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Archive for the ‘Fitness’ Category

One of my favorite hash tags on twitter is #whatveganeats.  I know a lot of people (myself included) wonder what the heck a vegan eats. Well, since I’ve been following a vegan diet as best as I can since August 1st (with some trial and error, as I am indeed a vegan n00b), I figured I’d post some of the recipes and food I’ve been eating…

•First, I’ve been making as many recipes from Brendan Brazier’s Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life. Let me also say that I have a MAJOR crush on Mr. Brazier. Like, it’s really sad how much of a schoolgirl crush I have on the dude. But, he’s amazing. I totally subscribe to his philosophy on food and nutrition and sport. If I was in the movie Eat Pray Love right now, he’d probably sadly be my guru on this “vegan diet” adventure. Sigh.

But, since I don’t really have permission to post the recipes (I really don’t know how that works in the blog world), I will just say that I’ve made his AWESOME Garlic Oregano Sweet Potato Fries last night and they were so good. So good. I’ve also made his Spicy Sundried Tomato Marina and Zucchini Pasta and Walnut Hemp Seed Burgers from Thrive (see below).

Ooh! I have been consistently drink Brendan’s Thrive Long Lasting Lemon-Lime Drink before every workout (the recipe was reprinted with permission by No Meat Athlete (adore his blog and my friend Mandy just got me one of his awesome shirts). Let me tell you something folks. I’m not going to lie. The drink is NOT pleasing to the palette; however, it works. Big time. I have set 3 personal records (PRs) in CrossFit since I’ve been following a vegan diet and drinking this energy drink (“Nancy,” “Helen,” and my power cleans, for my fellow CrossFit fans).

Post workout I generally mix a scoop of brown rice protein with some of Brendan’s Whole Food Health Optimizer and some glutamine. That seems to do the trick! Love the Whole Food Health Optimizer…just don’t have the funds right now to buy the giant tub! But, it’s on my wish list!

•I tried these black bean burgers from The Front Burner. Verdict? In love. I made enough extra to crumble on top of my super salads for the week. Yum.

•From Oh She Glows (one of my favorite vegan blogs), I’ve fallen in love with her Raw Energy Cookie Bites (seriously folks, these are AMAZING…I have one every day and I even brought them to my CrossFit gym and they were received with open arms; I will warn you that my boss said they looked like cat litter turds…but they taste amazing).

I also, like any good health blogger, have started making Vegan Overnight Oats. Oh my. Oh my. Not only does this oatmeal taste DELICIOUS, but it will keep me satiated for SEVERAL hours after I eat it (and let us not forget the deliciousness that is frozen peanut butter banana soft serve in this recipe). Goodness.

Last weekend I made Angela’s Birthday Cupcake ‘burgers’ with Secret Green Frosting with my friend Mandy and they turned out REALLY well. I will admit, the green frosting was slightly disturbing, but my boss’s young daughter (the same boss who said her bars look like cat litter turds) absolutely LOVED them…and mostly because she thought the icing looked like slimy boogers! haha. Now, I know that’s not a RINGING endorsement of the cupcakes, but they taste AMAZING. They were a little too sweet for me, and I actually only ended up eating one (sending the rest home with Mandy, taking some to my office, and then taking some to my CrossFit gym). Since it was the first “sugar” sweet I had in two weeks, my body kind of went into sweetness overload. One was plenty!

This vegan thing has really done wonders for my sweets cravings, as in, I haven’t had them. haha.

•I did make some Dark Chocolate Vegan Peanut Butter Cups from Love Veggies and Yoga. I love these. A lot. But, it took me a good week to eat one of them, which is a good thing for this sweets lover, believe me. I plan on making a lot more of her recipes, as they look delicious!

•I also made these Black Bean, Mushroom, & Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers from Vegan with a Vengeance and again, they were very tasty. I’m sad I only made two. Dang me and my singleness! haha.

•I also made a really good marinated tofu found in Ellie Krieger’s Small Changes, Big Results. I sauteed sauteed some veggies and ate it up over some quinoa. Delicious.

I think that’s it for now…I will do a post about my daily menu and eats coming up, but for now, just thought I’d share some recipes I’ve tried! Woot!

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Got fitness?

Those ladies aren’t too shabby, are they? They are Crossfitters, and I have this exact picture on my vision board to remind me about health and fitness and strong women!

I figured it was about time for me to do a post on Crossfit.  This post will be LONG but I think it will be worth it, and may even change your view fitness as you know it!  Last month was the 2010 Crossfit Games and I had planned on writing about it then, but I didn’t, because, well, I’m a lazy blogger.  Looks pretty awesome, yes?  Well, I think so.

Now, I will admit, I didn’t know anything about this Crossfit until I met for the first time with a personal trainer back in February 2009.  And I still don’t know that much about it and I’ve been doing it for a year and a half now! Haha. I had been doing strength training classes and running and spinning and yoga.  But, I told my personal trainer at the time that I was looking to try something different and something that would push me beyond capacity.  He said he had just the thing for me.  Little did I know that he was right.   We started one on one training with CrossFit exercises and then eventually I moved to my first CrossFit class back on May 11, 2009 and I haven’t looked back.

I’m a CrossFitter, tried and true.  It’s my primary form of exercise, and still, to this day, I have not found a single type of exercise that pushes me harder and is more dominant than CrossFit.  Perhaps I’m biased, but the winner of the CrossFit games is deemed,“the fittest man or woman on the planet.” That speaks volumes to me.

So, what is CrossFit?  “CrossFit is a strength and conditioning fitness methodology that promotes broad and general overall physical fitness. CrossFit combines weightlifting, sprinting, and gymnastics. CrossFit says that proficiency is required in each of ten fitness domains: cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, and accuracy.

That’s right.  There are TEN fitness domains.  How many do you cover with your workouts?

And this is to the ladies out there skeptical of strength training: it is not going to make you look like a dude. It’s impossible. Women simply do not have the testosterone to bulk up.  Look at this video of CrossFit women.  They are strong and HEALTHY.  They don’t look like body builders! They are strong and fit.  This is the epitome of health and fitness to me.

Here’s what I love about CrossFit.  The absolute diversity involved.  No two days are EVER the same. EVER.  And CrossFit works all elements of fitness.  I love the camaraderie of group classes.  I love the family environment.  I love how at CrossFit, I want to work to my fullest capacity.  No, I may not be as strong as the person next to me, but the workouts can be scaled FOR EVERYONE. I’m working JUST AS HARD as the strongest person in the class, because I’m working to MY fullest capability.  And that’s what matters. Everyone is supportive and they want to make sure you’re working at your fullest capacity!  You work as hard as you can at YOUR level.  And then you progress…

For example, when I first started, I had to modify my pull ups because I couldn’t do any.  I used a rubber band that helped me pull up (the thickest one they had at my gym).  And as I got stronger, I used a thinner rubber band, until well, now I can do pull ups on my own!  It’s all about progress!

So, we work all elements of fitness.  “CrossFit athletes run, row, jump rope, climb rope and carry odd objects. They frequently move large loads quickly over long distances, using powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting techniques. CrossFit athletes also use dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, and many bodyweight exercises.”

It’s intense and I love it.

Here’s where I’m going to get on my soap box.  I apologize if this will offend some people, but this has been on my mind and I have to get it off my chest.

While I appreciate the HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of health and fitness blogs out there, I am willing to bet that a good 80 to 90% of those blogs are simply about running.  Sorry peeps, running alone isn’t going to do it for you.  Running is GREAT.  If you can run, you’re in darn good shape, don’t get me wrong.  And I can assure you that you are a faster runner than I am.  However, there’s more to fitness than just running.  You need to be well rounded.  And adding strength training in to your fitness regime will do wonders for you.  I can run AND I’m strong.  REALLY strong.  And that’s all because of CrossFit.

There  is research out there that suggests that women who ONLY run are at a higher rate of osteoporosis than their strength training/cardio counterparts.  Strength training works…and works a heck of a lot better than cardio alone.  There are so many benefits to strength training.  Increased muscle mass = increased calorie burn.  You’ll lose weight faster.  You’ll be stronger.  You’ll look toned.  Training your muscles helps combat osteoporosis by strengthening your bones.  It helps your cardiovascular endurance. You’re going to age better. Wait, just read this list of the benefits of strength training.

Can running alone do that?  No sir or ma’am.  It cannot.

I’m sure you’ve heard or made the argument, “Strength training doesn’t get my heart rate up.”  Yeah, if you’re standing in the gym curling 8 pound weights.  But, CrossFit is FUNCTIONAL movement.  Believe me, when you’re swinging a 53 lb kettlebell up in the air 50 times or doing 25 pushups after running 800 meters, you’re not only working your muscles but your cardiovascular endurance is THROUGH the roof. Again, that’s why I love CrossFit.  I’m simultaneously working my strength and cardio fitness.

I like this quote: “The notion that holding a heart rate of 180 bpm for twenty minutes on a bike is good cardio whereas holding 180 bpm for twenty minutes in a circuit of weightlifting is of lesser cardiovascular value is widespread yet ludicrous.” —Founder of Crossfit, Coach Glassman

That’s my point.  CrossFit makes you an overall well rounded athlete.  You will excel in running.  Your mile times will decrease because your muscles are stronger and your cardiovascular endurance is greater.  CrossFit athletes are conditioned to be good at all aspects of fitness.  NOT just running.

In fact, one of my favorite quotes about CrossFit athletes over other athletes is also from the founder of Crossfit, Coach Glassman.  “We do your stuff nearly as well as you do, you can’t do ours very well at all, and we can do everything we both don’t do better than you can. Not very humble, I know, but true.”   Yes, harsh words.  But so true.

And, while this post IS about CrossFit…I know it’s not for everyone.  I guess I want to make a point that more people need to strength train in general.  I fully admit I drank the CrossFit kool-aid and sometimes I have complete BLINDERS when it comes to anything else.  But, yes, I firmly believe that CrossFit is THE best form of exercise out there, hands down.  They don’t call the winner of the CrossFit games the fittest person on the planet for nothing.  There is a reason.

But, I am imploring people out there to do more than just cardio training.  Yes, of course, I want you to do CrossFit, but I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.  But, just work your muscles.  Work your FITNESS. Work your confidence!

I train with CrossFit at Headhunters CrossFit and MMA.  They’re amazing people and it’s an AWESOME gym (the best in town, but I’m biased)!   I started there in September 2009 and  they have been nothing but supportive (they were a GREAT help for me after my tummy tuck by scaling the workouts for me until I was back to full capacity…I firmly believed I recovered so quickly from surgery because CrossFit got me in the greatest shape of my life).

If you want to start CrossFit, go to this website and find your closest affiliate gym.  But, keep in mind, you can do CrossFit on your own simply by following the main website workouts of the day (WODs).  But, I love group classes and I like personalized coaching on form.  Try it!

I will leave you with this video that I love…This basically summarizes all of the things I love about CrossFit.

Update: Just the other day, I did a fantastic workout at CrossFit where I ended up deadlifting 200 pounds (15 times), doing 50 atomic TRX push ups, and THEN running a 7:35 mile. I think it’s important that women understand you can be strong and fast (well, fast for me) and you SHOULD be strong AND fast. We should not lack in one or the other but work hard in both areas! So, get out there and pick up those heavy weights!!

And if you want to read more about my health/weight loss (120+ pounds down)/CrossFit experience, visit my CrossFit blog at Fit Effy! Woot!

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I filmed this video last night, which is why I say it’s the beginning of Week Three.  I tried to keep it short but failed, sorry!

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Week One is almost over!  Here is an update on this week’s experience so far.  I’ll be back later with some vegan product reviews.

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Ah, pure bliss, yes?

Look. It’s not a secret that I love massages. I would rather get a massage than practically anything else out there. While my friends spend money on clothes and shoes and trinkets…I get massages. There was a time not too long ago when I was getting 90 minute massages…EVERY WEEK. No, that’s not a typo. That’s how much I love massages. My regular massage place had a special of buy 2, get 1 free. So, I felt like I was getting a good deal. I love deep sports massages, but I would always make sure my massage therapist spent at least 20 minutes just relaxing me.

I have maybe spent $300 on clothes in the 4+ years since I started my weight loss journey (and yes, 90% of my clothes fall off me, and believe me, I hear it from my friends). I buy massages, and that’s about it. But, finances got a little tight recently due to my frequent traveling and I reluctantly cut back my traveling. And now, I’m sad to say my last massage was…MAY 1st! GASP!

I’m happy to report in the 4+ years since I started my weight loss journey, and in the 115+ pounds that have been removed from my body, I’ve never had an injury. Like, ever. ***KNOCK ON WOOD*** I’m incredibly lucky. But, I honestly attribute my success in a few things that I’d like to share with you:

1) I make sure I’m sufficiently warmed up before I start exercising. I always cringe when I see people just go full speed into any exercise without sufficiently warming up the body. We’re not supposed to STRETCH cold muscles, so don’t stretch your muscles cold turkey before exercising…but a nice gradual warm up will help.
2) I am a BIG fan of stretching post workout…well, stretching in general. It’s not uncommon to find me stretching at work all day long. I even have an old broomstick that I keep next to my desk to accomplish this task. Most people at work are used to finding me squatting with a broomstick overhead by now when they walk by my office. The new people? Not so much. I like to surprise them. Keeps it interesting.
3) Yoga. I try to take as many yoga classes as I can, though I’ve been slacking in that department recently.
4) Glucosamine chondroitin. I have taken these “joint lubricants” for basically my entire 4+ year weight loss adventure. I don’t think they’re vegan though, if that’s an important issue for you.
5) Lots of strength training. I would say that I do roughly 65/35 (strength/cardio). I strength train a lot and I can’t help but think that I’m less injury prone because of my “strongs” (to steal a term coined by Jen Lancaster). I am always working and training my muscles and therefore I think they’re less likely to get injured. I thank Crossfit for that.
6) MASSAGES. Okay, yes, I know most people think they’re frivolous. But, you’re putting your body through enough punishment with all of your exercising that I feel you need to be kind to it every once in awhile. I’m not saying go full speed and get a 90 minute massage every week like I used to do…but maybe once a month? Every other month? You will see a difference. Massages decrease anxiety, reduce stress, and really can help your sore muscles. I also read somewhere that if you’re single, get massages to satisfy your body’s touch needs. Perhaps that’s why I get so many massages? 😉
7) FOAM ROLLERS.

I purchased my first foam roller not too long ago from GoFit to compensate for in-person massages and I love it so. I got the one below and it came with a nice little instructional how to video.

All of my gyms (yes, I have three different ones: Crossfit, globo gym, and yoga center) have these foam rollers available, but I rarely see people use them and I don’t know why.

With just a cursory search of youtube I stumbled upon this nice little how to video:

So, give foam rolling a go. For less than $25 you can have your very own permanent massage therapist! Such a steal! And your body will love you for it! 🙂

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Here is my first video about my Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping (FXB) experience.  I’m still really new to making videos/vlogs so hopefully they will get better as I make more!  I’m just using the built-in camera on my macbook so if it looks weird that’s why.

And here is my weekend reading:

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