Monday, January 25, 2010

5 Questions: More Thoughts On Fitness Challenges

The last week has spawned much chatter about some challenges we face when sticking to a fitness plan. I've got a few thoughts on this but, as usual, I am not a physician or certified in anything so take the necessary precautions before you take my advice. I can't be responsible for you trying to master 10 foot faces your first time out or something silly like that.

This post was inspired by my TTUC buds, like most of my recent fitness-themed posts. Other inspirations are Mike at Ruthless Golf and Lindsay at That Mutt.

1. How do I stick to my fitness plan when I travel?

Whether for business or pleasure I've heard different approaches to eating right and staying fit while on the road. Many have said to me that they refuse to watch what they eat when on vacation. I disagree. Just because you are taking a break from life I don't feel you should abuse your body. Stop associating food with relaxing or rewards and you'll be much better off in the long run.

If you're trapped on a business trip like I was last year you can find ways to stay fit. Most hotels have a gym and/or a pool and if you're at a beach resort there is nothing wrong with a long fitness walk on the sand in the morning. In fact, when I was a poor college student in Florida, my morning workout was walking on the beach in the sand with my sneakers on for at least an hour. People used to tell me "that would be easier without your shoes on" when they saw me walking. I'd reply "easy is not the point". If you're trapped in bad weather then use the gym, or *quietly* utilize the stairs for your workout routine.

As for food, don't make travel the excuse to give yourself a license to eat dessert or croissants in the morning. Wake up early enough to think about your breakfast and make the smart choices for lunch and dinner. You know what you should be eating. The whole thing is just a matter of commitment in my opinion.

2. What if I want some dessert every so often?

All things in moderation! If you are an absolute chocolate nut why would you completely eliminate it from your diet? You enjoy it, right? Why deprive yourself? There is no reason to cut out dessert completely. When you do that, you have a tendency to over-indulge and set yourself back quite a bit. Include treats in your fitness plan. I'm quite fond of alcohol (beer, wine, liquor) and don't plan to give it up. I've accounted for this is my workout and eating plan.

Start slowly - if you eat chocolate every day try to cut it down to every other day and then once a week. Before you know it, you'll be down to once a month and still enjoying your chocolate. Live a little!

3. What workout music works best?

Whatever motivates you works best! For me, I like a variety. Some days it is disco that works best and others it's all about Slipknot. Speed metal and hardcore really work best for me! Make yourself a playlist for cardio and another for the other training you do if that works better.

These last two questions are for you, the readers:

4. What are your biggest challenges in sticking to your fitness goals?

5. What other questions would you like me to answer about how I stick to mine?


Mike said...

I'm a big believer in moderation. (Except when it comes to chocolate. CUT DOWN? Heresy, Apryl! Heresy, I say!) The best advice I ever heard came from Graham Kerr, who used to be the Galloping Gourmet back in the 60s. (I was too small to remember the show, and you were probably still just a gleam in your mother's eye.)

Anyway, Kerr's wife has a lot of health problems, and he's become a big proponent of healthy cooking and eating. He calls his technique Minimax cooking -- "minimize the fat, maximize the flavor." Here's what he said once on a TV show, and I've never forgotten it:

"Don't try to make a 'healthy' hamburger. You won't be able to get one that tastes good. Here's what you should do: Rather than trying to create a healthy hamburger, create a new healthier dish that, if you had a choice between it and the hamburger, you'd choose the healthy dish half the time. Now you've improved your diet, and you have two choices you enjoy."

The idea is to make it enjoyable to eat healthier. I use that principle a lot, balancing healthy choices with less healthy ones. You can use that idea when you eat out as well.

And I also believe in the "sanctioned vice." I allow myself one of two "bad things" every day, but I just keep a limit on how much I eat. I happen to like dark chocolate, which is healthier than milk chocolate, so I allow myself to have some every day. I offset it with some lowfat meals that I enjoy.

(Cut down on chocolate? Ugh! Sometimes I wonder about you Californians, Apryl!;-)

Apryl DeLancey said...

Thanks Mike!

Yeah, I am missing the chocolate gene somehow. I am also missing the "loves to watch romantic comedies and doesn't like to watch sports" gene. I'd rather go to the dentist than watch any movie with Meg Ryan or Katherine Heigl (except Knocked Up).

Oh, and it isn't all Californians. Natives find me odd that I don't like chocolate also. I never liked it as a child either.

Lindsay said...

I LOVE chocolate.

One problem I have is when I'm with other people I almost feel guilty if I don't eat what they've made or if I don't eat or drink every time we go out. I can't just say no! How dumb is that? Any suggestions? What are some healthier foods you order when you eat out? Salads aren't always a good coice because then I'm hungry an hour later. Plus it's easy to load up on dressing. I order soup quite often because it's hot and I have to eat it slowly.

Apryl DeLancey said...

So you can eat whatever someone made just be careful about the portions. There are plenty of healthy alternatives that aren't salads too.

One suggestion someone gave me once that really seems to work is to eat slowly and really chew your food. I used to eat really quickly and then I'd be stuffed because I overate. When I slow down, I can feel myself get full and then I don't eat as much. Plus, eating with others is social so contribute to the conversation more and you'll eat less.

As far as alcohol, you can ;aso drink slowly - trying to pace yourself as well. For me, I allow myself alcohol since it is one of my only really bad habits. Even then I'll go long periods (sometimes a year or more) without it.

Mike said...

If I know I'm going out where there's going to be plenty of stuff I'll want to eat, I'll just go light earlier in the day. If my friends catch me by surprise, I'll just go lighter the next day.

Some low-calorie foods are better than others. While salad doesn't have many calories, it digests really fast. Complex carbohydrates -- like brown rice, for instance -- digest much more slowly, especially when blended with protein, like baked chicken. For example, mix a cup (cooked) of brown rice with half a can of Campbell's Chunky Sirloin Soup. That may sound fatty, but (if I remember correctly) it's only around 200 calories. I've gone hours after that without getting hungry.

(Another note: If you don't like brown rice but you've only had it at a restaurant, you haven't had brown rice. I've never had good brown rice when I ate out. Cooked at home, it comes out light and fluffy, with a slightly nutty taste.)

kokogirl said...

I love chocolate.

Apryl DeLancey said...

Thanks for the suggestions Mike! I also go light during the day if I know there's an eat/drink fest later. Even so, I don't pig out.

Lisa's comment = epic win

T Moody Designs said...

I believe in moderation, but I can't give up the chocolate!

Apryl DeLancey said...

So many people have that chocolate urge. I say don't deprive yourself. Why give it up? Account for it in your fitness plan and enjoy.

Life is too short to be unhappy.

Lindsay said...

Thanks for the tips everyone! Also, forgot to say thanks for the link!

I will try to eat more slowly. I have a problem with drinking way too fast, too! So I'll just try to be more concious about slowing down.