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.


Zac said...

I have like 100 different things that I know, if I could do them on a regular basis, my life would be better off... things as simple as exercising at a certain time, reading in certain intervals, keeping my room organized, eating certain foods at certain intervals, etc.

However, for some reason, I find it exceedingly hard to take all of these known facts about how organization will make me a better person and actually implement them.

Part of me is lazy, and that is a given, however, there is also a part of me that is not sure that I want my every day to be planned down to the minute. If nothing else, I just want to have some cushion to go with the flow of life... and yet, as it currently appears, "the flow" of life is to wash by body down a drain... haha.

I need some sort of accountability, like by the minute, to keep me on track and on task, and to properly change my schedule should something come up (as in rearrange events instead of just throwing them out the window)

Sometimes I wish there was more time in the day, but then I realize that if I could just do everything I know I should be doing, I wouldnt even have enough time to complain.

I simultaneously crave and despise organization. What on earth am I to do... haha.

Zac said...

In response....

Beautiful song = my groove. I feel close to finally being in my groove.

As for the letter... you better freaking hurry. I dont know if I will wait much longer for you to finally act like a pen-pal... haha.

New letter sounds nice. Maybe I will write you one letting you know about my new hobby... aka teaching debate at Metro.

Zac said...

It has been way too long since your last post... shame, shame on you. ;-)

Zac said...

My friend, I am not sure what is delaying your public writing... but I do hope that all is going well for you, or at least, that everything is moving in a good direction for your life, even if it does not seem like it at the moment.

I look forward to hearing about what you have taken from this distraction. I hope you have a good day... whatever day you finally get this, lol.

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