Monday, December 16, 2013

HATING on Fit Working Parents?

Initially my first post back was supposed to be about my adventures at AIT, but this is a topic that really struck home with me.

Many people struggle with their weight. Around New Year's Eve each year people usually tell themselves that they'll start eating better and exercising. They usually take the wrong approach, expect overnight results, lose all hope....and eventually quit. They make excuses, return to their sedentary lifestyles and continue to make poor decisions about food consumption.

I struggled with my weight. I've tried numerous diets and workout plans, and expected immediate results. I was just like everyone else. But one day it hit me. I wasn't getting any younger, and enough was enough! I got on the health train and never stepped off. Of course it's hard. It requires hard work and dedication. But that is what I find so admirable about those who get on board this train.

I write this because of the hateful remarks people are saying about Maria Kang

She is just an average working mom, who just happens to take her health and fitness very serious. But what is so wrong with that? Everyone should take their health and fitness seriously. Without it, you will eventually become useless. Sure, it's a harsh thing to say, but we all know it's true. When your health is poor, it not only affects you...but your family as well. It can take quite an emotional and financial toll on you and your family. With just 30-60 minutes a day, you can help prevent that. And THAT in itself is worth it.

image via

I'm a working mom. Heck, I wear quite a few different hats, but my main full time job is in software. I get up around 5am and workout for about 30-60 minutes, 5-6 days a week. I also cook breakfast for me and my son EVERY morning. Then I take him to school and battle an hour long commute with traffic. Several days a week, I use my lunch break and work on our family business. I commute back home in the traffic once again and pick up my son from my mom's. Upon arriving home, I cook dinner and help out with homework. I clean, prepare meals for the next day...and again, work on the family business. And if my husband is home from the shop, then I spend time with him. It's a vicious cycle, but I make time for my health.

Maria is helping to bring health awareness to anyone who will will listen. Obesity is such a norm in our society, it is scary. NEWSFLASH: Kids are overweight. I've never seen so many "husky" sized pants in the boy section, until a few years ago. That size didn't exist when I was growing up. But again, it's the norm and most don't think there is anything wrong with this. Maria's posts on her blog and facebook page are made to inspire, but people LOVE to twist things around. And in turn, say rude things. 

Check out her blog and facebook page. You be the judge.
And if it's not for you, then carry on.

What's your excuse? - Maria Kang

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

If you go to any blog, or read healthy and fitness articles, they all have something in common…get at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. It is true that sleep is required and beneficial to your overall health goal.

Your body repairs itself when you get ample rest, your muscles grow, and it aids in weight loss. 

                 Don’t believe me?  Do a simple google search.

But like many others, and probably yourself as well, I lack sleep. I used to go to bed at 10:30pm and wake up at 5:30 in the morning. I got a good 7 hours of sleep and I did feel good when I woke up. But life happens. You see, my husband’s a machinist, and has been one for about 20years. He’s done projects for others during his free time. He then decided to start his own machining business. Of course it’s a family affair, so I do my share as well. 

This keeps me up late at night. For me, the only time I can work on it is during those odd hours when everyone else is asleep. There isn’t much time, so when I really get into it, I end up staying up pretty late. That of course is not what we want. Not to mention the increase in cortisol levels which in turn does not help with weight loss.

I average between 4-5 hours of sleep per night. That obviously is not enough. But now that I’ve grown accustomed to this schedule, it really is hard to return to getting 7 hours of sleep a night. Recently I’m starting to feel more established with our online presence, the shop is busy with lots of orders, and I feel it’s time to back off from working on the business a few days a week. It's time for me to get some good sleep in. It’s not the perfect schedule, but it is much better than it was.

How much sleep do you get each night?
If you’re running a business, does it throw off your sleep schedule as well?

Did I Just Have a Cheat Meal?

What is a cheat meal anyway?
A cheat meal is commonly known as a single meal that does not line up with your normal healthy diet.

BUT....this could mean different things to a lot of people. 

-Some may have a moderate sized cheat such as a burger and fries, or a few slices of pizza, or a single bowl of pasta or chow mein.

-Some do it big and hit the Chinese buffet which results in a ginormous and long winded helping of countless calories.

-And some just do it to simply satisfy a craving for that one thing whether it's a Snickers bar or a cone of ice cream.

Is a cheat meal required?
Most of the articles I have read, state that a high percentage are all for cheat meals. 

A single cheat meal once a week could aid in weight loss by "shocking" your metabolism. Giving you a little insulin spike so your weight loss does not plateau.

Mark Sisson also mentions that it may be required to regulate leptin levels.

Reading numerous articles during my research, I've only found a couple of sources that are against it.

1) If you have quite a bit of weight to lose, then a cheat meal could hinder your progress. If done weekly, it could easily hinder your progress as those bad habits may resurface and get you off track.

2) If you're already eating good and healthy food which satisfies your taste buds, then a cheat meal is not required.


So what does one do?
I'm not an expert so I can only state what has worked, and what is currently working, for me.

While living a paleo lifestyle, I prepare flavorful foods for myself. For the most part, I don't often feel the need for a cheat meal. And by the time I'm ready to have a cheat meal, the craving has either diminished, or I rethink eating it and change my mind.
Honestly, my cheat meals are pretty darn healthy. Like I might go crazy on a huge bowl of fruit. (But I've noticed that too much fruit actually gives me a headache due to the large amount of sugar consumed in a single sitting.)
Or I might have a plate of Chinese food. But even so, I am so used to eating a lot of veggies that I still load up on a ton of veggies during that cheat.

Here's an example of a cheat meal I had this past Saturday.

Trader Joe's sells these frozen breaded chunks of chicken.
I had 2 of those, covered in spaghetti sauce and a large helping of string beans and asparagus sauteed in coconut oil.

I have not measured my body fat composition, but I have shed quite a bit of fat and built some lean muscle. I personally feel like I still have a ways to go, mainly in my mid section.

YEP, you got it, the dreaded abs. Even my love handles have reduced in size, but they are still noticeable. Just keepin' it real here.

There are many different programs out there and you really just have to find out what works best for your body and lifestyle. Eating bland food all the time is a sure fire way to go hog wild on a cheat meal.

How do cheat meals work for you?
What diet/healthy eating lifestyle are you most happy with ?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Miss Stairs

Earlier this month I went to Nashville, TN for my cousin's wedding. He and his bride opened up their beautiful home to a bunch of us. It was really a nice home. One that would you see in a Better Homes and Garden magazine. It was a 2-story home, so yep...there were stairs. YESSSSSS!!!!!!

Our previous home was a 2-story home and the stairs never bothered me. I always ran up the stairs. Not sure why. It was fun for some reason, and it secretly assisted in providing a tiny dose of activity during the day. We now live in a single story home. I've noticed that my cats are not as active since we no longer have stairs in the house. They are both big cats to start with, so they could use all of the activity they could.

I didn't really realize it until I stayed at my cousin's home, how much I missed having stairs. Again, I was running up the stairs just like I used to in my old house. I even did it purposely for exercise one day while playing with my son and his cousin. They were tossing socks (grenades) down the banister and I'd run down to get them. It was fun!

Fortunately the parking garage at work has 8 levels, providing 7 flights of stairs to enjoy. I use them at least once a day, on upwards to 3 times a day. I have walked up them, but that's...

 "so boring" my son would say. So you guessed it, I run up them. It provides an awesome workout. Do that twice and it provides an even better workout. Sometimes I'll even throw in some jumping jacks and lunges afterwards. Then a walk around the block once or twice provides a nice cool down.

Even at the mall or at a subway station, I would always take the stairs instead of the escalator. Those tiny changes, repeated over and over again, can help make a difference.

A set of stairs I'd love to go up are these at Graceland. But Elvis always kept the 2nd floor off limits, which is understandable.

So yep...I miss stairs. They can help you get your heart rate up, wake you up after sitting in a cube all day long, and assist in adding in more activity in your day. So the next time you dread the stairs, think of the tiny health benefit it gives you.

Do you include stair climbing in your workouts?

Monday, August 26, 2013

I Survived a Day of FUN Without Cheating

Family time is very important to me. I have a pretty big extended family. I have A LOT of cousins; 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, etc. Heck, it seems like everyone is an aunt, uncle or a cousin. But I love it.

My weekends are usually full of chores, meal prepping, and doing homework with my son. But I try to include some fun. 

    What's the purpose of life if you're not enjoying yourself?

If I do have plans to have some fun, all of chores are compressed into a single day. This past weekend, my fun day was on Sunday. Breakfast and then a birthday party. 

I know right? 
This can't turn out good.

Knowing that I might "cheat" on my diet, or consume a larger amount of calories than normal, I scheduled my early weekend run on Sunday. I hit the weights the night before, working my upper body (arms and shoulders). Got a good night's sleep and went for a 2 mile run at 6am.

By 8:40am I was parking in front of Chop Bar in Oakland. They don't open until 9am, so my son and I decided to go for a walk and explore. Doing that is much more appealing than just sitting in the car and waiting. Plus, I got to take a view awesome shots of the architecture.

Knowing that we were going to come here for breakfast, I checked out the restaurant on yelp. Yes, I use yelp often. I found a brunch menu in their photo section and had an idea of what I was going to order. In order to stay on track with your health and weight loss goals, this is a really good way to assist you.

I ended up ordering the pork belly with cheese and onion frittata. It sounded delish and it looked good too.

Instead of the fries I asked for fruit. I had about 3 blueberries. My son and grandma ate the rest of my fruit. The bread looked good, but I easily avoided it and offered it to someone else. And I had 1.5 cups of coffee with a splash of milk.

I was full, but not completely stuffed and I enjoyed my meal. Not to mention the awesome conversations we were all having.

Afterwards, we all walked over to the Jack London Square. To get across the train tracks, there was an elevator and stairs at each end.


Can you guess which route I took?
Yes, the stairs.

We enjoyed the view and each others' company before parting, and then walked back to our vehicles. That get together was done and I don't feel guilty about my meal choice, and happy that I got to include even more physical activity in my day.

Now it was time for the birthday party...

This is where most people fail.
I feel like I started my day off on the right foot, so I continued to stay positive that I would continue to make healthy decisions for the remainder of the day. It was a child's birthday party at a park. They BBQ'd which was a total score for me.

I had a garlic sausage with some mustard, 2 bowls of chili, a water and a small cup of coffee with half and half. I really didn't sit much, I stood the whole time while conversing with relatives and other guests.

My son got to play with his cousin, so they were running around like crazy, which is awesome. Instead of a birthday cake, my cousin made some appetizing cupcakes.
Aren't they cute?


I was quite satisfied with all I had just consumed that I really didn't feel a need to cheat with a cupcake. And surprisingly, my son didn't want one either. He opted for watermelon, and then some marshmallows. I am pretty strict with his diet, and he was burning a crazy amount of calories by running around....I let him have the sugar.

So that was my family fun filled day of eating out.
Just goes to show you that even though you go out, you can still plan it in a way where you don't drift from your diet. If you think about it, there are things you can do to help you stay on track.

How are you when it comes to family gatherings?
Do you find it difficult to stay on track?
What tips or tricks do you use?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Book Review: Paleo Fitness by Darryl Edwards

I enjoy reading. I often read articles regarding fitness and healthy recipes from pages I follow on Facebook. Unfortunately I don’t have enough time to read books, which really needs to change. But thanks to Darryl Edwards, the Fitness Explorer, I read a book! His book, Paleo Fitness.

I’ve been following Darryl‘s posts and blog for a while now. I love his approach to nutrition and fitness. Basically…keep it simple

Eat REAL food and PLAY outside. 

He takes a lot of the info from his blog, along with other research on Paleo and functional fitness, and combines all that together in his book.

He reminds us of what humans used to eat and how physical we used to be. And that we really haven’t evolved as much as we thought we did, which is a good thing. He stresses how we should return to the way it used to be because that is what is good for our bodies, and it is also what our bodies crave. We were designed to eat real food and move a lot, instead of eating prepackaged convenience “foods” and sitting most of the day.

His book provides info on the history of our ancestors, and studies performed by experts, to help show the importance of eating real food and moving as much as possible. By embracing this, we can help rid ourselves of obesity and many other ailments. We really do become what we eat.

Also in his book, he provides a meal plan, several recipes, and demonstrates a range of functional body weight exercises. YES! You can do all of this at home, or at the park. No, you don’t need a gym membership. That is the beauty of these movements. They are simple, yet very effective.

This book is definitely a good read. It typically takes me a while to read a book from cover to cover, but since this book contained something I am very interested in, I was able to finish it in no time.

Have you read the book?
What are your thoughts on it?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Miss Running in my Toe Shoes

As soon as I get home from work, I kick the shoes off and I put on my flip flops or just walk around barefoot. That right there must send some sort of signal to my brain, that it’s time to relax a bit. Sometimes I’ll change completely and throw on some shorts and a tank top.

During the weekend, I typically wear my flip flops. I’m not one to care about how I dress. Just ask anyone that knows me. I have a decent sized backyard. A couple of days ago I ran from one point in the backyard to the house. As I ran that short distance, it reminded me how much I miss minimalist/barefoot running. It felt good. It felt natural.

When I decided to enlist, I knew I had to give up this form of running and learn how to run again. I had to become….omg I don’t even want to say it….I had to become…a shod runner. (bows head in sadness)

It was quite a challenge. I really had to take it slow because I would trip over myself. I paid some bucks and went to a running store to purchase flat running shoes. Meaning, shoes that do not have any arch support. I know. I know. Some of you are probably cringing right now….but if you couldn’t tell, this is still a barefoot/minimalist running blog.

While at reception, they MADE us buy new shoes. We stepped on a light box and the SGT would tell us what type of shoe we needed to purchase. I knew right then and there that I was just gonna blow a hundred bucks out of my advanced pay. I put the shoes on and they hurt SO bad. I tried to break them in, but my feet would just cramp. I felt so bad for my poor footsies. They know what they like to run in.

Luckily when we finally reached actual basic, my drill sergeants let us use our own running shoes. That made the world of difference. In a place where most people referred to as Hell, I felt like I was in Heaven. I was so thankful to be able to wear my already broken in running shoes that I’ve been training in for 2 months prior.

So yep, I do. I do miss running barefoot and in minimalist shoes (Vibrams and sandals). I have yet to purchase a pair of huarachas. I’ve ran on my treadmill barefoot, but noticed that my feet got tore up pretty easily because it’s been so long since I’ve ran barefoot. So I sometimes run in socks. But I think it would be good to get out on a trail and bring the Vibrams out of hiding. When living in the suburbs I could easily run barefoot, but not here in the country. Way too many rocks and gravel….OUCH!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Move with a (BEEP) purpose soldiers!

I did a lot of running before leaving for basic combat training (BCT). I mean A LOT. If I only had time for one workout, it was to run. I ran in a hoodie on each time. I ran outdoors 3 times a week, in gravel, asphalt, cement. I ran uphill, downhill and on flat surfaces. I just ran. I still use Runmeter to keep track of my run times. Afterwards, I would run back to In-Shape Concord and do interval training on the elliptical for about 20 minutes. Then I would run again on the treadmill. I would do interval training on the treadmill with sprints and jogging for maybe another 20 minutes. Plus I used the incline feature for resistance. After, I might end with some weights or push-ups, but always completed with lots of stretching. That was my regimen after work, 3 days a week. I stayed focus and left for basic running 2 miles in about 21 minutes or less (outdoors that is). I can only improve from here right?

The first run at basic was for the drill sergeants, so they could properly place each one of us in the appropriate running group. Alpha, Bravo or Charlie, with Alpha being the group with the fastest runners. We ran on what they called the “pork chop” track. It was a gravel track with slight inclines and declines in the shape of a pork chop. I ran the 2 miles in 18 minutes. WOW! Right off the bat I was already excelling.  I guess all that torcher training was paying off.

As you probably would have guessed, I ended up in Charlie group. I didn’t mind that at all. I was already minutes away from the 50% score required to pass BCT. I was also minutes away from the 60% score. But I didn’t stop there. Throughout BCT, I continued to force myself to improve. I had to. I had to be able to keep up with all the faster runners. We had a couple company runs. It was a shame if you fell back. And you probably would get a good yelling, or even get smoked for it. We also had ruck marches (many started out in the dark), and you had to keep pace. We marched everywhere and ran everywhere. You always had to move with a purpose.

Move with a f@cking purpose soldiers!” 
is what my drill sergeant would say. (Is it crazy that I miss DS Johnson?)

We did PT (physical training) every morning except for Sunday. We ran every other day. Some were group runs, while other times we did sprints. And sometimes after the sprints we would run in the sand. OMG that was brutal. Talk about having a heart attack. We formed about 30 lines with about 7 soldiers in each line. We each had to run back and forth 6 times in the sand. I have no idea how far it was, but it was far. Often times you would run towards another line because it was practically impossible to run a straight line. You just had to run towards the buddies in your line. We would cheer each other on, wave and yell to the runners to guide them in the right direction.

I remember going for a nice run on the beach in Oceanside. But running in the sand in boot camp is insane. There is a lot of resistance and you feel like you're constantly sinking. They would have drill sergeants at the other end to make sure you were going far enough down before turning back. One drill sergeant asked me if I was dying. Of course you would never admit it, but I was dying. It was all I could do to keep going. Legs weighed a ton. It felt like someone strapped cinder blocks to my feet.

But would you know that after doing these run drills in the sand, I actually got better at it. Of course I was still tired, but I wasn’t completely dying. I realized this during the 3rd or 4th iteration. Once you get passed half way, you feel like you’re home free. Six times back and forth is a lot, but it felt more achievable.

By the 3rd APFT, I ran my fastest 2 miles ever…. 17 minutes and 14 seconds. I was FREAKING STOKED! You don't understand. I was SO happy I wanted to cry. Til this day I have yet to beat that time. The closest was 17:19, but I’ll get there. I just have to remember those famous words that will always stay with me....Move with a f@cking purpose soldiers!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

How I Safely Lost 30 Pounds in 3 Months

When I first went to meet with a recruiter, I knew I was overweight. But I had already been running for well over a year, as I have completed the Couch to 5k program and have completed two 5k’s. I figured I had a chance, but I received QUITE an awakening.

I didn’t own a scale. I haven’t owned one for a while. I don’t judge my weight loss by pounds, but by how my clothes fit. I met my recruiter at CampParks to get weighed. That was scary. I got weighed and taped (where they measure your body fat). I failed both tests miserably. It was depressing to hear the facts. But you can’t argue with facts. I wanted to cry, but I didn’t want them to see it.

I could have quit right then and there, and I really did consider it. To lose about 25 pounds (safely) in such a short amount of time was going to take a lot. It was February of 2012 and I had to enlist before my 35th birthday in early June. That was less than 4 months. A lot of determination, a lot of scheduling around my already busy life – it was going to take a lot of WORK. I wasn’t sure if I was up for the challenge, but I also didn’t want to live with regret. I decided to go for it.

I started out with the Atkins diet once again. It had worked several times before. But then I learned about the Paleo diet. That made more sense to me. Similar to the Atkins diet in the sense that it is low/no carb. But with the Paleo diet, you eat REAL food. You don’t eat processed Atkins boxed snacks. Don’t get me wrong. On the Atkins diet you do eat real food. But, you also have an option to eat processed boxed foods under the Atkins label.

I felt it was easier because we sort of already ate that way at home. I just had to remove the carbs; wheat bread, brown rice, etc. And for a while, I removed fruit due to its (although good) sugar content. I ate eggs every morning, and I pretty much still do. The rest of my meals consisted of a protein and veggies, lots of water and green tea.

I found a Paleo hack for coffee at Starbucks. Til this day, my favorite drink is a tall Americano with a splash of heavy whipping cream. It does not contain any sugar, but it does contain fat, which is OK on the Paleo diet. If I went to a store that I didn’t frequent, I would have to watch and make sure that they were adding heavy whipping cream instead of a large amount of whipped cream.
(image from
I switched from peanut butter to almond butter. I removed carbs completely. I drank a lot of water and green tea. I did not drink any juice due to its sugar content. I tried my best to adhere to the strict rules of the diet. And honestly…..I felt GREAT! I was slimming down, my complexion was clearer than it’s been in a long time, and I just felt awesome.

Although many just stay true to the diet, I wanted to help speed up the process. I needed to. I was on a time crunch. And I also needed to increase my endurance and perform the exercises they perform in the Army. The Army has an APFT; Army Physical Fitness Test. This is based on your gender and age group. In BCT, the requirement to pass is 50%. For AIT, the requirement is 60%. I worked my butt off to make sure that when I left for BCT, I could pass the APFT with a 60% score.

(image from
I ran a lot. And I mean A LOT. At the time, I was able to run outdoors more often, so I ran outdoors 3days/wk. This helped a lot because I ran on pavement, dirt, gravel, on level ground and hills. It was getting warmer as the days went by. Knowing that I was going to ship out somewhere humid, I also wore a hoodie during my runs. Yeah, that added weight, as well as bumped up the sweat factor by a bunch. But it was working. I was getting stronger, running faster (for me at least) and losing weight. At times I could not believe this was really happening.

I also dropped weights altogether. No dumbbells, no machines. I just used my body weight while exercising. I was doing planks, push-ups, sit-ups, a couple hundred jumping jacks, squats, lunges and I’d throw in some mountain climbers every so often. I would perform some sort of workout at least twice a day. Sometimes I’d add in another workout just for the heck of it. If I had any free time, I was doing push-ups or jumping jacks; something. I’d often sneak into a quiet room at work and pop out about 30 push-ups. I made myself do 100push-ups every day. And it paid off BIG time in BCT!

(image from )
For me, there was no secret pill or shake. No false cream that melts fat away. No timing when to eat meals. My weight loss was based on good ol' fashion clean eating and exercise.. which is what we are supposed to be doing in the first place.
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