Ms. Marvel Project

Getting educated

For the past several years, I’ve used blog reading to educate myself on topics of health and fitness, and the amount of knowledge I’ve gained doing so has been incredible. There are so many of these kinds of blogs that I read that I almost couldn’t even list them all here, even if I wanted to. In my blog travels, I have also seen a few books mentioned over and over again as must-reads for anyone interested in the subject. Yesterday, on somewhat of a whim, I decided to finally get off my butt and order a few.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, they arrived today! Thanks to the amazing bloggers out there I already feel like I have a good amount of knowledge on the subject, so I’m curious to see how many of my preconceived notions are going to be challenged.

These are the books I purchased:
Thrive Fitness: The Vegan-Based Training Program for Maximum Strength, Health, and Fitness
The China Study
Eat to Live

I’m sure over the next few months as I work through these books, I’ll feel compelled to update here with tidbits I’ve learned and things that surprised me. I’m looking forward to it.

For me, the whole journey of fitness isn’t just about looking good or being “skinny”, it’s about being healthy and living the best life that I can possibly live. Coming from a family with so many health issues, I want to put myself in a position where I can try and combat my genes and avoid the same problems my parents and other relatives faced later in life.

This week’s workout update: I slowed down just a little after last week’s intense 5 workout sessions and have only logged 2 up to this point in the week. I’m hoping to get in at least 2 more before the weekend is over. I’m still working on the 100 pushup challenge, and I made it up to 50 (non-consecutive) pushups yesterday! I never in a million years thought I’d be capable of doing that.

Are there any health/fitness books out there that have inspired you?


young and restless

March 23, 2012 Posted by | Blogging, Project | , , , | 2 Comments

Long term vs. Short term

One of the greatest battles we face with ourselves when it comes to getting healthier and in shape is the never-ending inner debate over which we want more: short term happiness or long term happiness. Logically, when we’re looking at it from a distance, long term happiness seems to be the obvious choice. It will last longer, for one thing, and more than likely it will be more fulfilling. This is why we create goals like losing 10 pounds or exercising more often – because we believe that it will help us achieve this happiness in the long term. If we didn’t think these things would make our lives better, we wouldn’t be trying so hard to achieve them.

However, the trouble comes when our short term happiness becomes more important. It’s so easy to fall into this trap:

I’m having a bad day, and if eat this chocolate, it’ll make me feel better

Or

I would much rather watch this TV show while lounging on the couch than going to work out today because it will make the evening a little more enjoyable

In situations like these, we’re sacrificing our long term goal for a little bit of short term happiness.

This is a constant issue for me. I always start the day with good intentions, but then as life unfolds during that day, I start looking for ways to make myself happy right now, and often that means doing something that isn’t in tune with my health goals.

This past weekend was a great example of this inner conflict. I went into the weekend having already worked out 4 times during the week, but with the intention of working out at least one more time on Saturday or Sunday. Instead, we got takeout for dinner two nights in a row, didn’t go to the gym, and yesterday in particular, I ate pretty much non-stop all day long.

I need to learn to tell myself that working on my long term goals WILL contribute to my happiness, and can even add to the short term happiness from time to time. There are many times when I feel much happier and more energized after a workout. It’s the food issue where the battle really takes place for me.

What do you think about long term vs. short term happiness?

February 20, 2012 Posted by | Project | , , , | 1 Comment

The Vitamin D Dilemma

Around 4 years ago, I got some bloodwork done at the doctor’s office for the first time in a few years and found out that I was seriously deficient in Vitamin D. They told me my levels were so low that I had to go on a Vitamin D prescription of 50,000 IUs (that’s a TON) and that I should sit outside without sunscreen for 10 minutes a day.

All my life I’ve avoided the sun whenever I could. I just don’t like the way it makes me feel to sit outside in the sunlight, not to mention intense sunlight makes my eyes hurt and enough of it will give me a headache. I’m an indoors person, there’s no question about it. At the time, I figured that was all there was to it.

Then, a year later, my brother found out he was also vitamin D deficient. Then, my friend K. After another year, I met D, and a few months into our time dating, his doctor also told him that he needed to take supplements because of low levels. And if that wasn’t enough, around a year ago, his SISTER also got the same news.

What the heck was going on? Some of these people (especially my friend K) were sun lovers and did lots of outdoor activities.

Well, all of these people have something in common: we all grew up in Massachusetts and have lived here pretty much all of our lives. It is a well known fact that in New England, winter weather lasts at least 6 months, and there is little chance of doing anything fun outdoors most of that time.

According to this article:

Vitamin D can be produced in the skin from ultraviolet light. In the northern latitudes (such as New England), the intensity of the UV rays is only strong enough to create vitamin D for us in the summer months. For much of the year (about October through April), then, we need to get vitamin D from other sources. Even in the summer, using sunscreen, covering up with clothing, and spending time indoors can reduce the chance of us getting adequate vitamin D.

Since, that day 4 years ago, I’ve taken vitamin D gummy vitamins every day. They’re tasty and easy to just chew and go every morning. I still don’t spend much time out in the sun because there is a delicate balance here: too much time in the sun can lead to skin cancer and other issues while too little leads to a vitamin D deficiency. My skin is pale as can be, so I’m at an even greater risk of skin cancers and will burn easily in the summer.

I think the thing that alarmed me the most about these revelations over the past few years is that there is almost no one I know who’s my own age that also grew up in Mass that doesn’t have this issue. I wonder how widespread it really is!

The bottom line is: I’d highly recommend anyone living in the northeast get their vitamin D levels checked out. It’s worth it!

For more information on Vitamin D and why we need it, check out this link: Vitamin D


Friday blog hops:

Getting to Know You

young and restless

February 17, 2012 Posted by | Blogging, Life | , , , | 8 Comments

10 Pound Challenge check-in and a Fit Experiment

This week marks the 1 month point of Newlyweds on a Budget’s 10 Pound Challenge, and it’s time for a check-in.

How am I doing so far?

Well, I’m still struggling with my eats a little bit and splurging more than I should. However, my workouts are improving every week, and I know I’m getting stronger. Because of the food though, I havent’ seen too much change on the scale.

Starting weight: 146.8
Today’s weight: 145.6

Difference: 1.2 pounds
Pounds to go: 8.8

Still a ways to go, but I still have 2 months AND this week, I’ve taken another step in the direction of eating better: I joined My Fitness Pal. I had tried it out in the past, but I had never used the social features and I think this time around, that’s what’s going to keep me motivated. Are any of you using it? If so, add me! My username is msmarvelproject. Or leave your username in the comments and I’ll find you. Let’s help each other get in shape!

I’ve been tracking for 2 days and because I’m forced to track everything I put in my mouth, I’m less likely to have lots of random small snacks throughout the day. Also, one of my favorite features is that at the end of every day when you complete your entry, the program tells you that if every day was like that day, how much you would weigh in 5 weeks. It keeps you motivated!

This will be an experiment for me, and I’m excited to see if it will make a positive change in the way I eat.

February 15, 2012 Posted by | Project | , , , | 7 Comments

Smoothie fever

For Christmas this year, I asked my parents for a blender. I didn’t get one of the extremely fancy, $300 ones, just a simple blender from Target. I had been inspired by seeing all my favorite bloggers mixing up smoothies for themselves everyday, and I wanted to give it a try. They looked super delicious, easy and convenient, not to mention healthy, and I wanted ot add them to my diet.

This has been one of the best kitchen additions imaginable, since it’s entered my apartment. I’ve been mixing up smoothies almost every morning for breakfast, or sometimes in the afternoon for an after work snack.

The first thing I did was to buy a whole bunch of different frozen fruits: mixed berries, dark cherries, mango and peaches. I mixed up one or two of these with a banana and some milk and it was awesome, but still was lacking something – I wasn’t full enough afterward. For a long time, I had seen bloggers such as Fitnessista using protein powder to bump up the nutrition and fullness potential of their smoothies, and I had never taken the plunge to buy any because it was pretty pricy. However, now that I’d begun my foray into smoothie making, I figured now was a good chance to at least give it a try – if it was too much of an expense or didn’t do enough for me, I wouldn’t buy it again. So I bought some Sun Warrior

And let me tell you, it was EXACTLY what those smoothies needed. Not only does it keep me full almost until lunch, but it helps me meet my goal to increase my protein intake.

So, breakfasts are certainly taken care of in terms of being nutritiuos and healthy. I either have one of these smoothies (with whatever combo of fruits I’m feeling that day – and you don’t even need ice since they’re frozen), or I cook up a couple of eggs.

I really worked out hard this weekend, and I’m starting to see some muscle tone as a result of my work. Saturday, D and I went off to the office gym as we usually do, but this time it was in a snowstorm. We got about 6 inches and it was still coming down for our walk over. The walk was, needless to say, unpleasant. But the workout wasn’t. Before we even headed out of the house, I did 50 minutes on my stationary bike. Then at the gym, I did arm and leg weights, plus abs, and then a 15 minute cooldown on the elliptical. I burned almost 800 calories, everything combined.

Sunday, I didn’t want to repeat the snowy excursion outdoors, so instead, we went to the “dungeon” of a gym in our apartment complex. I never get a really great workout there, but I did 15 minutes on the bike there, plus 15 on the treadmill. It was a short workout, but I was SUPER sore from the day before.

Things are coming along, and even though the scale continues its strike toward cooperating with me, I know I’m doing good things for my body.


Happy Tuesday! Here’s a blog hop for the day:

January 24, 2012 Posted by | Project | , , , , | 1 Comment

The 10 Pound Challenge is on

The 10 Pound Challenge is on

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I’m participating in the 10 pound challenge to lose 10 pounds in 12 weeks. And boy, am I ever glad I joined up with a challenge like this because this week I am lacking in energy and motivation like you wouldn’t believe. I fully believe the weather is at least partly responsible for this, because the past few days have been absolutely frigid, meaning wind chills well below 0 degrees (Farenheit) and to make matters worse, we live in a huge wind tunnel thanks to the fact that we’re in the valley of a river (or so I learned on Friday while riding the elevator with one of our elderly neighbors). I also walk to work because I’m lucky enough to live incredibly close to the office, but that does also mean much more time outside and walking through that awful wind tunnel. I bundle up the best I can, but there’s only so much of your face you can cover before you just can’t see or breathe anymore.

But it is January and this is to be expected, right? Spring will come soon enough, and not every day is so cold. Last night I was so exhausted, I wanted to go to bed at 9:30. I ended up sleeping pretty soundly, but I’m still not back up to my usual energy level.

It is incredibly motivating though, to think about the fact that I could very soon be 10 pounds lighter if I stick with the plan. To get there, I have to admit some things to myself and start making different changes:

- I’m pretty sure some of my lack of energy on days like yesterday/today have to do with lack of protein. I need to change this and find creative ways to get protein into my diet (I’m a vegetarian).

- Working out after work just doesn’t work for me. I can tell myself I’ll work out when I get home til the cows come home, but once I’m there, all I want to do is relax and not move. By that time of day, I’m exhausted. Morning workouts and lunchtime workouts are the best bets.

- I need to drink less alcohol. It’s not that I’m drinking every night or excessively, but I do drink regularly on the weekends and sometimes “treat” myself to something after a hard work day. I’ve read the articles and know that alcohol impedes weight loss, so this may be one of the factors contributing to my stagnation. Plus, less money spent!

These are things I definitely CAN change that will have a positive effect on my body. One thing I can’t change: the fact that I work in an office and I sit on my butt for 8 hours every day. Perhaps when the weather gets nicer, I can schedule a few times every day that I get up and go for a stroll around the parking lot. At least it’ll get me moving more, right?

Is anyone else participating in the challenge? How will you get there?

January 17, 2012 Posted by | Project | , , | 2 Comments

Ups and Downs

This week, it was much harder to stick to the plan than last week, which is not that surprising considering enthusiasm for a new project tends to die down over time. In fact, in my previous attempts to make-over my fitness and eating habits, the second and third weeks have proven to be the toughest. For the most part, I still stuck to what I had set out to do this week, with a few minor splurges here and there. A few confessions:

- I had wine 3 nights this week (1 – 1.5 glasses each time). While that doesn’t seem like a ton, it’s still extra calories, and they have proven recently that alcohol really does slow down weight loss.

- Wednesday was an incredibly difficult day, motivationally. Wednesdays are always hard because it’s the halfway point in the week, I’m tired, and we have a standing obligation Wednesday  nights after work. To make matters worse, the weather was disgusting that day (torrential downpours and gale force winds), and I woke up in a bad mood. When we got home Wednesday night at around 8, I wanted something off-plan for dinner  and nothing was going to stop me. We ended up ordering takeout, and I ate something with way more calories than I should have and instantly regretted it.

Being that it’s Saturday morning, I’ve worked out 4 days this week so far, which is a victory. I’m planning another workout today to round out the week. The meal plan I prepared on Monday sort of went out the window. I need to remember when I’m doing these plans that I like variety and eating the same old thing over and over again will sort of make me insane, and it will drive me to get takeout. Maybe it’s time to do some recipe research.

My official weigh in today: 143.6 –> down .8 pounds from last Saturday.

The frustrating thing? Yesterday morning I weighed 142.6. I think I’m going to change official weigh-in day from Saturday morning to Friday morning going forward.

It’s time for me to wake up over here and get moving with my day. Hope you all have a great Saturday!

~L

October 22, 2011 Posted by | Project | , , | Leave a comment

Finding balance

I’ve succeeded in my quest to get more protein in my diet. Yesterday, I added some bulk to my breakfast and had a slice of bread with almond butter, plus one egg (and a little big of organic ketchup). It satisfied me and definitely added to the protein total. Today, I woke up absolutely STARVING so I had the same thing + 1 additional egg.

It’s a tough thing to find the right balance of not going overboard with food/exercise and not doing enough. There’s no way I’m going overboard with the exercise part of the equation yet, which is good, but yesterday in particular, I found it challenging to get the full amount of calories I need without accidentally going way over, so I accidentally erred on the side of not eating enough (hence, the starving Lisa this morning).

It’s only day 3, so I’m sure as every day goes on, I’m going to make mistakes and learn how to fix them for next time. I’m not beating myself up over it, just continuing on.

It’s just about lunchtime here, so I’m off to do my 40 minutes on the elliptical! I really need to get some new playlist ideas for something to keep me motivated at the gym.

Also, as a side note, I’ve changed the template on this blog approximately 239,234,340 times so far and I’m still not satisfied. I’m starting to think I need to just branch out and do my own thing rather than using one of blog.com’s options.

~L

October 12, 2011 Posted by | Project | , | Leave a comment

Day 1

Motivation is a funny thing. Last night, I was up way too late for a weeknight, dealing with some issues at home and not getting to sleep until around 1. In the past, a night like that would have deterred me from following through with a tough day like the one I had planned for myself today. Sure, I’d have been fine just doing my work and any necessary chores and errands, but the workouts and eating plan would have been thrown out the window, replaced by something more “comforting”. Not today.

I woke up and made myself a different kind of breakfast than I usually have: toast and an over-easy egg. Usually, I’ll grab myself some frosted mini wheats cereal or a packaged instant oatmeal. Both of those options are overly processed and sugared. I figured some carbs and protein would do me good to start the day – and I was right.

When I have the kind of sugary/processed breakfast that I usually do, I tend to become ravenous as early as 10:30 in the morning. Today, that didn’t happen.

I’ve eaten well all day so far and got in a 40 minute elliptical workout at the gym as planned during my lunch break. I’m really enjoying the Polar FT so far. It turns out the elliptical I used today was actually tracking my heart rate pretty well for the majority of the workout (calories too), but I loved knowing FOR SURE that I burned a certain amount.

I had some problems because of my ever-lingering cold. It’s gone for the most part, but my nose is still stuffed up and runny, and was especially at the gym. Breathing was not the easiest, but I watched my heart rate and made sure to pull back when I needed to.

I’ve also begun tracking my calories on sparkpeople.com, which has helped me in the past. It’s not something I intend to do for the long term, but while I’m getting things started, it will be something important for me to keep up with.

There are already a few key nutritional trends that I’m noticing (that I’ve noticed in the past as well) that I should work on changing.

1. More protein. I’m not doing terribly here, but I’m barely making it into the minimum recommended bracket for protein according to SparkPeople.

2. Most of my calories come toward the end of the day. Dinner is way bigger than any other meal (by a lot).

I’m going to work on fixing those two issues as the weeks go on. I’m already thinking about adding some additional calories to breakfast, either through almond butter on the toast, or 1 more egg. Being a vegetarian for the past 12 years, I have always been conscious of the protein issue, but seeing the numbers right in front of me helps a lot.

When I get home from work, I’ll be going for workout #2 of the day – the easy 30 minutes on my stationary bike.

 That’s all for now!

~L

October 10, 2011 Posted by | Project | , | Leave a comment

   

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