Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Mirror, Mirror on the wall.

I have two 65watt light bulbs that bright up my room and mirror. I realize that everyday I like to strike a brief pose in my underwear in front of my mirror in my room. Sometimes the pose is dependent on what muscle I worked out that day. Flexing my abs, arms lifted in gladiator pose, backside to the mirror... But sometimes I will do a little sexy pose for myself. I do this mostly as a confidence boost, because as I gaze in the mirror and am checking myself out, I make eye contact with myself, and think you're looking pretty good. "How you doin?" from Joey Tribbiani pops into my head.

However, this was not the same feeling I experienced while searching for jeans last week in a Nordstrom department store. As I am sure you have heard... Nordstrom is having their anniversary sale. I haven't gotten myself a new pair of jeans in over six months, and I had a gift card, so I figured nothing feels as good as finding those perfect jeans. And what a good way to reward myself, since I have been challenging my body lately by trying to perfect my eating habits. As I look around, there isn't much on sale for me, so I grab a pair of Joe's jeans, and then grab the next size up, just in case. This has become a new habit of mine to avoid the walk of shame... back to the jean rack to grab more after the first ones don't give.

In the fitting room, I try on the first pair... which is supposed to be my size, and the denim doesn't even make it halfway up my thigh. I rip them off, and grab the larger pair, and give a long sigh. I think, well at least if they fit and look good, the number doesn't matter. Slowly I pull the one pant leg up, this time it makes it 3/4's the way up my thigh... okay, I'll see if I can fit both legs in and pull them up, stops at the same spot. This is the point when I actually look at myself in the fitting room mirror. I hate what I see looking back at me in the blazing fluorescent light. A tight pair of denim squeezing my American thighs, and not even reaching up to my ass. Hastily, the jeans come off. And I stand there looking at myself in the fitting room mirror. Why do I all of the sudden look so pasty, every dimple in my legs are visible, I turn around to get a look at my backside hanging out of my panties... I am not impressed with what I see this time. I stare for a couple of minutes longer, and finally put back on my clothes. Holding the two pairs of jeans in my hand, I think "If only my body would fit into them, I would feel so much better about myself."

Then as I am leaving the store I realize,

its not my body that didn't fit those jeans, those jeans didn't fit my body!

Searching for a good pair of jeans is harder for me than climbing a mountain! It can feel like a such a trek, and halfway through I always want to give up and turn back. I know there are certain brands that are supposed to flatter pear shaped girls, but even so, it's not always a guarantee. Gap's curvy section is always a good bet, Lucky's can have a few cuts, True Religion are reliable, and I thought Joe's jeans as well (but lately, they have been making mostly long and lean or cigarette cuts). I will have to work up the courage to continue my search for a new pair. In reality it's mostly a vanity issue, I don't need new jeans right now, instead I was hoping to find a new pair to make me look as bangin' as I was feeling with my progress lately.

If anything this experience will only keep me on track to reach my health goals and stay in shape. Finding the perfect pair of jeans that fit my legs, ass, and waist will have to stay on the wayside, until jean lines decide to keep up with me!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Get in my belly!

The word Diet has been getting a bad reputation in last couple of decades. The word originally and should still be used as a way to describe one's eating habits and regular food lifestyle. However, now the word is used to describe a deprivation meal plan that one embarks on in order to loose weight, and can cause fear and hate in many. There are so many "Diet" plans out there that guarantee people to loose weight. Atkins, South Beach, Mediterranean, Zone, Jenny Craig, No sugar, 5-day Meal plan, Low-fat, Fat Free, and those are only the diets I can name off the top of my head!

The truth is the longer society engages in these diets, the more obese and unhealthy society becomes. The more processed food becomes to be low-fat or fat free, the more chemicals are put in to still make it flavorful. Recently, I learned a lot of hard facts about Splenda, first, it's an irritant to the human bladder (this one I learned the tough way and from my doctor), which is probably caused by its chemical ingredients which include Chlorine! Finding this out was a shock for me, since I was using it and consuming products with its logo slapped on the front on a daily basis. I can't imagine what the future repercussions would be if I was already facing side effects from consumption.

I think its time to realize that as natural beings we need to get back to eating and drinking natural foods. For hundreds of years food from the Earth was all our body knew how to digest and now in the last 60 years food companies are causing the change. After reading Michael Pollan's book "Food Rules" (his other more indepth books are in my reading list), I know there are easy ways to cut the crap out of my food. The rules are extremely basic, and were actually submitted by some of his readers. One rule I really try to follow is "Don't eat food products that contain more than 5 ingredients." Luckily for me, store-bought tortilla chips barely makes the cut!

I made my own rule that applies to even more food products:

Don't eat anything that has ingredients that you couldn't find in a household kitchen.

This rule makes it easy to go grocery shopping, because if I haven't heard of one of the ingredients on the package, chances are its not NATURAL!

The easiest way to make sure the food I am eating is natural is to cook and eat mostly from home. And a year ago I quit shopping at Supermarkets, because grocery shopping for just myself could take up to an hour, since I was reading all the labels of everything I was buying to make sure it didn't have unwanted ingredients. Now I do my staple shopping at Trader Joe's and local Farmer's Markets, and I hardly have to think about what I put in my basket. I am still a work in progress though, I know I can be getting my diet from better sources, but this fits my budget now.

I think with any diet, like my natural food diet, its easy to slip up, especially in a world of processed foods. Yet now that I have changed my habits, when I slip up I can actually feel how hard it is for my body to process the junk I eat and leaves me laying on my stomach for an hour.

I am not necessarily advocating that organic "USDA" produce and products are the only way to go either, but at least being conscious of the chemicals that are in products that you wouldn't expect will help to be healthy in general.

Nothing is more natural than produce that is dug from the earth or picked off trees or vines.

Natural eating = Healthy Living

Friday, July 9, 2010

You are what you eat!

Those are some sweet buns.

"You are what you eat"
If that saying was really true you think I would be as sweet and dark as the chocolate I like to eat...

The last couple of weeks I have been spending my time trying to develop an in-depth posting based on the metabolism, how it works and how to make it work right for our bodies. Biologically the body is designed to recognize food as an energy source. But after doing research I have come to the understanding that over the last 100 years people have developed a more emotional relationship with food. So I thought I would focus this blog on how to think about food more holistically and to eat according to our bodies needs and not on emotional desires.

About a month ago my sister and I were having a conversation on food and she brought up the idea of comfort food, and how when people are upset, stressed, depressed, and even happy that they will eat a food that they know will bring them satisfaction and well-being. She instantly knew what her comfort foods were, Mac N'Cheese and Pizza, and pressed me to know what mine was. At the time I literally could not think of a single food item that I could consistently turn to for comfort. My sister couldn't believe it, and then finally after a couple weeks of thinking on it I came to the realization that my comfort food was soup. For me soup always has a nostalgic feeling because as kid my mom would always prepare canned soup and grilled cheese after a long, tiring day. Even as I got older it was always a treat when we visited San Francisco to get clam chowder in a bread bowl.

However, people's relationship with food can lead to eating disorders on both sides of the spectrum. For instance someone with anorexia has as much as an emotional relationship with food as a compulsive eater. Both individuals don't eat based on their bodies needs. Furthermore, now in food processing chemicals are added to packaged foods to enhance flavor, yet have side affects that block our bodies natural hormonal system telling us we are full. (Such as high fructose corn syrup, MSG)

Which got me thinking on the question, do we know the true feeling of hunger?
Do we eat based off physical or emotional hunger?

A book by Geneen Roth, "Women Food and God" outlines basic rules to eat by:

1. Eat when you are hungry.
2. Eat sitting down in a calm environment.
3. Eat without distractions.
4. Eat what your body wants.
5. Eat until you're satisfied.
6. Eat in full view of others.
7. Eat with enjoyment.

These are pretty basic rules, but are really the fundamentals to not only eating right, but living healthy.

For me #5 is the hardest rule to live by, Eat until your satisfied, because I secretly like the feeling of being full, but hate being stuffed. I still go to buffets and get one plate too many. Most of the time, when I get hungry, I am already HUNGRY!(panic) and want to eat everything in sight to make that terrible feeling go away. So in order to really think about this rule I eat slow and try to take longer to eat than the time it took prepare that meal. The best way really is to finish a bite and swallow before I even stab my fork into the next one.

I think the best way to eat holistically and healthy is to detach our thoughts about food and instead listen to the body's needs.

I want to hear back! I want to know how other people feel about food. I don't have a strong emotional relationship with it, so tell me which of those guidelines would be the hardest to follow.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Not exactly American... But still some good looking thighs!

This is a photo from a study done in Australia, where people were asked which they thought were the sexist.

Which woman do you think is the sexiest?

And the results......

The results showed 59% of people thought the woman who was a size 12, was the sexiest!

Just wanted to share some body love!

*Sorry this study only shows white women... it was conducted in Australia.
**This may not reflect a scientific study.

Weight Loss v.s. Athletic Goals

I think the girl on the left is way hotter. Don't you?

When we decide to get healthy and make the step toward setting goals, its natural to want to set a number for the goal we went to achieve, because its tangible. Mostly with women its the number on the scale. And I am going to make the argument its not that number we should try to reach, but instead a time or distance or a number of reps in order to reach a healthy goal.

In terms of losing weight science relies on thinking in numbers.
1 lb = 3500 calories
Therefore if you want to loose 1 lb a week then you either have to eat 500 less calories a day, or burn 500 calories a day.
This way of thinking to getting healthy can be troublesome because it leads people to be obsessive about numbers in what they eat, and track their progress according to what they weigh. In my opinion, it doesn't lead to a healthy mind, because you can't establish a lifestyle based on obsessive counting.

Over the last 5 years I have become convinced that once our bodies reach a healthy size limit, it wants to stick there. I feel that our body knows that its supposed to have so much space it consumes in the world and our jeans. I have come to this understanding through several of my own body transformations over the past 5 years, starting at age 17. Every year since 7th grade I would go up in a jean size (to my devastation) until I reached my senior year in high school, and from then on have always been a size 8. Since, then I have fluctuated in the number on the scale from 160-143, but always remained the same size.

A couple of years ago, after going through several personal changes in my life I decided if I wanted to feel amazing about myself in order to feel better in life that I should weigh what I did at age 16, 135. I figured I was only 19 and getting down to that weight would also put me back in the desirable size 6 jeans. I began cutting portions on foods, only eating a few carbs, and living off oatmeal, yogurt, fruits, and veggies. At the same time I started running at least 6 miles and day, with super light strength exercises, at least 6 times a week. And yes, over the course of three months I lost around 10lbs, I was getting compliments on how great I looked. But I felt miserable, I was constantly hungry, my stomach was always churning. And worst part was, I was still 140 lbs and still a size 8 jean. All this time spent at the gym and starving, just to feel deprived. I finally reached a threshold where I couldn't take the self abuse any longer and started responding to my body's needs. I began eating according to the energy I expended and started to feel healthy again. During this time, I lost most of my muscle mass from only doing endurance cardio and not eating a substantial amount of protein.

After that experience I realize that its more important to feel good about what my body can do, and not what it looks like.

For most people, enjoying life is about being able to do go outside and do activities. I mean deep down we are genetically wired to be moving around whether it was running, hiking, or even hunting at some point. In order to be active in life its important to be healthy and strong.

So when setting goals, its more beneficial to create them based off what kind of athletic feats you want to achieve. Whether its running so many miles, swimming for so long, or being able to curl so much weight. Because then when you apply what you are working for in exercise to real world activities, you can reach great heights. And I literally mean heights, like Half Dome at Yosemite or up San Francisco's Hayes hill on your bike. Being able to accomplish real life activities is way more rewarding than a number on a scale. The wonderful part of working towards athletic goals is that loosing fat tends to follow.

So screw what Kate Moss says about "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels," because I could kick her bony ass! I bet she can't even hike a mountain or ride a bike longer than 30 mins, because she barely has any muscle to support her.

I say "Nothing is as good as being strong feels."
(Okay, little corny, but you get, right?)

Furthermore, this post gives advice on how to decide when you feel happy at your weight.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Put me in coach!

The first dive into the oasis of healthy living is setting goals for ourselves. What's the point of working towards something if you don't know what you're set out to achieve?

I can't even go on a run outside without knowing where I am going and what should be the finish line!

It's important to set long term goals for health and short term goals as a road map to how your going to get there. The long term goals are important in order to achieve the ideal life style and outlook on health. The short term goals are immediate actions and successes you will do in order to work towards the bigger picture. I can't tell you how many short term goals I have made in order to work towards being happy and strong.

The wonderful thing about the human body is that it's adaptable, not only in healing but in growing as well. Over a year ago, I made the commitment to do an 8-day open water kayaking course with Outward Bound. Naturally my upper body is slender, and well... I have some gangly, long arms. So in order to be fit for the trip I spent hours of muscle building and kranking (upper body cycling) for three months to build my arm strength. For the trip it was perfect, I was one of the better kayakers, but honestly, my clothes were tight and comfortable, and I felt bulky and burley. Then after the trip I focused on getting back into cardio, and tried yoga for a month to length my muscles back out. And lets just say, I don't look like a man anymore.

During the time I was working towards my goal of being a professional wave cruiser I resulted to posting my workout regimen on the refrigerator as a daily reminder of what I needed to accomplish. After every workout I would get to highlight what I completed that day. Not only did this method keep me accountable to myself and my goals, but also got my roommates involved, because I made them promise to hassle me if I failed to do any exercise that day. Of course, my roommates merely made joking side comments, but it also made me conscious of what other activities I did that day instead and whether it was worth it to miss a workout. And no, watching a Man vs. Food marathon on Travel Channel didn't match up! In this case, I couldn't miss my strength training because it meant that I would have been unfit and a liability on my trip, and while it might seem extreme it worked and I accomplished my goals!

Every time I get bored with a workout or feel my body plateau then I start to assess a new workout and what I want to accomplish with the next set of goals. Its feels so good to know that I have reached my past goals and can move forward on to the next.

Most importantly with setting goals, is to start small and first get your feet wet before doing a cannon ball.
This can be applied to eating and exercising habits.
With exercise, its important to progress, your body isn't going to be able to run 5+ miles to start, so begin at 2 miles or 20 mins of jogging and each week add distance or time. Along with strength training, start with light weight or resistance then as you feel it get easier add more weights or repetitions.
However, no matter what the exercise, the workout should never be easy.
If you want to get in shape than every workout should challenge your body. The only way people grow in mind and body is to overcome challenges! So throw a few curve balls into your workout to continue to trick and test your body once a workout becomes comfortable.
Furthermore, with eating, if your goal is to loose weight, then start off by cutting down proportions of food, and then eliminating the bad crap out of your diet and replacing them with better fuel.

Here is an article that helps with setting certain types of goals.

Lookin' good....

One of the first ways to start living a healthy life is to accept the body you have and look within for its potential. Once you love your body and embrace it for what it is, then you can truly start to live healthy with a peace of mind, and then try to supply your body with the best so it can stay that way!

A healthy mind is healthy living!

I know its hard looking through magazines or watching television shows and movies with actresses and models who are barely there, and then envy their bodies. I always look at Cameron Diaz and think.. damn I wish I had those long, lean legs. But honestly... its IMPOSSIBLE for me to have her body, we aren't even the same body type! I mean come' on I am that Fat-bottomed girl with those American Thighs! Even if I lost all the fat on my body I still wouldn't rock a bikini like Cameron Diaz. The awesome thing is there are other women in media who are starting to be confident with their born body types and are flaunting them! It's natural for women to compare their bodies to others, even if it criticizing or in envy. I think Scarlett Johansson has an amazing body, where her beauty is in the curves. And Beyonce is at her sexiest with some meat on her bones. Furthermore, the fashion and women's magazine world is finally catching on with adding normal sized women to their pages and campaigns. So if you need motivation to get healthy by comparing you body or looking for inspiration in other people's bodies, than BE REALISTIC!

Just remember everyone has different body types, so instead of focusing on your "trouble areas" look more at the amazing parts of your body that you do have!
For me, I am pear shape, so I have larger bottom half and sometimes wish I could shrink it, yet I have a strong back and shoulders. In order to attract attention to my favorite areas on the body, I will wear tube tops or back revealing shirts in order to feel sexy. And that can be done for all bodies, if you have smokin' legs show them off, wear short shorts or mini skirts, because you're the only one who should pull them off!

When it comes down to it, its okay to have some more to grab than not, if it means that you are happy.
Life is and should continue to be the pursuit of happiness, not for the skinniest body.

Furthermore, in a study by Nobel Peace Prize Dr. James Watson (yeah, the guy who discovered the structure of DNA!) found that heavier women were actually happier. As we know hormones are regulated through the body in its fat cells, and woman with more fat can regulate more endorphins, which is a mood enhancing natural chemical. Additionally, the natural chemical MSH, responsible for sexual desire was also found in higher amounts in heavier women.


Being active isn't about getting a better body, but about getting a better life!