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Entries tagged with “fitness

It’s a big bright new year and likely most people (who consider January 1st the start of the new year, anyways) have made some sort of resolution. Mine, for example, is flossing. I don’t floss enough … and, frankly, I am kind of suspicious of people who do, but whatever, it’s supposed to be good for you. So, flossing: YES!

I have a few fitness-related goals, too, because of course I do. I want to run a race (well, I am going to run a race: the Warrior Dash, in August), and I want to be able to bench press 100 lbs by the end of the year. Just because. Oh, and I want to conquer my fitness nemesis: the unassisted pull-up. For some reason I am just awful at pull-ups, and it’s total bullshit and I’m tired of it.

But anyways! This post isn’t about that. It’s about how not to talk about fitness, inspired by an unpleasant interaction I had today at my gym.

So I got it into my head it would be a good idea to get my body fat percentage checked. It’s a free service at my gym, and I was curious. I got it checked last year, and was in the low 20s if memory serves. I haven’t lost that much weight since then, but given how much muscle-building I’ve been doing at the gym, I figured it would be interesting to see what was going on inside my body.

This morning I’d never seen the lady sitting at the desk before, but I asked her if I could use the little weird electronic thingy they have to measure my body fat, since the personal trainer I’m friendly with at my gym had said it would be cool. The lady said sure, and led me to her office. There, I told her my weight (135 lbs) and height (five feet five inches) and age (30, going on 19). She plugged these numbers into the device and handed it to me—and I was pretty pleased when it blinked, beeped, and said 19.6%.

Woo! I thought to myself. That’s pretty awesome. I’m under 20% body fat! Rawr!

But I was just thinking this when the lady, her brow furrowed in maternal concern, said, “Ohhhhhh … 19.6 percent … hmmm.”

“Hmm?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s just … well. You’d need to be between 15%-17% if you wanted to be an athlete.”

I was sort of shocked by this—not only did that sound low to me (it is), but also … really? ‘Hmm?’ With a furrowed brow of maternal concern? And also: percentage of body fat makes you “an athlete” and not, like … being athletic? I regularly swim, lift weights, run, and hike, and yet … I’m not an athlete? Because of a number? What now?

If ever there was an IRL moment for the O RLY? owl to swoop down and hawk up a pellet of mouse bones on someone’s head, that was it.

So anyways, there I am, proud–and there she is, shaking her head. What came next, you ask? Hahaha!!

“Did you just join?” she asked, staring at my body.

“No,” said I. “I joined last year, in August I think.”

“And what do you do at the gym?”

“I run, swim … but I love weight-lifting the most! It’s so fun, I really enjoy it.”

“Of course you do,” she sneered. “It’s the easiest thing to do.”

“Uh,” I said. “Well…”

“Do you eat a lot of junk food?” she interrupted, still staring at my figure with obvious distaste.

“Not a lot,” I said, only sort of lying, because technically beer is a drink and not a food, “I’m vegan, and eat a pretty healthy diet.”

At this, her brow furrowed so much it appeared to have actually been plowed by a vigorous bucolic farmer with 17% body fat, perhaps with the aid of a stout horse with 15% body fat. An athletic horse, you get my meaning.

“Vegan means no eggs or dairy, right?”

“Right, no animal products.”

“What about fish?”

“Fish … is an animal,” I said, with what I hope was a polite smile, and added a cheerful “ha-ha I’m sure you were just joking right omg” laugh.

She stared back. “I guess I never thought about fish that way.”

I did not respond to this. Because, what? Also, I was trying to figure out a way to get away from her without actually fleeing.

“Well, the good news,” she said, in a doubtful, concerned you were hit on the head with a large boulder, but the concussion is only a mild one tone of voice, “is that the average American woman has 24% body fat. So you’re doing good by that standard.”

“Great,” I said, at this point desperate to leave her presence.

“And I’d never have guessed you were so heavy,” she said, also doubtfully. “You’re tiny—you must be really dense.”

“Okay, haha, yeah, cool,” I said, or something like that, beginning the inch-away-from-the-situation tiptoe-dance as she started to babble at me that it would be a reasonable goal to get down to 17% body fat (putting me at around, oh, 115 lbs, btw), and if I were her client and blah blah blah omg wtf bbq.

Whew! Hahah, sure, whatever. She sucked, no harm no foul. But the thing is, I’m super-duper lucky that I have an amazing, supportive family, and confidence in my own athletic abilities, because Good! Friggin! Lord! I can’t imagine how that interaction would have made me feel if I wasn’t secure in my knowledge that Crom himself forged me of Atlantean steel. Probably I would have felt like I was actually 19.6% dog poop.

I’m also lucky I didn’t have that encounter a year ago, when I was just getting into fitness (and had a far, far higher percentage of body fat!). I probably would have been really discouraged, and felt like “fitness” was some sort of insane impossible goal that only professional athletes could attain by spending thousands of dollars on equipment and training and whatever. (It’s not!) And this person is the Wellness Coordinator at my gym!

Don’t most people in this country already have a vexed enough relationship with fitness, overall wellness, and balancing the stresses of modern, sedentary life with healthy athleticism? Eesh!

This is the season when many people will join gyms, hoping to live healthier lives, and I think that’s so awesome, and I hope anyone who does so sticks with it until it’s a happy habit instead of a slog. I know I’ve never been happier than I’ve been since starting my quest to be a hard badass of legend, and I hope to pay that forward someday, in some way. But my greatest hope is that no one who is motivated to start working out and eating right has such a heinous encounter with a “fitness professional.” I know first-hand that it’s pretty easy to give up on goals, especially ones that make you sweat! Exercise and eating right isn’t always easy, but it is rewarding–and that should be the message people in the fitness industry try to promote. Not that you’re not an “athlete” unless your numbers are this, that, or whatever!

Talking about fitness in a worrisome, negative manner is not cool. Better, I think, to be encouraging; to play up the positive, celebrate success, and challenge yourself (and others, if it’s your business to do so) towards reasonable goals. Revolutionary stuff, that, I’m sure!

Omg. Anyways! Here’s hoping you all have a healthy, happy 2012! I know I plan on it—even though I’m so dense.

I went on a hike for my cardio today, and it occurs to me that as hiking was one of the main motivators for my recent foray into fitness, I should probably talk about that for one of these Boot Camp posts.

Hiking, man. I live in Colorado, and so I have plenty of mountains everywhere to hike around on, up, and down. Since moving here I’ve conquered a few trails of note, some of which I’ve even bothered to take pictures of, but there are many I have yet to explore. Some of them, however, are beastly to the point that I’m intimidated to start them, so I’ve been focusing my workouts on building up my strength in my legs and increasing my cardiovascular capacity.

When I moved out here, the landscape awed and inspired me, which is why I’ve been writing (and, uh, rewriting) this novel set in the Rocky Mountains. But I had this moment of clarity a while back, as I was hammering out something about my protagonist making her way through the wilds, when I realized she was more of a badass than me when it came to hiking. I had one feeling regarding this: Total bullshit. I have no problem with her being more of a badass than me when it comes to any number of things, since obviously she is the protag of my novel and I am not competitive with my imaginary creation when it comes to any of the more ridiculous things she can do well … but hiking? Come on, I live here! It was time to remedy this imbalance. It was time … to become more of a badass.

In the fiction I enjoy consuming, writing, and editing, characters routinely do all kinds of crazy stuff. They might cover many, many miles in a day through serious terrain, solve crimes, conjure demons, invent in time travel, accomplish various feats of strength, slap a ghost, talk with beasts, wield heavy or at least challenging weapons with expertise, raise the dead, or really anything at all. Badasses are awesome, and badassery comes in many forms. And while I’ll likely never solve crimes, talk with beasts, invent time travel, or heaven forfend, raise the dead, I can get strong and flexible, hike up mountains, and even become skilled in martial arts.

Right now I’m more focused on getting strong and covering distances (though I have a guest pass to my local YMCA and I plan on checking out kickboxing and/or kendo), but still—badassery. It’s become more of a priority for me, and I’m enjoying my newfound confidence and abilities! It’s a challenging process, but totally worth it, and I recommend it for everyone who feels they have to experience being a badass on a purely vicarious level. So not true!

I just saw the preview for the Captain America movie and there was a line about how “a weak man knows the value of strength.” This is likely probable, and we lovers of genre fiction could, I suppose, extend it laterally to apply to us: “the nerd knows the awesomeness of badassery.” Hellz yes.

x-posted to my LJ

I crapped out last week on Boot Camp Blogging, so this week I’mma make up for it. In brief: things are going well! I’m officially a month in and I’m so, so glad I did this for myself. I’m also really grateful to be working with someone like Sandra who is so knowledgable, positive, and supportive. I definitely recommend Virtual Boot Camp to anyone and everyone who is even slightly curious about it. I’ve been feeling awesome, and I have a ton of energy (uh, between the hours of 6:30 AM and 10:30 PM, that is). It’s the perfect time for this, too, since it’s now gorgeous outside, the sunshine is so warm! (I am trying not to be annoyed that I’m currently on a course of antibiotics that necessitates wearing a shirt and trousers in the sun if I’m out for any amount of time. Thank goodness it’s only for three days!)

Along with my workouts, of which I’m proud to say I have not missed one yet, I’ve still been cooking healthily and trying to not eat out as much as I used to. I did, however, discover this amazing Chipotle nutrition calculator, which is helpful for the next night I don’t feel like cooking.

Right now I’m supposed to be eating 1240-1590 calories a day, according to my SparkPeople, and I’ve been doing a decent job tracking that every day. I think I would give myself a B for making sure to record all my calories, but I am going to step up my efforts for the last four weeks of Boot Camp. As for what I’m eating, I’ve shifted to multiple small meals instead of three big ones, and I think that’s really working for me. It means I have to be more careful at dinnertime to not overeat, which is hard for me, but it keeps me from feeling unbalanced and crabby and starving during the day, so there you go.

In case anyone out there is interested in what an average day of eating looks like for a vegan doing the sorts of things I’m doing, here you go:

Breakfast, Pre-weights: 1 slice whole wheat toast w/1 tbs hummus and a few cucumber slices

2nd Breakfast, Post-weights: zucchini spelt muffin (taken from Vegan Brunch but made w/applesauce instead of oil)

Lunch: Whole wheat tortilla stuffed with spinach, cucumber, low-fat Vegenaise (vegan mayo), and tofurkey slices

Dinner: Chili-cornmeal crusted tofu po’boys w/a side of jicama salad

Dessert: Strawberries

This comes in at, so says SparkPeople, 1281 calories, with 40g of fat and 52g protein. This was a lighter day, often I come in at closer to the 1500 mark. I just try to make (most of) them quality calories, meaning healthy stuff or things I just really really enjoy (Many times the 1500 is reached because I do love a cocktail or mixed drink in the evening! That said, I have made changes to this, too, mostly by replacing my sugary favorite, the G&T, with the traditional Tom Collins, which uses club soda and thus is only the caloric cost of 2 oz. of Old Tom. And lemons. Cocktails like the Corpse Reviver and the Martinez must wait for “cheat” days).

The healthy-eating thing continues to be awesome. I still love to cook with oil, because oil is of course delicious, but I’ve come to really prefer the taste of food without much on it but salt and seasonings. I use about 1 tsp on average to cook a dinner (most of which are 4-6 servings) and I’m happy with that. I’m still using Appetite for Reduction a lot, but the variety in there is so massive I’m not bored with it yet. Plus I could eat Chickpea Piccata or the Hottie Beans and Greens like, every night. I’ve also made a vow never to pay for sweetened drinks, and I think that’s helped with my efforts. I have a serious love affair with Bhakti Chai and mochas, but unless I have a free one (my local place has a program where every 10 drinks you get one on the house), I stick to coffee with a bit of soy milk. I’ve also totally given up soda, except in mixed drinks, because I can’t do artificial sweeteners and there’s nothing I need less than HFCS in my drinks.

Finally: this isn’t the sort of thing I talk about easily, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t discuss the changes I’ve seen in my body as part of this, uh, “journey” (can you tell I just watched Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition? P.S. It’s kind of amazing!). Lest I sound like I’m bragging, I’ll start out with saying that so far during Boot Camp I haven’t lost much weight, only five pounds total. Still, I just re-took my measurements, and those are saying that I’m doing something right!  In a month, I’ve taken an entire inch off my waist, my hips, and my thighs, and a solid half-inch off my upper arms, my calves, and my. . . I dunno, quads? Whatever you call the lower part of your leg toward your knee. I’m also within ten pounds of my goal weight. This means that since mid-February, when I started this whole thing, I’ve lost 21 pounds, shaved 2.5 inches off my waist, 3.5 inches off my hips, 2 inches off my thighs, and an inch and a half off my upper arms. I have started to see a bit of muscle definition in my shoulders and arms, and when the light was just right the other day at the gym, I think I maybe saw the ghost of an ab. So cool!

This drop in size means I had to go shopping for some clothes, since I’ve been looking slightly like some sort of Victorian street-urchin in my old shirts and pants, but the Memorial Day sales last weekend meant that the damage wasn’t too intense. I still don’t own long trousers that fit, though—all but one pair of my jeans have become cutoffs. Since I’m still between sizes, I can’t see the point in spending the money. I would like to note that I did successfully resist my friend Raechel’s peer pressure to buy skinny jeans before I’m at my goal weight, or maybe ever: They look bizarre on me because I am short-legged and big-butted, so I’m still debating whether I want to look silly for fashion. In that particular way.

So that’s the report. New clothes, muscles, and I dunno. . . lots of bean-eating? Anyways, I know the next month will be even more challenging, given that it is pretty much all circuit training, but I am looking forward to it and plan on giving it my all. Even if I don’t get down to my goal weight by the end of this I know I’ll be in even better health, and that’s sounding pretty rad. I have a personal block when it comes to doing things pointlessly, but given that I’ve been seeing a difference in my ability to hike quickly and easily, walk long distances without effort, and I’ve been sleeping awesomely, I can really see the results and it feels purposeful to me. That’s so encouraging.

Goodness. How positive!

x-posted to my LJ