Flexing my Way through the Day

I bought a FitBit Flex. It took me six months plus to jump into the fitness tracker trend. I’ve never been an early adapter of technology. I need to convince myself of the purpose of having gadgets. When a conversation turned to a Fitbit, my first question was always “what’s the point?”. At the time, I didn’t get it. Some would answer, well it’s motivating I can see my progress and it makes me go for a walk or take the stairs to my meeting.  I would politely nod while thinking to myself “well I don’t need that”.  Then I noticed more people wearing it and again I would ask “do you like it?”. My curiosity was based on needing to know, was I missing out or was I perfectly fine to ignore this?  As I listened to more people talk about how they used their Fitbit or other trackers(Jawbone, Nike, etc), I began to wonder, would it be of use to me.

Working out is part of my routine, for the most part. This spring, it’s taken a hit. I can’t explain it other than winter was awful, Spring took it’s sweet time to show up. Usually, running is what I transition back too when the weather warms. Now, with my knee being completely pissed at that, I don’t have that. Rather than just accept my fitness fate, I began to think, well instead of working towards one work out goal, why not work out throughout the day? The problem, I had no idea what that meant. My technology thoughts ties directly to my workout theory. Why have more than you need? Throughout my workout life,  I progressed from an iPod shuffle to using my iPhone.My phone  provided one greater value over the shuffle it was easier, one less thing to remember, charge, update and use.  Using my phone also meant I started getting more data out of my workouts through my various apps. I track my runs, I track my heart rate, I track my food/water intake but even with all that data, I wasn’t getting any base information on my overall fitness.  I wanted to know how active I was throughout the day. I work an office job but live within the city. I walk a lot, at least in my head. Again, I wanted something to provide me with the information to either motivate me or validate my thoughts. After all the conversations I had, I realized the FitBit was the way to go.

fitbit

Fitbit Flex, as shown on Amazon

Originally I wanted the Force because it had more display options. You didn’t need your phone or a computer to check your daily progress. Then it got recalled and became impossible to find. I decided the Flex would match my needs because it syncs with your phone. Let’s face it, as a Gen Xer I’m never far from my phone. I ordered it off Road Runner Sports, using my VIP, giving me 10% off and free shipping. Then I used Ebates and got $4.50 back off my purchase. Total spent on it around 85 bucks.  I got it Wednesday. I’ve been wearing it since. It is giving me exactly what I was hoping for with it. Here is an example of the dashboard view Screenshot 2014-05-02 07.09.23

 

You can make goals, track your food, add sleep and activity. I have it synced with MyFitnessPal, so my food I record there automatically goes into my Fitbit and exercise recorded from Fitbit goes into MyFitnessPal.

If you are on the fence with getting one. Here are a few questions I found helpful for decided upon the purchase.

  • Do I already own something that will do what this does?
  • What am I looking for it to do?
  • Will it sync with other programs/things I use?
  • What motivates me?

Once I knew the answers to these questions, I knew that this was worth purchasing.  I owned pieces of what this does but I was looking for a more comprehensive fit. I wanted to track my activity throughout the day, not just when I was working out. It syncs through my computer and phone. All my other fitness apps sync together, so far no issues there. Will it motivate me? Well, that is to be seen but so far I can say, yes, it does. It tells me that my base calorie burn is approximately so much for each day and adjust it based upon my activity. This helps me gauge emotional hunger versus real hunger, which is something I need help measuring. My heart rate monitor helped do the same and this is again filling in a need around it.

The ebates link above is an affiliate link, meaning if you register and buy something, I will get a referral bonus from them.  With that said, I do love eBates, since becoming a member I’ve earned a chunk of cash for buying things I was going to buy anyway. If you are not a member, you should consider it, even if you don’t use this link.

Also, no one paid me for this post, no one gave me anything for free, and it is all my own opinion based upon my experience thus far.

 

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Chocolate, a Race to Be

Spring is finally showing up here in the North. Sunday I enjoyed a beautiful 75 degree day. I wish Saturday could have been the same. It was my first race of the year. Here we are almost May and I’ve done one. I partly blame it on our horrible Polar Vortex winter and just lack of desire. Even without the Polar Vortex cold death suck, I’ve been dealing with a finicky IT band on my left side. Any time I run over two miles I start getting a sharp annoying pain on the outside of my left knee. It comes and goes throughout the run.  I had signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15k back in November when I thought I would still be doing RNR Nashville. As the Saturday drew closer I sat on the fence about actually running it.  It was past the window where I could drop to the 5k and given variables, I just felt eh. Thankfully, I had the ever present peer pressure because my friend was also doing it as part of her marathon training.  Despite my best effort to talk myself out, I just kept talking myself into it because the swag, bragging rights and knowing how much better a race is when you have someone else out there pushing you.

I looked at the course before the race. I was familiar with the course because it was running along the river here in the Cities. Coincidentally, this is my closest running trail because it makes for easy out and backs. The terrain, well let’s just say it isn’t easy. Here, running the river means hills, bridges, wind and random obstacles(bikers). Luckily after the big hills often it evens off for a bit.I talked myself into it knowing I was familiar enough and could handle it.

Race day, well that was a different story. The wind was bitter, wicked and reminded me of running this winter. It whipped right into your face announcing it’s presence. Three bridges, four hills and one near crying break later, I crossed the finish line with a time that surprised me. The course was farther than I thought and included one giant hill that even during normal runs I try to avoid. It is probably for the best I got confused while reading the map, otherwise I would have quit when my knee started acting up. It wasn’t my fastest time, but it also wasn’t my worst (I’m looking at you San Diego!).

Overall, I’m glad I went out and did it. I wasn’t sore at all the next day minus the nagging knee pain. My body felt fine during the race. It confirms to me that I don’t need to put in heavy mileage as long as I’m active in other ways. While I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else, I’m happy my own conditioning isn’t destroyed. I’m now looking forward to my half marathon at the end of May in Virginia.  Oddly enough that is another beverage themed race with it being the Virginia Wine Country Half.  If this is my theme for 2014, I will take it.

If you have an opportunity to do a Hot Chocolate race, I would recommend it. They are well organized, decently priced and the swag is pretty decent.

 

 

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The choices you make

It started with a conversation.This little blog doesn’t generate much traffic. I don’t put a lot of effort into it. I just spew out things as I want. I thought about what it would take to take it to the next level. Ultimately, every time, I decide I don’t know if I want to be that public. Partly what I fear is the exact backlash that occurred a few years ago with the Marie Claire article around six healthy living bloggers. You can read all about it here.    I also loved this response to the controversy it started.

Emotionally, I don’t think I’m ready for that to be part of my own body image acceptance story. I’m still a work in progress on that. I firmly believe that you need to accept and love yourself. Part of that comes with challenging yourself, fueling your body and engaging in things that make you feel good. When you start losing site of those things and let the guilt, loathing and fear take over, it’s time to re-examine. What happens though when you don’t feel like you can validate those concerns? I have friends in various places in their weight loss journeys.  Sometimes it feels incredibly difficult to complain about not fitting into your pants when you are their goal weight/size. Sometimes, you don’t even engage the conversation because you know, you’ll just be told you’re skinny, what do you have to be unhappy about. Sure, sometimes you do need that gentle reminder that how you feel isn’t your true reality.  Sometimes though, you need someone to say, well if you are not happy, what are you going to change versus just excusing it because you appear thin. I’m tired of being told I don’t understand because I’m skinny. I’m tired of someone telling me to just eat “blah” because I’m skinny.  Mostly, I’m tired of people openly commenting on my body/weight to excuse the emotion behind the choice.

I’m skinny, thin, tiny whatever word that person chooses to use, because I put the effort into being that way. I purposely work out. I purposely think about the foods I eat. But I am far from perfect. I’m currently tracking my food to see what I’m eating and if it is enough. I’m using this exercise to see where I can improve. It’s helping me learn how to gauge my hunger. It shows me that food decisions are not just as simple as healthy versus not. What I’m really learning is that as a woman, there is a lot of emotion that goes into body image and how people feel it is okay to comment towards you about it. It’s an exhausting conversation especially when you are continually having it with yourself.  I’m learning that there is always for improvement and the process is continual. Just because you hit a goal weight/size doesn’t mean the process is over.

What I really took away from it today is that choices you make around diet/exercise are yours to make. You can get inspiration from different places. You learn by trying new things, challenging yourself and recognizing when a pattern requires change. It is very easy to just say ignore the bad, don’t listen to them, just do what is right for you. Really, it’s not that easy. It’s not easy to forgive yourself when you are the one also punishing yourself.  Which is why all of this a process, you go and you learn. Sometimes you spend time in a space that is very uncomfortable. It is okay, it’s part of becoming you. That’s right self, it is part of becoming who you are meant to be.

 

 

 

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Admit it, you love it

January, I set a goal to run 30 miles. I made it 22. I thought this was decent considering the record breaking temperatures we had here. School was cancelled several days due to extreme cold which is pretty rare in these woods. February has been better with finding a consistent work out grove. The weather is slightly better only because the temperature itself is staying above zero. Lately when talking to people about my workout routine, I keep coming back to my obvious love for my community ed classes. I’m taking two right now, Barre and Zumba.

I really love having my community ed classes. It really is true that having work outs scheduled makes you more likely to do it and stick with it. I don’t know if I would work out every Saturday without my Zumba class. Community education classes are a great way to test out fitness classes. Here in Minneapolis there is a wide variety of classes and locations.  In my experience, classes are taught by certified/trained instructors because the trainers submit classes and times to teach. This leads to a good variety of classes but it can also mean that your teacher leaves or stops doing it. The classes last a set number of weeks with a break in between sessions. The breaks depend on the time of year, the fall and winter is the biggest gap being from the end of November with the next classes starting the end of January. Even with these breaks, I look forward to browsing the next brochure for class offerings. Here is why, they are cheaper than gym memberships. There is no pressure to sign up for an expensive membership at a studio or sales pitches that typically happen with other work out offers(groupon, one week free, ,etc).  They provide the incentive/schedule to get to class, which doesn’t happen with work out dvd.

And no, I’m not being paid or given any incentive to write this. It just occurred to me the last few weeks that many people I know think of working out as either gym, dvd, or nothing. This is so far from the truth. There are numerous ways to work out that don’t involve a gym membership. It just takes exploring options and finding what works for you.

Here are some other interesting articles I’ve stumbled upon.

http://www.sparkpeople.com/blog/blog.asp?post=the_15_best_but_busters

The low grade misery of wanting to be thinner

Food is food

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Pushing through the lull

Stagnant, it dawned on me while making my bed today. I dislike January because it makes me feel stagnant. The holidays are over, no longer is their gift giving, baking or celebrating with family. The weather dips into depressing. I attempt to settle back into my routine but it always feels false. My work outs are at the mercy of the weather. Even though I believe you can and should run outside during the winter.  It isn’t possible when the high for the day still has a negative sign in front of it or there is ice. There is a great variety of at home work outs including those on YouTube. I will do one but I can only do so many before I’m bored, even if they are different. January brings out an onslaught of new resolutions meaning work out classes normally crowded are especially crowded. Plus, the motivation to leave the house when it is cold or snowing or both, well it is minimal.

January tests and challenges that like no other month.

But unlike past years,  I’m pushing through it. I’ve managed 12 miles this month, even with the horrible weather. I’m signed up for two community ed classes that start the last week. I will be trying out a new class, barre, along with my tried and true, zumba. I’m eager to see what barre is like. I’ve done YouTube workouts with it but the class experience usually gives me a better sense. For instance, I love going to yoga classes but I’m not huge with doing a yoga dvd at home. Classes provide a different effort and vibe. The instructor and other students provide inspiration or motivation that can be hard to find on your own. I’m hoping that barre becomes as fun in a class. I’m signed up for two half marathons,  pushing me to take advantage of the days where I can squeeze out a run.  The next two weeks will continue to be challenging. I’m eliminating the excuses and hunkering down.

If you are experiencing your own workout or health plateau. Look at what you are doing and why it’s challenging. Start scheduling your work outs like you would with other important dates in your life. It is a time you give to yourself to be your best self, make it count. It also comes from adapting the changes to your overall lifestyle. I found my best success within maintaining my best self came from little changes made over time. Things like, no drinking soda, drinking my coffee black, always eating breakfast, the things you are likely to read as top ten diet tips or other silly titled lists, are the same things that when put into your routine, make a difference. I don’t think of my workouts or eating as my diet, I think of them as my life. That simple but huge change made the biggest difference in my journey.

Start small, figure out your routine and then go!

 

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I Don’t Recall Asking

The weekend of Nov. 22nd I ended my whole30, early but planned. I traveled the weekend before to my sister’s and nearly quit then. I realized that when I’m in control of my environment and routine, it’s easy. When my routine becomes part of travel and food choices are limited, it becomes more work. I don’t mean to say you never could travel and do it. You can and people do, but it wasn’t right for me. I sat at a restaurant in central Wisconsin, and nothing on the menu would be Whole30 compliant, okay maybe a salad with nothing on it. I ordered a burger, took it off the bun and eat it. That’s it and that wasn’t okay for me.  I gave myself a break when I went to Omaha. I did fairly well keeping with eating well. I didn’t go crazy. I didn’t drink like a frat boy which normally would be the whole point of me going. While I didn’t finish the 30 days I am happy with what I accomplished through it.

The thing I wasn’t ready for….what people had to say about how I looked. I had one acquaintance tell me I was too skinny. I had a dear friend tell me I was a stick figure. Over Thanksgiving my family asked if I was going to blow away in the wind.

It was not what I expected. I felt great. With a series of words, that started to crumble. I felt like an impostor. That soon I would be found out and everyone would know it wasn’t really me in that body.  I didn’t deserve it. I wasn’t that skinny girl everyone was commenting on, I was just me that fun chubby girl that was smart and snarky. But I was that girl.

Losing weight is hard. The part  you are never prepared for is how the words and compliments bring up a host of emotions you didn’t know you felt until they hit. I work hard for this body. I don’t take what it does for granted. I feed it. I try to push out of comfort zones. I make conscious choices so that I can be proud of it and comfortable in it.

The interesting part, is weight wise, I probably was within five lbs of what I’ve always been in the last two years. The difference is that I’m more muscular. I’m leaner. Absolutely my body has changed but my weight, not really. Sure, I threw out my scale because I was obsessing over the number too much. Part of that came from how it fluctuated between those five pounds. Now that I’m not focused on a number, I’m settling into my body. My measurements are different, my clothes fit differently. I feel confident. I reached what Jillian Michael’s calls the “sex with the lights on” confidence I’ve wanted with my body.

But with a few words, I felt it all come crashing down. No matter where you are in your own journey, know it is never over. You will reach your goal. But the series of decisions you make every day, they get easier but they never end.  You’ll still need the belief in yourself to get over the words and struggles in your environment. And remember, be kind to yourself. You deserve it. There will always be people giving you unkind thoughts and projecting their struggles.Stay strong, you need that kind voice in your own head.

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Here we go again

I’m officially 30. It is really easy to let yourself get caught up in a number. 30, it rolls off the tongue with a certainty, even when everything else does not feel certain. The most amazing thing about your birthday, it makes you very aware, aware of friends, family, people in your life, the kindness of strangers when they wish you a happy birthday because they some how found out. The week following your birthday you feel burned out and a tad bit selfish. Selfish because suddenly, instead of feeling gratitude, you feel left out. You go back to normal. Your friends go back to normal, no longer are random strangers wishing you happiness. I image this is how people feel after most life events. You go from being the spotlight and back to just you. The other thing birthday’s bring? A change from your normal routine and food, lots of food. I can’t even think of how much I ate or drank in celebration. I savored and enjoyed the memories of it all. It’s not guilt but rather now transitioning back into normal.

My friend Danielle and I are both going to start the whole 30. The next 30 days we will be each others support system. Notice I didn’t use the word diet? It’s not a diet, sure it has similarities to a diet. It has a list of no foods(a rather long list) and it’s a set amount of time. But it’s not a diet. Why? There is not any calorie counting, the rules are more to help guide your eating, not restrict or dictate it. Most importantly, it eliminates foods that promote health issues and helps you identify what foods. I found a lot of success with this method in learning about how dairy impacts my body. If I had not eliminated it for a week, I would have never known what a world of difference it made removing it.  This is my second attempt at the Whole30. Last time I made it 12 days. My hope is that having a buddy will help. My challenge is that I will almost be done at Thanksgiving. I know it’s doable. I know that people have dealt with harder challenges or struggles. If my only problem is wondering how to say no to stuffing at Thanksgiving, I would say I’m doing pretty well.

I’m hoping by doing this challenge it will help get me back into a more healthy lifestyle. Generally, eating better inspires me to keep up with working out. Fall is a hard season here in Minneapolis for working out. You get spoiled at the beginning by perfect running weather. As it cools off the daylight starts slowly disappearing. Soon perfect running weather is replaced by dark mornings and thirty degrees. I let myself have a week off after the half marathon. A good move because my body needed it but now my mind is perfectly okay with letting it stay longer. This week I battled all of the things saying “oh it’s okay, you can start again….later” and just did it. Four work outs later I am feeling like I am slowly getting back into the groove. Business as usual and I plan on keeping it that way.

 

 

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