Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hungry like the Wolf...

Also known as ravenous...

I am starving. Ok not literally because there are people who really are starving and eating dirt and clay to survive and I am very very fortunately not one of them... but I feel like my stomach may be starting to digest my spine. This is something I have begun to anticipate any time I am off my training program for a while and I start back up. It takes a while to build back up to the habit and ability to consume an extra 500 calories a day. In the meantime I feel like a wild beast constantly looking for something to eat. The rational part of my brain tries to steer my mouth to healthy, calorically dense options, but I am not gonna lie- yesterday I probably ate the extra 500 calories in chocolate and cookies. That would explain why I woke up in the middle of the night dizzy and nauseous and my workout was kinda weak this morning. I am one of those lucky people with blood sugar issues so I DEFINITELY notice it when I need to eat or if I made a poor choice. Especially on a day when I work on large muscle groups like legs, or chest and back...
I got off topic, cause I am hungry, but the reason this is relevant is because the majority of people (this is a purely unscientific observation) who start a new heavy workout routine or move from a mostly cardio based plan to a strength/muscle building workout don't realize their body is going to need a significant increase in fuel. Here is a link to a calorie calculator provided by the fine people at Beach Body... you can find lots of different calorie calculators online, I just like this one because it has a couple different options for workouts I would normally do (running, walking, biking, p90x, insanity) already programed in. For me, the caloric needs for a routine where I would be running for an hour EVERY DAY (which I would never do) are still 200cals under that which I need for my current muscle building workout.
Are you eating enough?
Why does this matter? Why is it important to up your calorie intake? What if you are trying to loose weight/body fat?
If you are lifting, if you are doing heavy lifting, you are tearing muscle and it needs to be repaired. That means you need amino acids, either through proteins or amino acid rich foods (like brightly colored veggies!) . If you are building muscle your metabolism will increase. Your body will begin to consume more calories even at a resting state. If you do not give your body the fuel it needs it will begin to store the calories you DO give it and you will have a very difficult time both building muscle AND loosing fat. You also won't have the energy to make the most of your workouts. If you have reached a plateau in your weight/fat loss you may consider evaluating your diet and eating more. Now it can be a fine line, especially for a smaller woman... There is less of a variance in what is an acceptable calorie deficit for weight loss, and what is too much... I figure better to eat a little more and slowly trim it back until you are seeing a slow steady loss in body fat.
Another thing that can be shocking for a new weight lifter is that a lot of times you will not see any weight loss for a while. If fact you may see weight gain until your body begins to adjust to the increase in calories, metabolism, muscle weight, and fat loss. You should begin to see changes in your body shape pretty immediately though, so stay off that scale and use your mirror as a guide, at least for a while.
Any adjustments you make to your diet- increasing or decreasing calories, upping your protein intake, reducing carb intake, etc. should all happen gradually, especially if you are putting your body through the stress of a new workout routine. Also remember to get enough sleep, that is the time where your body is able to do the most repair and rebuild the muscle you damaged.
Ok I hope this was helpful, I need to go eat, AGAIN, before I get desperate and reach for the easter chocolate.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Learning to love my...

For our next installment of "me doing anything but working on what I should be doing", I am going to talk about something that has traditionally been considered an issue specifically for women, but that in reality crosses gender lines very frequently... body image and self hate.
Do you remember the first time a negative thought crossed your mind about your body? In our childhood we rarely think about how we are "supposed" to be/do/look/act. Maybe when we get in trouble for painting the entire table in 1st grade instead of just the paper to try and make the boys laugh *ahem* and our teacher gives us a lecture, it might cross our mind, but it is in one ear, out the other. Most kids are too busy living in the moment and reacting to outside stimulus to even consider the "supposed" to's. (I must say I notice this changing a lot as I see parents and media inflicting on younger and younger children their ideals and pressures, and it is really sad.)
As a child I never thought "wow, I sure wish I had thin long legs"... but then adolescence sets in and we start moving in to puberty and instead of receiving the message that we are by nature ok and beautiful, we get "your natural smell is bad, wear this perfume" "you have fat on your legs/butt/tummy etc, try this pill", "women/men are supposed to look like this, if you don't no one will ever think you are good enough"... And the insecurity, fear, and paranoia sets in. I am nearly 30 and I still have the occasional "why can't I look like THAT?" thought. I wonder how different things would be for teenage girls and boys in our society if we didn't have advertising. We begin picking apart our bodies and criticizing chunks... objectifying ourselves and hating the skin we live in. At the same time we start doing the same to other women/men as well, and this becomes an acceptable thing to us. Instead of looking at another girl and thinking "wow, what a cool girl!" we think "she has pretty eyes, but her hips are too wide" and if we can't find anything wrong it becomes "I don't like her". For me this weird insecurity, competition thing sets in and causes completely irrational fears and jealousy.
My target has always been my legs. I am 4'11", no part of my body is long. Certainly not my legs. Nothing I could ever do would change that. Really though, why should I care? My legs work! They are strong, sturdy, and have never let me down. They are attached to me, they ARE me, not just parts stuck on to who I wish I could be. I am finally beginning to reach peace with my short stocky legs. I have never had a partner express that they wish my legs were different then they are and most have actually reacted the opposite way, being lovingly admirable of my strong thighs and curvy limbs.
When do we stop hating our bodies? My coping mechanism has always been to pick my favorite aspects of my body and try to improve them. My legs are strong and muscular, so I work on making them stronger. If I am going to have short muscly legs, then I am going to have the strongest short legs I can have. And be happy. And love my body. And feel good enough.
Maybe someday I will get to the point where it isn't an issue. Where I don't think about it or consider it. Where I am fine with them they way they are and I don't feel like I need to try to make them better. That isn't where I am at though, and knowing myself and my perfectionistic tendencies I don't know if I will be there any time soon. At least I can say, at 29, that I am comfortable with my shape- and I think that is progress.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

spring is in the air

... and you know what that means: BATHING SUIT SEASON is just around the corner. As if you needed another reason to pick up the pace and shed those extra 5-10 winter pounds, it is finally getting warm and you may need to start wearing shorts soon. Ok well maybe you didn't get lazy this winter, stop working out completely, bake cookies for months on end in an attempt to make your boyfriend gain weight then end up eating more than he did, and lose all your muscle tone, but I did.
I recently came upon some extra money and have decided to cut back at work a little and focus on writing my first cookbook. This also means I have a bit more time to focus on getting back into shape and being the best vegan machine I can be. I thought it would be nice to take you guys along for the ride and at the same time start a nice base recipe bank for my second cookbook (you'd think I would at least make some progress on the first before thinking about the second) which will be named after this blog, and focus on an athletic vegan diet.
SO, I am about 4 work outs in to getting back into shapedom, and I am going to post some before photos here... Yes, I realize I have a lot of clothes on, I am about to run out the door, but I know if I don't take the pictures now it could be weeks.

So here are some before photos for now, I will try to put up some more soon that actually show a bit more of my body so we will have something to gauge progress against. I will be going the p90x route for the next 3 months- a no fail trim down routine and a great option for someone with my body type because the "classic" program can build nice round muscle mass.
Anyone else have some spring time shape up ambitions? What are your plans?