Kardio Karaoke?

I love to sing.  I have a special relationship with my music and love to sing along with my favorite songs…and even some not-so-favorite songs.  If I know the words, any song may be fair game.  It’s almost a compulsive thing; when in the car, I often feel compelled to sing along with the radio– not necessarily every song, but, you know, enough to annoy anyone who may not enjoy my singing.  For my part, I have sung in a couple of bands and while I’m no Grace Slick or Amy Lee, I’ve been told I can carry a tune, so hubby tells me it’s not too awfully painful when I sing along.  My kid seems to like it when I sing her favorite songs, if that “mom’s gone batshit” look she gives me is any indication.  For a while, hubby and I would always sing along with that 5 Hour Energy commercial on Hulu.  You know, the one with the guy recording…

“his de-but al-bum…”  

It got to the point where when that commercial came on and that part came up, my daughter would look at us in anticipation of our goofiness.

I generally don’t sing in the shower; in fact, I rarely sing in the absence of accompanying music unless a song is really stuck in my head.  But I’ve been known to sing ~gulp~ Karaoke.

And I sometimes sing while I exercise…which is no mean feat if you’re working at all hard.   So I got curious…   Are there any health benefits to singing while you exercise?  I mean, obviously, your timing has to be pretty good to run (or other cardio), breath, and sing at the same time, right.  Like walking and chewing gum?  Okay, maybe not like that.  According to Livestrong.com:

During 20 minutes of singing, a person who weighs 150 lbs. burns about 34 calories if sitting down, or 45 calories if singing while standing up, according to CaloriesPerHour.com.

However, while singing alone will not burn beaucoup calories, it is beneficial to your health in other ways.

As you may have found out for yourself, if you’re a fellow beltway belter or karaoke night killer, singing can help to relieve stress, improve your mood, and lower your heart rate and blood pressure.  Singing also gives your lungs and diaphragm a workout because it involves respiratory muscle exertion and deep and open breathing. (source)

According to an ezine article by Judy Rodman, physical exercise is vital to vocal stamina, and conversely, people who sing correctly will notice they become physically tired, because singing correctly uses the big muscles of your core and minimizes incorrect over-use of the little muscles of your throat.However, according to Enliven Magazine, singing while you workout you may be hurting your weight loss efforts.  According to this article, if you can belt it out while you’re exercising, you may not be working out hard enough (reaching your target heart rate.)  I have heard it similarly said that if you can talk while you workout, you’re not doing it right.  FOr me personally, I don’t sing continuously while I exercise, rather I belt out a few favorite lines sporadically, and usually not during my high intensity intervals. What do you think, gentle readers?And, no…that’s not me.

 

BMI: Do Your Numbers Add Up?

In my efforts to get fit and get back to my ideal pre-pregnancy self, I have blogged quite a bit about weight, from public perceptions and media treatment of body image, and the dangers of trying to lose weight with stimulants, to how I personally feel and the efforts I’ve personally made to get fit. (I’ll add links below, if you’re interested.)

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight is probably aware of Body Mass Index (BMI,) a typical tool used to gauge whether a person is overweight, based on height and weight.  Here’s a pretty little chart to give you some idea of what I mean.  Height and weight are plugged into the formula to give a BMI number, and then your number falls into general categories.

bmi-chartAs you may imagine, however, this simplistic equation does not factor in either lean body mass, like muscle, which is heavier than fat, nor does it account for excess belly fat, so your results may not be 100% accurate.  If you are healthy and comfortable with your body, don’t let these numbers get you down!

Where you to go to a gym and avail yourself of assistance from a personal trainer, they could give you a more accurate idea of whether or not your weight is healthy and right for your frame.  They do this largely by taking measurements of your body (and likely a “pinch test”) and plugging them into another formula, thus taking in to account not only your weight, but it’s general distribution on you body.

Well, I don’t have a gym membership or my own personal trainer, so I workout at home, doing Jillian Michael’s Shred or some other of my favorite videos on YouTube (great if you don’t want to buy a workout DVD and be stuck with the same workout all the time) and I have an elliptical I use to do HIIT.  I don’t own a scale (I use my neighbor’s,) but I take my basic measurements– you know, hips, waist, belly…

Yesterday, I got curious and looked for a more detailed BMI calculator online.  This is what I found, and what it looked like when I plugged in my numbers. *Bear in mind it does not allow for half-inches or fractions of inches.

scrnsht

If you’d like to plug your numbers in, click here.

Okay, now…  according to this, I am slightly overweight (I agree,) and I am “apple shaped” (disagree.)  My ideal weight is approximately 125-130, which seems to almost correspond with this chart.  But this chart does not account for the loads of muscle I have.  I’ve always had a sort of athletic build, like a gymnast (fitting, since I used to engage in gymnastics, horseback riding, and then martial arts.)  I have muscular thighs and…eh hem…a well developed gluteus.

So I’m putting it out there for you all (and myself.)  This is what “overweight” looks like.

...minus the dirty bathroom mirror and carefully concealed face and bed-head

…minus the dirty bathroom mirror and carefully concealed face and bed-head

IMG_3030

So, yeah… I could stand to lose a few more pounds, and I’m working on getting a smoother physique…  But despite how hard I’ve been working and my mostly  strict dedication to logging calories in My Fitness Pal, the going has been slow…Too slow for my tastes anyway.  Because I love to eat, my calories restrictions are minimal, so the fat isn’t exactly melting off.  Also, I have noticed since starting the 30 Day Shred (waaaay more than 30 days ago,) I have gotten a lot stronger.  My arms are more toned.  So I think I’m getting the job done, but the fat around the middle is just the last to go (stubborn shit.)

But I’m going to keep at it.  If nothing else, I love how strong I feel lately.  Even my volleyball serve has improved!  And here, gentle readers, is where I’ll be posting the pics when I’m finally bikini ready once again. Besides, I have a horror convention to go to in July, and I plan on Cosplaying, so I need to be fit!  Even if you are happy with your weight, you can never be too strong or too healthy, so join me and let’s support one another. Join me if you dare!

And, if you are already struggling with weight or are interested in fitness and body image, here are the links I promised.

Rather Weighty, This

Rather Weighty part Deux (What exactly constitutes an ideal body and what is your “ideal” body image?)

‘Eff you, Skinny Jeans!’ (Jeans, I defy you to damage my self-esteem!)

Sexercise!

On My Little Pony and “Being Fat”

Below are some other articles about BMI.

Alright, off you go!

On My Little Pony and “Being Fat”

Random thoughts, questions, and ideas for the day, punctuated with applicable pix of cats.

On My Little Pony…

Its-dangerous-to-go-alone-my-little-pony-friendship-is-magic-30730621-955-836

Could someone please explain to me why I am tearing up at an episode of My Little Pony this afternoon?

...is it because Neeners thought Pony "Friendship is Magic?"

…is it because Neeners thought pony “Friendship is Magic?”

Or…

...because I haven't yet realized my dreams of building a pony army to achieve world domination?

…because I haven’t yet realized my dreams of building a pony army to achieve world domination?

On “being fat…”

KY Walmart cat dares you to steal his 'lectric cart...

KY Walmart cat dares you to steal his ‘lectric cart…

I’m still struggling with that ten or so stubborn pounds that I gained back after last Christmas.  I’ve been watching re-runs of The Biggest Loser.  Despite my general distaste for most reality shows, I find this show fascinating.  It’s also eye-opening.  Give me a second to explain myself.  I try not to judge people…but I also think it’s natural to an extent.  Part of the reason I am so disgusted with the state of the population when I walk through my local Walmart is the impression I get that many of these people just don’t care enough to make the choices they need to be healthy.  It’s easier, and let’s face it, more enjoyable, to eat whatever, whenever, and sit on your ass and watch TV, than it is to get up and exercise, and also to exercise portion control and selective eating.  I know it is!  I feel that way too.  I miss being sixteen, and not giving a shit what I ate or how much.  But I also give myself enough credit to say, “hey, this is getting out of hand,” before it gets too out of hand.

That said, watching this show has not only inspired me to work harder for my own goals (if these people can muster the strength and courage to do it, I certainly can,) it has reconnected me to the feelings of despair and guilt and shame a lot of overweight people feel.   I think these feelings get buried, and people who are not overweight do not always realize those feelings exist.

I mean, I wasn’t intending to blog about weight loss or fitness today, but I stumbled upon one of today’s Freshly Pressed and it sort of cinched some ideas in my head.

I totally understand and respect this guy’s point of view.  Regardless of my feelings about weight and health, I do not offer my opinions on someone else’s body unless they ask me.  I love to share the things I’ve done that make me feel good and have been successful for me.  But I only talk about them in terms of myself, and usually only after the other person broaches the subject.  Still, this post reminded me that I would do well to try to remain empathetic and open minded to the feelings of others.

I liken it to when people offer me their unsolicited opinions and “medical” advice about how smoking is bad for me and I should quit.  Basically, whether it’s weight or smoking, a choice in music, clothing, sexual orientation…whatever…if it doesn’t affect you directly, and the person in question does not ask for your opinion, you offering your opinion and advice like you’re giving them the keys to the universe is just arrogant and makes you look like an ass.  Keep it to yourself!

On using Facebook to find your birth mom or child…

In just a few short weeks I’ve seen more and more of this.  Maybe I just can’t understand because I have always had my parents… two sets actually.  But I wonder why all of a sudden this boom in people looking for their birth mothers.   If you are raised your whole life by one set of parents and then you find out you’re adopted, I’m sure most of you would agree that your adoptive parents are still your parents.  So what causes the drive to meet what amounts to a perfect stranger?  So many things would go through my mind.  If I found out my parents were not biologically my parents, how would I feel?  I’m really not even sure.  It’s hard to imagine (especially given that I look so much like my mother.) Would I need or want to search for my birth parents?  What if they didn’t want to meet me?  What if they were in jail, or junkies, or dead?  Would finding that out be even worse than not knowing?

Well, this post certainly went from short and light, to long-winded and heavy.  To lighten the mood back up, I give you… Methos with his face jammed into a pillow while he sleeps.

"Oh, da hoomanity!"   I think I'll go back to thinking about ponies.

“Oh, da hoomanity!” I think I’ll go back to thinking about ponies.

SEXercise!

Fuck the Shred; I’ve got a new exercise plan!

According to the University of Arizona… If a 150-lb person has sex for five minutes, he will burn 24 calories. If the same person has sex for 45 minutes, he will burn 216 calories. (source)

It’s not like I’m the first person to have this idea.  We like sex, we like losing weight…why can’t we do BOTH?  And the more creative and acrobatic, the more calories burned.

Sexercise Icescapades!

SEXercise Icescapades!

So what are the best calorie burning SEXercises???

Therapeutic massage?  Check!

Interval training?  Check! Check!

Some good ol’ core work?  Checkity-check!

HR Giger- Erotomechanics-VII

HR Giger- Erotomechanics-VII

HR Giger

HR Giger

 

Wait til I tell DH.  I can see it now…   “Wanna help me work off that chocolate torte? It’ll only take about two and a half hours…”

‘Eff’ you, skinny jeans!

Recently I was disturbed to find that I backslid with my weight-loss efforts, and that I had regained most if not all of the ten pounds I had lost over the past year.  I was extremely discouraged to discover that I no longer fit into the new jeans I got last year (that I love so much. )  I’ve been wearing yoga pants for most of the summer.

So I had to go and buy “fat jeans.”  When I came home with a pair of size 11 LEIs (for some reason they just seemed to fit the best, better than the women’s size 10 in other brands,) I was happy to have some new jeans, but very discouraged after all the “trying on” and by the fact that my other LEIs after my weight-loss were size 7!

Then, a day or so later, my neighbor gave me a pair of her old jeans that no longer fit her.  They fit, albeit I would have them maybe a half size larger if I had my choice…   And they were size 5.

And a revelation I’ve had before came to me anew (I guess that makes it a re-revelation???)  Size 5 jeans now are not the same as size five jeans ten years ago.  The sizes are getting smaller.  Today’s jeans are made for girls without figures…  basically prepubescent girls or girls built like 12 year old boys.  I need to go one size larger just to fit my ass into a pair of jeans.  Maybe this is because I am trying to wear junior sizes, you might suggest. (I am petite and also I find the cut and style of junior clothing generally more appealing.) Well, it used to be if you are size 5 in juniors, you’d likely wear a size 4/6 in women’s.  Following this logic, I purchased a size 11 in juniors, but I should be able to fit a size 10/12  in women’s. (We already know the tens I tried didn’t work.)   Yet these 5s from almost a decade ago fit almost perfectly.  Incidentally, my “skinny” jeans from last year, they’re a size 7.

So what does that tell me, aside from the fact that the sizes are getting inexplicably smaller?  Well, to me, whether on accident or by design, clothing manufacturers are encouraging the already dangerous trend in society that propagates self-criticism and self-esteem problems in women.  It’s bad enough that average women are told repeatedly through pop culture’s fashion and tendencies that any fat is bad, that anything less than a model’s body is bad, now they have to be reminded every time they try on a pair of jeans.

Now maybe some of you think I am probably just a bitter fat woman who just sits on her ass but complains about being fat.  Rest assured, I have been exercising five to six days a week religiously for the past two to three months, and I have once again started keeping track of my food intake.  As to my weight, while I am over my ideal weight by about fifteen pounds, I am not fat.

I love to eat and because of that I’m not losing through calorie restriction as much as I’d like, but I do feel stronger and more empowered from my exercise routines, so eff you, skinny jeans!  I will fit into you again, but until I do, I will not allow the size of my jeans to dictate my body image.

 

Related: 

http://blogs.prevention.com/get-fit/2012/06/05/your-jeans-not-genes-can-motivate-weight-loss/

Caution: Stimulants and Psychosis

Weight loss is something I’d wager many people think about at some point in their lives, and according to a 2011 Huffington Post article, obesity rates are continuing to rise.  And although a majority of the Americans who want to lose weight are not seriously trying to lose said weight, a significant portion of people are always engaged in some form of weight loss endeavor.  If you are not one of those people, you likely know someone who is.  I myself am trying to lose ten or fifteen pounds to get back to my ideal body-type.

That said, obviously there are many different approaches to weight loss.  Some are effective, many are not.  Some are practical, some not so much, depending on your lifestyle (raw food diet, carb restriction?  No, thank you.  I love pasta and I have a two year old.  I need to cook normal food.)  Some are safe, some are not.

Today I want to discuss diet pills.  Doubtless you already know that many diet pills contain stimulants like amphetamines, ephedrine, and caffeine.  Even pills without caffeine can contain one or more herbal stimulants.  Supposedly, these stimulants aid in weight loss by kicking metabolism into high gear for a while, as well as often giving the user a temporary feeling of energy and euphoria.

I personally cannot handle stimulants.  I have an anxiety disorder to begin with, and stimulants don’t agree with me.  I have one cup of coffee in the morning (and if it’s a big cup you’ll likely see me shaking like a junkie for a couple hours afterwards.)  If I drink anything with too much caffeine, even in the afternoon, I sometimes can’t sleep at night.  I can’t take decongestants with pseudo-ephedrine because they make me jittery.

But some people tolerate stimulants just fine.  For these people, diet pills may be an acceptable choice (subjectively speaking, because I am by no means an expert.)  Regardless of their efficacy in aiding actual weight loss, many people can use them with little to no ill-effect.

BUT, I wonder how many people have used these pills, simply adding them to their regimen, with no thought to to the other seemingly benign stimulants they may put into their body everyday; nicotine, inhalers for asthma, caffeine from coffee, soda, and energy drinks such as Five Hour Energy or Red Bull.  A lot of people do not think of these products as drugs but by definition, they are:

drug

Noun:
A substance that has a physiological effect when ingested or otherwise introduced into the body, in particular.

Any of these items alone have the potential to cause anxiety and nervousness.  Mix them and guess what happens.  Some people are aware of the possible effects and may intentionally double up on or combine stimulants in an effort to rush or maximize weight loss.  I have no idea if this actually works, but I do know what can happen if you do it and your body has a bad reaction:

drug-induced psychosis (aka stimulant psychosis)

I know, it sounds fancy, maybe like something only “junkies” using illegal drugs would get.

An acquaintance of mine just had to have her husband temporarily committed.  He’d suddenly started acting strangely, speaking bizarrely, and doing rash things like writing several bad checks and making impulsive and expensive buys.  He was nervous and agitated.  The first night the doctors had yet to discover what was wrong with him, and of course they ran tests.  The facts as they were told to me were these; he was on Paxil and taking some diet pills… he was also drinking Five Hour energy and using an herbal supplement called Rhodiola Rosea.  My hypothesis, especially after doing some research, was the the guy (who is a rather large fella) wanted to lose weight fast and he thought he could accomplish that by taking multiple stimulants at once (although I doubt he thought of it precisely in those terms.)  I think he suffered a bout of stimulant psychosis.  Though he recovered for the most part, he is still not 100% “right” in the head.

But I’m not a doctor, and you don’t have to take my word for it.  Here is another example, as told by the sufferer, of a psychotic episode induced by stimulants.

http://www.erowid.org/experiences/exp.php?ID=35612

My intention here is merely to spread awareness.  In rare cases, some people react poorly to small amounts of even a single stimulant.  When mixed, you run the risk of not only physical harm (think of how your blood-pressure would sky-rocket), but physiological damage as well, possibly even death.  When making decisions based on what to put into your body, think things through, do your research.  It’s the only body you have.

source (brain diagram) :     http://www.pharmacy-and-drugs.com/Mental_Health_and_Depression/Psychosis.html

Insomnia, Writer’s Block, and Tape Worms

Okay, last thing’s first.   I’m starting to think I must have a tapeworm or overactive thyroid or something.  In fact, I am almost hoping I do.  What started out as sporadic and mostly an annoyance and hindrance to my weight loss efforts even with the added bump in exercise,  has become out of control.  I am hungry almost all the time.   Continue reading