Your Mountain is Waiting

February 17, 2011

The other night, I did something I haven’t done in quite a long time (we’re talking years here!). I went rock climbing. Looking up at the very top of the indoor wall, I thought, there’s no way I’ll be able to climb that! It was probably a good 25 feet high, plus there were people watching.

Insanity.

But I tried anyway.

It was intense, it was tough, and it was scary. Climbing straight up and trying not to look down was one of the most challenging aspects, and even though I had a harness on I was still terrified of losing my balance and slipping. There were times when I thought my fear of falling would get the best of me, but I toughed it out and had an epiphany while I was scaling that wall.

Climbing up the rock wall is like deciding to recover and, more importantly, defeat my eating disorder. You’ve got to tackle it head on and just climb from the bottom of that wall all the way to the top. Trusting and knowing you’ll be caught by your support group if you do happen to lose your grip is an important factor. They’re there with you every step of the way, whether you realize it or not. They’ve got your back. If you do happen to lose your grip, you have support in your belayer. Turn to them and tell them, and they’ve got you – they won’t let you fall. But it’s also about trusting yourself. You’ve got to believe that you’ve got the right footing and you have to take it one step at a time.

There will probably be a few slip ups and maybe even a few fallbacks, and that’s when the choice is up to you: you can give that climb another try and push yourself to the top, or you can go right back down to the bottom. Although scaling a wall of any kind is never easy no matter what the situation, it is always worth the climb. Because once you’re at the top, there is no greater feeling.

As far as I’m concerned, the only way to go is up.

What’s your “wall?”

A love letter for 2011

December 31, 2010

Body, I’ve let you down, and I’m sorry.

Legs, thank you for carrying me and remaining strong while I continued to abuse you with running, time on the elliptical, and biking. Thank you for staying strong and not letting me fall.

My eyes, thank you for letting me see the world around me every day, even when I couldn’t see the damage I was doing to myself, even when it was right in front of me.

To my heart, thank you for never giving up, even when I almost did. Even when you were at your slowest, you never gave up and you never stopped.  You never stopped letting the life flow through me, even when I didn’t feel it.

Body, I won’t hurt you anymore.

I won’t push you so far again. I’m sorry for what I put you through and I’m sorry for not knowing my limits. You deserve only the best treatment and respect, and I am glad I realize this now. Better late than never, right? No more two-a-days at the gym, no more skipping meals. Never again will I feel guilty for putting whole foods into you and I will never again try to “undo” my actions. You are so much more than the vessel I walk around in, the skin that I inhabit.

That’s why you deserve better.

This year, I’m not going to make any resolutions to “tone up” or lose X amount of pounds. I’m not going to exercise a certain amount of minutes every week, and I’m certainly not going to feel guilty if I choose to spend quality time with my friends over time at the gym. No more starving, no more feeling out of control. It’s time to stop this…because I’m beautiful just the way I am.

This is my promise to you, Body. I promise to treat you with the care you deserve. I promise to give you days to rest, days to recover, and days to simply be. I promise to enjoy every day and live for me and not for my exercise regimen. No more comparing and wishing; you’re better than that. I promise to live more days with a smile on my face and a feeling of pride in the strong, independent, beautiful person that I have become. I will live more days where I can smile, laugh, and be who I was truly meant to be. Days like these:

(That’s my aunt, BTW. Crazy runs in the family.)

My promise to stay strong.

What I can promise you, Body, is that 2011 is going to be filled with amazing times, crazy memories, and great fun.

Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions?


Living on campus sure has it’s perks. It’s hella convenient to get to classes because I’m smack dab in the middle of everything, I love my dorm, and I love feeling like I’m involved on campus. But it also sucks majorly. Maybe it’s the lack of parking for residents on campus, or perhaps it’s the overcrowded dorms and the fact that I now even wear shower shoes when I’m at home. You know, I don’t think those things are the worst. Living on campus would be just perfect if it wasn’t for one thing…

a required meal plan. Meals look like this:

We all know what that means. Burgers, fries, pizza, white pasta, and a salad bar with greens that have been out for far too long. Any vegetable in sight has been bastardized in one way or another: it’s creamed, mashed up with cheese or bacon or, to top it all off, has been deep fried. We don’t get much say in what’s available that day – what they’ve prepared is what you get.

So what’s a healthy college kid to do when they’re not craving fries and ice cream all day long? Here are my tips for healthy dining in an unhealthy dining facility.

1) Look for whole grains. Got a pasta bar? Then there should be whole wheat pasta somewhere. If not, request it! In fact, go on a whole wheat requesting spree. Ask for whole wheat bread and bagels for toast, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice.

2) If you’re going to have a salad, choose spinach over lettuce. Darker greens = more nutrients. Plus, they taste better.

3) If you go to the dining hall for breakfast and choose the make-your-own waffles or pancakes, bring your own maple syrup. I’m talkin’ 100% pure here, folks. Here’s a secret: the syrup the dining minions use is just sugar with flavorings, and is reused. How gross is that?!

4) See if there is a gluten-free section. In my dining hall, there is and generally I’ve found that gluten free cereals on offer are also vegan, whole grain, free of refined sugars, and are deeeeelish. That’s better than Lucky Charms.

5) Avoid going to the dessert or pizza bar every day. Sure, it’s great to enjoy these things if you want to, but just remember that moderation is key.

6) Get creative! Make a salad and then top it with vegetables from the hot bar, or get a whole wheat bagel and top it with veggies to make a sandwich. It might sound gross or weird, but the most delicious creations can be made if you think outside the box.

7) This is my most important tip: talk to the dining hall staff! Most of the time, they love to hear your feedback. They won’t know something is wrong unless you tell them. Don’t be afraid to say so. See if you can talk to the head of the staff, he or she is usually there during the day. Tell them you want more options, healthier fare, fresher fruit, etc. They will listen.

8 ) Drinking soda with your meal? Only fill your cup 3/4 full and top it up with water. The same goes for sugary drinks like punch or juice.

9) Whatever you decide to eat, put it on top of a bed of spinach or leafy greens. Yay for extra nutrients!

10) Don’t eat the meatloaf. Just don’t.

11) Keep healthy snackage in your room! Some days, you just don’t feel like going to the caf for dinner and I don’t blame you. Have fruits and vegetables (think bananas for snacks and potatoes for baking) as well as cereal, oatmeal, boxes of pasta, and frozen/canned vegetables.

Did/do you live and dine on campus? What are your tips for healthy eating when you’re not the one preparing the food?

 

Why is it that so many women today think that there are two options when it comes to weight lifting?

Option A:

Wimpy wimpy wimpy, like this guy

Option B:

Hefty, hefty, hefty….and scary!

Weight lifting isn’t just for the boys anymore! Besides, we know that all they really do is stand around and try to look appealing to all the ladies, right?! 😉

Now I’m gonna say something that might scare you, so brace yourselves, ladies. Lifting weights will not turn you into some beastly monster with bulging veins and huge biceps as soon as you start. That’s right. Now take a deep breath and read that sentence again. You will be a beast, but you won’t be a ginormous bodybuilder.

If you don’t do any kind of weight training exercises, I think you should seriously consider starting.

Weight training (obviously) builds muscle. That’s what scares a lot of people, and I’ll tell you why. Muscle weighs more than fat. Gaining muscle through weight training means you’ll burn fat and gain muscle. That can sometimes equal a weight gain. But guess what – it’s not a bad weight gain. It’s an “I’m building muscles so I’ma look super sexy” gain.

Well here’s a few reasons why you should lift weights.

1) Physically, you will be so much stronger. You won’t be a wuss. Your flexibility, strength, endurance, power, and speed will all improve.

2) Your base metabolism will be raised. I’m  no dietitian, but I do know that muscle burns more calories than fat, even when sedentary. That means you get to eat more. Win.

3) You’ll become a sexy beast.

4) Muscle has gorgeous, lean form. It takes up less space than fat does and it doesn’t disfigure you, either. Actually, it will protect you. Stronger muscles will help protect you from osteoporosis. So put that milk down and pick up some weights.

5) Weight training has been clinically proven to raise your “good” cholesterol and lower your “bad” cholesterol. It also strengthens your heart.

6) You’ll become a sexy beast.

7) You’ll be in a chipper mood all day. Trust me – when I lift weights, I leave the gym feeling awesome. I feel strong and powerful because I am! Weights work wonders for self-esteem too!

6) The guys will probably all be smitten with you. Seriously… a chick in the free weights area that knows what she’s doing?! Daaaaaang.

7) All of the men in said free weights area will think you’re a sexy beast.

So what are you waiting for? Time to explore the free weights, ladies.

Move Yo Self

August 3, 2010

If you’re like me, the last thing you wanna do when on vacay is work out. Unless your family/friends/significant other do boring things like visit expensive and boring art museums all day long. But if you’re somewhere totally legit like Spain or Italy, I’m sure you aren’t thinking about treadmills or strength training. You’re thinking about freaking gelato or something….and I’m thinking about why you didn’t take me with you! 😉

Yes please.

Nevertheless, I think exercising in any way, shape, or form while on vacation is very important. I’m not saying you have to haul your bootay to a nearby gym or run five miles every day you’re away. You see, I also believe that balance is an important part of not only your vacation, but your every day life.

So what’s a gym rat to do? Here’s my top tips for not being a complete bum when you’re away.

– Plan, plan, plan. If you don’t know the area you’re visiting, print off a few Google maps of the area right around your accommodation before you go. Familiarize yourself with the street names or nearby landmarks. That way, you’ll be able to figure out the immediate area for shopping and food as well as running!

– Take a walk. Get oot and aboot. If you’re in the mountains, go for a hike. If you’re at the beach, get your boyfriend to hold your hand at sunset and walk at sunset. Walking is supa easy and it’s good exercise!

– If you belong to a gym, check if you’ve got reciprocal membership. That’s a schmancy term for being able to use any branch of your gym in the country. Chances are, there’s a location near you and you can get in there for free. Or, be sneaky and scope out local gyms before you leave. Most gyms offer a free pass of some sort. Wintastic.

– Try something new! If you’ve never done yoga on the beach before, friggin do it. If you’re in Barcelona, go salsa dance! If you’re in the Alps eat chocolate and ski! You’ll have fun and experience new things – and isn’t that what a vacay is all about?

– Don’t forget to check if your hotel has a gym. That’s super convenient for you, plus you know you can always get a good workout in but there’s no pressure to do so. You can get your sweat on either before or after your adventures…whatever works for you! Plus, there might be a sauna too. *swoon*

And my top tip?

– Relax. Seriously. You’re on vacation. You haven’t traveled as far as you have just so you can work out, so it shouldn’t be a priority while you’re away from home.

Bliss.

Besides…your first priority should be getting me a plane ticket to join you. 😉

Do you work out regularly when on vacation?

Know Your Limits

July 28, 2010

Time for a non-food related post!

But before I get to the good stuff, let me remind you that you have one day left to enter my giveaway. I’ll randomly pick a winner on my birthday, July 30th.

Anyway, on to the crux of the matter.

This is a representation of me this evening:

This is an artist’s interpretation of me post-running this evening:

I was spent. Exhausted. Pooped.

I ran with Caitlin and Emma tonight, and something was totally off for me from the beginning. My knee was being a brat and then I got a nasty stitch in my side about halfway in. I managed to last about 2.8 miles (I think?) before my knee said NO and I had to stop. The whole way home my stomach and chest were aching and I had to pull over at one point, taking deep breaths.

When I was halfway home, I realized my problemo.

I’m completely burned out.

You see, I decided a few weeks ago to up my exercise to five to six days a week, an hour a pop, switching between cardio and weight/circuit training. It’s been good for the most part – I’ve discovered my love for weight lifting (there will be a post on that soon, trust) and I’ve also learned to be more adventurous with my cardio (i.e. doing quarter mile sprint intervals on the dreadmill instead of chugging along on the elliptical for 50 minutes). But that’s about it.

I’ve never been one to dread going to the gym. Perhaps it’s the supa cute guy that runs the desk (and occasionally bends over to wipe off the bottom of the treadmills…mmm), or maybe it’s the fact that I feel super inspired and love running on the treadmill next to the others. I think I just like an excuse to be sweaty in public.

Creeper.

I think tonight I realized what I should have learned weeks ago…that working out six days a week, an hour a pop was only going to lead to guilt when I couldn’t fulfill my high expectations. Essentially, I was opening the door to my previous behaviors. I was starting to feel how I felt back in my compulsive exercise days – guilty, worried, and anxious. If I wasn’t “good enough” or didn’t work out for quite enough time, I would obsess over how I could do better. I once again started a food and exercise journal, and I found myself in a vicious spiral once again. A few days ago, I even Tweeted that I felt guilty for eating dark chocolate as well as having a scheduled rest day. Um, hello?!

My body was trying to tell me it was tired tonight. Caitlin made me stop running tonight because my knee was hurting me, but I was trying to ignore it (Thank you, Caitlin!!). I felt like I was weak, like I was quitting. I’ve run 10 miles before, why can’t I do this 3 mile loop? But you know what I figured out?

You’re not quitting if you’re listening to your body.

So, body, I’m going to start listening to you more. If that means skipping a workout to rest, that’s okay. If it means cutting my gym sesh short (and seeing Cute Butt Desk Guy less), that’s just dandy. I’m not going to die and the world won’t blow up because I missed a workout. Because it’s all gonna be okay in the end. And if it’s not okay, it’s not the end (thanks to whoever said that!).

And I think my body’s trying to tell me what it wants right now:

I’m so down.

Question: Why are these crappy fat free, diet, “healthy” foods still on the market?

Answer: Because people are scared.

Do you remember when the whole low fat craze started? Products started coming out that were light, low fat, fat free, and reduced fat. These words, the untrained eye, can be very deceiving. They can make you feel uber comfortable with these foods, as if they can be good for your body. But what people don’t understand is that labels lie, and they’re doing a darn good job with it, too. Eggo, Kellogg’s, Lay’s, and hundreds of other food companies have scared us into thinking that we should buy their “healthier” options.

Reduced fat or sugar, fat or sugar free, or light simply mean the company that makes this nasty stuff altered the chemical makeup of their product. Less fat usually means more sugars. How can a frozen dinner that comes pre-packaged from a manufacturing facility be called all natural? You know what makes Oreos taste good? All the unpronounceable chemicals and artificial sweeteners. You know what makes reduced fat Oreos taste good? All the additional unpronounceable chemicals and sweeteners. And we all know how healthy hydrogenated, modified, refined, bleached, enriched, and artificially flavored things are.

You see, when companies manufacture “low fat” products, they’ve got a system going. A sneaky one. They don’t genuinely want to help you cut calories – that would be bad news bears for them. Less calories for you  means less profits for them, because you’re eating less of their food, right?

Wrong.

Most refined, sugar-laden products are high in carbohydrates. And not the good kind. You know I love me some carbs, but I wouldn’t touch the ones in processed snacks and “diet foods” with a ten foot pole. Refined carbohydrates, like white flour, rice, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and cakes and cookies all give you energy for a few moments when your blood sugar spikes. But then you soon come crashing down and feel like this:

Friggin tired, man.

I also feel the need to let you in on a big secret. Fat is good for you! I know, I know. Shocking. Take a second and catch your breath if you’ve never been told this before. Believe it or not, fat plays a critical role in our health. I could write a whole post on the benefits of fat (and I probably will) so I’ll just cut to the chase and say it here: fat is not the enemy. You need the stuff to function. You just need the right stuff. More on that in a minute.

So what’s a savvy, smart, but hungry bugger to do? Here’s my top tips for healthy eats.

  • Be able to pronounce and recognize all of the ingredients in whatever it is you are eating. The shorter the list is, the better. The ingredients at the top of the list are found more abundantly than those near the end.
  • Whatever you’re looking at, don’t buy it if the first ingredient is an artificial sweetener.
  • Speaking of sweeteners… stop buying or eating fake sweeteners like Splenda and aspartame. For real, I’m not going into details because you can Google that yourself.
  • Go for whole grains. Whether it’s bread, pasta, rice, or flour. And don’t be fooled by the words multigrain or wheat flour. If it doesn’t say 100% whole wheat, it’s not a whole grain.
  • Don’t be afraid of fats. Like I said before, you need fat to function, but not all fats are created equal. Stick to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Saturated fats and trans fats have no place in our diets.
  • Don’t be intimidated by any claims a label makes. Sugar Adventure Puff cereal can say whatever they want to get you to buy their product, but what the deciding factor should be is how the ingredients stack up.
  • My definition of “all natural?” No chemicals, pesticides, artificial ingredients, or hydrogenated oils.
  • Read the nutrition facts and the ingredients list while you’re in the store. Screw that lady who’s telling you to move on and just put the box in your cart. Take the time to really know what you’re putting in your body.
  • Finally, don’t forget to let yourself have a little splurge sometimes. No one’s perfect, and if you try to eat “perfectly” all the time, you’ll only be disappointed in yourself when you slip up. Don’t have crazy expectations or ridiculously high standards, have wiggle room instead. If you want to eat deep fried Oreo once a year at a state fair, do the damn thing.

So stop being scared. It’s a big wide world out there, but I believe that if you eat what comes from the world and isn’t created away from the world (ie in a factory or laboratory) is just fine.