Monday, March 21, 2011

A new perspective on fitness....

I like to pretend that I'm of "above average" fitness. I mean, come on, how many people do you know that can run 10 miles at a time?

Don't answer that yet.

Until a few weeks ago, I thought the answer was "very few, excuse me while I bask in the glory of my fitness." Okay, I'm actually very humble about my running, being of the opinion that I should always be able to go further, faster, have a better stride, etc. Never mind that my average pace on long distance runs rarely breaks a 9-minute mile.

Then I made the enlightening mistake of engaging with an army recruiter who asked me about my fitness level. I responded, between footfalls, "I'd say above average." (I was running 7 miles on a treadmill at the time, and used that as evidence.)

When I got home, I did a quick search of the Army Physical Fitness Test minimum requirements, and set out to compare myself to that standard.

For a woman my age, I would need, TO PASS, run 2 miles in 19:36. Easy-peasy. If I don't mind throwing up at the end, I could very well score a 96 right now, finishing in 16 minutes, and give me a few weeks of working at JUST the two miles and I'd hit 100.

Then I looked at the push-ups and sit-up requirements...

80 situps in 2 minutes is 100 points, and the pass rate is 50. No problem. I used to do 60 inclined sit-ups with a 25 lb weight on my chest, and had the six-pack (well... 4 pack) to prove it. I insist it's still hiding under the fine layer of fat I've accumulated over the last four years, but anyway, let's try some sit-ups, shall we?

For all of minute-1, I felt awesome. I banged out 30 sit-ups with no problem, and was well on my way to passing, and then... The timer went off. Forty-seven sit-ups. That number looks like a 4 followed by a 7. I failed. FAILED.

Not feeling quite so sure of myself anymore, eyes glazed over and face beat-red from effort, I asked Aaron, "How many do I need to do?"

Seventeen. In two minutes. How many can you do?


I did manage to get out 14 push-ups in one minute, with ample rest time in between, but no more than two in a row.

So what does it mean to be fit? I realize the subjectivity of the term, because for someone who can't run a mile and sees me running five, to them, I might be fit. But at the same time, they may bang out 50 push-ups without a second thought, and I see that as fitness. Or for me, I can barely touch my toes, and see fitness as a yogi who can fold themselves into a paper crane.

This is going to be the framework for the next few months of my "fitness journey." Whatever that means. Haven't figured that out yet.

Maybe after dinner. And a nice long run.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Year Rawsolutions

So I'm not much for making resolutions for the new year, since I know without a doubt that I'll wind up abandoning them all sometime mid-January. Hence why my decision to go vegan occurred mid-year, spur-of-the-moment, and thus was the most successful resolution I've made to date.

Well, not really spur of the moment. I did a lot of research, experimented, found what worked for me and what did not, and went from there. The turning point, though, was browsing through one particular baking cookbook that made my resolution that much easier. Eat less cholesterol, have more cookies. Win win!

Now I've been vegan about a year and a half, which is no amazing feat. It is easy, inexpensive, and more or less healthy. Not that I've lost weight or anything. It's time to ramp up my love for plant-based foods just a little bit more by incorporating more raw and unprocessed foods.

In the last few months I have added to my pantry:

- more flaxseeds than I'll ever eat in my life (featured in the picture above: raw flax, almond meal and cacao "pancakes" with syrup and banana-blueberry softserve)
- goji berries
- chia seeds
- buckwheat groats (still not sure what to do with these...)
- cacao nibs... my favorite thus far
- sundry raw nuts
- cold pressed coconut oil
- more bananas than a banana republic (say, one whose primary export is not bananas...)
- agave nectar, which has been in there for a while and I'm just starting to use in recipes other than in tea
- nut milks

Slowly I am removing from my diet:
- processed sugar
- wheat

And I want to, but never will get rid of:
- soy. I love soy. Yeah, it's tough to digest, but I love it.

These are life changes. This is not a diet, just like my transition to veganism was not as part of a fad diet, or to win me cool points; that happened naturally. I can feel benefits immediately from a gluten-free, uncooked meal versus a wheat-heavy, soy-heavy dinner.

Not very good at ending blog posts, so... The End.