Friday, August 31, 2007

The importance of a FREE DAY

One of the reasons I love the Body for Life program so much is that it allows for a free day. A day when you eat whatever you want, whenever you want, all amazingly guilt free. Previous to Body for Life, I would eat well for about 1-2 weeks (usually it was a matter of days, okay maybe one day) then I would eat some naughty treat, feel horrible about it because I had failed, then say "forget it I can't do this", give up, and feel horrible because I hadn't followed through with what I said I was going to do. This cycle repeated itself for years. When I first started BFL I was SO excited I didn't have to completely give up some of the foods I loved. I would plan ahead all the things I wanted to have on my free day, and then (and this is the beautiful part), I would enjoy them GUILT FREE. Yes, there was no self loathing about free day, because it was PART OF THE PROGRAM. I hadn't failed because I had eaten dark chocolate, ice cream, squishy white bread with butter, pasta, etc.
I really believe that anyone that is doing a reduced calorie diet will have a very hard time sustaining any type of long term weight loss, because it just isn't realistic to reduce calories indefinitely. Besides, how sad it would be to give up all those wonderful 'naughty' foods forever!!!
Let me remind you that in my first BFL 12 week challenge, I lost 12 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of muscle...and I took 12 free days eating whatever I wanted. I'm not one of those people who, after eating well for weeks, then got in the 'habit' of eating well, and didn't crave any bad foods anymore. I still LOVE all those foods I loved before. I am more careful about what I choose to eat on free day because I don't want to blow it on gross fast food, I make sure to eat things I really LOVE.

So what is the reasoning for a free day you might ask. Well, our super smart bodies know when we are calorie restricting, and after a while it adapts to this calorie deficit by slowing down your metabolism and going into sort of a starvation mode, holding on to the body fat in case food is going to be scarce and it needs the fat for energy. Having a day where your calories are higher, announces to your body that all is well, food is not scarce, and boosts your metabolism to burn off those extra calories. Recently there has been more research on this idea. Read this interesting article about a former BFL champion who has now written his own book The Cheat to Lose Diet I have not read the book, and the fact that the word DIET is in the title puts me off a little, but since it reinforces why the cheat day/meal is so important, I was happy.

Anyway, I would not have stuck with BFL if there was no free day, it's psychologically and physically important. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

On a side note, I got on the scale today (I vowed to only weigh in once a week), and the scale HAS NOT MOVED...not my weight, and not my body fat% (insert expletive here). Oh, this is infuriating. I'm convinced that I'm not getting enough calories. I haven't been feeling 100% the last week because of an infection, so my appetite was a little low. I'm going to try to boost clean calories next week, and cross my fingers. That combined with the new exercise routines should confuse my body enough to get off this plateau.

So, I'm off, just had some delicious fluffy bakery white bread french toast made by my DH. I plan on having a Starbucks iced mocha, some more white bread, maybe pizza tonight with a glass of wine (strange combo I know), then ice cream tonight. YUMMM

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

After day 1 of TT

Well, it took me forever to figure out exactly HOW to do the sets/supersets etc, before I even attempted the actual exercises. I started with the warm-up and beginner workout, which seemed WAY to easy, and I didn't take any rests periods either. Then I went to go jump rope...did for about 2 minutes and for some reason I lost all motivation (plus I was getting some familiar shin splint pain). I think it was because I was just discombobulated. Like I had planned on going to the gym..then I had spent so much time trying to figure out this new routine...and because I didn't understand all of the exercises in the intermediate program, I just did the beginner (which was all stuff you can do from home). Later this evening I did do some more jump roping while watching a storm roll in with my daughter. After we take our little pool down I'm going to use the interlocking mats we have underneath it, and use that to jump rope on...much easier on the body!! I can say that my triceps are strangely sore, has to be from jumping rope yesterday like a crazy person. I'm getting better at it.
Also been tracking my calories for the last 2 days. I'm usually very anti calorie counting. It messes with my head. However, since the weight isn't coming off like I wanted/expected, I figured I would see what my intake was like. Well, it's a little lower than I think it should be. I was about 1300 yesterday and 1430 today..and the only reason I hit 1430 today was because I put everything into fitday before my last I added peanut butter to boost my calories a bit. So I figure if I'm creating a calorie deficit (which I definitely should be), but the fat still isn't coming off despite my workouts...then I must not be eating enough.
Why can't this be an exact science??

Turbulence Training

So for the last few weeks I've been stewing over what to do next. I love the BFL workouts, but they have become a bit monotonous, and I'm bored with them. Mostly my own fault for not learning new exercises etc. Also, the weight does not seem to be coming off as fast as I would like, or even as fast as my first challenge last year. My eating has been about 95% clean, so I feel it is time to change up the workouts. Last night I purchased Turbulence Training . The website looks a little gimmicky, but it is suppose to be a great program for fat loss. Heck, if Skwigg does it, it's gotta be good. What I really like about it is that the workouts are fairly simply, fast (45 minutes 3x a week), including high interval cardio (which I already do), and the eating plan is what I am already doing. So, I will keep you informed on how it goes. I am a little nervous about the new exercises, as I don't want to look like a complete idiot at the gym. I'll get over it.

Also been jumping rope for my HIIT, which has been great. For some reason I had never given this form of exercise much thought because it seems so cardio has to be complicated in order to be effective? Anyway, here is an interesting article on a Jumping Rope . So besides the whip marks I've been giving myself which make it appear that I am into some strange S&M stuff, I am going to stick with jumping rope...maybe I'll get better at it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

For all you Moms out there....

This is a little different from my usual posts, but hey, it's my blog I can do what I want

This song touches me like I Can Only Imagine, by Mercyme did when it came out. It is called In My Arms, by Plumb. If you are a Mom, you will get it, and if you are a Believer, it will have even more meaning.

The video is just for the song...

Plumb In My Arms
From the album Blink

Your baby blues
So full of wonder
Your curly cues
Your contagious smile
And as I watch
You start to grow up
All I can do
Is hold you tight

Clouds will rage and
Storms will race in
But you will be safe
In my arms
Rains will pour down
Waves will crash around
But you will be safe
In my arms

Are full of fairytales
Of Kings and Queens
And the bluest skies
But my heart is torn
Just in knowing
You'll someday see
The truth from lies
When the


Castles they might crumble
Dreams may not come true
But you are never all alone
Cause I will always
Always love you

Label: Curb Records

Lyrics may not be reproduced without permission from the publisher.

Some yummy food discoveries

I have found that sometimes it is hard to find fast/wholesome food, as I don't always like eating chicken/fish etc. So here are some things that I have found that are nutritionally good, and really tasty too.

First: MorningStar Spicy Black Bean Burgers
With just 140 calories per burger and a near equal protein/carb ratio, they are a great lunch time meal. I put them in the toaster so they get a little crispy on the outside. I like to eat them with a little low fat cheese, and fresh garden tomatoes...yummy!!

Speaking of cheese, I really do not like the fat free cheeses that are on the market now. They don't melt, and they are just weird. However, I have discovered a fat free feta cheese that is actually really good, and I don't really care for regular feta cheese. I got President Fat Free Feta, California Tomato and Basil . It has 30 cal per oz, with 6gms of protein and less than 1 gm of carbs. It is super delicious on the above Spicy Black Bean Burger.

The third thing I have come to really enjoy is Fage Total 0% Greek Yogurt . I had a really hard time finding this in my town, and had to go 30 minutes away to a Co-op to find it. It is much higher in protein than regular yogurt, is also lower in carbs, and has no artificial anything in it. It has the consistency of sour cream almost, and it isn't flavored. Last night I had it with some delicious fresh diced peaches.

The 4th thing I really like is the MorningStar Sausage Patties (I really like MorningStar products!) . One patty has 80 calories, 3gm fat, a whopping 10gms of protein and 3 carbs. The last few mornings I have nuked one patty, toasted an organic whole wheat english muffin, cooked 1 whole egg and 1 egg white, and had breakfast sandwiches. Very tasty!!

The 5th thing I am excited about is Torani sugar free peanut butter syrup. I love peanut butter, but putting it in my protein pancakes, protein shakes etc, can add quite a few calories..especially if I have already had enough healthy fats for the day. I haven't actually tried the syrup yet, as my dear sister just got it for me yesterday. It smells yummy though!!

Okay, now I'm really hungry....gotta go eat!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

7 minute abs....are you kidding me

So we've all stayed up late, or strayed onto some weird channel where there is this some deep voiced announcer saying that now YOU can have "million dollar abs" for just $14.99 + the price of shipping, CALL NOW! One of my favorite advertising lines is for The Bean The site says "The Bean's rocking action does all the work". Huh, if it is doing all the work, how the heck is that helping my abs?? As a disclaimer, The Bean does offer many other exercise options, it's just the ab statements I have a problem with. The infomercial I see the most is for a chair that looks like it'd be great for my back patio, and I bet that most of those chairs end up being just that, instead of a workout tool. Yet, these infomercial gadgets are like a billion dollar business. Couch potatoes sitting there late at night with their ice cream (KW, I'm not talking about you), thinking, SWEET, I can sit in that chair and get a six pack, all while eating ice cream and watching TV, what more could you want!!

Prior to starting my quest in fitness and getting serious about making this a lifestyle, I might have believed that doing a bazillion crunches could make my abs flatter than Kansas. I'm now a little smarter. Did you know that no matter how many crunches, sit-ups, leg extensions I do, that layer of fat that sits over my ab muscles will STILL BE THERE, hiding my 6 pack. Yep, I have a 6 pack, so do you, it's just hiding under a nice protective layer of blubber. Nice huh. I've been genetically gifted with a bowl of jello right under my belly button, it also oozes nicely to both sides of my hips. There is nothing about my body that I rue more than my bowl of jello. Now, fashion has decided to accentuate this beautiful gift by making low-rise pants, which has caused an epidemic of muffin tops.

So, how do you get a flat washboard stomach? In the kitchen! Your body fat has to be around 15% for girls in order to see a 6 pack, sometimes lower. I think it will have to be lower for me since I tend to hoard all fat in that area...apparently my jello belly doesn't like to share. (Although, as a side note, my shoe size did got down 1/2 a size when I lost weight.. apparently I had chubby feet too). Thank you,Kelly, for mentioning how tiny my feet looked in my karate uniform, although you'd be hard pressed to find someone who's feet didn't look small with 14 yards of white fabric on.

I digress, you know what I'm doing to get flat abs. Lipo! Just kidding...although I have to admit, I've thought about it. Nope, I'm doing it the old fashioned way; HIIT (high intensity interval training), lifting weights, and eating 6 small meals a day consisting of equal parts proteins and complex carbs, and lifting weights, and some healthy fats in there too. While lifting weights, I tighten my abs during almost every exercise. They are getting a workout, I just don't spend lots of time on them yet, because I still have a lot of body fat to lose. Did you know that Jackie Warner doesn't do any crunches or independent ab work!! Did you see her abs?!!

Thursday, August 23, 2007


It sits there staring at me in the shower, it watches me while I'm in the bathroom. It magically beckons the cat over while I'm standing on it and gets her to stand on it too, just to mess with my head. It estimates my body fat a full 7-8 % more that it really is. It's cold, it's cruel....I need to throw it out!! I have had my DH hide the thing before because I was getting too obsessive about it, then I spent about 1/2 an hour trying to find where he hid it. I've got issues! I've got a love hate relationship with the scale...mostly hate. Why I feel the need to stand on it nearly every morning..I don't know...maybe because I 'feel' skinnier. I get on it with high hopes, it tells me I'm number one (see picture), then reminds me of my age (yes, I just turned 30), then beeps several times while my hopes rise and rise, then kabamb, I'm a pound heavier than yesterday. What the?? I've been busting butt in the gym, my eating has been close to perfect.

As a side note, I avoid the scale like the plague when I'm "off the wagon".

The moral of my story, is stay off the scale (I'm trying to convince myself here). Yep, I know all the reasons why scale weight is so insignificant in and of itself. Why do I care about a number that does not take into consideration water weight, lean body mass, bloating, how long my hair is, how many children I've birthed, etc. I know that muscle weighs more than fat, so I may be putting on muscle while losing fat, but this will not be reflected in my scale weight. I know that it is not good to lose more than 2 pounds a week (although I know I'd be happy if I did) even though I KNOW that this would likely be the result of losing lean body mass...which I don't want to do. Why oh why do I care what that blasted thing says.

So from now on, I am only weighing in once a week, I will do measurements whenever I feel 'skinnier', instead of getting on the scale. I will test my body fat with my hand held thinga-ma-bob (which incidentally gives me a number 10-11% lower than my evil Tanita scale). I will attend my S.A. meetings (scale addicts). I really should have my DH hide it again, although I find myself constantly wondering where he put it, and I feel challenged to find it just to prove he didn't have a very good hiding spot.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chocolate milk: It's not just for kids anymore!

After doing BFL for about 7-8 months I realized I had been missing a VERY important step in building muscle. How I missed it, well I guess I was so focused on just losing the weight, not really building muscle...since girls don't do that anyway right. What I was missing is a post-workout recovery meal. Somehow this didn't fit into my 6 meals a day, eaten every 2-3 hours.
After a strenuous workout your body/muscles are depleted of many important nutrients, and it is vital to replenish these nutrients in order to build muscle. Otherwise your body will start using your hard earned muscle to replenish itself..eeks! Your muscles only grow while recovering...not while lifting. In general it is recommended to DRINK something within 45 minutes after exertion, I say drink because it will be more easily absorbed than solid food. Whey protein (made from milk) is a gold standard for post-workout recovery because it is easily digested. You also need some simple carbs to create an insulin spike in order build muscle and stop protein breakdown. There are a lot of different ideas about the ratio of carb to protein for post-workout, but the one I've seen the most is 4 carbs to 1 protein. And as a side note, other recommended nutrients for a post-workout recovery drink are: glutamine, glucosamine, vitamin C, branched chain amino acids, and b-complex vitamins.

I'm sure many of you have heard about the studies done on chocolate milk as a post-exercise recovery drink. Well, even though I had read those studies, I just couldn't get over the mentality that I was cheating if I drank chocolate milk while 'on program' (key word for eating right and exercising according to BFL standards). Since I've been doing BFL for nearly a year (although not consistently unfortunately), in fact it was 1 year yesterday that I started my first 12 week challenge, I figured I could start to play with things a bit. So I did a little more research on chocolate milk, and although there are still those die hard protein shake guzzlers that think there is nothing better than a manufactured protein powder, I think I will stick closer to nature and go with the old fashioned chocolate milk. I'm not saying that some protein powders might indeed be better than chocolate milk for post-exercise recovery, I'm just saying I REALLY like chocolate milk. Let me also just say that I am talking about non-fat or 1% chocolate milk here, not the high fat stuff. Also, I did not find any study that directly examined chocolate milk vs. protein shakes. Most of the studies done have been chocolate milk vs. Gatorade and other mostly carb drinks.
Here is an excerpt from a study

From the February issue of the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

"Our study indicates that chocolate milk is a strong alternative to other commercial sports drinks in helping athletes recover from strenuous, energy-depleting exercise," coauthor Joel M. Stager, PhD, from Indiana University in Bloomington, said in a news release. "Chocolate milk contains an optimal carbohydrate to protein ratio, which is critical for helping refuel tired muscles after strenuous exercise and can enable athletes to exercise at a high intensity during subsequent workouts."

So, today, after my upper body workout, I came home to a nice, cold, refreshing glass of 1% chocolate milk. My kids looked at me strange, because they NEVER see me drinking chocolate milk, and we always have it in our house since my kids are now addicted to it, and will not drink white milk. Even my husband gave me a strange look.
So lets all raise our glasses and say CHEERS to chocolate milk :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Adventures in Karate

So I've always wanted to take karate, but the opportunity never really presented itself. Last month we enrolled our 5 year old, along with his 6 year old cousin in a karate class. After watching a few classes, I got to thinking "why am I not taking karate with them". So as of last Thursday I am now a karate student. I thought it was so strange that I felt nervous about my first class (with my son and nephew), when the kids didn't seem to have any kind of apprehension. As it turned out, I had just done a crazy lower body workout on Wednesday (jumping squats, jumping lunges, etc), and my legs were incredibly sore. Of course the first thing the Sensei has us do is holding squats (never seen them do this in any previous classes)....forever....then when she tells us to of the other students winced or somehow motioned a quiet complaint, which the Sensei saw, and so then we had to do it again :) Lesson #1, never wince, rub sore body parts, or otherwise complain!
Class #2 was last night. I got my Gi (karate uniform). I can't decide if I look like a chef or a sumo wrestler, but I guess we're not there to look cute. We train in an old gymnasium of sorts in a community center which is used by many other groups. Well they had some kind of wild shindig in there because the floor was filthy, sticky, nasty, gross....and we train barefoot of course. So, Sensei (being the leader that she is) got the mop out, and all of the students had to get paper towels and dry where she had mopped. It was a "wax on, wax off" kind of moment. Lesson #2: drying a large floor with paper towels is a great workout!!
We then proceeded with punches, blocks, and kicks. One of the instructors came over to watch my kicks and said..."oh, you have done karate before". I said, no, this is my second class. He said "well, you are a natural". Weeeeehoooooo, I'm 30, a mom of 2, and I'm a natural (okay only at the roundhouse kick). I still have trouble doing 2 different things with my hands.
Lesson #3: must roughen up feet.
They are so sore from pivoting and dragging them on the cement floor. DH thought I had rough feet before and teases me saying "why are you wearing your shoes to bed". Okay, not everyone has baby soft feet like you honey. In a few months he may be asking me to take the brillo pad off my feet :)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Protein Pancakes...sounds gross...tastes FANTASTIC

One of the other fabulous discoveries I've made while doing BFL has been protein pancakes. It's amazing how good these are...and as an added bonus, they are really good for you. Make sure you have a good blender though, or even better, a food processor. Here is a list of the different varieties you can make. I prefer the banana ones because I always have bananas on hand, and I love the banana flavor. I have not tried all of the varieties, and I never use baking powder.
Anyway, you NEVER taste the cottage cheese...even people who despise cottage cheese can't believe how much they love these pancakes. If you make them, make sure to cook them on a lower setting than you would regular pancakes, because they are more dense and it takes longer for the middle to cook through, otherwise they tend to be a little mushy in the center. Make a big batch, put 2-3 (depending on size) into a freezer bag, and throw in the freezer. Then when you need a quick meal/snack, put them in the toaster or microwave. Top with a bit of natural peanut butter or spray butter and some sugar free syrup....or nothing at all, your choice. ENJOY!!

Banana: Serv 4. 12 egg whites, 1.5c dry oats, 2c cottage cheese, 1/2c mashed banana (about 1 lg. banana), 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder, cinnamon, vanilla.

Pumpkin: Serv 1, 4 egg whites, 1/4c dry oats, 1/2c cottage cheese, 4tbs pumpkin puree (1/4c), 1/4tsp baking powder, pumpkin pie spice (or all spice), splenda to taste.

Blueberry: Serv 1, 3 egg whites, 1/4c dry oats, 1/2c cottage cheese, 1/4c blueberries (fresh only), 1/4ysp baking powder, splenda.

Strawberry: Serv 2, 6 egg whites, 3/4c dry oats, 1c strawberries (fresh only), 1/2tsp baking powder, splenda & vanilla.

Apple or Pear Cinnamon: Serv 4, 16 egg whites, 1.5c dry oats, 2c cottage cheese, 1.5c chopped apple (about 1 lg), 1tsp baking powder, splenda, cinnamon.

Peach Pie: Serv 2, 6 egg whites, 3/4c dry oats, 1c cottage cheese, 1 sm. peach - about 3/4c), 1/2tsp baking powder, dash of nutmeg, vanilla & splenda.

Lemon Poppyseed: 1/2c Cottage Cheese, 1/2c dry oats, 4 egg whites, 1/4c splenda, 1tbs poppy seeds, 1/4tsp lemon oil (not extract nor juice - must be oil), 1/4tsp baking powder.

Raspberry Almond: Serv 1, 1/2c Cottage cheese, 1/3c dry oats, 3 egg whites, 1/4c splenda, 1/2c raspberries, 1/4tsp almond extract, 1/4tsp baking powder.

Chocolate: Serv 1, 1/3c dry oats, 2-3tbs cocoa, 4 egg whites, 1/2c cottage cheese, 1/3c splenda, 1/4tsp baking powder, a splash of vanilla. **Blend the oats into a powder. Add cocoa, then add everything else on top (otherwise the cocoa will go everywhere). Blend and cook like the rest. You may need to add a bit of water if it gets too thick.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Moderate cardio is A WASTE OF TIME

One of the biggest lessons I've learned over the last year is that moderate cardio is like eating a sucker after brushing your teeth. Sure, your teeth might be better off than if you hadn't brushed at all, but the sucker pretty much ruins the work you did brushing. Same as moderate cardio, sure it's better to get moving and burn some calories, but you might just be ruining your metabolism in the process. Don't believe a Google search for HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and do some research for yourself.
When the fitness revolution started...way back when...everyone was doing aerobics, stair steppers, running on a treadmill, etc...for hours and hours a week. I, like most people, thought that the more calories your burned while doing cardio, the better off you were, and of course, the longer you were on one of those machines, the more calories you burned. More had to be better right?? Well, apparently this school of thought is on it's way out. Here is an interesting article by Alwyn Cosgrove regarding moderate vs. interval cardio
Energy System Training . Bill Phillips seemed to be ahead of his times when he suggested a 20 minute high intensity interval cardio in his Body for Life book. Yes, you heard right, 20 minutes...and no that is not every day. That is 3x a week only! Most people who are new to Body for Life do not believe (or at least have doubts), that this amount of cardio will be enough to bring about weight loss...or more specifically, FAT loss, which really is the ultimate goal. Side note: scale weight is a bunch of hooey. More on that later.
So, spread the word, work your hiney off for 20 minutes 3x a week. Start with a 2 minute warm up on whatever machine you prefer...or just outside walking. Then do a "sprint" for 30-60 seconds, followed by "active rest" for 60-90 seconds, which means you don't come to a complete stop. Rinse and repeat for 20 minutes, followed by a cool-down period. There are a LOT of ways to do HIIT, but as long as you are at some point thinking you are going to pass out (what we in the BFL world call "hitting your 10s"), followed by active rest...etc, you will burn far more fat, and do a greater service to your metabolism, then staying at the same pace for 45 minutes.

On the blog bandwagon....

So I started a blog a few weeks ago, then deleted it. Why? I don't know, I guess I didn't think anyone would read it, and then I would just be talking to myself...something I try not to do too often. Then my dear sister started a blog, and I loved reading hers, so I'm giving it a go again.
As you can see from the title of my blog, I love BFL (Body for Life). A book written by Bill Phillips, which has really made an impact on my life over the last year.
After having my 2 beautiful kids, I had gained 30 stubborn pounds, and had made numerous unsuccessful attempts at getting it off. I had been working out consistently for about 6 months, and had managed to gain weight (slightly frustrating). In August, I was completely frustrated, grossed out by my flabby body, and really wanted to find a program that was healthy, well balanced, and didn't leave me feeling completely deprived, and totally guilty if I indulged every so often. I borrowed the Body for Life book, and couldn't wait to get started. On Aug 21st 2006, I started my first 12 week challenge. In those 12 weeks I lose 14 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of muscle. I lost inches and inches off my body, and I felt great. I continued onto another 12 week challenge, which wasn't nearly as successful, but I still managed to lose another 6 pounds (I was still not at my goal weight)
Since I was still in the mindset of this being a 'diet', after a trip to Mexico (one of the main motivators for wanting to lose the weight), I rebelled, ate really poorly...worked out sometimes, and gained 12 pounds back *GASP*.
So this is my journey. I still struggle, I rebel, I crave, I lose motivation, but through all this, I persist. Phil 4:13 !!