8 Weeks of Accountability

Hi folks!

I have decided to hold myself accountable for the world to see. By the world, I mean the handful of people who actually follow this blog. I will post an online food and workout journal for the next 8 weeks. Not only does this keep me accountable, but it also gives some insight into how I eat and the types of workouts I do.

You may be surprised to see that I don’t “diet” in the sense that I don’t cut a lot of calories and I don’t cut out different food groups to reach a goal. Most days I “eat clean”, meaning I eat whole foods that are minimally processed. This is because I don’t like the idea of lab made foods, not because of a fitness goal. Some days I eat processed foods as well because I believe in having a balance. You will notice some days I may eat pescetarian (no meat other than fish/seafood), but also occasionally eat vegetarian or vegan: once again this is just my lifestyle, not due to any specific fitness goal.

My workout routine is mainly weight lifting and high intensity cardio. Sometimes I follow a routine, sometimes I do what I feel like doing. Some days I go hard, some days I don’t. Some days I’ll do two workouts in a day if I feel like it! I also build 1-2 rest days per week into my routine.

DISCLAIMER: This is just me sharing what I’ll be doing over these 8 weeks. This is by no means telling you what to eat or what workouts to do. I am using my own research and studies to build a plan for myself. Though I will provide information on why I make certain decisions, each individual has to tweak their food and workout routine according to their body and goals.

 

12 Days of Fitness!

Hey lovely people! Starting December 14, 2013, we are entering the 12 Days of Fitness!

This is a health and fitness related challenge that will help us all stay focused as we prepare for a new year and new goals. It’s easy to make a New Year Resolution, and promise to start January 1st, but we can easily start ASAP making changes!

Here are the guidelines we’ll go by each day:

12 Days of Christmas Fitness
Starts Dec 14, Ends Dec 25
Tag related pictures and tweets to #Oma12Days on Instagram and Twitter!

  • Day 1: 1 Workout Partner and/or accountability partner
  • Day 2: 2 “clean” meals (the rest don’t have to be)
  • Day 3: 3 servings raw fruits and/or veggies
  • Day 4: 4 positive words
  • Day 5: 5 minutes stretching
  • Day 6: 6 hours sleep
  • Day 7: 7 servings fruits/veggies total
  • Day 8: 8 cups water (or in ounces: body weight divided by 2)
  • Day 9: “9 months from now _____” – name 1 goal
  • Day 10: 10 minutes on the stairs (working out or walking)
  • Day 11: 11 fitness inspiration, motivational pictures – make a vision board
  • Day 12: 12 healthy recipes and/or workout ideas

Optional “Gifts” to yourself:

Workout 3-5 days per week (workout ideas to be posted)
Calculate your BMR and calories needed per day, depending on goals
Calculate your protein needs per day, depending on goals

 

A Few of My Favorite Things

   When first getting started on a new healthier lifestyle, it’s easy to get swept up in the sea of fitness gadgets and equipment. I have tried a lot of things along the way, and these are my top picks for helping me get and stay fit, in no particular order.

1. Blender: 

ninja_blender

In the pursuit of health and fitness, I’m all about convenience. Blenders allow me to make really quick meals on the go. When I need some quick nourishment I can blend fresh fruit, some kale or spinach, Greek yogurt, and a nutritious liquid like almond milk or coconut water, and end up with a filling and healthy snack. Not to mention, this does wonders for me after workouts when I can barely lift my arms because they’re just way too wobbly.

Blenders are also great for mixing treats like banana ice cream, adding fresh fruit to Greek yogurt for naturally flavored yogurt, and smoothly mixing the wet ingredients for pancakes, such as in this banana oat pancake recipe. The possibilities are endless!

2. Heart Rate Monitor (HRM):

hrm

Weight loss, gain, and maintenance all comes down to calories burned vs. calories consumed. If I have a certain goal I’m trying to reach, it’s helpful to know those numbers, and a heart rate monitor comes in handy. A heart rate monitor tells me how many calories I’ve burned during a workout, which percentage of those calories are fat, and gives information about how hard my heart worked during the workout.

Certain cardio machines give a decent estimate of your calorie burn, but these are based on generic calculations (unless there’s a HRM built into the machine – which may require you to hold onto the machine the whole time, and that’s not all that fun). I don’t do that much cardio anyway, and what I do is usually not on a machine. Without machines, I saw some pretty decent estimates for calorie burn during workouts. The estimates are also very generic, don’t account for calorie burn differences due to body composition, and there’s no way of telling if you were going “beast mode” or just posting pictures to Instagram the whole time.

At times I was losing weight much faster than I expected, and once I got an HRM I realized that this was in part because my workouts were much more intense than the websites and machines were estimating. Of course the HRM is not going to be 100% accurate, but it gives a very good idea of how hard I’m working by directly measuring my heart rate.

3. Measurement Cups or Food Scale:

food_scale

I have a love/hate relationship with measuring my food. It was very helpful when I was trying to lose weight, and it is helpful during times that I am trying to reach a certain goal with my physique. I would caution people against being overly consumed with exact numbers, and encourage you to allow yourself the freedom of not being on the nose with every single measurement. With that said, measuring food is a way to ensure that you are not overestimating or underestimating your food intake. If you are into counting calories or macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) then scales and/or measuring cups will ensure you don’t underestimate or overestimate. Over time, I have needed my food scale less and less, and tend to eyeball how much food I’m eating. It does still come in handy for recipes.

4. Smart Phone: 

smartphone

There is an app for almost everything. Within one phone, I have replaced my mp3 player, interval timer, camera, and pen/paper. I can use my phone to record workouts, hop onto social networks that help keep me motivated, and easily look up workout ideas. I love the interval apps and timers for when I’m doing High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Prior to having an interval app on my phone, I had to manually watch a wristwatch, which could be distracting. Being able to blast music on my phone really helps me stay in the zone when I’m working out, and usually keeps away the distracting people who want to talk while I’m in the middle of a set (rolls eyes).

5. Jump Rope:

jump_rope

Relatively inexpensive, jump ropes can be used almost anywhere, at any time. All I need to jump is a enough room for the periphery of the rope while jumping. To not bother my neighbors downstairs, I usually go outside for a quick 15 minute jump rope session. Jumping rope is a great cardiovascular workout, that also helps to strengthen the whole body. It’s also great for calorie burn – I have seen that I can burn as much as 11 calories per minute just jumping rope.

6. Pull-up Bar:

pullup_bar

I wanted a pull-up bar so badly that I asked for it for Christmas. I’m a big fan of calisthenics, or body weight lifting. Although I love lifting weights in the gym, sometimes I just can’t make it out of my apartment, or just don’t feel like it. I could use almost any household item for squats and deadlifts, I could do push-ups to work on my pressing strength, but developing pulling strength really was made simple by getting a pull-up bar. On the bar I can do not just pull-ups and chin-ups, but also can get some core workouts in with hanging leg lifts.

7. Groupon and Living Social:

 livingsocial groupon2

Ever since I have found online coupon websites such as Groupon.com and LivingSocial.com, a whole new world has opened for me. I’m all about deals, and these websites often offer over 50% off for all kinds of things. I have used these websites to get fitness classes such as a boot camp and a pole dancing class. Sometimes I find coupons for local healthy restaurants (great for when I’m traveling). What’s more, when I want to treat myself for sticking to my fitness plan, I like to find coupons for an awesome massage, facial, or mani/pedi. Signing up to these websites is free, so I don’t have anything to lose!

 

Those are just a few of my favorite things. What are some of yours?

Crazy Cardio Session

No workout equipment? No problem! Our body is all we really need to get a great workout.
For my cardio, I usually do a combination of 2 different workouts using only my body weight: Circuit Training, and Tabata High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). These are both types of workouts in which you do an intense workout for a certain amount of time, then switch to a workout of lower intensity, or rest completely, for a certain amount of time. You would alternate between high intensity and low intensity/rest over and over through the duration of the workout. These workouts target full body strengthening, fat loss, and cardiovascular improvement. Though the workouts can include any type of exercises, below I outline a specific example of a workout session I might have. The great thing about circuit training and HIIT is that you can switch up the exercises to tailor to your specific interests!
If you are a beginner, you can start with just the Power Circuit Training, which should be enough to wear you out if you’re just getting into working out hard.
As you get more comfortable with this first workout, and if you feel like you can do more, you could add the Tabata workout, after 5-10 minutes rest in between workouts. Note that Tabata, if done correctly is very intense. If at any point during this exercise you feel dizzy or like you will faint, you should slow yourself down. I am not a doctor, so I can’t tell you if you are fit enough to do the Tabata workout. It would be good to consult a doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to do a more strenuous workout such as Tabata.
Exercise I: Power Circuit Training
Power Circuit Training – a total of 21 minutes. A circuit is a group of exercises, usually repeated throughout the exercise. Each circuit in this case is 20 seconds of a “power” exercise move, followed by one minute jogging in place. The “power” exercise move is to be done as fast and hard as you can (if you feel dizzy or about to faint, definitely slow it down, but you should go hard enough that it’s hard to go longer than 20 seconds). Each jog should be slow to allow yourself to cool down in between power exercises. Below is the exact workout I do:
After one minute jogging in place, repeat this circuit 3 times:
1.   20 seconds – Burpees
      One minute – jog in place
2.   20 seconds – mountain climbers
      One minute – jog in place
3.   20 seconds – pushups or modified pushups
      One minute jog in place
4.   20 seconds – squats (for beginners) or squat jumps (for more advanced exercise)
      One minute – jog in place
5.   20 seconds – high knees running in place
      One minute – jog in place
Exercise II: Tabata
Tabata – a total of 20 minutes. Tabata is a form of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). HIIT is a way to raise your heart rate for a short amount of time, then rest shortly, then raise the heart rate again, and do this back and forth. Since you get only a short cool down or rest, your heart rate is constantly high, and you can burn a great deal of calories in a short time, and even after the workout. Once again, if you feel dizzy or about to faint, you should slow down, but the goal is to go as hard as you can for that short duration of time. Below is the workout I do:
The following 8 exercises are done, and then rest for one minute, then repeat for a total of four times (so that’s these 8 workouts, rest one minute, 8 workouts, rest one minute, 8 workouts, rest one minute, 8 workouts, rest one minute).
1.   20 seconds – high knees running in place
      10 seconds standing in place
2.   20 seconds – pushups or modified pushups:
      10 seconds standing in place
3.   20 seconds – squat or squat jumps
      10 seconds standing in place
4.   20 seconds – burpees
      10 seconds standing in place
5.   20 seconds – high knees running in place
      10 seconds standing in place
6.   20 seconds – pushups
      10 seconds standing in place
7.   20 seconds – squat jumps
      10 seconds standing in place
8.   20 seconds – burpees
      10 seconds standing in place
How to Do each Exercise:
For instructions on how to do each exercise, please see the following YouTube tutorials:
How to Measure the Time for Each Exercise:
If you have a smart phone, you can find an app for HIIT – in this app you can plug in how long you will do a warm-up, how long you will do a hard exercise, and how long you will do a rest. Otherwise, you can use a watch or timer to tell you when to move through each exercise.