Category Archives: Fitness

Continuing onward!

I’ve made some pretty fantastic improvements to my life in the last 10 months. The last time I was posting consistently here, I knew I was needing and ready to take it to the next level — to really go hard on my fitness and strength. I just wasn’t really sure the best way to do that. Or, rather, I knew a good way to do it, I just did not have the means to do so.

And I still don’t, really.

I disappeared for the past month and a half or so because I was putting a lot of things on hold. I kept saying “after I get a job, I’ll do xyz.” Ah, but alas, job did not happen. When I found out about this, I spent the past week or so pondering what I wanted to do next. It really didn’t occur to me that I had been waiting on so much stuff until I was turned down for the position and suddenly… I felt like Wiley Coyote in those few seconds as he hovers before falling down into the ravine.

Anywho, after some pondering, discussing with Anthony, and some time away (my brother got married!!!), I’ve returned feeling refreshed, positive, and ready to move my life to the next level, regardless as to whether I’m being paid for it or not.

As far as my fitness goes, this means making an effort to cross something off my bucket list!

Complete a 5k

That’s right, my friends. It’s time for Gina to start running again.

Why running? Well… largely because it’s free, BUT, I am still somewhat bitter from my first attempt to run which was quickly toppled by my knee injury. This is also going to be targeting my general fitness, which I would like to improve upon.

Also, I found a really neat 5k that I would like to run:

That’s right, my friends! I’m going to run 3 miles, dodge some obstacle courses, and get chased by zombies! It’s going to be fun. Anthony and I are gonna run it together, along with some friends.

Speaking of Anthony, I am going to start my training by jogging to work with him. He does some kind of interval thing and he made it to work (1.9 miles) in a little under 10 minutes today!! Clearly, I have a long way to go. But after I feel like I’ve got just the running part down, I’m going to try and do some terrain running and maybe throw in some obstacles of my own! We shall see.

So, I’m excited about that.

Other goals

One of the things that I was putting off as I was waiting for the job to come through or fall through was building a website for myself. I have been toying around with the idea of doing freelance web design for some time now, and I am going to spend my time, amidst “real” job hunting, building myself a portfolio. I have a few spaces that I can work with (in no particular order):

  • thoughtsonliberty.com
  • biomancy.com
  • clichegames.com (potentially)
  • valuttrell.com (potentially)

I would like to build myself a site, ultimately, but at the moment I need a more consistent income to purchase the domain and get hosting. VALuttrell.com would be the last of my projects, and one I would build when I am “ready to get serious” about freelance design.

Anthony has promised to support me, either by art classes or by getting me a better desk and chair. I am not sure what we have decided on yet, BUT, I would be/ am excited for either.

As for right this moment, I need to unpack from the wedding this weekend. I am so full of love!

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The Magic of good Posture

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned in a post that every time I saw pictures of myself, I’d get discouraged because I looked fat.  When I mentioned this to Anthony, he tilted his head, confused. “What do you mean?” he asked. “You just have bad posture — you’re sticking your stomach out.”

Oh.

Well, that makes sense. I suppose I should have listened to my choral teacher in high school when she said (over, and over and over again) that having good posture makes you thinner. If you’re trying to lose weight, and especially if you’re struggling with how you look in the mirror, changing your posture could make a huge difference.

What is good posture?

Good posture is not what I am doing right now — that is, leaned back in a chair, feet up on a windowsill. It may be comfy, but it’s not very good for me. So too, hunched over a desk or a classroom table is not good posture.

The thing is, there seems to be lots of theories on what good posture is and how we’re supposed to align our spine. When I started doing research for this post, I read about 8 different ways to stand up “straight.” I’m not really an expert on such things, so I would encourage you to do your own research and decide what you think is best.

Here are a couple examples:

From Wikipedia

From ClevelandClinic.org

Though there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer as to what is the best way to stand or sit, it does seem clear that hunching over is NOT a good idea.

Good posture can be a bitch, though. It requires you to work those atrophies back muscles, and, of course, they are going get sore. Additionally, changing your “relaxed” position of anything is going to take time. You have to develop a habit of working in that position, and that can be especially hard to do when you also have to work muscles to get into such a position. As a woman with large breasts, I find getting into and maintaining a good posture. Unlike my male counterparts, I have extra weight to hold up with my back muscles. Sometimes quite a bit more.

But here’s the thing. Not only is having a good posture going to be beneficial to you, your health, and your life, it will also  help you get a more accurate picture of your body. So, it’s worth the fuss, but it’s challenging to get right.

My reasons for a better posture

So, part of my 6-week challenge is to be able to maintain an upright posture for at least 2 hours a day. I’ve been working on this intermittently, and making some progress. I have found that getting my back muscles back in order is going to be the best step in that direction.

I have two reasons for wanting to have a better posture. The first, and (honestly) lesser of these is that I’ve had back pain for as long as I can remember. It got better my senior year of high school when I finally got a better mattress, but I have felt my back and shoulder pain creep up on my slowly in the intervening years. Because I have large breasts relative to my back and waist, it is going to be important for me to keep a good posture.

Yes, I did just sit up in my chair.

My second reason, honestly, is purely aesthetic. Here’s a picture of me in my usual posture.

Oooh... thrusted pelvis. Sexy.

Seriously. I stand like that all the time. Usually with my hands on my back like a pregnant lady. I sometimes wonder where I learned to stand like this.

Here’s what I look like when I’m standing up straight.

um, who is that skinny bitch? Can't be me... oh, wait, it is!

So, in this picture I am standing straight, with my hips tucked just slightly forward. My shoulders are up, and I feel like I am presenting my boobs to the world.  My abs are a little tight, but I am not sucking in.  And I look trim, fit, and confident. It is this persona and picture that I want to present to everyone who sees me. It is very easy to slump my shoulders, especially when I don’t have a supportive bra. But I would like to keep this posture as much as I can.

Lest I be accused of foul play, here is picture of me “super erect” and sucking my stomach in:

If I ever wanted to look underweight...

I have my body up as high as I can get it, my chest arched to an extreme, and my stomach tucked in so much that I could barely breathe. Even though I look even thinner in this picture, this posture is A) unsustainable and B) unrealistic. I am not that small. This “over posturing” looks insecure and weak to me. Not to mention that breathing is kind of important.

So I am seeking better posture largely for aesthetic reasons, and I’m okay with that. I’m not seeking something that is gonna be bad for my health, soooooo we’re all good.

Ditching the scale

After a seven month long battle, Gina decides to kick the scale to the curb

Yep, that’s me.

I am moving forward with my fitness and my wellness goals, and I think an important step to that is to ditch the scale.

Let me tell you the story behind this decision.

I  may have referenced this before, but Anthony and I decided a couple of months ago that it was going to be healthier for me psychologically if I declined to weigh myself for a while. The goal we set was for me to hop back on the scale after my green belt test, which will be this Saturday.

Previously, and this is why we decided to nix the scale, I had been weighing myself daily, sometimes more, and every time I stepped on that scale a little piece of my heart broke. I was sitting at 150lbs, and I was starting to hate myself for it. It was a good decision. I immediately felt better when I didn’t have a weight scored into the back of my retinas. I stuck pretty well to paleo, had a renewed enthusiasm for Taekwondo, and generally felt better about myself, my body, and my life.

I kind of ruined that the other day.

I wanted to measure my body fat percentage for some weird reason. I forget. The calculator I found required weight. I figured it’d be okay to weigh myself. Almost everyone I had seen since I’d been back kept commenting on how much weight I had lost – I was thinking I had lost about ten pounds. So I asked Anthony’s permission and hopped on the scale.

140, it read, and that meant I was sitting at 147. I had essentially lost three pounds in almost seven weeks.

I was a bit grumpy.

That same self-defeating, self-loathing, anger set in again. I knew, consciously, the scales aren’t a good thing and that weight is a pretty arbitrary measure in and of itself, and a pretty useless metric for health. But for whatever reason, it still mattered. I started this thread to get some backup. And backup I got! I think this one is my favorite:

If you were on the moon would you be any more attractive? You’d weight 1/6th of what you do now.

If you were on Jupiter you’d be morbidly obese.

I think it’s a cheeky, fun way of putting what should be obvious: what matters is less what you weigh (or even how much mass you have), but rather what you consist of.  This one also is good:

Why I don’t weigh my self…. last year at this time I was around 172 size 14. Now I’m 168 and a size 8. I’d be depressed if I followed a scale.

I don’t want to be depressed. I want to be happy, healthy, fit and capable.

But if not weight, then what?

That is a really good question, and one I haven’t quite figured out myself yet. I have some very vague fitness goals. I’d like to achieve a monk-class fitness/physique. I also, very seriously, would like to survive a zombie apocalypse. More to the point, I’d like to be able to survive if the United States collapses into a third world country. No, really. I’m serious.

Apart from the survival aspect, I want to be a martial artist. I’m going to continue with martial arts. I have a goal to complete a black belt in five different martial arts before I die. I know that in order to do that I will have to work separately on my fitness and strength. The only question at this point is how to do that. I am very, very adverse to traditional workouts at this point and probably will be for the foreseeable future. So, basically, I’m attempting to trick myself into being fit and strong. Here are a couple of things I would like to do:

Fitness

I would say this category is largely “Cardio” but it’s not quite. Not in the “I can jog ten miles” kind of cardio. It’s more like “keeping my body going without getting out of breath or fatigued.” I’ve already made considerable steps towards this, but I think I could get better by implementing the following:

  • Make biking my main form of transportation
  • Sprinting
  • Go Hiking at least twice a month

I actually like sprinting — always have. There’s something hella exhilarating about going as fast as you can. I remember sprinting as a kid and feeling like I was floating on the tips of my feet. I’d like to do this again. i’m not sure how I would do this.

I don’t intrinsically like to bicycle, but I think that if I make biking my main mode of transportation, that would go a long way. Biking would give me a sense of independence that I lack having to wait on MARTA. Plus, with the hills in Atlanta, it’d get me in good shape fast! Things in my way: cost of a good bicycle and lack of health insurance.

I really do like hiking, but my lack of fitness has put me off of it in recent years. I like hiking, camping, the smell of a camp fire, and taking pictures at the top of a mountain. This is something I definitely should do in the fall, as the hot weather won’t be a deterrent.  But there is the matter of where, when, how, and if anyone would go with me.

Strength

This doesn’t require too much explanation. Strength is important. Duh. The biggest problem with these goals is that I’m not sure what is is I need to be striving for in order to get what I want.  I essentially want two things 1) to be stronger than the average, untrained male and 2) to be strong as I need to be to be a good martial artist.

Here’s the big issue. Most likely the most efficient way to get stronger  is to do “workouts.” Essentially, repetitions of a certain movement, either with body weight or with weights. The thing is, I CAN’T STAND those kinds of exercises. They are boring and usually put me in tears by the end of them. No, seriously. I would estimate at least 50% of the warmups for taekwondo make me cry or get me very close. This rate shoots up when I attempt to train by myself.  I am not 100% sure what causes this, but I think part of it is inadequacy. Whether I’m by myself or in TKD and doing reps for warmup, it doesn’t matter how many I do, or even, I would say, if I am successful, I always feel inadequate and frustrated. I put up with it in TKD because I LOVE TAEKWONDO. And that’s the cold hard truth.

I do not want exercising to be something that has that kind of negative connotation in my mind, so I avoid those exercises when I can. It’s as simple as that. So, because of that, I will have to accept that building strength is gonna take a bit longer for me than for most others.  One thing that I know I would like to at least try that will build strength.

  • Rock Climbing

I think I would like rock climbing, but I haven’t tried it yet. The thing that is in my way there: I has no full time job, so has no money. Going to a rock climbing gym costs money.

One final note on strength training: I am not saying that I will never ever strength train EVER, but more that right now it’s not something that I commit to. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be itching to run and having to tell myself not to, I’d call you crazy. So maybe sometime in the future I will get myself to the point where doing rep exercises won’t be such a burden. Maybe after I’ve done some rock climbing.  😀

More nebulous things

Most of my fitness goals have to do with survival. I want to focus on what I can do, not what I look like or some arbitrary measure of health. I do want to have less fat on me, but I am not sure if having an arbitrary “body fat percentage” is a good idea. Same with BMI (and that’s an even worse metric). Based on my last measurements, I know that I am healthy by both random metrics. I have a 28% body fat and weigh 147lbs. I’m not going to keel over. After that point, I do want to focus on what I can do. (My arbitrary goal for BFP is to be less than 25%).

However, I can’t deny that appearance is something that I think about quite a bit, so I think I will have, somewhere in the back of my mind, what I’d like to look like. Muscles are included in that. Fitting into a normal bra is a part of that, though that dream is looking to be less and less likely.

Moving forward

So that is where I am. I have ditched my scale and am on my way to some of the more REAL goals I have, and have always been striving towards. Will I lose more weight? I don’t know — that’s not a concern anymore. But even if I don’t lose another pound, 147 is a great place to be if I can survive the zombie apocalypse.

I have no illusions. Doing things without repetition workouts is going to take me a while, a lot longer than if I did them. But that’s okay. If I enjoy the journey, I am more likely to get there, stay there, and keep moving forward.

And that sounds really good to me.

In case you’re wondering, my final stats are:

Weight: 147 pounds — 45 pounds lost
Body fat Percentage: 28.%
Bust: 35.5″ — 6.5 inches lost
Waist: 28.5″ —  5.5 inches lost
Hips:  41″ — 6 inches lost

6 Week challenge

I alluded in one of my last posts that I had joined a fitness community called, nerdfitness. Said community has these awesome things called “6-week challenges.” Basically, you set goals for yourself and 6 weeks to complete them. Let the madness ensue.

The rules are that you have to have 3 fitness goals and one personal goal. Here’s my thread if you want to keep track.  My goals are largely personal, in an attempt to make use of the ABUNDANT spare time I have. Some of the physical things I want to do (go rock climbing, travel via bicycle) are put on hold, at least temporarily, because of financial things. For example, riding a bike in Atlanta when you don’t have health insurance is a REALLY bad idea, and money is required for rock climbing. So they will wait till I get a job. Hopefully that will be soon.

But yes. I’m focusing a good bit of my time on five projects: Thoughts on Liberty (blog), sewing, this blog, graphic design, and web design. I’m trying to build up my skills and make some really cool stuff.

Fitness and food wise, I’m largely tightening up bolts. There are a couple of things in TKD warm ups that I am noticeably failing at: sit ups/curl ups and push ups. So I have goals to amp those up in 6 weeks.

Probably most importantly, I have goals to finally incorporate job hunting into my schedule. I’ve enjoyed my time off, but now its time to get to business. I needs meh a job, and it doesn’t matter if I have to move to get there (even if I don’t really want to).

So, yes, in sum: expect more content on the blog, at least for the next six weeks or so. Unless I get a job. Then it’s kind of whatev.

The Story of the Past Month (part 2)

Leaving Chicago was hard. Chicago was everything I thought it would be and more. To top it all off, I was facing the prospect of returning home without a full time job and essentially being dependent on my fiance. In between those two realities, I had a week long seminar to face, which looked to be pretty  miserable. On top of that, they weren’t providing food.

So the next week was a bit stressful, to say the least. Luckily, I found an AWESOME salad restaurant around the corner from where our hotel was . Fresh spinach, no iceberg lettuce if I didn’t want it. Almonds, oranges, chicken — all awesome. I had a salad from this place at least six or seven times during the week. For lunches, however, I wasn’t quite as lucky. There wasn’t anything really around the place we were having the seminar. So I ended up spending quite a bit on beef jerky and almonds.  I also ended up eating a good bit of Hershey’s Special Dark. Tasty, but not terribly good for me.

if you live in DC or New York, go to Chop't and enjoy a salad for me.

I also broke down in that week and had some McDonald’s — and definitely paid for it the next day. The closing reception, of course, had pizza for dinner, so I had a slice of that. I also bought a whole bunch of chips my last night there. I had planned to take them on the train with me, but halfway through the bag of cheese puffs I had bought (which were tasty), I realized I didn’t really want them anymore, and gave the rest of my junk food away to a friend.

I came back to Atlanta a week ago yesterday feeling somewhat defeated. No job (except for a part time writing gig), dealing with eating issues, moving in with my fiance on whom I was now dependent. For whatever reason I couldn’t get rehydrated from the train. We went off to TKD, and, to my credit, I did better than I thought I would. I was incredibly sore all last week, though. My body was getting its ass kicked again, and, to be honest, it felt pretty good.

I still wasn’t very happy, though. Even though I was eating paleo, I still felt fat, and this was only corroborated by pictures I was seeing of myself from the closing seminar. I was pinching myself every so often and feeling the fat between my fingers. I was (and still am) hyper-aware of the fat on my thighs when I sit down. My stress level was still pretty high as I was bouncing back and forth to my school trying to get paperwork in for my part time job, and even when I got that paperwork in, waiting to hear back. To start something…

Seeing pics like this of me at the closing seminar didn't help...

On top of all of that, I was disappointed with certain aspects of the new apartment (the kitchen is fairly small), but most of that was exacerbated by the fact that we hadn’t been able to unpack. I was in the apartment pretty  much al day every day, and I hadn’t really seen any of my friends since I got back. Simply put, my environment, my internal emotions, and my self-image were all out of whack. On top of all of this, I was constantly sore from TKD, which just made me feel weak, useless, and inept. I don’t even think I realized, until just now, how stressful the past few weeks have been.

However, things are looking up.

Me and my new dragon wall -- note the difference from the previous picture -- cameras sure are funny things

I went and stalked recipes for paleo and have been trying them out, getting back into cooking now that I have more funds to work with. I do really like to cook, and the past few recipes have been fun adventures (posts to come on those!)

I am back at Taekwondo with my friends and doing something that I love (even though it’s hot as balls in the room, and “warmups” that we do are a bitch — they are making me stronger!!)

Between Wednesday and Sunday my muscles got much less sore (though I pulled a hamstring — that really pissed me off).

This past weekend Anthony and I got the apartment cleaned up and it all feels MUCH BETTER. I can’t wait to have friends and family over, play kinect games, and cook paleo deliciousness for them.

My awesome living room.

This week I am going to make a schedule of things I need/want to do: project to work on, what I want to do with my blogs, job hunting, and, hopefully, time set off for this writing gig.

Money is still an issue, but it will hopefully be less so once I get my reimbursement checks from IHS/SPN, not to mention the deposit refund from Evanston. Until all of that happens, I am going to have to lean on Anthony. And doing THAT is going to be an exercise in and of itself. Depending on people is not my idea of a good time.

Finally, even though I am not allowed to weigh myself, I did measure myself this morning (with Anthony’s blessing). After about a month, I’ve lost a half-inch on my waist, a whole inch on my hips, and another half-inch on my bust.

Not too shabby.