Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm figuring out different strength training routines and writing up stuff on different strength training moves (yes, I'm actually working on it - I finished a post yesterday, and considering how long my missives tend to be, that made me happy) complete with photo examples. In the interim, my goal of regular posting remains and so I figured that I'd pop up a post from a SparkPeople blog that resonates nicely with a fitness & self-image goals that I need to keep reminding myself about: being fit and healthy doesn't mean having a perfectly toned, cut, and lithe body like the girls in the fitness magazines.

Confession: I May Not be Perfect, but I'm Still Fit & Healthy

Nicole is fit and healthy. She has a lovely, strong and feminine body. Her physical capabilities more than prove she is a physically fit person. There is nothing revolutionary in her blog entry, yet most of us need reminding that fit does not equal perfect. I am quite lithe, yet I long for the sort of intense, glistening muscle definition that you see in the women's fitness magazines. This is despite having pretty darn defined muscles to begin with. Focussing on health is a much better goal, but it is hard to remember that we are looking to achieve what is healthy for our own bodies when leafing through publications that advocate a diet of processed protein shakes and absurd amounts of exercise every day.

Exercise is a joy, if not before or during, than after. Obsessing for perfection strips that joy away from it. Worrying about that stubborn little rope of genetically pre-destined fat immediately under my navel can strip the joy right out of a good dance session. Nicole admitted to being obsessed about perfection for a while, and she prefers her current outlook. And so do I.

Tail tucked

Friday, February 13, 2009

I have been dreadfully reticent in posting here lately, and for that I apologize. As I continue to slog through a very thankless job and contemplate near-future plans, most of my brain cells have been employed in getting caught up with profession-related literature and scheaming about how to inch my way towards newfound goals.

I was sick for the past couple of weeks. Mostly, my body was just flirting with illness, and then I spent two days in bed and was wrecked for a few days more after that. There wasn't much working out at that point. However, a dear friend of mine (who had the gall to move away because of "life" - pah!) would like me to put together a strength training routine for her to help with her running. This is a good thing, as it will get me researching weight training and coming up with fitness soloutions again.

Nutrition-wise, I've been both good and bad. Due to some unwise reading of bread bag labels, I've realized how horrendously our bread is packed with preservatives. the upshot of it is that I've started baking my own bread. 100% whole grainy goodness, fresh from the oven. I do it all by hand, no bread machine involved, as the end product is tastier and more attractive. Besides, kneading dough is both fun and cathartic. My condo smells like a bakery, and my husband is well pleased. Unfortunately, I've also succumbed to the delights of my freshly-baked bread and have been eating a little too much of it. After last night's batch, I packed back three good-sized slices slathered in honey with a bit of butter. It was heavenly. It was also a gigantic heap of carbs, which I didn't exactly need especially as I had just drunk two glasses of wine. I'm going to practice more self-restraint in the future. Happily, I've been getting accustomed to the bread baking, and slip-ups like this don't happen often.

That is all for now. I'm in a conference today, much to my delight, and only have a few more minutes before I need to dash to my Friday afternoon circuit training session (I missed the last two, thank-you-very-much worthless job) and then back to the conference.

Back in the gym

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A warning regarding this post: it rambles on and on in an unusually unintelligible fashion. Reading it in its entirety may cause brain cramping.

January at the gym is hilarious. The Resolution Crowd is there in full force, and while I do certainly cheer them on and hope that they stick with their plan for a healthier lifestyle, it is priceless to watch the crowd dwindle over the next few weeks. I confess that my catty little self occasionally chuckles when people attempt to use the equipment in a manner that requires as little effort as possible. Usually they're lifting only a couple of pounds or using the cardio machines as slowly as they can. I know I shouldn't laugh, but it is rather funny. There is no benefit in working out that way - it doesn't stress the muscles or the heart, it will hardly enable weight loss much less toning and defining one's physique. They're the less like explorers and more like annoying tourists.

I know I shouldn't laugh at the tourists. Usually I just want them to get off the machines so I can carry on with my own workout as efficiently as possible. Sometimes, though, you come across one who is really interested and really wants to put in the effort. I met one like that the other day; she was interested in the weight machine I was using, and wanted to learn how to use it. Spending some time to show her how to use it, and describing how to figure out how much effort she needed to put in to get the benefits of the exercise was actually really fun. I like chatting with the other people in the gym, newbies and old hats alike. The resultant conversations and exchange-of-tips can be quite interesting.

Generally, I don't use gyms. I don't like paying access fees and commuting to my workout when I can go through great strength routines on my own at home. Plus, I generally feel that freeweight and body resistance exercises are more beneficial overall, as they make use of all the stabilizing muscles as well as the primary powerhorse muscles. When I was in my first couple of years of university, however, I went to the campus gym several times a week. Membership to the gym was automatically paid through student union fees, so I figured I may as well use it. It was enjoyable, too.

Now that I work for that same university, I again get unlimited access to the campus gym. While I now mostly enroll in group classes (part of my staff benefit plan includes funds to pay for on-campus fitness classes), I've been getting a little tired of my regular at-home strength routines. Being on campus and having complimentary access to the gym has removed my two primary objections to using gyms. Hence, I've started going again. Maybe that makes me a bit of a tourist, but so be it. Some of the old hats are undoubtedly watching me work and giggling themselves.

At any rate, this academic term (I always think of the year in four-month academic cycles, a byproduct of being entirely too obsessed with advanced education) sees me engaging in a toning and flexibility group class, a step aerobic class, and weekly or bi-weekly lunchtime gym workouts. Ideally, using my lunch hours for my strengthening and conditioning workouts will leave more time at home in the evening for personal dance practice. That isn't to say that I won't do at-home strength training as well, just that I might be able to make more of my spare time by trying this type of routine.

If that sounds like a new year's resolution, it isn't meant to be! It's just that this was a convenient time to re-jig my dance and fitness schedules, what with the new school term and all.

If you read to the end of this ramble, congratulations. I have had entirely too much caffeine tonight to write coherent blog posts!

No more skinny wraith!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I have been incommunicado for a while, and the resultant guilt is quite strong. I may only beg forgiveness and offer the following excuse: my husband and I took possession of our first condo at the beginning of December. Since that date, every spare minute was being spent painting every inch of the 1100 square foot space. The walls needed primer and two coats as the previous owners were clearly colour blind, and the ceiling also needed a thorough going-over. As neither of us took time off work to complete this project, it took a few weeks. Then came the moving-of-the-crap part, and while the vast majority of our stuff is out of the boxes and put away, the condo is still a dreadful mess. Happily, however, we are now officially living/sleeping there full time. I’m planning on spending all of Saturday cleaning, tidying, putting away, and organizing.

During this hectic December period, an interesting body change occurred: I lost approximately eight pounds of weight in about one month. Normally, people expect this sort of change to be heralded; in this instance it isn’t exactly welcome. I was nice and lean before, with 137 pounds on my 5'8.5" frame. I dropped as low as 128 lbs and am now at 129.5 lbs, and look skinny and emaciated. Glen challenged me to put on 5 lbs by the end of Christmas holidays – a feat he knew would be next to impossible but would be a good smack-up-the-head to get me to eat more. My mother has been fretting about my weight, and during a class warm-up one of my very dear dance friends blurted out "what happened to your arms?" when she noticed how twiggy they currently appear.

My mother in law took a picture of my on my 27th birthday in late December. I was dressed up for the theatre and had a big smile on, but the feature that struck me most was how grimly drawn I appeared. My grin seemed strained, and my skin looked like it was stretched tight over my neck and cheeks. It was weird. While my western-body-image-issues, thin-is-better trained irrational brain cheers the low numbers on the scale, my rational brain knows that this ain’t good. My fitness loving, powerhouse brain wants to put back on some poundage, and my goal is to get back up to my high-school weight average of 135 lbs.

Now dear reader, don't go thinking "good lord, she’s developed disordered eating habits!" This weight loss has been unintentional and (when my rational brain is in gear, which is most of the time), unwanted. I believe that this is a result of my thyroid management. My current dose of thyroid hormone supplement has returned my physical and mental energy levels back to normal, which feels fantastic - I remember when my brain used to chat to itself like this, and I’m ecstatic that it’s back to it’s old self. I remember when my body wanted to be randomly active, flailing about for the sheer joy of movement and I worked out because I loved feeling my muscles flex and burn. I’ve always been clumsy, but for a while I was clumsy due to fatigue and slowed reflexes. Now I’m clumsy because my body just wants to move but doesn’t always think about how. This is how I remember being before the hypothyroidism, and this is how I feel now.

What isn't quite back to normal is my overall metabolism. It’s back to high-school level, when I had to work at putting on weight (unless I completely ditched physical activity), or even very slightly higher. This does not mean that I don’t have to watch my diet and my calories. Actually, it means I have to watch them more closely than I was before. Now, I need to watch them to make sure that I’m getting enough. My body is now burning calories faster than it was, so feeding it enough has become very important. For someone who is both inclined to be a moderate-to-light eater, this could be a challenge. Huge portions aren’t my style; I get really uncomfortable and kind of nauseous if I eat too much. If I ignore the “man, I’m hungry” stomach growling phase and let myself get too hungry…I get nauseous, lose my appetite, and my energy levels crash quite alarmingly. But I don’t want to eat because I don’t feel good, which doesn’t help the situation.

I’ve decided that I will take advantage of one of the more interesting employee benefits my workplace offers: up to two hours free access to a nutritionist. I need to get more calories, but I want to know how many calories a day are right for me, and how to get the most nutritional benefit from those calories. I could just start slugging back twelve packs of cola, but empty calories don’t do a body good. I’ve got a pretty good handle on nutrition, but a trained professional will be able to give me more focused direction. This can only benefit Glen, who has the metabolism of a blast furnace and at 6'2" weighs 150 lbs soaking wet. When his lung collapsed, he actually dropped down to 140 lbs. Now that was alarming!

I want to optimize my diet so that I can put on five to eight pounds primarily of muscle as well as a little fat. I know what’s sexy: jutting hips and poky spines are not! Time to get back those toned biceps and shoulders, time to fill out that bra!*

My current weight-related goal does not mean that any further diet, nurtition, or weight related posts will focus solely on weight gain. This topic is of interest on all levels, and I've worked with it at all levels. I plan on continuing to address all aspects of dealing with our weight in a healthy way, and that includes weight loss, weight gain, and weight maintenance. There will be info suitable for all, so stay tuned!

*One of the unfortunate side effects of the weight loss is that my boobs have also shrunk. According to the measuring tape, I’ve lost at least an inch, and my girls aren’t that big to begin with!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

This topic came to my attention via other dance forums and blogs, so I can't take any credit for it. British cab-punk singer Amanda Palmer was recently told by her record label to edit a fantastic music video because they felt she looked too fat and needed to expose less of her belly.

No one in their right mind would call Amanda Palmer fat. The costume wasn't lewd or overly exposing (actually, it may have well adhered to near-Victorian prudishness, considering what most pop tartlets are wearing in their music videos), her belly looked nice and toned...the idiocy of their comment has to be witnessed to be believed. It is a class A example of the media perpetuating ridiculously unhealthy stereotypes about women, as well as the pressure that women are under to appear impossibly thin and perfect.

We need to be proud of our bellies and proud of the fact that we are trying to keep them healthy. This is a difficult thing for most women to do (I certainly struggle with my belly self-image), and this incident between Amanda Palmer and Roadrunner Records highlights what we are faced with.

Absurdabsurd over at the Drestin Doll's website The Shadowbox has written up a fantastic release concerning this whole incident. She says it much better than I could and has requested the people spread the word about this. Click on the links. Watch the videos. Investigate this issue.



Earlier this year, Amanda Palmer of Brechtian punk cabaret duo 'the Dresden Dolls' released her first solo album, 'Who Killed Amanda Palmer' through label Roadrunner Records.

Recent relations with her label may be called 'strained' at best, but the conflict has just taken on a new dimension:

In October, Amanda filmed a video for the first single "Leeds United" , directed by Alex De Campi.
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Upon seeing the final product, Roadrunner Records responded by telling her she was fat, and to re-cut the video to show less of her belly.

Amanda refused to make the changes demanded. Instead, she sent out a mailer about the issue and later blogged about it here:

Since the release, Amanda Palmer fans have been flooding the online Dresden Dolls/Amanda Palmer forum with responses here:

They have begun posting pictures of their bellies in support of Amanda and in protest against Roadrunner Records' actions and policies, as well as sending their pictures and personal stories to one of the forum members who has volunteered to collate, print and send all received bellies to the Roadrunner Records HQ. At the time of writing this, over 100 photos have been collected in less than 48 hours. Roadrunner Records attempted to appease fans by initiating a contest for the 'best belly photo', a move that provoked a cascade of angry replies from fans. The contest has since been removed from the Roadrunner website.

This issue is not just about Amanda Palmer's belly. This issue is about all the bellies of the world: big, small, hairy, stretch-marked, scarred, pregnant; every single belly. The aim is to reclaim the belly, to promote a healthy body image for everyone (not just females) and to protest against the "barbie dolling" of artists by record companies and the media.

For more information on Amanda Palmer:

So JOIN THE REBELLYON. Take a picture of your beautiful belly, send it to Jordan (doritojoe89 [at] gmail [dot] com), make it your default myspace/facebook picture, do anything to promote the cause. Help spread a healthy body image for everyone. Just do it.

(retrieved from )

Healthy Belly - by Templates para novo blogger 2007