Hashtag Selfie

So I am probably the only person blogging, sometimes and not very efficiently, but still blogging, about exercise without posting pictures of myself in front of a mirror wearing tight or little clothing. That ain’t my style. In fact, I tend to OVERclothe myself, if anything, because¬†I’m always always cold. Not the point… The point is that a picture of myself doesn’t tell you anything, really.

A picture of me would show you some muscle growth, some tone, lotsa bruises from running into things around my house……embarrassing that it happens as often as it does……and plenty of imperfections. I still have things I would 125% love to change/improve about my body, but I mean those Victoria’s Secret people probbbably do, too. Seriously, looking at pictures of yourself in larger-than-lifesize probably makes you pretty critical of that freckle on your nose. Or something – I wouldn’t know… and I like my freckles ūüôā

I exercise for how it makes me feel. During my workout, my feelings are: oh dear lord this is heavy my god I am sweating a lot okay slow down to catch my breath and….. YES! DONE! TIME FOR MY DELICIOSO PUMPKIN-SPICED VANILLA PROTEIN SHAKE! But by making this a habit, I feel significantly different (and not just because I can eat a bowl of bolognese faster than any normal human).

It’s not just because my body looks different – and it does. It’s not just because I am actually, physically stronger and “fitter” than I was before weightlifting. It’s because I am doing something productive and measurable each day. People look at me with respect because I am committed to something difficult, and that feels gratifying.

So I don’t need to take a selfie, and I actually think that taking them would diminish progress that I’ve made. Maybe it would have that whole

“This is ME and MY body and AREN’T I HOT/BEAUTIFUL/SEXY in all my IMPERFECTIONS?” effect,

but I think it’s all the more powerful to care about health and exercise beyond the aesthetic benefits. So, maybe someday I’ll rock a bikini selfie showing off my abs, but for now, the way I feel is all the self-reflection I need.

Until next time,

Estes

Shut Up and Listen

I apologize for being so MIA!!! I promise that I will get back on the horse.

I spent the past three days in a Communication Skills class with a group of 17 other women. It was fantastic. 18 women of all different ages, backgrounds, and professions gathering together to learn.

I’ll admit, I was a little apprehensive about this whole thing. Maybe a little too “kumbayah,” maybe a little cultish – everyone who had told me about it had overly glowing reviews, so I was suspicious. But I was completely and totally wrong.

I’m sure you have all seen/heard/read about Hermione Granger – I mean, Emma Watson – speaking at the UN on feminism and the #HeForShe campaign. YOU GO, EMMA WATSON. YOU GO.

The striking part of the whole thing, to me, was not that a celebrity woman my age was labeling herself as a feminist (finally!); it was that she was focusing on men in the movement. He for She. Men working for women, because working for women is working for a better society for all of us.

In this communications class of all women, I often wondered how much we were gaining or losing by having a single-gender group. I imagine there would have been a much wider scope of perspectives and experiences… but would the women have shared their vulnerabilities as freely with men? Would men buy into the class as quickly as women?

The first day, we got the results from a behavioral style test, which told me that I am someone who likes steadiness, harmony, and serving others. That’s the “S” in me, and it also explains my being slow to make decisions¬†and accept change.

Most of us were these people-pleasing, peacemaker types. If men had been in the mix, would they have dominated conversation, or made things move more quickly/efficiently?

And then I realize – I stereotype ALL THE TIME. I put women in this “nice girl” box, which most of us actually tested and identified as, but it’s still a box! How much of our behavior is a self-fulfilling prophecy or “nurture” results due to cultural norms?

How many of us would be direct, get-it-done types if we were men? How many men would be peacemakers if the world didn’t tell them they had to be ready to fight?

In this program, I opened up to relative strangers who ended up becoming friends, and I learned not only how to listen, but how to confront. And my new way of confrontation is humble, and peace-seeking, and nonviolent and truly communicative, instead of harsh and aggressive and selfish. To me, it seems almost feminine.

Why is it that we see women as caring more? As being more willing to do something for others? Because women are the childbearers, therefore the caretakers? That seems pretty damn harsh to the incredibly caring men in my life.

So, let’s do each other a favor. Instead of bringing men on board to a women’s issue, or even stating women’s rights as a human rights issue (all cred goes to Hillary), let’s work on this as a communications issue.

Obviously, there’s more to it than that.

But if all of us, men and women, speak up when we need something addressed – even, God forbid, CONFRONTING people about it – and listen when someone needs to be heard… wouldn’t that save some of the soapbox-ing and speech-making?

Instead of thinking how women need this, and men need that, what if we think about what we need as people connecting to other people? What would happen then?

Workout Summary

Monday:

  • 3×10 Box Jumps
  • 3x3x140lb Back Squat
    3x3x110 Slow Back Squat
  • 3x3x25lb Jump Squat
  • 2x8x60lbs Barbell Hip Thrust

 

Tuesday:
3 rounds:

  • 15,15,14x90lbs Leg curl
  • 11,10,11×37.5lb Leg extension
  • 15,15,15 Walking lunge

2 rounds:

  • 1 min. Bike sprint
  • 30 Bodyweight squat
  • 10 Vertical Jump

 

Wednesday:

  • 3x10x10lbs Medicine Ball Wall Slam
  • 3x3x75lb Push Press
    3x3x55lb Slow Push Press
  • 3x8x10lbs Overhead Medicine Ball Throw
  • 2x8x60lbs Bent Over Barbell Row
  • 2x8x50lbs Lat Pulldowns

 

Thursday:

3 rounds:

  • 15, 13, 12x10lbs Lateral Dumbbell Raise
  • 15, 13, 13x10lbs Lying Tricep Extension
  • 13,12,12x10lbs Dumbbell Shoulder Press

3 rounds:

  • 15,12,13x40lbs Back Lat Pulldown
  • 14,13,12x40lbs Front Lat Pulldown
  • 15,14,13x40lbs Supinated Lat Pulldown

Didn’t have time to do the metabolic conditioning.

 

Friday:

5 rounds, 60 yds: Farmer’s walk with 25lbs in each hand, Sprint

 

Saturday:

5x5x42kg Cleans from the Hang —– Wow, these were bad. I probably did more like 4 kinda-ish sets, then went to a lower weight and worked on form. Probably need to go lighter next week and do the same

2 rounds:

  • 5×17.5lbs Lateral Dumbbell Raise
  • 10 Box Jumps
  • 10x10lbs Overhead Medicine Ball Throws
  • 10 Broad Jumps
  • 10x10lbs Medicine Ball Slams

Links for Licking Your Screen

I am unashamed to admit my small fish status in this big pond of the blog world.

People are so creative, so talented and SO committed to their food blogger-dom. It’s a world of its own! While looking around for inspiration, I’ve been blown away by the layout and photography of some of these websites, not to mention the food they make and the stories they tell. I follow a lot of foodies and fit foodies and healthy foodies and paleo foodies on my Instagram, too, and so there’s this constant stream of delicious-looking things I want in my mouth right now. Always photographed with the perfect backdrop, lighting and angle to accentuate the plumpness of that bluest of blueberries.

I want approach this¬†project as I (hopefully) approach most things, which is with passion but a degree of whimsy. My job – yes, it’s important that the Sheikh of LaTiDah gets his dog groomed rightthisminute, but really? I don’t think the dog will burst into flame if it happens tomorrow, so a little giggling about the bit of cereal in the Sheikh’s mustache is entirely allowed. In the back office, of course.

My mom thinks I am a complete nutter about food and exercise, but I like to think the nuttiness goes only halfway. I happily have an¬†ice cream sundae on a special occasion or when I’m really tired from work and want a sugar high to walk home. I am a chocolate addict, so¬†I keep dark chocolate in my fridge to treat myself each night. And there are days when I spend 7 hours on a couch watching House on Netflix. But I try to not make those things a norm

Here are some mouth-watering recipes from my browsing through pages and pages and pages of food that makes me want to lick my screen, or better yet, run to the grocery store and spend my entire paycheck to make these things myself. I hope you can do that for me, and I’ll live vicariously through you:

1) Prettiest Beet and Pear Salad In the World: No surprise that this vegetarian goddess knows how to make a salad, but she’s outdone herself here. If you love beets like I do, do yourself a favor.

2) Gazpacho:Wonderfully simple summer dish. Never has gazpacho had a more beautiful introduction, either, so enjoy the writing before you enjoy the food.

3) Silky, Smoky Sweetcorn Soup: a healthy blog with a velvety smooth, warming soup. Sweet corn in the summer = love.

4) Spice Cookies A well-written post on getting things done – and what better task to get done than write a cookbook and make spice cookies? Disclaimer: this is not a healthy version of cookies, but you could eliminate the glaze, and they wouldn’t be too bad.

How to Fail Sucessfully

Last summer, while volunteering for Aspen Institute’s Ideas Fest, I was fortunate enough to hear Carol Dweck speak. Who is Carol Dweak, you might ask? Prepare for my inner (okay so it’s not inner at all I’m so so not ashamed) geek to emerge…..

Carol Dweck is this awesome-possum professor doing research on how children learn. YAY,¬†are you already excited like I am?! She has categorized people into two groups – closed mindsets and open mindsets. Essentially, a person with a closed mindset believes that abilities are fixed. A person is good at math or bad at math, periodendofstory. This translates into¬†being¬†afraid of failure because it means you ARE a failure at (fill the blank). Closed mindset people don’t seek challenges and don’t progress as someone with an open mindset would – someone who believes you can improve at (fill in the blank) over time because it’s an acquired skill. These people relish a challenge because it doesn’t intimidate them.

Failure, to an open mind, is an opportunity to grow.

After listening to Dweck’s talk, I was convinced I had a closed mindset. I am definitely risk-averse, and I was always completely daunted by (fill in the blank) MATH because I was oh so clearly doomed to be horrible at it forever. Despite my dad’s best efforts to make it super interesting with his homemade math sheets, I stopped trying because my multiplication was never fast enough for the fourth grade timed tests. Which scared the pants off of me. I scratched astronaut, doctor, vet, etc. etc. etc. off the What I Want To Be When I Grow Up list puuurrrrrty quick. Actually, I don’t think those ever made it on the list in the first place. I came out of the womb disliking numbers.

Anyway…. Dweck did leave some hope for redemption. I AM NOT DOOMED! And I think weightlifting has a lot to do with me having a more open mindset these days. I mean, I’m writing a blog. Publishing my thoughts to the world and actively getting people to read it.

I never EVER never thought I’d be the type to look forward to going to the gym or lift weights or actually spend money to purchase fancy weightlifting shoes to help my squat form. That’s serious business, and I had just finished years of shelling out dollars for pointe shoes. Lemme tell ya, those things can run through your bank account real fast.

But, once I knew that it was possible, that I could do this thing I never believed I could do, some doors opened.

I realized just how often my only failure is not daring to try. And that is a crummy excuse. So here I am, trying something new with this program, with this blog, and with this new life with my dog and my boyfriend in the Wild West. Even if I fail, it’s been a fabulous ride.

With that nugget worming itself into your brain, I’ll leave you with a formula – not a recipe – for lots of delicious meals made atop my stove. I like things I can make in a skillet with no real measurements, no recipe, and no huge time commitment. I then pour everything into one of my cozy mug-bowls that actually have a HANDLE so I can eat standing up right next to the skillet walk to the table without making a mess of the entire apartment, and devour said skillet-mug-bowl meal like I’ve never seen food before.

Here’s the formula:

1) Start with coconut oil. It lends the lightest texture and slightly-sweet undertones to food…just food, in general. I cook with it for eggs, steak, veggies, you name it, and it is drenched in coconut oil. Get the oil hot, and make sure there’s enough to just barely coat the bottom of your skillet.

2) ONIONS. Dice ’em, slice ’em, big, small, however you want. Get them all soft and silky in the coconut oil for a few minutes. I usually get impatient with this part, but don’t follow my example. Throw a little S&P on that and stir them around so they don’t get brown. Feeling sassy? Smash or mince a whole garlic clove and toss it in.

3) Thick veg. I use sweet potatoes, carrots, butternut squash apples, bell peppers, eggplant, zucchini… whatever makes your little heart sing. If it’s something really thick/long-cooking, go ahead and throw it in the pan with the onions. Otherwise, wait till they’re a bit soft. This one is another DDWED (Don’t Do What Estes Does), which is overstir everything. It’s leftover from when I could stir Mom’s brownie batter and get a lick from the spoon just about every turn… Let your veggies get a little browned.

4) SPICE! Up your lives! Today I used paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg and garlic (weird combo, I know) for my sweet potato bowl. Use curry powder and garlic, or cumin and coriander, or chili powder and Mexican oregano – play with it. Endless variety here. Have an *open mind*.

4) Leafy green: Kale is great here. Collards, chard, spinach, beet greens all work well. Stick a big pile of freshly washed greens on top of all the skillety goodness, and put a lid on it. The greens will wilt superfast, and then you can mix it all together.

5) Mix and season to taste. Sometimes, I’ll add Bragg’s Aminos (soy sauce but better) or Apple Cider Vinegar or lemon juice or just more salt and peppaaaaa.

6) Pour into mug-bowl and enjoy.

*Note: if you add chicken/beef/whatever-the-heck-you-want, cook it beforehand, drain the skillet (if it’s beef), and scoop up any browned bits into the onion.

Until next time,
Estes

Click-worthy Links (worth every minute this time)

My efforts to read more journalism have worked a little TOO well. I am now diving headfirst into lengthy and complicated pieces about global politics or education methodology or health policy – you name it. I have some lemme-tell-ya GREAT reads tonight that I’m getting all excited about in my nerdy, bookwormy way.

First up, why Republicans and Democrats are actually fundamentally different. This is absolutely fascinating for anyone who’s remotely interested in politics or why our government is completely stuckinthemud gridlocked. I consider myself a social liberal and fiscal moderate (though my family and boyfriend insist I’m liberal through and through), and this article had me saying “ohmigosh this is SO COOL!” like twenty times at the front desk of the hotel where I work. Very professional of me. At least there’s basically no one in Aspen right now, so occupancy is rapidly approaching zero. Read this, read this, readitreaditreadit.

Bryan Stevenson is a powerful human rights lawyer, and here, he talks about mass incarceration, poverty and race and injustice in our justice system. Be prepared for chills, y’all. Those of you who live in the South, this hits home right where Maya Angelou does – old soul, real wisdom. This man opens old wounds and lets them fester – because that’s the only way we’ll acknowledge that they’re even there.

I don’t think anything can follow that.

Until next time,
Estes

De-routining and Workout Summary

We had friends in town this weekend, and it threw my gym schedule a little askew. I am admittedly bad at that going off-schedule, out of my routine thing. It goes one of two ways: a) my being very neurotic and forcing my schedule on other people who have no interest in going to the gym on a beautiful afternoon during their vacation, or have no interest in taking me to the gym on what is supposed to be my vacation or b) abandoning my schedule throws me into a binge of all things in which I don’t usually indulge… bring on the football (or Gilmore Girls…), beer, cookies and couch-potatoing.

Gratefully, this weekend resulted in neither of those options. We ate a lot, drank a lot, and watched some football, but we also hiked and played Cards Against Humanity and made lunch for ourselves and didn’t spend too much money. All in all, a resounding success.

And then, they left. And back to weekdays. Back to normal.

I have several things I need to improve about myself – most of us do – but those things often get pushed to the backburner. We have work to do, dinner to make, a job application to finish, and, damn it, fun to have!

Normal gets in the way, because we know what happens in normal. We operate on auto-pilot in “normal,” and the introspection required to change something about oneself is left behind. In my case, that usually means actual things left behind.

I am a chronic forgetter/not-finisher. Whether it’s ADD, as I was diagnosed as a child, or carelessness or what doesn’t really matter. What matters is that clothes are left on the ground every day, a coffee mug is left in the back office for someone else to clean up, and that promise I made gets broken simply because I didn’t take the time. It also means the bathtub gets scrubbed, but ten dishes are left unwashed in the sink. Or chicken is made for lunches throughout the week, but the chicken package with the leftover bits that stink¬†to high heaven in a matter of hours? Thrown in the almost-empty trashcan. In my mind, I was going to throw out the trash (not full) with the chicken that night. Wasteful, count one, and probably not gonna happen, count two.

Why is it so much easier to be accountable to oneself in writing? I can come clean on paper (internet paper, as it were), but not in real words coming out of my mouth to the people I love when they need to hear it. I call that not finishing, too.

But fortunately, I also remember things better when they are put in writing.

I will probably always be forgetful. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t do better, and it certainly doesn’t mean that I can excuse myself when the responsibility lies with me. So with this, writing it down, putting it in black and white, I commit to not letting normal get in the way of improvement.

Monday:
3x10x10lbs Box Jumps
5x6x125lbs Back Squat
5x6x95lbs Slow Back Squat
5x6x30lbs Jump Squat
8,7,6,6x50lbs Barbell Hip Thrust

Tuesday:

Complex 1:

  • 14, 14,13x90lbs Lying Leg Curl
    10, 10, 10×37.5lbs Leg Extensions
    15, 15, 15Walking Lunges

5 rounds of:

  • 1 min. bike sprint
  • 30 bodyweight squat
  • 10 vertical jumps

Wednesday:
3x10x10lbs Medicine Ball Throw
5x6x65lb Push Press
5x6x45lb Slow Push Press
5x5x10 Overhead Medicine Ball Throw
8,7,7,6x Bent-Over Barbell Row
8,8,7,6x50lbs Lat Pulldown

Thursday:
Complex 1:

  • 15,14,12×10 Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • 15,14,13×10 Lying Tricep Extension
  • 12,12,13×10 Dumbbell Shoulder press

Complex 2:

  • 15,15,13×40 Back Lat Pulldown
  • 15,14,13 Front Lat Pulldown
  • 15,13,12 Supinated Lat Pulldown

Sunday (did Saturday’s workout):
10x3x37kg Cleans from the hang
4 sets of:

  • 5×17.5lb Dumbbell Lateral Raise
  • 10 Box Jumps
  • 10x10lb Overhead Medicine Ball Throw
  • 10 Broad Jumps
  • 10x10lb Medicine Ball Slam

in 12 minutes, 3 complete sets of:

  • 1 min. bike sprint
  • 250m row
  • 10 pushups