Working it Out

It's a widely spouted "statistic" that the average American gains between 7 and 10 lbs over the holiday season. While a New England Journal of Medicine article showed those numbers to be exaggerated, it is still probable that most of us put on a pound or two over the holidays. I know I did.

Of course the abundance of food during the holiday months is one culprit, besides that holiday foods seem to be oh-so-succulent and full of calories compared to the food we might eat the rest of the year. I mean how often do you have a honey-glazed ham in July or a piece of pumpkin cheesecake with whipped cream in March? Also there seems to be an understanding during the holidays that eating healthy doesn't need to be a priority, after all it is a special occasion, right?

And I don't know about you but the business of the holiday season wreaked havoc on my workout schedule. In October I was working out 4 days a week but halfway through December with finals and gift shopping on my mind my workouts became weekly or worse.

Now that school is back in session and holidays are getting smaller in the rear-view mirror (though let me just throw out a "screw you" to Valentine's Day and its associated candy) I am finally back in a place where healthy eating and exercise are on the table. I mentioned in my post on New Year's Goals that staying in shape this year is a priority for me, and here are a few things I plan to do to accomplish that goal:

1. Stay away from french fries and pizza as much as possible.
I am not a sweets person at all (thankfully) though I do enjoy and occasional dark chocolate bar or bag skittles. No, my biggest temptation is greasy salty foods. I love french fries and can scarf them down in inspiring quantities, and I have been known to eat 4 or more slices of pizza for dinner multiple times a week. Now I agree that neither fries nor pizza is particularly terrible on occasion, all I'm saying is that cutting down on the number of occasions I have them wouldn't be a bad thing in my case.

2. Cut down on the diet soda intake.
By far my biggest health vice is the over-the-top amount of Diet Pepsi I drink. I am a vegetarian so I eat a lot of fruits and veggies, I don't consume too much saturated fat or sugar, and generally I follow doctor's orders as far as getting my vitamins and 64 ounces of water daily... but wow do I drink a lot of diet soda. When I'm at school I usually drink about 4 glasses a day, and when I'm at Matt's apartment it can be twice that. I console myself that though fake sugar isn't the best thing in the world, its better than all of the real sugar in non-diet soda... but several recent studies have shown that people who drink lots of diet pop are just as bad off as people who drink regular when it comes to things like diabetes risk and obesity. No good. I think that I can sacrifice my Diet Pepsi for water if it means a healthier mid-life, thanks.

3. Eat more Omega-3 fatty acids, folic acid, and antioxidants.
Omega-3s are great for your heart, folic acid is vital for women my age (especially if we plan to have kids someday), and antioxidants prevent cancer. Need I say more? Probably not but I will. It is harder to get Omega-3s than one might think. The main sources I know are flaxseed and salmon, not to mention soy milk that is fortified with Omega-3s. One think I want to try is making fresh basil pesto using flax-seed oil instead of olive oil, I bet its as good as it is good for you. As far as folic acid I just try to get it in my vitamins and cereals though I'm sure I could do better. And ah antioxidants: they seem to be in every fruit and veggie don't they (especially those greens)? Of course some of the best sources I have heard are tomatoes, cranberries, blueberries, and pomegranate. I could stand to have a few more of those in my diet.

4. Build up, mix up, and maintain the exercise.
Thus far I have run 2 miles a day each day of February (not to mention biking and lifting). Of course it is only the 3rd day of the month, so I'm sure I won't be able to say that for long. Really what I want to do this year is increase the speed and distance I run regularly, cross train more, and keep a steady workout schedule for the entire year. Right now 2 miles is my standard run, though I sometimes run 3 miles to challenge myself. I would love to run 3 miles twice a week and 5 miles once a week and to build my speed from 11 minute miles to 10 or 9 minute miles. Also, I swam twice a week every week last semester -- it would be awesome if I could do that this semester as well. Biking once or twice a week and mixing in some upper body weight training would round out my workout. Listing it here, it seems quite ambitious but really it works out to about an hour and a half at the gym 5 or 6 days a week. Besides, I have been talking about doing a triathlon for over a year now, and if I really stick to these fitness goals this could be my year.

Flash Mobs

Have you ever heard of a "flash mob?"

As far as I know its a fairly recent phenomenon that has been enabled by the web. I have seen flash mobs of entire campuses breaking out into mock ninja fights, hundreds of people at a park form a single file line behind one person, and mock gunfights where a hundred people say bang then fall to the ground. One particularly funny flash mob in Japan featured about 100 college-aged people running out from behind a wall while screaming towards an unwitting middle-aged person. It was hilarious to see their responses, especially the ones who started running and screaming with the mob.

I think my new favorite flash mob however is in the video below. 207 people froze in place at Grand Central Station in New York for 5 straight minutes while someone else recorded the scene. I must say they pulled it off stupendously and the scene had a marked effect on passers-by:

Pretty awesome, huh?

I would love to do something like this at my college, though my small campus might make it slightly less effectual. One fun one could be to freeze in place at the dining hall, or to have a flash dance in the middle of the quad between classes. There is already a facebook group set up for flash mobs at the 5C's but as far as I know there hasn't been an event thus far.


Copyright © 2008 - Shayna Unaltered - is proudly powered by Blogger
Smashing Magazine - Design Disease - Blog and Web - Dilectio Blogger Template