Keeping It Simple – Never Easy, Always Worth It

chaos1

(Editor’s note: Somehow I mistook today’s daily prompt for “simplicity” when it is actually “solitary”…. will work it in somewhere. And if not, there’s always next time!)

“Nothing worth having comes easy.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Everything as we know it to be in its past or present form has come to be the result of an implemented process. Clean water is made available by filtration. Minimalism is achieved by letting go. Good relationships stem from communication, compromise. Peace is accomplished by war.

I recently wrote on the concept of intuitive eating and about how it is essentially an over thinking of a simple function. I still feel that to be the case, but thought I’d dive a little bit deeper, as I also feel that this applies to much than diet and nutrition.

Eating well, often, and with a clear head can involve reverting to the most basic of mindsets — “I’m hungry. I’m going to eat.” But it also means having the resources, the funds, and the federal regulation that allows good, affordable food to be available, to everyone. But we all know that this is not always the case around the world. 

(As an example: I recently read a U.S. news story about kids at a Florida middle school being allowed to the front of the lunch line if their parents “donated” $100. Instead of teaching impressionable minds that life rewards privilege, couldn’t we perhaps just feed the children?)

Humans are complex beings with, I feel, good intentions. We have a brain that takes up 2% of our total body weight. It receives, filters through, and absorbs massive amounts of information, and responds to internal and external stimuli, including stressors and pleasures. Science has allowed us to know so much about this powerful, complex organ — the very command center of our existence — and yet there is so much more that we don’t know. Overcomplicating things sometimes only makes sense.

Back to the outset, what is perceived as simple usually is the result of some sort of process that involves time, willingness, and resources. What is easy or more feasible for some may be very difficult or less possible for others, but it is also entirely possible.

For all you may know, real progress for our shared pain points — mental/physical, economical, political, to name a few — may merely involve more input from our heart, or gut, than over-input from from our head.

It may never be that easy, but it is almost always that simple.

Photo via Pixabay

Intuitive Eating is Eating — Period

food

The idea of “intuitive eating” has helped many recovering from eating disorders by putting a purposeful label on a naturally-occurring function of survival. However, it has also earned its place within the health and fitness world as a way to eat, usually after a fitness competition, event, or photo shoot. In fact, it has such a gimmicky sheen on it that it’s pretty much begging for clarification.

So here we go: intuitive eating is not a diet, and it is not a program. At its core, it is a well-intentioned philosophy to listen to your body’s cues, eating when it’s hungry, and not eating when it’s not.

Also known as EATING.

Therefore, in the case of the everyday individual, I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing the phrase “intuitive eating” completely eliminated from public use. Here’s why:

1. The act of eating is really not that complicated. Eating is (a) putting food into your mouth, (2) chewing or slurping it, then (3) swallowing it. Without interference, the brain and body knows what hunger means. It knows how to eat and process food — it is designed to do so. While the act of eating requires that one not ignore the signals to do so, putting the word “intuitive” in front of it is insulting to people’s intelligence. Please, let’s call a spade a spade.

2. Marketability (“shut up and take my money”). People like to feel included, and generally will do whatever it takes to rise above something weighing them down. That’s why I wasn’t shocked with “zendoodling” i.e. adult coloring books became popular within the last year. I have a coloring book myself, with some truly beautiful designs. However, I (and hopefully others) refer to it as a coloring book.

zendoodle
                                       Zendoodle pattern.

I just find there to be something inherently wrong in making a buck off of another’s desire to improve their lives. Zendoodling is just coloring, and intuitive eating is just eating. There’s no need for crutch words. Call it what it is.

And the final reason I have issue with this concept…

3. It’s yet another thing to obsess over. Clean eating. Carb cycling. Fitting macros. All green everything. Buzzwords galore and now — intuitive eating. With obsession comes wasted energy, and I find it very unfair that people who want to enjoy life on such a basic human level look up to influencers that irresponsibly spread this so-called style of eating.

I will say it again, one more time: intuitive eating is not a style or trend. It’s not even new. It is eating when you’re hungry, stopping when you’re full, and hell, maybe eating a few more bites.

Intuitive eating is eating. Enough is enough.

Just eat.

Strength Training for the Zombie Apocalypse, Ep. 5

Leg day, glute day, lower body day — my favorite, my favorite. Probably because when I see or feel progression, it is such an accomplishment. My lower body is a beast and I’ll always be working to tame it. Definitely a worthy challenge.

Here’s a routine I did the other day for time, which was around 56 minutes:

I have a community gym in my apartment complex – no fancy machines, but some equipment (dumbbells, ankle weights, resistance bands, ab rollers/slides, pull up bar, etc.). It’s been fun figuring out and improving upon basic exercises/functions in the name of strength progression. Like kinesiology, except, well, obviously not.

Still, it can be a little bit of a challenge to wake up other muscles in the body, which why I surf other blogs, YouTube channels, Pinterest, and the great and powerful Google for inspiration. I mean the way that the “yeah, she squats” craze burned across the interwebs years ago, I’d’ve never thought to do abductions or pull throughs. Like, come on now. She does more than squat, fool.

Anyway, a lot of folks incorporate and modify moves by “The Glute Guy” Bret Contreras, who incorporates and modifies from others as well. Let’s face it, though: he’s some kinda king. Boss of butts.

Abby Pollock on YouTube is also a favorite of mine with her scientific breakdowns to understand why and how instead of blindly jumping in and hoping for the best.

Check out previous episodes here:

Episode 4

Episode 3

Episode 2

Episode 1

Where do you get your workout inspiration?

Strength Training for the Zombie Apocalypse, Ep. 4

So I’ve realized I’ve got a little time to kill before the humans start to turn and am going to hop on the vanity train for mile or two.

I’ve been alternating upper body and ab days with glute and leg days, throwing in HITT and LISS cardio where it fits. My upper body tends to show more progress sooner than other areas, yet I’ve noticed that my back and shoulders could use a little work (in comparison to my biceps, triceps, etc.).

My favorite upper body exercises tend to involve bodyweight strength progression (i.e. push up variations) — again, functionality over aesthetics. I will be incorporating more challenging bodyweight exercises to up the ante while achieving a more balanced look — i.e. tricep push ups, diamond push ups, pull ups, chin ups, and handstands…. probably in that order.

I just haaaaaaaate push ups in general, though. They’re not supposed to be easy. And maybe two sets of 12 reps is adequate at this time. I just have to learn to be patient with myself. The post-apocalyptic civilization won’t be built in a day.

Yesterday I did more back-centric exercises while not neglecting (shoulders, bis n’ tris) coupled with core work. Completed this bad boy below in 52 minutes and 6 seconds:

Am doing lower body today and will follow up with that routine later this week.

Check out previous episodes here:

Episode 3
Episode 2
Episode 1

What does your workout routine look like?

 

Life Lessons Learned from My Eyebrows

I have many running comments involving my eyebrows: “I won’t leave the apartment without putting on my eyebrows.” “[Such and such movie] was so sad that I cried my eyebrows off.” Et cetera, et cetera.

It’s true, though; my eyebrows have take a little bit of precedence largely because my face is the first thing that people tend to focus on.

In the beginning, everything I learned about my eyebrows was a direct result of Megan Fox. Transformers was the perfect summer movie of 2007. I will never forget it, giant soft drink in hand, cushy theater seats in an icy air-conditioned theater. There was nowhere else I’d rather have been than watching the first of four highly unnecessary Michael Bay films while still in the demographic to do so. 

And yet, while most everyone else was fawning over Megan’s body and hair, I was absolutely transfixed by her eyebrows. Their existence  literally changed life. I had to have them.

At the time, however, I’d been the guinea pig of one too many hair removal experiments gone awry, so that wasn’t about to happen any time soon. Now, ten years and some follicle recovery later, my eyebrows have taken a much more convincing center stage role on my face.

That said, there was a time where I didn’t really worry about that sort of thing – my looks, that is. While there was a conscious effort to look presentable as the occasion called for it, there was no obsession over it. I won’t say that I’m obsessed with my brows now, but I do care enough to actually try to not leave the house without them being defined, styled, what have you. (That somewhat-joke at the outset? Obviously based on truth.)

That said — I was in my sister’s wedding 15 years ago without eyebrows. I worked my first job (and other jobs thereafter) without them. I had a very active social life, rich friendships, and started dating my current long-term partner without them. I went to nightclubs without them, did spoken word and won awards of recognition without them, got a college degree without them. I may very well have started my career without them.

Sure, they may help me feel a little better about my appearance in general, but what will happen if there’s no more brow pencil and powder, or if my skin won’t take to microblading, or something else similar? What will happen when I am forced to work with what I have without any frills?Something to that effect is going to happen at some point, and I sure as hell wasn’t born to have bushy brows.

Like most people, I tend to fixate on things that really have no bearing on actual ability and worth. Appearance is nice and all, but it’s not everything. The energy and brainpower you bring to the table? I’d wager to say that’s everything. To quote Tori Amos (so sue me; I went on a YouTube binge the other day after she’d announced her Native Invader world tour), “You’re just an empty cage if you kill the bird.” The outside doesn’t matter if there’s nothing inside to keep it running.

Sometimes I have to remind myself what I’m here for, and while I may not always know, I can assume it’s for a far better reason than appealing to my vanity. Shout out to Wet n’ Wild’s $0.99 brow pencil and e.l.f. translucent powder just the same.

What do you think? Let’s continue this conversation in the comments, and as always, feel free to touch base on Twitter.

Strength Training for the Zombie Apocalypse, Ep. 3

I’ve been working out every day. I promise I have.

I just don’t like pretending to be something I’m not. Like, how many more fitness personalities does the internet actually need?

About two or three years ago I came across an Instagram profile of one Sophie Gray (@wayofgray) and I was ultra inspired by her. Then came the folks at Bodyrock.tv with their 12-minute workouts, Jen Selter, Freelee the Banana Girl’s high carb low fat lifestyle (and through her, Kayla Itsines), and so on.

But in an attempt to be my best, most healthy self, I thoroughly screwed myself up.

I named these individuals as an example of how I personally viewed the rise of the Instagram and then YouTube health and wellness persona that has truly taken ideals of health and fitness by storm. One of my childhood friends is one of these #fitgirls, which is still super inspiring to me.

That isn’t the life I want to lead, though. Unless a support system is involved, and one is using their body and lifestyle as part of a brand or business (inclusive of the entertainment industry), I am not a huge fan of this hardcore, buzzword/hashtag-driven, pics-or-it-didn’t-happen sort of advertising. And yet here I am. Trying to have fun, trying to strengthen my body, attempting to offer discourse within all the clutter of what one “should” do and what is actually possible.

Last year, I took a Cancun vacation in August. From the moment I booked the trip that February, I worked to come up with the perfect diet and workout in order to have The Instagram-Worthy Beach Body™.

Well, I never got that body. I kid you not — I stayed the same size for the whole damn year. No matter how little I ate or how much time I spent in the gym, my body stayed the exact same size. The measuring tape did not budge one damn inch. I had a great time in Cancun, but I wasn’t at all pleased with how things turned out.

In contrast: this year, I formally exercise around 45 to 60 minutes, 4 to 6 times a week. I am actively working to cut that down to 30 to 45 minutes, 5 days a week. I am also a lot more relaxed on diet, but make sure to drink as close to three liters of water a day.

I don’t drink that much — maybe once every two weeks, but I’m considering lessening even that.

My sleep quality could improve, but I average six hours a night.

I also get really stressed sometimes, to the point that it physically manifests itself as edema or a rash of some kind, sometimes eye twitching (always fun).

I cry when I’m happy, sad, and angry. I let things get to me. I keep things inside. Sometimes I’m a hermit and don’t want to come out.

I’m not perfect, and will never advertise myself to be as such. “Do not be like me” would be my slogan of choice. That said, since I’ve just gone along with life instead of trying to control every move, I’ve lost eight to ten pounds. I feel more comfortable in my skin. I don’t count calories. I eyeball portions instead of measuring. I just try to exist at this point, and my body seems to like that a lot better than what it had previously been subjected to.

If I had to recommend anything, it would be that — stop trying so hard. Set your own standard and don’t feel badly for eating more than your macros, for sleeping in, for taking a leisurely walk around the block instead of lifting heavy weights. Work within the limits of your body. Push them a little if you can, because, I mean, the zombies are coming.

Function and strength is awesome — remember that.

But more importantly, remember that no one is going to give two shits whether you’re swole af or your thighs jiggle when the zpocalypse hits.

Check out previous episodes here:

Episode 2
Episode 1

And find me on Twitter — I’d love to hear from you!

Strength Training for the Zombie Apocalypse, Ep. 2

I’ve been putting off on writing this for a bit, largely because I’ve been feeling like a stranger in my body — a combination of hormonal fluctuations, giving in to dietary cravings, and not really caring whether or not looked good in a swimsuit over 4th of July weekend.

My favorite give-in as of late has been decompressing on the couch with a bowl of ice cream after a long day. The action itself has been great, I won’t lie; I’ve been loving it. 12/10, would do it again. But it’s been contributing to a re-creation of habits that I will gladly re-break if it means feeling more able and present.

TL;DR I’ve gotten comfortable and it just was so damn easy. But being dehydrated, sugar-saturated, and floppy long-term isn’t necessarily part of my dream board. Plus, getting comfortable is a death sentence during the zombie apocalypse.

That said, my workouts have been less about function and more about feeling better and able rather than making gains – aka cardio over progressive weight training. Neither one being right, neither one being wrong, but both to be used at one’s own discretion.

Here’s a 45-minute workout I did today, with warm up and cool down — starting with 3 rounds of the following  bodyweight circuit at 50 seconds of work with a 10 second rest (15 minutes):

Goblet squats
Step ups
Bear crawls
Diamond pushups
Static forearm plank

Followed by the following cardio sets  (30 minutes):

I0 sprinting intervals
20 minutes moderate cardio

I really enjoy the 45-minute workout in all its forms, largely because the “less time, more effort” approach seems to be both efficient and comprehensive. There’s those of us that want (or prefer) to spend hours time in the gym under florescent lights, and then there’s those of us who want (or prefer) to live life before the zombie apocalypse hits.

Thanks for tuning in to Episode 2 — Episode 3 will follow much sooner, I promise! If you haven’t “seen” Episode 1 yet, check it out here.

I’d love to hear what your favorite workouts are as of late — let me know in the comments and @ me on Twitter!