Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yoga is magic

I've been leery of exercise recently.  I think I slept on my neck funny last week, which is still causing residual back/shoulder problems, and the bottom of my right foot sort of hurts whenever I walk on it for too long.  I'm definitely giving up high impact anything for awhile.  I haven't been working out nearly as much as I've wanted to, which is a disappointment.
Not disappointing, on the other hand, is yoga.  It. Has. Been. AMAZING.  I don't know what's different about this week from last, but the two classes I've gone to (one vinyasa bordering on Bikram, and one Ashtanga) were both pretty challenging, but also just felt completely enlightening and empowering on both a mental and physical level.  Maybe it's the vegan + yoga combo, maybe it's just where I am in life right now, but whatever it is, it's working.

Breaking up vegan

No, I'm not giving up on my veganism experiment already.  I'm talking about going through a breakup while vegan, which is not something I expected to have to do, but it's happening.
And maybe those of you who have never emotionally eaten are wondering what the big deal is, but I'm not going to lie - I've actually fantasized about all the foods I'd allow myself to eat in a fit of breakup induced self indulgence.  High on the list were brie, and anything from the Cheesecake Factory.  Things that are obviously now strictly off limits.
I thought about giving myself a pass and doing those things anyway, but then I thought about the message that would be sending myself.  That just because I was going through a tough time emotionally, it was okay to neglect myself physically?  That didn't seem right.  Nor did it seem right to renege on a goal due to some minor (or major? I think I'm still in denial) emotional distress.
So far, I've held out.  My biggest indulgences have been these amazing dark chocolate and salt covered almonds from Trader Joe's, and some avocado chocolate mousse.  Neither of which are great in the quantities in which I've been consuming them, but nor are they a 2000 calorie slice of cheesecake.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Where I'm coming from, part 2: Exercise

It's still weird that I'm (trying to) write a fitness blog.  Because 10 years ago, I was the skinniest couch potato you'd ever met.
As a kid, I was never into exercising.  I hated gym class.  During the summers, my mom would beg me to go outside and play, but I much preferred to stay in my room and read a book.  I had dreams of physical grandeur - every time I watched the olympics, I'd really want to be a gymnast or an ice skater; I briefly took classes in both to pretty much zero success.
In high school, we were required to play two seasons of sports.  I took up field hockey and lacrosse because I figured sports where you wore a skirt couldn't be that intense.  I spent four long years huffing and puffing and riding the JV bench.  It was moderately humiliating.
In college, I for some reason chose to play lacrosse (mostly the thrill of saying I was playing college lacrosse).  I went to a D3 school which was not known for its athleticism, so the fact that I'd held a lacrosse stick before was enough to get me on the team.  It was two more years of humiliating bench sitting for me.
Then, junior year of college, everything changed.  I was studying abroad in England, and decided to give rowing a try.  For some inexplicable reason, I was good at it, and I loved it.  I rowed for the first boat for my college (this is too confusing to really explain, so it basically means I rowed at a level between intramural and intercollegiate).  I wasn't the best on the team, but for the first time in my life, I wasn't the worst.
This changed when I tried to row back in the states; I sucked.  A lot, but I was up against girls who were 6' and weight 200lbs.  And as it was my senior year, I preferred staying out drinking to getting up at 4am for practice, so I ended up quitting the team after 2 months.  I dabbled in working out, but never seriously.
This trend continued after graduation; there was a gym in my apartment and  yoga and pilates classes at work, so I exercised, but never very seriously.  A year after graduation I got sent on an extended business trip for work, which wouldn't have stopped anything as there was a gym in the hotel, but I also started a new relationship, which meant the gym fell completely off my priority list.
Then, a year ago, I started having anxiety attacks, except I didn't know it at the time.  For me, this meant getting panicky and having chest pains and being terrified that I was going to have a heart attack, even though this was extremely unlikely, as I was 23 with no history of health problems.  I went to the doctor twice about the chest pains, had two EKGs come back fine, and after the second visit, the doctor looked at me and said "Exercise."  "But I don't have time."  "Make time."
So I  started making time.  It was almost magical how much exercise helped.  I was happier, more relaxed, my chest pains stopped.  But when I say 'more relaxed', this pretty much means I spent 70% of my day worrying about stuff instead of 90%.  I wanted more. 
Last September, I finally bit the bullet and joined a gym, and I don't think it's exaggerating too much to say it changed my life.  I started doing yoga and pilates on a regular basis in addition to cardio, and just those things have made a noticeable difference in my body, and have changed my attitude as well.  I've gotten up the nerve to try more challenging exercise classes, and even feel like one of these days I could really get into running.  Exercise no longer feels like punishment or a chore; it's something I actively seek to make a part of my every day life, which some days feels nothing short of miraculous.

Recap of the week

I've finally sort of survived a whole week of veganism.

The good:
made amazing vegan chickpea spinach curry thing
worked out every day
got 7+ hours of sleep a night
lifted weights twice
have gone to yoga 3 times, going again tonight

The bad:
nuts have a lot of calories
so does avocado

The ugly:
I did something hideous to my neck/shoulders.  I'm not sure if I slept on them funny Wednesday night or if it's delayed onset soreness from weights (I've been doing chest/arms/back), but I woke up Thursday morning and could barely move my head.  This almost scared me off going to morning yoga, but I went as I didn't think I could get back to sleep.  The yoga helped a lot, eleven hours at work did not.  I was hoping to wake up this morning and magically be better, but this has not happened.  More yoga this afternoon and tomorrow morning; I think I'm scheduling a massage for Sunday evening.  This could also just be karma for spending a lot of time making fun of my friend who just ran a marathon for the way she's hobbling around the office.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Veganism, day 4ish

So far the only of my goals I have stuck to is the sleep thing.  It has been good.
Veganism has sucked.  There's an article in Glamour this month about veganism being this new Hollywood super diet thing, Ellen lost 20 pounds, blah blah blah.  Veganism is not a diet for me.  Veganism is going to lead to me getting fat on shit I would never otherwise eat.  Juice? Check.  Nuts? Check.  Dried fruit?  Check.
My struggles with veganism are several.  I will list them for you.

  1. Salads take for-fucking-ever to eat.  Sometimes I just want to eat a grilled cheese sandwich in like, three bites and then have my hunger be satisfied.  But with salad as an entree, it's like 20 minutes later, you still have a giant pile of food in front of you that still contains like 10 calories and you're like, holy crap, how am I still eating? Isn't this over yet?
  2. Speaking of satisfaction, I do not get full eating vegan.  I just get different degrees of 'less hungry.'
  3. Thus far, vegan baking blows.
So why am I continuing?  Mostly because of that thing they said in Michael Cera vs some hotter Pilgrim vs. the World about the point of veganism being making you feel morally superior to other people.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Back at it, kind of

So today marks day two of normalish food/exercise routine.  Did my usual Saturday pilates, then went on a three hour hike.  Followed this up with a regrettable trip to a terrible vegan fast food restaurant.  I keep trying these places that do "normal" food that is vegan, but I find vegetables much better when they're trying to be vegetables, not a cheeseburger.

Starting over, yet again

So I've been negligent, both of this blog and my fitness/nutrition routine.  Work happened.  A visit from my parents.  A living situation meltdown.  A vacation to get away from it all that included poutine.  But now I'm back.  And ready to focus again.

I'm going vegan for Lent, but in addition to that, here's what I'm going to try and do:
  • seven hours of sleep a night.  No exceptions.  This trumps any sort of workout plans.
  • yoga once a day on the days I like the classes (which is everyday but Saturday)
  • 30 minutes of cardio per day
  • strength training at least one day per week
  • doing raw vegan on Fridays
  • minimal refined sugar and artificial sweeteners (sayonara, soda)
  • less than seven drinks per week (one/day average)
Does this sound like the complete opposite of everything I'm supposed to stand for?  Yes, but the food part is only til Easter, and I think it will be a healthy challenge for me to learn how to cook delicious things that don't involve butter or chz.