Saturday, April 28, 2012

Weighing in on 'Strong is the new skinny'

Lately I've seen a lot of posts discussing the whole 'strong is the new skinny' mantra, and taking it in a negative direction. I can see the viewpoint behind it, the last thing everyone needs is a saying making you feel like you're inadequate. Or, it plastered against some girl's amazing abs making you feel as though you'll never get abs like those. Which isn't the intention behind the saying at all, in my opinion. (Like anything, it can be taken however you wish to take it). While I agree that the last thing most women need is another body type for them to feel like they need to measure up to, I kind of see this saying in a different way.

For me, strong means building up your body and pushing yourself to what you thought were your limits. It means forcing out those last reps when it feels like you're about to die, and it burns in a way you never thought your muscles could feel. The more I work out the more I realize in this day and age, there are very few ways that we push ourselves to our limit physically. We spend most of our time sitting around, picking our noses(maybe not the last part). We walk a couple blocks here and there, and call it a day. But there's this amazing sensation you get from physically exerting yourself to a place you've never been before. After training for a while and actually seeing your body get stronger, grow muscle, and be able to perform moves you never really thought possible of yourself. The soreness you get from a tough workout the day after is a feeling I love.

Skinny implies a lot of things also, and can be a loaded word. Most of the time if you're super skinny, it's due to genetics, or you're starving yourself(or at least I was). For me, skinny meant trying to deny myself food because I didn't think I deserved it, I was shrinking away from life in general and quite literally trying to make myself disappear. Being skinny enough meant I wouldn't have to exist, to face my fears, or anything else because I was completely obsessed with trying to consume nothing. Weakness, and fear dominated me.

So now, pushing to gain muscle, gain strength, push myself in my workouts, eat the things that will fuel my body and make it stronger, that's what strong means to me. It means not backing down when things are difficult, and it carries over to every aspect of my life. Since I can do 1 minute straight of 1 legged push up burpees means I can take over the world, right? Maybe not quite, but it gives me a confidence in myself that translates into every part of my life. So for me, strong really is the new skinny.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Ruminating on Vitamins

Vitamins are like birth control. In the sense that I never remember to take either of them. Birth control I quit altogether cause the idea of putting hormones into my body freaks me out slightly. That's an entirely different post though. With vitamins I never know whether I should be making more of attempt to go steady with them, or whether it's really worth the effort? Now you shouldn't regard anything I say here as the utter truth cause all I'm going on is my research, and own experiences. So if you die from never taking a vitamin or something, it's not my fault.

I've generally believed that for the most part, if you're eating a varied diet with lots of fruits, veggies, and grains and is mostly whole, unprocessed food, your body should probably be running fairly well. Taking a vitamin sounds like good idea in theory, but how much of the vitamins in it are bioavailable to you(how much is actually being absorbed)? Nature never really intended for us to get our nutrience from a pill. Take calcium, for example. A lot of calcium pills are made from ground up shell in bone, which yes, contain calcium, but our bodies were never really intended to digest and absorb nutrience from a shell.

For the most part I generally try to listen to what my body is saying,I sort of figure that if something is completely lacking or out of whack my body will tell me. When I was at my lowest point suffering from anorexia, my hair was falling out, my nails were breaking off, I was freezing, my skin was a strange colour, all examples of malnourishment. I know when my body is unwell, and after a lot of experimenting adding and removing things from my diet, I've learned how to eat in a way that makes it run it's best. I try to incorporate lots of raw, unprocessed foods, tons of greens and veggies, fruits, and whole grains. It's simple, and it works for me. I pretty much never get sick. I have tons of energy, and I don't feel guilty about what I eat. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but in this case knowledge set me free.

Honestly I still don't really know how I feel about vitamins, sometimes I like drinking Vega's All-In-One Nutritional Shake as insurance, in addition to a healthy diet where I'm trying to get the most of my vitamins from. I don't really think vitamins in pill form will make up for eating a healthy diet though. These are all just thoughts I've got on the topic, I could be entirely off base about some of this and I'm sure everyone will have a varying opinion, but I'm curious to hear others sound off on the topic. Thoughts anyone?

Today was also leg/butt day, which was exciting. I did about 40 mins of Blogilates Leg/Butt videos, followed up by 2 rounds of the Kick Boxing leg video for cardio. My legs are still kind of burning, 2 hours after I was finished. It sometimes still amazing me how much I adore working out now that I've started doing workouts I love, and how I can actually see and feel progress being made(I'm taking progress photos, maybe one day I'll post them if I'm brave enough. Eep.)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Lately Edamame has been my new obsession. Whenever people ask me as a vegan how I get my protein I usually kind of lie and say tofu and beans and whatnot. It's a simpler answer then trying to explain that most food you eat contains some protein, and that protein deficiency's are extremely uncommon in North America. The general public's been conditioned to think that you're always in some kind of race to get enough protein/calcium/whatever in. That's not to say you don't need those things, but due to advertising from the meat and dairy industries I think we're overestimating the amount you need, not to mention milk is a terrible way to get calcium in. Animal protein actually depletes the body of calcium, and research shows correlation between countries with high dairy consumption rates and osteoporosis. Ironic, no?

Anyways, since I've been trying to build more muscle as of late I've decided to make more of a conscious effort to increase my protein intake(not overly, since that can be bad for you too, but just a bit). As well as since I've been working out a ton it's making me hungrier more frequently. To be honest I've never been a huge fan of beans. I'll eat them if they're in front of me, but they're not something I really go out of my way to buy. Except for chickpeas. I think I've just been scarred from childhood songs about them(you know the one), and my dad always threatening to fart if they were ever around.

I eat tofu a couple of times a week, but I want to try to experiment with other forms of vegan protein. I usually mix protein powder into my oatmeal in the morning, and I've just started to become obsessed with Edamame. But as for lentils, and pretty much every other kind of bean, I've never attempted to try to do anything with them. Whenever I see them on the shelf in the grocery store I'm never really inspired by how they look on the shelf. Fruits and veggies always distract me cause their displays are so lovely. That and I circle them like a shark while trying to sneak samples covertly and hoping no one is looking. But I really think I should make an attempt to start using more beans, so hopefully this is the start of something good!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Bye Vancouver

Heading back to Toronto tomorrow, which I'm excited about! But also a little sad to be leaving Vancouver, the weather's been lovely and I miss the beaches and mountains. I never paid much attention to them while I was here(except for snowboarding season), but this trip while driving around the city I'd catch glimpse of them and they'd take my breath away. I'm being cheesy, but it's true.

How could you not love a face like this? When it's sunny that is.

I bought enough protein powder and other goodies at Whole Foods to warrant having to bring an extra suitcase back. As well as new running shoes and half of Lululemon. Oops.

Today I finally took measurements, because I was curious and as a way to map progress. I hate making fitness be about numbers, I'm trying to abandon that as a measure of progress(especially weighing myself), but in this case I feel it's warranted. I did my waist, hips, legs and whatnot but I still can't really bring myself to step on a scale. Probably because the number won't be what I want to see, and I hate getting hung up on numbers because it ruins my day and so I'd rather just not. This is more about me being super strong and fit and not just fitting a certain number I decided in my head is the weight I should be. However, I'd kinda like to know if my biceps are getting bigger, and by how much.

Up until this week I've been doing pretty much full body workouts everyday, and taking Sunday's off. This week I decided to do full body workouts Monday, then focus on a different area for 40-50 minutes Pilates/Strength each day plus 2 Blogilates HIIT or Cardio circuits. Everything hurts and I love it. HIIT is also killing me, so much more efficient than hours of mindless cardio (ew), although by the end of it I'm dripping in puddles of my own sweat. Tasty.

Now back to packing and pretending I'm going to sleep early!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vegan Protein Waffles

I've been seeing recipes for Protein Pancakes everywhere, and I've been really wanting to try them. The only thing that's a deterrent was the fact that most of them use egg whites as a binder, which I don't eat. So I've been trying to come up with a way to make them without the egg whites, and my first attempt failed pretty miserably. I omitted the egg whites and just tried adding more flax meal to make them stick together, but the protein powder I use(Vega) gets really thick when mixed with liquids, so it was coming out as more paste than batter. I tried adding a bit more almond milk, but this just made the pancakes fall apart when I tried to flip them. I then tried adding more flax, which didn't really work either, and then ended up just dumping in a bunch of rolled oats. That helped, but they weren't so much pancakes then as some weird pancake/oat bar/cookie hybrid. Which was tasty but not exactly what I was looking for.

After watching a commercial for Eggos today I got a craving for waffles, so I decided to try the pancake experiment on the waffle iron. Instead of using plain rolled oats I ground them up into a flour, then mixed all the ingredients in a blender. The first batch fell apart when I opened the iron(I think the oats make them cook slower). The second batch came out perfect though, so I'm eating them for dinner.

Vegan Protein Waffles

1/2 cup rolled oats, ground into flour
1 banana
1 scoop protein powder(I used Vega Chocolate Performance Protein)
2/3 cup almond milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Blend the rolled oats into a fine powder first, then add remaining ingredients to the blender. Blend until smooth, then pour onto a preheated waffle iron. Mine took about 6 minutes to cook, not sure about other waffle irons though! Top with Vegan whipped cream, strawberries, whatever.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Watching Tone It Up's Beach Babe DVD (and all their videos in general) are giving me the biggest urge to move somewhere delicious and sunny and work at a fitness studio and just wear cute fitness stuff and live on the beach. I'd drink coconut water out of coconuts all day and it would be great. Sometimes I feel like I'm already halfway to becoming a weird fitness/yoga/pilates person who eats bizarre things and is a part time hippie. Then I realize I'm not really that far from being that, which I'm totally okay with. There's nothing wrong with any of those things!

It's sorta entertaining for me though since when I was in my most unhealthy mindset, I wanted nothing more than to move to California(since I was freezing all the time due to malnourishment) and maybe become a fitness instructor so I wouldn't get fat. But things are super different now. I'm falling in love with working out again because it feels awesome. I've finally got into a groove of knowing how to switch up my workouts and actually do things I enjoy, as opposed to endless hours of cardio on a stationary bike, which to be honest I completely and utterly hate. HATE! And well, I've always loved a good beach. Hawaii was perfect. LA doesn't look too bad either! Things have come full circle.

It's honestly embarrassing how into workout gear I've gotten as of late. Half the reason I think I'm excited to work out is because I get to wear new shorts I bought, and new runners. And my weights are pink. I've been trolling ebay looking for cute workout shorts and tank tops for more time than I'd like to admit today. Whatever works, right?

More on the workout DVD; it's got a couple different sets of workouts, some shorter which you can mix and match, and one long one(40 mins) which went by really quickly, but was super intense. So far I've tried the Bikini and Abs video(burned a ton), and the Arms video(short but amazing and today I have jello arms). Watching the behind the scenes video is so heartwarming, to see how much work and love really went into filming it. It always makes me so happy to see someone(s) following their passion, and doing it so well. Plus it's filmed in Hawaii(one of my favorite places in the world!!), complete with crashing waves and awesome sunsets. Thinking about it just makes me excited to work out tomorrow. I am a weirdo, I know.

Soy Many Questions

Something I've been kind of confused about lately is soy based protein powder. For the most part I'd assume if you're drinking protein powder you're trying to build muscle, and excess estrogen in your body is supposed to make that more difficult. So if you're drinking soy protein wouldn't that make it more difficult to build muscle? I have no clue if that's true but I'm curious.

Another soy related thing I'd like to know is why is tofu only made with soy milk? Googling has told me that tofu is made by coagulating(sounds so unappealing) soymilk with calcium sulphate or magnesium chloride. In Japan they use they use nigari, which is basically magnesium chloride with other trace elements. Soymilk is boiled, then the coagulant(mixed with water) is added, then the mixture is left to stand for 20 minutes. Once the soymilk is separated into little chunks, it's transferred to a cheesecloth lined mould and left to rest for another 20 minutes. Then you dump your block of soymilk into cold water, and store it in the fridge.

Could you make it with almond milk? Cashew milk? I once saw a recipe for tofu in a raw food cookbook, but I'm not sure how much like regular tofu it would be(I think they used agar and almond milk). I've been experimenting with agar a bit lately and I've found it adds sort of a weird taste. But it might just have been the agar I was using cause it's been on my shelf for awhile. I found Nigari online so I'm going to try and make my own tofu, which should be interesting. And I'm going to try using almond milk just to see what happens!