Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tryin' to stay "Healthy"

Not much to post...just CRAZY busy and trying not to get sick again. I still have some residual coughing but I think THINK that I'm over the crud...of course that's what I thought the last two time...it's been almost 2 months now.

You can check out my current project at

Have a great day!

Friday, February 20, 2009

HIIT it!

I'm a firm believer in Interval Training, especially High Intensity Interval Training...a.k.a. HIIT. I'm a believer because I know it works, and I know it works, because I've done the work and seen the results. I was introduce to the original concept through Body For Life, and have done reading and research all my own to figure out what works best for me. In my research I found an article that explains it pretty well and I'll attach it...however, I don't know who wrote it and where I got it from (as I copied it into my many fitness note awhile ago), but at least I can share what I do have...so sorry to whoever is out there, I don't mean to plagiarize your work, but I think it's great and want to share your explanation:

"More for less" statements are usually followed by 30 minute infomercials that guarantee you phenomenal results with little work or "no money down". Well, there really is a way to burn more fat in less time, but the key is in defining the more and less variables.

Most people approach fat-burning and cardio workouts the same way. They hop on a treadmill, exercise bike, elliptical machine, or stepper and simply go through the motions for an hour or more. They think, "Look at me! I'm exercising for so long, and I'm sweating so much! I must be burning so much fat!"
Meanwhile, the guy on the next exercise bike has just finished his 15-20 minute cardio session, and he burned more than twice the amount of fat, AND his body will continue to do so for the rest of the day! How did he do it?

What is HIIT?

HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. Now, this is where the "more for less" concept comes in, but don't be fooled, you will be making up for that lost time with much higher–you guessed it–intensity!
The question is do you have what it takes to go all out for a short amount of time, rather than mindlessly wander through your current ineffective cardio routine?

Consider this:

In an Australian study, people who cranked out 20 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training 3 days a week dropped 10 percent of their body fat, while those who exercised longer but at a lower intensity didn't lose any!

How Do I Do It?

There are many different variations of HIIT, and you can apply them to nearly all of the common methods of cardio training. Let's say you normally go to the gym and ride an exercise bike for an hour at a steady pace. To incorporate HIIT into your workout, here are your options:

1. 6/9: This is the method used in the Australian study referenced above, and this is what I personally recommend. The numbers stand for seconds, and in this case, "6/9" means you would sprint all out for 6 seconds, then slow to about 50-60% for 9 seconds. Of course, you would continue repeating this cycle for as long as you can (you didn't think you'd be done in 15 seconds did you?!).

For example, hop on the exercise bike and warm up for 2-3 minutes at about 40-50% of your maximum effort. Once you hit the end of your warm-up session, BAM!, launch into a full out sprint for 6 seconds. Then, slow to about 50-60% for 9 seconds, and BAM!, full out sprint for another 6 seconds. So, each full 6/9 interval lasts 15 seconds, or 4 intervals per minute. Keep repeating this cycle for as long as you can, but be sure that you are going as hard as possible for each 6 second sprint interval. It's OK if you can only last a few minutes the first few times. Your endurance will build up, as your waist shrinks down!

As a point of reference, John, our resident Workout Logger, warms up for 3 minutes, goes at 150 RPM (rotations per minute) for 6 seconds and 90 RPM for 9 seconds (repeating this cycle for 10-15 minutes), followed by a 3 minute cool-down for a total workout time of only 15-20 minutes.

2. 30/30: The "half and half" method was one of the first accepted ways of doing HIIT. Since then, we've learned that shorter bursts produce greater results. Reason being, you can't really go absolutely all out for a full 30 seconds. Some practice even higher intervals of 60/60 or more. If you can last for that long, then you aren't really giving your maximum effort the entire time.
That's why short 6 second bursts are better, because you only have to sustain that maximum intensity for a short time. However, longer intervals such as 30/30 and even 30/60 can be useful for beginners. You may want to start here if you're not used to very high intensity in your current cardio training, then you can work your way up to the more efficient 6/9 or 8/12 intervals.

Why Does It Work?

When you are giving your all out maximum effort, your body produces more of a chemical called catecholamine. Can you guess what catecholamine does? That's right: it triggers your body to start burning fat. Even better, the higher your intensity and the more catecholamine your body produces, the longer the fat-burning process will last. This means you will be reaping the benefits of your HIIT session for up to 36 hours after you're done!
Now, get out there, and get on the HIIT wagon! Remember, the first two letters are the most important. HIGH INTENSITY!

Ok...pretty nicely explained...at least to me. I think that HIIT also goes under the heading of "Guerrilla Cardio". No matter what the name, it's effective. I know some of my best fat loss and endurance efforts have peaked thanks to this type of work-out...now to re-instate it back into my fitness plan starting on Monday when I return to the gym finally. I think I'm pretty much over the plague that's been consuming me for the past month and I'm eager to be active and feel charged & energized again.

Have a great day!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Go team Go

The Maestro started "Shredding" again on Tuesday, I'm always amazed *insert jealous* at his self-discipline. When I go off my "diet" and offer him a bite of something unauthorized, he has no problem saying no and ends up ordering steamed veggies instead. This always seems the case with the men I date (granted the last guy I dated was a personal trainer)...but they don't seem to struggle with the same demons that I do. Is this a misconception or is it that men are less affected by food choices? My boss for example always has me order his lunch, and doesn't much care what I order as long as he eats...so I always order him something on the healthier side of things, like a grilled chicken balsamic wrap instead of the basic cheeseburger or mayo covered sandwiches these guys seem to normally order. I've read studies in the past that say that women experience something like 7 (or is it 700) times the emotional effects of things more than men, which would explain most of the women in my family's relationship with food and emotional eating. We tend to medicate ourselves with food. I'm sure my mom loves me sharing this with the world (or the 8 of you that may read my blog) our family history...but we grew up rather poor. My mom did her best with 2 little girls and a teacher's salary in a little Texas town of 2500, which didn't afford for the best nutrition...but growing up in the 80's & 90's, who’s to say we new what good nutrition was. I mean those two decades nutritional standards set by the "experts" and the government seemed to do more harm than good out of most of the previous decades. We had our "Four Food Groups" & "Starvation Diets" in the 80's and in the "90's" we had the crazy low-fat, fat-free craze that loaded everyone up with sugar laden carbs (supposedly this was "heart healthy")...and don't get me started on the "Food Pyramid" WTF...seriously, who should eat that much bread in a day? But my mom did her best and tried to feed us a balanced diet of a meat, a starch, and 2 vegetables for our dinner. Breakfast was usually a banana and a glass of milk, or maybe cereal (if I even ate breakfast) and lunch was provided by the school (we rarely packed our lunch). I learned to generally go without eating more than 2 meals a day and they were always later in the day when I was so hungry I had to eat something, anything. I remember when mom would get her paycheck once a month, we'd have one special night out at a restaurant...of course that special treat was usually Mexican food, a Chinese Buffet, or Fast Food. It was something we looked forward to as a family and I forged a loving relationship with fatty foods of that nature. When I hit puberty, the hormones & our diet started adding on the pounds and I weighed 150 lbs. by the time I graduated high school at the age of 17...but then I went away to college. Luckily my first couple of years at college was spent living with my grandmother (my dad's mom)...and she is an example of health. She takes her vitamins, eats sound nutritional meals with lots of veggies and does tons of daily activities like morning walks, water aerobics, gardening, and housework to name a few...so I started learning a new way of things. She insisted on breakfast every morning which usually included eggs…and lunch was always a protein and at least 2 veggies…dinner was always light and never any later than 9pm. I also learned to exercise. We went for morning walks, I took up dance classes and I had “ski-machine” that came as a graduation present (I don’t remember from whom, but I think it was from my aunt)…suddenly I was down to 135 lbs, then I caught horrible strep and tonsillitis just before mid-terms and was in the hospital the day before Christmas Eve getting my tonsils out…6 weeks later I weighed 120 lbs. and couldn’t believe my eyes. I was finally “thin” and when I transferred to Texas State, I was wearing a size 6 (European size 6 not today’s standard). Believe it or not, I had no idea how truly thin I was…I see pictures, but at the time I still thought I was a big girl, as I had always been. I find that no matter what weight I am, I always see the same person…which was my undoing, because once on my own at TSU, I started living on fast food….and by my Senior year of college, I was a hardy 186 lbs. That’s when I discovered slim-fast and the gym. Slowly the weight started coming off…and yadda yadda yadda I come to today. If you’ve read previous blogs here then you know the struggle, and the struggle continues today.

Last year I did very well with my food and exercise regiment, and over the holidays I lost my way for awhile. And thus I gained a good 15 – 20 lbs. undoing the good I had done within the previous year…not to mention I felt like crap, and eventually got knocked on my butt with the flu. So here I am again, starting over, well not necessarily at the beginning, but at a new starting point nevertheless. Currently at 155 lbs. and needing to drop a good 20 lbs. before I’m at a healthy BMI for my 5’4 frame, but the focus changes every year that I get older, and it’s really less about looks (not saying I’ve lost my vain streak…oh it’s still there) but more about my fears. Fear of getting older, fear of getting sick, fear of pain, fear of hospitals (and needles), fear of getting diabetes, fear of heart problems/disease, fear of premature death…basic, common, human fears. I find every year I get older, the less “invincible” I become and the bigger the fear gets. Let’s face it; I’m a strong minded, egotistical bitch who doesn’t like to be afraid and G@#$%^*&! I refuse to be afraid of being alive. So I’ve just got to suck it up and take control of my life…of my health…of my fears and learn to make the good choices that will make those fears dissolve as much as humanly possible. I can’t stop the aging process, but I sure as heck can help slow it down and take care of the only body that God has given me. My career is finally budding and I want longevity and the only way I can do that is to keep myself healthy and active so that I can fight another day.

So on with the healthy choices, on with the good, clean eats, and on with the challenges at staying active, balancing my schedule and getting adequate rest. I know this turned out to be one of my little self-pep talks, but I need to motivate myself, and maybe scare myself a bit to keep focused…I guess I really need my blog to stay accountable, because without it, motivation seems to slip away and I’m back down a slippery slope of unhealthy, numb-minded choices.

Keep blogging everyone…Here’s to healthy choices!


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

From Death's Door

Okay maybe the blog title's a little "dramatic" but I've had the hardest time shaking the plague that's been plaguing me. I guess some of you would call it the flu, but whatever name it goes by, I finally had to take a day off and actually rest to finally start getting better. I had the crud for 3 weeks, was better for 1 week and then came down with it again for another week...now in the middle of the week after, I can honestly say it's getting better, and I'm taking it easy. I was supposed to start back at the gym last week when I was overthrown by the stupid achy, cough-y, stuffy/runny-ness of the whole affair...grrr...I really hate being sick. So I finally conceded and decided to take it easy and actually allow myself some much need rest. Boy that was hard, and I doubt I've had enough, but it was enough to put me on the road to recovery...so now to be careful and fully get the germs outta my system. Unfortunately this illness hasn't been without casualty to my career, I went on my audition for my second Fledermaus on Saturday and it was a bit under for me, so I don't feel very confident about getting the job. However, my third Fledermaus opportunity comes this Saturday and hopefully I'll be well enough to do my best. It would be great fun if everything worked out!

While on the mend, I have been attending rehearsals for my current production of Die Fledermaus, working at Dicapo Opera, and working my Day job, so I'm still as busy as ever...in the duration however, I've been researching my next approach to my health & fitness goals. I really want to approach things with my heart in mind. My wonderful mom has suffered so much with diabetes, and heart problems for the past decade and as much as I love her and think the world of her, I don't want to end up like her health wise. She's always given of herself...so much that she never took care of herself. I think there has to be a happy medium there...I think you can be a good and giving person, but also find time for yourself. I've seen it done, now to figure out how to do it.

First things first, the plan (I'm good with the planning, but not always with the sticking).

A diet in lean proteins, low-glycemic, nutritious vegetables, healthy fats, and a smart ration in nuts & legumes is the idea. I have found in my recent eating endeavors that my body does not respond well to caffeine, sugar, bananas *cry*, potatoes, fish *allergic* and flour-based foods. Um, how many foods did I just scratch off the list? I have found however, that I can successfully eat eggs, dairy, veggies, nuts, beans, meats, and some rice without ill-effect...so I really have no excuse not to eat healthy. Over the past year I've experimented enough with my own diet and kept record of what I've eaten and how I've felt in effect to those foods...the results: When I eat the foods listed in the (not respond well) category, I have found that I suffer from the shakes, irritability, headaches, indigestion, nausea, bowel problems, bloating, muscle fatigue/soreness, weird cramps, and joint pain...It's like my body goes into a weird toxic state until it rids itself of those foods. When I eat the foods on the (without ill-effect) list, I actually feel good, energized, clear-minded, and, well, clean...not to mention that the inches in my waist seem to just melt away and my clothes fit again. I'm not saying that I won't ever eat chocolate cake again, but I will make it a priority to eat well so that I feel good. I just can't understand how we can keep putting ourselves through bad cycles, especially when we know what will make us feel better. I do find that when I feel good, I tend to take it for granted...I'll do my best not too, and thankfully I have an instant reminder when I eat something that's not necessarily the best for me...oye!

Now the harder part for me, sticking to a good fitness plan! I know what to do, but I don't always do it. I've really got to make it a priority to work-out, and I'm hoping that once I've recovered from the plague that I've had for the past month plus, that I'll find the gumption to go back to my lunchtime work-outs. Why lunchtime? Well if you've ever visited my blog before then you know that I hit the ground running from 6am until midnight almost everyday, and my hour lunch break seems to be the only time that I can schedule a regular work-out. There's no excuse, I have the hour, and I should use it well (especially since my boss is cool with me eating my many mini meals at my desk.) I really want to raise my HDL & lower my LDL...I just don't want arterial plaque in my body, or any other ailments that will not only age me prematurely, but eventually kill me before my time. Sure I may get hit by a bus or a falling piano, but at least I'll go out healthy and feeling good. It's really all about quality of life, and it doesn't hurt that you look good while enjoying that quality...heck, one may say it adds to said quality ;)

Ok, so we know the plan, and plan on setting it forth in the very near future. I just have to be patient and allow myself to get well so that I don't run my health back into the ground...a bad habit of those who tend to burn candles at both ends.

Have a great day everyone, and here's to our health!


Monday, February 2, 2009

Here's Hoping

So let's hope I'm not jinxing myself, but I feel on the up and up side of this Bronchitis crap. I'm finally sleeping through the night with hardly a cough and the days are going well too...definitely less coughing fits. So I think I'm on the mend kids and I can soon kick it at the gym...or the gym will kick me...either way there will be gym and some kicking in the mix.

The eating has remained clean too...sorry but we must have a self-celebratory moment...YAY ME!!!...ok now that we've done that we can elaborate. I'm very excited that I haven't cheated or caved in to the little temptations about me. I worked "Le Nozze di Figaro" this week & weekend and several girls in the cast brought cookies and candies as thank yous to everyone. I said thank you and didn't eat a one...in fact I even went as far as to go to the Duane Reade (drugstore) and purchase some sugar-free Ricola for myself so that I'd have something sweet and cough-suppressing to get me through. It really helped...AND I only ate authorized foods full of nutrients and proteins :) The only bad part was the reduced amounts that I usually get due to the crazy long hours...but I did make sure to get enough calories. Basically I couldn't get in my 5-6 little meals, so I had to settle for 2-3 decent sized meals. Now I'm back at my day job, the little meals will be able to continue.

On the Opera front, lots of good things are happening. As I said in a previous blog, that I have other "Fledermaus" offers in the works...and I'm now currently learning one of the hardest coloratura arias (IMO) to ever be written, Zerbinetta's aria from "Ariadne auf Naxos" and yes that's in German folks. Richard Strauss is one tough composer...but do we expect any less from a German composer? So learning this role and Gilda from "Rigoletto" are my current endeavors, on top of my upcoming role in "Die Fledermaus". I will feel a lot better once I have all the roles under my belt. I'm hoping to perform Zerbinetta in July 2009, and would love the opportunity to do it with The Baltic Opera in Poland in October of 2009...but that all depends on my Mezzo Competition Audition at the end of March...thus I've a lot of work ahead of me for the next couple of months.

Speaking of work, it's time for me to get back to my day job.

Have a great day!