Friday, April 23, 2010

Research for my book

Lately I've been really thinking a lot about food, mainly because I'm researching scientific studies for my exercise book I'm eternally writing. And, I've found more and more that we all have so much information, contradictory information to sort through. In the end, we should trust our own instincts, stop shelling out money to advertisers who tell us we look bad, and enjoy food and movement.

But I, like so many others, am also very vulnerable to magazine and TV images of what I am trained to consider "perfect". I get all wrapped in it. It takes a while to back my brain down from the "come on, let's just try to lose five pounds or workout harder" ledge.

But for me, it's so much more important to work on healthy body image, healthy and fun choices in food and exercise than to have the perfect body. Plus, I feel like I do have a pretty awesome body.

Check out this article in Bust. It refers to this New York Times article.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Good Meaning People Create Much Harm

When I read articles like this Smart Set Article, I am reminded of my own journey to healthy eating, how even in these blogs, you can see that I struggle to resist trying to be that ideal female form and exercise not out of fear of becoming fat (cuz fat isn't something to fear), but out of a genuine need and love to move.

I am also reminded, in my years-long journey, of the mistakes I've made. I was so self-righteous sometimes. A few years ago, I talked obsessively with one friend who was a recovered anorexic about this new counting-caloriees spreadsheet I had made. The poor girl was getting so sucked in to my diet mania that she had stop meeting with me. I had no idea that my mania would end, like every diet ends, and in a month or two I'd no longer tout the amazing qualities of my calorie-counting plan. I was hurting her by trying to convince that my diet was so good.

I also remember talking about being fat in front of my good friend who is larger than I am. She turned to me and said, "if you think you're fat, then what am I?".....Uhhh, awesome? Ooops.

Another friend was complaining about her weight. I had made significant changes in my life, and I wanted her to make them, too. So I just said what you're not supposed to say. "If you want to lose weight, go to the gym and exercise. Eat better. Do something!" That was when our friendship fell apart. We haven't been the same since. And what good did my advice do? She'd already heard that advice from every weight-loss expert around. Wouldn't it have been great if I'd said, genuinely, "Why would you want to lose weight? You're incredibly beautiful, sexy, and sensual in the body you have now. Besides, you think a smaller body can possibly house all the incredible gifts you have to offer?"

But it's hard to communicate about fat. It's a taboo subject. I don't think it should be.

My friends are still on diets, Weight Watchers and South Beach. But unlike my self-righteous days, I was quiet, and tried to only talk about the parts of the diets that I agreed with--cooking good, wholesome food and sharing it with friends, and exercising.

I just hope that the diet doesn't damage their self-esteem because anytime I fell off the wagon during my diet days, I felt shitty about myself, like I had failed.

I never want my friends to feel that way, especially since they have such kickin' bodies.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Healthy Choices at Schools

I also read this article from the Oregonian which I thought offered a very healthful approach of encouraging healthy habits by offering buffet-style fruit carts and walking buses. They also offered cooking classes for parents and kids. This to me is the best way--instead of saying "no" to junk food, give them other options.


I recently read this article from the San Jose Mercury News about a new study requiring an hour of exercise for women as they get older to maintain a healthy weight. What got me is that they didn't say one word about the risks of being overweight. I'm not sure it's even a risk. I read one book that found several studies saying that women in the overweight category of BMI actually lived longer than their normal counterparts. So what's the big deal?

The one redeeming aspect of this article were two small sections at the end:

"Still, Lee emphasized that the benefits of exercise extend beyond what you see in the mirror, helping keep the heart healthy and protecting against chronic disease even if you don't get enough activity to lose weight.

"I think an hour a day is hard, but I think you can do it if it's for your health," said Beth Orso, 45, of San Jose. "As it is, I squeeze in what I can five days a week, and it's certainly not for an hour. I hope to just be active and feel good."

These two non-weight focused sections follow the FunFitFoodie philosophy. The rest are too focused on weight on for me to be intrigued. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Once a Week Exercising is Not Enough

After exercising at least four days a week in Chile--three days biking to the top of cerro san cristobal, two days at the gym (yes I know it's five but normally I miss one of these somehow)--not exercising as much comes with some serious side effects.

I went to a three hour dance class/rehearsal last Saturday which was beautiful and fun. But I was sore, sore, sore all week long after. Then this week, I skipped the class but went running and same thing--sore, sore, sore.

Plus, my ability to emotionally handle some hard decisions that are coming my way (do I stay in the US or go back to Chile?) seem insurmountable when I haven't exercised. When I have exercised, they seem difficult but not overwhelming (and here's the other thing, walking which used to help doesn't anymore--it's got to be a hard workout!).

Why do I take off these weeks from exercising if I KNOW that I emotionally I'm a wreck without exercising?

Cuz I'm human. And humans aren't robots. They don't always follow schedules. They don't always do what they're supposed to do.

So, I guess my lesson today is to be a human. If you'll feel better exercising, do it. If you won't today, don't. Be human. Don't be a robot.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Fitness Tests for Home

I have to admit, I'm a sucker for health tests. Really, I want statistics to show that I am a healthy individual.

This article on simple health tests you can do at home is really interesting because it reveals the risks of having a poor result for each of the tests. Even though it doesn't offer many solutions if you do get a poor result, I'm going to offer you one big solution: move more. Find an activity you really like to do, and do it more often.

You may not be able to change how you look on the outside, but you can change how you feel on the inside.

Good luck!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Cerro San Cristobal

I have recently begun biking up the hill here in Santiago, with a goal of three times a week. Not because I think it's good for me (I do) but because I love it. Somewhere beneath my heavy breathing and pounding heart, after I pass through that threshold of ten minutes of suffering, it feels, how can I say it, if not good, it feels right. It feels like medicine.

Check out what I wrote about it at my other blog.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Vacations--Death to Workouts

Vacations are essential. Essential to your mental health, and I believe physical health, too. If you work fourty hours, or have kids, or are basically alive, you probably aren't getting the amount of sleep you really need. Having vacation to finally sleep in for more than two days in a row can be a livesaver.

But...vacation can also interrupt your workout and movement routines. We go on vacation with the best intentions: we'll workout every day, or every other day. But vacations are for relaxing and for getting away from your normal life. Certainly you'll benefit from moving, but since you're taking a break from your normal life, take a break from exercising too...or at least the way you normally exercise.

I recently went to the beach for two weeks. I took my exercise mat and foam roller, thinking I would workout every day. I worked out once in two weeks. It just didn't happen.

I did take my bike and every day rode for a half hour to an hour--not because I felt I had to, but because I love biking, and my absolutely favorite is biking by the ocean. So I biked because I wanted to, and because it was the most convenient way to get to the little town by the beach where all the cinammon ice cream was.

So maybe instead of going on vacation with the best intentions, we should go on vacation with realistic intentions: that we're not going to do what we normally do, but that, when we want to, we'll move our bodies. It certainly beats feeling guilty about something we weren't ever going to do.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fat Thighs are Good

Check out this article. All fats are not made equal.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Getting Back to the Chispa (spark)

Have you ever just felt off-kilter? Like you're going through the motions of your life but you don't feel entirely like yourself?

Perhaps it is just the reaction I've had lately. I've been living in Chile for a year and a half now. Lately, it's been hard. The whole thing has been hard, but this is a different kind of a difficulty. I've lost my spark.

I've been making up jokes in Spanish to push my mind toward funny things. I also recently went back to a Bikram Yoga class. It helped tremendously. If you're ever feeling down or confused, I highly recommend this type of yoga. It is so engaging that you really can't think about anything else except the present moment. It's hot yoga so be warned--you'll sweat a lot! You might not resolve your problem right away but you'll feel at least calmer about not knowing the solution.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New realization; New Year

Just yesterday, after an hour workout, I was stretching and thinking about how exercise continues to change my world. I could be in the worst mood, and after an hour of sweating, I feel fantastic. What was bothering me before doesn't bother me after.

And so I thought, if working out changes my perspective to a happy one, why would I not want to be happy as early as possible each day. With this in mind, waking up to go for a run was surprisingly easy today. Before I was working out to relieve stress. But lately my life has very little stress.

What better motivation to workout than one's own happiness?

Each day, when I feel tired or lazy, I'm going to ask myself a simple question. How early do I want to be happy? If the answer is now, then I'm going to exercise.

For a long time now, I've understood that in some way I'm like a child. With a good night's sleep, good food, and movement every day, I'm a happy camper. It's so simple and yet, sometimes, I have trouble fulfilling even these three requirements. If one has the secret to one's own happiness, why, oh, why, don't they do what it takes to be happy?

If there's any New Year's resolution I have for this year, it is to fulfill the three simple things on my list to be happy. Every day. Wish me luck!