Friday, October 26, 2012

Fitmas Failure

Last year, I participated in Donloree's Fitmas challenge. It's basically 12 weeks of different challenging workouts. We all know I love challenges, so I signed up again this year. The only issue I have with participating is trying to fit the Fitmas workouts into my normal workout routine, so this week was the first time I've been able to try a challenge.

I failed the challenge. Epically failed.

This week's challenge was all about pushing exercises. This was the challenge:

Since I don't train chest much, I opted to skip the first two sets of supersets and went right to the plyos section. I haven't done burpees in a long time, but I've been doing a lot of squat jumps lately, so I was ready to tackle the challenge. I did my usual workout and then go ready for Fitmas Superset #3.

And then I saw the rep count and nearly passed out. FORTY reps?! I only do 15 at a time! I decided to be brave and do half the reps. I could barely breathe after doing the first superset. I rested awhile, and then did the second superset. After that, I struggled to fight off an asthma attack and realized that my lungs just can't handle that many reps.

Fitmas had beaten me.

Here's what I actually ended up doing before nearly hyperventilating:

Squat Jumps: 20
Burpees: 10

Squat Jumps: 15
Burpees: 8

This challenge was a harsh reminder that my workouts are very modified to what my lungs can handle. A few years ago, I didn't consider my asthma a disability. But this workout reminded me again that I train very differently than most people. It's also a good reminder for others to see that there's not one "right" or "wrong" way to train; there are infinite approaches to getting the same end results. It's important to train for YOUR body and to discover your limitations and capabilities. It's always a learning process.

I'm glad I gave Fitmas a try; I'm looking forward to seeing what next week's challenge is!

Do you have any physical disabilities? Do you modify your workouts to your body capabilities? Are you participating in Fitmas this year?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Meditation Epic Fail

In my current journey of self-exploration, I decided to be open about trying a few new things that I'd formally been reluctant to try. Yoga was the first activity, and it turns out, I really like it! It was time to try another new thing.

I'm reading The Hunger Fix by Pam Peake, which talks about how the body chemistry can actually change as a result of diet. This can result in actual food addictions, with symptoms and actions similar to substance addictions. (I have a very strong suspicion that my body is addicted to sugar. But that's another topic for another day.) Pam recommends several actions for getting past "False Fixes" and consistently making healthy food choices. One of the things she recommends is meditation.

Those of you who know me in person know that I can be a bundle of energy. I like to be moving constantly, and am skilled at the art of multi-tasking. I've never considered attempting meditation for the sole reason that I believe I have a slight case of undiagnosed ADD and would have a tough time focusing on "nothing" for more than 5 seconds. Quite frankly, it sounded awful; not a challenge I wanted to attempt.

After reading Pam's take on the benefits of meditation, and then thinking about how happy people who meditate seem to be, I thought I'd give it a whirl. I knew it'd be difficult, but was ready to at least give it a fair shot.

One of the benefits of meditation is a reduced level of anxiety. I had a Toastmasters speech contest on Saturday, but decided that trying to meditate would raise my already high anxiety levels; therefore, I decided to begin on Sunday. (Sounds counter-productive, I know.)

On Sunday morning, I knelt on the floor and petted Ed for about 5 minutes and thought about how lucky I am to have him in my life and how much joy he brings me. Then I raced off to Bikram yoga. I tried to convince myself that petting Ed was a form of meditation, but decided that was kind of like cheating; my goal was to be more formal about the practice, not just to enjoy petting the Cutest Cat in the World.

Cutest. Cat. EVER.
On Monday, I thought about meditating, but then realized I didn't even know how to do it. What IS meditation anyway? What's the REAL definition? I spent some time researching and found some techniques on how to begin. I also discovered a few free podcasts, intended to walk people through a meditative state. I downloaded some to my phone last night in anticipation of really attempting to meditate today.

On Tuesday morning (today), I got up when my alarmS went off (which is an accomplishment in and of itself), took the dog out, gulped some Endorush, and snuggled into bed with Ed, ready to begin one of my new meditation podcasts. I picked the one titled, "Morning Energy," excited to be filled with energy for the day ahead.

An hour later, I woke up.

D'oh! I'd slept through the entire podcast and then some! Not only that, I didn't have time to do morning cardio, and I was going to be late for work.Talk about high stress levels!

Meditation Attempt #1 = Epic Fail

I like the idea of meditation and have high hopes of it bringing some calmness to my Type A personality and more awareness of why I made certain choices. Tomorrow I'm going to sit on the floor and try it again. No comfy bed, no warm, cuddly kitty to lull me back to sleep. I'll let you know how it goes!

Do you meditate? Do you have any tips for NOT falling asleep while attempting to meditate? Have you experienced any benefits from meditation?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spaghetti and Meatballs

If you've ever dieted for an extended period of time, you know how boring your food can become. Eating a rotation of just a few food items gets really old, really fast. One of the things I miss most is pasta. Loves me some Italian food!

Recently, we discovered an item that allows me to feel like I'm eating pasta, while in actuality, I'm not adding any additional calories or carbs to my diet! Victory!

What is this miraculous zero calorie food, you ask?

Miracle Noodles!!

Pauline Nordin of Fighter Diet has been promoting these noodles for awhile, so we were intrigued and ordered a bunch to try. We got a variety of them: fettuccine, angel hair, rice, and garlic & herb.

Different varieties of noodles
They're simple to make: simply rinse, boil for 2 minutes, rinse, then dry. Viola!

One thing to note: they're stored in a liquid that smells like fish. I breathe through my nose when I first rinse them. Once you boil and rinse them again, the fishy smell mostly goes away.

The most unusual thing about preparing the noodles is that you need to dry them after boiling and rinsing them. They hold a lot of water, so drying them gets the water out and makes them more similar to the consistency of regular pasta noodles.

Upon some exploration of a few grocery stores, we discovered a few different brands of these noodles. They're made from shirataki, which is a fibrous material. Some of the brands have minimal calories, like the Pasta Zero in the picture above. The noodles are refrigerated, and are usually located near the tofu section in the grocery store. We discovered this after wandering around Whole Foods for 20 minutes, trying to find them.

My favorite way to eat these noodles is with turkey meatballs, marinara sauce, and Romano cheese. I swear, it tastes just like spaghetti and meatballs! Yum!

"Spaghetti" and meatballs!
Have you tried Miracle Noodles or any other shirataki noodles? What did you think?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Stop Apologizing

Have you ever heard a friend express her opinions, frustrations, or thoughts, and then finish with "sorry" or "just my two cents"? Have you seen posts online that begin with "//rant//" and end with "//end rant// sorry"? I've noticed this trend a lot lately, and it's upsetting, frustrating, and baffling to me.

Why do people feel the need to apologize or to warn people that they're going to express their opinion? It's mostly women who do this - for some reason, men seem to have no problem speaking their mind, and don't seem to care if others agree with them or not.

What are we apologizing for? For exercising our rights of free speech? For having an opinion? For not agreeing with everyone?

News flash: At no one point does everyone always agree!

Someone is always going to have a different opinion, and that's totally ok! Life would be so boring if we all agreed all the time! Plus, different opinions lead to a more open-minded approach and more understanding. Knowledge is power. Without sharing knowledge and dissenting opinions, we become a stagnant society.

I just finished listening to an audio book this week: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. It's a sarcastic satire on the world of pageantry, and how society is forced to live up to ridiculous beauty standards and personal beliefs. At one point in the book, the beauty queens discuss why they always apologize for expressing their opinions. When I read that, I exclaimed in my head, "YES!!!! FINALLY someone else notices this too and thinks it's ridiculous!"

We seem to feel guilty for saying or doing things that others may not agree with. One of my favorite bloggers, Rachel Wilkerson, talks about this in her "Thou Shalt Own It" post. She uses the phrase, "Sorry I'm not sorry" as a response or as a preemptive response. I love this phrase because it shows confidence in your decision to do or share something. Rachel hits the nail on the head:

Many times, people think when you’re telling them something, you’re telling them because you’re seeking approval and advice. They start telling you everything that’s wrong with your decision or listing all the ways you could handle the matter. And then you’re crushed because you’re being told that something you felt super confident about isn’t OK with them.

I challenge you to NOT apologize for having or sharing your feelings (as long as you're not making a mean-spirited personal attack on someone). Feel free to announce a rant, but then do NOT apologize for it. And do not add, "but that's just how I feel." It's redundant and unnecessary (get the pun?) to add that phrase, because you clearly just stated how you feel. And it's totally valid to have those feelings and to not apologize for them.

Give it a try this week and eliminate the apologies. You may be surprised at how often you say "sorry" for something you're either not sorry about or have no need to feel sorry about. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!
//end rant// (Ha ha!)

Monday, October 8, 2012


What does it take to be the best in the world at something? To be at the pinnacle of a career, a sport?

Lately, I've been thinking about what it means to be "extraordinary." Something more than "ordinary." People who make the biggest impact on history all have one thing in common: they weren't ordinary. They had something inside themselves that allowed them to see past "ordinary" and "normal" and to be "extraordinary" and "great."

The Olympia was two weeks ago, and during that weekend, the best in the world were crowned - or in some cases, re-crowned. Phil Heath, Iris Kyle, Flex Lewis, Erin Stern, Adela Garcia, and Nathalia Melo are all the #1 athletes in their respective divisions.

Erin Stern, Phil Heath, Adela Garcia, Flex Lewis, Nathalia Melo
Instead of being happy and showing admiration and respect for these athletes, some people have chosen to disagree with the judges' decisions, to criticize the methods used to prepare for the show, and to write negative comments about the athletes. I don't understand this mentality. These athletes have just proven that whatever they did to earn their placing was effective. These athletes did things other people won't or can't do.

Passion will cause you to do things average people won't do.

These athletes are far from average. They're extraordinary.

In the electronic age, with the opportunity to criticize and insult people with just a few simple keystrokes, some people feel justified in posting negative comments and contrasting opinions. While I fully support freedom of speech, I don't support rudeness, ignorance, or just plain stupidity.

Instead of questioning an athlete's methods of prep, why not simply congratulate him or her on a job well done? Why not admire them for doing something that others won't do because it's too difficult or too time consuming? Why not congratulate them on achieving the highest honor in the bodybuilding industry?

Every body is different, so obviously one person's approach to prep is going to be vastly different than someone else's method. No need to compare or to judge. No need to cloud the victory with undercurrents of negativity or skepticism.

I admire everyone who does something extraordinary, who makes the decision to step out of their comfort zone. It not only takes a deep passion inside, it takes the ability to focus on the goal, on the end result, and to ignore any and all negativity from others - from people who are simply ordinary.

What are you passionate about? What extraordinary things are you doing? Do you encounter any negativity from others?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Free Time

My week off from the gym is over. It went by a lot faster than I thought it would!

For the first two days, I felt really lost. Not that I missed the gym - because I actually didn't! But because my normal routine was all thrown off. After work, instead of heading straight to the gym, I headed home and then wandered aimlessly around the house. I wondered what people who don't go to the gym after work do in the evenings. Do they clean? Do they plop on the couch and stare at the TV? Do they go shopping? Do they do laundry? They have SO much free time! And for the record, anyone who doesn't go to the gym in the evening has NO reason to complain about never having enough time to do things. There are hours and HOURS of free time after work! I discovered them last week!

On Monday, I had no evening plan. When I got home after work, I petted the animals and then stood in the middle of the living room, feeling completely lost. I had no idea what to do! I felt like I should do cardio or go for a run, but those activities were prohibited for the week. I ended up planning out an approach for a new phase of healthy eating. It was actually kinda fun!

On Tuesday, I stopped by the grocery store and came home armed with some new recipes to try. I spent all evening putzing around in the kitchen, making odd creations and concoctions that I later discovered went directly against the meal plan I'd created the night before. Fail.

I decided that since I had free time, I may as well pamper myself. So I got a pedi and then went tanning on Wednesday evening.

Neon Pink. I'm all about Klass!
I also wanted to do something nice for J, so I made him dinner for the first time in our history of dating (I'm not the most domestic of women). When he walked into the house after work, he heard our song playing and saw a candlelit dinner on the table. He was floored! It felt so wonderful to see how happy and surprised he was.

A couple weeks ago, I won my Toastmasters Club's Speech Contest in the Table Topics category, so I was qualified to compete at the next level contest - the Area contest. The contest was on Thursday evening in Virginia. On Wednesday morning, I learned that I had an opportunity to take the place of a fellow club member and compete in the Humorous Speech category as well. I wrote a new speech on Wednesday, practiced it for J on Wednesday evening, and gave the speech at the contest.

Oddly enough, I didn't place well in the Table Topics category, but I DID win the Humorous Speech! I was shocked! I even got a trophy!

Hooray for a trophy!
On Friday evening, instead of training before my front desk shift at the gym, I ran a few errands. Then I just chilled at the front desk, as usual.

I didn't go to Bikram Yoga, as I've been doing for the past few weeks. I went for a walk around our neighborhood, then relaxed with a book.

All in all, it was a great week! It felt great to rest and relax. And also to do something nice for J! I didn't miss the gym; I knew I wouldn't. I honestly don't understand people who MISS going to the gym. For me, more often than not, it feels like when I'm there, I have a JOB to do. I'm working hard to continually shape my physique, so sometimes, the things I do in the gym aren't enjoyable to me. They are, however, effective. And I continue to do them because the end result is worth it to me. But I do loves me some time off!

Yesterday was my first day back in the gym, and I had a great workout! I'm re-energized and re-motivated to get my beastmode on again!

Do you take time off from the gym? Do you miss it? What do you do with all your free time?