Recently after a workout at the gym, I was speaking to two of the women who attended the class with me. I mentioned I was working with the trainer to lose weight. She said, “I started working with the trainer to GAIN weight” and I thought “you bitch!” (I did not say it, but I thought it loudly). But it made me realize- there are many reasons people decide to work up a sweat. Not everyone wants to buff up or slim down. Some people have different goals. And those goals are what push people to get fit.
There’s more to fitness than just weight loss. Any change in physical activity improves health. One study found that excise improved the health and cognitive function in elderly overweight patients, and that excise alone was as successful as changing diet AND fitness levels (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24787497). It appears that just breaking a sweat is enough to improve life and make aging less a less sucky endeavor. Working with weights can also improve bones and balance, so as you get older you can worry less about falling down and breaking a hip. There are way more benefits of exercise than simple weight loss.
The Mayo Clinic lists 7 health benefits of exercise (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20048389). Reducing depression, better heart health, and better sleep are all listed as benefits. Of course, weight loss is listed as #1. But motivating yourself to move needs to be more about just your waistline. There will always be a bad week- your work your ass off (you hope literally), eat well, and do everything right. And the scale.will.not.budge. But even if you stay fat (or, as people say now, “curvy”), there are so many other things you get from a good sweat session. Sometimes you need more inspiration than just “I’m fat. . . I need to be less fat!”. Knowing that I can sleep a little sounder, or have a stronger heart, is worth continuing to sweat it out.
And so we come back around the woman who came to the gym to gain weight. I go to the gym to lose weight, gain muscle, and be a fitter fatty. But some people come for the complete opposite reason I do. And having any goal is great. Seeing anyone consistently at the gym, and seeing their progress, helps inspire you. So yes, I am fat, and yes, she is skinny (and together we make a normal sized person), but we can both congratulate each other on our progress. And sometimes a little perspective is all you need to change your drive. So good job skinny lady at the gym- may your workouts make you more fat!
This week, a very unfortunate conversation occurred at work. Fad diets became the hot topic. Sugar cleanses. Juicing. Atkins. Paleo. Keto. Carb free. Raw food diet. Cranberry juice cleanse. Cabbage soup diet. Many of these diets are temporary-no one can live on cabbage soup for a lifetime. And juicing is fun until there’s cake. Then, cake wins. ALWAYS. Cake wins, always.
I’ve done my fair share of diets. And I’ve tried the odd thing to lose weight. Drink unsweetened cranberry juice with every meal. Know what that does? Makes you hate life. I did Paleo- and it helped. However, you can’t really eat like a caveman. Know why? Because there’s no more mammoth, and everything we eat is completely different than anything that existed ten thousand years ago. But several of the rules are good ones. Eat foods in their natural forms. Cut back on highly processed items- and anything that isn’t natural.
And really, THAT is the rule that fad diets have taught me. Atkins and Keto focus on keeping carbs low. If you tend to binge on carbs (cookies, cakes, fries, etc), setting yourself a limit is great. But restricting yourself to 30 carbs a day (helpful note: that’s 2 pieces of bread) for life is no one’s dream. But saying “at each meal, I will have 10/20/30 carbs” allows you to have a goal.
With Paleo, I focused on eating things that occur naturally. Paleo tells you to not eat beans, dairy, and most starchy veggies. This, once again, is not something I can maintain. I love milk, ice cream, cheese, and potatoes. Giving all that up for life is an impossibility. But eating natural food, cutting back on artificial ingredients, and eating more whole foods gets you most of the nutrients you need naturally.
Most cleanses are also not maintainable. Drink only juice for the rest of your life? Not going to happen. Most people can’t do that. And those that do a cleanse to “clean out toxins in their body”- well, you body does that naturally. Every day. If it didn’t, you would die. So following a strict, kale juice only diet might help you lose weight- but it may also make you want to kill people. And if you scale back too much, as soon as you give up (and you will) you’ll pack back on the weight. Which makes the suffering so much worse when it was pointless. And there are smoothies and juices that are great. There are days when I drink my breakfast because I don’t feel like eating a meal- and it’s easy option. But a juicing diet would never work for me. Unless it was ice cream. Milk shake diet? I’m in. But otherwise, no. No thank you at all.
Each fad diet has its benefits. And important lessons can be gleaned from all of them. But most fad diets are fads for a reason. No one maintains them for life because it isn’t possible. But I have found that knowing myself, and knowing what I am capable of, helps me find diet tweaks that work. And those things are different for everyone. Research, try different things, and find what works for you. There isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to anything in life. And leave room to eat foods you love. Because sometimes things DO taste better than thin feels (and I should know, I’m fat).
Up until the start of this year, I had given up on the gym. Not on exercise (I meander along pretty often just fine at home), but I knew I was going to need a bit of a push to help me lose more weight. So back to the gym I went. And once there, I started meeting with a trainer. I need to have someone push me, check my form, and make sure I’m not slacking. You know, slacking. Like walking on the treadmill while eating a doughnut. Or walking on the elliptical while eating ice cream. . . BOTH of which I have done. So, having someone watch me exercise, while awkward, seems to work for me.
Each week I go to the gym, and off to the trainer I go. Now, at most gyms, you go in, they have you meet with the trainers, they give you a free session, then they tell you they will charge you some fee per session. And if you say you don’t know if you can spend an extra $50 a week to meet with them, they say “that’s less than one fancy purse a month! This is an investment in your health!” as they look at my purse, or clothes, or watch (or pudge), and judge me. But at Planet Fitness, meeting with a trainer is free. And each class with the trainer is small- a max of 5 people. And most times, it’s only me- attempting to reduce the jiggle a little each time I go back. Oh, jumping jacks- yes, that sounds fun. Let me just grab some shapeware to secure the belly fat in place, and a sports bra to wrangle the girls, and I’ll get right on it. Run backwards with weights? Sure, what could go wrong? Not like I’ll fall down and hit myself in the face and chest with those. The trainer comes up with many new and creative ways to torture me, all under the “guise of exercise”. And it works. I’m building muscle and losing weight, pushing myself harder than I thought I could. As an added bonus, I came home this week after my meeting with the trainer and ripped the handle right off the freezer (pictures below).
I have also found that going to a trainer has put my competitive nature into full drive. If there’s another person with me doing the same thing, I push myself harder to match (or, mostly, beat) them. I always feel accomplished when I can outperform the skinny buff girl or tiny gymnast ninja that is attending a session with me. And, of course, an added bonus if I outperform my husband.
It can be a bit stressful to have someone watch you exercise. But the payoff is often worth it. And having someone who knows what to do show you how to do it is even better. Of course, I’m also being told to clean up my diet and “try harder” to “create a better version of myself”. But I figure meeting with the trainer one to three times a week also gives me the chance to meander along at home on the elliptical while eating ice cream. And that, my friends, is priceless.
My husband and I just recently decided to join a gym. Yes, fatty has a husband. And yes, you should probably feel bad for him- being married to me is no picnic. Or maybe TOO MUCH of a picnic- I am a fatty for a reason. So, anyway- we decided to join a gym. The place that was closest to our home was Planet Fitness, and so that’s where we decided to visit. Turns out, it’s the perfect gym for not in shape people like me.
Planet Fitness claims to be a “judgement free zone”. This appeals to me, because I can judge myself just fine (I’m awesome!). But I have found that after hitting a weight loss plateau I need more help. And this is another reason that Planet Fitness stood out. Included in any membership is personal training. And honestly, having someone encourage (yell at, push, threaten) me helps. Most classes are small (max of 5) so the trainer can work more closely with you, and there is also a “design your own” program where the trainer meets with you to determine your specific goals. A once a week meeting with the trainer has pushed me to work harder and better (and requires me not to slack).
The trainer always uses the 30 Minute Fitness room. I very much enjoy this area because it works EVERYTHING. It’s a great (terrible, awful, painful) workout because it alternates between weights and cardo. You push yourself as hard as possible with sprints, burpees, high knees, and other forms or torment. Then after each cardio set, which shoots your heart rate sky high and makes you feel like it may explode, you get a short rest and then a weight machine is used. This allows for “active rest”-you tone a different muscle group each time while your heart rate slowly comes back down. Each circuit lasts 1 minute. There are 20 stations, and 30 second rests between each station. It’s a fast set, but an intense workout. It uses a HIIT schedule (high intensity interval training), which gets the heart rate up super high, and then gives short rest periods. I have found that even though it is only 30 minutes, it is the best workout I’ve ever done. I often come home tired and sore, but I feel that I really pushed myself. Which is great, because hopefully my weight plateau will become a thing of the past. But maybe not lose TOO much, because then I will have to change the name of my blog- and I have no clever name for being fit and THIN. So fat and fit may be the best way to go.
Sorry guys- this is a blog for the ladies. But feel free to read on. And I guess the info might help you. . . some men may need to wrangle their man-boobs as well. I guess some similar concepts could apply. . .
So, you’ve decided to start your fitness journey. But you think “I don’t want to go to the gym, and money to buy some fitness machine is not really in the budget. . . so what’s a chunky girl to do? Hey, the outside is free! Let’s run outside!”. And so you convince yourself that this is a great idea. You decide to use your sweatpants for the purpose they were intended for (you know, not just to watch TV), and you might even put on one of those funny shirts that say something like “I don’t run unless something is chasing me”. You step out the door, optimistic, and start your run. And then- BAM, your boobs jump up and punch you in the chin. You have officially lost a boxing match with your breasts. So, you can either give up OR decide to spend a little money on your “free” hobby and get yourself a sports bra.
Now, sports bras run the gamut. You can spend $100 on a bra, or $5 on Ebay where you hope you get what the picture showed and not some cloth and a rubber band to assemble the bra all by yourself. And maybe someday they’ll invent a $10,000 sports bra that the second you put it on you lose weight (and I would pay it! Any men that may still be reading this- that one would apply to you as well). But, this blog today will focus on bras that actually exist. And in looking at the magic bras that allow me to run, jump, skip, etc I have several things that I require:
1. Must have a clasp or zipper to get it on and off. I will not wear a bra that you pull on over your head. I hate a bra that you have to struggle with just to get on, and then it compresses your boobs until you can’t breathe. And then taking it off you run the possibility of getting trapped with your arms above your head and a bra covering your face. SO- I require being able to use snaps or a zipper up front to get it on or off. Added points if the bra has a clasp and a zipper- double wrangling gets the job done better! And there’s less risk of the girls escaping and making a run for it!
2. Actual cups. I dislike sports bras that just compress everything down. I don’t feel that they do their job as well, and they don’t offer any support. They just flatten everything down and hope that’s enough. But having cups usually does 2 things- it lets you find your size (normally wear a 34DD? Well, they have a sports bra that’s your size), and gives you more comfort. Going by S, M, L, XL makes me uncomfortable- both mentally and physically. If you order online- you don’t know for sure that it will fit. It might say “go with medium if you are 36B or C-but who knows if they assumed right. I prefer a bra that gives me a size I know and love.
3. Cost. I don’t like to spend $80 on a bra. Even a sexy one that I wear daily. And many of the cheaper brands have great bras that do everything I want. And sometimes they have better options. Many of the big fitness brads love their smash everything flat bras. But my favorite bras are sold at Target (the magic store that has everything) and cost around $20. Here is my favorite brand:
Women’s Power Shape™ MAX High Support Front-Close Sports Bra – C9 Champion
I love the zipper in the front, and there’s an extra clip in front for extra staying power. Keeps everything in place- and has never come unzipped during a workout (I’ve had that happen with other brands! Not cool, especially not in public!!). Super comfortable with a great look. $25.00 at Target.
Women’s Power Shape™ MAX Support Convertible Sports Bra -C9 Champion
The straps are thick in the shoulders keeping them comfortable. I Keep the straps crossed in the back because it seems to offer more support. The cups offer full coverage, with breathable mesh on the straps and between the cups to keep the goods less sweaty. $23 at Target
I think the bras above offer the best coverage, best function, and are comfortable. They’ll save you chest, back, and chin when you get to running, jumping, lifting, or yoga-ing. And they won’t break the bank. I’d say that’s a win-win.
Want a humbling experience? Stay in a place the puts a mirror directly across from the shower. As you step out of the shower you see a chubby, naked monster coming to devour your children. Only to realize- oh, hey, that’s me! And I’m fresh out of children to sustain myself on! And, of course, if it was during the holidays all you’ve been doing is eating well. And by “well” I mean cookies, candy, fatty food, and rich sauces- not “well” as in vegetables, fruit, lean meat, and salads. How do you recover and get back on track after all the fun of the holidays, parties, and just sheer irresponsibility? My solutions to go from scary monster to sexy beast:
- Cook for myself. During the holidays, there are parties, events, travel, and family functions everyone goes to. It’s difficult to avoid those family traditions you’ve had your whole life. And most of them will be bad for you. But when I cook for myself, I know what goes into it. I can also make healthy food that doesn’t taste like dirt and depression.I started mixing my favorite comfort foods with veggies, so that I get the best of both worlds. I love cheesy potato soup, so I made potato soup with cauliflower. ½ potato, ½ cauliflower, I used Greek yogurt instead of cream, and I topped it with cheese rather than mixing it in. I have found that mixing in the cauliflower with my potatoes gives me more servings of veggies, allows me to eat a food I love, and yet gets me more vitamins and nutrients that keep me healthy(ish). Finding a way to make my favorite foods healthy is a challenge that I embrace. And also- it allows me to indulge on the things that aren’t all that good if you try and make it healthier (like Pop-tart ice cream sandwiches).
- Increase my heartrate. I come home and walk every day. My goal is 15,000 steps a day. But actually running- getting that heart rate up, will hopefully keep the waddle at bay. Losing weight has always been a priority for me. It was what started me on my fitness journey. But I keep with it not just for the weight loss. I saw women at the gym who were 80 years old, lifting weights, running, and doing fitness classes right alongside me- and sometimes outdoing me! I want that. I feel like if I quite moving, I will stagnate. If I get my heart rate up, add running to my daily walk, it will help keep my heart healthy, and me strong into old age.
As I try to get back on track, I have found things that work for me. I also have goals I need to set to get better. I mean, I’m pretty awesome. BUT- who can’t improve? Losing weight, improving your health, and adapting to change- those are hard things. But with work and dedication, I think I can do it. And I also hope I can keep my sense of humor about it. I started this blog in 2013- 6 years ago!! And I’m still trying to lose weight. Yeah, it’s hard. But I think being able to look at the journey in a funny way helps. And I laugh at myself constantly. So- here’s to more work! And here’s to me becoming more awesome!
Dates: a food ancient people loved and considered a sweet treat. High in iron, B-6, fiber, and Magnesium- they’re also good for you. So a good for you fruit seems to be a great snack option, right? Well, that’s all good and fine if dates were delicious. But on their own they are not. They’re sweet, but not very tasty. The ancient people are horrible, horrible liars. Dates by themselves do not taste great, and look a bit like a cocoon or bug- which creeps me out.
So how do you make something healthy (but ugly) tasty? Without coating it in butter, ranch, or sugar- things that make healthy not so healthy? You make the dates a transport device for chocolate. Pretty much everything covered in chocolate is better. I once had cocoa dusted Brussel sprouts and it made them non-disgusting. So really, adding chocolate makes food better. And cocoa itself is good for you- it contains iron and protein, as well as fiber, which are all good additions to fruit. Then by adding almonds and pecans you’re getting magnesium, potassium, calcium, and more fiber. These things are fiber monsters. You’ll never have to worry about pooping again! So each ingredient that goes into this recipe is good for you, and the flavors meld together to make a really tasty snack. Plus, the natural sweetness of the dates makes the truffle taste indulgent- without adding sugar or anything bad for you!
Date Truffle Balls
1/3 cup pecans
1/3 cup almonds or almond flour (I used almond flour)
1 1/3 cups dates (pitted)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk or water
Pecans, almonds, cocoa, and coconut flakes for coating
- Place pecans, almonds (almond flour), pitted dates, cocoa powder, and vanilla in food processor. Blend until smooth. With whole pecans and almonds, this can take some time.
- After all the items are blended, check the consistency. If the paste is too firm (too difficult to roll into a ball) add milk or water.
- Roll date mixture into balls, then roll in pecan, almond, cocoa, or coconut to coat.
- Refrigerate or freeze after making.
This recipe is a simple, delicious way to make a healthy snack. I always refrigerate the date balls after making them to firm them up- they can get pretty soft and messy. One mistake I made the last time I made these was letting the mixture sit for too long. It made it too moist- the juices starting releasing from the dates and it made rolling the balls more difficult. I refrigerated the mixture in between batches and that seemed to firm them up enough to roll them. Another option is to add more almonds or pecans- this will make the mixture easier to work with and less runny.
Overall, I think this snack is a great one. I grab a few before I run and they give me a bit of a pick-me-up. And each ball, depending on the size, has about 60 calories. The coating also impacts the calories- I used almonds, pecans, and sweetened coconut, and this causes fluctuations in the nutrition for each ball.
No matter how good for you something is, you’re not going to eat it if you hate it. I’m not a huge fan of dates. But when you add other flavors, it creates a whole new taste. And all the other ingredients add more good-for-you vitamins! So you have a super food that tastes super incredible! And if you have kids, it’s a great way to con them into eating healthy. And who doesn’t love tricking kids into doing things that are good for them?! (Note to people who don’t have kids: DO NOT offer healthy candy to stranger’s children- you’re going to jail). On my quest to lose weight and eat better, finding things I enjoy eating is the best way to go. And these healthy chocolate salty nut balls are a dream!
Breakfast- the foundation of a good day. But when you are employed full time (or are incredibly lazy, both of which I happen to be), it can be difficult to find time to make something each morning. I have found that including protein into my breakfast makes me feel full for longer, and also keeps my blood sugar from shooting up and then crashing. But making eggs every morning is time consuming, and not really logical for a person like me that wants to wake up as late as possible and then watch Judge Judy. So, I need a way to make something healthy that doesn’t take forever and require effort of any kind. I have found that making large portions over the weekend, and then splitting it up during the week, works best for me. That’s where the following recipe comes in handy:
SLOW COOKER EGG CASSEROLE
- 6 large eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- 1 can diced mushrooms (4 oz, a small can)
- 1 cup (packed) baby spinach
- 1 cup shredded cheese (I used mild cheddar)
- 1 cup turkey ham, diced
- In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, yogurt, onion powder, and garlic powder together until smooth.
- Stir in the mushrooms, spinach, cheese, and turkey ham.
- Spray slow cookerwith non-stick cooking spray.
- Pour eggs mixture into the bottom of slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on HIGH for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Eggs should be set.
(recipe taken from https://www.365daysofcrockpot.com/recipe-for-slow-cooker-egg-spinach-and/)
Now, I did some things differently than what was in the recipe, so I updated it from the site I took it from to reflect what I did. The recipe called for ham, but I don’t eat pork so I used turkey ham. It was also less fatty, so better for me. I used fresh baby spinach, but some recipes recommend using frozen.
One thing I can say right off the bat is- do not use a round slow cooker! Or if you do, make half the recipe. I also have an oval slow cooker, and this gives the eggs more of a cooking surface. The round slow cooker did not allow the eggs to firm in the center, and so I ended up stirring the mixture to get more of a scrambled egg consistency rather than a casserole. And this worked better for me, because I will put the eggs on toast or a bagel. But if you want more of a quiche, use a larger, wider slow cooker to get that.
Another thing I noticed about this recipe was that the spinach released a lot of liquid, and the eggs got runny. Next time, I think I will cut back on the spinach, or cook it first so it does not release so much liquid into the eggs.
Overall, the taste was great and it ended up being a perfect breakfast for me. I put the eggs on wheat toast or a bagel to make a sandwich, but they can also be eaten on their own. It’s an easy, healthy way to make breakfast. And it doesn’t taste like normal diet food (aka: sand and sadness), so it makes it worth eating. Healthy and delicious? Good for me and not gag-inducing? Perfect.
I estimate that my serving is about 250 calories (I’m estimating about 6 servings). If you want fewer calories using less cheese (or a low fat version) would reduce the total. Overall I’d say the recipe is a great option for someone who wants to eat a healthy, filling breakfast, but may not have a ton of time each day to make one.
Television. The thing that normally keeps me (and most people) from doing anything healthy. The thing that helped me become my wonderful blubbery self. Sitting in front of the TV with a tub of ice cream? Of course, what else do I have to do? So why talk about it regarding health? Because it’s my new reason to run (well, meander at a brisk pace).
I hate just looking in front of me when at the gym. Watching a wall, or staring down my timer on the treadmill willing it to reach a set time is miserable. And if I have to look at other people who are also attempting to do something healthy? Gross- no one likes that. Having a distraction is key to getting me to do just about anything. Now, I’ve heard “fitness people” say you need to focus on what you’re doing: heart rate, pace, breathing. And if you can force yourself to do things while counting beats or breaths, have at it. I, however, am not that person. I would never do any exercise if I had to pretend to care about counting (I don’t like numbers and math is evil). So having something that forces me to run, and does not involve me downing a pound of ice cream as a “reward”, is a win-win for me.
I attempt to find shows that I enjoy that have multiple seasons. That way I know it will cover multiple sweat sessions. I then reserve this show for JUST exercise watching. That way when I really want to see an episode, I have to hope on the treadmill or elliptical to watch it. And there are times when I REALLY don’t want to haul my butt into the gym, but I do it because I HAVE to know what’s going to happen next on the show I’m watching. I know that I could sit down and watch that show anytime I want, but because I made myself a promise to watch it only when I run- I hold myself to it.
Finding a motivation outside of just fitness inspires me. Yes, I want to be healthy. And yes, I want to lose weight. But that doesn’t always inspire me to get running (jogging, walking, meandering). If I have multiple things that inspire me to get fit, I have more of a reason to actually get my heart rate up. And if television is what’s going to inspire me to be healthy, I say more power to me.