Common Myths of Health And Fitness

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Hello world! Yeah I know, no Monday Musings yesterday. I had nothing to muse over. Well not entirely it was more like a busy weekend and it just didn’t happen. But if you wanna read some of the past ones, find some here.

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/07/09/monday-musings-18/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/06/25/monday-musings-16/

The life of writing involves making myself sit and be still and grind it out when I’d rather be up and moving. If there were only a way to do other stuff AND dictate my posts while doing it, that would be awesome 🙂

Anyway I thought we’d talk today about some common myths in regards to fitness and health. I heard something this past week that got me to thinking and I was gonna give it a nod in my Monday Musings but decided there was enough fodder for it to have an entire post of it’s own.

Let’s face it, in the world of health and fitness there’s a lot of things that aren’t true yet people unknowingly buy into them all the time.

Let’s consider a few in this post….

Feel the burn.

I’ve seen this quite a bit lately in different places. The whole “feel the burn” thing in regards to working out.

Now I’m not sure about you, but if something feels like it’s burning during a workout, I’m fairly sure that’s not a good thing.

Feeling a burn could indicate you have over done something or doing more than your body is physically conditioned for at that point.

This is not the same as just working hard in a session and pushing yourself within your current physical conditioning. Our bodies require time to change and adapt to what we put them through, this doesn’t happen overnight or in a few sessions when you feel like you’ve got your “beast mode” on.

If something feels like it’s burning, you really need to stop and not go to that point anymore lest you pick up and injury that sidelines you for awhile.

A gradual, consistent approach that continues to build will let you work harder and longer with less risk for injuries.

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The longer you workout or the more you do in a day the better

You might mentally think you are doing something great but really unless you’re an elite athlete getting in some extra work you are simply setting yourself up for potential injury and at best being over tired, sore and not feeling great after the fact.

Stick to a structured daily workout plan, give it your best efforts and call it a wrap. Think quality over quantity.  If you need to do other things consider yoga or stretching to help keep those worked muscles relaxed and loose for your next workout session.

You get no extra gold stars for excess workouts. 😉fitness myth

I’ve gained weight but I know it’s muscle.

I’ve heard this when someone has been working out for like…6-8 weeks. Building muscle is work, hard work. If you’re a woman, it gets even harder. We often don’t lift heavy enough, or often enough and eat enough to build muscle in that fast of a manner. It has taken me time to build muscle, years. Although cycling and running have contributed to my muscle building, I do specific weight lifting a couple times a week alongside that.

If you want to build muscle it will take time, determination, consistency and good nutrition. Did I mention time ?

If you’re gaining weight that early on, you might be eating more than you need so adjust your calorie intake.

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I’m skipping breakfast because I want to lose weight.

Do you know that breakfast really is the most important meal of your day? Your body has been fasting for hours ( think your last meal the night before) eating properly helps kick start your metabolism for the day, wards off  hunger and helps prevent binging later on when you are full blown hungry.  It will also give you energy for your morning. Not only that having proper fuel helps you to be focused and alert, without it you can be irritable and grouchy. Skipping breakfast won’t contribute to weight loss, but it will keep you hungry and focused on food.

It doesn’t have to be a huge meal, but one that is healthy and offers adequate protein and carbs to fuel your body and brain.

Eating lots of protein gives you more muscle.

Listen, I’m always one who will preach eating protein to you ’cause it delivers a big bang for keeping you from feeling hungry for long periods of time. Your body needs protein to build muscles and grow cells and hair and nails and all that other cool physical stuff. Your body uses protein to build and repair tissues.

However, when it comes to fat loss and a better body, protein is the king of nutrients. Protein can reduce hunger and boost metabolism.

But in the often misguided fitness world, the more is better approach is often heralded as the way to do things.

Yes, you need adequate protein. Yes, if you are athletic you need more than the average sedentary person, but consuming high amounts won’t necessarily put Popeye muscles on you.

Why? Our bodies know what they need and the amounts needed and can only ingest 12-15 grams per meal.  At a point, the excess protein is excreted or stored as fat if it’s surplus calories.

Building muscle is a combination (again) of consistent hard work, daily discipline, lifting heavy and good nutrition.

Not massive quantities of protein.

Try and consume your protein from natural food sources and limit manmade protein drinks, shakes, powders, bars, supplements etc etc.

The 1200 calorie diet.

Ah yes. The standard caloric intake often given to women. Men do get a bit more but it’s just as limiting.

It still amazes me that these standard diets are often assigned to people without any given consideration to their personal needs.

Eating to low amount of calories is just as counterproductive as to many.

If you are seeking to lose weight you need to have a good understanding of yourself, your lifestyle, and your physical level of activity.

All of us have a basic level of calories our bodies need to just be alive. That means to support a beating heart, brain activity, cell growth, breathing… you know.. just the normal things. Our basic BMR ( basal metabolic rate) will be different for all of us again based on our age, sex, fitness level, jobs etc.

Try this calculator for your estimate…. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bmr_calculator.htm

It’s important you know what you’re baseline is and not eat calories under that.

From there, you would determine what kind of work do you do? Is it physically demanding or is it a desk job? What kind of purposeful exercise do you do? None? Light ( 1-2 days a week) moderate (3-5) or more intense (6-7)?

All of these things come into play determining your daily caloric needs. And this can be a shifting scale most days.

For instance, I know on my long training days, I’ll be burning off a lot of calories and making my body work hard. I know I’ll have higher caloric needs based on my day in general, as well as my purposeful exercise. I know I can consume more calories on those days over days where I might just run a 5K that morning to where I don’t really alter my normal eating.

I am aware that on any given day I may need more or less calories depending on my activity level.

When you have a better idea of your personal needs, you can determine the calories you need to lose weight, or maintain your weight.

Eating a big meal makes you gain weight.

OK this is one that for sure comes up around Thanksgiving.  For some crazy reason people go hop on a scale the day after.

Like… why?  Do you just wanna feel crappy for enjoying your day?

Listen up, if you show a gain, it’s not fat ok? You aren’t gonna toss on 2-4 pounds of fat overnight.

Yes, the scale *could* show a gain but I’m gonna just say it’s most likely water weight from all those carbs you took in the day before from potatoes, rolls, dressing, pies etc.

Carbs, if you don’t know this, are like little sponges that hold onto water. Why do you think body builders restrict carbs when they are close to competition? To deplete water out of their muscles.

I would suggest if you go back to your normal eating, getting normal exercise and check again in a couple days, you’ll have weight *loss*.

To stay in shape you only need one or two days a week.

Sorry. That might clear your head or give you a quick burst of energy but it won’t get you in shape or help with any weight loss goals.

Ideally, you should really strive to workout most days of the week for optimal health benefits.

Start with a couple days but aim to get in at least 5-6.

You can crunch your way to good abs.

Sorry… but no.  I cringe when I hear people talking about doing crunches and dutifully going through the motions. The reality is it’s an ineffective way to get those abs. Instead you should be doing things in a combination of interval training, utilizing carbs wisely, getting adequate sleep and keeping stress levels low. Of course the right training moves help too. Moves like squats, deadlifts, and chin ups can contribute to that shaped mid section.

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Want a great looking mid section? Incorporate exercises that work all of these “ab” muscles.

I’m eating healthy, I will lose weight.

Truth is…. you will lose weight if you take in less calories than you need in a day and create a deficit.  Yes, eating healthy foods is definitely what you should strive to have in your day, but if you eat to much of anything your body will take what it needs and store the rest for fat.

Eat healthy, focus on eating just enough to satisfy your hunger, and then move on with your day.  Don’t get caught in the thinking you are going to lose weight if you have no idea of your calorie consumption in the day.

Be mindful of another “trap” by drinking “healthy” liquid calories in the trendy shakes and smoothies. The calories are often astronomical in it and you’d do better eating regular food.

My son used to get a smoothie from a local place. He asked me to stop and get him one and bring it to work. Me being me, I’m standing there picking apart menu and code words that still mean sugar no matter how you try and gloss it over ( good publicity makes you feel like you’re doing yourself a healthy favor) I found the one I was buying for him and almost fainted when I saw it had nearly 1,200 calories in it.  True, it was a large one, but still, that is an obscene amount of calories for something that is being promoted as “healthy” it is close to exceeding daily caloric intake.

When I told him he was shocked and stopped buying them.

Working out will turn fat into muscle.

No. You have fat and you have muscle. You can’t make one be the other. You can lose fat and you will be able to see your muscles better but you won’t turn your excess fat into muscle nor will muscle turn into fat.

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Oh and another myth I’ll put in here that ties in, my favorite, muscle weighs more than fat. ( a way to justify weight gain)

No.

5lbs is still 5lbs. muscle however, is sleek, compact and lean and fat is thick, bulky and fluffy. Having more muscle under your skin gives that “toned” look people always go on about. Toned is a weird way of saying you have some muscle holding your skin out.

And that’s about all I have to say on that topic 😉

I guess I could keep on with other points but I need to bring it to and end.  If you are unsure of something in regards to health and fitness, find credible sources to gain information. Don’t go by what the bulky dude at the gym does or the girl in the yoga pants tells you to eat. Educate yourself on things so you can make the best choices for you.

Tell me, are there some myths you’ve heard that people believe in?

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Monday Musings

Hello world! Time for another edition of Monday Musings, a general collection of my random thoughts, observations, and other life stuff that’s going down.

So what about that Super Bowl last weekend? Between hubby and three sons I’ve had to get on the football wagon in these past years or get left behind.

That being said, I weirdly miss it once the “big” game happens and then there’s nothing active or current going on with it. I actually got excited last fall when someone said it was almost football season.

What happened to me???

That being said… of course I was watching last weeks events unfold with the Patriots “we’re just here to scoop up another ring” and the Eagles “we’ve never won and have no rings but are ready to bring our A game”  to the big field.

Ok… so I’m always a sucker for the underdog. I can’t help it. Damn that compassionate spirit and what not. I wanted to see them have the win. The other guys, they’ve got enough bragging rights and rings, they can try next year.

And what a game it was. The Eagles came out and played like they wanted to take the win, the ring, and the Disneyland trip home with them. Not that Patriots didn’t try and deliver, they just didn’t deliver, enough.

eagles

So although I was only like, one of two, cheering for the Eagles win it didn’t matter. It was a cool experience watching men overcome with emotion to achieve that. As an athlete ( on a much smaller scale!) I understand emotions that come from the accomplishments of doing something you haven’t done before.

It’s worth the tears.

Speaking of athletic shenanigans

This last week I’ve spent a little more time doing indoor strength training. When I say that I don’t mean solely weights, although I do. But, like using your body and that alone, is the way to build some strength. No matter what you may or may not have, you have a body and can do exercises to build strength with it.

Squats of all varieties, lunges, jump squats, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, push ups, ( sweet heavens how I hate them) Russian twists, planks, side planks, V up’s the list goes on.

So I incorporate a lot of that, I use real weights too ’cause you know…girl muscles… and I kinda like out flexing most guys haha but seriously, I just like being strong for life, ya know?

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Girl muscles

 

 

Oh yeah, and some cardio ’cause you need to do that stuff. Your heart and lungs honestly will thank you. If you missed my post on heart health and why your heart wants you to do cardio find it here…  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/02/08/your-happy-healthy-heart-2/

It’s great to build muscles, but if you can’t walk a block or run a flight of stairs, um, you need to rethink cardio.

So before strength training I usually knock out either 10 minutes on the rowing machine which gives me around 1.3 miles or so, I sometimes do a 20 minute round of boxing or a quick run. Of course other days in my week are nothing but cardio….enter running and cycling 😉

Speaking of strength ….

the winter Olympics are upon us. Although I haven’t seen much yet, can I say all the snowboarding athletes. Holy cow Batman!

And Americans have been scooping up some gold goodies too.

The Olympics are the cream of the lot when it comes to athletes. I wanna be one when I grow up.

Complete, total machines.

I’m fascinated at all they have had to do, and continue to do to maintain the level the operate at.

Well. Wait. Do they have like… a senior Olympics? I might be able to do that! haha

Do you have a favorite Olympic sport or event you enjoy watching?

In fun projects I’ve been up to this week….

So I may have mentioned when I’m not preaching athletic stuff or learning about nutrition one of my other “hobbies” has become old, antique furniture. There’s a certain thrill of “the hunt” and if I’m successful I get “the prize”.  I want the odd, unique, different things I don’t see floating around. It’s so exciting when I get the prize AND for the price I want.

There’s something therapeutic about transforming a piece and giving it new life.

Like this ugly little night stand…. I’m so in love with how it turned out….

I wanted a project piece to experiment with pink. I love pink. I just wanted something to practice that look on. This night stand was headed to the dumpster when I snatched it from my son thinking I’d clean it up and donate it. One day while working out as I was pondering my desire to do something pink, I realized this was just sitting there, staring at me waiting to be transformed….

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the obvious before photo…. isn’t it ugly??
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Isn’t it beautiful now???

Since I really had nothing to lose it was fun to let go with it. The piece had been speaking to me and I had a vision for what to do with it. Now I really want to practice this on a bigger real piece of furniture. Like an old school vanity….

Anyway…..

I also got this super cool, unique, interesting piece this week, I’ve never seen anything like it….

 

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My newest score this week on the antique furniture hunt

 

Thankfully, I came across a man who is very knowledgeable in this work of knowing furniture. I shamelessly pick his brain on various things regarding a couple pieces I got recently. So of course, when I could turn up nothing on this ( for the love of old things I don’t even know WHAT to call it to search it up) I shot him a pic asking if he had a clue.

Oh lucky me. He knows his stuff… and this is what I learned….

A dresser like this is called a cheval dresser. He went on to say based on the hardware ( which I’m in love with and can’t believe it’s all still on it… with a real key hole) he thinks it’s English made and made of quartersawn oak and get this… circa 1900! AH!

One interesting factoid you probably don’t know…. As I’ve acquired a few pieces recently I of course, want to know how old it is. Evidently at the turn of the century (20th) they stamped the mirror on the back before putting the wood cover over it. This would reveal the month and year it was made. You can understand how tempting it is for me to want to pull the back off of a vanity mirror to know it’s age.. but then there are all of the neat brass tacks holding it in place and that checks me from doing it.

For now….

Anyway, he went on to tell me if I can look behind mirror, if the back of mirror is red or gold it was made in England. If it’s silver, it’s American. Regardless, it’s still circa 1900 wherever it was crafted.

So ok, yeah I’m a wee bit excited at this online find. Oh, did I mention I paid only 80.00 for it?

Eighty bucks.

Obviously my remodel thoughts on it now are quite a bit different as I will be sanding it back to it’s original beautiful wood tone… it will be so worth it.

I love a good challenge.

The wood around mirror top has some broken pieces so that’s where I’m setting my hand to first. Then, on to the next thing.

My other acquisition this week was a 1920’s ladies writing desk….

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1920 Sligh ladies writing desk

 

So it’s been a busy kinda week, but a fun, good kinda busy. I love doing so many creative things. Writing is definitely a wonderful outlet, exercise is always a creative time, but transforming things let’s more of my creativity come out. Stay tuned in upcoming weeks for updates on their transformation.

Tell me, what do you enjoy doing? What’s your passion or something you have a love for that makes your heart sing?

Your Happy Healthy Heart

So it’s a cold, grey day in my part of the world. After a busy morning getting a strong training session in and some always necessary house work, and then working on some of my other fun projects (  revamping old furniture) I decided I deserved some coffee and writing time.

My training though, it’s hard to take myself outside to the building I use on cold mornings ’cause like, it has no heat.

This can work in my favor in several ways. Usually, it means I get out there and get moving with some cardio to get my blood stirring so I warm up fast.

Today I decided some time spent  boxing should do the trick to get me warmed up.  It always works….

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Boxing. It not only gets your heart rate up, it warms you up fast too.

Toss some angry music in my ear, add my well worn pink gloves, 20 minutes later I’m in a full sweat, cold air and all.

Oh. Wait.

What cold?

So the boxing warmed me up for 45 minutes of strength training, i.e. muscle building time. I might mention though, all those solid metal weights, not much warms them up when you first grab hold of them!

Overall, a nice strong training session.

That boxing though, it’s a form of cardio that I love for a variety of reasons. Like, I can punch something as hard as I want and not get in trouble haha. It can be very, very good therapy.

But lets not forget its great upper body and core workout too, but it also has great benefits for getting the heart working hard. We can forget that those internal muscles of our heart and lungs need strong training as much as our arms and legs, well, actually they need it more.

That’s what I wanna talk about today… our heart and exercise and some other stuff too.

Here in the states, February is heart month.

However, I’m thinking if you’re reading this you’re alive, which means you have a beating heart, and it needs proper care so wherever you are in this world, you can read this too.

Let’s look at some facts….

Yeah, yeah, you know I’m gonna offer up some facts here, don’t you? Maybe you’ve seen “facts” in your own family if you have loved ones who’ve suffered or do suffer with heart disease.

But do you know, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. ?

And do you also know that it’s preventable ? Making heart healthy choices, knowing your family history, knowing risk factors you have, and having regular check ups are all a part of proactively caring for your heart.

Heart disease (which includes Heart Disease, Stroke and other Cardiovascular Diseases) is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people of most racial/ethnic groups in the United States, including African Americans, Hispanics and Whites. For Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders and American Indians or Alaska Natives, heart disease is second only to cancer

Cardiovascular diseases claim more lives than all forms of cancer combined

Coronary heart disease is the most common type of heart disease, killing nearly 380,000 people annually

In the United States, someone has a heart attack every 34 seconds. Every 60 seconds, someone in the United States dies from a heart disease-related event.

Direct and indirect costs of heart disease total more than $320.1 billion. That includes health expenditures and lost productivity.

Women and heart disease….

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women and is more deadly than all forms of cancer combined.

Every minute, approximately one woman dies from heart disease.

Only 1 in 5 American women believe that heart disease is her greatest health threat

An estimated 6.6 million women alive today in the U.S. have coronary heart disease.

90% of women have one or more risk factors for developing heart disease or stroke. This stat is sobering for yours truly sitting here writing this. As a woman who feels she leads a healthy lifestyle, eats well, exercises often and has a low family history, the idea of being in the 10% of no risk is perhaps slim.

The symptoms of heart disease can be different in women and men and are often misunderstood.

Men and women are not the same when it comes to heart disease.

Well gosh, thanks for all this good news….

Remember earlier, I said this was a preventable disease? Unfortunately, our lifestyles can be one of the biggest problems for developing heart disease. A high fat, processed diet lacking good quality heart healthy foods and inactivity are often the culprits to heart problems.

Those things, we can make changes on in our lives. We can begin to exchange foods that aren’t so great for heart health for ones that are. We can put on shoes and start walking each day. Almost everyone has the ability to walk. Start there, but just start moving.  Do it at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

You get a gold star if you do more 😉

Clipart Illustration of a Healthy Red Heart Running Past
exercise does your heart good

Failure to exercise (walking or doing other moderate activities for at least 30 minutes five days a week or more vigorous workouts at least 20 minutes three times a week) can contribute to an increased risk of coronary heart disease as physical activity helps control weight, cholesterol levels, diabetes and, in some cases, can help lower blood pressure.

Find some posts I’ve done on exercise here if you need some more reading material…https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2016/08/03/so-you-hate-exercise/

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2015/05/25/does-exercise-have-benefits/

Adopt a diet low in salt, saturated and transfats and high in unsaturated fats (fish, avocado, etc.)  I don’t talk about specific “diets” but I did a review comparing two, one I can endorse as practical, livable and good for you. Find it here….https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/07/21/keto-and-dash-diet-review/

Maintain a normal body weight with caloric adjustment

Avoid smoking and recreational drug use

Have no more than ½ to 1 alcoholic beverage per day.

Know and review your risk factors with a trusted physician. Your physician may recommend medications to control cholesterol, hypertension and diabetes.

Know and understand your family history. Next to your personal care of yourself, this will help you assess any potential problems that are out of your control.

People who are overweight are more likely to develop heart disease and stroke, even if they have none of the other risk factors. Excess weight causes extra strain on the heart; influences blood pressure, cholesterol and levels of other blood fats – including triglycerides; and increases the risk of developing diabetes. 66% of Americans over age 20 are obese.

If you have diabetes be aware that the condition seriously increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, even if glucose levels are under control. More than 80% of diabetes sufferers die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease.

With all that being said

By maintaining a heart healthy diet, doing active vigorous exercise, knowing your family history and having regular checkups you can be sure to keep your heart in the best shape you can.

So when you’re out there exercising and your heart is beating strongly in your chest, appreciate all it does for you and continue to show it love back by doing things to keep it healthy and well.

What do you do to keep your heart strong and healthy?

New Year’s Weight Loss Tips

Day 3 of the New Year. Raise your hand if you are tired of food. And sweets.

I’m beyond tired of seeing sugar. I bake what seems like, all month, whipping up various treats  for Christmas so about now I’m ready to walk away from it all.

#officiallysickoffood

I bet you are too.

It’s possible you are thinking of losing some weight as many are at the start of a year. For some reason the start of a new year makes us want to tackle things in our lives that may have been previously untouched or started but not finished.

My social media accounts are flooded with all kinds of hyped up “diets” and weight loss promises, all of which will take some of your money, thank you, but most likely only leave you with lighter pockets and no missing fat.

Coming out of the holiday season can be difficult since we’ve been enjoying more tasty foods than we usually have. You might be wondering where to start.

Don’t start by thinking you have to eat all the “bad” food that might still be around.

Getting started doesn’t have to be hard, painful, or restrictive. In fact, a slow gradual process will help you be more successful than just trying to cut everything out cold turkey ’cause I mean… there’s still gonna be chocolate around.. am I right? And really, if a piece of chocolate here or there helps keep you sane and  moving forward, it’s ok.

I’m eager to get back to my “normal” eating. What always works for me is eating more lean meats, veggies and fruits to get me back on track as well as adequate water.

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My favorite kinda meal
green and red healthy food
Eat these to build a healthy body

 

This works for me, but might not be where you are.

Here’s a few new years tips that might help….

If you don’t trust yourself start by removing all leftover temptations of holiday goodies from your kitchen.

And I don’t mean eat them. Give them to your neighbor Susie Q or toss them in the trash. Really. You can.  If you think you’ll sit down and eat the bag of chocolate, toss it.

Next, make sure you have healthy foods on hand like lean meats ( chicken, turkey, fish, eggs etc) fresh fruits, veggies, and other snacks like cheese, yogurt and raw almonds.

Once you get a plan for food you will eat and won’t eat, set some short term “mini” goals for yourself.  Small changes add up and in time they do add up to bigger changes.  Not only that, accomplishing your mini goals will give you confidence to push on to bigger goals.

For example, week one you might simply try to reduce sugary drinks if that is a problem for you. Maybe you’ll try to drink more water.

Week 2 you might decide you will intentionally park farther from store or take the stairs at work instead of elevator.

Week 3 you might decide to eliminate fried foods from your diet.

Set a date.

Be intentional about what you are doing. Set out specific dates for yourself to achieve goals. ( in 4 weeks you want to be walking 3 miles or committing to 3 days a week in the gym) whatever it is, put it in front of you. To be ambiguous about a goal is the same as saying you’ll start “next week” … it’s easy to ignore and not get done.

Let your mini goals spur you on to bigger things as you accomplish them.

Learn to write down what you eat and how you feel when you do. Make it a goal to understand your personal relationship with food.  This can give you insight into your behaviors with food and eating.

Don’t be afraid to take some before pics of yourself as well as progress ones along the way. A photo journal is the best way to see how you’ve changed on your journey.

Finally, set realistic and manageable goals for yourself. You don’t gain weight in a few weeks, you won’t lose it all in  a few weeks. A steady one pound per week will be sustainable weight loss.  Allowing yourself  after the holidays to settle into a slow, steady routine will be the best way to be successful in your efforts while not feeling deprived or taking things to the extreme.

Do you have any tips for healthy weight loss?

 

Tips For A Fit 2018

small changes

It’s hard to believe we are now only less than 1 week out from Christmas and  start of a brand new year. As mentioned in my last post, I love Christmas. ( find it here if you missed it) https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2017/12/08/the-most-wonderful-time-of-the-year/

I try my best to slow the month down so I can just savor everything.

Of course, preparing for a new year means for me, getting my hands on a new planner to start plugging in appts and key things that are already scheduled.

I’m old school. I love getting a new planner with clean unmarked pages and putting pen to new plans, goals, and ideas.

One of the things that top the list for many people in a new year is to lose weight or start an exercise program.

I like not having to plan in “weight loss” for a new year. I spent enough years planning that and I don’t miss it…at all.

I’d much rather be scheduling new athletic adventures or learning new things for myself that I can share with others.

But what if  you need to drop some weight and you’ve decided that this really is gonna be your year? This year will be the year to achieve those goals you’ve had in your mind for a long time.

Maybe you’re tired of feeling sluggish and run down. Perhaps you don’t like looking in the mirror and wish there was less of you to look at. It could be the doctor has told you for your best health you need to start being proactive with your health.  It could be you just want to enjoy shopping for clothes again… nothing wrong with that either.

At the root of it all, the starting point, you have to want it bad enough to make it happen.  No one can force you and no one can make it happen but you. The desire has to be strong to start making changes that will lead to you being successful in your endeavors.

I am ready.  Where do I start?

It’s no big secret gyms see the biggest increase in attendance the first few weeks of January than any other time of year. People sign up with lofty goals and determination that quickly wanes once the novelty starts to wear off. Or they get there and are intimidated and don’t know what to do and their attempt is short lived.

I’ll let you in on a secret. You don’t have to join a gym to lose weight or to exercise. Now if you want to and think this is where you will excel, then by all means, take advantage of many of the programs available to members. If you choose to do so then be proactive and educate yourself so you know what’s available and how to best use your time when you are there. There are often health coaches that can give you direction in the beginning while you are learning.

However, I’ve found personally that there is a lot you can do at home and I personally think I work harder alone than being distracted if eyes are on me in a public place.

I have gathered up enough equipment  over time to have my own little home gym. It’s nothing fancy and I have to share space with lawn equipment but it’s my space and it works just fine.. other than it has no air conditioning or heat it works out pretty well haha

You too can gather some basic items to use at home. Whether it’s a garage space, an empty room, or in the living room you can carve out your own space to get a workout in.

Of course if you decide to make outdoors your gym ( this is my most preferred workout space)  by walking, running, cycling or any other activity you choose, the beauty of that becomes just getting dressed and walking out your door.

No driving, no waiting in traffic or being distracted at the gym. No extra time away from home if time is tight for you.

Make a plan.

What’s that old saying? Rome wasn’t built in a day.  Your improved body won’t happen in a day so it’s good to settle into a plan that will work for you day after day and be sustainable in the long run.

As mentioned above, you need to determine first, what will work best for you to get you active and moving. Would a gym environment be what you need? this could be perfect for someone who initially lacks a bit of motivation and needs that from others around them. A home environment is great but you really have to be motivated and determined in the beginning to get yourself out there and not opt to lounge around drinking more coffee.

Once you have that down you need to look at your new planner and schedule your workout times. Yes. Put it down right there with dr. appts, dinner dates, and meetings with the teacher at school.

Schedule time for you. After awhile, once you’ve built it as a new habit, you won’t necessarily have to pen it out but for now, do. it.

Take small steps.

Where people get off track and discouraged is trying to do to much, to fast. They think if they’ve made the decision to start it should all just happen and happen quickly.

It won’t. Accept that and know it will take slow, steady and determined steps. Maybe your first week will only involve getting some good shoes or some clothes to use. Maybe it will be gathering some tools if you’ve determined being at home will work best for you or if it’s the gym maybe you’ve spent some time investigating your options before you commit.

These are important steps. Then in the second week you are ready to begin what you’ve decided to do. Not only that, you’ve had the time to mentally prepare and plan for it which I believe is super important in taking on anything.

Starting small also means taking it easy with whatever physical endeavor you choose. Doing to much, to fast, can leave you with injuries or burn out.  Pace yourself slowly and allow your body time to make the adaptations to what you are doing. You might feel great after jogging around the block but if you haven’t done that in 15 years, I’m telling you, you will feel it and you certainly don’t want to feel bad before you get started.

Find ways to track your progress.

It’s helpful to take before you start pics or measurements etc. Noting these things does give you a marker of where you started from, especially when some times goes by. I’m used to myself now, but when I look back at photos from a few years ago I’m always surprised at how I’ve changed.

Leave your weighing in to only once a week. Keep it on an app on your phone or in a health journal, whichever you prefer. Do yourself a favor though and stick to a once a week weigh in and do new measurements once a month.

Maybe you have a pair of jeans or a dress you want to work your way back into. I often used that as a marker of my progress. Imagine my delight when one day the jeans I’d been wanting to get back into, were actually to big 😛

Share your activities.

Seriously. Share what you are doing on social media. I am pretty motivated but when I started sharing what I was doing a few years ago (whether it was running, my daily activities, or a new goal I was training for) it made me more aware of the fact I was doing it and I knew others knew I was doing it. From that came so much encouragement from people who lived vicariously through my craziness or better yet, got motivated to start doing something themselves.

When you have a support system that is all over the place, it’s a pretty cool thing. Not only that, if you miss posting or sharing, it’s always interesting to see who wants to know if you’re still being active.

Get a partner.

I’m used to flying solo in all my training sessions but I know some people do better with a partner. If that’s you, find someone to get on board with. You will both benefit from encouraging and challenging each other.

Set reasonable goals.

Once you’ve determined what you want to do, where you are going to do it, and scheduled the time to do it make sure you set  out some reasonable and doable goals to remind you of what you want to achieve.

Whether it’s getting into smaller jeans or working towards running your first 5k, set goals that will motivate you during your workout times. Goals are so important to have. They don’t have to be huge ( they can be) but really, setting small, reasonable ones will give you success and encouragement to keep on with what you are doing.

Be patient.

Yes. Be patient with yourself. Allow for days that don’t go as planned or a weak moment when you cancel on yourself ( you’ll be annoyed by that later, that you did it) allow for unexpected life things that might throw you off but just get right back at it. Don’t allow yourself to make excuses to not meet for your scheduled time.

Don’t allow negative, self defeating talk that will discourage you. Speak in positive ways to yourself and see yourself accomplishing what you’ve set before yourself.

Give yourself time to adjust and change. Remember your mind is a powerful tool and how you use if for yourself and for self improvement is a huge thing.

With a little practice, patience, and determination you will be moving into 2018 getting stronger and healthier as you turn your activities into your new lifestyle.

Are you wanting to make changes in 2018? Do you have goals or plans for yourself to get there? What motivates you to do it?

 

goals

 

 

Duathlon Journey: The Recap

It’s now 2 weeks out since I did my first multi sport race, the duathlon,  that I’ve been blabbing up for months to you.  I finally got my little paws on some of the pics they took while on course so I could use them when I wrote this.

You didn’t expect me to just use random stock photos off Google, did you ? 😛

Where do I start?

As I knew it would be, I felt the let down once it was over. The months of training, the days in front of me with my goal at the end, now finished.

Something to celebrate, right? A new adventure conquered, new challenges overcome, another athletic event that I never dreamed I’d do accomplished.

I guess I should mention I’ve had this race on my list for several years now. Due to an injury I was getting over at one point and other things that came up I had been unable to really pursue it.

All I wanted to do was get to a point where I could at least run the distance for the duathlon even if it meant my distance running might still be on hold for awhile.

As I slowly crept back into running, I was getting stronger and more powerful on the bike. I learned I was fairly good at it and could eat up a lot of miles in a quick time.

I knew this would be the year so when registration opened in June, I paid up and made the commitment.

My first duathlon was etched on my calendar.

As you know from previous posts, I was committed to my training, even training in weather that was less than ideal because on race day you never know what you will get. I gave up being a fair weather athlete a long time ago. I know if I’m going to build not just my body, but mind, I need to know how to handle more adverse conditions.

Of course there was more than just me involved in the event…let’s not forget… the bike.

I can’t neglect saying how grateful I am for a wonderful bike shop and the guys who keep my little Cannondale in top shape. 2 weeks out from race I picked it up looking almost all kinds of new again. Poor thing, I’d put some serious miles on it. Not only did they get new tires on it, and clean the chain ( ohhhh it IS silver haha) they checked my brakes, tweaked and adjusted some other things, and made sure my fit was perfect on it. I love being in a place “talking shop” with others who do what I do, and who challenge me to press on to bigger things.

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My bike rarely gets to ride shotgun 😉

 

With the bike in good working order, it was taper time whether I wanted it or not, a winding down to race day. I kept riding and short runs but the ultimate goal was to arrive at the start line healthy and energetic for the task in front of me.

Race Day

There are two things I think athletes worry about before a big event they’ve been training for.

Getting sick and the weather.

Thankfully, I was strong and healthy and the weather although a brisk low 40’s in the morning, was clear, bright and the sun soon showed up for the festivities.

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Waiting in the crisp, cold, beautiful morning with a ton of hyper energy pre-race

There’s something about being at a race with other athletes and this energy that’s almost palpable that makes my heart beat fast.

Although I’ve done many running races before this was my first multi sport event and my first biking event. I checked into the transition area, got marked ( I was sooo excited to finally do something where I got marked… but unfortunately it was under my shirt ha oh well) I got my gear set up and did some light jogging around parking lot to loosen up and set my mind for what was coming.

This event was the state Championship Duathlon and was hosted by a local college. Many college tri teams from across the state were there to race. I was surrounded by athletes the ages of my kids or younger 😛

This race is also listed as “the toughest in the state”.

They tell no lies about that… tough is an understatement.

I understood what was in front of me having trained on it, but I had a healthy fear and respect for it every time I stepped out there. To under estimate it would certainly sink me.

My plan for the race? Simple and straight forward.

To run and bike just like I’d trained and not get caught up in the hype and energy of the crowd but stay in my head and run my own race. I knew the first half mile- mile out was a brutal start as it’s all up a long and winding hill. I knew how I’d paced myself in practice and my goal was to stay there.

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Heading into the hills for the first run.. it was bit to chilly to toss clothes yet!

 

I settled into my first mile which was a little faster than I had been running it but that was ok. Then my Garmin came up at mile 2 telling me I’d just done it in 9:29 I was pretty happy with that. Overall, when I finished my 5k it was over a minute faster than the week before when I’d practiced and my fastest 5k in a long time.

Amazing what a competitive spirit will do haha

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Wrapping the 5k heading to the transition area.

 

Ok so this was all new to me, the whole multi sport, transitioning thing. It’s one thing to practice transition when you are alone ( I had it down to 30 seconds) it’s a whole new game when you’re surrounded by a zillion other bikes and athletes gear and come running in to change and find nothing is like you left it.

Yikes!

My first transition time was longer than I wanted mainly because I knew I had to lose the jacket and peel down to my cycling shorts. I perform way better a little chilled than warm and knew the bike was gonna demand a lot from me so I took a little extra time to do that.

Once on the bike, I knew I would close a gap because I’m strong on the hills. It should be noted we biked right back out where we had run, running up and down hills, then getting on the bike to ride them, ha hello quads.

One by one I methodically picked off cyclists in front of me, a game almost. I churned along knowing some of the toughest stuff was still coming, but also reminding myself I was more than capable and had done it before.

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AND a smile for the photographer.  Still smiling after cresting the monster hill that’s behind me

I had to really focus on what I was doing approaching the huge hill as I noted a half dozen cyclists pushing bikes up.

This seriously can mess with my head. I narrowed my vision and did what I had practiced when I rode it… I recited a nursery rhyme in my head…

“One, two buckle my shoe, three, four shut the door….”

Don’t ask.

It just popped in one day as I was grinding up and it became a game, how many times till I reached the top?  ( 2 “ish” times if you’re wondering haha)

But powered up it I did.

On the return trip I pushed hard knowing the last run leg was in front of me… so close to finishing.

The last run.

From practice I already knew how that felt. It’s hard. It’s not just the physical, it’s mental too. I have learned so much about dialing into my head and trying not to be distracted at what’s around me. As I made a turn where the aid station was the young people manning it were doing the usual “you’re doing awesome, almost done!” mantra. I quipped I had paid money to do this when I hear behind me… “yeah, but you’ve been kicking my butt the whole time!” I looked over my shoulder at this young college girl behind me, one I had sailed by on my bike, it was the motivation I needed to finish off that last half mile.

The Finish Line

When I saw the finish line I can’t describe the feelings and emotions that came over me. I saw my time and was pretty happy with that too.

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The home stretch, still smiling.. And yeah, I had lost more clothes 😛

 

I heard the announcer call my number and name as I ran across the finish  line and as the guy behind lines guided me where to go I felt it coming on… tears forming in my eyes… I took a deep breath willing myself not to sob out loud.

I did it. My first duathlon. I did it!  I was simply overcome with emotion.

He saw my face and bless his heart was immediately concerned. “are you ok? do you need anything?”

I assured him I was physically fine but just overwhelmed…. my emotions came out after all the months of training to finally be there in that moment… I just couldn’t hold them back.

As I left the finish area I found hubby and again, just sobbed on him. He too was immediately concerned, but he’s more used to my emotions at times like that than poor unsuspecting guy at finish line. And can I just say how much I appreciate all of his awesome support for what I do? An amazing guy he cheers and supports and encourages my madness. I couldn’t do what I do without him or his support.

Of course I went to the tent to use the laptop to pull up my bib number and get my stats. My time was pretty much what I’d seen when I hit the finish line, however it was another number that caught my attention and I choked out to hubby…

“Am I reading this right?? Does it mean what I think it means??”

I hadn’t really breathed out loud to anyone that it would be kinda awesome to place in my age group.. but this number told me I placed first in my age group.

More tears. Sweet heavens. I’m such a baby.

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Does my smile say it all? Nothing felt better that day.

 

Honestly… I can’t describe how it all felt.  To have accomplished something so big, to have challenged myself beyond what I thought I could do, was overwhelming and rewarding all at once.

The aftermath

I know the let down that comes from preparation of big events. It’s weird to not have this specific “thing” I’m training for. I also  get used to my body physically changing as it peaks into top condition ( a place I loath giving up) but I also know I can’t keep myself at this level all the time.  I loved marking off my training calendar each day as I knocked out what needed to be done and seeing those days move me closer to my goal.

It’s hard to come off the physical and mental high that events like this bring.

So the solution is??

Ha… plan my next adventure! 2018 is coming and I’m already planning the duathlon again as my fall event. I want a shot at getting a new PR.

I have a spring half marathon in mind as well as my first long ride, a 60 mile, ’cause why start small?

I haven’t ruled out someday …maybe… a triathlon… it seems HUGE to me right now but I’m also reminded what I just did would’ve seemed huge to me a few years ago but I did it.

If you’ve stayed with me to this point can I remind you that as the saying goes, you’re never to old set new goals or dream new dreams.

Set some new goals for yourself in 2018.

Or have you already? What plans do you have for yourself in the upcoming year? Tell me.

Reflections From The Road

It’s a quiet afternoon in my fav coffee cave which is a bit unusual given the time of day but I’m not gonna complain about that. Sometimes, I wonder where all the people have come from and why they are taking up my space haha

It’s also another day in this long week that is nothing but grey skies and feels perpetually like morning…. all… day… long.

Sometimes it makes it hard to feel like doing anything more than grabbing a blanket, a good book and chilling somewhere.

Instead, I’m going to write and let my thoughts out if you’ll humor me. Writing is often cathartic for me and let’s me examine things more closely through words.

As in… thinking about my first multi sport race this upcoming Sunday. My first duathlon.

Did I mention it’s listed as the toughest in the state? Yeah I don’t start with easy things.

I’ve certainly spent a significant amount of time on the road preparing for it. So much time to think and reflect, to ponder this journey that I’ve taken myself on.

I view myself as somehow a most unlikely candidate to turn into a duathlete.

This journey has been over 2 years in the making. It’s been out there in front of me, sometimes taunting and sometimes a bit illusive as I’ve had to bide my time waiting for the right moment.

You see when I first got the crazy idea I was fully in the mix of an ugly Achilles injury that had me doing no running at all. It’s during this time that cycling came into the picture a bit more. I had thought the following year I’d be up to it but just had things working against me that kept me from fully pursuing it. I remember seeing the cyclist out that year during the race and feeling a bittersweet longing to be able to do what they were doing.

My goal, my wish, began to be “just let me get healthy enough to run the distance required for the duathlon”. which at the time was bookend 5k’s.

All I had to do was run 6.20 miles … in two parts.  Was that asking to much ?

I diligently rehabbed myself. Spent a lot of time strength training, learning to row to stay strong with my cardio ( for the record rowing to me has many similar feelings to running), and doing cycling. As I got better I took it back to the road for some strong walking. It just felt good to be out there going through the motions even if I couldn’t all out run yet.

Time moved on, I improved and was able to pick up some running again, albeit, cautiously .

This time… the duathlon seemed more feasible. I continued with slow. easy, short “runs”. I stretched, foam rolled, iced and did whatever I could to keep getting better.

When I saw the promotions start coming up for it this past May I knew it would be something I’d take on in this year.

In June I made the commitment and registered. And I say commitment ’cause when you cough up money to pay for an event, you’ve just invested yourself fully to it.

With that, my “official” training began.

I think back to those first brick sessions I did. ( fyi a brick session refers to back to back activities. For me it was a bike and run session. Eventually it turned into a run/bike/run sessions)

I did only 8-10 miles on the bike and then a 2 mile run. I remember getting off bike, changing shoes, and then taking off on legs that felt like loose spaghetti noodles.

It’s hard work changing gears from one activity to another!

I wondered how long it would take or if I would adapt to getting my body from cycling mode to running.

Months later, it’s definitely still work especially after running and cycling, then running again but I’ve found I’m stronger and have managed some decent mile times… you know… for an old lady 😛

And here I am. Months later with the race staring me down the face.

I’m as ready as I can be. I’ve worked hard and prepared to the best of my abilities. I’ve trained in horrible weather and good weather. Right now the forecast is for a chilly but sunny day and I couldn’t be more thrilled with that!

I’ve practiced riding those crazy hills. I remember the first time I took on one that I thought would eat my lunch, which then fed into a second hill immediately after.

 

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So this is the first one…. it doesn’t look so scary in this pic 😛

I cried when I topped the second one. I know. I’m such a girl.

Doing hard physical things and accomplishing them brings out strong emotions in me. Maybe it’s a relief that I could do it. Maybe it’s overcoming something I thought might be insurmountable.  Or once again realizing I’m stronger than I gave myself credit for.

Spend some time on the road making your body work hard, you begin to see what you’re made of. You begin to see how your mind and body can work together or against each other.

I’ve learned I can push a bit longer and farther. I can dial in and focus on that moment in front of me and set aside anything else so I can keep pressing on to my goal.  I’ve learned how to listen to my breathing, to keep it even and steady even when I’m working hard. I listen to my body but try not to let it convince me it wants to quit or back off because it’s getting uncomfortable. ( not injured or hurt, but out of my comfort zone, there’s a difference )

If there’s one thing endurance sports has taught me it’s about discipline, determination, perseverance, and sacrifice.

I’ve learned to deal with hot, warm, humid weather.

 

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Nothing like a good sweat to cleanse the soul haha

 

As well as those  mornings I’ve geared up and headed out into a cold, wet, rainy, or foggy misty morning to train.

Yeah. All I really wanted to do was stay in warm and dry. Yes I considered I might be crazy but there was a deeper thing in me that wouldn’t let me give in or back off from what I had committed to undertake.

If race day dialed up a cold, wet, foggy morning I better be able to handle myself in those conditions.

Of course months of training has leaned me out more, almost a side effect of all my training. I know it’s working when hubby tells me I feel to thin haha

I’ve peaked in my training and with that comes a physique that reflects my work, endurance to do my running and cycling, and improved times doing them.

There is a bittersweet aspect to this as well. I know there will be the inevitable “let down” when it is finished. The thing I’ve focused on will be done, my goal accomplished. It will be time to thing of new goals.  I know these feelings go along with the excitement and thrill of doing it.

Now.. it’s almost show time.

With days out I’ll focus on stretching, rolling, eating well, getting rest and of course making sure my gear is ready and I have the coolest clothes to wear 😉

Looking good helps your performance, right ?

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Sporting the new cold weather cycling jacket I got for the event.

 

One thing I always remind myself of before races… the world doesn’t stop spinning based on my performance. It somehow takes some of the hyper energy off me.

Oh. I didn’t mention that did I? All the hyper energy and edginess counting down to it.. the “taper week”. That energy continues to build till I’m standing on the start line.

As much as I want to do the very best I’m capable of, the fact remains, when I cross that finish line, I’m a winner.

I win because I set out goals and dreams for myself and I worked hard and pursued them and I won’t go through life wondering “if” I could do it.

And nothing will feel better than that.