Monthly Archives: November 2009

Hooked on Endorphins

Hi friends!! Are we all looking forward to the weekend? You know my feelings on weekends. But this is my last week doing a full weekend of 5am shifts. I switched days off with a co-worker, so I have next Sunday off. So now next Saturday (Dec 5) is my last day at the radio station!

On the other job front, I know I yammered away about not being able to exercise in my last post, but I do fully expect to take extra rest days now that I’ll be working on my feet 40 hours a week. Exercise, to me, isn’t fully about being fit and staying thin though. In perfect honesty, it’s my love. It’s always my favourite part of the day, and the thing I look forward to most. I’m a total endorphin junkie. The thought of not being able to exercise makes me very sad. I also plan on paying special attention to my body, as I expect my appetite will increase with a more active job.

However, I got a reeeeally good endorphin fix this morning in spin class. Man! It was good! I slept awful last night, maybe five hours? I blame it on the coffee tasting I did at Starbucks (Christmas Blend is pretty good this year).

Anyways, I told myself that if I felt like crap when my alarm went off, I’d just skip the class and go back to sleep. Sleep trumps everything for me, even exercise. But come 5:30 I was ready to go! I hopped out of bed and proceeded to push probably the hardest I ever have in spin class. It wasn’t on purpose, I was just really feeling the resistance today. My legs are especially sore right now, and I feel good knowing I got out of my comfort zone :)

I refuelled with a PB&J oatmeal sandwich bowl when I came home.

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  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla whey powder
  • cinnamon
  • peanut butter
  • blackberry jam

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Action shot of the “sandwiching.” I let these oats simmer on the stove for about 20 minutes while I primped this morning. Oh gosh. They were so mushy and creamy. I like my oats over-cooked, and these were perfection!

[insert work here]

And then I came home and made supper! An old favourite: bowl o’ protein.
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  • curry powder, ground cumin, chili powder
  • 1/2 block firm tofu, crumbled
  • red pepper
  • zucchini
  • mushrooms
  • red onion
  • tomato
  • spinach
  • jalapeño
  • salsa
  • laughing cow cheese
  • scrambled egg
  • pepper

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Basically, I just scrambled this in a pan, but I did the egg separately, otherwise it gets lost in the mess. Yum!! I love eating food from a bowl :) It’s a comfort thing.

 

Okay, so I know there’s been a lot of weight lifting talk lately, but I just have to share some of this info! I get a Men’s Health newsletter everyday that is actually quite informative most days (Men’s Health is one of my favourite fitness mags). Today was no different! They shared 7 Muscle-Building Mistakes to Avoid. Here are the highlights:

Skipping Basics

Plenty of lifters believe that doing isolation exercises like chest flies and leg extensions is the only way to make their muscles grow. But basic moves such as bench presses and squats force several muscle groups to work together, imposing more stress on your body for bigger gains.

“Your body reacts to all that stress by having the anterior pituitary gland issue more growth hormone to compensate for the extra effort,” says Allen Hedrick, C.S.C.S., head strength-and-conditioning coach at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Of course you need variation, but don’t abandon basic moves in favor of intermediate isolation exercises.

Fix it: Write down the exercises in your routine to see what percentage of them are compound moves. “If it’s not in the range of at least 40 to 50 percent, then you’re doing too many isolation exercises,” says Bell.

Starvation

You need to eat after your workout. Right after a session, your body is hustling to convert glucose into glycogen so your muscles can repair themselves and grow. “If you don’t eat after exercise, your body breaks down muscle into amino acids to convert into glucose,” says John Ivy, Ph.D., chairman of kinesiology at the University of Texas.

Fix it: After you work out, eat a high-carbohydrate meal—and don’t forget the protein. A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that a four-to-one carbohydrate-to-protein ratio can provide 128 percent greater muscle-glycogen storage than a high-carbohydrate drink alone. (They used Endurox R Recovery Drink in the study.) For even greater results, have a sports drink before and during exercise.

 

First, I love the tip about doing 50 percent compound moves. Second, I like the 4:1 carb-protein ratio for post-workout meals. I’ve heard this before, but am still constantly berated with advice to suck back the protein after. Good stuff! Although, I have opposing thoughts about the sports drink while weight lifting, but my goals are different. You can see the rest of the list here.

Alrighty folks, time to wrap up my traditional early Friday night post. These are soon going to be a thing of the past once I’m done at the reporting job. Maybe I’ll start going out on Friday nights like a regular person! :P

Question of the Day: What do you think are some common exercise mistakes? One that immediately comes to mind is people who stretch before a workout. Most research shows that stretching cold muscles can do more harm than good, and that if you must-stretch it should be after your warm-up when you’re more flexible. Personally, I just like doing really long warm-ups.

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New Job, New Obstacles

Okay, am I the only non-American who’s been oddly craving turkey and stuffing all day? :P Well, holiday or not, I hope everyone had a fabulous Thursday :D

Mine started off a little too early for my liking, so I went for a little comfort in a big bowl of oat bran.

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With almond butter and marshmallow fluff. Mature, yet immature all at the same time ;)

I triple-checked the gym schedule and made it to the right BodyPump class this week (after going to the wrong gym last week). I was really looking forward to it for a nice change in my routine.

But I have to say, this was my third BodyPump class, and I’m still not entirely sure if I like it! I want to like it. But I just don’t like doing the same moves for 3-4 minutes at a time. According to the Les Mills website a typical class is broken down to target one area for each song played. 

  • Warmup – a mix of all the moves using light weight
  • Legs/Squats – barbell squats
  • Chest – barbell presses laying on a step
  • Back – deadlifts, rows, clean&press
  • Triceps – skull crushers, tricep extension
  • Biceps – curls
  • Lunges – couple varieties, today we did it off a step
  • Shoulders – various rotations with small plates and barbell presses
  • Abdominals – crunches
  • Cooldown – typical stretches

So each bullet point is the length of one song, and we only do the moves listed for the duration of the song. That’s right, I did bicep curls for 4 minutes straight. Choosing weight is really difficult too. I choose light weights so I can maintain the movement for such a long period. But it means the first couple minutes are always too easy, then all of a sudden it gets really hard and I can’t finish. I dunno, it’s just a set-up that isn’t for me.

Our instructor also said the typical calorie burn for the 60 minute class is 460 and I burned 220. I was hurtin’ too. Maybe if I was stronger and could push higher weights I would get a better burn. OR she’s full of BS :P

Aaaanyways, I did 18 minutes of HIIT on the elliptical after and called it a day. I will at least say my muscles got a good workout and will be appropriately sore tomorrow :)

Came home and got some protein in me asap. Starting with some protein juice, aka PVL peach flavoured whey cooler.

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And by “asap” I mean I started drinking it before I even took the picture :P It’d been a long time since breakfast!

Accompanied by a bagel with Yves cajun chicken slices, tomato and swiss cheese.

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NOM. Everything becomes instantly better the second you melt cheese on top.

I used up the last of my leftover roast chicken for dinner (*sob*) and opted for something other than a sandwich.

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Chicken omelette! I used one whole egg and a whack of egg whites, and a delicious filling of chicken, spinach and laughing cow cheese. I dusted the top with paprika, so it’s not as burnt as looks ;)

Then it was off to Starbucks for my first training shift!! This is the third time I’ve done the training in five years. Ugh! It’s because this is the first time I’ve ever worked for a corporate Starbucks, the other ones were licensed concepts.

 

Now, I’m not going to lie here, I’m a little apprehensive about how being back at Starbucks will change my current lifestyle. Let me explain.

The last time I worked at Starbucks was Summer 2008. I was 30 lbs heavier. I would go into work and drink a giant latte and have a cinnamon roll for breakfast. Then the guys from New York fries would come over and bring us free poutines for lunch (in exchange for free frappuccinos, of course). A snack would usually consist of my own frappuccino or another latte, and then nibbles of whatever brownie or cookie we were sampling that afternoon.

Oh, and we’re allowed to bring the old pastries home at night. So I would come home to a freezer full of frozen muffins and scones that I’d been bringing home from work.

Obviously, that last stint at Starbucks was a little over-the-top, even for “Old Susan.” It’s what brought me to my all-time highest weight. I know there’s no way I’ll ever eat like that again. I’ve learned sooooo much about nutrition since then. I don’t think I ever want to put a cinnamon roll in my body for breakfast again, (hello! fat? protein? fibre?).

There’s also the fact that I’m going from a job where I spend 30% of the day on my feet, to a job where I spend 100% of the day on my feet. I remember what’s it’s like to work on your feet all day, it sucks. Your feet hurt, your back hurt, and you go home at the end of the day just exhausted. I have concerns that I may have trouble keeping up my current level of exercise when I’m running around a cafe all day.

With that said, I’m determined to make it work. Black coffee and tea are my new best friends :) I will bring in a slew of healthy snacks with me, so I can grab my own bag of homemade trail mix instead of snacking on the Starbucks packaged variety.

I’m going to work really hard at working out before my shifts, when I still have energy. I have a feeling I won’t be up for running on the treadmill after eight hours of churning out lattes at the mall on a Saturday afternoon. But maybe a stellar sweat sesh before my shift will give me the energy and stamina I need to get through it.

Finally, I need new work clothes! I looked like I was swimming in my old black pants and collared shirt tonight. I felt like a bum :P

 

Oh, and I just gobbled up this delicious snack:

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Kashi peanut peanut butter bar with an extra slathering of PB on top. Take that tempting Starbucks peanut butter bar, this was delicious ;)

 

Question of the day: How do you stay healthy with you current job? Working as a reporter wasn’t easy either. Since I didn’t spend much time in the office, I always made sure I had a bag of healthy goodies on my person that I could dig into while running around. A lot of meals were eaten in the car, and snacks shoved down while rushing from one assignment to the next. My weekend shifts really tuckered me out for exercise. It’s hard to find the motivation to work out after an 8-hour day that started at 4:30 am. But we’ve got to find a way to make it work! :)

Speaking of which, I’m getting up for a 6am spin class before my reporting shift tomorrow. My bed is beckoning, lator gators!

On Fi-yah

Hello friends! Apparently a lot of you want me to make banana softserve and homemade larabars in my new food processor! I couldn’t agree more :) But first things first you guys, I’ve got to get my hummus on ;)

Well, I started today off like I start every Wednesday – Waffle Wednesday!!

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You know the drill…

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 1 tbsp ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • cinnamon

All blended up, with 1/3 cup frozen blueberries added, then into the Belgian waffle maker.

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Yummmm. I ate these with my hands :)

I decided to skip my usual morning snack and see if I could hold it out till lunch. Sometimes I feel like I have a snack just for the sake of having it, when I don’t really need it. Well, I made it to lunch, without eating my arm off. But I was quite hungry, and my lunch was too small.

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Tofu + tofu spread pita. Usually I have a side of veggies or fruit to go with my pitas, but I thought this would be enough. Skipping snacks, then going for lighter meals apparently doesn’t work (HUGE duh!!)

Ninety minutes later I broke and had a snack.

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Taste of Nature Argentina peanut plains bar. This is one of my new bar finds – and it’s Canadian!

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Ingredients are about as simple as you get: “peanuts, agave nectar, brown rice syrup.”

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I had high hopes for this bar. I mean, how is sugar and peanuts not good? But it was crunchy (not chewy) and almost like a brittle. Very plain tasting, needed some salt. Honestly, I think I’d just rather a handful of peanuts.

So lesson of the day is: I sometimes still suck at intuitive eating. But I didn’t die without a snack this morning. I made up for it by snacking all afternoon though because I was never satisfied from lunch. I guess, if my diet ain’t broke, why am I trying to fix it? :P

Then the highlight of my day came: I got to see the Olympic torch!!!!

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How cool is that!?!? Canada is hosting the Winter Olympics, so they’re bringing the torch through all the small cities as part of its international run. Chris and I caught the start of the run. It was so neat to see. This HUGE entourage of decked out vans (including one with dancers) pulled up. The first torchbearer waited nervously until they lit the torch and brought it out. Then she was off! They did a little tour around the city and had a big ceremony tonight that I purposely avoided (eeek, crowds).

After the brief excitement, Chris and I went across the street to Boston Pizza for some grub.

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Boston Pizza is definitely one of those scary chains that people warn you about. Hard to order healthy here, and the food isn’t that great to begin with.

Chris pulled a Garfield.

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I got the lemon baked salmon.

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BLECH. Ugh, I try not to be a food snob, but this salmon was majorly sub-par. Waaaay overcooked. You can tell it was just a frozen hunk that was thrown in the oven. The saving grace of this meal was the balsamic vinaigrette with sundried tomatoes on the side. So not worth my money.

But it didn’t matter, cause afterwards we went to go see New Moon and that was definitely worth my money! I liked it much better than the first. The acting was better, and well, I’m a Jacob fan. Edward just isn’t my type ;)

 

Python business… 

Lara mentioned that maybe I should talk about what workouts I’ve been doing to get my little muscle bumps on my arms. Honestly, I haven’t been doing much! I dedicate two workouts a week to weightlifting. One of those is full-body the other is upper-body + abs. My legs get so much work in with running, spinning and step class, that I really can’t do weighted squats and lunges more than once a week. Not just for the sake of my muscles, but my hips are really sensitive to it too.

Works out fine for me because upper body has been my focus lately! Back in my triathlon days I didn’t have much time for weight training on top of my six cardio workouts a week. But my shoulders started to look awesome with all the swimming I was doing! I actually haven’t swum since the triathlon itself, and when I didn’t pick up the weight training again right away (running and biking in the summer is just too much fun!) my newly sculpted shoulders started to disappear.

So. What exactly have I been doing? First off, I lift heavy. I usually do 2-4 sets of 8-12 reps at really challenging weights. Basically, I want my last rep to feel like I can’t push out any more. I know my weights are too low if my muscles don’t feel tired by the end, and too high if I can’t squeeze out more than two reps. I’m not entirely against low weights at high reps, as it’s good for increasing strength and endurance. But for straight up muscle building, I like the idea of heavy weights. A mix of the two is perfect!

I also really like to do alternating sets working two different muscles at a time. This allows for shorter rest times in between sets, and a better heart-pumping workout :) When I do my full-body work, I’ll alternate a lower-body and upper-body move for three sets, then move on to to another upper/lower combo. OR, I just do straight sets of compound moves that work both upper and lower at the same time. Squatting with a front grip on a barbell then pressing it over my head as I come up (front squat push press) is a perfect example of that.

I approach my upper body only days the same way. Except, I try to work opposite muscles in my alternating sets. It’s really easy to fatigue quickly when you’re working the same muscle in two consecutive sets. I also try to alternate pushing motions and pulling motions. A perfect example would be alternating sets of chest presses and lat pulldowns. Both work opposite muscles using opposite motions.

Of course, you don’t have to do two alternating sets. You can also do circuits of 3+ moves in a row repeatedly until, well, you’re blue in the face. But for the sake of not hogging all the equipment, I stick to two at a time.

If you’re not into the alternating thing, pyramid sets and drop sets are another great way to challenge your muscles which I addressed in this post.

And if you’re a complete newb and don’t know many lifting moves this page should keep you busy :) It’s all about getting in the weight room and trying things out! I’m a nerd, and I bring in notes and diagrams of any new exercises I want to try when I’m in there. Sometimes I get funny looks from people, but I’m never scared to ask for help if I need it :) Although, I gave a man a dirty look once for trying to help me adjust a bench. I don’t know why, but I do not appreciate chivalry in the weight room.

Aaaaand I’m off! Night night! :)

 

Question of the Day: What’s your least favourite restaurant chain? I really dislike Tim Hortons. They’re coffee tastes like grass water and their muffins are innocent looking cake bombs.