You Can Get Fit!

Posts Tagged ‘strong

After yesterday’s drive-by post, I’m slowing things down a bit today.

Especially since… TOMORROW is the first birthday of the blog! (No, I don’t like that “blogiversary” word. Birthdays are more fun!)

happy birthday!

I love giving gifts to others… so as my treat to you, the readers, here’s a collection of some of my favorite YCGF posts from the past year!

First off, check out my first post. It’s not as embarrassing as I thought it would be! I talk about the importance of a food diary in weight loss.

Here’s a fruit dessert that I just discovered last summer: sauteed nectarines. It’s become a hit with friends (and with me!!!), and it’s so easy to make!

What is your motivation for eating healthy and/or losing weight? Make sure that you are doing it for you.

This one isn’t fitness-specific, but I sure think it’s important to make every day count.

We all have this day on our calendar that doesn’t exist.

Discover more about an interesting self-discovery writing challenge–and learn a whole lot more about me!

And, finally… the story that started my fitness journey, and keeps me in this industry motivating others.

Thanks to those who’ve stuck with me, reading for the past year! There will be many more interesting days to come, especially since I’m getting stronger. I no longer look despairingly at old issues of Runner’s World–the little voice in my head is saying, “Yes, I might!” What a journey I’ve gone through this year!

Keep strong, and enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Hey, folks!

First, an update on me: I’ve had two physical therapy sessions post-hip surgery (surgery date: 28 Feb) and I’ve made incredible improvement! I’m doing one leg balancing, a bit of one-legged squatting, walking lunges–all sorts of stuff that I couldn’t dream of doing two weeks ago! I’m thrilled! (This will definitely help my weight loss goal!)

Today’s Trust30 writing prompt–if you’re unfamilar with the Trust30 writing challenge, check it out here–deals with personal beliefs. The prompt itself reads:

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

The world is powered by passionate people, powerful ideas, and fearless action. What’s one strong belief you possess that isn’t shared by your closest friends or family? What inspires this belief, and what have you done to actively live it? (posted by Buster Benson)

A tough one for me! I think that as far as my beliefs go, there is at least one person close to me who shares my thoughts on everything. So, my response is a bit convoluted.

I am a biodiesel user–we own two diesel cars, and whenever we are near a biodiesel station, we fill up. Most people who use biodiesel do so because they really want to save the planet. For me, that’s a secondary reason… Many of the local (Seattle-area) biodiesel brewers use waste vegetable oil, and this really appeals to me: the idea of reusing someone else’s trash just makes sense. So I primarily use biodiesel because it’s a great use for what would otherwise be trash–I so appreciate this! (Not that I don’t care about the environment, but the logistics/reuse side really appeals to me, and I think this is what sets me aside from others…)
Come back tomorrow–I’ll have a great salad recipe!

So, I’m setting a Big, Audacious Goal for myself. A year ago, I woulda thunk this was nothing. But things happen (and I’m not just talkin’ ’bout “hey, I felt like coming home from work and watching Jersey Shore and eating pork rinds for months on end” things…) that we can’t control, and we have to work around those things. In the end, those of us who do something to correct our deviation from the path are better people, no matter how far off-course we’ve gotten. It doesn’t matter where you start, you can always get stronger!

you can do it!

As for me–if you’re just joining the blog today, you probably aren’t aware of the ongoing hip saga. My “thing that happened”. Between a work injury (cartilage tear) and congenital problems (femoroacetabular impingement) I’ve ended up with two hip surgeries over a ten-month period. My last surgery was at the end of February, and I’ve just gotten back on my own two feet over the past week or so.

You can imagine that rehabbing from all of this is going to be a long road, but considering my fitness level going into it all (and between the two surgeries!), I know I’m strong enough to conquer this, physically and mentally. I am still a Pilates and fitness instructor (though considering the lingering pain after this last surgery, I had my moments of doubt that I’d ever get back at it, again!)

I went from “that girl who thought nothing of teaching 4 spin classes in a day” to “ten minutes on the elliptical”. But from here on out, every day is a new day. Each day presents opportunities to get fitter and stronger, assuming that I make the right choices (and believe me, I have the motivation to do so!).

Here’s my new mission: to lose 10 pounds healthfully. Meaning, it won’t happen by the end of this week, or even by the end of the month! But I’m feeling a little… fluffy after the layoffs here and there. The scale’s actually only up 3 pounds since the second surgery, but my clothes are definitely tighter. But–10 weeks of not being able to do any cardio??? (Now I can do it! So pleased!)

My safe’n’sane methods to help shed the grease and tone up:

  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. I’ve been doing that for a while!
  • Limit fatty foods and sugar. I don’t want to eliminate, because life would be no fun!
  • Pilates daily, at least 30 minutes. I am a Pilates evangelist and believe that I wouldn’t be able to move half as easily in my body otherwise.
  • Cardio per my PT protocol at least 6 days per week, and follow my PT strength exercises.
  • Upper body weights in the gym twice a week, with a third round at home.

There… I think I can handle that!

While I’d really love to lose the weight, my main goal is to get strong again and be back doing the activities I love. So–keep on reading and following along… and I’ll tell you how I’m doing!

At the risk of sounding like a weight-loss infomercial…

This was me in 1989:

very large Brooke in high school

Now, there were a bunch of ups and downs that got me here, but this was me, working with a client in early 2010:

thin Brooke with client

This was a story I documented in a guest post on Susan’s blog last year, but why not share it again here?

Growing up, I thought I was destined to be large forever. Almost all of my friends were thin. What I didn’t realize at that age was that they played more outside, while I stayed indoors and watched TV. Food was a reward for me. Even entering double-digit age, I had “baby fat” that I was going to “grow out of” at some point. I had a few close friends, but was largely unpopular at school (except for a few years, when I learned to overcome my shyness).

I was still large in junior high, high school… finally, not too long before my 16th birthday, something clicked. I don’t remember what my trigger was, but I knew I wanted to make a change. My grandmother was constantly being put on weight loss plans for her health, so we became weight loss buddies together. This worked great. Unfortunately in 1990, a 1000-1200 calorie/day diet was deemed “normal”, which set me up for disordered eating later.

At my highest weight, I was pushing 240 pounds (at 5’7″.) At my lowest, I was 120. I struggled to maintain that weight, but really wanted to, because I felt I “should”. I was hungry all the time. When I moved away to college, I had ups and downs with weight in a 15-pound range, which barely showed, but I really beat myself up over any gain. I didn’t spend much time in my apartment, because my eating habits had gotten so disordered and strange that I didn’t want my roommates to know.

And then, my last year of college, I got a place to myself. If you’ve ever been a victim of disordered eating, you know how relieving this is–you don’t have to hide from anyone, anymore. I could eat my 1/2 bagel breakfast, go for a few miles’ run, eat my two apples throughout the day, and come home and eat a baked potato with fat free cheese at 10pm. (Sometimes with black beans–I needed nutrition, after all.)

My body rebelled and put on weight after this in grad school, when I started truly eating again… and I couldn’t take it off. (Screwed up metabolism, anyone?) Again, I thought I was destined to be a large person–either that, or starve to death in order to be thin.

During one of my heavier times, I met my husband (we’ve been together over 12 years!) and he loved me for who I was then, not for being ~50 pounds overweight.

But since then, I started working out smarter. More strength training. More Pilates. Not wimpy weights, either–I work out hard. Building lots of lean tissue. I started actually getting a real metabolism, for the first time in my life!

And when I did so, only about 30 pounds overweight, I decided to start working as a fitness instructor and share my enthusiasm with others who share my struggle. It is such a joyful line of work, especially given my background.

I’ve continued to streamline my body over the years, and I’m at the point where I can eat the occasional treat without it affecting my weight! (I never thought I’d say that. Nor did I think I’d consider fruits or vegetables as treats!)

Just over a year ago, I suffered a setback, and I’m powering through and hoping for the best: I had surgery on my hip to fix an on-the-job injury, and needed a second surgery a few months ago to take care of things that weren’t entirely resolved. Unfortunately no one knows if my hip will make a full recovery. But, all we can do is make the best with what we have, and I have plans even if things don’t work out 100% for my body. I hope I can return to my “groupies” at the gym, one of these days…

So–there’s my story! (Thanks for reading all my blabbing.) I must say, I feel a trazillion more times comfortable in my body than I did as a kid. How has your self-perception of your body changed over the years?

I loved this quote from the January 2011 SELF magazine. I aim to live my life this way, and I hope that you all will, too. It’s overstated, but life is not a dress rehearsal…

Be Fearless
If you make only one resolution this year, let it be to live boldly. You control the moment: Rather than cautiously test the water, dive straight into life with freeing abandon. Imagine the person you want to be and the life you want to live, then simply commit to them. Believe in yourself. Embrace your beauty. Discover a new passion. And whatever you do, wherever you go, don’t be afraid to make a splash.

(in memory of Robert from college who passed shortly before Christmas, and Mark, a regular band sub, who passed last week)

This time, I mean it literally!

Many of us live in locations which will be lightly or heavily blanketed in snow and ice in the coming months. How many times have you stepped outside, only to find yourself slipping and sliding, trying to regain control? It’s these times that we’re grateful for our sense of balance.

Some of our sense of equilibrium is dependent on the health of our inner ear. But whether or not your ears are up to muster, you can still perform a few exercises to strengthen the muscles which help keep you upright in slippery conditions.

1. Two-legged balance: start simply by placing your feet in one line, one right in front of the other, heel to toe. Try not to let one turn in or out with respect to the other–we’re going for one straight line with both feet. This is harder than it looks! To help keep from wobbling, think of engaging either inner or outer thighs (it can be different for different people, so experiment to see which works for you). Your hands can also help you–you can place them on your hips, or out to the side somewhere, whatever helps with balance. For the ultimate challenge, close your eyes–it can be amazing how much the visual sense contributes to balance! When you’ve had enough (2 minutes, 2 years, or whatever feels good), switch so that the other foot is in front.

2. One-legged balance: start with your low back in a neutral position (tailbone neither sticking out behind you nor tucked underneath). Then, lift one foot off of the floor, bending the same knee. You can lift the knee to hip height, if it feels OK. Hold this position, keeping your hips as level as possible, not letting one jut out to the side. Stay strong through your deep abdominals and pelvis. When you’ve held this a few minutes, lower the raised leg, shake out the standing leg, and move on to the same thing on the other side.

2a. For more excitement, from the one-legged balance position, you can make small circles with your raised leg, rotating your thigh bone in the hip socket. Make about 10 slow, controlled circles one direction, then change directions. Some people say this is easier than holding in place – maybe it’s the mental distraction?

Also, if you have access to a gym, many yoga classes include standing balance work, which is a nice addition to the above repertoire.

You’ll ultimately end up with stronger ankles, which is great for sprain prevention at any time of year! Not to mention fantastic muscular calves to show off in the warmer months…

Hey, all! The sun’s been shining here north of Seattle, giving us some glorious cool winter crispness. Hope you’ve been enjoying the weather where you are! I spent Saturday afternoon with a group of fellow singers from the Acappella Joy Chorus caroling at a local mall. We were well-received (and even had our picture taken with a few tourists)!

Here are a few health and nutrition-related posts that I’ve discovered over the past few weeks, that I’d love to share with you!

Caroline from The Broccoli Hut on Protecting Your Bones — listings include both vegetarian and vegan sources of bone-building and –maintaining foods. Studies show that we women may start losing bone density at age 40, so let’s fight back nutritionally as much as we can!

MizFit reframes an injury as a gift, using it as time to reflect, time to visit with others, time to rest her body. And—a way to discover new hobbies!

Monica at SmarterFitter shows how we can apply Seth Godin’s Purple Cow principles as businesspeople in the fitness industry… and these principles apply in any industry!

RhodeyGirl Sabrina does a fabulous video recipe—Stuffed Chicken Breasts. Quick and flavorful dinner!

Try your best to keep you and your health a priority over the holidays! I’ll see you all next week!

Of course you can! A 5K is only 3.1 miles, and that’s a great goal for anyone who’s just getting their feet wet in exercising, or someone who’s been running/walking for a while and wants to test their abilities.

Thanksgiving weekend is just over 5 weeks away, which gives you plenty of time to build up to the big day. The good thing about a goal is having an end-point to work towards. Rather than running or walking the same ho-hum route, day-in, day-out, you’ll want to improve with each outing. Suddenly, working out becomes less routine and more exciting!

How do you prepare yourself for a 5K? There are many training programs online—just let your fingers do the walking. This article at Runner’s World talks about running your first 5K after five weeks of training, and this plan will get you there in the same amount of time. If walking’s your gig, just substitute the word “walk” for “run” in the plan.

If this is your first race, I suggest setting a goal of just finishing and having fun! Especially in a “turkey trot” or “fun run”, most of the participants will be casual runners just like you, and the crowd will be too large to set any land speed records. With any luck, you’ll catch the racing bug, and start looking for more!

5K’s are easy to find through web searches, and the schedule varies, depending on where you live (for instance, they tend to be held year-round here in the temperate Northwest, but you probably won’t find one in July in Arizona). If you’re in the Seattle area during Thanksgiving, check out the Seattle Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning!

Have you run a 5K? (I was 18 and overconfident when I ran my first. Don’t go out too fast!) What would be your advice to someone running their first?

I am in love with Joe.

Perhaps you are, too. It’s all right; I’m willing to share him. He is dark and liquid, and perhaps you take him with cream and sugar. All I know is that he really gets my mornings (and afternoons… and evenings…) jump-started.

And the best thing about Joe – or other caffeine sources – is that studies have shown that as long as you don’t consume it too excessively, caffeine can actually enhance your workout performance! Now, that’s great news! Caffeine decreases our perceived exertion, and it makes higher-intensity work feel easier.

Unfortunately for those of us who are regular users, these effects are not as pronounced if you drink at least 2-3 cups of coffee per day, or a 6-pack of Coke every day. If you drink less frequently, you will reap more stimulatory rewards.

Infrequent consumers will also be at less risk of high blood pressure, jitteriness, sleep deprivation, and the dreaded caffeine withdrawal symptoms. We’ve all had a coworker who decides to quit their coffee cold-turkey, right? (Yikes! Seriously, don’t be that person.) They’re irritable, headachy, tired, grumpy, and often restart their coffee habit in a matter of days.

So there you have it—a vice that is beneficial! Whoda thunk? (I’m even so addicted that I posted a coffee smoothie recipe a few days ago! Ha!)

Do you do the same exercise day-in, day-out? Don’t get cross, cross-train! Doing different forms of exercise is good for the brain and the body.

We get in ruts, right? Get out of bed, put on running clothes, go for morning run. What if you joined a gym at one point and did something different, say, went to a group cycling class? Or lifted weights?

Uh oh. I can smell your fear from this far away! You’re getting uncomfortable. That’s what happens—we get happy with our routines. But sometimes, it serves us well to break away. If you’re a frequent walker, you’re constantly working the muscles in the front-to-back plane of the body. Taking, say, an aerobics class would get your body moving laterally, developing strength in new muscles.

So, participating in a completely different fitness activity is great for your body, because it will strengthen your body in new places. It may also get you thinking in new ways. I find that when I try a new activity, it gets my brain’s creative juices flowing. Besides, it’s just plain fun to do something different!

What’s your favorite way to cross-train?

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