On being afraid…

Despite my general awesomeness and bad-assery, I’ve been afraid to do something lately. Crossfit.

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(The ladies of Crossfit Montgomery, taken from the official Crossfit Facebook page)

Though, I’m not afraid for the reasons you might think.

Like this:

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Or this:

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(That would be me, literally crying from exhaustion one morning and my hunky husband took a photo of it)

Or this:

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Which is incidentally what happened when I attempted to do 36 inch box jumps to the beat of Shoop.

A few stitches later, 3 weeks before my wedding, I was just happy it was my calf and not my face.

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Anyway, the point is, I’m not afraid of hard workouts, I’m not afraid of bleeding hands, or sore legs or disfigured shins (still have a scar)…

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I’m afraid, well more like intimidated, to do Crossfit in my second language: French. Where I live, not many people speak English, and my local gym box is totally francophone. My French is pretty good, and getting better by the day, fine for work, fine for shopping and socializing, but working out?!?!?!? SCARY.

I went with my (Francophone) husband to do a trial class, and spent a good part of it with the dude yelling “Baisse tes hanches! Baisse tes hanches!!!!” at me, much to my confusion (and mortification). Finally with a loud whisper from my hunky husband, plus a pointed physical cue from the Crossfit dude, I finally lowered my hips.

That’s not so bad, really, that I could deal with. But what really terrifies me is the thought of doing it without my trusty translator and holding up the whole class…. Basically what I’m afraid of is…. Looking stupid.

I know, it’s totally ridiculous. But there it is. I am afraid of looking stupid because I don’t know workout related French vocabulary and I won’t have a trusted Frenchy to be my buffer. Because so much of an hour-long Crossfit class is group oriented, I’m afraid of holding people back from getting a good workout and them quietly (or not so quietly) resenting the Anglo interloper in my tiny French town. Even though I do speak French, I just need some help in the workout department.

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I’d love to end this post with an inspirational message saying I’m going to get over my fears, open up a French/English dictionary and march down that box gym uh box, but I’m not. It has been holding me back for 6 months. Well, that and I would prefer to go to morning classes, but they don’t have any early enough to get me to work on time. But, I’m going to keep pondering it in the back of my mind until my balls get big enough to not care and be shy about my Anglo-ness and just go and work out with people who probably don’t give a F– that I’m a little slower due to my translating the instructions to English in my head.

Apple Cider Vinegar

It occurred to me that I’ve been going through an awful lot of apple cider vinegar lately.
Case in point: my nearly empty bottle.

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I’ve used Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar a lot of different ways in the past few weeks:

On salads in a home made dressing:

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I mix acv, a generous scoop of minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper for a delicious homemade vinaigrette. You can also add a tsp of mustard (any kind) for added kick.

Yum!

I grew a ton of vegetables for homemade salads this year. We have been eating a salad almost every night with this dressing.

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I also use ACV to combat bloating and to make the body more alkaline. It helps with digestion and water retention too. If you’re constipated, a few days of a tsp of acv in warm water will get things moving along smoothly. Tosca Reno, my eat clean idol, swears it helps her ab definition.

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It can also help with acne. I’ve been using it as a facial/toner, just gently smoothing it with a cotton ball across my clean face. I don’t have sensitive skin, and have done this lots of times. It gives a great tingly feeling and helps tone and smooth the skin. If you have sensitive skin, I’d be careful with this method.

I’ve been using it to treat yeasty ear infections that my dog Apollo gets from too much swimming. His large floppy ears make for the perfect conditions of yeast growth in his ears.

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I mix equal parts acv and warm water in a clean saline bottle and add a few drops to his ears nightly when he is swimming regularly to discourage yeast growth. My stepson was also complaining about his ears from swimming so much, so we put a few drops in his ears too!

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Apple cider vinegar is a staple in my kitchen (and bathroom!). What do you use it for? I’ve heard a million different claims about its usage, but can vouch for the above ones myself!

Now what?

After successfully completing my goal of re-committing to a healthy lifestyle for 21 days, I’m now sitting on the other side of 21. If you don’t remember, or didn’t read, I chose 21 days because apparently it takes that long to form a habit, and I wanted to make healthy choices a habit in my life again.

Well, I can say that I feel like I succeeded. I left town for the weekend to visit a friend for the weekend, and was afraid that all my work would go down the toilet. That I’d binge eat bad food and lose all my progress. Well, I didn’t. I didn’t spend the weekend stressed because my meals weren’t properly balanced or fretting about what I ate either. I focused on spending quality time with my best friend and trying to be healthy ish, but kind to myself.

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I didn’t eat perfectly, or worry about perfectly balancing my meals for the weekend, I just ate what was available and tried to make good choices. It was perfect. I dipped my hand into a bowl of munchies too many times. But, at breakfast, I ate a vegetarian omelette with rye toast, and left the hash browns on my plate. I had sushi one night for dinner, and had something called sushi pizza which I’d never heard of before, but it was delicious.

I relaxed, had quality time, and a pedicure that I’m pretty sure made me reach nirvana.

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I didn’t work out, but, I did do some push-ups and sit-ups in my room one morning before getting dressed. I hit a personal best in push-ups to boot! Those darn things have always been a challenge for me, even at peak fitness.

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I’m not looking to be perfect, but I am looking to make better choices most of the time, and I think I’m on my way.

21 days in… (well, more like 19 if you’re counting)

Something really magical has happened this week. Working out and eating healthy has gotten easier. Is starting to feel natural again to do all my old habits like constantly carrying around a bag of ‘clean’ food in tupperware, and working out at the butt-crack of dawn.

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The first day I noticed it was Monday. My alarm went off at 5, and I just rolled over and got up. I’ve been getting up at 5 most days for the last three weeks, but mostly when the alarm wakes me I curse and whine and want to roll over and wish that I could go to back to sleep. Not Monday, or any other day this week for that matter. I just got up. I’m not going to lie, I didn’t wake up and hear a choir of angels or anything, but it was just like old times. Habit. Which was my goal when I started this whole thing. Making health and fitness a priority again, and making it natural instead of a constant struggle and feeling guilty all. the. time.

Next thing that happened is that with my well planned, well balanced, easily accessible meals my crazy cravings for bad food are starting to diminish. They’re not gone, but I’m not constantly driven to distraction with sweet cravings. I found myself one day eating cold chicken, sweet potato and asparagus out of a Tupperware container in my car so that I wouldn’t be hungry in a meeting and be tempted by the meeting food swag.

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It wasn’t an inner battle of “I want all the donuts and don’t want to eat this healthy crap,” it was more like “my body is a temple and needs this good food I cooked, and THEN if I want a donut I can have it.” But I didn’t want a donut. I was full, satisfied and feeling pleased that I stuck with my goal without guilt or pain or anything. I just did it because it is what I know is best!
That is a major win for me.

The issue for me isn’t knowing how to workout or what to eat. I know. It’s doing it. And now I am! Yahoo!

I used to follow a lot of 12 week plans. I liked having a plan to follow, an end goal. But right now, 12 weeks is too much for me. Too distant. 21 days to form a habit, 21 days to achieve the reasonable goal of re-focussing on health and fitness. When I set a small goal and I achieve it, it motivates me to go even further. So, I’m re-committing myself to another three weeks of forcing myself to make the right choices, exercising even when I am lazy, and reaching for the healthy foods first. Small changes really add up, and 21 days in I am already seeing a difference.

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Getting off the pill.

I’ve been on the pill (the birth control pill that is) since I was 14 or so. I tried to get off it once because I wanted a break, but the painful periods and cystical acne I suffered were a major deterrent.

Well, those things, but also the fact that I went bat-shit crazy from the hormones. If you think my hunky husband is a saint because of this, well, double that assessment because I was a crazy bad ass monster who routinely went into fiery fits of rage, then collapsed into tears. Back on the pill and boom! Gone!

So, I’m still on the pill and honestly I don’t really want to be. I’ve been pumping myself full of artificial hormones since I was 14, and I would really prefer not to. I’m not trying to get pregnant, I’m just trying to give my body a bit of a break, a detox if you will. Honestly, I am a little afraid to risk the pain, the acne, and the bat-shit craziness, BUT and it’s a big BUT, I moved, I haven’t found (ahem or even tried to find) a doctor yet, and I’m outta pills, so….. I’m trying it. It has been about three weeks. My face is full of pimples. I like to think they make me look younger. Maybe people think I look 16 again??? Nahhh I never had pimples like this at 16! I really need to see a naturopath to regulate this but again, haven’t found one, not quite desperate enough to look yet.

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(Cool map of acne and what it associated to in your body. Mine is my cheeks and sort of my jaw line. I’ve read this is hormonal, and in my experience it surely is, but according to this map it is colon and stomach related).

Here’s what I’ve been doing in the interim:

– extra omega 3. I use this one

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Omega is good for the skin (and practically everything else) and I’ve read that healthy fats help regulate hormones. I’m taking a tsp in the morning and another in the evening.

– evening primrose oil. Apparently this helps lady hormones

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I’m taking two in the morning and two in the evening.

-Estro-Sense. I have no idea if this works, it has mixed reviews. It says helps cystical acne on the bottle and I’m desperate enough to give it a whirl.

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– trying to increase my water intake. I’ve failed at this for this week. Shame on me. My skin looks so much better when I’m properly hydrated.

-I’ve been paying extra attention to my skin care regime. However I don’t find this helps at all-  acne for me is a symptom of something going on inside, not outside. I cleanse with oil in the evening and use an Origins cleanser in the morning after working out.

So, at this point, three weeks in- I am really really tempted to say screw it, and go back on the pill. But, I’m going to try to be patient and give it 3-6 months to even out. More than half my life of hormones can’t be reversed in three weeks, at least that’s what I keep telling myself as I dab on the concealer. Pimples aren’t easy when you’re 31. Maybe if I’d had more as a teenager I’d be better prepared for this!

Has anyone else experienced these symptoms when they went off the pill? Any tips? I feel it will be better overall for my health to get off this artificial hormone wagon.

 

Body Image

A friend posted a quote by Maya Angelou from her poem Phenomenal Woman the other day. This is a poem that I’m familiar with and the lines always stuck with me. Fortunately for me, she posted it just when I needed the reminder.

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman, that’s me.
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I’ve talked about how the change in my lifestyle has made me look different, but honestly the change is mostly internal. I still thought I looked pretty good, but I didn’t feel good.  When I’m not working out and eating well I don’t feel in control. I don’t feel as strong.

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I enjoy the look of a strong woman – I’ll admit it, if you’re a female friend of mine and have nice biceps or defined shoulders, I’ve totally checked them out.
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So, yes, I enjoy how look when I’m fitter and more muscular. But honestly, mostly I love how I feel.  You know how I mentioned the other day that I worked out and then immediately felt 10 feet tall and bullet proof? It’s that feeling that I love about being fit. That feeling that I can put my mind to something and conquer it. I can work harder and lift heavier weights, I can do more pushups the next time. Its a constant contest with yourself, and most days your winning. I love it.
I love the feeling I get when I know that I am doing the things that I need for my health- eating well, exercising, getting enough sleep, taking my vitamins, drinking lots of water. When I manage to balance this perfect storm of things I feel great. And that’s what 21 Days is really about.
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Workin’ it.

My workouts for the past two weeks have been TRX in my basement.

I moved to a new area, and my old gym doesn’t have any locations here.  There is a gym nearby, but their rules are ridiculous such as tank tops are banned (even beautiful lululemon ones), and I REALLY. LOVE. TANK TOPS.

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Plus, you can’t circuit train there, which is double ridiculous  So, I said no-thank-you to the gym with the fascist rules on principle.  But I hate to admit that sometimes I think about joining anyway just to have a place to go to lift heavy things up and put them down.

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Anyway, back to TRX.

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(image source)

Anyway, I bought the TRX Forces edition. The link on the website says it sells for $299.95. I think I paid about $130 on sale at a local fitness store.

The reason I went with the Forces edition, was one, because it looks totally badass and I bought into that marketing:

and two; because it came with a progressive 12 week workout plan. I wanted to have the plan because I wasn’t familiar with TRX workouts and wanted something to steer me in the right direction without having to consult youtube for every single workout.  The 12 week plan is divided in three four week phases, each getting progressively more difficult.

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(image source)

I have modified the workouts slightly to add in some HIIT intervals to keep my heart-rate up. As I’ve said, I have a good amount of muscle on my body, and want to focus on burning some fat. If you are new to fitness, I would recommend following the plan as written, allowing your body to build some strength during the first phase, then increasing the intensity in the second and third phases to help shed fat.

Here is a sample workout from the first phase:

Set 1:

Set 2:

Set 3:

  • Biceps curl (45 secs)
  • Hamstring curl (45 secs)
  • Pushup (16 reps, I don’t use the TRX for this, but you can do a ton of TRX variations for pushups)
  • skip 1 minute
  • Repeat 2x

I then finish with 5 or so minutes of skipping (skip for 1 minute, break for 30 seconds until I reach 5 full minutes of skipping without including the breaks).

This is one of the more simple workouts from the 12 week plan, and its available for free when you download the TRX ap, that’s why I shared it here. I started with the Phase 2 workouts this week and they are challenging – many more combined exercises (think row-to-chestpress-to-Y fly as one exercise).

I was literally drenched when I was done my workout yesterday AM.

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TRX is a really easy at-home workout. The kit comes so that you can ‘mount’ it using only a small strap and a closed door (nothing to screw in).

My hunky husband mounted mine to the support beam in our basement. There is drywall overtop of a massive solid wood beam. He used really long deck screws (about 3 inches long) – we have tested it, it holds our entire body weight with ease.

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The kit came with these posters that I haven’t put up, but I refer to as needed during a workout to keep proper form.

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So there you have it.  These three little things give me a killer workout. I don’t love it as much as I love going to a regular gym, but I have to give credit where credit is due: there is absolutely nothing more I need than these three things to get back into great shape.

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And quickly, because I want to be fair: I have to say that I find TRX is giving me a much more balanced strength than traditional weight training did. Each exercises forces both arms / legs to work separately, so your dominant appendage can’t take up the extra slack. Two weeks of this and I’m doing single leg squats like a boss.