Monday, February 28, 2011

Falling off the Wagon...

For those of you who didn't know (and I'm not sure how you couldn't know - since I made sure everyone knew), that Friday was my birthday. So of course, last week was my birthday week - and starting the week I told myself "I'm not going to let my birthday week mess up all this hard work I have put in." Yeah... that lasted 'til about Wednesday. So since last Thursday, I haven't exercised, and I most definitely haven't eaten well. (I even had a piece of cake! *gasp*)

So, I am telling all of you this so we can all learn. Just because we fall of the wagon for the weekend, it doesn't mean we can't just hop right back on!

So I am jumping back on full-force this morning! I am super excited and ready to get these last couple of pounds off so I can get my new nail polish, and hopefully soon get out of this awkward "in-between" size where none of my pants fit right. The bigger size is too big - smaller size too small. I need like a half size or something - but fingers crossed I won't be here for long! (but I digress...)

Lesson to be learned? Don't let a bad day or weekend (or even full week) knock you off your diet. It's really easy to have the mindset of "well I was bad yesterday, so I might as well give up." But I say NO! Know that your goal can be reached, just keep working hard for it!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Importance of Breakfast

So, what is the most important meal of the day? Breakfast! We've been told this since we were just youngen's, but if you're like me, you never really payed attention to it. My morning schedule is pretty hectic. I *try* to wake up at 6:30, get dressed, put on make up, make my bed... etc. I absolutely must leave the house by 7:25 or I will be late for class - thanks to the oh-so-lovely red light with 7 minute cycles at the end of my road. Like I already said, I have never really eaten breakfast, not in high-school, and definitely not while I have been in college - until this semester.

What's the problem with not eating breakfast? One less meal means less calories right? Nah, not really. First, we'll look at it from your metabolism's point of view. Let's say you're like me and you wake up at 6:30. So, again, like me, you have class until 11. Then you go change clothes, head back to campus for the noon spin class. You get out and it's time to eat - and it's one o'clock PM. You have been awake for over 7 hours, but your metabolism is running at the same pace as if you were still in bed. Why? Because you didn't feed it! Whenever you skip out on waking up your metabolism, you skip out on giving your body the fuel (glycogen) it needs to provide you with energy for physical activity.

Point 2 - If you eat breakfast, you will be less hungry throughout the day, and less likely to overeat. I can tell you that this is true, just from experience. How many times have we skipped on breakfast, then by lunch time, we're so ravenous, that we eat until we have to unbutton our pants "Frank-style." So, for the moment, you might be "saving calories", but throughout the day, you're more likely to eat the calories you should have eaten at breakfast - and then some.

So, I hope I have convinced you to eat breakfast tomorrow morning! I try to make my breakfast full of fiber and protein, so that it will keep me fuller, longer. I love, love, love a honey whole wheat bagel from Einsteins! Also, Nutella with banana slices makes for one heck of a good English muffin. So find something that's easy and healthy to eat on in the morning, and notice your change in energy and food choices throughout the day. I truly believe that one of the reasons for my success so far can be credited to eating breakfast!

This has absolutely nothing to do with weight-loss... BUT. I just want to vent how angry it makes me when I say "thank you" and the person replies "uh-huh." I notice this a ton more in Mississippi than I do in Alabama, but still. It takes everything in my being to not turn green and shout "You mean 'you're welcome,' right?"  "Uh-huh" is NOT an answer to thank you. I am sure that your mothers have raised you better than that and that I'm preaching to the choir, but just in case anyone has forgotten a nice reply would be "you're welcome" or "anytime, friend!" or "no problem." So there, I'm done... thanks for sticking around and listening to my problems :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

How Hard are You Working Out?

So, how hard are you actually working out? You think you are busting your butt on the treadmill everyday, but you're not really seeing results. Let me be the first to say, it's pretty easy to fool yourself. And I will tell you, I am phenomenal at it. But working out is like a church service and a bank - you only get out what you put in. So, if you think that you are working out strenuously, but you're barely getting your heart rate up, you're not only not reaping the benefits of exercise, but it's probably pretty discouraging as well.

So everyone has a different body and we're all different ages, which means everyone has different heart rate we want to reach. Well, you can look at those charts they have up on the gym walls, but they're not very accurate. "What's a better way to tell my intensity?" you ask. And I reply, "The Sing-Talk test!" This has been pushed on us WWs, and it seems to be a pretty effective way of measuring intensity.

This is pretty much it:
             - if you can sing, you're at a minimum elevated heart-rate and at a low intensity
             - if you can talk in complete sentences you are at a moderate intensity (this is recommended for older people and people who are just beginning to get active)
             - if you can only talk in short monosyllabic sentences, then you are at a high intensity (cardio level)

So, if you're out for your walk and singing like Christina Aguilera, then you need to step it up!
And if you're super out of breath, make sure that you are at the level of fitness for your body to handle it! It is really a great idea to have an exercise partner. This person can keep you accountable to make sure you push it your whole workout, and they will be there to bring you back down if you're going too hard! And hey, that's what friends are for, right?
So make sure the next time you're working out to use the Sing-Talk Test, and make sure you're getting the most out of your workout!

P.S. So today I start Week 8 of Weight Watchers - and I've lost a total of 27 lbs! So I'm three lbs away from my next nail polish (I've already got it picked out and in a shopping cart online!) and about 5lbs away from what I weighed at the end of Freshman year! I know that most people don't care, but I was just really excited about that this morning!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Here, Have Some Fries!

Hey guys! Sorry I've been lazy this week - won't try to justify it (but this weather sucks and makes me lazy)! But anywho, one of my biggest weaknesses is french-fries! I love, love, love them. I mean, I LOVE them. And we all know, french fries are bad, bad, BAD! So, how do we fix this? In short, you don't. BUT, you can whip up some pretty tasty "fries" right at home!

To me, one of the biggest things about food is texture. If I don't like the way it feels, I'm probably not going to eat it. So, fries = greasy, chips = crunchy, and so on and so forth. So tonight I'm going to tell you how I make a potato (5 pts WW) into mock fries & chips.

For fries:
Take a cookie sheet and spray it lightly with olive oil. Then take your potato and cut it as thinly as you want your fries to be ( I like mine like McDonald's fries). Then lay them out on your cookie sheet, spray them with olive oil, then sprinkle them with season salt to taste. Broil them in the oven for about 15 min (this will vary with how thick your fries are). Pull them out and enjoy!!

For chips:
Take your cookie sheet and lightly olive oil it. Then slice your potato as thinly as possible (I go the opposite direction that I go with cutting fries). Olive oil them, sprinkle salt, broil until golden brown and crispy. Take them out (I salt them a little bit more) then crunch away!

I really love both of these variations of a potato, and I hope you do, too!

Monday, February 7, 2011

"Do you guys remember that feeling we used to get... during a really intense Spinning class? "

So I left you hanging this weekend - I know, I know. I feel bad enough already. Let me just say that after my tests, I needed a relaxing weekend - and I didn't get it! After class on Friday, I went to pick up my grand-little (shout-out to Nathan! Best grand-little ever!), and after some - eh, difficulties - we were able to hit the road for a shopping trip in Birmingham. Then Saturday, I spent all day preparing for our party at the frat house (I am the Social Chair, so it's my job - and it's more stressful than you think), and we had a pretty eventful night. So Sunday, woke up, cleaned, ate, watched the Super Bowl (who won that again?) then went right back to bed. So in short, my computer didn't even come out of its case this weekend - I'm sorry.

So, enough trying to justify my blog-laziness - onto today's subject. SPIN CLASS! Yay! I love spinning - it's a part of my day that I look forward to, everyday! One of my long-term goals is to be a class instructor. Most of the time when I talk about spin class most of the males in the area are like "Spin class? What is that?" And I normally describe it as "a really intense cycling class." But it's so much more than that. It is a bike ride to fitness heaven.  If you have never tried a spin class, I insist you must.

If you have a gym membership, you have probably gone by the room with the loud music, black lights, and crazy people in it. At least that is what I used to think. I just knew that I would never be able to make it through all that standing up they do. But eventually my roommates talked me into going, and I enjoyed it - but never really thought much more about it. (I'll pause a moment here to say that exercise is like a bank and a church sermon - you get out what you put in).  So I would go every once in a while, but not regularly, and not enough to make a difference in my body. 

Now, I'm going to confess to you all - if I have no structure, I have no workout. If no one is leading me, I am that person in the gym who wanders from station to station like a lost puppy. So, needless to say, I love the classes that the gym offers here at state, whether it be spin or total body workout. Whenever I realized that one most days, my school day is finished by 11 AM, I decided I wanted to get my workout finished, too. So I started going to spin class at noon. The more and more I go, the better and better I seem to get at it, and the more and more I can get out of the class.

I've been doing this class (regularly) for about 4 weeks now. Spin class is not only good for cardio, but for muscle toning, too. By about week two, I was able to see more leg definition, better cardio endurance, and tighter hams and glutes! The music also just makes my day that much better.  If you're intimidated by spin class, like many people are, I say no, don't you be intimidated! Everyone has to have a first time, or no one would be doing it! No one is going to call you out for not staying up for the whole standing climb, or taking a break during jumps - everyone has done it from time to time, especially as a beginner.  It took me about a week of classes before I could do jumps all the way through, without about dying. Oh, and you burn about 800 calories in that hour, by the way.

If you're dieting along with going to spin class, here is your warning. Like I said above, you burn anywhere between 600 - 900 calories (my average is around 780 according to my heart-rate monitor). So, say you're eating 1200 calories a day on your diet. If you burn 600 calories, then you just used up 1/2 of your calories for the day. And you HAVE to give your body fuel. If you do not eat enough (healthy food - not Whoppers) then your body will scare itself into starvation mode, and you will not lose any weight. So, make sure you account for such a big calorie loss on your spin class days.

So, for those of you that spin class is available, try it at least once! I promise you will enjoy it!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Listening to Your Body - Part 2

Let me start off by saying I am so sorry for not posting yesterday! Between studying for my biochemistry exam and laying in bed with a heating pad on my tummy, I didn't realize I hadn't posted until nearly 1 AM. So again, I'm sorry!

So, on Tuesday, I wrote about listening to your body in terms of exercise, and today, I'm going to hit on listening to your body from a diet point of view. As a student in Biomedical Engineering, I have taken (and am taking) a ton of biology and chemistry classes, and if you think about it, that's exactly what a diet is. (Let me stop and say right here that I am NOT a nutrition major - so I might get something wrong, but yes, I have learned a lot about molecules and energy).  But like I said in my very first post - I am going to try not to bore anyone to death (because I know it definitely can be boring). So, for basis purposes, I'll hit the high points. First and foremost, the reason we eat is to give our body the energy it needs (ATP, ADP, free energy, blah, blah, blah). Next, you have carbohydrates/sugars, fats, and proteins, and your body digests and uses each of these differently. So, a good question to ask here is, which ones do our bodies need? And I've got your answer - all of them!

Right now I can see you giving me a confused look through your screen and saying - No Casey, carbs are the devil's food. And fat? Please.

And I say NO! Carbohydrates have a really bad rep in weight-loss circles everywhere. Now, repeat after me - We need carbs! The key is to get your carbs from healthy sources. And since carbs do turn to sugar, which turns to fat, I am in no way saying that you can eat all the carbs you want and not gain weight - that just ain't gonna happen. But what I will tell you is that you can get carbs from whole wheat (and other healthy foods) and it will be a-okay. In fact, if you are exercising on a daily basis, you absolutely have to have carbs. Have you ever heard of carbo-loading? If not, it's where marathoners, bikers, and triathletes will eat a very heavy carb diet for 4 days leading up to their big event. (When I picture this in my head, I see Lance Armstrong in full biking gear with a big mixing bowl full of spaghetti).This allows for extra storage of glycogen (the energy source that carbohydrates turn into) in their muscles, and it gives them more energy. Do you ever feel extremely exhausted after a hard workout? You probably need more carbs! My two favorite ways to get carbs are whole wheat bread (with Nutella, of course!) and whole wheat pasta. Also, most fruits have plenty of carbohydrates, too. Just remember - get what you need, and cut it off there!

Now to tackle fat. And I just want to say, ew. Have you ever looked at mayonnaise after it's been at room temperature for a few hours? Ugh, gag me with a spoon. But, as we all know, fat is what makes food taste good. And you need fat, too. And then I think of that guy from Weeds, "You wanna avocado? Its got that good fat." (I'm sorry for taking you into my mind today - it gets lonely in here). So you have your "good fat" (unsaturated) and your "evil fat" (saturated). The only difference between saturated and unsaturated fat is a double bond between carbons (that just amazes me since they are so different). So how to tell the difference? Liquid = good, hard = bad. Think the difference between olive oil and Crisco. You don't need any saturated fat in your diet - at all. But you do need unsaturated. This type of fat insulates your nerves, keeps your joints "oiled" and for women, is essential in reproduction.  If you don't have enough fat in your diet, you aren't able to absorb your fat soluble vitamins - and that just isn't healthy. Most people don't have a problem with getting enough fat in their diet, but when you go on an extremely restrictive diet, it could become an issue. Here are some things to look for that mean you need to up your healthy fat intake:
                                                         - dry, scaly skin
                                                         - hair loss
                                                         - problems with wounds healing
                                                         - excessive bruising
                                                         - and in women a loss of menstruation

Well, protein isn't so bad, you say. No, it isn't - it's essential to build lean muscle. BUT - and this is a big but - any protein that you don't use will turn to fat. You can't just drink nothing but protein shakes and build muscle. It just doesn't work. However, if you're a big body builder (and if you are, I'm not sure why you're reading my blog), then you will benefit from excessive protein. If you're not eating enough protein, your body is going to start taking the protein it needs from your muscles! And you worked hard for those! Fatigue and frequent sickness can be a sign of low protein in your diet. Also, you can buy strips that you pee on (sorry to be blunt) that will check that you're not getting too much protein, because that can be really dangerous for your kidneys. The most places you get your protein from are healthy by themselves - milk, beans, protein, and lean meats (turkey, fish and the like).  So make sure you get your protein, because every aspect of your body needs it!

A few other quick fixes you can get from food :
- Cramps? Try eating a banana to get some potassium!
- Bloated? Eat more fiber!
- Sweet tooth killing you? (hey that can feel like physical pain sometimes!) Try Nutella! It's sweet and chocolaty and wonderful and if you can keep it to 1-2 tablespoons then you're fine!

So to wrap it up - eat as much of a balanced diet as you possibly can. You're body knows what kind of foods needs, so pay attention! I hope y'all have a wonderful rest of the day!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Listening to Your Body - Part 1

As most of my friends know, one of my favorite phrases is "If you're not sore the next day, you didn't go hard enough." When I was younger, my dad used to ask me the day after a long weekend of softball games  if I was sore. If the I said yes, he would say, "Good, that just means you played hard." If the answer was no, his reply would always be, "Well, you must not have played hard enough." Now, you might not have ever heard my phrase before, but I can almost guarantee that at one point in your life you've heard the phrases "Pain is weakness leaving the body" or "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." I am here to completely discredit both of those phrases.

I like being sore. Soreness is a common result of working out, and it's a sign you're building muscle. If you work out at the same pace day after day without being sore, you really aren't doing anything productive. When your muscles burn during a workout, that is a sign that the little bitty fibers that make up your muscles are stretching and tearing, and that is what causes the next-day soreness. That sounds bad, right? Well it's not! Whenever these fibers tear, they come back stronger and that's how you build muscles (but you need to give your muscles 24-48 hours to do this repair). Now, you might've heard that lactic acid is the main cause of soreness (like I've heard before), but that's not the case. However, lactic acid does have an effect on the way you feel the next day. Lactic acid is a waste product from energy conversion (You can read about it here) that will build up in your muscles, and if you don't give your body a chance to rid it, it will become painful! The best way to keep from getting a build up is to make sure you cool down after your workout. I had a severe build up my senior year in high school, and trust me, you don't want this to happen to you!

So, moving on to discrediting those phrases. There is a big, big difference between soreness and pain (if you're just starting out soreness might feel like pain but I promise it's not). Now, pain is not weakness leaving the body - pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. We are given this sense so that we will listen to it! And, though "what doensn't kill you will only make you stronger" might hold true in a psychological or emotional sense, it definitely doesn't in a physiological sense.  If you tear your ACL, it will not kill you (though it might make you wish you were dead), and it will definitely won't make you stronger.

So, to wrap up this discussion - soreness is good, pain is bad. If you're sore, give that muscle group a good 24-48 hours to repair those little tears, then work those (now bigger and stronger) muscles out again! If you're in pain, stop exercising, give yourself a good, long break and go see a doctor. Working out while you're in pain is not only a bad idea, but it could make what would have been a quick-healing injury something serious. So - listen to your body!

Tomorrow, I'm going to try to talk about listening to your body in regards to your diet so make sure to check back in! Thanks for reading y'all, and I hope you have a great rest of the day!