On Overdoing It

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 by Rachel

On Monday, I woke up energized and ready to exercise. For a change of pace from the yoga I rely on for both exercise and stress relief, I was going to try the exercise routine outlined in this month’s Prevention magazine, and I was going to work myself hard. Instead of my normal 3 pound weights, I used Derrick’s 8 pound weights for a few of the exercises. I did a good 40 minutes of weights and pilates. (I should note that the magazine recommends 16 minutes of the weights/pilates + another 20 of cardio for your first week doing this routine.)


Well, I definitely overdid it. Two days later, the tops of my legs are still in pain. I hobble my way up and down the stairs, clutching the wall for support (oh landlord, where is my handrail???). I hobbled my way in and out of Chick-fil-a earlier when I picked up some lunch for Derrick and myself (Thank you Chick-fil-a employee for holding the doors open for me!). I hobble my way from living room to computer room, groaning when I sit down and stand up.


So often, when people begin their routines or modify their routines, they overdo it, pushing their bodies too far for the first workout. This is completely normal, as we’re striving for the certain body or better blood levels or whatever our goal is for exercising. The problem is that most people give up after they overdo it, because they think that the pain is permanent. It’s not. As we get used to our workouts and become more fit, the pain goes away.


Yesterday, despite my leg ache, I managed 5 minutes of Wii hula hooping and another 21 of cardio on our Gazelle exercise machine. I took a few ibuprofen and I made sure to Bengay those leg tops before bed. Today, I have taken it easy, watching a movie (Bully, which was almost as emotionally exhausting as I already feel physically) and drinking lots of water. Tomorrow, I’ll be exercising again, and I don’t know if it’ll be yoga or Gazelle or weights (definitely the 3 pounders if I choose weights!).


You wouldn’t believe it if you saw how wussy I am, but overdoing it really isn’t a big deal to me. Finding out what hurts and why it hurts is really important as we develop a greater awareness of our bodies. Apparently the yoga workout that I’m used to hasn’t been doing much for my quadriceps, and I pushed them too far. So I’ll be jumping back on that exercise bandwagon as soon as possible. I won’t let the achey legs bring me down. I’m going to work to make my legs tougher! I know there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

The Taco Philosophy

Monday, July 11th, 2011 by Rachel

A Flagstaff doctor once told me, “It’s okay to eat tacos. But don’t go out and eat tacos. Make them at home”. I know that’s a silly quote to hang onto four years later, especially since I would never list tacos in my top ten favorite foods, but it’s one that really stuck with me as I moved towards a life of happy, healthy eating. We used to go out to eat at restaurants two or three times a week, and we’ve moved to once a week or every two weeks. Not only is this good for our wallets, but also for increasing my awareness. I now care what goes into my food. I now know what every single ingredient is. With restaurants, that’s all a mystery, and it shows in terms of calorie intake, weight gain, and sometimes even the aftermath of a food-hangover.


This is an idea that I don’t just apply to eating out, but also to buying prepackaged meals, meal helpers, or meal kits. We used to eat meals like hamburger helpers at least once a week, and I was addicted to Hot Pockets, Lean Pockets, and Eggos. But I asked myself, “Why buy a taco kit when I could buy the tortillas, meat, cheese, and veggies separately, minus the preservatives and msg?” I know it’s difficult to eliminate all of these boxes from our cupboards and freezers, but, once I began making the adjustments, it came along much easier than I expected. When we want lasagna, we don’t pick up a prepackaged Stouffer’s, but make one from scratch. I’ve always been a big pizza fan, but we now make our pizza at home, mixing and matching toppings, cheeses, sauces, and crusts we choose. If I want a wrap or a sandwich or a waffle, I make one— I don’t just microwave it.


The reliance on restaurants and these prepackaged meals is one of the biggest food-related problems that I see in people our age—and usually these are the same people who complain: “I don’t have time to make meals”, “Cooking is complicated,” “why I can’t lose weight?”, etc. I value the time and effort that go into making our food. Yeah, it is tough at first, but I take every new recipe as a challenge. Because I’m the one spending the time seasoning the roast, stirring the risotto, and ultimately conquering the recipe, I have become invested in my food. I am already mentally full by the time I sit down at the table with my plate, and it enhances my enjoyment of each meal.


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The Importance of Eating Breakfast

Friday, July 8th, 2011 by Rachel

I’m not a morning person. After waking up, I need about an hour before I’m sociable, another hour before I stop feeling drowsy and nauseous. And though breakfast foods arguably make up some of my favorite foods, during my undergraduate and MA degrees, I slipped into the bad habit of skipping the first meal of the day. Of course, by skipping that first meal, I ultimately overindulged in lunch and dinner and second dinner. Eating that second dinner at 9 kept me up until 2 or 3. Missing breakfast not only affected my diet, but also my sleeping habits.


So when I decided to begin my quest towards happy healthy eating, one of the first things I did was begin to eat breakfast….at its regular breakfast time in the AM. This is one of those easy adjustments to your diet that most people know about but inevitably ignore. I’m not sure why some of us think by skipping this meal we are ultimately gaining something. There is no benefit to skipping breakfast—that extra half hour of sleep isn’t worth it! You will not lose weight by skipping this meal. Beginning your day with a meal not only starts you off with an energy boost but sets you up for good habits later in the day.


My body’s natural clock wakes me up around 8 or 8:30. If I’m not hungry, I will still eat. I need to get something in my stomach within the first hour or so of my morning, otherwise I find that my day’s food consumption will inevitably be out of whack. I am a creature of habit, so both my mind and body appreciate this routine. Today, I’ll be eating two leftover gluten free pancakes. Yesterday, I had a single serving of cottage cheese with two pineapple rings and a glass of apple juice. The day before yesterday, I had a bowl of fruit and nut granola topped with almond milk. The trick is figuring out what you like—and sometimes I like a meal so much that I’ll eat it every day for a month or more. This spring was the spring of grits, when I microwaved myself a bowl daily. When I was feeling a little bored, I would sprinkle cheese on top or drop a fried egg in the middle, but I usually had it plain with a dollop of Smart Balance Butter. During the stressful time of trying to graduate and get married, I liked knowing that every day I would get up to a meal that would fill me up. I just didn’t have to think about it—grits were it for me.


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Happy, Healthy Eatin’ –An Introduction

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 by Rachel

I was always skinny. I was the skinny girl in a skinny family of stick people. Skinny dad. Skinny mom. Skinny sister. So when, in summer of 2006 (the summer before my senior year of college), my body went haywire and I gained 30 pounds in a three month period, I knew something was wrong. At that time, I worked at UNCA’s gym, and I looked like a giant blue blob in my standard-issue uniform. The thing is, since I was so skinny before (probably weighing an average 110-120 pounds since highschool), most people didn’t see me the way I saw me. Most didn’t even realize I’d gained so much weight.


After going to several doctors, I was diagnosed with a life-long medical condition that had triggered the weight gain. Over the next year (and a move to Flagstaff, AZ), I moved from doctor to doctor, realizing that this particular medical condition was correlated with a lot of other bad stuff other than the weight gain. High Cholesterol (Yes, I had high cholesterol at 21). Pre-Diabetes. A B-12 deficiency.


In Flagstaff, I thought I paid attention to my diet. I walked 30 minutes a day (going to and from campus), plus my regular exercising. I’d drink a Slim-Fast for breakfast. We bought our organic food from New Frontiers. But I wasn’t really thinking about quality or quantity. We still walked over to Chili’s two or three times a week for football, beer, and a feast. I got a M.A degree. I didn’t care much about the rest. I gained about ten more pounds in my time in Flagstaff.


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