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A New Sense of Balance

The following is a ramble interlaced with various photos of food I’ve been enjoying recently. Finished off with none other than a beat-yourself-up chest/triceps workout. I do believe I break several of my writing rules in this post. But please, do indulge me ;)

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When I started this blog over one year ago, I was at a loss for a name. I’d been blogging over at Trying For A Tri and didn’t know what I wanted my new blog to encapsulate.

I have Ellie to thank for The Great Balancing Act. She must have seen something in me that I didn’t at the time. Her suggestion of “Balancing Act” struck a chord with me. I’ve always seen my life as this pendulum that swings back and forth. I’m always pushing it one way or another, trying to get it to stick in the center.

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I in no way could have predicted how much my life would eventually reflect the blog name that chronicles it. Exactly seven months ago I wrote a post also named The Great Balancing Act. It was after Christmas, after my birthday. I was on my third job in just two months. I gained weight, was unhappy with my body, struggling and grasping at some sense of normalcy and balance.

Sound familiar?

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Let it be known that I am a million times happier and more content where I am today than when I wrote that post seven months ago. Unfortunately, my current circumstances are eerily familiar. This time, I am in a new city, but still adjusting to a new work and life schedule.

Adjusting. Always. Adapting.

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Trying to find a sense of balance between indulgence and having fun with doing what’s best for my mind and body.

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I am not sure if perfect balance is something that can be achieved. In a balancing act, you are always teetering, ready to stumble to either side. The “balancing act” is more the action of trying to get back to the center again. Even when you realize staying there for long is impossible.

So what does this all mean?

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Let’s face it, I’ve partied hardy since stepping off my mother’s doorstep at the beginning of June. I’ve travelled, hiked, laughed, ATE, drank, disregarded sleep, and have had some of the most memorable months I’ve had in years.

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But at the end of the day, I still feel out of whack. Off balance. I think it’s time to step away from my little pendulum and find a new sense of balance. What worked in the past won’t work anymore. Again, it’s all about adapting, finding new routines. Of course, routines where laughter is still welcome ;)

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In terms of real life, this is what’s going through my head in a handy-dandy bullet-point list:

  • I am hungry all the time. Some of it is real hunger, some of it is emotional.
  • I’m bored with my workouts and don’t look forward to them like I used to.
  • I either sleep way too much or way too little.
  • I have a lot of responsibilities I am ignoring.
  • I’m still 5lbs over my happy weight and am less than happy about it. I wish I could pretend like this isn’t a big deal, but not fitting into jeans from last summer sucksbigtime.

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What am I going to do about it?

  • Take some time away from exercise while coming up with a new workout plan. I hate plans, but maybe it’s what I need right now?
  • Cook more and try out meal planning. I’m not into planning my meals either, but it may be the food structure I need.
  • Get better at keeping a sleeping schedule. Some nights I’m in bed by 10pm, others I’m up till 4am. I need a little more consistency to feel well-rested!
  • Get the to-do lists out of my head and on to paper.

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Anyone else feel like the summer is catching up with them? For the first time in my life, I am looking forward to autumn. I’m ready for the seasons to change.

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As a side note, you can’t get this flavour Luna in Canada. I hear it’s a lot of people’s favourites. It’s good, but no Chocolate Raspberry ;)

 

Now that the food and rambles are in, here is that killer workout I promised. This is chest/triceps workout I designed for an advanced exerciser looking to put on some muscle. I’m contemplating starting a split routine myself…

Warm-up:        
Treadmill 1 mile 10 min 6.0 mph 1.0 incline
Set Type Set # Exercise Weight Reps
Straight 1 Barbell bench press  45 lbs 15
  2   55 lbs 10
  3   65 lbs 6
  4   45 lbs 15
Straight 1 Incline chest fly  10 lbs 15
  2   15 lbs 10
  3   20 lbs 6
  4   10 lbs 15

 

Treadmill: Time Speed (mph)
1.0 incline :00-:30 6.0
  :30-1:00 7.0
  1:00-1:30 8.0
  1:30-2:00 6.0
  2:00-2:30 7.0
  2:30-3:00 8.0
  3:00-3:30 6.0
  3:30-4:00 7.0
  4:00-4:30 8.0
  4:30-5:00 6.0

 

Set Type Sets Exercise Reps
Alternating 2 Push-up  20
  2 Narrow-grip push-up 10

**Followed by 5 minutes on the treadmill – same interval routine as shown above.

Set Type Sets Exercise Weight Reps
Alternating 2 Bench dip n/a 12
  2 Skull crusher  20-30 lbs 12

 

Total time = 60 minutes on the nose. Hey, I never said my programs were easy!

 

Thank you for indulging me this evening. I had to get that off my chest (pun only slightly intended).

I may actually workout tomorrow. But if I do, it will be so I can watch the Food Network on the treadmill ;)

 

Question of the Day: How would you rate your current state of balance? How do you get centred when you feel out of whack? I thrive on down-time. I get so worked up about experiencing everything I can, that I sometimes forget I need to experience peace and quiet too :)

Odds, Bits, Ends and Bites

Ohwow, there is some good venting happening over on my last post. So happy I opened up the floor to let you guys get some of your marketing pet peeves off your chest! Elizabeth mentioned food companies telling women they can “indulge” without the “guilt.” Ohyes, that makes my blood boil! We should never-ever feel guilty about the food we eat. We eat it, and move on!

Speaking of which, I’m moving on ;) Har har.

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I “slept in” this morning because I had plans on going to spin class after work.

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But I still had to work hard this morning at clearing out the four kinds of hot cereal in my cupboard.

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Today’s poison was cream of wheat cooked with 1/2 cup egg whites and topped with PB&J. That’s only 1/3 cup of the dry stuff. It cooks up HUGE. Me likey.

Then I put my new $20 outfit on! I hate getting dressed in the morning, but today it was fun :) I wore pink!!

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Having spent most of my working life in coffee shops, I’ve always complained about not being able to dress up for work. Well now I have to, and I can’t stand it! Sometimes I manage to sneak yoga pants in, or today’s comfy/casual new shirt :)

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Dressed it up with the new $2.99 necklace. All my necklaces are big and chunky, needed something a little more simple and classic. The pants are a little big around the hips, but hey, they were $12 ;)

Today I attempted to do the impossible – exercise after work. People are always so impressed that I get up at 5am to workout. But honestly, I am more impressed by people who can put in a full work day then drag themselves to the gym. All before dinner!! For me, with each minute that passes, there is another reason for me not to work out. So jumping out of bed and doing it first thing gives me absolutely no opportunity to put it off.

I was worried about this. I knew my chance of success was low. As per usual, I shared my concerns on Twitter.

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This worked pretty well. I didn’t want to have to tell them tomorrow that I didn’t go.

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This is usually a pretty good technique for me. I feel like I need to follow through with a workout after that sugary snack.

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I raced home to let the dog out and got into my spin outfit asap. Once I’m in my workout clothes, the chances of me getting there are pretty high. Especially when I’m wearing cycling shorts, as the padding is really awkward to hang out in.

And I made it!! Albeit, my glutes are furious with me right now, but they’ll just have to deal ;) It was a regular spin class, not one of the Les Mills RPM ones, so it was nice to change it up that way. Lots of sitting sprints to some decent music.

Of course, I was ravenous when I walked in the door. Don’t ask me why, but in my hungry state I thought it would be a good idea to cook every vegetable in my fridge.

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The left side is roasted broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potato and brussels sprouts in garam masala spice.

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The right side is sauteed onions, mushrooms, zucchini and tofu in butter, garlic, salt and pepper. Topped with a healthy dose of parmesan cheese.

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So. Many. Vegetables. I will have leftovers for days :)

Finally, after many taste tests, I’ve decided to share the recipe for my newest homemade protein bar.

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Homemade Apple Oatbran Protein Bars

  • 2 cups oatbran (I like Quaker best)
  • 1 cup unflavoured soy protein powder
  • 4 packets stevia
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • 2 packaged cups of applesauce (I think they’re 1/3 cup each)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Mix all the ingredients, minus the water, together. Add water only as needed (it takes a while for the protein powder to dissolve, so mix it for a while first). Flatten in a 9×9 pan and bake at 350F for 15 minutes.

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The texture of these bars is just what I’ve been going for! Dense and crumbly. I thank the soy protein powder for that. However, they’re still a touch on the bland side. Likely because the protein powder is unflavoured and oatbran is well, bland. But definitely a step in the right direction!

Now if you don’t mind, I have to do my taxes. I have put them off to the last possible minute. Whoops.

 

Question of the Day: When do you work out? When would you prefer to work out? My energy is highest mid-morning after a hearty breakfast and mug of coffee. Even when I’m not working out – it’s when I’m most productive.

The Non-Training Training Program

Thank you sososo much for all the congratulatory comments on my last post! Y’all are too sweet :) Passing my personal trainer theory exam definitely feels like a small victory in this long journey I’m on. Also feels like an affirmation I’m on the right path!

Speaking of paths (segue alert!), I hit the trail this morning. I’ve essentially had the same gym routine since January, and I’m desperate to change it up! Even though it was supposed to be cold and rainy this morning, I couldn’t bring myself to slog out a run on the treadmill, so I took it outside anyways.

I would like to say it was freeing and glorious, but Susan-land is not la-la-land. It may not have been dark at 6:30 am, but it was cold. 4 degrees celsius, which Google tells me is 39.2 F. I have a high-quality shirt and jacket for cold weather, but just cheap cotton leggings for my legs. No good. As Caitlin would say, my thighs felt like frozen chicken thighs. When I took my leggings off, they were bright red from the cold!

Ended up running 4 tough miles. It felt like I was running through cement at times as my legs are still sore from my last weight workout. But I did it. It was fun-ish. And it gave me something different to say when my coworkers asked me what I did at the gym this morning ;)

No time for a fancy breakfast.

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That’s my excuse anyways, but we all know I just wanted waffles again ;) Nature’s Path Pomegranate with peanut butter and blueberry jam.

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Was going to put protein powder goo on top until I remembered I have an excess of egg whites in the fridge. The best protein comes from real food :)

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An egg white pillow with some laughing cow cheese sandwiched in the middle.

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Got my carbs, fat, protein and sugary goodness. The perfect breakfast :)

Lunch was l-l-leftovers!

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What was left of the “wonky Mexican hash” with melted cheese on top.

Then after work today, I went to the campus gym with two co-workers to show them around the weight area. Both are getting married this summer and want to look good in their wedding dresses! Both have been going to the gym for a while, but felt a little lost. It was so fun to see how excited they got over the new moves! One of the girls was so cute. She asked me what to do to get rid of belly pudge, I told her it was diet-related, and her face immediately dropped. Ahhhh… This is something I’m going to have to get used to I think…

Took the dog on his second walk of the day (I can’t say no to him!) then came in for a late supper.

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A tofu faux alfredo

  • Block extra-firm tofu
  • 1 small spaghetti squash
  • 1/4 bag frozen broccoli
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 pint mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

I cooked the squash in the microwave, then added it to the pan with everything else. For the sauce I mixed up 4 laughing cow cheese wedges with soy milk until it was at a consistency I liked, then added a dash of pepper, nutmeg and parmesan cheese.

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Ever notice I eat a lot of things out of bowls? I find bowls comforting for some reason. Plus, they’re better for portion control. I can pile a lot more on a plate than I can in one of these bowls.

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Fun fact: I didn’t eat any meat today! I bet that happens more often than I notice. I was a veggie for 8 years after all!

 

The Non-Training Training Program

I’ve spoken a lot about training programs and how I like to sort of fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to working out. But, one thing I have learned, is that it is sometimes beneficial to look at the larger picture when choosing workouts.

During the program design section of my personal training course, we learned about periodization and the three different training cycles:

  • Macrocycle: A period lasting several months to a year
  • Mesocycle: A period lasting several weeks/a few months
  • Microcycle: A period lasting around a week.

If you’re not training for a big race, you are probably wondering why the hell you have to care about periodization and training cycles.

Well that’s why I’m here, duh!

Even if you’re not training for something in particular, it is still beneficial to follow training cycles if you want to see an improvement in general fitness. It doesn’t have to be grand. Hell, most people would just like to be able to carry their groceries indoors with greater ease.

The cycle typically starts with low intensity workouts and increases into higher intensity workouts.Eventually, you reach a peak intensity, where you are at your best performance. After reaching this peak, you recover. This is a REST PERIOD of a few days. After this rest period, you slowly begin the cycle over again with the lower-intensity workouts. Each "peak" stage will be a little higher, meaning you are getting more fit, yay!

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This is my fancy graph. I made it all by myself :)

This is where a little something called "progressive overload" comes in. This is one of the key training principles, and just one of many which I’ll be sure to talk about over the next little bit.

Progressive overload is just that – you progressively add to your workouts, be it time, speed, intensity, load, etc, to see improvement. If you go to the gym and do the same 30 minute elliptical workout every freakin’ day, then it is going to be hard to improve upon that. You need to challenge yourself to get better. And with each challenge, the same amount of work will feel easier!

It’s fun to say we just show up at the gym and do what we want. But in reality, a little more forethought should go into it.

  • Don’t progress too quickly (the 10% mileage rule for running for example)
  • Always err on the side of caution and rest when you need it.
  • Decide what you want to improve on, and work on challenging it
  • When you feel you’ve reached a “peak,” rest. Recover. Then start all over again.

For me, I take a few days off every 3-4 months. Usually to coincide with life events or just when my body says "whoa." I also tend to train with the seasons. I’ve probably already peaked in terms of strength training for this year, but I’ll be working towards a running peak early in the fall.

It’s also worth noting that you can’t just keep getting better and better without taking that rest period. Fitness doesn’t grow exponentially. But rather grows in little bumps!

 

And with that, I’m off! To make protein cookies :) Tomorrow is Flashback Friday. Trying to stir up a good one, see ya then!

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