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Saturday, June 29, 2013

sloth...sin or not?

No, no, no. That title has nothing to do with the lack of blogging up in here. Get that idea right out of your head.  

As anyone who has ever worked in an office can attest, people's co-workers see what they eat and don't eat and they all a.) seem to have an opinion on that and b.) mostly aren't shy about voicing it.  And as anyone who has ever worked in an office primarily composed of women can attest, the average (American, at least) woman is either overweight or thinks she is and starts a new diet and/or fitness plan on the average of every second Monday.  Put these two facts together and your average fit female office worker is going to get some interesting comments lobbed her way.  And thus a friend who has lifted heavy for four consistent years, regularly jogs part of the way to and from work, and tracks almost every morsel of food that goes into her mouth (and has a stunningly beautiful body to show for it) was told the other day that well, the reason she looks like she does is "good genetics."  O-kay.

In the discussion that developed in response to my friend telling us about this little wtf moment, I reflected that I was fortunate.  My former co-workers saw me lose 15-20lbs from diet alone and then start working out seriously and become fitter and fitter-looking in the process. They were completely aware of the amount of work and effort and self-discipline that went into it.  Someone meeting me today for the first time might be under the misapprehension that I'm naturally on the thinner side or that I've always been athletic and thus athletic-looking or that the reason that I'm not overweight is because I'm one of those people who doesn't like tasty food and beer, and thus might make wrongheaded and dismissive comments. My former co-workers, having lived through my bodily (I hate this word, but) "transformation" with me, absolutely didn't.

What they did say--all of them at least somewhat overweight and all of them not happy about it and continually (like I said above) starting a new diet on Monday that usually crashed and burned by Thursday--was "I couldn't do what you do, Andrea."  And they were correct. They couldn't. Because they just didn't care enough to. They didn't want to enough.  Which is IMO absolutely fine.  As I reflected the other day when we were discussing this, my own immersion in getting really fit occurred at a time when my elderly dad who I had been taking care of passed away suddenly, my son who had been really ill for some time had reached a point where he was no longer in crisis at all, and I went through the break up of a relationship. Put all those things together and I suddenly had lots of free Andrea Time to go to the gym. Could I have worked out as much as I do now when I was caretaking two other people, working five days a week, and trying to carry on a romantic relationship? Well, yeah, I could have been one of those people who gets up at 4:30am every day to be at the gym at 5.

I'm not one of those people.

Yes, strictly speaking, no matter how little time I had, I could have made time for the gym. I did, however, not have the energy or the will to do so. And I think that's just fine. I don't judge myself or anyone else who doesn't shoehorn six+ hours a week of working out into their schedule. Sometimes there are more important things in life than having a quote unquote good body. Sometimes those more important things include lying on the couch watching baseball.  No one should feel guilty if they put other priorities ahead of losing weight or gaining muscle or becoming the fastest or strongest 45 year old on their block.  People are allowed to decide for themselves how much effort they want to put in to their appearance and their physical fitness. I firmly believe in that.

On the other hand--you knew there was a "but" coming, right?  On the other hand, I have a real problem condoning people who are completely sedentary.  I won't judge you if you never step foot inside a gym. I won't judge you if you have thirty pounds to lose but you don't really care enough about it to pass up the cannolis. Because, shit, cannolis, man, they're fucking delicious.  I will judge you if you get in the car to drive two blocks. And it's not raining or below freezing, okay? I will judge you if you sit on the bench at the playground watching your kids run around. More than 50% of the time, okay?  I will judge you if you let yourself get so completely out of shape that sprinting a few yards to catch a train makes you feel like you're gonna die or you're so weak that (like a friend's mom who's not much older than I am) you can't carry your own vacuum cleaner up to the second floor. People with actual medical conditions excepted, okay?

There's not making your body a priority and then there's neglecting it such that your actual quality of life is affected.  Two different things.

Please feel free in comments to tell me how full of shit I am. In either direction!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

a b c d e chromium

My history with taking vitamins and/or minerals is checkered.  Whatever they use to coat vitamin pills with generally makes me nauseated.  Taking them even on a full stomach has, historically, made me pukey.  I swear that a good 50% of my "morning sickness" was in fact a reaction to faithfully choking down those horrible horse-pill prenatals.  And then all those years that I was anemic or borderline anemic--long before my uterus actually tried to kill me, it was doing its best to cripple me, yo--and I was supposed to be taking iron supplements, I hardly ever did for more than a month or two running, because the nausea and world-class constipation they caused seemed actually worse than the weakness and dizziness and compulsion to chew ice (look it up!) that having no freaking red blood cells engendered.

Somewhere in my 40s, I discovered adult chewable vitamins and then adult gummies. For the first time in my life I could take a daily multivitamin without adverse effects. And they were yummy too.  Okay, it's a well known fact that I sorta have the palate of an 8 year old, other than the fact that 8 year olds don't like beer or Irish whiskey, but seriously. Gummy vitamins are delish. I am partial to these of late:

They're readably available at CVS and reasonably cheap, especially since they're frequently on sale and I always have xtrabucks.

Now, I know there have been studies recently suggesting that even taking vitamins is unhealthy and liable to lead to an early death.  I dunno.  I prefer the results of the recent study that said three cups of coffee a day are awesome for your health. I've got that one covered.  (Oh, hush, I never said this was a health blog. I drink alcohol, mainline caffeine, eat cake, am addicted to Quest bars, and still agree that kale tastes like "dirt and sadness". I just go to the gym and lift heavy shit a lot. It's a fitness blog. Also, a digression blog. Deal.) ANYWAY. Maybe I shouldn't even be taking vitamins, but I seriously am not convinced that they're doing me any harm and I feel marginally better when I think I'm making up for whatever's in kale that I'm missing out on.

To get to the point of this post, and there is one I swear to you, recently there was a thread on a message board I frequent asking what multivit everyone takes. A few of us were spreading the gummy vitamin luv.  I just checked back into the thread this evening after a few days to find there were a bunch of posts saying that gummy vitamins were crap and that you don't absorb the nutrients in them. (Which, if they're gonna kill me, that would be a good thing anyway, right?)  Furthermore, cheap vitamins are crap and you need to buy the expensive "quality" ones.  Further investigation proved this advice to come from, oh yeah, mainly supplement company reps whose employers sell expensive-ass "quality" multivitamins. Go figure.

But since I never let my natural cynicism get in the way of actually looking shit up, I googled "gummy vitamins inferior."  I got three pertinent results. One from what appeared to be a supplement company selling expensive vitamins.  One from a healthy living blog probably written by the sort of person who thinks kale tastes better than ice cream. And the third from a message board for people who've had weight loss surgery. Apparently these bariatric patients are at risk for malnutrition and thus must both take vitamin supplements every day and be frequently tested for vitamin deficiencies. All the people in that thread who took gummy vitamins testified that their blood test results were fine and that, no, they were not having any problems from taking gummy vitamins rather than pills.

Maybe it's just because they're telling me what I want to hear (coffee's better for you than kale even!) but I'm choosing to believe the bariatric patients over the supplement company shills.  Besides, I can't afford 45 dollar vitamins, I've got Quest bars to buy. God.


Monday, June 3, 2013

i need a twelve step program, or possibly inpatient treatment

"Um, hi, I'm Andrea and I'm, uh, addicted to peanut butter and jelly Quest bars."

In unison: "Hi Andrea!"

Quest bars. Love 'em or hate 'em, they're the protein bar everyone on the interwebs has an opinion on.  In my own lil internet circle, the scale seems weighted towards luv. I had heard about how their macros were awesome and their taste was hnnnnngggg (by which I mean to say, delicious) long before I ever tasted one. Then I had my surgery and there--in a sweet care package sent to me by a friend I'd never actually met--they were, complete with helpful instructions to nuke them for ten seconds or so for maximum awesomeness.   The first time I tried this, I stuck one in the microwave without removing the wrapper. The foil wrapper. OMG I WAS ON NARCOTICS, WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE WANT OF ME?


Well, when I had one that I didn't actually almost set on fire, I wasn't overwhelmed. I might have been slightly underwhelmed. At the least, I was whelmed.  I chalked this up to my taste buds being somewhat funky after surgery/anesthesia. Only certain foods appealed to me. (Hence the eighteen Chobani yogurts and the diet ginger ale in my first postop grocery cart.) I decided to withhold my verdict on the whole Quest bar experience till a later date.

Sometime this spring a later date came to pass. I was buying something else online and I needed to spend a little more money for some discount or free shipping or a gift with purchase or whatever other incentive the clever retailer had come up with to induce suckers like me to drop more cash, so I threw in a few Quest bars in different flavors.  Some were good. Some were meh. Some had sugar alcohols in them that made me unfit to go out in polite society. And then there were the peanut butter and jelly ones. OMG.

I don't know what it is about these things. They're the texture of playdoh, basically, and the color of a breastfed newborn's poop. They have so much fiber in them they're pretty much a rotor router for my colon. They look like something you'd feed the prisoners in a futuristic prison. Well, except in a futuristic prison they'd be made of people. Something like that.

They're delicious. I keep buying the boxes of twelve and eating them in a week. It's like my secret shame. A vaguely food-like substance that only marginally tastes like what the flavor on the label promises and I eat two a day till they're all gone.  But but but...20g of protein and 17g fiber each, yo.

Somebody help me.

Anyway! While I wait for my intervention, I'll share with y'all a recent pic I really love.  I have a couple of vintage dresses, one of which I particularly love because not only is it extremely cute, it has sentimental value.  Sadly, for the last couple years, they've both been too big and just living in my closet.  I tried them on again a couple weeks ago and to my shock, they're now wearable again.  I've finally grown enough lat to take up the space that used to be taken up by my boobs when I was ten-fifteen pounds heavier. Woo!  My friends asked for pictures.

Shoulders not looking too shabby.

Maybe it's the Quest bars.