Burnout

burnout0A while back I wrote a piece on my over-training syndrome and addiction to exercise and how it attributed to weight gain and other health issues (including adrenal fatigue).  Once I realized had confirmation that my glutenous exercising was taking a toll on my health, I pulled back the reigns somewhat and began to let go of my addiction.  Although still maintaining a fairly strict exercise regime, I let go of the idea that I absolutely needed to work out every single day and became more lax.  And I think cardio was killing me.

This past year, as you may have read, I have changed up my fitness goals and have been concentrating on strength training and lifting, spending most of my gym time in the weight room and venturing into territory that, though I have always maintained some strength training, has been on the up-and-up with me.  Power lifting and such has become somewhat of a (new) passion and I’m really excited about it and look forward to the days I can get to the gym.  Which, of late, seems to be more and more frequently.  With classes at least three times per week, I have been making efforts to hit the gym the other 3 to 4 days each week.  The other day someone referred to me as a “gym Nazi”.

On top of classes and gym time, the last few months I’ve gotten more and more into hiking – mostly on weekends or sometimes on the off-days from working out.  And I have been walking every day on my lunch break for the full hour, and several days before work for anywhere between 20 to 40 minutes.

This week, I had some pretty insane workouts – including lifting the highest amount of weight I’d ever lifted (impressing even myself), and Thursday I totally overdid it.  Like, completely.  I did two major walks – 40 minutes before work and an hour at lunch and in the evening I did my regular Thursday night gym routine, spending nearly two and a half hours in the gym, and ending the evening with a Zumba class.  (Thursday is my favorite night of the week!)

Lift Exhaustion

Although during my exercised-fueled endorphin rush I felt awesome and energetic and like I could take on the world, by late Thursday evening I was zonked and actually nodded off on my couch.  I never fall asleep on my couch.

Friday morning I awoke with not a lick of energy.  I was literally physically exhausted and drained.  The entire day I felt like I got hit by a truck.  A big-ass truck!  I was barely functioning at work and felt like no amount of caffeine would be able to help me.  I was relieved when the work day ended.

Out of Order

This is how I felt Friday…keep knocking…there’s no one home.

However, I am a moron determined and decided that I still wanted to ensure I got another workout in, since it was cold and raining on Friday and I barely got a walk in (short one in the morning and shorter one in the afternoon – resulting in very wet pant-legs) and I headed to the gym once again.  It’s really all I could think about Friday and I really was happy to get there.  I spent way too long there Friday night working out (about an hour and 40 minutes), lifting and finishing with a little cardio.  I felt like I could conquer the world and could keep going but, sometimes I have to say “enough’s enough”.

Although I ventured back to the gym yesterday for what turned out to be a great workout with a buddy, I felt like I didn’t or couldn’t put all I had into my workout.  And although I slept wayyyy too long Friday night into Saturday, I was still very tired and needed to push myself.

I made the decision to definitely take today off.  Even though I was invited to participate in a fun-run for Apple Blossom festivities, I was happy when the invitee texted to say that she was declining as well.  Thank goodness.

I have spent most of today and last night recovering from last week and I am determined  to not let myself get to that point again.  The point of physical exhaustion and burnout.  I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced exercise burnout before.  It’s definitely different than the over-training syndrome and adrenal fatigue I experienced a few years ago.  I’ve also decided this week to opt out of any FitBit challenges that I’ve been invited to as I feel like I’ve been too competitive lately and that has been fueling me a little more than it should.  I am not Monica Geller.

And, let’s face it, I know better.  I wasn’t trying to get to this point on purpose.  Exhaustion is NOT a status symbol.  I know the effects of over-training and risks exhaustion can pose. Up until the end of this past week I wasn’t feeling the effects of my workouts.  And perhaps this is a one time occurrence, but I will be more careful as I go into a new week.  I will not attempt more than I can handle.  My body is my temple and as such, I shall treat it like one and show it more respect.

~FB

The Cravings Almost Got Me

I’m now 36 days into my Whole 60 and have been doing so well. But this past weekend was tough: surrounded by delicious foods and decadent drinks. I was pissed off at my food.

So last night, while gearing up for snowmageddon in Nova Scotia, I made these complian nut butter cups.

butter-cup

I made only a few and they have been serving their purpose. Cocoa, coconut oil, sunflower seed butter. That’s it. Easy peasy! Completely satisfied ( except for the weather. #snowpocalypse )

 

Directions:

Measurements can be estimated.  I made a half dozen cups and used 2 teaspoons of coconut oil, a teaspoon of cocoa, and a another half teaspoon of coconut oil and a tablespoon of sunflower nut butter for the center.

1. Melt coconut oil or butter over a double broiler (you can use a microwave).  Once thoroughly melted, blend in the cocoa until completely smooth as liquid.  Pour half of this into mini muffin tins or ice cube tray and place in the freezer.

2. Melt coconut oil or butter over a double broiler . Once thoroughly melted, blend in the nut butter of choice and stir until completely smooth.  Pour this mixture over the frozen chocolate bottoms and freeze.

3.Re-warm an pour remaining chocolate mixture onto the nut butter cups to complete the third layer.  Freeze.   ENJOY!

 

 

Finding Inspiration

I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s.  And back then, we didn’t have cable at home.  And certainly, we didn’t have overwhelming channels that today’s folks have to choose from.  But, we had a few staple television shows that were watched – The Cosby Show, Who’s the Boss? (my favorite), Growing Pains, etc.  And I was obsessed with teeny-bopper magazines that showcased all my crushes (Kirk Cameron and Michael J. Fox), and potential best-friends (Alyssa Milano).  The famous were beautiful.

When Full House made its way to my television. I instantly was in awe of Candace Cameron.  Aside from the fact that she was Kirk Cameron’s little sister AND had had a small guest appearance on Who’s the Boss?, she was the first girl I’d seen on TV that looked like me: cute curls, a little chubby, and with the “Charlie Brown cheeks” that she referred to in a later episode*.  It was wonderful that I could finally identify with someone on TV and in magazines.  I was elated.

young-cc

How cute was she?

Although Candace said she never had an issue with her weight while filming early in the seasons, season 4 of Full House aired an episode called *”Shape Up”, in which DJ goes on a crash diet to slim down for a pool party.  This was an emotional episode for me for me to watch.  Although my eating disorders didn’t begin until a year or two later, I could completely relate to how DJ was feeling and could already see my own disordered eating and outlook.  (Note: While preparing this post, I re-watched the episode for the first time in likely 20 years and had the same emotional response I had the first time it aired.  To this day, it breaks my heart because I know the struggle and I know that most little girls have and will continue to have this struggle at some point in life.)

Later on, Ms. Cameron Bure declared she developed eating disorders a few years after the show had finished filming.  (Although, she states that it had less to do with her weight and more to do with where she was in her life, emotionally and physically.)

Since her days of self-destruction, Candace Cameron Bure has completely changed her body and her health.  She has an incredible workout regime, and one of the best (celebrity) trainers, Kira Stokes, as her own.  And I have found inspiration in them both.

These two have some of the best workouts I have seen.  As a trainer – and a trainee – I am often looking for ways to keep workouts fresh, innovative, and fun.  And these two ladies sometimes help me get there.

candace-and-kira

Candace Cameron Bure and trainer Kira Stokes (photo via Cameron Bure’s Instagram)

 Aside from gaining inspiration for my workouts, I have found inspiration in Candace  herself, from how she approaches fitness and clean eating and even spiritual health.  Three topics I already have in common with her.  Her approach to how she keeps her body lean and how she looks at her muscle and her strength is refreshing and it’s nice to actually see and hear a celebrity talk about it all and show how much dedication it takes her to keep her body in tip-top shape.  Especially when so many celebrities make the claim “I eat whatever I want and don’t work out.”  Pffftt!!

candace-cameron-3-times

Via US

Although Candace Cameron Bure is a celebrity and she has personal trainers and has appeared on Dancing with the Stars where she spent endless hours each day for endless months dancing non-stop, she is also a woman who has worked incredibly hard to get to get and keep a strong, toned, lean body.  Believe me – that takes work!  And, again, I find it inspiring that she has been so inclined to share her journeys with us, the public.  Through her books and her social media accounts and her television appearances, she has been delightful in showing us that if you set a  goal – and work for it – it can be reached.

And what’s even more delightful, and something I have found truly inspiring since I was a pre-teen, is that when she was a young actress and already a very public figure, she never had issue with her body – even, as it has been stated, when other people had. She was a great role model in childhood and continues to be a role model in adulthood.

I will continue to find inspiration from her.  Where do you find yours?

~FB

Sleep

A few years ago I wrote a post on Sleep and how it affects your health and weight.  At the time I was still battling insomnia, although not as bad as it had been several months before.  And I had discovered that my lack of shut-eye affected, not only my sanity and ability to function like a normal human being, but also my weight.  As my sleep cycle decreased, I watched my weight increase.  I was frustrated on so many levels, but eventually, sleep came easier to me and I finally got back to a semi-normal amount each night.

As I noted in that post, our sleep norm is down to an average of 6 hours per night from the norm compared of 7 hours per night 10 years ago, and 9 hours per night compared to the norm at the turn of the century.  (I’m not an expert, but I can almost guarantee that with the increase of social media, the average rate of sleep in North Americans has decreased from 6 hours per night since I wrote that post three years ago.)

Sleep deprivation has shown to 1. affect the release of cortisol (a hormone that regulates appetite), which can leave one feeling continuously hungry, and 2. increase fat storage (your sleep loss can affect the way your body metabolizes carbohydrate, leading to excess blood sugar, promoting the overproduction of insulin, leading to fat storage).

Fortunately, as indicated in my original post, there are many great ways to ensure you get a good night’s sleep and well rested (stay away from caffeine, don’t exercise right before bed, etc.).  This time around, my very first suggestion is likely, in this day and age, the most important:

  1. UNPLUG!  Social media is terrific for catching up with friends and staying in touch, but honestly, I think it’s killing us slowly.  So many people are worried about what they might miss if they disconnect from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  Even for just a few hours.  And therefore, are online all.night.long. If you want truly want to get a decent sleep, I suggest logging off your accounts and shutting down at least a good hour before hitting the sack.  Seriously, if you are that much of a social media junkie, then you likely need a detox anyway. Log off computer, turn off the TV, shut down your phone (or at least put it on media silent) so that your brain can unwind from all that garbage.

    plugged-in-sleep

    Turn it off!  Snapchatting your “fake” sleep look is not as important as getting the real Zzzzs.

  2. RELAX.  Have a warm bath, read a book (one of my favorite ways to wind down), meditate, have some conversation. AND FINALLY:
  3. CHECK YOUR MATTRESS Often we become so accustomed to our beds that we don’t realize how really terrible our mattresses are, and that they could verily be the reason our sleep pattern is so poor.  We wake up with aching backs, stiff necks, and zonked out, yet we continue to sleep on the same old mattress each night.

LEESA has some pretty terrific mattresses and other products out there that they call “a Universal Adaptive Feel™ that adapts to all body shapes and sizes and all sleeping styles. This is particularly useful for couples, as each side adapts differently to each partner.”  This is pretty perfect.  Think about how many times you wake up in the night because your partner is dipping the bed.

You can also check out The Sweet Home’s review on why Leesa is the best foam mattress around!

If you’ve noticed your rate or quality of sleep is suffering and your weight is changing (and not for the better), it is worth it to evaluate your sleep pattern.  If you feel you are getting enough sleep but you still wake feeling groggy and tired, perhaps it is the time to check out a new mattress or pillow.  Or, you can even look at how you are sleeping: are you facing the right direction, etc.?  I know not everyone believes in Feng shui (a Chinese philosophical system of harmonizing everyone with the surrounding environment), but it may be worth checking out.  If you’re used to your head facing north, flip yourself around so that you’re facing south.  Seriously: don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it!

In the meantime, you can also check out Leesa’s the tips below on how to become a morning person.  And may you have sweet dreams.

sleep-graphic

~Fit Bitch

Be The Fire

On Fire

Just kidding!  It’s really not that bad.

I think, for many, there is a preconceived notion that exercise and good nutrition is hard.  And it’s not worth the struggle.  The truth:  YES, it can be hard.  There are some days when you will feel like your legs are on fire from the squats and lunges, or your abs will be burning from the planks, crunches, or cuts, or your triceps will be screeching hot from the push-ups and dips.  But think about it.  Aren’t you worth it??  With everything in the entire world to focus on, shouldn’t you make yourself the primary focus?

You don’t have to commit to working out every minute of every day, or eat clean entirely.  But make the commitment that you deserve more.  Remind yourself that your body is your temple and treat it with love and respect.  Nurture it inside and out (aka nutrition and exercise), and, certainly, indulge it here and there.

For many of us, losing the weight isn’t the struggle.  That’s not where the fire is.  No, the struggle is loving yourself and accepting yourself, and acknowledging your worth.  It takes time – and believe me, I know it is often still a constant battle – but we are all worth it.

So, dive in, head first, and start that fire burning.  And eventually, hopefully, that hell will become your haven.

~Fit Bitch

On the Road Again-ish

Last week I decided, while in my gym routine, to try a run.  I hadn’t been running in about a month or so since my tarsal tunnel flared up and we discovered I have tendonitis on top of it.  But I figured I’d given them enough rest to try a run again.  I ran a mile on the treadmill and carried on with the rest of my workout.

The run wasn’t too bad, although my ankles were tingly afterward, I expected much more pain than what I had.  So, this week I decided to try a run again.  I ran two miles before carrying on with the rest of my gym routine.

That was Thursday night.  By Friday night, not only were my ankles completely puffy (although, the puffiness seems like it has found a permanent place in my feet), they were bruised on the inside once again.

What the heck is going on??

When I saw my doctor a few weeks back my biggest concern was the bruising and hers was the swelling.  I’m wondering now if she’d be more concerned with the bruising.

My ankles feel splintery; like shards of bone are being pulled away on the inside.  I can feel my bones clanking together where my leg meets the top of my foot.

Foot Description

Basically, we’re talking with the fibula meets the talus. *clank clank clank*

And so, it looks like running will have to be put on hold once again.  My BFF -slash – running buddy and I have a race weekend away planned for this upcoming weekend but it looks, too, like that is out of the question.

I am devastated by all of this.  Running is so important to me.  It’s something I have done, albeit off and on, for so long and to not be able to do it not only makes me sad but also terrifies me.  I’m not certain of the damage, if any, that is being done inside my legs and feet, and I know that I have to heal, but I feel defeated by not being able to pursue something that I have loved for so long.  At least for the time being.

So for now I make the choice to sit this one out – that may include this whole season, or just this race.  I don’t want to push myself to the point that I’m damaged goods for life.  Although it pains me, I need to be sensible and do what’s right for my body in order to keep it in its best form for as long as I can.

In a few weeks’ time I will attempt another mile and see how it goes.  I’m looking forward to getting back on the road again.

~FB

Healthy NOT Skinny (Day 14)

Healthy not Skinny

Scroll to the top of this page….see my tag line??

“Because Being Healthy Doesn’t Mean Being Thin.”

That is true.  There are plenty of thin people who aren’t healthy and plenty of healthy people who aren’t thin.

What’s more true is that if you make your choices bases upon the idea goal that you want to be healthier, happier, and more productive, then I believe you will surpass that goal  easily.

Getting “skinny” is, often, a result of your healthy living but it shouldn’t be your main goal.  There are so many other wonderful, beautiful outcomes of making healthy choices – better health (obviously), stronger muscles, more endurance, better heart health, increased circulation, lower cholesterol, etc. etc. etc.  The list goes on.

Don’t let the idea of thinness be your main priority – it’s a perfect way to set yourself up for failure.  Love yourself.  Embracing the body you have does not mean you have to stop continuing to better it – but be proud of who you are.  Loving yourself will give you the confidence to keep going (or get started!).

Love YOUR Body - not someone else's

I would love this caption more if we could get rid of “leaner” – so let’s just scratch that out, k?

~Fit Bitch

The Dangers of High Protein, Low Carb Diets

High Protein

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the high protein diets that are “on the market” and I seem to be having discussions about them almost regularly so I thought I’d take the time to let you know my thoughts on, what seems to me, a dangerous fad.

Now, I’m jumping into this topic after having done tons of research and consulting several medical professionals – including my own family doctor and a doctor specializing in internal medicine.  I’d also like to make it abundantly clear that I have also had in-depth conversations with three Ideal Protein representatives (totaling several hours of conversation, questions and research).

So, there are several of these diets in question – Ideal Protein, the Dukan Diet, Atkins (to name a few) and they all basically follow the same protocol: restrict your carb intake and live almost solely on protein-rich foods.  The diets claim “to switch the body’s metabolism from metabolizing glucose as energy over to converting stored body fat to energy”.  Ideal Protein also claims the diet will “reset” your pancreas.

These high protein, low (non) carb plans claim that you’ll lose a ton of weight, fast.  And for the most part they hold up.  But at what risks to your health?  We’ll get to that soon enough.

First, let’s set some things straight.

#1 Carbohydrate is an important energy source for working muscles and for the brain and nervous tissue. It also assists digestion by providing dietary fibre.  Carbohydrate provides the body with its most efficient and accessible source of energy.  In FACT, all exercise – even low-intensity – is reliant on carbohydrate.  In 2002 the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommends 45%-65% of total caloric intake come from carbohydrate.

#2 The major role of protein is to build and repair body tissues, such as muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  Protein is NOT a primary source of energy.

#3 Obviously, I have issues with any diet that promotes not exercising.  I think it is irresponsible for a diet to suggest one not exercise.  I know that these diets promote walking (for up to 30 minutes a day), but guess what?  We walk. We’re human and we have two legs and in order to get from Point A to Point B we must walk.  (I’ve also been told by Ideal Protein and Dukan Diet reps that the walking must not be high-impact because it is “dangerous”.)  <<— Clearly I’ll come back to this point soon.

#4 Exercise and physical activity is an important part of a balanced lifestyle.  Exercise promotes healthy weight, builds muscle and increases strength, helps fight and prevent diseases, improves heart efficiency, reduces depression, anxiety, and stress, strengthens bones, reduces body fat – to name but a few benefits.  (Of course, a balanced lifestyle includes eating a balanced diet!)

#5 ANYTIME you eliminate a food group from your regular diet you’re almost guaranteed to lose weight.  This I can speak to from experience.  About 7 years ago I was very ill and, for a year, spent more than my fair share of time at medical and specialist appointments, having tests, tests, and more tests done, and going through my very own elimination diet per one of the specialists I was seeing.  I had to cut out nearly everything from my diet and it sucked.  Sure, I lost tons of weight (and I loved it!) but I was also depressed, lethargic, moody.  I had no energy, I was fatigued all the time; in fact I was so miserable all the time that I started going to bed at 8:00pm – partly because I didn’t want to deal with the world and my sad little life, and partly because I was so tired from my limited diet that I just couldn’t bear to stay awake any longer.  Eventually, my family doctor got me back on a regular eating plan and we worked on alternate ways to diagnose my illness.

Okay, so now that that’s out of the way let’s get back to the dangers/risks/problems of these high protein diets.

– Many of the high-protein foods are also high in cholesterol and fat
– Lack of nutrients and vitamins
– High cholesterol
– Liver problems/damage
– Kidney problems/damage (exerts too much pressure on the kidneys because they are unable to process the high amounts of protein)
– Dehydration
– Headaches and naseau
– Bad breath
– Fatigue
– Depression
– Constipation
– Bone loss
– Ketosis (Unhealthy metabolic state. During ketosis, the body forms substances known as ketones, which can dull appetite and cause nausea and bad breath. Ketosis can be prevented by eating at least 100 grams of carbohydrates a day.)
– Abnormal heartbeat and arythmia
– Deprivation
– Hair loss
– Fainting
– More saturated fat ingested
– PH levels in body change causing digestive issues and skin problems
– Harmful to diabetics because the diet makes it harder to produce insulin and digest sugars)
– No exercise

– Ideal Protein provides “packaged food” – possibly loaded with chemicals or some other mysterious matter – and the plan and food are expensive.

These are just some of the issues these diets can cause.  There are tons more.  And let me just state that on the multi-page health history questionnaire you are required to fill out for Ideal Protein (it seems I’m picking on this one) you are asked about diabetes, hypoglycemia, cardiovascular functions (blood clots, congestive heart failure, etc.), kidney and liver functions, colon and digestive functions, inflammatory conditions, cancer, allergies, medications, ovarian/breast function, endocrine function, neurological/emotional function (including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Schizophrenia, depression, Epilepsy, etc.) and other health problems.  HELLO RED FLAGS!!

And as for the dangers of working out while on these diets, as I stated in #s 1, 2, and 3 – you NEED carbohydrate for physical activity. If you deprive yourself of carbs for any amount of time and try to exercise, believe me, you’re not going to do too well.  Your body doesn’t have the fuel required to perform and you become exhausted.  Imagine depriving yourself of carbohydrate for weeks or months at a time; the end result can’t/won’t be good.  In fact, an Ideal Protein rep told me she had one client who was bringing a few logs of wood from her porch to her fireplace and fainted because it was too much exertion. She also told me that one of her clients was so desperate to go to a Zumba class but had heart palpitations within the first few minutes of dancing that she ended up in the hospital.  If you eliminate a source of energy  that is absolute fuel for your mind and body you are doing a disservice to your mind, body and spirit.

I’m not going to lie to you, when I first heard about these “miraculous” diets I was, of course, intrigued.  But I wanted to to educate myself in all areas first.  And I’m glad I did.  There are too many potential dangers (and I would have answered “yes” to several of the questions on health history – which would have put my body and my life in potential jeopardy had I followed one of these crazy diets.  (And I also have to question anything that comes in a silver foil package.)

These diets are quick fix diets.  That’s the truth!  They claim to (guarantee) you lose tons of weight almost immediately (and I’m sure you do – but not in a beneficial-to-your-life kind of way) and if I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: If you’re not ready to do the work, you’re not ready to lose the weight!!  There!  I said it again and I stand by it.

Actually, last week I had a friend email me about joining my boot camp and I gave her all the information.  The next day she told me she decided to go on the Ideal Protein diet because she needed fast and “amazing” results.  To me, working for my results and feeling a sense of pride in my commitments and accomplishments is “amazing”.

I may get a little flack from some people, and that’s fine.  Again, these are my thoughts based on the research I’ve done, including speaking with doctors and representatives of some of these diets.  As a health and fitness professional I think it’s important for everyone to be informed on the cons of these diets (and, of course the pros of carbohydrates, a balanced diet, and exercise).  If you are looking for a quick fix and you feel a high protein, low-carb diet is right for you, then by all means, consult your physician and do what’s best for you. But at least go into your consultation(s) informed and educated.

~Fit Bitch