they've made me less scared.

I think that the physical and the emotional changes have come hand in hand. It's made me aware of the close connection between physical and mental health. In order to change, you have to step out of your comfort zone, whether it's physically or mentally. I have done that every day during the health kwest.
And I'm feeling good.

Even a makeupless day is ok. No need to apologize for being me.