A new year, a new look, and a new life! Stay tuned, updates to come soon!
A new year, a new look, and a new life! Stay tuned, updates to come soon!
I haven’t written a single post in two months! That’s bad. So, Nicolle – here is your reminder to update your blog too!
Okay, so this is actually going to be a quick post, and a request made by my lovely boyfriend! Now, if you know me, you know I love food. In fact, I might love it just a little too much. But, I’ve been working on trying to make healthier versions of foods I love to enjoy. I spent some time (ie, four years) in Louisiana, and my, do they have some tasty – and totally not healthy – food! For example:
Grits! Grits are made of ground corn meal, and are prepared typically like oatmeal (with water), and you can season them with salt or sugar. When I was at LSU, we’d typically go get an omelet made at the Union, and eat it over a big bunch of grits. So good! But so, so bad.
Now, you might be thinking to yourself, “But, Sarah, I thought corn was good for you! So grits must be good for you too!” I’m not going to go around telling you to not eat them, but corn and other starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, etc.) have more sugar in them (hence the starch) and therefore should be eaten moderately instead of liberally. Also, grits are usually made with other not-so-good-for-you foods, such as: cheese, bacon, butter, sausage, etc. Good ol’ Southern cooking! Anyway, the point of my post is not to hate on Southern food, because I just can’t bring myself to do it too much love.
The point is this: I have a more nutritionally sound way to make grits ‘n eggs, and I’m glad to be able to enjoy one of my favorite food memories from LSU once more.
I made this, interestingly enough, without any actual grits. Instead, I mixed a quarter cup steel-cut outs with a tablespoon of chia seeds, and got something that not only is textured like grits, but also actually tastes like them, too! (Now, if only I could figure out how to make them look like grits… haha!) And this is also higher in both protein and fiber than regular, plain ol’ grits – you can get about one quarter of your daily fiber intake from my concoction. Good deal!
Hope you enjoyed today’s installment of Food Eating with Sarah Let me know if you have any comments, questions, suggestions, etc!
Heads up for the next post: tons of pictures and a detailing of what I eat – you might be surprised!
I have been waiting to make this post for a very long time now.
My confession: I love cardio machines.
Any kind of cardio, really. Treadmill, stairmill, elliptical… well, I still haven’t signed onto those funny gazelle machines yet, but if I tried it, I’d probably love it, too. I love the feeling I get when I come off the treadmill after I’ve been on it for a long time – it’s like I’m floating across the ground, light on my feet. It’s some sort of physical “high” for my brain.
Let me tell you something: jumping on a machine and just going for an hour or more really has done nothing for me. It really does nothing for anybody. Steady-state cardio, where you select a setting (or don’t) on the machine and just go until it times out, seems to be the exercise du jour for most ladies who hit up the gym. But you know what? It’s easy. And you burn calories. And burning calories is good. And that’s why they do it – that’s why I did it.
Now, I’m not going to knock this method entirely, because it is a good first step for people who are starting out with an exercise routine – any kind of exercise is better than no exercise. But for people who are looking to get in shape (I’m looking at you, college-age girls), steady-state cardio is not the way to go. Time to quit it.
Listen, I am not asking you to quit exercising, or even quit the cardio machines at all! Cardiovascular exercise is an important part of a well-rounded exercise routine. Instead, I’d like to invite you to try a new method, instead.
Welcome to the wonderful world of INTERVALS!
Yes, this is the same method that’s employed by programs such as Couch To 5K, where you alternate between periods of working harder and working less hard. C25K is designed to get you running longer distances through intervals, and cardio machine intervals are designed to get you burning fat. Now don’t tell me that doesn’t sound good!
An easy interval program looks somewhat like this:
In this example, ‘intensity’ is on a scale 1-10. So, the 8 indicates a 30-second period wherein you push yourself to about 80% of the hardest you can push. The 60-second period is time to ‘rest’, but it’s not so slow where you are no longer working or you stop. You can adjust the time for either working or resting to your own desires.
When I do my intervals, I do them: walking on the treadmill and ramp up the incline and vary the speed, on the elliptical machine and ramp up the resistance and the crossramp (akin to incline) and physically push faster, or on the stairmill and vary the speed. All of these methods make it so I am still working even when I’m resting. And I know I’m working hard because I am sweating (yes, ladies, it’s OKAY to sweat), and my heart rate spikes.
Let me introduce you to my partner in crime, the Polar Heart Rate Monitor. This little contraption is worn as a watch, and is accompanied by a band that goes around your ribs (and if you’re a woman, directly under the breasts, where your bra band would go) and rests over the sternum. It picks up your heart rate and records it in the watch, and is also picked up by any modern cardio machine. This is what I use to determine just how hard I’m working when I do… most anything in the gym, really.
Through experimentation with this, I have figured out that there’s a correlation between the two parts of the Metabolic Effect mantra of “Work until you can’t, rest until you can”, and my heart rate. (Now, this is not going to be the same for everyone, because it depends on your own personal activity level and condition. Because I am in good shape and active, the heart rate where I start to feel my body working hard is probably going to be a bit higher than others.) Polar does a good job of tracking my optimal heart rate “zone”, depending on what kind of exercise I’ve been doing. For general weight lifting, it assumes my heart rate to be between about 135-150 bpm (beats per minute) or so, which is where it tends to be. However, to maximize fat burning during weight lifting and cardio, I want my heart rate between 160-185 bpm. I intentionally spike my heart rate during the ‘work’ interval, and allow it to drop back down in the ‘rest’ period. When it hits 160 bpm again, I know I’m ready for more ‘work’.
So there you go that is the secret to efficient cardio exercise – I suggest y’all give it a try sometime! If you have no experience with intervals, I recommend you start off with a longer ‘rest’ period (60-90 seconds) mixed with shorter ‘work’ periods (30 seconds), and slowly shorten your rest and lengthen your work periods as you become more accustomed to the system. If you’re more advanced and have already tried running/walking intervals, try a different machine, like the stair mill (killer) and vary the intensity of your intervals, or alter the incline on your treadmill in addition to the speed. But whatever you do, do NOT neglect your rest – the high intensity of the work period is not intended to be maintained for long periods of time.
Good luck and happy intervals!
Nicolle asked me to blog, so here I am!
I’ve been through two weeks of school so far, and it’s been a LOT harder to fit in my exercise than I would have guessed – and I know exactly why.
One of my biggest issues – if not, THE biggest – is my sleeping habits. I have a tendency to stay up way too late, and that keeps me in bed far too long in the mornings. Because my schedule is the way it is, most days during the week I am limited as far as when I can work out. So, in order for me to get myself to the gym more, I need to actually wake up – which requires me to go to bed.
Note: just so you know, I began this post at around 10pm. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take to write the whole post, but the fact is that I starting at a time when I should be starting to get myself ready for bed, especially since I need to get up for church in the morning at 7:15.
Adequate sleep is so very necessary on many different levels. It helps stabilize your mood, it can affect your mental clarity, as well as your immune system (which is why you always get sick when you’re pulling all-nighters for finals!), and helps you store fat (especially when you eat a lot late at night).
So why is it, when I know all the benefits of sleep, do I constantly fight with myself to go to bed?
Well, the answer is because I’m stubborn. In all honesty, I am really not a morning person. I have been in this cycle of staying up late at night and sleeping in at least since the beginning of my college career. I want to stay up late, and I want to stay in bed. (I also want to get at least 7.5-8, 9 even, hours of sleep every night.) Also, everyone else is up late, and I miss out on my social life if I head to bed at 10:30 every night. I mean, seriously – I can’t convince my friends to turn in before midnight, haha.
Maybe if I make a public declaration to do better, I will be able to force myself to do so. So here goes…
I, Sarah, do hereby promise to learn to sleep better. I will do so by:
I will also continue to promote my own wellness of sleep by taking my supplements (magnesium glycinate, melatonin, and washing it down with some Sleepytime tea) every day. Honestly, without taking that stuff, I don’t stay asleep for very long, and that also results in my wanting to stay in bed until noon. I have already taken a good step in the right direction, but this next step is crucial…
… But it’s going to have to wait until after the Super Bowl we all know no one is sticking to any of their health resolutions this weekend! Not even me.
I am about to start classes again on Monday – I’m taking two prereq classes for a program that I applied to for graduate school (that I have not been accepted to yet). This means that I am going to be even more busy during the week – I work about fifteen or sixteen hours a week, and will be taking seven credits this semester. Between work, school (classes and homework), and the amount of time I spend driving (approximately 300 miles every four days), I basically have a full-time job, in addition to a social life.
Lucky for me, I function best when I have a loaded schedule.
I have been looking forward to this time for months now, because I truly love school… but I also love exercising. I promised myself I was going to get into a rhythm of working out in the mornings to prepare myself for the schedule change, but that unfortunately didn’t work out (ie, I slept until 10am or later every day).
But what I did do is go five for five on making my way to the gym during the week.
Thanks to my new obsession, Fitocracy, I’ve been tracking my workouts (and getting points for them! For all you nerds out there, you might want to check it out – message me for an invite) and I honestly believe that helps keep me accountable. I look forward to entering the exercises I’ve done, and leveling up when I’ve amassed enough points. I am not much of a gamer, but leveling up is kind of like having a mini-birthday when it’s not even your birthday!
(Seriously, though, you should try it. Yes, you, I’m talking to you.)
So with the help of the tracking program combined with a social network (you can ‘give props’ to other users for their efforts – literally a fist-bump over the Internet), I’ve been able to get in five workouts during the regular week – AND I’m about to go for one more. I’ve been under a lot of work-related stress this week, so being able to bust it out and de-stress at the gym has made all the difference for me not losing it.
The moral of this story? I figure if I can get in six workouts in a calendar week, I can get in three or four – however many I can manage with a busy schedule without working myself to the bone. And THAT’S what I need to be doing to maintain my health and sanity. My goal is to be consistent with my exercise (and eating) throughout the whole semester, and I believe I can do it!
So here’s my challenge for y’all: add in one more workout this upcoming week.
In whatever way you can, do something to improve your fitness! And then if you track it on Fitocracy, you can look back later and say, “Wow, look what I managed to accomplish even with my busy week! I am awesome, and taking control of my health!” Be in control, and keep yourself accountable for your own well-being. No one’s going to do it for you.
… I mean, really old-school.
(This children’s book is coming out in March!)
Let me paint a little picture for you: Once upon a time, our ancestors walked the Earth feeding off the land. They ate the fruits and vegetables they found growing along their paths. They caught and ate fish in the stream, and birds from the air, and anything they could kill and skin. Sounds normal so far, right?
But what our ancestors did not eat are items that are very prevalent in the American diet:
Grains. Dairy. Sugar. Processed foods.
These items weren’t available to our ancestors mostly because agriculture did not begin until, at earliest, 8,000 BCE. That means that Homo sapiens – in all our intelligent, creative, culturally aware glory – ate in the manner I stated above for about 42,000 years prior to the Agricultural Revolution.
This information was originally presented to me when I was studying nutrition at LSU a couple of years ago. We also discussed how perhaps our bodies (and digestive capabilities) are not physically on-par with our eating habits, and that has been detrimental to us and our general health (the development of diseases such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc.)
So what does any of this mean to me?
Early last year (once again, thanks to my boyfriend), I got into Metabolic Effect, where I learned how to eat for fat loss properly. I ate more protein, more vegetables/more fiber, and fewer carbohydrates. I made an effort to cut foods out of my diet, like white rice and pasta, dairy, fast food, and snacks like potato chips. (Of course, I am a human being and sometimes I slip and eat those things anyway, but for the most part, I do not consume those foods.)
Also, one of the reasons why I stopped being a vegetarian is because I had started to work out more regularly, and was interested in acquiring some new and different sources of protein. Ever since then, it’s been pretty easy to feed me – if you ask me what I want for dinner, the answer is usually “Meat”. Sometimes I get a little more specific and say, “Chicken. Oh, and vegetables.” Apparently, this means I “eat like a dinosaur.”
Well, this dinosaur is moving on up!
In 2012, I have decided to take my dino-diet to the next level. I have acquired a few books about eating paleo, including the one pictured above with me and my pajamas. The Paleo Diet for Athletes, by Loren Cordain and Joe Friel, is aimed more at endurance-type athletes (such as runners), so I’m hoping that I will be able to use the information I glean from it to balance my diet for the physical goals I am setting for myself this year (more on this next post – probably Monday.)
I will be talking about this style of eating on and off throughout the life of this blog, most likely in the form of recipes or talking about how to adapt certain eating environments to suit my needs. This is one of those things that I think will be moderately difficult for me, especially as I have less and less time on my plate as I enter grad school. Bonus for you all though: once I learn how to make it easy, I will let you know and you can try it out for yourself!
So here’s to 2012, and learning to really eat like a dinosaur – or, as I guess is more appropriate, like a caveman! As for me, it’s time to go shopping.
Happy New Year, everyone!
As we all know, the beginning of the new year is an important time several things: it’s a new tax season, you have to start writing a new year when you write the date (I’ll be writing 2011 until May, at least), and my personal favorite – the new year means it’s time to buy a new calendar or planner!
I love planning – there is little in this world that brings me such peace of mind as filling up my calendar with every little appointment and session I have scheduled for the coming months. Planning gives me a frame on which I can tether additional, more tenacious activities – including regular exercise. If you ask me, planning is essential to success. No teacher will be able to properly teach a class if they have no lesson plan written. The general will never lead his troops into battle without formulating all the moves he plans to make. So why shouldn’t I also outline my plan of attack to assist in my own success?
So how does this apply to you, dear readers?
Well, we also know that the new year means that it’s time to make your New Year’s Resolutions. You know, those things that you vow at the beginning of each January to fulfill throughout the year – “I resolve to exercise more, eat better, drink less coffee, get more sleep, to spend less money, more time, decrease my debt, increase my awareness.” We make these promises to ourselves year after year, and very few of them last even past the end of the first month. I often wonder why we struggle so much to keep or complete our promises.
If you check out Dictionary.com and look up the word resolution, you’ll find:
As to the first bullet, I think we all understand what a resolution is, because we all practice making them annually. We practically can’t even get out of practicing making them, because they’re such a hot topic of conversation around this time of year! (Seriously, if you can make it through all of January without someone asking you what your resolutions are, you are probably a hermit. Or live in Antarctica.) I think, instead, that the problems we have with keeping our promises to ourselves lie in bullets two and three – we don’t have the right mindset and we don’t have a plan of attack.
Think for a minute about the resolutions you made last year – were you successful? Unsuccessful? … Do you even remember what they were? Chances are, if you were unable to fulfill your resolutions from previous years, it was because you weren’t mentally prepared to do so. You might have resolved to exercise (ugh)- because you’re supposed to. You might have resolved to drink (just a little) less, because you don’t think you should be drinking so much, but it’s so much fun to go out with your friends! Moral of the story is, if you don’t want to succeed at whatever you’re resolving to accomplish, you’re not going to.
Say you picked something you really did want to make a part of your life. Say you resolved to go to the gym every day/lose thirty pounds/get skinny/bulk up. Never mind that you were deciding to go from never exercising to… always exercising. Chances are, you weren’t able to keep up with your promise. This time it’s not because you weren’t ready to do it, it’s because you didn’t know how. You essentially gave yourself the chance to “sink or swim”. I just hope you made it back to shore before you swallowed too much water.
So when you go about making your resolutions for the brand-new year of
2011 2012, here are a few tips to help you out:
Please let me know what your NYR are! I would love to hear what kinds of things y’all want to accomplish this year. I’ll let you know what goals I have once I actually decide what they are.