Monday, January 30, 2012

Be A Johnson Junkie

I am truly stunned with how much I love Chalene Johnson, creator and star of Turbo Jam, Turbo Fire, ChaLeanExtreme, and author of Push. Normally, once I've done a exercise DVD over and over, the instructor gets boring, repetitive and annoying, and out the DVD goes to in exchange for another. But I've had Chalene's DVDs for over 6 months now and I still love them. How much do I love them? Well, I was doing the Turbo Fire 30 class and was really getting in to the punches. Chalene encouraged us to yell when we punched to the side. So, I did. I punched my right fist to my left, and yelled Bam! (I've watched too much of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 3.) And then I punched my left fist INTO MY CHIN, (while yelling Bam!). I stopped for a moment, made sure I wasn't bleeding and then I KEPT GOING!

Even more extraordinary? I can say without a doubt that I would have happily paid full price for it ($140).

That pretty much says it all folks. I am a Chalene Johnson junkie.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ditch The Dextrose

If you saw my grocery cart at the store, you would probably be quite confused. While 90% of my cart is filled with fruit, dark chocolate, whole grains, yogurt, lean meats and veggies, I also often have Sweetarts, Gatorade/Powerade* and candy fruit slices. You might just assume I have a sweet tooth, but these items are actually for medical purposes only. Because I have Type 1 diabetes, I often have low blood sugars (the fitter I get, the more I have unfortunately) and the best way to treat them is with fast acting sugars that make my blood sugars spike as fast as possible. And thus, I collect food with Dextrose in it.

Here's the irony of the situation. What do medical professionals claim is one of the causes of Type 2 diabetes (a similar but different disease than Type 1)? Long term repeated stress on the organs of the body from consumption of fast acting sugars that spike the blood sugar.

While I appreciate that the cost of my "medicine" is low due to all the others that are using it for pleasure, it saddens me to know of the damage they are doing to their bodies. I suppose the not very silver lining is that if/when they are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, they will then get to treat their low blood sugars with their favorite fast acting sugars. But the heart palpitations, sweaty hands, and general panic that goes along with a low blood sugar will probably ruin any pleasure of being able to eat the food.

* Gatorade has the dextrose, while Powerade has High Fructose Corn Syrup, so technically, the Gatorade works faster, but they both spike my blood sugar fast.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fight Fitness Fiction

Weight loss is just about quality calories in, and calories out, right? Burn 3500 more calories than you eat a week and you will automatically burn a pound of fat*. Easy peasy. Sort of. Tracking calories in takes work, but can be done with a reasonable amount of accuracy. Measuring cups, food scales, and calorie guidebooks can help you master this most important and powerful part of weight loss.


Tracking calories burned is a whole other thing. First, you determine how much your body burns just sitting around. Well, my INSANITY booklet wants me to calculate my Basic Metabolic Rate (BMR), while my P90X booklet wants me to calculate my Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) instead. Sparkpeople wants me to calculate my BMR, but TurboFire wants me to use RMR, and in Chalene Johnson's book, Push (she is the creator of TurboFire) she suggests I calculate my BMR. This is nuts! How can I determine my weight loss goals when the "experts" can't even agree on how to start!?

So, I'm forced to pick one. Let's go with BMR. Ok, so now how do I determine that? Without fancy equipment I have to use a formula decades old. Fine, fine. I will start with what is basically an estimate.

Ok, now I add how many calories I think I burn each day through exercise. Got it. Then I subtract that final number by 500. The result is how many calories a day I should eat in order to lose one pound a week.

1541 (BMR) + 300 (calories burned through exercise)=1841-500 (calorie deficit needed)=1341 calorie intake

But how do I determine calories burned during exercise? When I wear a heart rate monitor during exercise, then stick my average heart rate per total minutes in an online calculator, I get one number, when I use an online activity calculator, it comes up much higher (Example: 45 minutes of TurboFire/Kickboxing=271 calories or 582 calories.)

So now I have a guess matched with an old formula matched with another guess. It's no wonder so many people give up on weight loss. The tools aren't even consistent! Why isn't there a standard in this industry?

GOOD ENOUGH SOLUTION: Understand that weight loss principles are not an exact science. Counter this by picking the smaller of the numbers. My RMR is 1815, while my BRM is 1841, so I base everything on my RMR. As for calories burned during exercise, I choose the 271 calories. I'd rather be wrong in my favor, than against it. Track and update my numbers as needed, know that perseverance is the most important weight loss skill of all, and enjoy the god damned ride.

*This formula has also recently been called into question.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Work It Out

For about 72 hours last week, I thought I might be starting a full time job. It was not to be, but in those 72 hours I quickly revamped the legs that keep the stool of my life from tipping over.

1. Access to nutritious, filling, sustaining food

Because of time constraints, I would go back to having my smoothie in the car on the way to work. I realized that my Overnight Oatmeal and Greek yogurt would make a fantastic lunch, and identified at least one place near the office where I could get some quality food. I also made up 4 lunches (Quinoa & Edamame) and stored them in the freezer for easy access.

2. Daily morning workouts
Starting with the time I was suppose to be at the office, I worked backwards to figure out what time I had to wake up so that I could get at least 30 minutes of exercise in. I also pledged to do 15 minutes of walking each day before lunch.

3. Continuing my weight loss journey

I knew that I needed to eat a reduced amount of calories in order to lose weight, but working will burn more calories than usual. So I planned on having a 200 calorie snack at 3pm, moving dinner to 6pm and possibly eliminating my 200 calorie evening snack.

Those 72 hours were crazy but I learned a lot about my priorities and feel even more ready for when I DO begin a new job.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Just Say Amen

I have read many a fitness/nutrition/diet book and they usually disappoint. I don't like the 30, 60, 90 days plans because they don't teach or reinforce healthy choices long term. And most books completely overlook the most powerful thing in weight loss/fitness: your brain. This is why I am delighted to recommend, Dr. Daniel G. Amen's book, The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Get Thinner, Smarter, Happier.

It's not particularly exciting or groundbreaking, but it groups all the things I believe about health and fitness in to one place, and stresses that you are the only one that can make any of these changes happen. He explains what salty, fat, sugary food does to your brain and body and gives you solutions to stop your cravings.

I have read many of his other books, so some of the information is a repeat, but I really think that this book has the whole package. Moreover, I appreciate his honesty: weight loss takes hard work, permanent lifestyle changes, and commitment. But it will make you feel better, have more energy and improve your mental outlook. Folks, there is no pill, powder, food or workout that will magically and effortlessly make you lose weight, gain muscle and feel energized. The sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be on your way to reaching your goal.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fill Up With Oatmeal

I love good for me/tasting food, I love making things easier, and I love saving money. My new breakfast of choice speaks to all three: Overnight Oatmeal.

Overnight Oatmeal:
1/4 cup raw oats*
1/4 cup water
140 g frozen berries/fruit

The steps are exactly the same as for my Quinoa Fruit Cereal:

I measure/weigh the oatmeal, water and berries out in to storage bowls beforehand and stack them in the fridge. When it's time to eat, I transfer one of the bowls to a microwave safe bowl and zap it for 2 minutes. Then I add a little soy milk and a lot of cinnamon. It sort of tastes like a fruit cobbler. SORT OF! I like to eat this with a side of plain Greek yogurt, green tea, and my fish oil.

The water softens the oatmeal, so it is easier to cook in the morning. I have read that you can eat it cold, but I prefer it warm. I like to alternate between this breakfast and my Quinoa Fruit Cereal. It's kept me warm and happy every day for weeks now. I'm sure you will like it too!

*Oatmeal will double in size. Since I want 1/2 cup cooked, I start with 1/4 cup of oats and 1/4 cup of water.