Workout/Gear

Today’s Happy Note: I have heard.  From an Exclusive Upper West Side source.  That there is a Trader Joe’s planned for 72nd and Broadway.  Breather, Caronae.  Breathe.  This is the greatest thing to happen in New York.  Since Union Square Trader Joe’s.

Today was decent but would have been much better if my sleeping hadn’t been so…disrupted…last night.  I kept waking up tangled in my sheets in deep panic that either (a) there was an axe murderer in my closet or (b) my fan, which has creepy red lights on it, was an evil monster.  I forgot to take my sleep medication last night and I am guessing that was the cause.  It was a very eerie experience.  One minute I would be wide awake craving a moment of sleep, the next moment I would be waking up from a nightmare never wanting to fall back asleep again.  Very bizarre.

I left the office early to do stuff for my other job and just ended up passing out back at my apartment.  Meh.  I had a great workout after I woke up though!

40 minutes full-body strength training.  I lifted hard and heavy for a lot of different exercises.  My arms, back, abs, legs — everything was screaming afterwards.  It felt amazing.  I love when you have a great strength session and you feel physically and mentally stronger afterwards.  I hit up the elliptical for an insane 30 minute HIIT sesh after the weights.  Not sure why it felt tougher than usual but I was drenched and my heart was racing!

I have made an important discovery of which I must inform you: I have found the most comfortable, fitting, soft, stretchy, breathable workout shirt ever.

It’s a pink Under Armor tank with a criss-cross back. It is dry-wicking.  The best thing about it is the way it fits.  I have sort of a strange upper-body and it is very hard to find workout tops that fit right.  For one, I have a very long torso.  This shirt is amazingly long!  My other problem is that, compared to my relatively thin waist, I am, well, rather well-endowed.  I have never found a tank with a built-in sports bra that supports me.  This didn’t just provide plenty of support and coverage, it also seemed to make my chest look somewhat normal-sized!

Okay, so do you want to know the deal-breaker?

It was $12 at TJMaxx.  Everyone has a different body, but if you have any features similar to mine, I would highly recommend this.  I literally can’t wait to do the laundry so I can wear it again. 🙂  Your favorite workout gear?

Eats hodgepodge: had three delicious meals today, plus plenty of delicious snacks.  There are a few things I haven’t minded eating hot lately — namely eggs and wraps/quesadillas.  There are something about warm cheese and hummus that just melts my heart.

Love fun tops on bottled iced tea!

Giant colors salad!  Red, orange, yellow, many shades of green, white.  What are your favorite colors to eat?

About to enjoy some new ice cream/sorbet finds and maybe frozen fruit!

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Strength-Training and Holistic Health

Today’s Happy Note: Got to read an interesting interview at the office today!  Learned some super random stuff about Nikita Khruschev!

I won’t lie, I struggled to come up with a happy note today.  The day was long and tiring; but at the same time, I wasn’t sad about it.  I was ambivalent.  Not all days can be wonderful, but not all days will be terrible either, I suppose.

Exercise: Did 30 minutes of HIIT on le elliptical this morning, proceeded by 40 (yes 40!) minutes of strength training (arms and abs).  It feels really good to lift weights once or twice a week; I’m starting to like it a lot, and as long as I don’t do the exact same series of exercises with the same weights and the same reps, I don’t get bored!  I actually think it’s pretty fun, although my gym is full of sweaty college football players.

I think a lot of women don’t strength train or don’t do it enough, for a variety of reasons.  Many women are mothers or are struggling to push forward in their careers, or they don’t know the benefits.  But I can think of two more reasons that have served as obstacles for me personally in the past: being cardio-obsessed and/or being afraid of the weight room and the intimidating men in there!  Strength training not only helps build lean muscle mass, but it’s important for your bones too.  And I definitely find that it helps with my confidence; regardless of what my body looks like, I love to feel strong and powerful.

In terms of the first obstacle: I used to be a bit cardio obsessed.  I felt so guilty if I didn’t do an hour or two a day!  Now I know this was part of my disordered body image and eating patterns.  Ladies, you don’t need this much!  I definitely make sure to take days where I do yoga or rest entirely, and I have been loving 30 minute HIIT sessions lately.  I think strength training has also helped me get over my obsession; for me, no amount of cardio has ever made me thin or especially toned.  Lifting weights and doing ab exercises (among other things) makes me look and feel better!  I know I see this lady and this lady do it all the time, and they are positively glowing!

And the men; yes, sometimes they stare, sometimes they smell, sometimes they are extraordinarily obnoxious and machoistic.  But they have nothing to do with you!  You’re there for you; just because the guys are lifting four times more doesn’t mean you aren’t strong.  In a way, I think weight lifting can be very feminine.

For some great moves and demos, check out the Fitnessista’s workout page here.

Do you strength train?  If so, what are some of your favorite moves?  What do you like about doing it?

I’m exhausted.  Ugh.  Just need to get through tomorrow though.  I feel like such a silly college student going to bed at eleven sometimes, but I know that in the end it’s what’s best for my health (physical and emotional).  I need a routine and a schedule, otherwise I get upset and my insomnia gets even worse than it already is!  That’s just me though.  It’s funny when I think about just how many components of health there are; so much of popular culture and media defines it narrowly, like attaining a certain “ideal” weight or working out every day of the week or eating such and such things (e.g., acai or quinoa or beets or whatever).  But I like to take a more holistic approach.  I guess that’s what my blog is about!  Health — all dimensions of it!  I guess I’ve finally found my niche, only after 3+ months of blogging, lol.  And I blog because I need to be able to work through my health and my life and learn new things about myself, my mind and body, but also because I want to share my story — my joys, struggles, triumphs, happiness — and help others figure things out too.

Why do you blog?  Or read blogs?

Dear Sleep: I Miss You.

Today’s Happy Note: Went to a fun poetry/art event tonight with a friend I haven’t seen in a while (hi Joy!!!!).

Okay, no proper post tonight because Caronae is CRANKY.

Why am I cranky?

Because I. Can’t. Sleep.

Ever.

I have tried everything: tea, yoga, stretching, disconnecting from technology, melatonin, magnesium, relaxation techniques, meditation, very active daytime, quiet environment.  I repeat: EVERYTHING.

I have reached a point of tremendous frustration and have resorted to a prescription.  I want to be honest with you guys here since this is my blog about all aspects of health and this is an extraordinarily frustrating (health) situation for me.  I don’t understand why I can take care of myself in so many ways — I run, I walk, I do yoga, I lift weights, I savor my veggies and fruits, I do positive self-talk — and still have this one major issue going on.  It has gotten much worse this semester.  And not sleeping affects everything else in my life: I can’t concentrate in class or at work, I can’t eat at the right times or get my workouts in (although usually I force myself to anyways which ends up exhausting me even more), I don’t spend as much time on homework or with friends as I’d like.  All because I waste hours everyday trying to fall asleep or being asleep when I don’t need to be (i.e. the middle of the day).

I have tried getting on a regular “schedule”, but my life is so varied that this doesn’t work; the minute I have to stay up late studying until two AM one night, everything is thrown off for weeks.  This is not reasonable.  This is not normal.  I have a serious sleep problem. Insomnia, but also something else, I suspect.

I saw a psychiatrist a few days ago to figure out what we can do in terms of medication.  I now have a sedative and another anti-depressant that works as a sleep aid.  I have been taking this second medication, we’ll call it T for about three days now and I feel absolutely bizarre.  I feel hungover all day and downright drunken when I wake up.  This afternoon I was so exhausted that I had to take a three hour nap instead of running and when I woke up, I stumbled around my room and fell into my door and hit my head.  Not cool, T, not cool.  I then proceeded to lose my phone in my 150 square foot room.  Later on, I found it.  Sitting in the center of my desk.

In sum, I feel at an impasse.  I don’t really know what to do.  I’ll probably stay up all night tonight since I slept this afternoon and I won’t be able to fall asleep unless I take the sedative and if I do that then I won’t be able to wake up for my morning classes.

I won’t lie, I’m angry.

Dear Body, I work so hard to take care of you.  Why won’t you let me sleep?  Love, Caronae.

Suggestions?  Sympathy?  Random things to distract me?

Health Changes!

Daily Creativity:  Markers.  I have some.  And they are begging to be used.  Honestly, I much prefer pastels, but those are at home, so the markers will have to satisfy my coloring craving.  What’s your favorite way of drawing?

Today was hands down one of the rainiest, wettest, windiest days of my life.  I left my dorm a total of three times and went through three pairs of pants and three jackets, because each time I returned home so soaked that I needed new ones to be dry again.  I love the rain far more than most people, but this was some serious business.  Normally I even like to run in the rain, but I think it actually would have been legit dangerous to do my long run today.  Instead of whining about that and moping around the house  (aka room) all day, I made a backup plan last night!  I headed to the gym instead with a fresh, crisp newspaper.  Well, it wasn’t so crisp by the time I got there, despite being tucked into the bottom of my bag.  It was wet and droopy.  But alas, we don’t get everything we want in life.  I was really pleased with my workout; it was 90 minutes of cleansing, sweating, powerful, invigorating joy.

Workout:

4 miles on treadmill, shifting between speeds from 6.0-6.5 mph

30 minutes strength training: I did three sets of four exercises, with each set containing 3 sets of 12 reps.  I alternated between arm and ab exercises.

2 miles on treadmill,  1 @ 6.5, 0.5 @ 6.2, 0.5 @6.0

1/4 mile walking cooldown.

Twas the perfect Saturday afternoon pick me up.

Health Change #1:

I didn’t sleep well again last night, yet again.  I was still awake at four and realized that I was hungry.  I think this was actual hunger because it had been over six hours since dinner, so I decided to have a snack.  Then another snack.  And another.  TJ’s mini peanut butter cracker sandwiches are dangerous with a glass of chocolate soymilk.  I think my biggest “food issue” (and we ALL have them, in some way or another, I think — no one is a perfect eater) is not so much about food but about sleep.  I tend to be either the most tired or the most wired in the evening/night; both of these states leave me feeling very emotional.  Emotions often lead to snacking.  I wish so much that I could just fall asleep consistently at the same time night after night.  I think that would make things easier, and so, after break, I am going to try to make an effort to be consistent with my bedtime and sleeping.  The goal is to be in bed at 10:30, lights out at 11:00, and up at 7:00-7:30 so that I can workout before classes.  This pattern has hands down been the most effective for me in the past.  If I finish classes at 6:00, I have 4 hours to study and make dinner.  This is doable.  And getting my workout done before I start my day is great; I’m usually too tired after classes.

So that’s the very long-winded plan.  I think better sleep will potentially lead me to better health.  Not that my current state of health is bad, but I genuinely do want to nix the nighttime eating habit and my general drowsiness.

Health Change #2:

Another change I’m making is starting food journaling.  I joined SparkPeople because I’ve heard good things about it.  I really would like to banish for good about 8-10 pounds, and I tend to eat mindlessly/emotionally.  I know that I will have to be very careful not to take the journaling/counting too far.  I will NEVER restrict when I am genuinely hungry; I aim to eat intuitively, and if there is a day when intuitively leads to 2500 calories, so be it.  I just want to record things so that I end up with 2500 on that day, and not 3000.  Does that make sense?  I also want to use the journal to record my strength training!  I would like to be more toned come spring and summer, ideally.  Not just because of bikini season — I enjoy feeling strong and powerful, and I know that strength training has plenty of health benefits.  In fact, I don’t even think I own a bikini right now, oddly enough…

I do NOT intend to banter about my journal, recording, or calories on my blog.  I respect my readers of all backgrounds and I don’t think this would be enjoyable or useful for a lot of you; I also do not want to become obsessed.  The blog will stay the same; I’ll still be talking about what I do for my health, like running, yoga, attending therapy, and coming up with fun wholesome recipes.

Health Change #3:

A few weeks ago I did a no-dairy/low-dairy challenge, and noticed that my digestion seemed a bit better.  After reading Caitlin’s (BTW, go wish her good luck in her triathlon tomorrow!) decision the other day, and reading Averie’s comments/advice on the subject, I’ve decided to continue eating only one serving of dairy a day, be it yogurt, milk, cheese, or ice cream.  I think I feel better with this amount and if it turns out later on it isn’t working, I’ll reevaluate!

Random Eats From Today:

I bought myself a giant puzzle and have been working on it today!  I also hung out with my best friends for a while and then went to see Alice In Wonderland with one of them.  It was just okay — the visuals and design were stunning, and the acting was quite good, but the plot seemed to just drag along.

Have an excellent Sunday bloggies!

Friday Night Date With Myself

Today’s Mini Goal: Have fun on my run tomorrow — I am going to just use it as a time to explore, think, and chill out.  Ski trip, sadly, was cancelled again, but I think I’m going to make this run a sort of replacement endurance event.  I’m thinking maybe 18 miles.  Not sure.

Still no run today.  I am happy that I am being honest with myself that right now, I simply don’t want to get my exercise via running.  This feeling tends to surface near the end of a training cycle and I am glad that I have been able to acknowledge it.  For some people, pushing through might be the right thing, but for me, at this point in my life, there is a more important lesson to be found in listening to my mind and body: if running is going to be a source of anxiety for me at this moment, I will not do it; I am already in shape for the half-marathon, and as long as I throw in a few runs a week I will be fine.

Wow.  It seems strange to get so worked up about something so small, but for me, running is a huge part of my life.  At this moment, I need it to bring me peace and joy, and when it is not doing that, I think I need to change things up.  I guess I’ve been in a running rut.  Hopefully it will end soon, but if not, I’ll just have to think up alternative fun ways of moving.  And I am okay with that.

Lunch Smoothie In A Bowl (well, really it was a cup, but who cares):

Mango, banana and orange juice smoothie topped with a crumbled homemade granola bar (Averie’s recipe), almonds, and chobani pineapple (it’s buried).  I added a few spoons of pb too.

My sleeping habits have been super funky lately (by the way, this is totally related to the smoothie in a bowl because I took a nap after eating it).  I try so hard to get on a regular schedule (i.e, get in bed and read at 11, lights out at 12, up at 8), but it just has not been working.  It’s really frustrating because typically what my inability to sleep means is that I drag myself out of bed for class or work at 9, sludge through my day, am too tired to exercise in the evening, then eat dinner at 5 and pass out all evening.  Then, of course, I have to stay up until 3 or 4 am to study and the cycle starts all over again.  I really have tried to maintain a consistent schedule, but I cannot fall asleep most nights.  I’ll take melatonin sometimes, but then I’m realllllllly tired in the mornings.  I saw my doctor today about it and we talked about my daily habits, sleep patterns, medications, etc.  She gave me a prescription for a sedative but said that I need to see the school’s psychiatric services if I want a sleep medication.  I freely admit that my sleep issues probably are psychiatric.  Although I often don’t feel anxious in the evenings, I tend to think really hard about things when I’m lying in bed trying to fall asleep.  I’m really not sure what to do at this point; I have a serious family and individual history of insomnia, and my doctor noted that for some people, this is a sort of unsolvable problem that will float in and out of my life always.  My 95 year old grandfather regularly goes days at a time without sleeping; I remember last year when he had just come back from Iran his “schedule” was so off that he was awake almost constantly for something like three straight days and nights.  One of the funniest moments I have ever experienced with him was this past Christmas when we were chatting quietly one evening and he leaned in close and asked me, in a very desperate, almost drug-addict-but-still-extremely-humorous kind of way, if my mother had smuggled him any sleeping pills over the border (most of my family lives in Canada; my mother is a physician).

I have always been in awe of those people, like my dad and sister, who can just fall asleep anytime anywhere.  I crave sleep, but it seems to dislike me most of the time. Okay, sleep rant over.

I took myself out on a little date this evening!  It was pretty much my ideal healthy-but-still-fun Friday night.  I love taking myself out every few weeks.  It’s a nice way to give myself some self-love at the end of a stressful and/or very social week.

1st stop: Yoga! Yoga Vida, which is a lovely little studio near Union Square, like pretty much every other yoga studio in this city, has this stellar deal whereby students get their first week of classes (unlimited) for $5.  Score!  After that, it’s still only $5 a class.  I was muy impressed with this evening’s class.

It was an intermediate/advanced flow.  The class was small and the teacher was quite creative with the poses and series.  We did a lot of chair variations and chaturangas, and we even did this funky crow pose with one leg sort of crossed over the other.  I would definitely go back to this studio.

Also, there was an extraordinarily attractive guy next to me.  He was strong in that yoga-way; sculpted, but naturally so.  I could hardly keep my eyes on my mat.  At one point he did this thing where he went from a handstand, which he had been effortlessly balancing in for like five minutes, directly into a chaturanga.  I can’t really describe it, but it was amazing.  If he would have asked me for some post-yoga tea I most certainly would not have said no 🙂

Next stop: Cookie Friday treat!  No cookie was involved since I gave up baked goods for Lent, but I treated myself to a yummy blended Jamba Juice hot chocolate.  This was one of the few hot chocolates I’ve ever had which tasted like it had some real, serious dark cocoa powder going on.  Me likes.

This was followed by a trip to Trader Joe’s, which was super un-crowded.  I only waited in line for about three minutes.  TJ’s actually has really good prices; I got everything pictured below for just under $50.

In case you can’t see everything, we have brussels, mushrooms, mango, grapefruit, dried pineapple, trail mix (individual packs!!!!!), mixed nuts, pb sandwich crackers, dried hibiscus (!!!!!!!!!!!!), carrot ginger soup, dark chocolate edamame, flax pb, white bean basil hummus (which I saw on Heather’s blog a while ago and have been coveting forever), giant vat of cat-shaped crackers (so fun), and various Greek yogurts.  Is it wrong that my perfect Friday night involves foodie finds?

Close-up on the most interesting item:

Dried hibiscus flowers. See later on in the post for more details!

Dinner was WF cold bar.

Everything was really yummy, especially the spinach-artichoke noodles, but I accidentally consumed an olive, which kind of ruined the whole meal.  Disgusting.  My olive hatred follows closely behind my tomato hatred in its degree of seriousness.

I had a leisurely dinner (followed by some of my newly acquired dark chocolate edamame) with today’s copy of The New York Times.  It was nice to be able to linger and relax.

Once I got home, I had to break open the hibiscus flowers.  The display said “tastes like a fruit roll-up” and it was lying.  These taste infinitely more natural and better than a fruit roll-up.  I actually added one to a big mug of hot water to create a sort of tea and it was so good.  One of the most delicious evening treats I have had in quite some time.

I guess it kind of looks like a weird pink spider, but don’t let that stop you from buying these little gems.  I can’t wait to find all sorts of delicious uses for them.

So that was my Friday night date with myself.  Perhaps a companion might have made it a little better, but I’m content with my singleness for now.

Do you ever like to have a day or evening to yourself?  If so, what do you like to include in it?