Tuesday, May 31, 2011

picking it up...

Congratulations to Dani and Giacomo over at Vegan Proteins for doing so awesome in their first 30 days of p90x! Is anyone else that reads my little blog recording their current workout progress? I would love to see it! Please share with me if you are...
I was already feeling a little discouraged about my physical results so far, so seeing their very noticeable improvements over 30 days just emphasized to me that I need to switch some stuff up and get moving towards my goals. I am bummed that I have missed so many days so far of my workout between vacation and foot healing. My foot still isn't completely unhurty- and I am still having to modify my workouts a little and take it easy in some places. I will be really glad when it finishes healing! I have identified a few culprits impeding my progress... One is all the breaks- obviously you don't see consistent results when you aren't consistently working out. Number two is this guy here...

Meet my boyfriend, the hummingbird. I am sure you all know someone who could remain fit and trim on a diet of pure sugar... no? I do. Aren't guys supposed to hit a point in their lives where they can no longer eat whatever they want and they have to work to stay skinny? I thought so... Not this one. He literally eats sugar with every meal. He drinks juice and sugary beverages all day long. Good for him, but he also loves to share them with me... candy, cookies, juice, chocolate, you name it. I need to be firm and just say no to the juice. I don't believe in giving up all treats but I do think you should eat at least 90% of your calories in healthy, nutritionally dense foods, and bottled juice is a waste of my 10%. So boyfriend... stop feeding me junk food! Except chocolate... you can still feed me chocolate.
The bottom line is that I am working WAY to hard to not see a drop in body fat, and it has been really miniscule. My body fat scale isn't reading very accurately since my foot is still a little swollen and retaining fluid (the scales sends an "electrical current up through one foot to the waist, then down the other leg to measure how much body fat a person has. Since fat is a poor conductor of electricity compared with water (the main component of muscles, liver, brain, etc.), the current flows more slowly through fat tissue. Using complex formulas that include age, sex, height, and activity level, the devices -- Tanita and HoMedics are the big players -- can thus calculate what percent of a person's weight is attributable to fat.") So I am going on visual observation alone... and let me tell you, it's not impressive. What is reassuring is that I am feeling stronger, I can now, once again, do two pull ups unassisted- which was where I was at last summer when I was in shape. When I started in april I couldn't do any. I can do hella pushups, and not those "girl" ones either, and I am making it through the long boring yoga routine like a champ.
So my new strategy is to stop letting my boyfriend feed me so much junk food, try and pick up my intensity in my current workout schedule, and possibly add in some extra cardio on my lifting days. Gonna do some research on that and see what other people have done. I don't like running, so I am going to try and avoid that at all costs. I also know that there have been a lot of days where I haven't been eating enough... realizing at the end of the day that I only had 2-3 meals... no good. I'm gonna work on fixing that.
Again, if anyone is documenting their workout progress, I would love love love to see it... help keep me inspired!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Daddy's Girl

So, you all know I like working out and have an interest in bodybuilding, nutrition, and general fitness... what you don't know is that I have been lifting casually on and off for about 17 years and that I get my fitness obsession from my dad.

I took this photo of my dad this morning, he was in town last night and stayed over before heading back to eastern washington this morning. My dad just turned 61 and could still give most guys a run for their money when it comes to strength AND size. He wanted the disclaimer that he is seriously out of shape and has been out of the gym for about a month- hence the diminished biceps... pfft
My dad was a competitive body builder for several years while I was growing up so I got to see him go through the long hours at the gym, working through injuries, 2 torn rotator cuffs, crazy diets with their corresponding mood swings, and constant drive to get bigger and stronger. I am proud to say that my dad never used steroids and got all his muscle naturally.
My sister and I started working out with him as soon as we were old enough that he would let us lift. Around 12, I think. We would get up early before school and go in with him to work out a few days a week. We were both very lucky to be genetically gifted with his body type, although she has always put on size more easily than me. (I say gifted as far as bodybuilding, maybe not so gifted if we had wanted to be competitive runners!) I have no interest in ever being a competitive fitness model, or body builder myself, as I feel the diet, loss of body fat, and orange tan, are all too extreme and unhealthy for me- being the obsessive extremist I know I am... I would prefer instead to be a strong, healthy example of a fit vegan women- so that is what I work for. It sure feels nice to be getting stronger and slowly be adding some size though...

Thanks dad for instilling this desire and drive in me, and always encouraging me to be strong and healthy, eat well, and not be afraid that having muscles would make me less feminine. Oh! And for the great genes ;)
I am going to leave you with this great lesson my dad gave me, that has always helped me in bodybuilding and life:
Take the one exercise that you hate, that you struggle with, that your form sucks and you feel weak... and make that exercise your favorite. Spend extra time on it, pay critical attention to your form, do it even when you aren't working that muscle group. Pretty soon that will be your favorite exercise and you'll wonder why it was ever so hard.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My favorite things...

I got my foot tattooed sunday night, I am trying to finish up my tattoo plans before summer since I don't get tattooed during months where it may be possible to go swimming... So I have not been able to do my workout for the last 3 days... My foot has been super swollen, and there's no way I could even walk on it for the first few days, let alone jump around. Today it is a lot better and I think tomorrow I will be able to pick back up, today I did the ab ripper, so at least that was something... I am feeling restless and lazy, so I thought a blog post was in order.
Sometimes things come up, injuries, tattoos, crazy work schedules, etc., that stop us from being able to do our workout as normal and it is hard not to get discouraged or let the set back throw you off. I am trying to start a new habit for myself when this happens and instead of just getting lazy or frustrated and forgetting about my fitness I am putting in the effort to stay motivated and focused by staying up on my blog and the other awesome ones I list on the right, reading nutrition and body building books, and keeping my diet healthy. I decided to post my "favorite things" and tell you what I love and why when it comes to working out!

Vega Sport
Vega is formulated by professional vegan ironman triathlete Brendan Brazier. He created the line to make commercial versions of the products he would make himself at home for his personal performance diet. I personally feel like this is the BEST brand out there when it comes to dietary supplementation. I trust the ingredients and the integrity of all vega products. That being said, the new sport line is my favorite. The Performance Optimizer is basically like healthy gatorade PLUS herbs and roots that help the recovery process while you work out. The Protein is a balanced, easy to digest, protein blend with a mellow flavor... I hear chocolate is coming out soon and I can't wait. The Vega bars are great too, and Wholefoods near my house is having a sale on them starting this week.

Sunwarrior Protein
Raw, vegan, highly digestible, tastes super good and has a great silky texture... what else can I say? It is amazing... This protein is made from sprouted brown rice and is one of the least expensive high quality protein supplements on the market. It comes in Chocolate, Vanilla, and Natural Flavors.

My Pull Up Bar <3
This speaks for itself... How many girls, how many people, can actually lift their body weight with their arms at least one time? Not many... My aim is to increase my current record of two pull-ups to at least 4 unassisted pull-ups by the end of july. Talk about a survival skill: what if you were dangling from a building about to fall to your death and the only chance at life was to pull yourself to the top?! That happens to people all the time, right?

SelectTech Dumbbells and my Pushup Bars
The dumbbells replace 15 sets of weights. The weights adjust from 5 to 52.5 lbs. (2.5 lb. increments the first 25 lbs.). They are super easy to use with adjustable dials that control which plates attach to the bars for weights. They are compact and are very quick to change out. My only complaint with them is that sometimes they are a little wide for my body, when doing triceps or other muscle groups that require me to keep my arms tight to my body. Then again, most barbells would be.
Push up bars are really great if you have wrists that hyperextend or get sore from pushups, they also allow you a much larger range of motion so you can work the full length of the muscle.

My favorite of ALL of my kitchen tools. Completely liquifies greens, nuts, or really WHATEVER so that you can easily digest and quickly absorb nutrients. Look at refurbished blenders for a great price. I literally use my vitamin every day.

You guys all know I swear by p90x as a workout program... here is why: It incorporates cardiovascular exercise, load bearing exercise, and stretching into a fun, challenging, and effective daily workout. The program takes away the effort of having to do your own planning and presents you with a super balanced, and excuse proof ticket to fitness, right in the comfort of your own home. All you have to do is press play. I love that this program IS so balanced, as it is my belief that strong bodies are healthy and sexy. It has been the trend for women to focus primarily on aerobic exercise and ignore the load bearing weight focused programs... Weight lifting has been shown to increase metabolism, and improve bone density (which prevents osteoporosis!), so ladies: PICK UP THOSE WEIGHTS and GET HUGE!

I get all my proteins and supplements from Vegan Proteins. I love being able to support other vegans who are trying to be their own bosses and promote a healthy vegan lifestyle. Consider purchasing from them next time you are shopping for supplements.

If you made it this far, congratulations! I promise to get back to work tomorrow and give you my one month update very soon!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pre workout nutrition...

Look familiar?
Then you may have done what I did this morning... A poor meal before your workout can make you feel like you are operating at 50%. Here are some quick tips to help you prepare for a great workout!

*get hydrated, drink your water!
*make sure to eat a light but calorically dense meal 20-45min before your workout, mess around with the timing to see what works for you- you need to have time to begin digesting but not so much time that you need more fuel... plus eating too soon before your workout can equal loosing your breakfast!
*eat a meal with a decent amount of protein, this will help sustain your blood sugar levels and help prevent excess muscle tissue damage
*eat a good amount of slowly digesting (low glycemic) carbs... something like whole wheat bread, oatmeal, whole grains, etc. they will release sugar into your body throughout your workout so you stay strong through the duration and have energy to work out at your maximum capacity

Sometimes I find that even after eating a good meal I still get a little shaky when I am working the big muscle groups like back, chest, and legs. Or if I am doing a super intense cardiovascular workout... Then it is a good idea to have some kind of drink or snack that has a combo of slow and fast releasing sugars... a good example of this would be dates and nuts or a fruit juice with some greens blended in. That way you have the quick pick up and the slower sustaining carbs to help you make it through. I rely heavily on Vega Sport Performance Optimizer. I don't mean for this blog to become an informercial but there are a few products that I really love and use regularly and I will always mention them by name. I want to support the companies that make these great products and let you know when I find something I think is great. I will always mention an alternative- like the juice, but if you want to spend the money Vega makes some great stuff.
Do you have a no fail pre workout meal? Let me know, I am always looking for something good. Lately my go to is an almond butter banana sandwich on Dave's Killer Bread... delicious and full of protein, carbs, and healthy fat.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Oooh a video... Recovery Drink

So I made this video a few weeks ago, but have wanted to post other stuff and was waiting to post the video until I had nothing else to write. I just got back from a little vacation on wednesday night, had awful awful cramps yesterday, and have been having some shoulder pain so I gave myself the day off. I did go rollerskating last night though so at least there was some activity...
Basically I haven't done my REAL workout in about 5 days between vacation and yesterday. We ran amuck in southern california and played at disneyland, but it wasn't exactly the same.
I have been kinda nursing my right shoulder for the last week or so. I don't know how or when I hurt it, but it sucks. It isn't debilitating, just bad enough that I wake up with it hurting in the morning and that it is stopping me from being able to do a shoulder workout. I am actually supposed to do my biceps and shoulders today, which is my favorite workout, but I think I am going to skip it this week and do the dumb yoga so that I don't risk making it worse.
Without further ado, here is the video...

This is a "recipe" for a 2:1 carb to protein post workout recovery drink. There is a pretty wide berth of opinions about what the proper carb to protein ratio should be post workout- the idea being that you need the carbohydrates to help with glycogen synthesis which make your muscles look and feel less depleted and you also need the protein to rebuild tissue. I usually do a 3:1 on cardio days and a 2:1 on lifting days... If it feels right, do it. Here is the nutritional breakdown for those two options:
2:1 using Vega Sport, normal lifting recovery drink

3:1 using Chocolate Sun Warrior, normal cardio recovery drink

Once I start getting that in my system I am usually able to get to work making a meal... Hope this helps! Anyone else have a good post workout recovery drink they swear by?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Before/progress photos... etc

So, inspired by Dani and Giacomo I decided I should take and post some before photos so we can all see if I make progress with my workout. I am 16 days in to this 90 day cycle already so there have already been SOME improvements. I am not quite as brave as them so you won't catch me in a bathing suit, but I got as skimpy as I could ;)

I would like to lose about 6% body fat and am ok with my weight, but wouldn't mind going down 5 lbs or so. Mostly I just want to tone key areas ;) So there it is folks, the brutal truth! I know it could be worse... Mostly I look forward to seeing an increase in strength and endurance- aiming to do 3-5 unassisted pull-ups and making my arms and shoulders MASSIVE!
Does anyone one else have a plant powered workout blog or journal they would like me to share here? I also recently added my friend Rebecca's blog and the Vegan Muscle blog (home of the most epic body building photos with swords ever) so check em out!

Friday, May 6, 2011

P90X on a Vegan Diet

So I have mentioned before that my current workout plan is p90x. If you don't know what it is here is some info from the wiki

"P90X is a 90-day program that combines a variety of exercise techniques including strength training, cardio, yoga, plyometrics, and stretching".

On this program you work out 6 days a week, alternating between a lifting day and a cardio day, with the 7th day being a stretch or rest day. It is a very high intensity work out and definitely requires some attention to diet. The program also comes with a suggested diet guide which I have always ignored in favor of simply eating a nutritionally dense plant based diet with an increased number of calories and a higher percentage of calories obtained from protein. I have done the routine a full 90 days before, and did it about 40 days a second time before being a quitter and taking a few months off to be lazy. I did not notice DRASTIC body results, but did notice an large increase in strength and a definite change in my body shape. I think that part of the reason I didn't see drastic body fat loss, which would then increase muscle definition, is because I refuse to do the diet plan.
For me, the commitment to exercising 6 days a week, for at least an hour, is large enough without messing with my diet. I have always been curious about what would happen if I did though, and now we have 2 self sacrificing guinea pigs to observe while they do just this! The diet is not vegan friendly, although isn't too hard to make vegan- it is just really limiting and contrary to what I consider healthy eating.
The lovely folks over at Vegan Proteins just started their 90 day P90X cycle and are committing to following the diet plan to see just how well it works. I will be following their blog to see what and how they are eating and what their results are. You can get to it here or click the link on the sidebar to find their page. It should be interesting...
I am now on the first day of my third week. Trying to stay off the scale until at least 30 days in... I have already noticed an increase in strength since the first week. For instance, today I did 56 more push ups than I was able to the first week! I am feeling good, and seeing some change in my shape already. I was being a baby and haven't been doing the 15 minute core workout (ab ripper X) on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th days of the weekly routine, but started that today. I was trying to be nice to myself and ease into it. So far I am happy with my results and I am looking forward to seeing where I am in another 2.5 months!

Monday, May 2, 2011

New Recipe: Creamy Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomato and Basil

I went grocery shopping this morning after my mediocre workout and decided to treat myself with some fancy expensive pasta. I haven't used this brand before but I liked it because it was two ingredients and had 12 grams of protein per serving.

If you are wondering how to make a vegan Alfredo type cream sauce using whole ingredients here is the recipe. I thought it was a great, filling, and flavorful lunch. Let me know if you try it and what you think!

Prepare Pasta
Cook 2 servings (aprox 200g) of your favorite pasta (if you don't eat wheat try quinoa pasta!) in salted water until al dente and remove from water.
Cool Pasta immediately in an ice bath to stop cooking. Set aside.

1/4 cup Chopped Sun-dried Tomatoes (just barely covered in room temp water to soak)
1/4 cup Basil, chop or chiffonade into a manageable size
1 t Oregano and1 t Black Pepper to add to the sauce while cooking

Cream Sauce
Soak 1/2 cups of Cashews (raw preferably) in cool water for about 30 minutes- 1 hour
*** also a good time to cover your sun-dried tomatoes in soaking water as well***
Once soaked, drain cashews and place them in a blender with 1 cup of filtered water. Blend until smooth.
A note here: if you do not have a high speed blender you may have to run it a long time or start with less water and add more in once the nuts and completely blended. You can also use 1/2 cup cashew butter as a short cut. Get raw cashew butter.

add to blender
1.5 t cornstarch or other starch/thickener
1.5 t minced garlic
1 t onion powder
1 t lemon juice
a generous pinch of salt
Blend until smooth

Put sauce and pasta into a saute pan and heat at a medium high temperature stirring frequently. Add Black Pepper and Oregano to the sauce while you are cooking it. The sauce will begin to thicken pretty immediately. Cook long enough for pasta to become hot and for the sauce to thicken to your desired consistency.

Remove from heat and add your drained Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil to the pasta. Makes 2 decent sized servings. If you are still hungry eat a salad ;)