The one about acceptance…

z_2713There is a trend sweeping social media this summer…

The Instagram and Twitter hashtag, #fatkini has been gaining popularity, encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to post pictures of themselves in bikinis as a way of showing acceptance for their bodies. There are some who believe that by encouraging women in this way, it is the equivalent of saying that morbid obesity is okay and that health should not be a priority.

Here’s the the thing…

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Product Review: Krisda Stevia Sweetened Chocolate Chips

There’s not much more satisfying than biting into a gooey chocolate chip cookie. When avoiding refined sugar is something you’re concerned with, though, the sad reality is that a simple pleasure like a chocolate chip cookie may no longer be an option.

The big label food producers jumped on this reality by offering a slew of “sugar-free” baking options, but they only replaced refined, processed sugar with refined, processed artificial sweeteners. I’ve aimed to buy chocolate in its more pure form, as dark as possible, 70% or more, for baking but I’ve never been a big fan of super dark chocolate and find it somewhat unsatisfying when I want something a bit sweet.

Enter Krisda semi-sweet chocolate chips.

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The one from the back…

I think this is the first time I’ve ever written a post from a mobile device. It’s annoying. But if I wait until I’m in front of my laptop, it’ll never get it written. The reason being, that much of my free time lately has been spent exactly as I am now – in bed, flat on my back.

It’s been a busy week for my back. I just came from physio and yesterday I had a CT scan. I don’t think I’ve really gone into the details of what I have been struggling with lately so let’s recap.

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The one about a do-over…

I would like a Mulligan, please!

Take me back to last Monday and let me start again.

This past week I’ve experienced some very high-highs and very low-lows. I’ll get the good news out of the way first so you can all do a little mental pom-pom shake for me before I tell you how I managed to take what should have been an exciting moment and let my mind ruin it.

As I mentioned a few posts ago, Wednesday was my official check-in day. It went great (could have gone better) and I was mostly happy with my results. Down 5 pounds, 5 inches and 1% body fat. That means that my little slip up two weekends ago did make an impact but it didn’t destroy everything.

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The one about Annapolis…

I had to do some research today for my internship. There was a photo in the newspaper of a woman named Marsalie MacKenzie modelling a dress, who happened to be an officer in the Royal Canadian Navy.  I was then tasked with finding out who this woman was so we could include the mention in our regular media monitoring. So, like all good researchers, I hit up Google.

What I ended up finding could not have been more fitting for my particular interests. As it turns out this woman attended the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 2009 as a Canadian exchange student from the Royal Military College. While she was there she wrote up a series of blog posts for the RMC website, one of which was about the stringent fitness requirements all the midshipmen are required to undergo.

Clearly, there is quite a difference between rights and freedoms in the US than there is in Canada because some of the rules they have to adhere to would be considered discrimination under our laws. For example, MacKenzie writes:

“Generally speaking, the average midshipman was leaner and meaner than their RMC counterpart-so much so that it led me to ask my roommates if it was in their constitution to attain (and maintain) rock-hard abs and chiselled pecs. At first they laughed and informed me that their chubbier peers, like bats or raccoons, only came out at night and at meals. As it turns out though, my original assertion was not so far-fetched; as my roommates explained, part of the yearly in-clearance procedure at the Naval Academy requires them to undergo height and weight testing, the results of which determines their eligibility for service.”

After reading this passage I immediately wondered what height and weight testing has to do with anything. When I joined the military in 2005 there was a requirement that before you went to basic training you had to pass your physical fitness test. During the year or so that it took to complete all of my paperwork and wait for my trade to become available that rule changed. At that point you could join the military in any shape and they would make sure that when you left you were fit. When I went to basic training you had to pass your PT test in the first week in order to move on with your platoon. If you didn’t pass your PT test you were moved to RFT (remedial fitness training) where you spent a month having some of the best fitness trainers in the country ‘whip you into shape’. At the end of that month you had to be able to pass your PT test and rarely was there an occasion where someone who stuck it out for that month would not be able to do it.

I won’t deny that I was weighed and measured when I went for my intial medical testing but that wasn’t got me into the military. It was my aptitude, my ability, my smarts that got me in and it was my level of fitness that carried me through until an injury led to my early release. The ultimate question though, was always ‘Can you pass your PT test?’ and you didn’t go anywhere until that answer was yes. I believe that is the way it should be but according to MacKenzie things are slightly different when it comes to the US Navy.

“However, in early October, I was summoned by my lieutenant, who informed me that I would report to the fifth wing gym to be weighed in with the UNSATS (those who had failed to meet their requirements in September). Some veterans of the process took it upon themselves to explain to me the protocol. First, each midshipman is led to a scale where their weight is recorded. Simultaneously, their height is measured by a second individual, while a third does a quick calculation. If they meet requirements, the midshipman is free to leave. If they do not, they are led to a pen where they await further measurement of their neck, waist, arms and calves (this is to ensure that “athletic builds,” specifically wrestlers, are not misidentified as overweight). Those who are UNSAT after this process are then placed on a strict diet, with portions rationed to them at every meal, and forced to attend supplementary morning PT (regardless of whether or not they have passed their physical fitness testing). Ironically, those midshipmen placed on special diets are the only ones allowed to have a fridge in their rooms for personal use.”

I understand wanting your recruits to be healthy and I understand encouraging them to make healthy selections when they walk into the mess hall. (Perhaps making healthy selections the only ones available would be a better method?) How though, can you expect someone to be able to giving a top performance both mentally a physically when someone else is controlling their calorie intake? Not because they’re ill, not because their body requires it, but because an arbitrary set of numbers has determined that they should eat less. What really irks me is that someone can pass their PT test but if their BMI isn’t ‘ideal’ they still have to take supplementary PT until it is? Your height to weight ratio has nothing to do with your ability to do your duties whether it’s for the military or not. And the reason for why they do this? According to MacKenzie the answer she got was that it was all about appearance. It’s not about doing your job, it’s about looking good in a uniform.

“From what I could deduce,” MacKenzie writes, “the US Navy considers this impossible for anyone wearing above a women’s size 10 or a men’s size 36 pants. Apparently, a lower BMI is a testament to an individual’s leadership potential; as it turns out, looking like ‘an officer’ is just as important as being one.”

Is this really the military we should all be looking up to as a standard for leadership? I have a hard time thinking so. Regardless of your ratio of height to weight if you serve your country, proudly wear the flag on your arm, and do your duties as required to the best of your ability, including passing your PT test, then you’re the one we should be looking up to.

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The one with my results…

Tomorrow will be a week since the Blue Nose Marathon so I figured I might as well catch you all up on how I did!

I could not have asked for a better day to run this 5K. It was a tad on the warm side but luckily I wasn’t going all that far. Keeping the course in mind I had set a goal time for myself of 35:00. Again, slow, but I am a tortoise and proud of it. We started running just after the marathon runners which was a little intimidating because they were SO in it to win and I was like, “Yay 5K! Go me!” haha

My bib and shirt!

We all got warmed up with a little pre race Zumba which was fun, and a different way of warming up. I quite enjoyed it except I almost killed the girl next to me when I stepped on her foot. Oops!

Then we were off! I will say that one thing I didn’t like was that there was no order when they lined everyone up at the start. There were nordic walkers and walkers at the front which made it very challenging to try and get out of the pack.

I spent a lot of time (and energy) dodging around walkers, fighting to get myself to a point where I could set a steady pace and stay in it. Every time I tried I would catch up to a pack of walkers that were walking three across or had nordic poles that I had to try and get around.

I had a chance to make up some of my time when I had the most energy at the start of the race but that took a lot of my time.

Regardless, I managed to get myself behind someone who ran about as fast as me and just settled in. The hill getting up to the top of the Citadel was unreal. I won’t lie, it was downright hard. What surprised me though was that it wasn’t the hardest part. I got up the super steep hill thinking to myself ‘Wow, that wasn’t so bad’ but then had to tackle to really long gradual hills and I found those far more draining on my energy. I pushed through though!

Once I got to the top of Citadel Hill and I knew that all that was left was downhill, a flat section, and a slight uphill to the finish I got a little excited/emotional. It was a beautiful view from way up there, I could see the entire city – so impressive. I really had to hold myself back when I actually said to myself, “The hardest part of this is over. You’re going to finish strong.” That was at the 3K flag.

Admittedly, I didn’t finish as strong as I would have liked to. I made a stupid mistake on the downhill section. I thought I could pick up some of the time I lost on the uphill by speeding my jog up to a run. The problem being that I didn’t really slow back down when I got to the flat section and by the time I hit the uphill to the finish I was toast. My body rebelled against me and just came to a complete stop. I had to walk for about 30 seconds but I did NOT want to walk across the finish line.

This is where it gets kind of funny. I needed to run again but my lungs were burning and my legs hurt and I just wanted to be done. So I resorted to drastic measures and said to myself, “Dinosaurs are chasing you. You’d better run.” For some ridiculous reason that worked and I scrounged up every tiny bit of energy I had left and sprinted to the finish line. My finish line photos are simply horrendous. I look TERRIBLE! lol

I finished though (within a minute and a half of my goal!) and that’s what matters. Now, I just want to get a bit faster!

Blue Nose Marathon 5K Results 
Goal time: 0:35:00
Finish time: 0:36:17.1
663rd place out of 1414 runners
179th out of 298 women 20-29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next race: Support the Troops Navy 10K – 19 August 2012

The one about plyo…

Usually when I meet up with trainer Cathy she asks me what, if anything, I’d like to focus on for that workout.

My answer is always the same – plyometrics.

I absolutely love doing plyo. There’s just something about that ability to use explosive energy to move yourself higher, faster, further that I find strangely satisfying.

Traditional cardio is my biggest downfall so I try to use active rest during my strength training (between sets) as a way to keep my heart rate up and get quality cardio in without the unhappiness that I generally find associated with sitting on a bike for an hour or running 5K. A lot of people are afraid of plyometrics though, or they don’t know where to begin. Most people know of a jump squat and a jump lunge, both effective, but doing them over and over again can get boring. There’s so much more to plyometrics that people can take advantage of to really ramp up their workout! Here’s a little Plyometrics 101 for those who might be curious about taking the leap… literally.

Plyometrics comes from the Greek word “pleythyein” (to augment or increase). American track coach Fred Wilt coined the word in 1975. Based from the Latin root words “plio” (more) and “metric” (to measure). The purpose of plyometrics is to train speed-based power. Almost everyone has done plyometrics at some point in their life, it’s the basis of running, skipping, throwing and jumping. This isn’t to be confused with power training – one single jump onto a high box doesn’t constitute plyometrics. It’s when you jump off the box, immediately load the muscle and go back into the stretch as you jump again that qualifies it. Speed does trump power. It’s a good idea to have a foundation in weight training before trying some of these moves. The cardio-only types might find it a bit too challenging starting out.

Here’s some terminology you might come across when exploring different types of plyo:
Jump – when you land with both feet
Hop – take off and landing on the same foot
Bound – take off on one foot, land on the other
Hurdle – jump up and over an object

Don’t forget your upper body either! Though more challenging, there’s lots of great options for plyometric exercises for your arms and chest. (Clap pushups, anyone?)

Fit Deck cards

I love my FitDeck cards!

I find a great way to always keep your plyometric exercises different is by making a deck of plyo cards or purchasing the plyometrics deck of FitDeck cards.

If you’re going to make your own, make a list of plyo exercises with a mix of speed, agility and footwork, (you can find all sorts of examples on bodybuilding.com, just click plyometrics on the filter) then flip three cards, add them up and do that many.

Plyometrics doesn’t just keep your heart rate up between sets either, it’s also a great fat burner! I often include plyo in the strength and conditioning class I teach and my “students” don’t dread anything more!

As motivation I often quote fitness great Jamie Eason, “By hitting both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers, these moves also will stoke your fat-burning furnace. Picture the marbling in a steak. Our bodies have intra-muscular fat like that. Plyometric exercises help “squeeze” the fat from those areas.”

Somehow that always works at getting another couple of reps in spite of the burning muscle pain! 😛

Here are some of my favourite plyometric exercises:
Jump rope
Hurdle jumps (I do them over a bench)
Knee tucks (or knee to chest hop)
Mountain climbers
Medicine ball slam 

Get jumping!

The one about understanding…

I sometimes wonder if people wouldn’t understand me better if my passion was reading or baking or making model airplanes.

There seems to be some kind of stigma that comes along with saying that you’re interested in body building and clean eating. There have been times where I’ve had people say to me, “That’s stupid. You should be able to eat what you want.” Here’s the thing – I do eat what I want. I want healthy food, I want to eat to fuel my body, I don’t want your cookies though I’m sure they are delicious and kudos to you for your talent in the kitchen. I’ve gotten to be pretty good in the kitchen myself and the food I make is delicious, if I do say so myself. It just happens to be healthy at the same time.

People’s reaction to the gym is another story entirely. There’s an assumption that wanting to build lean muscle means you’re going to go from zero to the Incredible Hulk in 0.68 seconds and will spend your time popping steroids. I made a comment on Twitter the other day about how there was nothing I would rather do at 5:30 a.m. than go to the gym and someone jokingly replied, “Sleeping?” I do sleep, for at least 7 hours a night (more than most TV watchers who stay up to get all their shows in, mind you.) I feel rested when my alarm goes off and for me the alternative to being at the gym at 5:30 a.m. is usually being at work, which just isn’t as fun! I crave my workout the way some people crave chocolate ice cream. Once I’m done I am already craving the next one. The word “obsession” has been thrown at me before but I’m not obsessed, I’m dedicated and I’m doing what I love.

To clear it up for good, I eat clean so that when I get into the gym (at 5:30 a.m.) I feel strong and can get through my workout feeling positive then make it through the day full of energy. I don’t put unnatural things into my body and that’s just my thing. I have no expectations of myself, I know there will be times when I am going to eat a deliciously greasy cheeseburger and no, I won’t feel like a “cheater” for doing it.

The other thing I notice people do is apologize for eating “bad” things in front of me. I don’t judge anyone for what they eat (or don’t eat) so don’t feel bad eating a piece of pizza in front of me, don’t apologize. I’m not on a restrictive diet, I’m not hungry and looking at your pizza longingly wanting to snatch it out of your hands. I’m not interested in eating it because I know how I feel afterwards (usually not good). Please, eat your nachos, eat your pizza, eat your cake, eat your Jello and if you want you can eat an extra piece for me because I’m happy with what I have. 🙂