• Reader Questions: Fitness, Nutrition and Routines


    I received an email from Petro over at ETBFit asking a few questions about my workout and nutrition routines. He posed some pretty good questions and was the inspiration for this post.

    Let me be clear: I personally don’t take supplements or drink protein shakes because the ingredients can interact with Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen is a medication I’ve been prescribed to block estrogen in my body and therefore helps keep more cancer cells from forming.

    I have not tried ETBFit’s products (or anyone else’s products) because no fitness or nutrition goals are so important to me that I want to decrease the effectiveness of the medication I’m on. My goal for the rest of my life is to avoid cancer and, right now, Tamoxifen is helping make that dream possible.

    So, on to the questions!

    Question #1: How do you stay fueled for workouts?

    Let me start out by saying that I really suck at denying myself anything.

    Cutting carbohydrates or fruits or fats out of my diet might last for a couple of days before I end up on a week-long binge involving scooping ranch dressing made with sour cream straight out of the container with jalapeno potato chips.

    (Yes, this happened. No, dignity was not involved).

    I function much better if I incorporate all food groups into my diet. I’m less likely to feel deprived and binge to make up for the deprivation.

    That’s one of the reasons I like the Beach Body container system. I get to eat a lot as long as I’m picking the right foods. If you aren’t familiar with the containers, they’re basically measuring cups.

    (Yes, I checked all these myself.)

    • Green (Vegetables) = 1 1/4 cups
    • Purple (Fruits) = 1 1/4 cups
    • Red (Protein) = 3/4 cup
    • Yellow (Carbohydrates) = 1/2 cup
    • Blue (Healthy fats) = 1/4 cup
    • Orange (Seeds/Dressings/Oils) = 2 Tablespoons

    Here’s an example of a day of food for me.

    (Please note my nerd moment around lunch time every day. I call it my BORG salad. Yes, Star Trek is a part of my eating plan. #startrekislife)

    Purple Blueberries
    Red Plain Greek Yogurt
    Yellow Whole wheat waffle
    Red 2 hard boiled eggs
    Blue Hummus
    Orange Salad Dressing
    Red Grilled chicken breast slices
    Green Lettuce
    Green Baby carrots
    Green Grilled eggplant
    Red Fish
    Yellow Bulgur (similar to rice)
    Purple Grapes


    As you can see, I don’t exactly starve. On the contrary, some days I have to put the fork down and push my plate away because I’m so full.

    Everyone is different. Some people need more calories, some need less. It just depends on your body and your goals.

    And I don’t eat the same thing every day. This is just a snapshot. Sometimes the waffle is granola. Sometimes the hummus is feta cheese. There’s wiggle room. I don’t get bored with my food options and I’m never starving.

    Does every day go perfectly? Um, no.

    (*ahem* See sour cream and chips story above.)

    But I try and stick with this plan as much as possible and I usually feel better for it.

    Also you don’t have to use your food portions in this order. This is just what I found that works for me. It spaces my food out throughout the day so I’m rarely hungry.

    If you’re a free thinker and need less construct in your life, go ahead and wing it. I have to have a plan or I’ll get frustrated and go off the rails.

    Question #2: What fitness and nutrition essentials are for before, during and after workouts or throughout the entire day?

    I’ve always been a big eater. My life and subsequently, my workouts, revolve around food. The more quality the food, the better my work out goes. There is a significant difference in how I feel if I eat the breakfast above versus, say, a slice of left over pizza.

    The pizza, in all its greasy, carby splendor, might be tempting but I am guaranteed to regret it after a three mile run.

    I’ve also found I need to eat breakfast before I work out. If I don’t I get shaky and weak and I will pass the fuck out. It is not pretty.

    After a workout I usually want a snack, so I’ll grab something high in protein. I’ve heard this helps rebuild your muscles. I don’t pretend to know how that works.

    What I do know is that I’m much less likely to turn into scary-hangry-mommy before lunchtime rolls around if I follow up a workout with a healthy protein snack rather than if I ate some fruit or carrots (notice I save those for later in the day).

    Question #3: What do you do/eat pre-workout?

    My morning routine is sacred. If any part of it is disrupted I feel lost for the rest of the day. Most days I’m up before anyone else in the house so I can get through Step 2 in peace. Believe me when I say no one wants to see me before the end of Step 2.

    • Step 1: I roll out of bed and put on workout clothes first thing. I’ve always found getting dressed to be the hardest part of a workout (the first step is always the hardest) so I get that over with first thing.
    • Step 2: After I’m dressed I shuffle into the kitchen and make coffee. Nothing in my life happens before coffee. Ever.
    • Step 3: Eat breakfast. As you can see above I have some sort of light breakfast that includes a carbohydrate (like the waffle) before I work out.
    • Step 4: Not gonna lie… Step 4 is gross but essential. Basically, I let the coffee do its job. Coffee is very handy for a) waking up and b) activating my bowels. ‘Nuff said.
    • Step 5: I’m already dressed. I’m caffeinated. Bodily input and output has happened (I know, I know, TMI. I’m sorry.). Now, I work out.

    I hear a lot of ‘Wow you’re so dedicated’ and ‘You have so much discipline’.

    The thing is, what looks like dedication and discipline is really just routine. Fitness is a part of my life. It makes me happy. So I make sure to incorporate it into my day.

    Question #4: What music do you listen to during your workout?

    This is a tough one because there’s no clean cut answer.

    Sometimes I listen to music when I work out. I have a Running play list that ranges from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers to My Chemical Romance. Sometimes I listen to Pandora’s Alternative Endurance station.

    Sometimes I listen to an audio book. I’ve always loved to read and I’ll take books in whatever form I can get them. If I can combine reading and running? Man, that’s the best of both worlds.

    And still other times I turn off the music or the books and just enjoy the silence. This works especially well when I have a lot on my mind or if I have a problem I’m trying to work out (many a blog post has been written in my head during runs).

    My point is, I don’t put any limitations on this time.

    I don’t have to have music or an audiobook playing. I don’t have to have the TV on if I’m running on the treadmill. And I don’t have to work out in silence.

    My work out is my time to think (or not think) as I see fit.

    Question #5: How do you switch up routines to stay motivated?

    I aim to do something active every day. Sure, some days life gets in the way, but mostly I’m successful.

    A typical week for me goes something like this:

    • Monday – Cardio
    • Tuesday – Strength Training
    • Wednesday – Cardio
    • Thursday – Strength Training
    • Friday – Some sort of active recovery. Pilates. A walk. Something.
    • Saturday – Cardio
    • Sunday – Yoga

    Also, I always have a goal in mind. Right now my goal is to finish a 10k on June 27th.

    I dedicate all of my focus to that single goal until I’m done with it. Once I’m done, I take a moment to pat myself on the back then define a new goal.

    Running a race might not be your goal. Your goal when you’re just starting out might be ‘lose 10/20/30 pounds’.

    While I respect weight loss goals, I think it puts too much focus on the scale instead of testing the limits of our bodies. I believe that it’s okay to let weight loss or weight management just be a bonus side effect of an active lifestyle rather than the sole focus of your efforts.

    That’s why I find it easier to set an external goal like ‘complete a 10k’ or ‘run a faster 5k’.

    If you eat right and follow your training plan the weight loss will happen. Only now you have an awesome race t-shirt or a medal to commemorate your efforts (not to mention the bragging rights).

    End of Q&A Session.

    I want to thank Petro for prompting this post. I know it’s a long one, but *shrug* hey… he asked for it.

    I’d also like to point out that I’m far from a fitness expert and none of these changes happened overnight for me. This is a collection of many small changes over time.

    If you want to make changes toward a healthier lifestyle, pick one thing to focus on and work it into your personal routines. It isn’t always easy, but it isn’t as hard as some might think either.

    So some days everything falls apart. So what?

    Pick up the pieces and try again the next day. Once you’ve established a habit, pick something else to work on.

    As far as disease prevention, I have no idea if living this lifestyle will prevent the cancer from coming back. I’m not a medical professional and my future-predicting crystal ball has been on the fritz since I was diagnosed last July.

    The absolute truth is this: I like working out.

    It makes me a nicer person and a more patient parent. It improves my quality of life. I logged more than 260 miles during cancer treatment because it kept me sane and because it made me feel like myself.

    No bag of potato chips ever did that for me.



    I love comments! Every time you leave a comment a potato chip bag autodestructs. Live long and prosper, my friends.


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