Thursday, November 29, 2012

Eat Your Veggies

Dudes, so I have this pretty sweet place I hit up every morning -- free wifi, water fountain, fridge to store my stuff, desk top computer -- it's nice, and these people actually pay me to be there. Anyway recently for whatever fucking reason they started bugging me about, like, proposals or something. I don't even know, man, it was inconvenience. Anyway, between that and Thanksgiving I realize I've really neglected my duties as a blogger, and I totally apologize to you, my loyal fans, for that failure.

Anyway, so right before the big annual stuff-your-face-in-front-of-your-family-and-watch-football holiday (may it always maintain its rightful place in our hearts) my BF and I were complaining about weight gain, and how that's kind of thing with us.
"We need to eat better," I said.
"But how?!" he argued. "I don't get it; Tini* eats like a fitness model!" (*Tini is my friend and very talented aerialist who describes dishes such as salmon and goat cheese on a bed of spinach for dinner which is, I must agree, very fitness-modelish.)
"Well," I replied, suddenly possessed by the specter of the wisest fitness guru, "It starts at the grocery store."

Which is true. I keep trying to be a healthy eater by essentially having nothing or very little on hand to eat, and then hoping that I will suddenly buy or cook some healthy dish every single time I'm hungry. Of course what actually happens is that I work out, I'm starving, and I stop at McDonald's on the way home. Or I'm running errands at lunchtime, I'm late, and I'm starving, and I get Chick-fil-e. Or it's the weekend we're tired, there's no food to eat, and we're lazy as all fuck, so we go out to lunch/dinner/breakfast/snacktime etc. etc.

It's not that I don't go to the grocery store; I go every week. But I don't get the right things. I get things that take a long time cook, and I don't have the time to do that. I get snacks that aren't healthy (usually chips), I don't have any go-to food to much on after I go to the gym (which is absurd since I go to the gym like 4 times a week.) So this Monday I decided to tighten my belt, loosen my wallet, and buy the right stuff. The Wegmen's I go to has this sweet trail mix bar, which gave me access to dried banana slices and cranberries, semi-sweet chocolate chips and almonds (all of which I will probably buy individually next week in order to have a larger supply in bulk). Anyway, I mixed this conglomeration of goodness with about two parts Cheerios and BAM! delicious trail mix, suitable for face-stuffing after a hard work-out. I got salad to eat at home and salad to eat work, hummus, pretzel chips, and these amazing turkey sausages that Johnsonville makes which happen to be very low calorie and also delicious. It's no salmon on a bed spinach, but it's fit my lifestyle pretty well this week, and it's all food I enjoy eating. This is good because ultimately, I don't want a diet; I want to alter my habits for the better. On that note, I'm late for a parkour class ominously titled "Eat Your Veggies" which is designed to beat the hell out of your body and motivate you to either crawl in a hole and die or --you guessed it-- eat your veggies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Truest Form of Zombie Survival: Parkour

So as part of my continuing endeavor to integrate more cardio into my week, I've decided to get back into parkour. That's my sane reason. Also, I'm kind of getting into survival preparation, by which I mean I am developing plans for bad weather, terrorist attacks, and end-of-the-world scenarios that involve stocking up on water, MRE's, and camping gear while learning how to plant crops, shoot a bow, skin an animal, forage and --
OK. Admittedly this is not a very normal or healthy hobby, but the fact is that if the zombie apocalypse begins I want to be able to climb a 6 foot wall, goddammit, cause ain't no way I'm goin out just cause I decided to stay home and eat pizza instead of heading to the gym when I had the chance.

So with this in mind on Friday night I headed out to do a little parkour. I was very nervous because for one thing parkour is one of those sports that involves a lot of interaction with other human beings, which is pretty far down on my list of skills (I think I roll a penalty for my low charisma when participating in social interaction.) Also, I'm not very good at parkour. This is not for lack of trying; I work hard when I'm there and I push myself to get the most out of my work-out. But one of the things I really like about parkour (even though it makes it a huge challenge for me) is that it is much more than a sport of simply memorizing forms or learning different ways to jump over things.
Parkour is cerebral. It's an exercise in creativity as much as strength, flexibility, stamina, and endurance. The challenge of crossing from point A to point B is about recognizing an obstacle and deciding on the best way to traverse it, factoring in your position based on whatever obstacle you've just crossed, your ability, and the obstacle you'll be facing next. The best traceurs are made of equal parts patience and quick decision-making, of calculation and artistry. It's fun when you get it right. It's annoying as fuck all the times you get it wrong (and sometimes painful).
So Friday I timidly did my warm-up, wheezing by the end (thanks overly muscular and under aerobically-disciplined body) and got in line to do some vaults. For the most part, I was my terrified of heights self, but I did do some damn fine jump to cat-hangs, and also managed to top out from a cat-hang. The top out was a big goddamn deal, and I'm hoping to get to the point where I can do a wall run to top out in the coming months. (I calculate the zombie outbreak as being more likely to occur in the late spring or summer, so as long as I cam make it up an 8-foot wall by then, everything will be fine.)

Anyway, after that, the class broke down into hey-it's-urban-evo-on-a-friday-night-let's-just-jump-on-things. I took the first steps to learning how to do a front flip, which is very exciting, and then we loaded mats onto a tumble track and jumped on/over them. There's no video evidence that I participated, unfortunately, but I did get two awesome videos of other guys vaulting the mats. (No, my vaults were not nearly as clean as theirs but YES I did vault this obstacle, which was about as tall as I am.) Enjoy.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Skill Increase: Balance

FYI This takes a lot of core strength. I've been working on my superman's for almost 9 months, and it could still use some work (I think my stomach should probably be tighter and my back should be straighter, rather than arched, but I'm really shocked at how much progress I've made.)

So Wednesday I went to Urban Evolution in Manassas, as is my thing, to learn silks from the very talented and experienced Robin Berry. I also braved the static trapeze for the first time (In the background behind me in this photo). I decided that I really like static trapeze, and I'd really like to develop my skills at it. It takes a lot of strength and balance, but, thank god, not nearly as much endurance as silks does. Hopefully sometime in the near future I'll have some pictures up. My real challenge learning trapeze is that I really don't have anywhere to take classes. While Urban Evo has a trapeze, it's not actually hung correctly and no one is available to teach a class. Eventually I'll probably have to go somewhere for proper training. For now, though, I'll have to rely on YouTube videos and luck to see me though, with occasional input from Robin.

Anyway, after aerials, I stuck around on Wednesday for gymnastics, my first time back in about six months. So, I am not good at gymnastics. I am working on my strength and flexibility, and they have dramatically improved, but at the end of the day, I have dexterity of like 8. I.E. I am so fucking clumsy it's a miracle I haven't broken my neck yet. This is especially bad because whenever I think of gymnastics I think of tumbling. I really, really want to tumble. Specifically, I really, really want to learn to do a back handspring, because I consider that to be an automatic qualification for being a superhero. Read a marvel comic sometime. I'm fairly certain the handsprings account for approximately 76% of the best defensive and offensive skills. In fact, I'm fairly certain there are a few characters whose powers derive solely from their capability to perform a handspring, and I want to save the world and hang out in the Avengers Mansion, just like them.
I did not actually do a handspring on Wednesday. I worked on the much less offensively effective cartwheel instead. But I'm hoping that once a week doing gymnastics will eventually allow me to build my library of power attacks and help me to be an overall better fitness nerd. Also, gymnastics kicked my ass. Like, literally for two days my ass hurt like someone had taken a bat to it. Respect gymnastics, everyone. It will spank you like BDSM enthusiast.

Friday, I am proud to say, I finally won an argument against my boyfriend, who insists, time and again. that the little gym at our apartment complex sucks because there are no bar bells and therefore nothing to do there. True fact: THERE IS SHIT TO DO EVERYWHERE. So on Friday night we put on our workout gear and headed to the little community gym. We warmed up on the treadmill, and then went on to work on other things. I did dumbbell goblet squats, hollow body rocks, planks (my enemy...) and handstands in three rounds while working on the treadmill for a few minutes in between each round. Then I did some aggressive stretching. The BF worked on chest presses, handstands, and cardio. I was really excited because I actually tolerated working on the treadmill. This is a big deal because generally speaking running is my greatest enemy, the bane of my fitness existence, the terror that haunts my dreams. Getting better at running is super-exciting, and I'm looking forward to going back to the gym this Friday to work on my running a little more. After all, if you're going to survive the zombie apocalypse you have to have a couple dots in running. It's the rules.
So then we watched Skyfall. SPOILER ALERT: Holy shit Skyfall. Holy shit holy shit holy shit Skyfall that is all.

Saturday I was back at Urban Evo. My friend brought her lyra, so we worked on the trapeze, lyra, and aerial silks. Lot of work, lot of fun. I was a lot of tired afterwards. Here are pictures.

On Sunday I went for a zombie walk/run, but it was my first time; kind of a failure, I got eaten by zombies. Guess it's something to work on!

'Til next time!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sometimes it's the Little Things

Like dinner.

So I missed out on a week and half of working out between Halloween, hurricanes, bronchitis (did I mention I have asthma?), my boyfriend's birthday and just plain life. I once told someone, "I don't have enough time to work out right now." "It's not about time," he said. "It's about priorities. You have to figure out where your priorities are." It's a stunningly simple and painful observation. I think one reason we're so resistant to fitness is that we don't want to shuffle priorities. If you make exercise a bigger priority in your life, inevitably something else is going to fall down the list, and that's scary. For me, other aspects of my life have taken priority for the  past week, priorities like work, heath/rest, safety, and Halloween parties. I know a guy who makes fitness his biggest priority in life. He's amazing. He's been featured on American Ninja Warrior, he's an expert gymnast, traceur (that's a male parkour-person), and aerialist. He can balance indefinitely in a one-handed handstand. He is dedicated to fitness the way most of us are dedicated to the top three things in our lives combined (for me, I guess that would be work, gym, friends? Not sure). My point here is, if you're having trouble raising your skill level working out, examine your priorities. Maybe fitness needs to be a little higher on your list, but also recognize that if it's not your top priority, that's completely ok. Life gets ahead of us, just remember to make fitness ONE of your priorities and respect its place on your list.

Enough philosophy. Anyway, so last night I FINALLY returned to my stomping grounds at Urban Evolution in Manassas, Va. It was challenging getting back on the silks again. For one thing, I still have bronchitis, which really inhibited my breathing. At one point I felt like I was going to collapse and my heart was racing through the roof. Two puffs from my inhaler and a short rest later, I got back on and proceeded to have a fairly successful night (really successful, actually, considering that I had been gone for so long). I reviewed all of my moves and worked on my endurance and transitions, successfully moving from a double footlock/ cross-back straddle to a half montey. Challenging stuff, but tiny compared to the amazing endurance and transitions of performers.

Then I came home and ate a ridiculously good dinner of chicken sausage (honestly not that good, but it kept me sane while I cooked everything else) Followed by bacon, sauteed mushrooms, and green squash pan-fried with salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning. IMPORTANT COOKING TIP: Creole seasoning has the potential to make any dish taste amazing when used correctly. Are you on a diet? Trying desperately to shove vegetables down your throat while you dream of cheese and red, juicy steaks? CREOLE SEASONING. Bam! Life doesn't suck quite as much.

Oh speaking of dieting, so I mentioned recently that I had been gaining weight. once again really wish I had a BMI device because I feel like I'm back down to healthy fat again. It's sort of crazy considering the fact that I didn't work out for a week, but I've been watching what I eat, trying to stick to white meat, fruits, and veggies, and most importantly, I've been eating cereal before I head to work in the morning. I used to eat breakfast after I got into the office, but I think eating before work has really made a difference to boost my metabolism. Plus I love me the shit out of some cereal, so I'm really excited to justify forcing myself to wake up in time to eat it. Oh also, I'm still planning to increase my cardio because it just seems like a good thing to do. Til next time!