Archives for posts with tag: work out

I decided to try Advocare, and the cleanse was really challenging but very rewarding.  Now that it’s over I’ve really learned to appreciate the foods I eat more than ever.  It sort of got me to start thinking of food as fuel again, rather than purely entertainment, comfort, etc.  I’ve cut most of the sugar out of my diet and I rarely miss it.  However, there are many temptations and it can be hard at times to stick 100% to the plan.  The worst thing is the beautiful free goodies people bring in at work (see below) because work is stressful and I love to eat sweets and carb-heavy foods when I’m stressed.

At the 14 day mark, I had lost 6 pounds and some inches!  More importantly, I’m feeling a lot better, which makes it hard to find good excuses to avoid the gym anymore.  I notice, too, that I’m working harder at the gym probably because I’m feeling less icky and tired all the time.  I realized that it’s probably not normal for a 25-year-old to be so tired just from working and so forth.  More updates to follow!

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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!