The Pursuit of Healthiness

The Pursuit of Healthiness
Your Guide to Getting Healthy

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Teenagers vs. Weight

Recently I posted this blog on the forums of I probably should mention something I haven't yet mentioned. I am 16. I've been avoiding saying that but I don't particularly want to anymore. I'd like to make it more personal. I've been trying to lose weight for three years. It's a daily struggle and I've experienced several setbacks (hell I'm going through one right now).

Anyway, I'm 16 and attempting to reach out to girls out there just like me. I posted a link on the forums and ended up with hundreds of hits in just a few minutes. The forum reached the top ten in number of hits. While I was so excited to get so much attention, I couldn't help but be a little disheartened to see just how many girls are hoping to lose weight. I know some of those girls don't have to do it. I know I do, just to be healthy. I'm not looking to be 100 pounds. My goal is 140. That's all. After that, I'm not pushing it.

I was talking about health to my friends recently and these were the three girls' weights: 117, 130, 139. They are all aound the same height of 5 ft 6 in. The girl weighing 117 was more desperate to lose weight than the other (healthy weighted) girls because she is muscular without an ounce of fat on her and muscle looks bigger than fat does. The girl at 130 has been tracking her food intake for a year and has lost ten pounds (because she thought 140 was too big). The 139 girl hasn't tried too lose weight but she constantly complains about her weight and makes her more and more upset. And then there's me.

I've let myself go. I was 147 at my smallest which was about a year ago. Then came Christmas and I ate and I promised I would lose it. Then came Easter and I ate and I promised I'd lose it. Then came summer and one miserable thing happened after the other and I ate to make myself feel better. Now it's October and I've lose about two pounds in September and now I'm at about 180. Ask my friends what I weigh and they'd never be able to come up with a number. I never told them anything near my weight.

I have to lose weight. Why? Because I don't want to go to college looking the way I do. Because I don't want to go to prom no being able to fit comfortably into a dress without Spanx constricting layers of fat. Because I don't want to be winded every time I'm asked to run in gym class. Because I don't want my feet to hurt at the end of the day, every day, from walking between classes.

Anyone who's reading this, I ask you do please do a BMI calculator before going farther into this pursuit. If you're on the lower end of your BMI or even below it like the girl at 117 is, take a good look in the mirror. We are all beautiful, big and small. But you're skinny.Yes we, the overweight, probably envy you a bit, but you don't see it that way. You're not looking to be healthy, don't lie. You're looking to be skinnier. How far will you go? Eventually you will be even less healthy than those of us who are overweight rather than you who's underweight.

I'm starting a movement for us teens, or at least trying to. Stop looking for skinny. Stop praying for Twiggy's body and start looking for how you look best. Stop fighting your bodies. Some girls look better with curves like their mommas gave them. Some have an athletic body, the type that carries them for miles of miles on their marathon runs. Some have skinny bodies, few curves or muscles but at a healthy weight they still look like sticks. We are all different and we shouldn't try to fit some stereotype in a magazine. As long as we are eating healthy, exercising, and at a healthy weight for our heights, we should focus on staying who we are.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Eat Right at Night

I can't go to bed without dessert. I admit it. It's a bad habit, I know, especially after reading the latest Health issue. Turns out, those who eat after 8 P.M. rack up 248 more calories than those who finish eating after dinner. Well, duh. I actually thought it would be more. That's not the real killer. The killer is that your body wants to burn off fat at night, which is while people who get the full nine hours weigh the least. Your body is like a machine. Even when you're asleep, its gears are still working, but it needs fuel. It's not getting food so it takes fuel from fat. It's a great system.

Problem is this mode can't begin the second your head hits the pillows. It takes time to burn the calories. Health recommends eating dinner late and going to bed an hour later, so you don't have time to eat dessert. The body needs about twelve hours to convert that fat. Basically, eat dinner at eight, eat breakfast at eight. For the summer, sure I can do that. For the rest of the year, not so much. I wake up at 5:45 A.M. and eat breakfast at 6:00 A.M. Then I eat dinner between 6:00 P.M. and 7:00 P.M. I don't go to bed at eight. I usually go to sleep between ten and eleven. So no I'm not one of those people who gets the full nine hours.

Here's my rule: Don't focus on the 12 hours. Focus on the old rule that says no eating after nine. Before that I'm not giving you a pass. Don't eat whatever you want. Try to eat something with a little fiber content. If you get cravings at night, give in, but only a little. If you want chocolate, eat a Fiber One Brownie, not a giant hot fudge sundae. Dessert won't wreck your diet, as long as your careful of the time you eat and the content of your treat.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Liquid Diet (and I'm Not Talking Cleanses!)

Thursday I had the misfortune of having all four of my wisdom teeth extracted. 10:00 a.m. I went in and at noon I walked out, feeling and talking like Kramer. For the next few hours I felt fine, numbness aside. Then, little by little, the numbness wore off and an awful pain started in.

The doc gave me a list of things I had to follow from Thursday to Monday: rinse with saltwater, don't drink anything carbonated, take the painkillers (which, evidently, are also sleeping pills, considering the fact that I've been sleeping at least fourteen hours every day). But the number one thing on the list was to eat foods that require minimal chewing. I stocked my fridge with sugar free chocolate pudding cups, Special K chocolate shakes, pina coloda protein shakes, cottage cheese, mac and cheese (one of my personal favorite foods) and Yoplait light yogurt. These are the six foods that I've been living off of. Doesn't sound all that healthy, right? Then why have I noticed that my jeans are fitting better, my stomach is smaller, and I've lost two pounds in the last two days (without exercising at all because doing so is off limits according to my doctor)?

Well this is why! For one thing, repetitious eating has been shown to limit the amount of food you eat. The reason for that is become your palette isn't being subjected to something new constantly. When you eat something tantalizing and new for dinner every night, your brain savors it and wants more, so you eat more. If you eat, say, mac and cheese like I've eaten for the last three nights, the first night your brain thinks, "Yay! This is good!" Second night it's like, "Oh ok, not exactly exciting but whatever it's still pretty good." By the third night it's saying, "This again? So boring!" When you subject your brain to food you like more often, you stop thinking of it as taboo. You stop craving it and you stop piling it on your plate.

Now take a look at the list again. The pudding is sugar free. The shakes are both less than 200 calories and are high in protein. The cottage cheese and mac and cheese are high in calcium and the cottage cheese is low in fat and calories. The yogurt is low in fat and calories and high in protein. While they all taste great, they are also all healthy takes on their original, high-calorie counterparts.

I'm also in a little pain and because of that I'm eating a lot slower, helping me get filled up faster and making my mind remind me to stop eating as soon as I'm full. I'm not saying that you should go take out your teeth to lose weight, but I am saying to eat repetitiously, sticking to healthier variety of foods and a healthier amount of each. It's way easier than you think!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Something that Should be Said

This isn't a tip or a workout. This is something I have to get off my chest.

Yesterday I watched my best friend die in front of me. She was my workout buddy, my therapist, my baby girl. I watched her lay on a surgical table, cleverly disguised to look kind by a flannel, midnight blue blanklt. My mother and father stood around her and I stood by her head. I held it between my hands and she looked up at me with sleepy, doe-like brown eyes. My mother stroked her ears and I smooshed her floppy face as my father held her steady and stroked her back. The doctor moved around us inconspicuously. She became too tired to lift her head and I didn't want to be looking into those eyes when they became unseeing. She laid her head against a towel covered pillow and grunted continuously and softly. Her eyes shut and her pink tongue folded out of her mouth like an unfolding accordian. She kept sniffing something and her tongue kept twitching.

I knelt down and rested my head on hers, something I'd become accustomed to doing, and whispered, "Do you have any idea how much I love you?" something I'd always asked. She grunted softly again and again. And then it stopped and my father said the obvious confirmation. But I stayed knelt down and asked her the same question again and again.

That same morning my mother woke me to tell me I had to take Jewel to the vet. Although it was only seven, I was up as soon as the words left her mouth. My mother was scared because Jewel wouldn't eat anything. If you'd ever met this dog (which would have made you a very lucky person) you'd know that she ate anything at anytime. More than once in the last week I'd told her to stop eating the grass and to stop eating random things she'd found in the carpeting.

But yesterday morning she wouldn't eat breakfast, wouldn't go outside to go to the bathroom, and wouldn't even get up from her corner where she slept the night. Yet when I came downstairs she greeted me at the bottom of the steps, lying down with her ears up and panting in contentment. My dad tried to give her a treat, just to see her eat something but she wouldn't take it. He left to look up her symptoms online and she climbed, slipping slightly, to her feet. I asked her to eat something, gesturing to her full bowl. She gave me what I can only call a quizzically look and looked at the food. It took no more prying to get her to eat half the bowl. Then she drank a ton a water and went back to the meal. Then she ate the treat, went outside, and came back inside, panting and wagging her tail. I looked at my dad and we were both thinking the same thing: Mom overreacted.

Nonetheless, we got in the car to go to the vet. Jewel got into the backseat without a problem and laid down with me sitting next to her, stroking her side. She kept giving me confused looks, as if to say, "Guys, I'm fine. Why are we going to the vet?"

When we arrived, she jumped up and looked out the window and then followed me, jumping out of the car. On the ramp up to the entrance, she went to the bathroom, much to mine and my father's embarrassment. But we cleaned it up and some nice people pet her, with her relishing the attention. "She's 13!" they said in disbelief. "But she looks like a puppy!" She always got that. Good genes, I guess. Always looked ten years younger than she really was.

Our vet, an old family friend, was quick to take us in. Jewel greeted her happily, until she saw that they had a thermometer and she looked to me for help as the vet...well you get it. I didn't reach in to pet her, afraid I'd bother the vet, but I whispered to her, "It's okay, baby. Everything's okay," like we were sharing our own little secret.

It wasn't four hours later that I was saying the same thing to her, but this time I knew it wouldn't be. It wasn't four hours later that I told her to rest her eyes and I'd see her when she woke up.

I've suffered from depression since sixth grade. I've lost count of the days when I'd come home and just cry, barely making it into the door. But she'd greet me everytime. I'd kneel down on the carpet and wrap my arms around her, making her beautiful gold fur wet and messy. I'd put my head on her shoulder and she'd rest hers on mine and we'd just sit like that. Other times she'd roll on to her back and let me rub her belly while I cried, until the tears ran dry. Did you know that petting an animal can alleviate feelings of sadness? She did.

I'd take her for walks, yes, but my favorite workout was lying on the floor, attempting to do sit ups or bicycles and failing miserably because she'd climb all over my head. Sometimes she'd just lie down by my head and I'd attempt to continue to situps, with my hands over my head reaching to pet her.

I couldn't even spend the night at home yesterday. I had to stay at a friend's house. But it's not as if I could hide away forever. Tomorrow morning, I'll get up. I'll come downstairs saying, "Where's my puppy?" like I always did. But I won't get an answer. And there will be no one to help dry my tears.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tip #28: Match You Workout, Beat for Beat!

I do like to work out but sometimes my drive to exercise falls flat. I've gone on a stationary bike everyday for the last week. I started at a half hour Monday and Tuesday and I could hardly make it through, going just over 12 miles an hour. Suddenly, in the following days, I was pedalling over 15 mph and lasting over an hour. What made the sudden change? Jog fm.

I recently read about this workout saving device in Health magazine and I had to check it out right away. Now we all know that working out to music keeps the mind occupied and makes you exercise longer but it turns out the music you listen to helps you keeps you going as well. The first page on Jog fm has you type in how fast you want to go running, but if that's not the workout of your choice, don't be discouraged. You can also find music specifically designed for walking and biking.

Best part? You don't have to buy these all these songs, although the website does give you links to where you can do so. Thanks to an application called Spotify, you can link your accounts on Jog fm and Spotify to listen to music while you workout. You can even create your own workout playlist on Jog fm or listen to one someone else created.

An issue for me while I was exercising was that I didn't know what songs would be good for me to bike to. I usually listened to Rob Thomas and Maroon 5, so I looked the songs up on Jog fm and found that the majority of songs I listened to weren't fast enough. Most of them were less than 120 beats per minute (bpm). For biking, you should stay between 135 and 170 bpm. For running, 147 to 169 bpm. For walking, 137 to 139 bpm.

I found that the best Maroon 5 songs for me were The Sun at 160 bpm, Wake Up Call at 164 bpm and Harder to Breathe at 150 bpm and the best Rob Thomas songs were Streetcorner Symphony at 164 bpm, Little Wonders at 167 bpm and This is How a Heart Breaks at 140 bpm. These sons have come up pretty often on my Spotify account lately but my playlists aren't those alone. There's pop and rock and top 40s and '90s and '80s and '70s, whatever you like. My playlists have been a mix of everything. Thanks to Jog fm and Spotify, I've stopped getting tired and bored during my workouts and can work out without getting so bored that all I'm thinking is that I'm in so much pain I've got to stop. Now I'm thinking, "You know what? How about three more songs?"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Workout #17: Make a Run for It!

Even when I was little, running was my enemy. I remember running in the Presidential Fitness Challenge every year and I could never run faster than a twelve minute mile. I used to feel so bad when my friends would run beside me and try to get me to run faster, but I never could.

My sister is almost as bad as I am, but not quite. She's never been over weight but she's never been a great runner either. I was more than surprised to hear that she decided to run a marathon. On her way home for the Easter break, she texted me and asked if she wanted to go for a run the next day. My first thought was "Is she crazy?" I was going to immediately say hell no but I ended up texted back that it sounded like a good idea.

The next day she woke me up, tossed me a pair of sneakers, and pulled me outside. We walked down one house and then we made a run for it. Needless to say, I was ready to quit only a few houses down from that. I started to slow up, so my sister ran a little faster and I struggled to keep up.

We didn't talk much, so I ended up listening to my neighbors around me and focusing on my breathing. Eventually, I managed to steady it and fell into step with my sister. I kind of liked the sound of our feet hitting the pavement in unison. Every now and again she told me to slow up and pace myself or, when I started to feel like stopping, she'd tell me to focus on one thing at a time. Rather than focus on reaching home, she'd tell me to get to the next mailbox, and then I could slow down if I wanted to.

The thing was, after I reached one mailbox, I wanted to run to the next one, and the next one, and the next. Before I knew it, my house was in view. She told me earlier on in the run that we could walk from there, but instead she decided we'd sprint. I struggled to sprint but didn't slow up until I got back through my front door.

While I don't plan to run any marathons just yet, I don't mind training with my sister for the time being. Maybe I'll be running one in a couple years.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Recipe of the Week: Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie

I just started making these and personally I love them! They fill me up all the way to lunch!
Plus: there's no cholesterol!

1 packet Quaker Lower Sugar Maple and Brown Sugar Oatmeal
1 tbsp dried cherries
8 whole almonds
1 tbsp walnuts
1 tsp sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Add water and heat the oatmeal (try not to make it too diluted). Then mix the oatmeal with the cherries and walnuts. Chop the almonds in half and mix then in as well. Then separate the mixture in half and shape into two balls. Place them on a greased cookie sheet and sprinkle the sugar over the top and bake for twenty minutes.

Nutrition facts (two servings of one cookie):
Calories: 154
Fat: 6.2 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 131.1 mg
Potassium: 135.6 mg
Carbohydrate: 22.8 g
Fiber: 2.5 g
Sugar: 9.2 g
Protein: 3.7 g

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tip #27: Get Back to What Works

I'll admit it: So far this year has not been kind me. I've gained a little weight back and my skinny jeans can tell. I've done a lot lately: TweetWhatYouEat, SparkPeople, just plain old keeping a log. All in all, they've helped somewhat, but not to the magnitude that Weight Watchers did. So I'm shelling out the cash and getting back on track.

I'm over one week into my re-diet and I have to say it feels pretty good. My skinny jeans are still complaining but I feel lighter. I'm exercising more than I used to with the kind of motivation that Weight Watchers brings me. On Sunday, I got on my stationary bike and pedaled at or above 12 mph until I reached 15 miles. My legs were sore, but in a good way, like I know I accomplished something. I've lost over two pounds already this week. I'm standing up straighter and not as concerned with hiding my weight gain under really baggy clothes.

I'm eating a lot more fruit (which has no point value on the PointsPlus program) and cutting back on my cravings, which often total more than I can have (like my personal favorite Skippy peanut butter). I will say that my body is a lot hungrier now, which means that I was definitely eating more than I should have before and my body isn't used to the healthy calorie amount I'm at now. I've been through this before, so its really no trouble. I know I'll get through that.

So for right now, my skinnies are left to the back of my closet, but I feel asured that I can lose the weight to button them up again.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Playlist of the Week!

Yes, I am a Glee fan and I did watch it this week so I've been listening to Latin music all week! Here's my top choices for Latin workout music!

1. Loca by Shakira

2. Dirty Dancer by Enrique Iglesias

3. Bamboloeo by Gipsy Kings

4. Pata Boom by Daddy Yankee

5. Rain Over Me by Pitbull and Marc Anthony

Recipe of the Week: Apple Cinnamon Muffins

I love making this recipe on Sundays so I have a breakfast to look forward to every morning that week! I wake up so early; I hate cooking breakfast in the morning. The only way I eat is if I already have something prepared. These muffins a great option in the morning with a piece of fruit and a cup of coffee. It keeps me full all morning.

Apple Cinnamon Muffins
2 cups skim milk
1 medium apple
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
2 tbsp olive oil
16 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups white flour

1 tbsp baking soda
1 tbsp Smart Balance
2 tbsp semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all wet ingredients in one large bowl, blending on low speed. Combine all dry ingredients, except the chocolate and white flour, in another, smaller bowl. Mix the two bowls together on low speed until smooth. Then mix in the white flour a half cup at a time. Use your Smart Balance to grease the muffin tins and use an ice cream scoop to measure the amount of batter per muffin. Cook for 30 minutes and then let cool.

Nutrition Facts:
Makes 16 muffins. 1 muffin per serving.
Calories: 147.6
Total Fat: 3.5 g
Cholesterol: 15.9 mg
Sodium: 341.8 mg
Total Carbs: 25.6 g
Fiber: 2.5 g
Protein: 4.2 g


Friday, February 3, 2012

Workout #16: Challenge Your Body

Everything worth doing is a challenge, especially your workout. You might have found by now that you have hit a plateau. That happens sometimes, when your weight loss just stalls and it seems like you must have gotten off track. It's frustrating and kind of kills your self confidence, but it might not be that you have gotten off track. The reason might be that your original weight loss plan isn't cutting it anymore. As you lose weight, your body starts to need less calories. While it is important adjust your calorie intake, it is also important to adjust your workout.

Is there something you were hesitant to do before because it seemed too hard? Accept the challenge and go for it! I've been doing pilates lately but its not helping me reach my goal. So for the last two days I've gone on the exercise bike and pedaled, hard, burning 250 calories in half an hour. I almost fell over when I got off the bike; my legs were so wobbly. It felt so good to know that I'd worked so hard.

Maybe you want to try a class! If you were hesitant to try hot yoga, look for a class for beginners and work your way up. Its a great workout, but I guarantee you'll be wobbling and shaking through every cobra or downward facing dog. Or try Crossfit, a seriously intense workout that my friend who is a ballerina does to stay in shape when she has time off. Just remember to stay fueled and hydrated through every challenge!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Healthy Recipe of the Week: Apple Peanut Butter Pancakes

Apple Peanut Butter Pancakes

1 cup whole wheat flour
.25 tsp salt
1.25 baking powder
2 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter
.5 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup fat free milk
.5 large apple

Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together. Mix the peanut butter in a smaller bowl with the vanilla and milk until creamy. Next pour the liquid into the dry mixture and blend until creamy. Chop up the apple but do not add to mixture. Take a heaping tablespoon of the mixture and cook the pancake, pushing some pieces of the apple into each tablespoon. Cook on both sides until golden brown.

Makes about 3 servings (three panckes per serving)
Nutrition Information
Calories: 250
Fat: 7 g.
Cholesterol: 1.6 mg.
Sodium: 492 mg.
Potassium: 340 mg.
Carbohydrates: 41 g.
Fiber: 6.5 g.
Sugar: 9 g.
Protein: 11 g.

Workout Playlist of the Week

Hit List Workout

1. Take Care- Drake and Rhianna

2. You Make Me Feel- Cobra Starship

3. I Like It Like That- Hot Chille Rae

4. Stronger- Kelly Clarkson

5. Set Fire to the Rain- Adele (especially good for a ballet/pilates/yoga class)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tip #26: Tech Triumphs

Usually when you're looking to lose weight, technology is not the greatest thing to turn to. Television turns you into a couch potato and you get so sucked into the Internet you forget about your workouts. However, a new idea has found its way on to the internet and it just might be exactly what those of us who can't stick to a diet are looking for.

Tweet What You Eat. It's exactly how it sounds. No matter how big or small a meal is, you just type it into Twitter, send it to Tweet What You Eat and they track it down in a Food Diary for you. Bonus: if you are too lazy or too busy to look up the calories for each item, select "CrowdCal" and Tweet What You Eat will find the calories for you. It's an easy and simple way to track your daily calorie intake. Plus, you can have them send you an email consisting of all of your food diaries for the past week, which is a great way to see what your weaknesses and strengths are.

I just started this recently and I'm already loving it. You really think about what you are eating when you know that other people are able to see it too.  It's the perfect way to get back on track in the New Year.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Workout #15: New Year, New Workout

Last year, I did pretty much all the same workouts: biking, swimming, walking, Zumba. This year I'm in the mood to try something different. I'd go on Exercise TV, find a workout, and follow the trainer for the 20+ minutes. Well, today I discovered that Exercise TV is no longer on my cable package. After getting so used to it, I panicked a little to find out my safe and comfy routine was gone.

But I didn't panic for long. I got a pair of Piloxing gloves for Christmas and I put them to good use. I made my own routine, setting it to music, and was surprised to discover that my heart was pounding and I was sweating bullets by the end of the half hour set. It got me thinking, what else was I missing while I was caught in my rut?

My goal this year is try as many new workouts as I can. I'm trying out hot yoga, hip hop classes, ballroom dancing, and whatever other classes I can find! But the workout doesn't just have to be a class. You can try plenty of workouts straight out of your home, like using Piloxing gloves or a kettlebell. Or try the new Beach Body workout, Les Mills Pump Workout, on sale this week, which you can order here. The workout is based on the globally famous BodyPump classes, taught at 14,000 clubs in 80 countries. I hate lifting heavy weights, so this works for me because it is based on using light weights and higher repetition. It can tone muscle and came burn up to 1000 calories per workout!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy 2012 everybody! My post today is going to be a little different. Recently, I was asked what I could remember that was good about 2011 and I realized I couldn't come up with much on the spot. My year was plagued with a lot of negatives, but I always seem to forget the positives. So this holiday may be New Year's Day, but I'm treating it a bit more like Thanksgiving and reflecting on all the good that came out of this year and everything I'm thankful for.

My New Year's Resolutions are usually things like tone-up, lose weight, have a long-term relationship, and publish my writing. This year is a little different. My resolution is to forget the bad and remember the good. I have friends that care about me and want me to be happy. I have the greatest best friend, who is like a sister to me and will do whatever she can to support me. I also have a sister, who is there for me and willing to dole out advice whenever I need it. I have parents who will do whatever, whenever to help me. I even have aunts, uncles, and cousins to help me. I should have been able to say all this on the spot when the question was asked what was good about 2011. Truth is, I'm pretty lucky.

So here is my question to you: When you are asked how 2011 was, what will your answer be?
Start the new year out right and remember that healthiness is not just about the body; its about the mind-set.