get out those legwarmers….

So… I’ve been doing a new workout that I really like. I know, I know — you’ve all heard me rave about C25K and the 30 Day Shred in the past. And those are still great workouts. But I don’t have a treadmill (or a gym membership), and if you know me in person you know that it would be absolutely comical for me to run outside in the cold, due to the fact that I am chilly sitting at my desk right now and it’s 69 degrees inside… and the Shred, well, it gets a little old and repetitive after a while (and when I reach the point of wanting to strangle Jillian for saying “the neck is not invited to this party,” I know it’s time to take a break). I tried Jillian’s 6 Week 6-Pack OnDemand for something a little different, but working out in my living room has just started to lose its luster, and I was really feeling like I needed something that would get me out of the house without breaking the bank. Like everyone else who tries kicking their fitness routine back into gear after the holidays, I decided to try something new.

You’ll never guess what it is.

No, really — I didn’t even know this was still around. My mom did it in the 80s and I thought it went out twenty-plus years ago alongside legwarmers and teased hair.

Are you ready for this?

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number 48: in which I check my inhibitions at the door (er, beach)

I did it. Number 48 on my list. I bared my pale, soft belly for everyone to see on a New Jersey beach.

Do I feel totally rid of every insecurity and inhibition I’ve ever had about my body? Of course not. Did I still catch myself covering/hiding my belly a few times? Sure. But did it feel pretty good to say “screw it” and put on my cute green bikini that I haven’t worn since our honeymoon (where we didn’t know anyone, and I was 8 pounds lighter)?

Yes.

I’ll be 30 in just over a month. I haven’t had a flat tummy… ever. I have always carried those few extra pounds right around my middle. Even on our honeymoon, at my thinnest, I was still self-conscious about my belly. I haven’t really lost weight recently, though I feel noticeably healthier since I’ve been working out more often. (Prime example: it was too hot to run outside while we were away, so I did a little Shred-ding with Jillian one morning — and it felt totally easy!).

On vacation last week with my family, I looked around on the beach one day and thought, I am nowhere near being the most fit person on this beach, but I am also far from being the least fit person on this beach. Women and men of all shapes and sizes were comfortable enough in their skin to wear whatever bathing suit their little hearts desired, and I didn’t judge them for it. So why have I been judging myself so harshly?

I originally added number 48 to my list as a motivator to lose weight, like this fabulous lady did. And I still do hope to lose a few pounds, and be a little less shy to wear a two-piece someday, without feeling the need to suck in a little… but if I wait for perfection to don a bikini, I’ll be waiting forever.

So, I did it. And it felt kind of good, imperfections and all.

out with the old, in with the new

I bought myself some proper running shoes now that I’m taking this whole “physical activity” thing seriously. Aren’t they pretty?

I won’t even tell you how old my other shoes were… it’s embarrassing how long I wore them (and how poorly they fit, which I didn’t realize until now). My new kicks are Brooks Ravenna, and I feel like I’m wearing clouds on my feet! The Asics 1150 were a close second in my search, but they felt a little heavier, so the Brooks won out in the end. I got them a half size larger than my normal shoe size, which is what is recommended for running shoes.

I took them out for a test drive this morning, and they felt fantastic. They’re not magical so I’m not quite running 5K yet, but once I do get there, hopefully my feet will be a little happier for having worn these! Now if someone could just tone down the freakin’ HEAT in the northeast…

If you’re in the Phillly metro area, I got these at the Bryn Mawr Running Company at 20% off, for a total of $79.00. I didn’t find any cheaper pricing online, so they were a good deal for sure. And getting properly fitted at a specialty store is definitely the right way to go if you want the right fit.

GUEST POST: A Starter Course for New Runners OR How to Run Without Falling Over. Really.

Please welcome my good friend Penny for the very first guest post EVER on Claremont Road! Take it away, girlfriend…

Hello! My name’s Penny, and I am a map artist and blogger over at Pantomime Papers. There are lots of pencils and paper in my life!

In addition to drawing, I’m also an endurance runner. I know your very own Brooke-o-licious has been working through the Couch25K running program, and so I thought many of you might be doing the same thing. Perhaps you are even training for your first 10k, half marathon, or – lawsy – full marathon! Two years ago, I couldn’t even run a half mile straight through… but in December 2009, I completed my first full marathon. I learned so much about running during all my race training through trial and error – I thought some of you new runners out there could benefit from my pulled muscles and crying in the gutter! (Seriously, I had a rainy 18-mile training run that had me crying six ways to Sunday – don’t tell anyone.)

SO, these are my best tips – the tips that helped take me from couch to crossing the finish line. Every runner is different, so definitely take what sounds helpful and leave the rest. This is just what worked for me! Seriously, you can do this, whether your goal is to be able to run 1 mile, a 5k, a 10k – anything. As the most unathletic person I know… if I can become a runner, anybody can do it. You might even start to enjoy it!

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C25K and LoseIt! progress (and a few steps back)

It’s been about a month and a half since I’ve been following the Couch to 5K program, and a month since I’ve been tracking calories with the LoseIt! app. I’ve been planning to post a little follow-up on my progress for you guys, but it’s not without some embarrassment that I do so.

See — I was doing really well. I was keeping up with C25K, building my momentum, and eating well. (By “well” I mean “better than the crap I usually eat.” I’m not going to change overnight, people.) In four weeks, I had lost three out of the eight pounds I was hoping to lose! I felt great and motivated to keep going.

And then… and then… I got sick. Again. Just as I got sick halfway through my last attempt at the Shred, I was forced to throw in the towel for a few days while I got hopped up on Nyquill and made my way through about six boxes of tissues. (As an aside, I’m a generally healthy person. I can’t help but wonder if I’m allergic to exercise and that’s the reason I get sick every time I seem to commit to a new workout regime. I’m just sayin’…) Once I was feeling better, it was time to head down the shore for a long weekend with my family. My family and lots of food. My family and lots of food and some adult beverages. By the last day of our mini-vacation, I didn’t even bother logging each thing I ate into LoseIt! — I just created a new food item in the app called “Caloriefest,” estimated a whopping number of calories and called it a day. I told myself I’d start fresh the next day.

Well, the next day? It was like 97 degrees and humid in Philadelphia. The news stations were calling it a heatwave. And seeing as I have no gym membership, no treadmill, and an extremely whiny disposition when it comes to heat, I put my C25K runs on hold. For another week. I could have done some DVD or OnDemand workouts to stay active in the meantime, but I didn’t. I just plain got lazy and didn’t do anything, and, in addition, I slacked on logging my calories in LoseIt! all last week (and therefore ate too much junk).

I gained every pound back.

I’m mad at myself. I know it’s not a huge amount of weight, but how disappointing to have done that well for a month only to throw it all away for some manicotti, cold beer, and some amazing lemon sugar cookies (among other things). I’m embarrassed that I’ve documented so many attempts at getting fit on this blog to no avail. What a bummer.

I can’t let it get me down, though. Yesterday, I started back up with C25K (in case you’re wondering, I’m stuck on week 4… but hey, at least I’m doing it), I’m back to logging what I eat into LoseIt!, and I’m trying to remember that I can’t just diet and then splurge for a week and expect nothing to happen. Even when I’m not trying to lose weight, I need to remember that I still have to put a little effort into maintaining my weight, because clearly when I get lackadaisical, I gain. I’m not 17 anymore and I can’t pig out like I used to without some love handles to show for it :-/ Sigh.

I’ll continue to keep you all posted on my successes and failures as I work to get healthier and a little more svelte. In the meantime, tomorrow I’ll be sharing a guest post from a good friend of mine who went from non-runner to marathon-completer — she is an inspiration and she’ll be sharing some great tips for easing into the world of running. Stay tuned!

losing it

In addition to Couch to 5K and trying to eat better lately, I’ve also been tracking my calories with the (free) Lose It! app for iPhone. My friend Emily told me about this app months ago, and I tried it once (and then forgot about it… such is sadly the result of most of my “get healthy” attempts), but recently felt inspired to get back into it. I’m almost two weeks in and I am finding that it really is a great way to keep track of and stay accountable for what I’m putting in my body.

I say that Lose It! tracks calories, but really it does much more than that. Basically, you set goals for yourself (to lose, gain, or maintain your weight), and based on your age, gender, and height, Lose It! tells you how many calories you should consume each day to reach your goal.

Based on my stats and the fact that I want to lose 1 pound a week, I am allowed 1,325 calories per day, assuming I don’t exercise at all.

Every time I eat something, I log it into the app; there are many common foods stored in the database, or you can add your own food and nutritional information if there is something you can’t find. I eat a lot of the same things (because I’m picky and a creature of habit), so over the first few days, if there was something I couldn’t find in the database, I took a minute to add it myself. I added the food, the calories, the nutritional value, the serving size, etc., and that information is now stored in the app for me.

images via Lose It!

I also log all of my exercise into the app. There are many different forms of exercise in the database that you can choose from, and you can choose how long you did an activity and at what difficulty level to determine how many calories you burned. The more calories you burn, the more your daily calorie budget is. (So if I burn 300 calories one day, I now get to eat 1625 calories on that day and still keep up with my goal of losing 1 pound per week.) It’s nice to see my net calories decrease after I’ve worked out, so I can eat a bit more that day :)

image via Lose It! — clearly you know that it was not I who ran for an hour. Ha!

If you create a Lose It! account, you can also view all of your data online, in addition to viewing everything on your phone; the online information seems to be even more extensive. Call me crazy, but there is nothing like a good chart to get me excited about making progress with my weight loss goals. Logging on to the website to see a nice little pie chart of my meal calories for each day makes me just a tad less upset about not allowing myself that giant bagel loaded with delightful cream cheese. (Sorry… ignore my drool. Oh, bagels. Cream cheese. Yummm.)

images above from my personal Lose It! account

As you can see, I’ve become quite a big fan of this app. I definitely pigged out a lot less last weekend knowing that I had to log everything into Lose It! when I was done. So far, I have lost two pounds, and I’m not gonna lie — I get a ridiculous sense of satisfaction when updating my weight in the app. Ahh, it’s the little things in life that keep me happy…

Has anyone else tried the Lose It! app? What are your thoughts?

back on the wagon: C25K

You guys have heard me talk about my latest workout/get healthy attempts before. I try really hard to keep up with something once I start it, but the reality is that I just don’t love working out, and I just don’t love healthy foods, so it’s easy to fall off the wagon. I am within the healthy weight and BMI range for my height and I have an okay body image, but I’d still like to feel a bit healthier and be on the lower end of the weight range for my height. And, sure, I’ll admit, I’m a little vain — I want to be able to feel comfortable and attractive in a cute bathing suit on the beach this summer.

A few months ago I was doing the 30-Day Shred. I was keeping up with it really well, and was feeling/seeing a difference… but then I got sick. About a week before my Vegas trip, I came down with a terrible cold that had me out of commission for a while, and I didn’t work out at all that week, after about 20 days of consistently keeping up with the Shred. I went to Vegas and still wasn’t feeling 100% health-wise, but I did feel comfortable in my clothes (and felt that my arms were definitely more toned due to the Shred — WIN!). Then I came home, still couldn’t shake that cold, and didn’t work out again that week. And two weeks is all it takes for me to totally fall off the wagon. I pretty much didn’t work out at all for the rest of March, and got back into my old habits of choosing the unhealthiest thing on the menu when eating out and regretting it an hour later. (I love me some greasy food.) FAIL.

A few weeks ago I kept reading about Couch to 5K on Twitter, and I decided that maybe I should try it. For me, when I don’t have the money for a gym membership, finding something that has some accountability attached to it or a set time line that will help me to stay motivated is key. I’ve never been a runner, but everyone kept saying how great this program is for easing into it. My blog friend Amy raved so much about how it has been empowering and life-changing for her (she has completed two 5K races now! Go, Amy!), so I couldn’t not try it.

There are several C25K apps out there for the iPhone (most run $2.99); I chose the variation by Felt Tip, mostly because I’m a design snob and I liked the way it looked :)

I am about to begin week 3, and while it’s still not what I would call easy for a 100% non-runner like me, it has been doable and, for the most part, an exciting challenge. I really, really hope I can keep up with it and turn a corner in my fitness routine. I will keep you posted.

On top of doing C25K, I’ve been trying to make smarter decisions with the way I eat, particularly after watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. I love me some French fries, but I don’t need them every time I eat out, and I need to start looking at the big picture a bit more (because I’m not getting any younger). The realities of how poorly we eat in this country have been setting in for me, and hopefully the impact won’t wear off anytime soon!

Anyone else trying to turn over a new leaf before summer hits?

food revolution

Have you heard all of the hype surrounding Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution? I watched it on Friday night (clearly, Nick and I lead a wild and crazy nightlife), and it did not disappoint. I’ve always seen Jamie Oliver as a likable guy and I get a kick out of his enthusiasm for food, but I like him even more now since watching this show. He’s really trying to make a change in the way we feed our children and ourselves in this country, and while it certainly won’t be an easy or immediate change, I think he is already making a positive impact.

Jamie set his sights on changing the school lunches in Huntington, West Virginia, which is apparently the most unhealthy town in our country. He was met with plenty of resistance, and it’s clear that many of the people in Huntington are in denial about the future of their youth if they continue on the path of meals that are completely void of nutritional value. In last week’s premiere, it was pretty eye-opening when a class of first-graders could identify French fries but not potatoes, and they knew what ketchup was but called tomatoes “potatoes.” Sure, they’re only 6 years old, but it’s still a little scary to think that they don’t know the difference between two pretty common vegetables… and don’t even get me started on the “breakfast pizza” they are being served at school.

If you missed the 2-hour premiere, you can watch online at ABC.com. Don’t forget to watch (or set your DVR for) this Friday night’s episode!

Images via ABC.com

Jillian Michaels is trying to kill me

Okay… so she’s not actually trying to kill me. But her 30 Day Shred may do just that.

I have heard about the Shred for a while now. In the land of brides, it was pretty much everywhere, but I never looked into it or tried it. It just sounded intimidating.

But then I kept hearing about it. Again and again and again. And I’d look into buying it, but I’m cheap and I didn’t want to spend the money on the DVD. And then… and then… my friend Beth showed me that levels 1 and 2 of the Shred are FREE OnDemand with our Comcast cable service! Free, I tell you!!

I started Shredding (ha) yesterday. And it was hard. And today, my legs were like jello when I was going down the stairs of my apartment after my workout. But I don’t think I’ve ever felt so sore from just a 20-minute workout, so this is definitely my kind of workout: quick and effective.

The hardest part about exercising for me has always been finding the time. I’ve gotten progressively better at waking up early to work out before work (and I am the farthest thing from a “morning person” you will ever meet); but even so, if I sleep in an extra 10 minutes or so one day, it means I’m either not completing my So You Think You Can Dance: Get Fit workout (yes, I own both, and they’re super fun) because I have run out of time, or I’m rushing to get to work because I finished the workout but left myself less time to get ready. And while I love my dance workouts, sometimes 40 minutes in the morning just isn’t possible, and I usually don’t feel like I’ve done much if I only do it for 20 minutes. Working out in the evenings has become too difficult with my work/life schedule, so it’s either mornings or nothing.

Needing to put aside only 20 minutes in the morning for the Shred is certainly a good way to avoid the “I’m too tired” or “I don’t have time” excuses. I am putting my faith in Jillian that this may just be the workout that finally helps me drop those extra 8 pounds I’ve put on since our wedding, without just “phoning it in” at the gym for two hours (her expressions are so silly!). I’ll let you know how it goes! (And now, *gulp,* I’ll really have to do it, because it’s out there in blogland for all to see.)

Do you Shred?

eating healthy when you’re a picky eater

I’m having a rough time lately. I’m trying to lose a few pounds (er, eight) that I’ve put on since our wedding (four of which I gained in ONE WEEK on our honeymoon… which, even though it’s gross, I’m hilariously kind of proud of… is that weird?) — I just want to feel cute in my summer clothes and proud of my shape again, but I’m not doing such a good job of that. I’m pretty short — 5’3″ — so eight pounds makes a world of difference on me.

You may remember that I have been loosely following Weight Watchers for a little while, but it’s just not clicking this time like it did before the wedding. I constantly feel hungry when I’m working on 18 points a day, so then I go nuts and cheat WAY too much on the weekends and start from zero again on Monday. This week I have been forcing myself to exercise, which is definitely helping already, but I know that I still need to adopt some better eating habits to lose some weight and keep it off.

One of my biggest problems is that I’m a complete carboholic. I LOVE carbs. If it has “potato” in the name, chances are I’ll inhale it. If it has pasta in it, I want it. I also love cheese, and anything greasy. I don’t eat vegetables because I want to — I eat them because I know I have to (and I don’t eat them as much as I should).

My other problem, and definitely THE biggest one, is that I’m terribly picky. I don’t like tomatoes, cucumbers, raw onions, peppers, or mushrooms. I don’t experiment often with new foods (although I’m still much better than I used to be) and I tend to eat a lot of the same thing, so I get bored with my food really easily. This is what usually leads me to go a little nuts when I splurge.

I need to make a more concerted effort to add more variety to my meals while remaining healthy. I eat too many processed foods and then when I try to make up for that by eating a healthy salad, I just feel unsatisfied. This recipe that Lynn posted the other day looks appetizing to me, and she modified it from a Weight Watchers recipe, so it has to be somewhat healthy. I just have a hard time understanding what is healthy and what isn’t (I just think “carbs are bad” and “vegetables are good” but have never really grasped the in-between). I’m never quite sure of what’s “good” fat and what’s “bad” fat. I have never really fully understood what good sources of protein are and what foods are just loaded with bad stuff.

Help me out! What are your favorite somewhat healthy (and easy) recipes that a picky eater like myself might enjoy? What are your go-to snacks when you’re craving something hearty and filling that won’t ruin my diet?