Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yeahhhh, I'm going to need you to come in on Saturday....

Every Monday morning at 5:45am my alarm goes off.

It wakes me from the dreams of a fun filled weekend and shakes me back to a reality filled with emails to answer, phone calls to return, and 50+ hours spent chained to my desk.  While this sounds quite unappealing (and trust me, a lot of the time, IT IS) there's a method to the madness and that "madness" is a paycheck.  I go to work every day so that I can bring home a paycheck and be able to afford a roof over my head, food on the table, and the occasional overpriced pair of designer jeans.

Let's take this example and apply it to your body.  

What if you looked at your body as your full-time job, with your health as your paycheck?  I imagine you'd be treating it a heck of a lot better than many people do on a day to day basis.  You'd probably be working a little harder and paying a little bit more attention to what goes in your mouth if you knew that at the end of the week it meant you'd have money to be able to buy yourself some fancy shoes at Prada.

OK, so this is not quite what I mean.
Unfortunately, most people don't take their health nearly as seriously as they do their work.  Have a meeting with the boss at 5pm on Friday?  Bet you're not canceling it even if you spill chicken parm all over your tie while you're at lunch.  Have to stay 20 minutes late to finish that very important project?  This annoyance is reason to cancel your gym date with your bff and go home and watch this week's episode of Revenge with your good friends Ben & Jerry.

What am I getting at?

Working out should be an appointment that you can't cancel.  Eating right should be a deadline that you can't miss.  Look, I get it, work is demanding and it's hard to make time to go to the gym.  But when did keeping the ol' ticker working so that you can oh, I don't know, stay alive become something that can easily be brushed aside while you'd miss your first born's birth before you'd ignore an email from the boss?

It's time to get your priorities in order.  I'm sure every one of us could find thirty minutes somewhere in the day to go for a walk.  It's why my alarm goes off so ungodly early.  I may not always want to get up that early but I know what my morning gym session does for my mind and my body so, much like a weekly meeting at the office I'm required to attend, I do not cancel on myself unless there are extreme circumstances.  (And yes, occasionally a very hot man in bed with me qualifies as an "extreme circumstance.")

Eating right and exercising are not options, they are essential to your longevity.  You're not going to have the time to spend all that money you're killing yourself to earn if you are literally killing yourself by not taking care of your health.  So stop thinking of it as something you'll do "when you have time" and start making it a daily date that will get you fired if you miss.

The boss has spoken.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Baby steps to the elevator....

Since I live in Hollywood and work in the industry, my thinking is often influenced by the entertainment industry.  (You just have to look at this post and this post to see what I mean.)  So today let's take a look at what one of my favorite movies, What About Bob, can teach you about your fitness goals!
Baby Steps.

I love this magical phrase!  Heck, I live this magical phrase!  We all know "that guy."  That guy who's never run a lap in his life but all of a sudden gets a brilliant idea that in order to motivate himself to be fit he'll sign up for a marathon that runs in a month.   He trains like hell for 3 days and then gives up because he hurt himself or he's feeling lazy and if he can't run that marathon goal he set for himself, then why bother running at all?

"That guy" is an idiot.

OK, idiot is harsh, let's call him misguided, shall we?  The intention is good, the execution is all wrong.  What he should do is break his plan down into baby steps.

I'll give you an example of a friend of mine, we'll call him Matt.  I would always talk to Matt about how great it felt getting up in the morning and working out before I went to work so, inspired by my waxing poetic, Matt decided to try it himself.  The first day, his alarm went off and he was awake but he stayed in bed.  The second day he got up but he complained to me that he was a failure because he only worked out for 10 minutes.  Man, what a loser, right?

WRONG!  This is baby steps at work!!

Instead of beating himself up for only working out for 10 minutes in the morning, I told Matt he should congratulate himself for getting up and working out for 10 minutes more than he did yesterday morning.  Then tomorrow he should challenge himself to get up and work out for 20 minutes.  Before he knew it, he would be getting up and working out for an hour in the morning and the whole process would be a hell of a lot less painful than Matt was already making it for himself.

Stop trying to go from 0 - 60 in a millisecond.  If a Porsche can't do it, what makes you think you should?  Pick one goal for yourself that you are going to do for one day.  That's it.  One day.  Don't think about tomorrow or yesterday, focus on this one day.  When you achieve this goal for this one day, then take stock of how you feel.  Did it make you feel good?  Great!  Try it again tomorrow but just for TOMORROW only.

Stop overwhelming yourself with the big picture and how many minutes on the treadmill it's going to take you to get there.  Yes, you can have an overall bigger goal, but during the process set those mini goals for yourself.  It makes habit changing much more manageable, enjoyable, and likely to stick.

What are you going to do today?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Stuff Your Face Sunday

I apologize for the lack of posts last week.  Was having the worst week of my professional career.  Utterly miserable.  Though I am happy to report that I never found myself blacking out and waking up covered in Cheez-it dust, so I'm proud of myself for that!

Anyhow, time for this week's Stuff Your Face Sunday.  This week's menu was pretty quick to put together, which is always appreciated.  After venturing out to my personal idea of hell, Trader Joe's on a Sunday, it only took me maybe an hour and a half or so to actually cook.  Ingredients were simple, prep was easy, and cook time was only 15-20 minutes per dish.  All around win.

I like bowties on my men...AND my pasta.
I started off with this lemony chicken made with cream of chicken soup.  I realize that cream of chicken soup is straight out of the trailer park but I LOVE IT.  It's salty and creamy and chickeny, what's not to like?  The recipe is so simple and it made the house smell great.  I put it on top of farfalle (my favorite) and though I would've preferred to have had whole wheat pasta, unfortunately TJ's was out of it for some reason.  And they call themselves a health food store....

I'm hopeful it tastes as good as this looks.
Next we had this savory salmon recipe.  I apologize, I have no personal photos of this dish because, frankly, my fish looked like a flat turd.  Charming huh?  I used a white-ish frozen salmon filet and that combined with the marinade made for terrible presentation.  Fair warning: if you're using minced garlic keep an eye on the stove and cook it at a LOW heat.  That stuff burns fast and then you'll have a really dark brown marinade.  I haven't tried it yet but I worry the balsamic may be a touch overpowering considering that it was making me cough when I was inhaling it's fumes during cooking.  I'll report back on this later in the week.  In the meantime, this is what it was supposed to look like.  Thank you for taking nicer photos than I do!

Yes, I eat my pudding out of a champagne
glass with my initial bedazzled on it.
Don't judge me.
So those are the major meals and now, for the all important snacks.  For my morning snack I'll be repeating last week's slice of whole wheat bread with cream cheese, spinach, and turkey slices.  Delicious, nutritious, easy to put together, travels well.  BUT for my afternoon snack, I got a bit fancier.  OK, not really fancy but a lot more exciting for my tastebuds.  I dusted off an old recipe I used to eat ALL the time during my obsession with weight training and eating protein.  I call it simply Protein Pudding and it's brainless: take cottage cheese and blend til smooth, add a little milk if needed to thin it up BUT bear in mind it gets a bit thicker after you refrigerate.  Then, take whatever flavor instant fat free sugar free jello pudding powder that you prefer and mix in to taste.  When you eat it, you can add fruit like I did or not.  So this fancy looking "dessert" is actually sugar free AND protein packed!  Genius!  I used cheesecake flavor which goes very nicely with strawberries, but I've also done chocolate (sometimes with protein, sometimes not) which is equally delicious.  I think I'll try freezing these this summer and see if it works as a popsicle, mmmm.

So there we have it.  Now I'm downloading new music for my MP3 player (I'm one of 3 people in the world who doesn't own ANY Apple products) and making myself a new running mix for my workout tomorrow.  I'm ashamed to admit I just added a Demi Lovato song into the playlist.  And yes, I am almost 30 years old.

Have a healthy week!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stuff your face Sunday....on Monday.

Well, my first attempt at my food photo filled post was a big fat FAIL.  Spent so much time cooking that I ran out of time for posting yesterday so here ya go: healthy food porn to start your Monday (err...Tuesday by the time many of you read this) off right!  I promise I'll try to be better.  I love alliteration so Stuff Your Face Wednesday is just not as pleasing to my inner grammar nazi.

So!  One of my "secrets" to healthy eating during the week is to cook a bunch of food on Sunday.  I pick out 2 major meals that I'll eat for lunch and dinner all week, make a bunch of it, and voila, I don't have to make any "big" food decisions til the weekend.  (I always eat breakfast, I just tend to eat the same thing over and over so that doesn't vary much.)

Here are this week's culinary adventures:

Cheese + chicken = happy mouth, tiny butt
String cheese chicken!!  Find the recipe here.  This is my favorite meal this week.  Melty mozzarella cheese, chicken, and a psuedo fried taste thanks to the bread crumbs.  I made a few modifications: didn't use sun dried tomatoes or paprika because I don't like either, but I dipped it in tomato sauce when I ate it.  It tastes like a pizza minus the carb coma.  For a side dish I made flavored cous cous with pine nuts.  Easiest recipe ever:

Herbed Cous Cous (make as much or as little as you want)
Whole wheat cous cous prepared according to package but using chicken broth instead of water
parsley flakes or whatever green spices you want to use
toasted pine nuts

To round it out and get a fruit/veggie serving, I had a bowl of strawberries which are coming back into season in California.  Boom.  Done.

Have salmon, will travel.
Dinner was what the recipe called "melt in your mouth salmon."  You can get the recipe here.  However!  Let me warn you: I definitely modified this recipe so it probably wasn't as melt in your mouth as originally intended.  But we can't all be Paula Deen and get a seven figure paycheck for getting diabetes so I strongly advise against ANY recipe that calls for 1/2 cup of butter.  I used about 2 tablespoons so my marinade was more vinaigrette-y than thick gravy.  Trust me, my thighs thank me for it.  I actually made this to take to my man friend's house for dinner and while I didn't think it was my best effort he couldn't stop talking about how much he liked it.  This could be because he's a bachelor and lazy so rarely cooks anything for himself that takes more than 5 minutes, this could be because he wanted to get in my pants, or it could be true.  Try it, and you be the judge.

Oh and don't forget your veggies!  I kept it simple for my man friend and myself: fresh arugula with olive oil and coarse sea salt.  It was a really light and delicious dinner and with enough arugula you can get a good 2 veggie servings in without going to bed feeling like a beached whale.

I like to eat so I always have snacks on hand.  I was very excited to try this one: Cheesy Quinoa Bites!  Again, I modified it.  I only used 1/4 c of parmesan cheese.  I figured between my string cheese chicken and this, that was more than enough to hit my cheese quota for the week.  I like it as much as the next girl but I also know I don't want my ass to start resembling a big squishy chunk of brie.  I also used egg beaters instead of real egg.  Fair warning: this makes a LOT.  Be sure to have enough mini muffin cups on hand.  I threw half of them in the freezer for that week in the future when I'm busy having a Sunday Funday and mimosas are more of a priority than cooking quinoa.  They are a little bland and I haven't figured out the dipping sauce that will most perfectly complement them but I have to disagree with the author: I definitely don't think it will be anything in the honey mustard family.  I may try some warmed olive oil with minced garlic in it.

And when you're all done, hopefully you have something, or should I say someone, like this to help with the clean up.  Happy chewing!
The Conehead: not so effective for cleaning, highly effective for entertainment.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

You talkin' to ME?

Do you understand the words
that are coming out of your mouth?
We've all got an inner monologue and I'm pretty sure that everyone's inner voice has the nasty habit of being negative from time to time.  Hey, we're human, it happens.

But so many people have an inner voice that pops up way more often than it should, and it tells them terrible things about their own body.  You ate too much, you ran too little, you are not good enough.  Many of us become so used to hearing these messages that we even start to believe our own negative hype.

Let's put this in perspective.

Think about a negative thought that you may have about your body.  Now, imagine saying that thought, out loud, to your best friend.  Or your sister.  Or your dog.  Like this:

"Hey best friend, if you don't lose 10 pounds, no one will ever love you."

WHOA, hold the heck on, you say.  I would never talk about my best friend like that!  He/She is so awesome, who cares about 10 pounds?!


Why is it ok to tell ourselves these awful things that we would never in a million years say, or even think, about the people in our lives that we love so dearly?  Newsflash: it's not.

Thinking about my eating disorder this way had a huge impact on my recovery.  I first read about this concept in this great book Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer .  She described looking at her eating disorder as an abusive boyfriend named Ed (ED = eating disorder.  Convenient, huh?).  So many strong women like Jenni, and myself, would never take crap from a boyfriend but yet engage in a never ending abusive relationship within their own mind.  If some dude I was dating told me my butt was looking a little big in my pants, his own ass would be cold and alone in bed that night.  But yet, I used to tell myself that, and worse, multiple times a day.

So the next time you're berating yourself for going to happy hour with an old friend after a particularly bad day at work, or ordering dessert at your friend's birthday dinner, think about saying those thoughts out loud to another person.  Then flip your own internal script.

Mama always said, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Happy Oreo Day!

Apparently it's the 100th Birthday of Oreo so I'm helping myself to 2 of these puppies.  Hey, the office bought a bunch of Oreos, who am I to not participate?  But you'll notice I ate only 2....not the 10 I really would've liked to inhale.  Alllllll about the balance people.

It's also National Frozen Foods day....but I will not be celebrating with a Hot Pocket.

The only workout buddy who never flakes

Who could it be?
I love a good workout buddy.  After I missed a spin class we'd planned on taking, I once had my workout buddy call and leave me a voicemail saying, "I'm looking to cast someone for the role of WORST FRIEND EVER and she needs to be reallllllly fat.  Byeeee."  He was teasing & I laughed so hard I cried but trust me, I never missed a spin class I scheduled with him again.

However, people are not perfect.  Inevitably at some point during your relationship, your workout buddy will get sick, tired, hungover, or all of the above.  So while I LOVE a good gym partner, I also understand the limits of the relationship. (now if only I could apply this lesson to men...)

So what if I told you I know of a workout buddy who would NEVER cancel on you.  Who would always be happy to get your butt out the door rain or shine, hot or cold, hungover or tired.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Well, it is almost is.

Best.  Workout Buddies.  Ever.
 Meet my favorite "people" to workout with: Sadie (in black) and Maggie (the tall one).  When I adopted Sadie 6 years ago she was 80 pounds.  80 POUNDS on that small little body.  (To give you perspective, in this recent pic she is at a happy healthy 48 pounds.)  She clearly needed to lose weight.  So we walked.  A lot.  And guess what?  Not only did SHE lose 20 pounds but *I* lost 13!  We didn't do doggie Crossfit or any of that nonsense....we just walked.  We walked for about 20 minutes every day and the weight fell off of us both.  Now Sadie is a bit older and more arthritic, so I take my roommate's dog, Maggie.  Maggie is always game for a 6 mile hike, 5 mile walk on the beach, or even a 4 mile run.  And she always is SUPER excited about it.  What other workout buddy have you had who bounces off the walls because they get to go run with you?  Her attitude is infectious and her happiness during our exercise motivates me to go farther and faster because she is having so much fun.

These buddies come with their own set of issues even though they are consistent gym partners.  So PLEASE don't adopt on a whim.  They require a lot of time, energy, and money.  BUT the love they give back is tenfold and you'll always have a friend ready for an outdoor calorie burning adventure, even when you're not.

If that's not a win-win, I don't know what is.

UPDATE:  Well looky here!  Was doing some dog related research on the ol' internet and it seems I'm in good company in my thinking of dog as fitness partner.  Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) says she used her dog as a fitness trainer when her doctor told her she should drop a few pounds. Not so Fat Greek Wedding anymore!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Doggone it, people like me!

Though his fashion choices could be deemed questionable, his message is spot on.
You may be asking yourself what in god's name could Stuart Smalley possible have to do with fitness and health.  Though, if you're under 25, you're probably just wondering who in god's name Stuart Smalley IS.  I can answer that question easily, here.  Stuart was an overly positive SNL character notorious for always putting a positive spin on things while being slightly delusional.  So, what does this have to do with you, me, and our own journeys to greater well-being?  I'll tell you.

Stuart always speaks in the affirmative.  This is what makes him both highly annoying and wise beyond his years.  Take that clip for example.  He doesn't say, "I hope I'm going to have a good show today."  Instead he says, "I AM going to have a good show today."  Well big deal, I bet any therapist worth half of their $150/hour fee would be able to tell you this is a good way to talk to yourself.  Yes, but Stuart is much more entertaining of a folk hero than any self indulgent therapist would be so I'm using him as an example.

When setting your health & fitness goals for the week, be more like Stuart.  Instead of saying, "I won't eat any sugar this week," a declaration that is sure to make anyone suicidal, change the wording to, "When I am craving something sweet I'll eat some fruit."  Or, "I won't sleep in and miss the gym this week," becomes, "I'll  go to 3 spin classes with my favorite teacher before Friday."  See how much more pleasant the latter examples in those sentences feel?  Instead of being something you feel a sense of dread about doing (who wants to think about a life without candy?) you give the task a positive spin and think, hey, yeah, I CAN do this.

WWSSD? (What Would Stuart Smalley Do?)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Let's be honest....

I aim to make this a fitness blog that doesn't take itself too seriously and is more of a conversation, less of a reference guide.  Sure, I want to share info and push you to think about fitness differently, but I also want to be honest and share feelings and struggles so we can get through them together.  I never want to be disingenuous in my blogging and I think that's what makes the blog a fun place to be.  My voice, your voice, a conversation.

So with all that being said, I need to be honest with you guys.  I'm struggling a bit right now.  Like the name of the blog suggests, I'm not perfect.  And though I've kicked the ass of the eating disorder that I struggled with for so long, I still have my bad days.  Right now, I'm having one of them.  I feel like a bit of a stranger in my own body and I don't like the feeling.  Some days, weeks, months, I eat really well without giving it a second thought, bounce out of bed to run to the gym, and love every second of it.  This is not one of those times.

Everyone has days they feel like this.
I'm having one now.
When presented with healthy and unhealthy food options, I'm choosing the unhealthier ones more often than not.  I can say to myself before making this choice, "Hey, choose the healthier thing.  It may not be the party in your mouth that the grilled cheese sandwich is, but ultimately it's going to give you more peace of mind and fuel for your body than the texas toast and 3 kinds of cheese are."  And yet, I still choose the comforting flavor fiesta instead of what my rational mind KNOWS will make me feel better.  It doesn't make me a horrible person, it makes me human, but it also makes me feel a bit powerless.

One of the turning points in my recovery was when my doctor told me that my eating disorder was not THE issue, the eating disorder was A symptom.  When you're in the bathroom throwing up your food multiple times a day this sounds like, pardon my french, a crock of shit.  It took me a few years to figure it out but the day I finally understood what my doctor was talking about was a day I felt like the universe literally got in my face and shouted "EUREKA!"  It changed my life.

What does that have to do with what I'm feeling right now?  It means I need to dig deeper than just "I'm having a fat day," and figure out what's bothering me.  There is something going on inside that is bigger than "stop eating Cadbury mini eggs."  I'm unhappy or worried about something that I haven't addressed.  Maybe because I can't identify it yet, maybe because I don't want to, but knowing that I need to figure out the issue is what separates "recovered me" from "eating disordered me."

This post may be a bit Debbie Downer-ish, but I thought it was an important one to share.

I'd rather be honest than perfect.