Archives for posts with tag: fitness

It has been requested that I open up my blog to questions from my readers.  Ok, it was more of a demand if you want to get technical.  Either way, here we go with our first question:

“Instead of a loofah, I bathe with a bacon cheeseburger.  Am I doing something wrong?”  Here’s the actual conversation if you don’t believe me:

Fit Sugar aptly calls bacne “an unpleasant side effect of working out.”  They also have some great tips to help avoid bacne and treating the bacne you already have.  I’ll sort of summarize plus add in some of my own tips:

  • Shower the moment you are done working out.  You know how your gym has showers?  Use them.  Pack a portable shower caddy (like the ones you used in college dorm bathrooms) to cart shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, etc.  If you really can’t stomach the idea of showering in a public place, shower the second you get home.  Consider at least bringing a change of clothes to the gym.
  • Speaking of the shower, use shampoo and conditioner before you wash your body.  All that creamy, oily conditioner might be great for your hair, but can cause bacne if it clogs your pores.
  • I know some people who think you should use a gentler acne wash for your back than for your face, but actually the skin on your face is much more delicate than the skin on your back, so scrub away!
  • You should be using a scrub with salicylic acid.  I recommend Clean & Clear Deep Action Exfoliating Scrub because it’s cheap ($6) and plentiful.  Use a back brush (probably skip the loofah because they can damage skin and make bacne worse) to make sure you reach 100% of your back.
  • Some people’s skin responds better to benzoyl peroxide, in which case consider trying Clean & Clear Advantage 3-in-1 Exfoliating Scrub.  It’s also around $7 so it’s not terribly expensive to scrub your whole back with it.
  • If neither of these options are working for you, consider some other alternatives, although these will probably be more expensive:  glycolic acid and alpha hydroxy because they both promote cell turnover.
  • So important:  Using any acne medicated scrub or soap will make it easier for your skin to burn in the sun so please please please wear sunscreen.
  • Also, if you’re reading through this list and thinking to yourself that you’ve tried all of these tips and you’re still having trouble, consider making an appointment with a dermatologist.  She can possibly write a script for something stronger or even antibiotics to get you on the right track.

If you have a question for me, please use the Contact feature right here on my blog.  All questions will be 100% anonymous and I’ll do my best to get you the answers you need!

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Well, another Heedfest has come and gone and I can say that after the 24 Day Challenge from Advocare, I lost 10 pounds!  I’m so happy with the results and recommend Advocare to anyone wanting to start a healthier lifestyle with a kick start in the right direction.  I didn’t reach my goal 100% but I’m confident with enough time, I could get back down to where I need to be.  Staying on program even gearing up for festivals you’ve been waiting for all year isn’t as hard as you would think, but I realize that I have a lot of practice with dietary restrictions because I’m a lacto-ovo-pesco-vegetarian (milk-egg-fish for all you non-Latin speaking people), so there have been plenty of times when I couldn’t eat anything at a gathering anyways.

And after the festival I lost an additional 2 pounds, bringing my total weight loss to 12 pounds!

Below, my sister, Sad Robots, continues her ongoing fitness rant (first seen here and then later here) by getting my readers primed and ready for the impending zombie apocalypse.  

Zombie Training

I’ve found that getting in shape is a lot more fun when I focus on being prepared for the impending zombie apocalypse. Personally, every time I get into one of my health “schemes,” it dies out because I get bored with the same old same old. Training for the zombie apocalypse keeps things interesting and ensures that I try new things from week to week. My friends and I have thus done the following so that when (not if) the zombie apocalypse happens, we will not only survive, but we will be the new leaders of the free world.

General health and fitness

We have to get the basics down before going into full-training mode. We’ve been getting into lifting and improving our nutrition in order to maximize fat loss, not necessarily weight loss. Our aim is not to be thin, but to be badass.

Hiking

Navigating difficult terrain quickly, quietly, and with massive weight on our backs is a high priority in the zombie apocalypse. What is particularly helpful is the beautiful, varied, and vast Metroparks in the area. There are some great trails around here that have fairly difficult terrain, which maximizes utility. Eventually, we’d like to go on a weekend backpacking trip on the recently opened 22 mile backpacking trail, which has convenient campsites that you can easily obtain a permit for.

Note: I have yet to pee in the woods. I don’t think I really need to train this skill pre-apocalypse. I’ll deal with it when I need to.

Edible plants

We took an edible plants class at Aullwood recently. It was a Saturday morning (to the rest of the world: afternoon) so I kind of rolled out of bed and went, not giving a crap what I looked like because I assumed the class would be filled with elderly people who are tired of tending to their lawns so they want to learn how they should best eat their weeds.

I was not wrong.

However! The instructor was, well, “wowza” is the only adequate word to describe his appearance. The first hour of the class was a lecture and I would recount some of the information I learned, but it was very, very difficult to concentrate. The gist of it is that he recommended some books, warned against specific poisonous plants, blah blah, I really wasn’t paying attention.

Then we went outside to gather some plants, where the instructor promptly started grabbing random things and eating them. He called this activity “foraging.” He pointed out some plants for us to try and although most of them tasted like what you would imagine them tasting like (grass), some of them were actually really unique, delicious flavors. He also taught us which families were across the board edible and which you could eat the roots of, etc. and so on.

He frequently pointed out the best way to prepare most of the plants, and the answer was usually, “You could make a salad.” And then one of the elderly weed-eaters would point out, “Or you could make tea out of it.” It got kind of tedious.

The last stretch of the journey was actually cooking a meal with what we “foraged” plus what the instructor had partially already prepared. Our meal consisted of dandelion fritters and, erm, fried onion type things I guess. It tasted exactly like you would imagine such things would taste.

In all, it was a fun class, not really worth the money we paid for it, but we gathered some excellent resources and unique perspectives for surviving the zombie apocalypse.

Archery

We went to our first archery class a couple weeks ago at The Tackle Shack in Troy and it was a blast. The class is every Saturday morning from 10 – 11am and it’s a $10 flat fee. They also provide all of the equipment. There are people of all ages (and by that I mean there are a lot of young’ns but they were all very well behaved at the class I attended) and skill levels so it’s really not intimidating to go. My favorite part of the class was this conversation:

Instructor: So are you guys here because of the Hunger Games?

Friend: No. I’ve never seen it.

Me: [Looks down, shuffles feet because it’s secretly part of the reason.]

Friend: We’re here because we’re preparing for the zombie apocalypse.

Instructor: [Totally serious] Ohh, I completely understand. I hear that’s gonna happen sooner or later. Well, I have some friends who got into blacksmithing to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. Maybe you guys would be into learning how to wield a sword too?

All of us: YES.

Story writing

Although I am not often bored, one particularly slow day at work, I decided to text a few random friends the question, “You’re watching the news and see that a zombie infestation has begun in New York. It hasn’t spread elsewhere yet. What do you do?”

From there, I roleplayed my friends via text through their own zombie apocalypse. What I found was that the longer and more detailed their stories became, the more I was able to cohesively arrange their plotlines so that they were eventually all part of the same story. It was a really cool experiment and I’d be interested in making it into a series of short stories. You know, if anyone would be interested in reading them. [Looks down, shuffles feet again.]

What’s next

We plan to go on that backpacking trip, shoot some guns (I prefer bows… silence is preferable in the zombie apocalypse), get fully caught up on the pop culture lore of zombies (there really isn’t much to do there; as I’m sure you can tell, we’re kind of zombie experts), take more classes that we find available with the various organizations that focus on survival skills, and continue getting in better shape.

Since I’ve gathered decent participation among my friends, I was wondering who else would be interested in joining our little zombie apocalypse training camp. Members wouldn’t necessarily have to do things with us (especially if you’re not in the area), but maybe we could keep in contact with each other and our activities somehow. I also wouldn’t mind designing and making some badges (they’d actually be 1.25” pinback buttons because that’s the machine I have) as long as the shipping/supply cost was covered. They’d probably be about $3 a pop, which includes shipping.

So basically, my question is, if I turned this little hobby into a little club, would you guys join? Would you like badges for accomplishments? What have you already done to train for the zombie apocalypse?

Below, my sister, Sad Robots, tries to convince you of all the ways barefoot running is better than regular shoe running.  However, I want to point out that she never really goes in to how much not running prevents all running-related injuries.

Sad Robots’ Controversial Science Things

As a graduate in the field of psychology, the applied aspect of my degree was learning how to get whatever results I wanted to find from whatever test I was doing. I learned how to manipulate statistics to support theories like, “The belief in zombies is directly correlated to fitness levels in American males between the ages of 18 and 25.” Well, that might actually be legit, but you get my point.

What I’m really saying is that I’m difficult to sway when it comes to “scientific proof” of anything, specifically involving health. When it comes down to it, everyone is different, and some stressed-out grad student’s findings don’t necessarily negate last year’s stressed-out grad student’s opposing findings on the same topic. So when I read headlines like, “Heroin is healthy for you!” I realize that there are a multitude of factors to consider before I decide to become a druggie.

I tend to hand-pick random crap to obsess over (my dear sister calls these things my “schemes”) and trust that someone else has done the “scientific proof” for me. My “scientific proof” is using myself as a guinea pig because hey, if I’m going to do crazy things, it might as well be for the sake of science.

So, to answer some Sad Robots FAQ, here are the things I do and why in a series of guest posts I like to call “Sad Robots’ Controversial Science Things.”

Barefoot Running

In my last guest post, I recommended some handy dandy fitness gear, including the ever-awesome Vibram FiveFingers, and because of that, I have officially gained Girl About Town’s approval to delve further into the topic of barefooting.

To begin, I’d like you to consider what you wear on your feet while you’re at home. The answer is probably “nothing” or “socks.” Ask yourself why. If the answer is, “Because it’s more comfortable,” then I don’t get why you need to read any further.

Being barefoot is just more comfortable.

I get a lot of flak for this theory and I don’t know why. People really love their Nikes and they don’t like that I tell them that Nike is a huge factor in the American obesity epidemic. Nike is the reason you’re not happy with your body. Nike is the reason you don’t like running because you get shin splints. Nike is the reason you believe in crap like “arch support.” (Arch support doesn’t even make sense. Your foot arches support your body, like arches are wont to do [see: doorways, etc.] so why would your arches need support? If they did, we would have no doorways and we’d all be trapped in sad, dark rooms.)

Without citing my references, because, really, I don’t click on citations and I’m also just pulling from memory, the short of it is that in the 70s, the guy who made Nike decided that people needed cushioning for their feet. So instead of doing rigorous empirical testing on what that would do to the human body, he just decided to make it, market it, and shove it down the throats of the public. And we sure took it like a champ.

It turns out that putting a solid inch or so of rubber under our feet is really, really bad for our bodies. Just like having huge gloves on in the winter makes it more difficult for you to pick your keys up in the snow when you drop them, wearing sneakers on your feet makes it really hard to judge what kind of ground you’re walking on, what kind of steps you should be taking, how fast or slow you should be moving, where your center of balance should be, and so on and so forth. It ruins your walking gate, your running gate, the way you step, and how hard you step. For some reason, the image of putting rubber boots on a pug always comes to mind when I explain this to people. The pug has no idea what these atrocious, gaudy feet-thingies are, and so it starts to walk around all funny, trying to shake the boots off because it suddenly can’t feel the ground anymore.

I don’t need to tell you any of this because this great guy named Christopher McDougall wrote an amazing, enthralling, life-changing book called Born to Run. That’s my source. Read it.

Like a good narcissist, I’m going to bring this back to me now.

What has barefooting done for me other than make me a total snob? Well I’ll be happy to give you my first-hand account of spending the past year mostly barefoot.

It all started last July when I wanted to get into running. Like all good academics, though, before I ventured out my front door, I had to read 8,000 books on the topic before I was convinced that I should do this complex, difficult activity called “running.” Before I picked up Born to Run but after beginning my research, I had started jogging at the gym in a pair of Pumas I had on hand and had barely worn. After about two weeks, I got this horrible pain on the side of my leg accompanied by some swelling. I went to the doc, and he said to stay off it for a couple weeks. So I did.

I bought an ankle brace, and that helped a little. Then I splurged and bought the best reviewed, best priced pair of shoes I could find: Saucony Jazz 13s. When I put them on, it was like I was walking on clouds. I started getting more serious about running and I was logging more mileage per week than my car (Note: severe exaggeration). Like all things I get really manically obsessed with, something horrible happened that put a plug on my irrationally-founded dreams: I broke my foot.

It wasn’t like I tripped over a rock or got into a fight with a bear or anything cool like that. It was a stress fracture, so it took a couple weeks to set in. It took three times longer than that to heal, and my thus-far successful weight loss had to go on hiatus.

While I was healing, I read Born to Run. Suddenly I found myself walking around downtown Dayton during my lunch hour barefoot, holding my heels in one hand and my iPod in the other. In most other cities, you’d probably get stared at for this behavior. In Dayton, I didn’t get a second glance. That’s why I love this place.

What I found was that it was fun to walk around barefoot. I got asked, “But what if you step on something?” and my answer was, “I just pay attention to where I’m walking.” I mean, you don’t randomly grasp at things without looking at what you’re picking up, so why do you walk around without attending to what you’re stepping on? It really doesn’t exert that much mental effort. It’s the same as paying attention to stop signs while you’re driving. They may be in your peripheral vision, but you still, consciously or unconsciously, know to stop the car or you’ll probably get hurt. When you walk around barefoot, you eventually begin to attend to the ground unconsciously, and you avoid stepping on things that will hurt you.

My stress fracture eventually healed and I got a pair of Vibram FiveFingers to test out. I read so much literature on them and how to use them and what you should do before you run in them that I was pretty sure running in them for the first time would be a death sentence.

What I found was that all the pain I had while running in my Pumas or Sauconys just… disappeared. Instantly. What I also found was that my center of balance shifted downward while I ran and my heels didn’t touch the ground. I moved faster, lighter, and for longer distances. I was amazed.

Fast forward to last week: I’m kind of sick of getting guff for my VFFs. I still wear them when I run and when I go to the gym, but I find that the pair I have, the Sprints, aren’t really good for hiking. They’re for running on pavement. Vibram makes hiking FiveFingers, but I also decided I would like a pair of more “normal” looking barefoot shoes, so I settled on the Merrill Pace Gloves. It’s only been a few days, but I’m happy with them so far. They’re pretty and comfy and make my feet happy.

So here is my advice to you: Go outside without shoes. Step carefully. Take note of the things you’re thinking and feeling. Go inside and do a Google search on barefoot running. Read some reviews on barefoot shoes. Maybe read Born to Run if you wanna. Or maybe just take my word for it. Whatever. The point is you read this, and maybe it answered some questions for you that you were too afraid to ask that weird guy with dreads you saw at the bookstore wearing VFFs. Maybe you have more questions. If so, feel free to email me, or contact Girl About Town with your questions and I can answer them in YET ANOTHER guest post on barefooting, which I’m sure she’ll love. Really. Do that.

If you liked that, Sad Robots would be delighted to write about one or all of the following schemes topics:

Intermittent Fasting

Polyphasic Sleeping

Minimalism

Obsessive Researching

Friends, I would love to report that I have so far achieved great and promising success at my challenge to lose 25 pounds by Heedfest (an annual festival held in July) but, alas, I have not really lost any weight at all.  It’s not all doom and gloom, however.  In the process of trying to lose weight, I’ve managed to get about 100% more in shape than I was when I started this whole endeavor.  I’m calling that a midterm win for the time being because it’s such a promising lifestyle change.

There are a lot of benefits to being more in shape.  For instance, you can take a flight or two of stairs at a jaunty pace and have enough breath left over to giggle at the people huffing and puffing around you.  Another boon is that I shaved some time off my 5K walk/run.  My muscles are more toned, I’m getting back into yoga, and I’m looking forward to going to the gym – even on a bad day – which is a HUGE difference from wanting to bury all of my emotions under a pile of ice cream. (Although, if you’re buying, Homemade Peanut Butter n’ Chip, please!)

My current favorite piece of equipment (because it kicks my butt) is the elliptical stepper thing.  I’ve included a picture because I’m finding out not a lot of people know what I’m talking about.  It must not be a common machine.

We balance our exercise time really well by utilizing the “anytime” in Anytime Fitness and spending nice, sunshiney days off outside walking on the trails with Julia!  You can read about our adventures in nature here.

Today, my sister of Sad Robots fame is guest blogging some exercise product recommendations.

Lauren is great at giving beauty product recommendations, but beauty starts at being active and healthy, so I thought I’d recommend some great fitness products that I’m not sure I could live without.

I used to tell myself that as I worked out more, I would reward myself with exercise-related items. I found that this didn’t really work and that I would avoid working out because I didn’t have the proper equipment. So I did what I (and my father) do best and did a ton of research to find the best, cheapest pieces for my workout routine.

Vibram FiveFingers

Lauren said she would never post anything about these, so I’ll keep it short. I live by these shoes, which will, no matter what, make you look like a total tool. People will stare at you. Some will ask you about them. Others will point at them to show their friends while they think you’re not looking. It’s okay, though, you know why? Because they’re the best thing you could ever possibly do for your feet. Maybe Lauren will let me write a post on why I believe this, but I don’t think she will, so I highly recommend a book called Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

Before I started wearing them, I had all sorts of horrible body aches while I worked out that I had no idea were caused by my shoes. Every single one of them went away immediately upon transitioning to Vibrams. Really.

Active Fit Workout Clothes from Old Navy

You could go to Dick’s Sporting Goods and spend several hundred dollars on some good workout clothes for skinny people. Or you could go to Old Navy and spend around $100 for a ton of excellent quality exercise apparel that won’t make you look like a poorly packaged sausage. The best part is that, unlike other stores, Old Navy doesn’t assume you already look hot running a 5k. They make exercise gear for those of us who still look like struggling beached whales when we run. My personal favorite items are the sports bras (some of which have a reflective stripe on the back, which makes no sense to me because I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing just a sports bra), the bubble tanks, and the yoga pants/capris. I went on a spree a year ago, spent $45, and got three quality outfits for all my fitness needs.

Skull Candy Headphones

I was really surprised how hard it was to find a good quality, cheap set of headphones to wear on my runs. Ear buds were no good for me because they always fell out. Over the ear headphones were too hot. The ones that cost a dollar plus shipping on Amazon fell apart. When it came down to it, I knew I had to splurge for some Skullcandy headphones that wrap around my ears. They’re pretty, they have excellent sound quality, and they’re under $20.

Propel Fitness Water

I started drinking Propel during my workouts when I was actually skinny many years ago. I don’t know if it’s a real effect of the beverage or if it’s in my head, but I always seem to be able to push myself extra hard after downing a cold bottle of the stuff. I buy a six-pack at the grocery store once every other week for about $5 and I’m set. I prefer the grape flavor because it reminds me of Dimetapp, which is for some reason one of the weirdest, tastiest things ever to me.

Interchangeable Weight Set

I don’t have a particular brand, set, or price to recommend, but I do encourage you to put down the little pink 2 – 5 pound weights you think help with resistance training and pick up and interchangeable weight set. If you have a used fitness equipment store, they usually have these in spades, and you can get a great, varied set for about $20. Start off with 10 pounds and go from there. When you need the dumbbell to be heavier, you can just drop a couple more bucks on heavier weight plates until you get into the bar bell range of lifting. Women, if we lift heavy weights, we won’t bulk up, we will tone up, and we will look damn good.

Water Bottle Holder Thingy

One irrationally complicated struggle I had when I started running was what to do with my water. I didn’t want to set it down and pick it up every time I did a lap. I hated that my hand got all cold and wet when I just held it. And I also had nowhere to really put important items while I ran (keys, a couple of emergency dollars, etc.). Long distance runners have those little water backpacks, which are great for 20+ miles. Some of them use the multi-bottle fanny packs, but honestly, and I hate to admit this, those don’t fit me, because, you know, they’re for people who already run 10+ miles a day and not for those of us who still struggle through 2. The link is the one I have, which has a decent sized pocket, an adjustable strap, and a reflective stripe on it. It’s also the perfect size for my Propel bottle.

Scarlettcraft’s Homemade Moisture Wicking Exercise Headband

These headbands are perfect. They’re cheap, handmade, durable, and multi-functional. I wear mine for my workouts, when I’m too lazy to shower but I still have to be seen in public, as an earwarmer in the winter, and for keeping hair out of my eyes when I wash my face. It’s light, it stays put, and it does the job better than anything else I’ve managed to find.

If you’re having trouble getting in the swing of exercising, you should probably join this great site called Fitocracy. It helps you track your workouts so that you level up and it’s just a really great, supportive community. Registration is now open to the public. You can join here and follow me here: sadrobots.

I’m not an expert in anything, just a compulsive learner/researcher, but if you have any questions, feel free to email me at sadrobotsdot@gmail.com.

The arrival of summer ushers in many dreaded things – bugs, sunburns, all of the awkward times you try to go swimsuit shopping, actually having to wear said swim suit… But summer brings many delightful things, too.  Namely, the ability to sit outside comfortably, lighter clothing, an increase in the likelihood that real lemonade will be available just about anywhere.  Of course, the best part of summer is the annual Guided by Voices/Robert Pollard festival called Heedfest, which takes place somewhere in Dayton each year.  With no special holidays to look forward to in the summer, Heedfest has taken on Thanksgiving-level  significance in my household for the 6 years that it’s been going on.

With Heedfest being the only recurring summer event in my life, I decided to use the date on which it takes place as the goal for my weight loss plan and call it something catchy like Hot by Heedfest (I’m very susceptible to catchy slogans).  That’s right, I’ve just joined 1,000,000 other bloggers who actually write about weight loss stuff, and I’m sorry.  But getting it out there makes it real.

To motivate myself to work out all week and try to limit some of my many calories in the day (why do they make cupcakes so damn pretty?) I have a killer work out mix from the last time I consistently worked out (::cough:: 2007 ::cough::).  Here it is:

  • Holidays in the Sun – The Sex Pistols
  • Oh Bondage, Up Yours! – X-Ray Spex
  • Teenage Kicks – The Undertones
  • TV Party – Black Flag
  • Janie Jones – The Clash
  • Ex-Lion Tamer – Wire
  • Man Called Aerodynamics – Guided by Voices
  • Judy is a Punk – The Ramones
  • Pictures of Lily – The Who
  • No Cars Go – Arcade Fire
  • Thank You For Sending Me an Angel – Talking Heads
  • Hyper Enough – Superchunk
  • Wave of Mutilation – Pixies
  • Aneurysm – Nirvana

The plan is this:  I’m going to work out at Anytime Fitness, try to keep track of my calories using the app Lose It!, and try to limit my weekend fun a smidgen.  When I get bored, I will find classes or something fun to reward myself.  This shouldn’t be terribly difficult – I’ve already been doing this for 3 weeks now – but it took me 4 years to get into this mess and it might take me that long to really be out of it.  I had 25 pounds to lose, I’m already down 2.  Wish me luck!  Updates along the way (including new playlists), I promise!