Tag Archives: habits

After the Whole 30

A little over a year ago, Seth, myself, and a few friends banded together for the Whole 30 food challenge. What is the Whole 30? In a nutshell, it’s 30 days of eating whole, unprocessed food. Lots of veggies, fruit, nuts, protein, etc, without the sugar, grains, and dairy. It’s 30 days of getting your body functioning well so that you really know how the things you eat affect you. We had a good experience with it, and learned quite a bit (here’s my initial report).

So that was more than a year ago. Have we kept it up? The answer: kind of.

whole30 food 2Here’s how it went. I got done with my 30 days of eating whole, unprocessed, delicious food. Tons of veggies, protein, fruit, nuts, and good fats like avocado and coconut milk. For that 30 days I cut out sugar, alcohol, dairy, and grains. I felt pretty good. Once the 30 days were over, I started eating the stuff I hadn’t been allowed to eat. I tried to add one thing at a time, but after 3 or 4 days I went into binge mode and just started eating everything in sight. And that’s when I realized how good I had really felt at the end of my Whole 30.

Now I was bloated. I was waking up with headaches and sinus pain again. The way that I had felt all the time *before* doing the Whole 30. I just felt bad.

I had a few weeks of that, and then I just wanted to feel good again. So I swung back the other way. Not because I was doing another challenge, but because I wanted to feel great again. Now it’s been over a year, and I go through cycles. At home, we very much stick to that style of eating. Our meals are often a big pile of veggies, some protein, some healthy fats, and a bit of fruit. They are delicious. If we’re having a good week of cooking at home, those leftovers go to work with me, and then I’m eating that way even *more* of the time.

It’s the times when we’re busy, don’t have time to get groceries or cook ahead when we don’t consistently eat as well. I’d say I make good decisions only about half the time when I’m eating out. Last week I passed on a sandwich and ordered a salad with walnuts and chicken on it instead. A few days later I ordered a few mini burgers and a whole lot of fries. Some weeks I’m really good about having a hard-boiled egg and a banana for breakfast. Other times I find myself with a pastry in front of me.

So, sometimes I eat well, and sometimes I don’t. And that’s ok! Seriously. Because I know now the effect that my food decisions have on how I feel, and how my body functions. That’s the biggest thing I got out of this whole experiment. I make those decisions consciously now. Keeping grains and sugar out of my diet makes me feel my best. I know that now. But, sometimes I eat a delicious cupcake. I know when I eat that cupcake that I’m going to feel a bit hazy in 20 minutes, a bit bloaty, and then I’ll crave more sugar later. The thing about it is, I know that now. And I make that decision consciously.

Here’s something: on Day 28 of my Whole 30, I did 6 pull-ups in a row, from a dead hang. The most I had ever done. I felt strong. A week later, after introducing all sorts of food groups back into my diet, my max dropped to two. Within a week. True story.

I don’t believe that there’s *one* way to eat for everyone, or *one* way to exercise. Everyone is different, and different things work for different people. The important thing is knowing how food affects you, and that’s what I’ve taken away from the Whole 30.

Changing of the Kettlebells Guard.

The only thing constant in life is change.

That’s how the speech started. Ron had just put us through one of his grueling workouts. Purposeful and calculated, as always. Ladders of strength and conditioning in neat little packages.

He left with very little notice, and very little fanfare. He kicked our butts one last time, gave a short speech at the end of class, and he left.

If I look back through my life, I can point to a handful of people who have had a real, lasting impact on me. People who acted as mentors, either purposefully or not. People who helped to guide me, encourage me, and served as examples of what I aspire to be. Ron is one of those people. He’s passionate about training, about kettlebells, and about teaching, and his enthusiasm is contagious.

Ron leads a kettlebell demonstration in downtown Minneapolis.

Ron leads a kettlebell demonstration in downtown Minneapolis (photo courtesy of Hennepin County Government Center).

I began kettlebells at a small studio near where I work. I loved it right away, and was hooked, but a few months later, the instructor closed up shop and moved across the country. I didn’t know where to go. My husband stumbled across Southside Kettlebells on a bike ride, and I went to a class the next week. That’s where I met Ron, and that’s where I stayed.

I was still new to kettlebells, and new to strength training in general, but eager to learn, eager to improve my form, my strength, and my conditioning. Ron took me under his wing, like he did for a lot of students. He encouraged me to work hard, I developed good form, I got stronger, my fitness improved, and Ron was always there, guiding me in the right direction.

Photo credit: Hennepin County Public Affairs

Photo credit: Hennepin County Public Affairs

Ron helped me figure out how to eat correctly to fuel my body for training. He took extra time to help me correct form and meet my personal goals. I wanted to learn how to do pull-ups, Ron gave me a program to follow, progressions that would get me to my first one. And then, when I got that first strict pull-up, Ron shared it with class. Both congratulatory for me, and inspirational to others. Kettlebells training took me to the top of the Grand Teton last year, and that fitness is with me on all of my adventures. My quality of life is greatly improved, and Ron’s support has played a significant part in that.

So, for Ron… thank you. Your generosity, compassion, and dedication to your students will be missed by all who attended your classes. There are many of us who are truly your students, and a hole will be felt for quite some time. You, and your particular brand of ass-kicking workouts, will be missed at Southside.

Household Fitness Challenge

When we were kids, we didn’t exercise. We played. We ran around chasing our friends, playing tag, going across the monkey bars. We had contests to see who could jump the highest, run the fastest. We got on our bikes and rode around the neighborhood, not because we were trying to lose weight, but because it was fun.

The reason why climbing and kettlebells have stuck with me is because they’re just plain fun. Yeah, they both present challenges, and they’ve gotten me into the best shape of my life, but I wouldn’t have stuck with them in the first place if they were monotonous or just something I knew was good for me.


Our pullup tally. Lookin’ good!

See the chart on the right? That’s a pullup tally for Seth and me. Every time either of us does a pullup, we make a mark on the tally sheet. Together, as a team, we’re seeing how long it takes us to get to 3000. Fun, right? We started on Dec. 5, and as of the writing of this post, we’re at 935.

Why 3000? I have no idea. It’s just the number we came up with. It’s high enough to keep us interested for a while, but not so high that it doesn’t feel attainable.

Here’s why I’m loving our household fitness challenge:

  • There’s a lot of motivation in doing the challenge together. We have a common goal, so we cheer each other on and get excited about our progress. It’s a great boost for morale, and not bad for our relationship, either.
  • Since our pullup abilities are not equal, working as a team has eliminated feelings of inequality. We’re both contributing towards the same goal, so it doesn’t matter that he’s able to put in twice as many pullups as I can. No biggie. What matters is that we’re doing pullups!
  • There’s something really rewarding about ticking off tally marks and watching them grow each day.
  • It’s healthier than an ice-cream challenge

Just doing a few pullups as I walk by

You can do a team fitness challenge, too! Just find a partner, or partners, and choose a goal. Make it something specific and measurable such as number of pushups, miles run, burpees, rows, whatever. Make a tally sheet, shake on it, and go! It’s fun. You’ll probably think so, too. And if you decide to do one, let me know in the comments. I’ll cheer you on.

Our Whole 30 Food Challenge

After finishing my Whole 30, I was pretty sure that I would want to do nothing but binge on cheese. And bread. And sugar. And chai lattes.

Instead, something wonderful has happened. I actually *want* to eat whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense food. A plate of protein, sweet potato, and veggies is a delicious meal. And I don’t really *want* milk in my coffee. I’m not lying.

whole30 food 2

Baked sweet potato, steak, and veggies

The Whole 30 challenge is 30 days of eating whole, unprocessed foods. Protein, veggies, fruits, nuts, healthy fats, and spices. All the good stuff. 30 days of making good food choices, with no cheating. That’s right, no cheating. No 80/20 rule. Why? Because the purpose is to form new habits and recalibrate the body’s hormones and taste buds. It worked. Somewhere around week 3 I had a tangerine, and it was heavenly. I didn’t need anything sweeter. Continue reading

Derailed: Getting Back On Track

They’re getting along well.

It’s been an eventful few weeks here. My normal schedule has taken a backseat to more important things that needed our attention. Family comes first. We’ve been adjusting to some changes, one of which resulted in a new kitty cat in the house. His name is Teko, and he likes to explore. Yesterday we found him down one of our air vents. He’s fine.

I’ve managed to get out and climb a bit, but my kettlebells training has been virtually non-existent. The work I had been doing to pre-plan meals and eat well has also gone out the window. I know that the longer I don’t train and eat poorly, the more those things become habitual. Continue reading

The De-Procrastination Experiment

I’m a procrastinator. Big time. If I don’t have a specific deadline for something, there’s a good chance it won’t get done today. Or tomorrow. In the past I’ve been able to get by, because I lived a life crammed full of deadlines set by other people. But, in the past few years I’ve simplified things. A lot. I’ve opened up my time and created a lot more space. It’s been fantastic and has helped immensely with my well-being and general sanity level. But it’s been terrible for my procrastination habit.

I have long to-do lists hidden in several notebooks throughout the house, but my to-do lists can have the opposite effect than intended.

Here is how I usually operate:

  • I sit down and write up my to-do list, with everything that I want to get done. A few tasks turn into a LOT of tasks.
  • The list becomes overwhelming. Too many things, too many options, too much to do.
  • I end up finding something else to do and sometimes ignore the list altogether.

So, naturally, I’ve been procrastinating on my to-do list by trying to find a cure for my procrastination. I’ve been experimenting, and a few weeks into my latest experiment, I think I may have found something that helps.  I’m feeling cautiously optimistic, so I thought I’d share my experiment with you. Continue reading

Staying Healthy when Life Gets Weird

The blog’s been a bit quieter than usual lately. Mostly because I’ve been quieter than usual in general. I’m in the midst of a nine-month stint of overnight shifts, and my usual hermit tendencies have been amplified as a result. Numerous studies have been done on the physical effects of working at night and sleeping during the day. In addition to affecting amount and quality of sleep, it affects hormone production and very basic things about the way the body functions.

In response, I’ve been making a very conscious effort to maintain my health physically and mentally. This is always important, no matter what my situation is, but when there’s an extra item in the negative column working against me, it seems even more so.

So, here’s what I’ve been focusing on:

Continue reading

Why I Train

Every day we are bombarded with messages that exercise is about looking good. In magazines, commercials, etc. Get flatter abs, sexier legs, rockstar arms, a killer butt. Just by doing [enter specific exercise here]. It’s not about fitness, it’s about having the perfect body. Whatever that means.

A healthy body lets me see places like this (Upper Yosemite Falls Trail)

The perfect body is an illusion. No matter what you do, someone’s going to think you’re too fat, too skinny, too short, too tall, too muscular, etc. etc. That’s the world we live in. The perfect body doesn’t exist. So why spend energy chasing after it?

I don’t train to look good, or to gain some elusive perfect body. I train for fitness.

  • I train to be prepared for whatever comes my way, at any time.
  • I train to keep my body healthy.
  • I train because it makes me feel good.
  • I train for good mental health.
  • I train because I love feeling strong.
  • I train to be ready for adventure!

I only have one body, and it makes sense to me to keep it in the best working order I can, so that it stays functional for a long time to come. I want to be ready for anything, and not have my fitness level be a limitation.It’s been eight months since I began training with kettlebells. In that short time, I’m in the best cardiovascular shape I’ve ever been in, and my body feels healthy and strong. The way that I feel is the best motivation I can think of for keeping it up.

I’m training for fitness, not looks. A healthy body will look good no matter what shape it is.