Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Special K? More like Stupid K.

I'm going to be honest, I've been looking forward to writing this post for a while, but I wanted to wait until I had the results of my body composition test. I got my second body comp test done today, and the results were really exciting: In a month, I've lowered my body fat by 2.3%, and am currently 17% body fat. This is the result of hard work in the form of working out 2-3 hours a day, six days a week, but relatively little change in my nutrition.

Here's the part I was waiting on: I actually have only lost three (total) pounds in the last month.

Now, I feel like I can write the post I've been planning on writing. And the premise is this: Special K is the embodiment of everything that's wrong with America.

Honestly, I could talk about Atkins or Nutrisystem or whatever. My point is, these diets focus on the wrong thing and are completely unsustainable, and that's a problem.

So let's talk about Special K. The cereal promises that by following their "diet plan," you can lose six pounds (!!!!) in two weeks! You do this by eating a bowl of cereal with skim milk and a piece of fruit for two of your three main meals a day, then eating a healthy meal for your third meal. You also get two snacks, like a Special K bar(!!!!!).

How is this healthy? How is it healthy to encourage women to substitute a cereal whose ingredient list includes "defatted wheat germ" and high fructose corn syrup and a myriad of other unpronounceable additives for real food?

The answer is, it's not. The Special K challenge is a diet. It's not a lifestyle change, and you're most likely losing water and muscle mass, not a significant amount of fat. I'd be interested to see how many women quickly gain back the 4.8 pounds (the average weight loss specified in the fine print) they lost when they go back to eating real food.

Diets are stupid. And you know what? Any diet that encourages you to substitute chemicals for real food is beyond stupid. If a diet tells you that you're not allowed to eat a potato, you should probably rethink the diet. Last time I checked, potatoes have one(!!!) ingredient, come from the ground, and supply you with lots of nutrients, even helping to prevent colon cancer. There is absolutely nothing wrong with eating a potato.

I digress.

My point is, if you're stressing over the number on the scale fluctuating by a few pounds, don't. If you've been eating fairly well and staying active, it's probably the result of water retention, or could be the result of fat loss but muscle gain. Instead of focusing on making yourself weigh less, focus on making yourself stronger or making it easier for your body to do the things you love.

And any way you slice it, eating cereal for two meals a day and supplementing it with low calorie protein bars isn't normal or sustainable. I lost 2.3% body fat while still eating cake AND ice cream AND peanut butter AND potatoes, among other things. And eating zero Special K. You can do it too.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

What's inspiring me this week

All from Pinterest (follow me!)

Spine-strengthening series.

There's a period at the end of this title because that's how I feel about spine-strengthening series. I have so much hate towards it that I don't even feel like completing the thought. It's a set of four postures that I literally dread every time I go to Bikram.

I hate it so much because it hurts so bad. Which is apparently proof that I need it the most, but whatever. All I know is that when my first sweet savasana is over, I've got fifteen minutes of suffering ahead of me.

Spine-strengthening series is supposed to hurt. It's suppose to work every part of your spine, making you stronger and releasing toxins. It starts with cobra, moves on to locust, then full locust, then finishes with bow pose, which works every segment of your spine. I hate spine-strengthening series because it's the only segment of Bikram that is ALWAYS difficult for me. It really never feels easier.

Inevitably, I always end up sitting out at least one set of one of the postures. Typically, it's locust, because my arms being under my body is super uncomfortable. Today, however, I challenged myself to complete the entire series.

It wasn't easy; I cringed a lot and I forgot to keep my breath steady, but I finished the entire series without sitting out any of the postures. It still hurt, and I was still really happy when it was done, but I completed it, and sometimes that's the most important part.

I often find myself reflecting on Bikram as mirroring life. Over the last week, I've had a lot of tough classes, including a few where it was an accomplishment just to stay in the room for the entire ninety minutes. In fact, one class, I felt like I was going to be sick from about twenty minutes in onward. I must have looked crazy miserable, because the teacher came up to let me know that I "didn't have to be a hero" and that I could leave the room if I wanted to.

Life doesn't work like that.

Life is full of challenges, hard times, whatever, all of which are a heck of a lot more difficult than 90 minutes in the hot room. And you know what? You can't just quit. You can't just say "you know what, I don't feel like it today." You stick it out, you ride out the lows, and you get yourself back to the highs. Slowly, maybe cringing, but you get yourself out of the ruts that life throws at you.

And just like in spine-strengthening (which I still hate), you stick it out and it makes you stronger.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Before I post this, I want to (again) apologize for my truly terrible taste in music. That being said, this playlist is powering me through an upper body workout, two miles of running, and 30 minutes of walking uphill on the dreadmill (In all honesty, I actually kind of like the treadmill... I've trained myself to like it by planning my workouts so I get to watch the Orioles on it) today, and is 100% guarenteed to make you smile!

No Letting Go - Wayne Wonder (How's this for a throwback?)
We Run - Sugarland
The Fighter - Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder (This is my favorite song of the moment. I think it's perfect for both running and lifting, which is hard to do)
Lights - Ellie Goulding
Fine by Me - Andy Grammer
Brokenhearted - Karmen (Like I said, truly, truly terrible taste)
Glad You Came - The Wanted
How Will I Know - Glee Cast version (If you haven't heard this, you need to.)
Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
What Country Is - Luke Bryan
What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) - Kelly Clarkson
Only the Good Die Young - Billy Joel
Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5
Payphone - Maroon 5 ft. Wiz Khalifa
Songs Like This - Carrie Underwood
She's Like Texas - Josh Abbott Band
Starships - Nicki Minaj
Opposite of Adults - Chiddy Bang
So Much Better - Legally Blonde, the Musical
International Love - Pitbull ft. Chris Brown
Boyfriend - Justin Bieber

What's inspiring me this week

Some of my favorite pins from pinterest this week:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why I love baseball

It's been a few days since I last posted. Sorry about that - I had a busy weekend, between trying stand-up paddleboarding to yoga to running a four mile run with my dad to watching a friend compete in Miss DC. I also missed Fake Food Friday, which I promise to make up for this Friday with a few fake foods I enjoy. Get excited.

Today I'm posting about one of my other passions: baseball. I love baseball more than most girls (and probably most guys), and I've really enjoyed watching this season since my team, the typically terrible Baltimore Orioles, is actually having a pretty decent season. We're finishing above .500 this year - you heard it here first.


On Saturday I was in the gym watching the Nationals (I know. The Orioles weren't playing until later), and this was replayed:

Do yourself a favor and skip to like 1:10. So anyways, there I am on the treadmill, running and grinning like a crazy person watching a team that I don't even like. Why? Because celebrations like this are the reason I love baseball so much.

Because we're not even half way through the season, and teams celebrate wins like they're in the playoffs every day. Because it's the only sport where it's totally okay for grown adults to celebrate like they're little kids. Baseball doesn't lose it's magic as the players get older and better, and that's what makes it so special.

And, just 'cause I can't post about baseball without posting a Baltimore video, here's one more of my favorite grin-on-the-treadmill-in-a-crowded-gym moments - the Orioles knocking the Red Sox out of the playoffs last year. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

On letting go

Pinned Image

Yesterday, I had a break through during yoga. Well, two break throughs, really. One was physical (hooray holding toe stand!), and the other was mental.

I took a class with a new teacher, and he was awesome. He made jokes, he was down to earth, and he had a really good energy about him. If I'm being honest, I went into class thinking it was going to be miserable - I had eaten Chipotle about six hours before, and was still feeling sort of like that had been the wrong decision. And still, I had a pretty major break through.

Over the past few months, I've been really struggling with letting go. I don't need to go into details, but I'm certain we've all been there before; someone we love/trust/care about treats us in a way that hurts us/disrespects us/etc. At the core, it's this deep feeling of being let down. And there's this feeling of disbelief mixed with pain, doubt, and uneasiness. It's a feeling that makes you want to throw up when you think about it, and part of you begins to question a million other things, people, feelings that you thought you understood. Over the past few months, I can't count how many times I wished that I could just erase not only the being wronged, but also allowing myself to be vulnerable.

Yesterday, somewhere between standing bow pose and savasana, I realized how silly that is. I can't control how people treat me or what happens to me, but I can control how I react to it, and I can control how it impacts me. I can take being treated poorly, learn from it, and grow into a stronger version of who I am supposed to be.

And why on earth would I want to undo allowing myself to be vulnerable? That's my way of treating each person I meet the same; getting to know them, and not letting things that have happened in the past dictate how I act towards them.

I think so many times we just want the bad emotions to go away. We want our lives to be easy, simple, always happy. But I think we often fail to realize that every emotion and feeling that we experience is beautiful, because they mean that we are alive. They mean that we are capable of feeling something deeply and genuinely.

Letting go doesn't necessarily mean forgetting or pretending like it didn't happen. Letting go means learning what you can from the experience, and using that knowledge to continue to shape yourself into the person you are supposed to be.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What's inspiring me this week

Happy Tuesday! Here's what's inspiring me this week (all pinned on Pinterest. You should follow me!)

Monday, June 11, 2012

A bad day at yoga beats a good day without it.

Surprisingly, a lot of traffic is driven to my blog from people searching things having to do with hot yoga. Guess that means I'm allowed to blog more about it :)

Like I've said before, I love Bikram. I love it so much that I sometimes wake up at 5:30 just so I can make class and so much that it makes me sad when I have to go a day without going. And honestly, in the last month-ish, I've really had very few "bad" moments in class.

Today was a really tough day in Bikram.

I knew it was going to be hard during the first breathing exercise when I was dripping sweat halfway through the first set. My concentration was somewhat shot, and I started getting frustrated during the balancing series (the second series of the class). And then, somewhere towards the end of the standing series, I started feeling like I was going to die.

The problem really amplified because instead of concentrating on my breathing, I psyched myself out. By the time we made it to spine-strengthening series, I knew I needed to leave the room.

In 28 days, this is the first time I've had to leave, and I was really embarrassed. I felt like a failure as I regrouped myself in the bathroom, and I was still embarrassed when I got back into the room. There I was, four weeks into my practice, and I had to leave the room. I was THAT girl.

But then I realized something - and I'm gonna get psuedo deep here - yoga's a lot like life. It's really good 90% of the time, 9% of the time it's hard, and then there's that 1% of the time when you feel like you're not going to make it out in one piece. But even during that 1% - whether it was yoga class today or a rough patch in your personal life- your body and your mind get you through it, and you come out on the other side a stronger person, having learned something important about yourself.

Today was hard. It certainly wasn't the best day in my practice, but I learned something about my physical limits and something about accepting every part of my practice. There isn't really a bad day at yoga because the bottom line is, I made it to class, and I devoted 90 minutes to challenging myself.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

How to lose weight the healthy way

oldpinkshirt DSC02618

The first picture is from May of 2011, two days after I graduated college, and following my dad and I running the Historic Half. The other picture is prior to my most recent 5k, this past Saturday. The pink shirt is the same!

In a year, I’ve lost 25 pounds, two sizes, and have cut my body fat significantly. It’s been slow and steady, but I figured it might be time to blog about it and share some of what’s worked for me, in case someone out there has a few pounds to lose, and wants to do it without compromising their health or sanity.

Here's what’s worked for me:

  1. Don’t expect it to be quick, and don’t get frustrated if you’re only losing 1-2 pounds a week. I think TV shows like the Biggest Loser make us feel like if we’re not losing pounds by the double digits, we’re failing. In all actuality, that show creates an unrealistic environment – unless you’re working out hours upon hours a day, being fed a regulated diet, and have lots of fat to lose, it’s just not going to happen that quickly. Patience is a virtue, and studies have shown that when you lose weight slowly, you’re more likely to keep it off.
  2. No food is off limits. In the past, I had found that when I looked at certain foods as “bad,” I wanted to eat them All. The. Time. Instead, I eat what I want, when I want it, in moderation. If you’re eating well 80% of the time, the other 20% of the time isn’t going to derail your progress. At the same time, your health/fitness is 70% nutrition – what you eat has a huge impact on how you feel when you work out, how well you sleep, and, obviously, your overall health.
  3. Figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. I like carbs and I like sweets – I could never give up either, so I don’t, because if I did, I’d fail. The same goes for fitness – find activities you enjoy doing, and you’ll be more apt to do them. I love running, I love lifting weights, and I love yoga, but if you love Zumba or swimming, you should be doing that.
  4. Don’t just rely on the scale as a progress monitor. If you’re lifting weights, you’re probably gaining muscle, which weighs more than fat. Plus, some people just aren’t capable of weighing a certain amount (like I’m just never going to weigh 115 pounds, it’s not going to happen). I had my body fat measured to compare overall fitness levels and also just use clothes as a way to measure progress.
  5. On that note, be realistic, and know why you want to lose weight. Like I said, I’m never going to weigh 115 pounds – it’s just not going to happen. I’m also never going to look like Natalie Portman, because we’re just not built the same. Realistically, I want to be fit enough to do the things I love. I want to be toned and healthy, because being fit helps me enjoy life more.

Anyways, after I saw the picture from Saturday, I figured it was time to share. Leave a comment if you have other tips!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fake Food Friday

Part of being passionately curious includes loving to learn. In an effort to learn as much as I can, I’m currently working through the books I own that I have yet to read. I’m sure you have them too – books you bought with the intention of reading, books friends leant you, books you bought for school and never got around to reading… After going through pretty much everything I own, I went ahead and separated out the books that I own but haven’t yet read.

The first one I tackled, and finished on my ride to Rhode Island last weekend, was Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food:


I really enjoyed this book, and learned a lot about the development of the Western diet, the way our obsession with nutrition (taking lots of vitamins vs. just eating food to get nutrients), and ways to eat in order to live better and healthier. It definitely made me want to pick up the rest of Pollan’s books; I enjoy his writing style as well as the content.

Anyways, at the end, he provides food rules to follow – one of which is to just eat food. Food, not “food.” The way he puts it is that if your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, it’s not food. For example, did you realize that most breads in the supermarket today have tons of ingredients, most that are unpronounceable? Even whole grain bread? Or that skim milk isn’t just milk, but also additives to preserve flavor? In the last week, I’ve spent time reading food labels, and it’s definitely pretty eye-opening.

Which brings me to today. Last night, I was in the grocery store picking up a few things, and I came across this:


Kelloggs Krave. Obviously a “food,” and not FOOD. Inspired by my find last night, I bring you Fake Food Friday.  This may or may not become a regular feature, but I thought it’d be interesting to break down what Krave is, and isn’t.

I would guess that Krave is pretty tasty. I say I would guess because I didn’t actually purchase it, but in theory, it sounds like it could be a crunchy, delicious treat. It also sounds like it would make Cookie Crisp or Reeses Puffs look like granola. I mean, those at least spell their names right. I also kind of want to write Barbara’s and ask them to create chocolate-filled Peanut Butter Puffins (the world’s most perfect cereal). I digress.

Anyways. This is the nutrition label:


130 calories! It almost seems like a dieter’s cereal! Until you realize that it’s only for 3/4 of a cup (let’s be honest, nobody eats only 3/4 of a cup of cereal) and that it only offers two grams of protein. Which means you’re going to krave, errr crave, more pretty quickly.

The ingredients list has over 30 ingredients. Some of which I can’t pronounce. And the first two ingredients are Chocolate Flavored Filling (read: sugar) and sugar. Plus four different artificial colors. WHY on earth do we have a need to artificially color our “food?”

Last lesson from this edition of FFF": if you have to add the vitamins and minerals, it’s probably not Food. And Krave? Krave is definitely “food.”

Plus the font on the packaging reminds me of an alien.

Should Fake Food Friday become an ongoing feature? And more importantly, has anyone tried it? Is it tasty?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Happy National Running Day!

Today was National Running Day, so obviously I celebrated every way I knew how:

Running four miles, having a great upper body workout, and then going to Bikram class. It turns out that it's 1.9 miles to my gym, so I took advantage of the beautiful weather and ran there, did an extra .2 miles on the treadmill, did my upper body workout, and then ran back. It was really a great run, and I averaged right around an 8:40 mile, which is a great pace for me! I can really tell that my body and fitness level are changing with the workouts I've been doing. I also got to go to Bikram tonight, and it was a really emotional class, although I'm not sure why. When I was coming out of camel (essentially a back bend when standing up on your knees), I just started crying! Apparently this is fairly normal, and the instructor told me after class that this can be a good thing since this pose especially sometimes unlocks built up emotions. Weird.

Signing up for a 5k. Surprise! I've decided that I'm running a 5k on Saturday. It's in Sterling through neighborhoods, and I'm hoping to run well.. Time goal is to get it under 30:00, which I know sounds really slow, but I haven't run one in a while! And my all time PR is somewhere around 27:00, so I'm (now not so) secretly hoping to break 27:00, since I've been running so well.

Buying a new running shirt. I got this baby in ruby red from Dick's  today, and I love it! It's kind of like a jersey, but way cuter and perfect for both Bikram and running. I wore it to yoga today with my black Nike Pro spandex shorts and a black sports bra.

Treating myself  to my new favorite drink at Starbucks. Since taking up Bikram, I crave water and Starbucks Passion Tea literally All. The. Time. So today, I got a trenta Iced Passion Tea with no sweetener, and added my own Splenda. I felt zero bad about it.

Telling you my favorite treadmill workout! Okay, so this is my gift to you for National Running Day. I love running outside when the weather is nice, but sometimes it's too hot or it's thunderstorming, and this workout is perfect for that! 

Time                         Incline                         Speed
0:00-6:00                      1.0                                 6.5
6:00-9:00                      1.0                                 4.5
9:00-14:00                    1.0                                 6.5
14:00-16:30                  1.0                                 4.5
16:30-20:30                  1.0                                 6.5
20:30-22:30                  1.0                                 4.5
22:30-25:30                  1.0                                 6.5
25:30-27:00                  1.0                                 4.5
27:00-29:00                  1.0                                 7.5
29:00-30:00                  1.0                                 4.5
30:00-31:00                  1.0                                 7.5
31:00-60:00                  15.0                               4.0

The thing I love most about this workout is that it's challenging the whole time, and that it's never boring because you're not really going at one pace for that long (besides the end). I love walking uphill on the treadmill because it's great for your legs and a great calorie burner. Something that I learned from Runner's World and other healthy living blogs is that whenever you're running on a treadmill, you should always set it to at least a 1.0 incline, because this best mirrors running on a road or trail.

Did you do anything fun to celebrate National Running Day? Leave me a comment!