Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fitness, Fitocracy, and how to publically embarrass yourself

In my cop-out New Year's Resolutions post, I mentioned how I want to get in shape so I can run the Tough Mudder. Last weekend I decided to make myself accountable by posting awkward bikini pictures on the interwebs.

Let me explain. Reddit has an annual Body Transformation Fitness Challenge where readers submit pictures of themselves, and 12 weeks later, re-submit pictures of themselves. Whoever has changed the most (they have men's and women's categories) wins. You can win a bunch of stuff, but I'm mostly doing it so that I have something tangible to work towards.

Here's one of my "before" pictures (you have to submit 4 pics total). I made it small so you can scroll past it if you want.

Yeah, I'm attempting to flex. I have no idea what I am doing. Perhaps the most awkward thing about these pictures is that you have to show your midsection. One option is to pose in your bra and underwear, but that somehow seemed more scandalous than a bikini... So bikini it is!

Problem is, that I didn't have a bikini. I'm normally terribly self-conscious about my belly, and as a recovering pregnant women, I'm especially self-conscious. So not only did I have to pose in a bikini on the internet, but I had to go through the humiliation of bikini shopping. Okay, it wasn't that bad... and it was certainly better than posing in my bra and underwear.

I should mention (especially if you're thinking about throwing in your lot for the competition) that you can blur out or cover your face. I figured that I had enough identifying marks that any attempts to obscure my face would be pointless.

Now that I have the "before" part out of the way, I have to start working on the "after" part. My goals aren't so much losing weight, so much as gaining muscle and lowering body fat. Really, all I want is a 6-pack, and I'm pretty sure that I have one, but that I'm too fluffy to see it. I'm not going on a "diet" but rather instituting a lifestyle change.

I'll spare you the details, but I'm essentially adopting a modified Paleo approach, consisting of meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts and some milk (that is the non-paleo part). No processed foods, No grains. I've been doing it for a couple of months (with the notable exception of the holidays) and I really feel much better.

As far as exercising goes, I'm trying to work out about 5 days a week. This is where Fitocracy comes in. It's a website/game that allows you to enter your workouts to earn experience. Yes, it is an exercise-based MMO. Or at least that's what it aspires to be; it's still in beta. However, I can say that I have found it tremendously motivational. I will workout a little bit longer if it means I can level up. Plus it provides a community that is great for encouragement and help with exercises/routines.

Between eating healthy and upping my workout on Fitocracy ("grinding" as it were), I should be able to achieve my goals of a visible 6-pack and maybe even prove that I'm not a total dork on the internet.

Since you've no doubt suffered through this entire post, I'd like to close with my new favorite recipe. I got the basic recipe from the Primal Blueprint: Quick and Easy Meals cookbook, though I have tweaked it a little. Here we go:

Protein Nut Balls

5 pitted, unsweetened dates
1 cup of plain walnuts
1/2 cup of plain macadamia nuts
2 tbsp of coconut oil
1 cup of fresh blueberries
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

In the Food Processor:
Annihilate dates in the food processor, until they are a paste-like ball. Add walnuts and macadamia nuts and blend until they are a fine powder. Add the coconut oil slowly to the food processor. You may not need the entire 2 tablespoons. Add about a 1/4 cup of the coconut flakes.

Scrape the batter into a large bowl and add the cup of washed fresh blueberries (the original recipe called for 1/2 a cup, but I think it tastes much better with extra blueberries). Fold the blueberries into the batter.

Using your hands, form small balls of dough (about 1.5" in diameter), and roll them in the coconut flakes.

Refrigerate for about 2 hours until they are firm, and then enjoy!
I ate all these right after I took the picture.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What? Again??

Remember how I said "Hubris always begets jinxes" in the last post? Well, apparently, my last post was hubriffic enough to spawn another round of sickness. I'm on day 4 of a cold that just will not end. Where did I get said cold? You guessed it... the germ magnet.

Seriously, I have no idea how Quinn keeps bringing home these devastating illnesses. He doesn't go to daycare, his last doctor's appointment was 2 months ago; where is he picking up all this shit?

The only thing I can think of that might be the culprit is Quinn's desire to put everything in his mouth. Seriously, everything. While I try my best to disinfect everything he comes into contact with, needless to say, I don't get everything. [edit: this picture isn't mine, but totally expresses what I imagine Quinn to be thinking]

It started with a case of the sniffles. I thought that maybe his sniffles were just due to the abrupt shift in temperature (40 degreees down to 10).

Around the same time I decided it would be a good idea to run a 5k. I was driving home from grocery shopping with the germ incubator in the back seat when an ad came on the radio advertising the Milwaukee County Zoo's Samson Stomp and Romp. I haven't been training my running, but I have been strength training, and I had noticed an improvement in my mile time the week before (when is was 40 degrees outside). Plus it was only $17, so I figured what the hell.

Did I mention this was my first 5k, ever?

Race day came and it was 16 degrees outside. I had no idea how to dress. So I overdressed in layers, which mostly got stripped off and tied around my waist before the run. I was probably the bulkiest person there. Luckily, I wasn't terribly serious, so the drag wasn't a concern. My time was 29:21. All things considered, I'm okay with that.

Here's a picture of me after the run. I thought I would look better in the picture if I took off my hat. I thought wrong.

Overall, it was a good experience. I would do it again. Unfortunately, the combination of super cold, running, and exposure to super-mutant child with amazing germ attainment capabilities left me open to getting the cold of a lifetime. So here I am, nearly a week after the run, super phelgmy and exhausted. I just want to get healthy again so I can get back to my normal routine and working out. To quote Rob Lowe's character from Parks and Recreation, "the microchip has been compromised"

Monday, January 9, 2012

Child-borne Curses

This post is about getting sick. It will be gross. There will be pictures. If you are easily offended by talk of being sick you should just skip this post.

I am very fortunate in that I have not previously encountered baby-transferred plague. My son is nearly 8 months old and the worst that we've encountered is a case of the sniffles. I attribute this to our recluse-like nature. As a stay-at-home crafter and drinker, I'm not usually exposed to illness... or people, for that matter.

All that changed after New Years. I don't know if it was all the holiday stress messing up his sleep schedule, or all the traveling/exposure to family and friends, but as of Monday, January 2nd, Quinn was sick.

Let me preface this by saying I've read the baby books. I know spit up is normal. I also know that vomiting is very different than spit up. All the books say that you will know the difference. Vomiting is usually of the projectile nature, up to a three foot radius of horribleness. In spite of reading this over and over, I don't think I fully understood it. How could an 18 pound human harness the potential necessary to expel vomit with such force?

I am now a believer. Around 2 in the afternoon, Quinn erupted in an explosion of horrible milky terribleness. I took this picture after I put Quinn down for a nap, before I cleaned up, because I didn't think my husband would believe me. Look at Hobbes; he doesn't even believe it and he witnessed it. Turns out that I didn't have to take a picture, since Quinn puked twice directly on Steven that evening.

Needless to say, this was pretty stressful. Steven and I were frantically checking our baby books for advice on how to proceed, violating Quinn with the thermometer, and deliberating whether or not to take him to the ER. Since he didn't have a fever, we opted to monitor him and avoid the ER and the multitude of pathogens contained within. Luckily, the stomach bug passed the next day (but not without a farewell diaper explosion).

But that wasn't the end of the horribleness...

Wednesday morning started like any other. I woke up, prepared myself some turkey sausage and eggs, fed Quinn his morning solid food, and started my work out. Minutes into it, I ran Quinn to his crib (aka holding pen) and ran to the bathroom. The next 2 hours were 2 minute spans of mothering followed by quick crib-depositry followed by toilet hugging. After finally admitting that I wasn't super-mom and was incapable of effective parenting whilst pinwheeling, I tried desperately to get a hold of my mother (who was substitute teaching that day) and then Steven (who was in a business meeting). After an hour of me being in absolute misery, convinced I was going to end up the evening news when the neighbors would have the police break down my door because of the screaming baby to find me dead on the toilet, my husband finally called me back and said he was on his way home.

Thankfully, he took care of Quinn the rest of the evening and my mom babysat the next day so I could sleep off this plague and attempt to return to normalcy. Much like Quinn, my sickness passed rather quickly (all things considered).

But that's not it! Much like Ju-On (aka The Grudge), this curse soon passed to my husband. I think he provoked it by bragging about his superior immune system. Hubris always begets jinxes. Out of sheer stubbornness, Steven refused to vomit. He told me that he had never once vomited from being sick and he wasn't going to start now. I was pretty incredulous about this factoid, but it has since been confirmed by his mother. (Sidebar: my husband may actually be an android.)

Now, a week after it began, I think it's safe to say that the worst has passed.
This house is clean.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

So I don't really like the idea of New Year's Resolutions. Why should you wait until this one particular date to make a resolution to change your life? Shouldn't you just take steps immediately to change your life for the better? Or I am I just misunderstanding? Do people treat New Year's like Lent? Are people just implementing change on a temporary basis?

Regardless of the change in date, I am trying to implement some changes. Here they are in no particular order:

  • Floss everyday, if not twice a day.
    I've had to get a lot of dental work done in the last couple months. and it's become apparent that I need to take much better care of my teeth. Even though I brush 2-3 times a day, this does nothing for the cavities I've gotten in between my teeth.

  • Be fit enough to participate in the Tough Mudder.
    My friend competed in this last year, and I was super jealous. I was pretty pregnant at the time, so I couldn't have competed even if I was in good shape. When he described how awesome the event was afterwards I resolved to do it in 2012. I'm doing a variety of training to help with this, and I have a lot of mini-goals to hit along the way. Recently, I just triumphed over one of my longest standing mini-goals: to be able to do a pull-up. That was a great feeling.

  • To worry less about what others think of me.
    This is another long standing goal of mine. I tend to get easily worked up if I think someone doesn't like me. This may come as a surprise given how callous I can be in casual conversation.
    This is probably a good reason for me never to go on the internet either. When people (strangers) post mean comments on my blogs or website or whatever, I get upset when I know I should just blow it off. I've gotten better, but I still have a long ways to go. As much as it would probably be a good thing for me to abandon the internet, I just can't stay away (this blog being a good example of my inability to stay away). Instead of resolving to be a web-recluse, I've decided to toughen up.

  • To actually eat healthier.
    Okay, this one has been a work in progress.
    I go through phases where I eat healthy, punctuated by phases where I eat with reckless abandon. I'm not looking for a complete revamping of my entire diet, but rather a little moderation. One thing is for sure, I do need to reign in my sweet tooth (see first resolution). I'm pretty sure I'm on the path to getting type 2 diabetes, and I'd really rather avoid it.
Yeah, some of those goals are typical New Year's Resolutions (eat right and exercise), but I resolved before it was trendy, so there. Also, you may notice that "not buying extraneous materials" wasn't on the list. That's because I plan on keeping that up.