Fitness v. Reading

As a goal-oriented person, I take my commitments very seriously and take immense pleasure in seeing progress as I get closer to my goals.  Unfortunately, each day only has a limited number of hours in it, so we can only accomplish so much in a given day.  There’s a push and a pull for each decision I make on how I spend my time.  Lately, the tension has been between my goal of finishing the P90X fitness program before my boyfriend and I set off on our European vacation in late August, and making progress on my reading goal for this year.

When he suggested we do the P90X program, we calculated that we had plenty of time to finish the 90-day program before our departure, with some extra days thrown in, in case of sickness or if we needed extra rest days.  What we soon realized after starting the program was that when it’s both a work day and P90X day, that usually doesn’t leave much time or energy for any other activity.  If we had dinner planned with friends, that usually meant we wouldn’t be working out that day.

It is helpful to have a workout sheet on the fridge and see what’s coming up in the next few days.  I love washi tape and use it to cover each workout as we complete them.

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I joke that playing with washi tape is the reason why I do the workouts.

We’re now on Week 10 of the program (woo hoo!) but that means I’ve really dropped the ball on my reading goals.  It also doesn’t help that I started reading a 900+ page novel that’s pretty slow to get into.  I’ve recently made an effort to get back into listening to the audiobook on my walk home after work, but it’s a real struggle some days.  Perhaps I should start a vision board for my reading goals just like I have for P90X.  That way I could see my progress and get motivated!

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Would I survive the 21-day Fix?

I follow a few healthy eaters on Instagram, and enjoy seeing their beautifully plated food and feel inspired to eat whole, good foods myself.  Since I’m now over 6 weeks into the P90X workout cycle, I’ve felt the need to make sure I’m giving the right fuel to my body.

I heard about the 21-day fix program on Instagram, so I read up briefly on it and did the calculation for myself to figure out how many servings of each food group I should be aiming for each day.  The calculation takes your body weight in pounds and multiplies it by 11, adds 400 to get your caloric needs and then subtracts 750 to get your calorie target.  If you want to maintain your weight, then skip that last subtraction.  If you want to gain weight, then instead of adding 400, add 900 and also skip that last subtraction.  The numbers you’ll come up with will fall into 4 categories, from 1200-1499 calories, 1500-1799, 1800-2099, and 2100-2300 calories.  (Round up or down if your number falls outside these categories.)

I’m in the lowest category, so that means I want to eat the following each day:

  • Vegetables: 3 servings
  • Fruits: 2 servings
  • Proteins: 4 servings
  • Carbohydrates: 2 servings
  • Cheese/healthy fats: 1 serving
  • Seeds/dressing: 1 serving
  • Oils/nut butter: 2 tsp.

So I decided to track my food intake for a week to see if I should make any changes.

My takeaways from this exercise:

  1. I love cheese and carbs.  If I was just choosing things to eat without having the goal balance of food groups in mind, I would automatically gravitate toward bread, cereal or pasta.  And cheese!
  2. Protein is essential and I probably don’t get enough of it.  Well-timed protein in the morning and after a workout keep my energy levels even. Neglecting this made my moods very uneven.
  3. Fruit and veg should both be more integral to my meals.  A good friend has a garden and recently supplied me with a ton of kale, which was a great excuse to learn how to eat this vegetable.  Stay tuned for recipes for two ways to use kale!
  4. Making it easy: My boyfriend reminded me the other day of how important it is to make things easy if you want someone to do something.  Want employees to not leave sticky food residue on your work area?  Then make them a nice lunch table where they’d naturally want to eat instead.  Want to not end up snacking on donuts and cookies from the break room?  Then make sure you have healthy, tasty snacks at your desk! I’ve made a point of finding some healthy snacks like lightly salted almonds and sesame sticks, and reaching for those when the mood strikes, instead of feeling tempted by the refined sugar that’s also readily available.

Overall, I think it’s a good idea to learn more about what the body really needs and try to balance everything so it’s getting that.  It’ll help you feel more energetic and in balance.  To answer my own question, yes I think I would survive if I committed to the 21-day fix, and believe that eating better will help me not just survive, but thrive!

Redeeming my Balance Rewards points!

I fell out of the habit of wearing my Fitbit a month or two ago, but then had an idea to clip it onto my purse with a fully charged battery.  Without having to remember to put it on, I’d be able to still count my steps each day since I carry my purse with me most of the time.

Fitbit parked on my purse strap, for effortless point accumulation
Fitbit parked on my purse strap, for effortless point accumulation

These step counts can be linked to your Walgreens Balance Rewards account (as I wrote about in this blog post) and with minimal effort, I kept getting points each day. I reached 18,000 points (with my walking points added to some points from filling prescriptions and other purchases) and just the other day I had $20 credit to use at Walgreens!

They do limit the things you can redeem your points for, so don’t plan on buying gift cards or alcohol with points.  But I decided to get a bunch of food and household goods that we needed with my points.  Originally, I had thought I’d only spend the points on ‘fun’ purchases like nail polish, fancy-smelling shampoo or other treats, but since we moved recently and are in the midst of a major home renovation, I wanted to instead buy useful things.

$20 credit applied to my purchase!
Rewards redemption of $20 applied to my purchase! Woo!

Look at all the stuff I got for free!

Earned mostly for just walking around
Earned mostly for just walking around

I know that Windex is normally not something to get excited about, but in this case I was stoked because we needed it to clean our windows– our first windows to clean as homeowners! I can highly recommend those coconut almond fiber bars! Think of it as an almond joy that’s also good for your digestive system. Sooooo tasty! Even though we live in Hawaii, I thought with fall setting in, Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled cheese would be a good meal someday soon. With all the renovation work, I think it’s important to treat yo’self with good food… and the occasional pumpkin-shaped treat.

Free Money for Walking

Earlier this year I began learning about fitness trackers and wondered if it would make sense to get one.  I knew I walked a lot, and usually took the stairs at work (6 flights) at least once a day, but wanted to know more. I liked that some of them track your sleep and exercise sessions as well. So much data could be at your fingertips, not to mention the free money!

I received a Fitbit for Valentine’s Day ❤ from my boyfriend, and thought it was really fun to see how many steps per day I took.   Other inputs on the Fitbit include water intake, food planning and calories burned, and weight.  I don’t use those features, but think it’s great that they’re included for those who have specific weight loss or health goals.

Besides the obvious health benefits of increasing the steps you take and your exercise sessions, shortly after starting to use my Fitbit I found out that Walgreens has a system where you can link your fitness tracker to their rewards program– basically, you get points according to the number of steps you take every day!

The Walgreens system, called Balance Rewards for healthy choices, translates every mile you walk or run into 20 points (up to 1,000 points per calendar month). Once you get 5,000 points, that’s a $5 credit to use at Walgreens. 10,000 points is a $10 credit; 18,000 points gets you a $20 credit. I also get my prescriptions filled at the Walgreens near my apartment, and buy the odd food or cosmetic item at Walgreens, so those purchases also earn me points.

Since syncing my Fitbit to my Walgreens account, I’ve earned thousands of points just for wearing my Fitbit while I walk around like normal. I redeemed some of the points for a fun purchase of toe separators (messy pedicures are the worst) and made up my mind to only use my points for ‘Treat Yo’self’ items. The way I figure it, I’m earning the points by making the healthy choice to walk instead of ride in a car or on the bus, and that earns me a bit of fun money as well as the obvious health benefits.

Hanauma Bay Ridge hike on Oahu
Why not earn some free store credits while hiking Hanauma Bay Ridge on Oahu, simply by wearing your fitness tracker?

Do you own a fitness tracker?  Have you heard of other programs where stores or companies reward you for sharing your fitness data? What do you think of this concept?  Share your thoughts in a comment below!