Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 25: Ups/Downs

twentyten // 027 // unassuming

I'm going to go out on a limb and post from my heart here. I woke up this morning thinking today would be a relatively calm day compared to the sorts of days I've had thus far this week. I've got a lot on my plate in a lot of different areas of my life right now. Photography, design work, fitness, my 9-5 job, along with the miscellany of day-to-day life such as keeping up with relationships, cooking, commuting, etc got me all wrapped into a big bundle of nerves.

My big struggle lately has been one with the idea of perfection. I am slowly learning that if I am doing a lot of different things, it is most important to do these things consistently well and perhaps not as important to ensure I'm doing them all perfectly. I don't think it's possible and I need to stop feeling guilty for not reaching perfection on a daily basis. Being the best that I can be at something is all that should matter. Right after returning home from a long day and night, however, I was completely lacking the sense to put a thought like this together. Nothing was going right.

My reaction to this a few months ago would be to bake some cookies or muffins to give away, sneakily downing one or two or three before doing so. I'm a notorious stress-baker. Today, however, I popped in the Shred and sweated all my issues out. Shadowboxing never felt so good. Exercise is the perfect "me" time. You are focused and in tune with your body. It is one of the most selfish things you can do. An act of self-love more powerful than any bubble bath or piece of chocolate.

Feeling better after this, I called my parents (whom I talk about a lot on here) to chat about some good news I had received this evening right after my work out. My dad had good news, too. He went ahead and informed me of a discussion he had with a nutritionist he's been talking to on the phone. My father is diabetic and has to closely monitor his blood sugar, etc. The nutritionist grilled him on his activity level and diet. My father told him about how he and my mom started the Shred, so they are effectively working out twenty minutes every day. Cardio, strength, abs. He also told him about what sorts of food he's been eating. Lean proteins, whole grains, veggies. The nutritionist was impressed and my dad went ahead and told him what I had done and how I had sort of passed on what knowledge I picked up along the way onto him and my mom. The nutritionist told Dad that these changes he's made in regards to his health could very well have saved his life and told him to pass the message on to me.

I had no words. Regardless of how fantastic the news I had received earlier was, nothing could possibly be better and more humbling than this. My only reaction was tears (which has been my reaction to most things this evening, both good and bad.) My dad boasted about his blood sugar reading after dinner tonight. He is in control of his disease. I am ecstatic.

Life is short and we should really live it out to the best of our abilities. We should be good to ourselves first. Everything else good seems to follow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 20: Level 2 Results

thirty day shred // day twenty progress

I did it! I finished Level 2. It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty, but I did it. I woke up at 6am to finish it so I could carry on with my Friday night without rushing around after work. I have to say that the plank exercises got easier but were by no means easy at the end. My favorite part of the level was the Military Press. Watching Natalie lose her balance while I solidly stood with burning arms on one foot made me feel good about myself. I see a bit more definition in my waist and tush. I also have muscles in my arms that I didn't know I had.

My measurements shifted down quite a bit, too:

Additionally, I seemed to have lost another 2lbs, bringing my total Shred weight loss to 4lbs.

I'm so excited about the results I've had with this and I'm pretty sure this excitement has spread a bit amongst people I know. My mom and dad are starting the Shred tomorrow. That to me, is better than any pound or inch that this takes off my body. Since they're loyal readers, I just want to tell them good luck and FOLLOW ANITA.. PLEASE!

My next results post will be for Day 30. I'm terrified of Level 3, but I know I can handle it. Bring it, Jillian!

Does anyone have any tips on Level 3?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 16: Progress

twentyten // 014 // tally

I've finally made it to the latter half of The 30 Day Shred, however it is by no means the home stretch. The past 16 days have helped me find some of the confidence I thought I had lost over the past months while dealing with stress eating, etc. The sense of accomplishment I feel every day for fitting in some sort of exercise has been bleeding into other areas of my life. I've been approaching things differently and thinking more positively. I think it's because I've a newfound respect for myself.

This daily exercise, I should mention, has been anything but easy. On day 11, when I popped in my DVD and started on Level 2 I was convinced I'd have to go back and just continue with Level 1. But I kept on trucking. Though the Level 2 workouts still have me on the floor in a ball of panting, sweaty exhaustion at the end, I'm finding getting through them less of a challenge here on Day 16 as opposed to Day 11. I don't think planks will ever be easy, but they don't hurt anymore. I've been focusing most of my attention on form. Thankfully it's improved, which I can only assume makes the workout that much more effective.

I've been eating well, to boot. Meal planning has been my greatest tool. I pretty much know what I'm going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner throughout the week. I've also been plotting out snacks to prevent vending machine regrets and baking on impulse. Is anyone else a stickler for planning? Has it worked for you, too?

cumin-scented wheat berry-lentil soup

Tonight I made some wheat berry and lentil soup that should last me through the rest of the week and thensome. It's a satisfying meal and it tastes good, too. I found the recipe here.

I feel ready to reach my health goals in 2010. How is everyone out there feeling about theirs?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recipe: Easy Vegan Chocolate Pudding

This chocolate pudding is delicious and dairy-free (and low-calorie!).

vegan chocolate pudding

2 cups unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup raw sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot
2 tbsp cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Serves Four.
Place the almond milk, sugar, cocoa and cornstarch in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, whisking often, for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove saucepan from heat and whisk in vanilla extract. Pour into 4 small cups or serving bowls & cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Chill for at least 1 hour in fridge before serving. Will keep 3-5 days.

Nutrition Info (per serving):
Calories: 74, Fat: 1.5g, Sodium: 90mg, Carbohydrates: 15g, Fiber: 1.2g, Sugars: 8.8g, Protein: 1g

Day 10: Level 1 Results

thirty day shred // day ten progress

I've finally completed Level 1 of The 30 Day Shred and I can see some differences in my body. The first level was difficult, but the soreness went away completely by about Day 4. I'm anxious to see what Level 2 has in store. Please note that, in addition to daily shred-sessions I have been working out at the gym. Last week I worked out every week day for 30 minutes on the elliptical at high resistance. I have also been logging and watching my calories. My rule of thumb is simple. Eat when you're hungry. Don't eat when you're not.

I lost two pounds thus far. I also took my measurements on Day 1 and Day 10. Here are the results:

I've been following shredheads on twitter for motivation. If you're interested in keeping up with me on twitter, you can find me here.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day 6: Breaking the Cycle

twentyten // 005 // trusty kicks

At 6 am my alarm went off. I swiftly ceased the obnoxiously loud old-timey ringing my iPhone was emitting and popped out of my warm and comfy bed onto the cold hardwood floors. As I walked down the hallway, the little devil on my shoulder said "Go back to sleep. You can work out later", and for about two seconds that was the plan. Then realized that if I didn't do it, I'd feel guilty. And guilt tends to be the first step in the wrong direction. Guilt leads to eating which leads to overeating which leads to excuses which leads to more guilt. So I slipped on my leggings and sneakers and set up shop to tackle Day 6 of the Shred before the sun even came up.

My tired body cracked in all sorts of places, but by the end of it I was wide awake and sweaty (and more than half way done with Level 1!). I don't know if it's just my mind or what, but I really feel like my body is responding to all of this working out. I've managed to make it to the gym every day this week, and even bumped up my cardio time from 25 minutes to 30. My clothes fit a tad better, I'm walking stronger, I'm eating well. I haven't slipped up yet, but understand it could happen (and that's OK!).

I took some advice from MizFit and started filling in my calendar with what exercises I did and a drew a little smiley face on good days (I'm six for six right now!). I think tracking this sort of progress in plain view is encouraging. I've also been really meticulous about updating my food and activity log at PeerTrainer. I've also been checking in with my mom and dad to see how they're doing with their fitness goals. My mom informed me that she's been pushing herself on the treadmill and elliptical every evening and my dad's been walking more, too. Knowing I'm helping to keep them going keeps me going.

I feel really positive about this first week of 2010. It's been an experiment in breaking the cycle and pushing my limits. I hope to continue this throughout the rest of the year. I'm determined and I know I can do it.

Monday, January 4, 2010


As mentioned in my last post, I started Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred on Sunday. I plan on weighing in and checking my measurements after completing the first ten days of Level 1. I'll do the same for Levels 2 (Day 20) and 3 (Day 30). But what after Day 30? Being against the idea of dieting and quick fixes, I've already decided that after this I'm going to continue incorporating workout DVDs into my schedule in addition to gym visits. I purchased Jillian's Banish Fat, Boost Your Metabolism DVD the same day I picked up 30 Day Shred. That's a 40 minute video, so I'm thinking it'll be a little more challenging. Hopefully after these 30 Days, I'll also still feel compelled to incorporate Levels 1, 2, and 3 into my daily routine moving into the future.

I'm feeling really optimistic about this and hope that I get the results I'm looking for. Having some sort of goal in mind has seemed to help me stay on track with my eating habits. Today I confronted platters of cookies, crackers, chocolate and other nasties in the office kitchen on my first day back to work but successfully avoided them. I think that the lingering muscle soreness from Day 1 reminded me of how hard I am and will be working to reach my goals. Today marks two days of clean, mindful eating.

red lentil and vegetable soup

Speaking of which, tonight I prepared some vegetable soup for dinner to offset the bitterly cold weather we've been having. I found the recipe on Dr. Oz's Real Age site, which has oodles and oodles of great, easy, healthy recipes. Because I dine alone, the recipe yielded enough for me to eat this all week. I might even need to freeze some. Red lentils are fantastic because they cook up so easily and pack such a mean nutritional punch. You can find the recipe for this soup by following this link, which also displays nutritional information.

I look forward to making this week a success. One step at a time.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hello 2010

I woke up this morning with big ideas in my head. After two weeks of using the holidays as an excuse for poor eating habits and sporadic exercising I had the same feeling of renewal that many people get at this time of the year. January is the perfect time for new beginnings and I'm ready to start fresh with the rest of the world. I am not as fit as I can be and I'm determined to make it happen through. The following things are what I want to REALLY focus on not just this month or this year, but forever.

1. Exercise. I plan to continue hitting the gym at least 3-4 times per week, getting in some good solid cardio. In addition, this morning I purchased Jillian Michaels' 30-Day Shred DVD and am vowing to make time for it every day for the next 29 days so-help-me-god. It's an intense 25-minute workout, but I can make time for it. The week of Christmas was so busy that I could barely get any workouts in and I saw an extreme change in my overall mood. Not only is exercise good for my body, but it's good for my psyche. This is something I need to remember on lazy days. There is always time, you just have to make it.

2. Eating. I love food. Food food food. I think about it all day. I like cooking and baking and dining out. Lately, however, my relationship with food has taken a nosedive. I've found myself mindlessly munching on whatever I can get my hands on in the kitchen cabinets. I've been baking when I'm lonely or stressed and have had one too many test cookies. I haven't been nourishing myself the way that I know that I should. Too much sugar has made its way into my diet again due to the onslaught of Christmas cookies and pies in conjunction with the stress that comes along with this time of year. My body deserves better. More vegetables. More lean proteins. More fiber. Less fat. Less empty carbohydrates. Less sugar. I'm going to pledge to myself not to let cravings win this year, especially not while I'm working so hard at the gym.

3. Loving myself. Acceptance is hard enough, but learning to really love myself is the goal here. Stress-eating and laziness are part of a vicious cycle whose root is self-esteem (or lack thereof). I've worked so hard to be where I am today and I need to stop stressing so much about who I want to be/who I used to be and focus on who I am. There are no excuses. Today is all that matters.

So here's to the beginning of a new decade—one in which I hope to find true inner and outer strength.