Monthly Archives: July 2014

How normal people recover from an indulgent trip…no “cleansing” involved

  The picture above represents all of my good intentions for a girls’ trip to the beach. I ate from my paleo stash only twice, so now I (unintentionally) have leftovers to graze on during the remainder of my Nola trip. I also didn’t do too badly when eating at restaurants. We began with lunch at Buttercup Cafe, where I had a spinach scramble with a side of bacon. So far so good. 
   Then we decided to bring drinks to the pool…and I think know this is where I lost it. I brought my own drink, which tasted like a watermelon jolly-rancher and certainly wasn’t paleo-friendly. Then we bought bushwackers, which are a delicious combination of Kahlua, coconut, milk, chocolate, and rum. Sugar…yum :)  This trend continued throughout the night until we decided food would be a good option. I claimed to not be hungry and then proceeded to eat three plates of food…because I like to eat and had zero inhibitions after all of those liquid jolly ranchers. The next morning I was pretty grossed out with myself. My friends now have a pretty good idea of why my blog is called Happy Eater. I do really like to eat.
    I ate much better for the remainder of the trip, but the damage was done. How does one recover from eating three plates of food in one sitting? (I really don’t recall this happening, so I’m taking their word for it!)  I also had similar concerns when me and Ryan were finally done with our summer travels to Hawaii and Wyoming. After eating crap for three weeks of honeymooning, how do I get back on track?
Even Obama likes his Orange Beach Bushwackers.
   If I were a celebrity, I imagine I’d order some fancy smoothie concoction to last me a week and go on a “cleanse.” I’m pretty sure those things are complete bull. Our bodies are great at detoxing themselves; you just have to give them the right tools. My post-indulgence routine looks a lot like my day to day eating and exercising habits.
First, it’s important to drink a lot of water. Water will help carry toxins out of the body. I’ve been home for a few hours and I’ve had a tall glass of water every hour. There’s no need to do this all day. Pay attention and your body will know when it’s had enough!
Second, eat “cleansing” meals. What does this mean? Vegetables. Load up on the vegetables. What does this not mean? Hunger. If you’re hungry, and your body is running on alcohol and other carbs from the night before, that’s not helping your body do its job. Give it real fuel. Eggs and spinach are a good go-to meal. A rice cake is not.
Third, fix your gut! Sorry if this one sounds gross, but all that drinking destroyed your gut flora. That means you won’t be able to digest/absorb properly until it’s back in balance. Fermentable fibers (found in sweet potatoes, asparagus, artichokes, and mushrooms) and fermented foods (like yogurt and kim chi) will help get things back on track. If this topic interests you at all (I know…you really love hearing about gut flora) read this article by Chris Kresser to learn more.
Fourth, go get sweaty! Once you’re thoroughly hydrated, go for a nice and sweaty workout. It doesn’t have to be an hour long, and it doesn’t even have to occur the next day. You just have to sweat your butt off. If you live in the south, you can go for a walk or a run outside and accomplish this one pretty quickly. If you prefer the gym, venture towards the machine that kicks your butt the most! The point is not to burn as many calories as possible…that’s not the mindset we want to have. The point is to just sweat (while burning a moderate amount of calories relative to your usual workouts!) Today I went for a jog in the hot & humid afternoon sun along the lakefront in New Orleans. (Don’t forget to re-hydrate!)
This isn’t too bad. I usually look like I just got out of the swamp.
Fifth, BE NICE TO YOURSELF! Beating yourself up over slip-ups and swearing you’re going to have to be at the gym for 90 minutes, six days a week isn’t going to solve anything. Drink water, eat well, go move, and watch guilty pleasure television shows with a cup of tea and some dark chocolate. Maybe repeat the next day. 
  Thankfully, our bodies know what to do. We just need to not beat them up too often with sugar and alcohol. 
Question: What gets you back on track? (Please comment below!)

I’m ending with a picture of my parents’ golden trying to “help” me do ab work!

Such a big help.

Levees and Lake Pontchartrain

 There are so many things to love about New Orleans, but one of my favorites is the lake front on Lake Pontchartrain. It feels like being on the ocean…and I’m fine with pretending it actually is an ocean. :) I’ve completed many short runs and training runs and dog walks and walks with friends along the lakefront.

     So naturally it’s the setting of one of my quick circuit workouts. Yesterday morning I had about 30 minutes to get in a workout before leaving for the beach! I no longer have a gym membership in New Orleans and I’m still not up for running, so I made up a quick levee workout today.
So with my parents’ golden retriever in tow, I started with a 15 minute alternating walk/jog. Then I completed this quick Levee Workout below before walking/jogging for 15 minutes back home.
Quick and Effective!
  If you live near these enormous lakefront levees, you can also get in a fantastic sprint workout. I’ve completed levee sprints quite often when I only have 20 minutes to work up a good sweat. 
Since I’ll be in town for a week or so, I guess I’ll be completing a few more of these workouts! 
Question: What do you love about New Orleans? =) 

Good Night!

“I brought veggies and almond butter!” Snacks for the Beach!

      Home sweet home! Today I drove from Houston to New Orleans, and tomorrow I’m going to the beach with friends! I’m so excited. I have been working on my online classes, and school isn’t back in session for a few more weeks, so my contact with other human beings has been pretty minimal. I can’t wait for a girls beach trip!
     I was greeted with a wonderful Paleo meal when I arrived home. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intended to be Paleo, but it’s nice how things work out :)

There is so much food in this picture.

   And I was also greeted by this beautiful face =)

Picture provided by Chelsea Kappel :)

    Yall must think I’m crazy when you look at the amount of fat I eat. But I really keep my carb intake quite low. For example, that half of a potato in the picture and a nectarine are the only “carby” foods I had today. I also ate eggs, steak, asparagus, salad, and chicken throughout the day. Eating this way allows my body to burn the fat it consumes instead of store it in my thighs – its favorite location. That’s not really the point of today’s post though =)

                          ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

   Last year, I went on a Teacher Beach Trip with some wonderful ladies from work. It was a 3 day, 4 night trip, and I knew I didn’t want to indulge too much on that trip, so I brought my own snacks. I went prepared: cheerios (which I no longer eat), almonds, a gallon sized bag of cut up bell peppers, another gallon sized bag of grapes, and Skinny Girl brand drinks. When others snacked on chips, I did my best to avoid temptation. It’s a lot easier to eat well when you plan ahead!
  This trip will be shorter: 3ish days and 2 nights. I decided to bring my own snacks since my dietary choices are very different from what is readily. I can’t eat chips, crackers, or granola bars, so naturally I’m “that” friend who brings along weird snacks.

   I’m bringing along carrot sticks, celery sticks, larabars, beef jerky, almond butter, and peanut butter.  My drink choices are in no way paleo friendly, but it’s a mini-vacation…no need to be perfect :) 
One quick comment about larabars: they are paleo because they are made from nuts, dried fruit, and honey. They do carry a whopping 18 grams of sugar per tiny bar, so you still have to proceed with caution if you’re trying to avoid consuming a lot of sugar. 
I may also throw in a beach workout. My ankle still bothers me, so I’m not sure what I can do. Strength work in the sand?
Question: What is your go-to “healthy” alcoholic beverage?

Good night!

What Gymnastics Taught Me About Fitness

Hello! Yesterday I wrote a post about making your own homemade chicken broth. We left our broth in the crock-pot all night, and then we had a taste test before storing it in the freezer.

yum =)

It really tastes like chicken noodle soup…just without the chicken or the noodles.  We have two batches (nearly 22 cups!) in the freezer at the moment, so I think it’s time to start making some homemade soups! And now moving on to today’s topic: gymnastics!

What Gymnastics Taught Me About Fitness

I had the great fortune of being involved in many different activities as a child, from ballet to girl scouts to gymnastics. I’ve already mentioned a number of times that I love hiking, so Girl Scouts was probably my favorite because of the opportunities we had to travel and experience nature. (I feel like I’ll have to make a post about what you learn from being in Girl Scouts one of these days!)

However, the activity that taught me the most about strength and fitness was gymnastics. In my opinion, gymnasts are the most impressive athletes. The are strong, flexible, and graceful. I began gymnastics at the age of five (I think) at Riverbend Gymnastics in New Orleans. I took a break and did studio dance and ballet before picking the sport back up age eleven. I went to Crescent City Gymnastics summer camp and saw three girls doing an acro routine. I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I wanted to do acro gymnastics.

Not sure of the difference between regular and acro gymnastics? Watch the video below. These girls are the 2010 World Champions

Now, I never got very high up there in difficulty. I did win third at nationals one year with my acro partner Alexis Thibodeaux performing at level 7, but I never got close to touching the skill-level of the girls in the video. (Alexis did pretty well for herself, though!) They sort of stop counting levels at level 10, and then you’re “Junior Elite” or “Elite.”

A combination of wanting to have an actual summer like the rest of my high school friends, not always having the right attitude, and the coach being a pretty terrifying person (I was rather meek and didn’t deal well with the typical  harsh gymnastics style of coaching) led me to leave the sport prematurely. I always wonder if I should have stuck with it a few more years, but at least I got to go on more camping trips over the summer =)

So, even though my gymnastics episode didn’t last very long, I paid enough attention to learn a few things about fitness.

what gymnastics taught me about fitness

1. Strength work is key.
The coach had a poster of strength work on the wall that we completed after each 3 hour practice. That’s right…we did tumbling, skill drills, and practiced routines for three hours. Then you complete strength work. Twice. It was a list of about 20 exercises. (Let’s see if I can remember: crunches, v-ups, supermen, pushups, lunge jumps, squat jumps, pull ups, chin ups, squats with someone sitting on your shoulders, calf raises, sit ups, candle stick jumps, six inches, wall sit…and I can’t remember the rest but there were definitely more.) So once we were done our practice, we went through the entire list twice.

In the years since quitting gymnastics, I have tried many times to complete the exercises on this list to see how fit I was compared to my 14 year old self. Any guesses on how that went? I haven’t had much success, but recently I’ve been heading in the right direction! Some days, I loved strength work. Other days made me wonder why I was putting myself through the torture of being on a competitive gymnastics team. Looking back, I completely understand the purpose of strength work…it improves your overall fitness and muscle tone. It also gave us more endurance to complete those 3 hour long practices. And today I know that no matter how tired I am after a run, there’s always some strength left for some push ups and crunches!

3. It’s important to stretch…afterwards. 
Being in our 20s means we don’t have to worry about this too much. But if we aren’t stretching now, it’ll cause us problems later on in life. I learned some great stretching techniques from gymnastics, and I really never got injured due to a pulled muscle. I would caution you on the order in which gymnasts stretch. With so many wild body contortions that occur during gymnastics, gymnasts have to stretch before practice.  But a runner, for example, would have an awful run if he stretched for a long time beforehand. A few quick, dynamic moves are best before a workout. Long, deep stretches are best done after a workout or on a different day entirely. I can still do splits, but I won’t stretch a split before a run. Ouch. If you want to be more flexible, it takes time and practice. Yoga and Pilates can take you pretty far!

3. Being aware of my strengths and weaknesses.
There’s nothing like a bunch of tiny, skinny adolescents kicking your butt in the gym to make you take a good hard look at yourself. I was a normal weight, and yet I was still the largest gymnast on the team. (Although, there was one really muscular 20 year old. She was strong.) All of these itty-bitty little people could do more strength work than I could. They could lift heavier people. They wobbled less than I did. They had energy for one more routine before they left. They kicked my butt.

I had a solid understanding of my strengths and weaknesses. I could do those v-ups and squat jumps all day long. Any skill that required ab or leg strength was no problem. I could not do pull ups, chin ups, or those dreaded handstand push ups. My upper body strength made those partner handstand tricks very challenging, especially with my second acro partner who weighed a good 30lbs more than the girl I worked with the year before. But do you think for a second we were allowed to make excuses? Nope. Doing that would only get you punish strength work…like doing more pull ups.

My strength today is still imbalanced. I can still do squats and ab work all day while I struggle with upper body work. I’m trying to improve my upper body strength, and maybe one day I’ll be able to do a few pull ups =) Attack your weaknesses. Don’t avoid them. (Yet another piece of advice I should take more often.)

4. Why being strong is better than being a cardio queen.
Gymnastics very much resembles HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts. During our routines, I would lift and throw a person. Then you had to perform dance choreography as well as throw in a few of the typical tumbling tricks. Everything was packed into a 3 minute routine, and by the time it was over my heart was trying to escape through my chest. Then you’d rest for a little bit. Maybe you’d practice a skill that needed tweaking. Then it was time for another routine. Except this time I would tire more quickly, and that feeling in my chest compounded. It’s similar to sprinting.

I was more fit at that point in my life than when I could run a half marathon. Being able to run 13 miles is great, but it’s not the same as being fit. I’m not saying don’t run half marathons. I ran two, and if my ankle weren’t so fickle I’d probably attempt a third. But it’s important to remember the rest of your body, too. After your short runs, complete a quick five minute circuit of some push ups, ab work, and lunges/squats. Having strong legs is incredibly beneficial when you’re running your heart out at the end of a race!

(If you want to hear more about strength vs cardio, listen to this podcast by Mark Sisson. He’s not anti-cardio, but he’s anti-chronic cardio and definitely pro-strength.)

5. How to apply work ethic
How do you move perfectly in sync with your acro partner? How do you complete a skills without wobbling or taking unnecessary steps? Repetition. We did routines over and over and over and over and over again. When we got closer to competitions, we would have to do a routine countless times one right after another. After a routine, I couldn’t breathe and my arms were like jelly.

Imagine that feeling and then hearing ” Go again;” and after that next routine you hear another “Go again;” and after that routine you hear another ” Go again.” Exhausting does no justice to the way we felt once those practices were over. I didn’t fully understand it then, but it gave me an early, real-life experience about giving it your all to accomplish a goal.  (Yeah it’s pretty cliche, but I often find myself surprised at how many adults don’t understand what it really means to work hard at something.) I didn’t always do a great job of putting this lesson to use during gym practice , but I always remember how hard we worked to achieve that 3rd place spot at nationals. If I want results (this applies to just about anything) I have to be willing to dig deeper past that point of exhaustion.

I’m bringing all of this up because I was inspired by an episode of Extreme Weight Loss that came on ABC this past week. The trainee, Georgeanna, used to be a gymnast. On the show, she starts with the “Fight of Flight” workout with Chris Powell. He knew she used to be a gymnast, so her first workout involved a ton of cartwheels. She was 315 pounds and cartwheeled up and down a football field.

By the end of the show, 365 days later, she lost 160 pounds by working out in a CrossFit gym and training with former gymnast Olympians! At age 45, she completed a back hand spring just because she wanted to. I thought she was incredible, and the show caused me to think a little bit about gymnastics. And that’s why you are reading this super long post! (Which I very much appreciate!)

Question: Which gymnastics event would be your strength? Bars, beam, vault, or floor? I would LOVE to hear your responses, so please reply below!

Want to workout like a gymnast? Check out some of my circuit workouts on my workouts page!