Category Archives: Health

IIFYM: Week One

Remember a few weeks ago when I blogged about all my fitness goals for 2016? Turns out, lifting heavy shit requires big muscles, so I’ve been looking into various nutrition plans to help me build muscle mass/lose body fat.

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I decided I wanted to try a macro-based approach, which is something I was initially apprehensive about because have you ever searched the IIFYM (“If It Fits Your Macros”) hashtag on Instagram? It’s almost all photos of people stuffing their faces with pizza/pop tarts/doughnuts and being all BUT IT FITS MY MACROS. Apparently there’s this whole rivalry between IIFYM-ers and “clean eaters,” with the IIFYM group being all “I EAT PIZZA EVERY DAY AND STILL LOOK GOOD,” and the clean eaters being like, “awesome dudebro, enjoy your upcoming quadruple bypass.” I think I fall somewhere in the middle – I want to eat mostly healthy, minimally-processed foods but still have the flexibility to house the occasional wedge of brie.

Anyway, I asked my CrossFit coach to calculate my macros (ideal grams of protein/fat/carbs I should be eating every day) and make me a plan. In addition to involving much more food than I’m used to eating, it requires eating a gram of protein per pound of body weight every day. I feel like I’m singlehandedly eating my way through the nation’s livestock in order to get enough protein.

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GIVE ME YOUR PROTEINZ

My usual routine is to take a few minutes in the evening and enter the next day’s food into MyFitnessPal, which helps me to stay on track and not have to think too much about what/when to eat. Thursday night was the first night I tried to make my food hit my new macro goals, and it went like this:

“OK, I need 30 more grams of protein, so I’ll add another egg to my breakfast. Shit, now I’m over my fat. OK, I’ll do a ½ cup of cottage cheese instead. Now I’m under on my protein, and I still need carbs. OK I’ve got canned tuna and corn tortillas, I’ll make tuna tacos for lunch. Are tuna tacos a thing? Probably not. Better Google it. Oh look, cat gifs!”

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I have a feeling it’ll go better this week now that I’ve had a chance to stock my fridge with a small farm’s worth of poultry and plan my meals for the week. I’ve pre-portioned as much as I can to avoid having to constantly pull out the scale and/or eat weird combinations to make sure everything adds up at the end of the day (ahem, canned tuna tacos).

As for what I’ll be eating, it’s not much different than how I normally eat, I’m mostly just eating the same stuff in different quantities: eggs, chicken breast, turkey, sweet potatoes, avocado, salmon, fruit, veggies, almond butter, cottage cheese, oatmeal, pasta, rice, quinoa, etc. Plus some maybe not-as-great stuff that I love too much to give up: coffee creamer, tortillas, Laughing Cow cheese, pretzels. Sorry not sorry.

I’m excited to see whether this makes a big difference in my body composition and performance, although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious about how many calories I’m eating. My coach warned me that I’ll probably gain weight in the next few weeks while my body adjusts, and even though I know it’s temporary, it’s still kind of tough to put a ton of effort into eating healthy and watch yourself blow up like the Stay-Puft man. I don’t have a specific weight goal in mind – I actually don’t really care if I wind up gaining weight in the long term – as long as my body fat decreases, my strength increases, and I like what I’m seeing in the mirror.

2016 Goals

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is my least favorite week of the year. The holiday festivities start winding down and everybody starts pondering how much they suck at life and tries to convince themselves that they’re going to suck less in the coming year. I read somewhere that like 80% of new year’s resolutions have to do with fitness, and apparently I’m no different. For instance: it would be awesome if I didn’t have to lay down and say a prayer to the patron saint of diabeetus prevention to get my skinny jeans to zip.

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Thankfully I haven’t had to resort to lotion to get my pants on. Yet.

I’m pretty confident that I’ll shed my holiday poundage pretty quickly now that I’m back to my usual eating routine that doesn’t include cookies, fudge, and hot chocolate every day, so here are a few more long-term goals I’ve made for the coming year:

Master kipping pull-ups

I can currently do 3-4 strict pull-ups (depending on how sore my arms are), which I am actually pretty proud of considering that I had literally never done a single pull-up in my entire life when I started CrossFit last summer. While I will continue to work on my strict pull-ups, I also need to learn to kip so that I can start RXing those workouts with a million pull-ups (I’m looking at you, Fran). I’m just going to keep chipping away at it during my warm-ups and hope that someday soon I’ll stop looking like I’m having a grand mal seizure on the bar and look more like this:

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Master double unders

I got a  Rogue RX custom jump rope a few months ago, which has made double unders a little easier for me. (For non CrossFit folks: a double under is when the rope makes two passes per jump instead of just one.) On a good day, I can string together 5 or 6. Most days I just wind up whipping my legs repeatedly with my rope and screaming obscenities.

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Back squat 225#

My most recent back squat max was 150#, but that was back in October so I’m hoping the next time I go for a max I’ll be closer to 175#. I honestly have no idea if 225# is possible for me to hit next year, but I’m going to try!

Deadlift 300#

Again, no idea if this will be possible, but I’ve added 50# to my deadlift since September so I figure I may as well aim high! (My current max is 205#)

Continue to focus on diet

My diet is SO much better than it was a few years ago. I used to eat a ton of frozen meals and “diet” foods, which were low calorie but filled with all kinds of artificial crap. For the last five months or so I’ve been really making an effort to cut back on highly processed, pre-packaged foods. I’ve noticed my body starting to change, particularly in the stomach area:

Before and After

Note the sweet shoulder bruise in the photo on the right. Maybe “fix my slow elbows” should be on this list.

The photo on the left was the week after I started CrossFit (August), and the one on the right was three months later (November). It’s not an Earth-shattering transformation or anything, but I definitely think I look less puffy and a little more toned in the one on the right. I haven’t ever taken progress photos before, but I’m finding it’s great motivation to actually be able to see the difference you’re making because it can be hard to see change on a day-to-day basis.

That’s it for me …  I’d love to hear your goals for 2016, if you have some!

Life Update

Lots has happened since I last blogged! First of all, I went temporarily insane and signed up for a CrossFit competition. It’s scaled for newbies, but still. I am going to be working out in front of people. For a score. Luckily, I’ve been training hard and am super confident!

Hahahahaha! Just kidding. I mean yes, I’ve been training hard, but this is waaaay outside my comfort zone and every time I think about the competition I do this:

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We just got back from a week in Hawaii where I spent most of my time hunkered down in front of a mai tai instead of working out, so that probably won’t help my performance at the competition. Unless there is a “drinking mai tais for time” event, in which case everybody else can step aside because I WILL WIN THAT COMPETITION SO HARD.

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(The fact that it’s 60 degrees in my house as I post these is especially gutting.)

My parents moved to Hawaii in March, so they had the skinny on all the awesome foods we needed to try. This included malasadas (fried dough balls stuffed with flavored custard) as well as Spam pizza. Then when we got home we went to a birthday party for Dave’s dad, where I was suckered into trying deep fried Doritos pockets stuffed with jalapeno cheese. Does it GET more American than deep-fried-cheese-stuffed Doritos? I was waiting for a bald eagle to swoop in and claw it out of my hands while I was eating it. Anyway, after all that all I want to eat right now is chicken breast and broccoli. So much broccoli. How a vegetable that smells like farts marinated in Satan’s tears while it’s cooking can taste so good is one of life’s greatest mysteries.

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What else … I’ve got my Halloween costume under control several days before Halloween, which is a huge accomplishment for me. I found this cute tutorial for a DIY strawberry costume and had to make it. My white puff paint “seeds” look a little like bird shit, but in my defense I was making them while watching Hocus Pocus and I DARE you to not be distracted while watching this cinematic masterpiece.

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Next year, I’m dressing up as Ice.

We also managed to squeeze in a visit to the pumpkin patch on Sunday, which I was excited about. It doesn’t feel like fall until I’ve ruined a cute outfit by traipsing through a field and carrying a filthy pumpkin to the car.

Carrying cute babies is way more fun than carrying dirty gourds.

Carrying cute babies is way more fun than carrying dirty gourds.

So that’s about it … if anybody has tips for dealing with crippling self doubt when it comes to fitness competitions, I’d love to hear them.

Thoughts On My First Month of CrossFit

I just realized I haven’t posted since I wrote about my first CrossFit experience, so I figured I’d check in and let everyone know that no, I didn’t get trapped under a barbell and die. Although I’ve wished that would happen lots of times over the last month, particularly the day I learned how to do man makers.

Me, after every class.

Me, after every class.

I have lots of feels about my experience so far, so I’ve decided to arrange them in a neat little list. If you’re on the fence about trying CrossFit, maybe this post will help you decide to go for it! Or if you’re a normal person who enjoys being able to sit on the toilet without crying after a workout, it might make you run away screaming. Anyway, here are my thoughts after completing my first month:

  1. It Doesn’t Get Easier. My coach likes to say, “It doesn’t get easier: You get better.” At first I didn’t believe her, but I think she might be right. I can now do five tricep pushups instead of zero, so I guess I’m getting better, but I still feel like I’m going to lose control of my bowels and crap out all of my internal organs at any minute, so it’s definitely not getting easier.giphy3
  2. I want to talk about CrossFit all the time. I didn’t think I would become the person who talks about CrossFit constantly, but lo, HERE WE ARE. I don’t really feel bad about it though: If I have to sit through stories about your kids, you can damn well settle in and listen to me weave a yarn about back squats. I’m sure it annoys some people, but whatever. I’ve got my PRs to keep me warm.giphy
  3. I’m getting better about comparing myself to other people. Most CrossFitters lift like three times what I do, and it’s easy to be like, “Uggghh why am I so terrible?” I’m getting better at reminding myself that a) they have worked really hard for a long time to get where they are, and b) their asses are getting kicked just as much as mine is (see number 1). EXCEPTION: It’s OK to get annoyed when children under 12 show up to class and still lift more than you. RESPECT THE EGOS OF YOUR ELDERS, KIDS. YnHKYzh
  4. I have better body image. I’ve always been really self-conscious of my body. I still remember the first time somebody called me chubby, and I think I was in junior high when I went on my first “diet.” When I lost 30-ish pounds several years ago, I got lots of comments about how much better I looked. But instead of making me feel good, those comments made me afraid of gaining it back and becoming “unattractive” again. Not surprisingly, my pre-CrossFit fitness goals revolved around looks: smaller thighs. A firm butt. Arms that appear to be chiseled by the Goddess Jillian Michaels herself. SPOILER ALERT: Those things did not happen. I did, however, succeed at making myself feel like a total failure. Since I started CrossFitting, my former goals have been replaced with: lift heavier. Run faster. Do a damn pull up OH MY GOD WHY ARE PULL UPS SO HARD. I’m not sure when or why that priority shift occurred, but I suspect it’s  because I spend so much energy on my workouts that I don’t have any fuel left in the tank for giving a shit about whether my jeans make my legs look fat.

    It also helps to do this before leaving the house.

    It also helps to do this before leaving the house.

  5. I’m facing my fears. Two weeks ago, I was so afraid of box jumps that I scaled them to step-ups every time they came up in a workout. Tuesday night, I decided that enough was enough, and forced myself to just do them. I wound up doing about 50. And that’s my favorite thing about CrossFit so far: With every workout I get a little bit better at silencing the voice inside my head saying, “You can’t do this.” Most of the time this means just getting on with the workout before I have time to psych myself out.
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    Thank you Jean Smith for taking this picture and not laughing at my rapidly windmilling arms.

    All that to say: I really love CrossFit, and finally feel like I’ve found my exercise niche. I actually took 1 month progress pics that I had planned to share here, but now I’m chickening out about posting photos of myself in a sports bra on the internets. It might need to wait until I have a six-pack, at which point I’ll basically stop wearing clothes and it won’t seem like such a big deal.

If you live in the Siskiyou County area and want to try CrossFit, or if you’re a CrossFitter visiting Northern California/Southern Oregon and want to drop in on a class, I highly recommend that you check out CrossFit Northern Limits. They’re the best!

My First CrossFit Experience

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A new CrossFit box recently opened in Yreka, and my friend Jayne talked me into going with her  Saturday morning. Full disclosure: I avoided CrossFit for a long time because I was pretty afraid of dying/puking/somebody telling me I should stop eating cheese because CAVEMEN. (Calm down, Paleo fans: I’m sure your body is better than mine and you will outlive me by decades. I still choose Brie.)

The good news: I had a ton of fun, and nobody diet-shamed me. The bad news: I’m afraid to go back because I haven’t been able to lift my arms above waist level since Saturday. Seriously, I had to ask Dave to put my pajamas on me like a damn toddler on Saturday night.

Me, every time I move.

Me, every time I move.

I am happy to report that I’m already seeing some positive changes in my health. For example, I thought about drinking a beer Saturday night, but decided it wouldn’t be worth the effort to lift the bottle to my mouth. Maybe this is CrossFit’s secret to success: tiring the arm muscles to the point where they’re physically incapable of lifting anything heavier than a kale leaf.

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Hey Ryan, you can start with my triceps.

All joking aside: I can’t wait to go back. I had no idea my upper body was so weak, and I’m determined to do something about it. I also wouldn’t be mad if my butt was a little more Beyonce and a little less Roseanne Barr. I know it can be a good thing to work through sore muscles, but at this point I feel like it might not be wise to lift heavy stuff when the act of fastening my bra feels like summiting Everest. Any CrossFit experts reading? Please advise in the comments.

My buns, they don’t feel nothin’ like steel

Between  having a nasty cough that lasted an entire month and having lots of very important things to do (watching the two latest seasons of “Law and Order: SVU” on Netflix), I worked out a grand total of three times in January. Last night, I finally felt good enough to get back to it.

Instead of going to the gym, I decided to do a FitnessBlender video. They categorize their videos into levels 1-5, with 1 being easiest and 5 making me want to mail cat turds to the FitnessBlender headquarters. I normally choose level 4 videos, so yesterday I figured I’d do a level 3 just to “ease myself back into it.” Apparently I underestimated the impact of my month-long hiatus, because just the 2-minute warm up had me huffing and puffing. After the first round of HIIT, I looked like one of those people you see collapsing and pissing their pants at a marathon finish line, only instead of running 26.2 miles my grand accomplishment was  40 seconds of burpees. I may have to switch to something a bit more gentle.

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Like perhaps, this.

Pelvic thrusts, she wrote

Pelvic thrusts, she wrote.

Anyway, the good news is that I’ve been eating super healthy lately to counteract the fact that I haven’t been exercising as much.

Did you believe that? I didn’t think so. Case in point: my Super Bowl snack contribution consisted of a box of Cheez Its covered in canola oil and dusted with ranch dressing mix and red pepper flakes. They paired quite nicely with beer, cheese-filled pretzel bites, pizza, Velveeta cheese dip, and homemade whoopie pies.  I stepped on the scale expecting to be horrified, but as it turns out I actually lost a pound since I last weighed myself a month ago.

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I’ll be honest, my first reaction was, “YESSS, VELVEETA AND BEER 4EVER!” But since heart attacks don’t sound super fun, I’m resisting the urge to continue eating what is essentially the Honey Boo Boo diet. I eventually made it to the end of my level 3 workout without passing out and have a fridge full of veggies, so I guess that’s a start.

Zoodle Mania

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t really do new year’s resolutions, but I have to admit that I plan to make an effort to eat more vegetables this year. I don’t eat horribly by any means, but turning 30 last summer made me realize that now’s probably the time to start doing all that awful crap that magazines say will keep you looking young forever.

Dark leafy greens. Night cream. Pilates. Ritual animal sacrifices.

Apparently a veggie-rich diet helps your skin glow, so I figure if I eat enough zucchini I should resemble Emma Stone by Valentine’s Day. To kick-start my efforts I picked up a little spiralizer called The Vegetti at Bed Bath and Beyond, because let’s be honest: if something looks like a noodle, I will eat it. Even if it’s zucchini.

Vegetti

Just like regular noodles, in that they would taste better covered in cheese sauce with a side of garlic bread.

I then scoured the internets for some veggie-noodle recipes, and landed on Kung Pao Chicken Zoodles from SkinnyTaste. Verdict? Amazing.

Zoodle bowl

I won’t pretend to love it as much as the greasy slop I get from my local Chinese restaurant (mmm, mystery meat and MSG), but the sauce tasted super authentic, and a huge heaping serving is fewer than 400 calories. Dave loved it too, and he’s usually a zucchini-hater. I think next time I’ll throw in some water chestnuts for a little extra crunch.

I definitely plan to make veggie noodles a staple from now on – if you have any good recipes, let me know in the comments! (I think they’d be really good covered in this sauce!)