Stair Stepper and Magazines

Until about 6 months ago, I had never stepped foot on one of these guys:

stair stepper[source]

I tried one for the first time last spring since I was taking some time off of running due to injury, and I read in a magazine that stair steppers were the best gym machine – after the treadmill – to get you working really hard. The first time I tried it, I was struggling just to get to 10 minutes. Isn’t it crazy how different types of exercise work your body in such different ways? I could run a marathon but was dying after 10 minutes on a stair stepper – why is that?!

Given my competitive personality, a new challenge was born! The stair stepper has now become one of my favorite gym machines. We are definitely in <3. How do I love thee, stair stepper? Let me count the ways:

1. You make me super sweaty.
2. You make my heart race.
3. You make my legs feel strong.
4. You let me read when we’re together.

This is what I read on the stair stepper today:

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Yes, I am reading intellectual magazines at the gym. #NerdyGirlOnStairStepper

Actually, there’s something of more substance to this…I used to always read magazines in the vein of Fitness, Shape, and Women’s Health while crosstraining. As I came towards the end of my eating disorder recovery, I began to notice some disturbing attributes about these types of magazines. Examples of said disturbing attributes: focus on weight loss, idealizing of ‘thin’ rather than healthy, constant talk about counting calories, implying that women who are thinner are automatically happier, more desirable, and better. I decided that reading these magazines was only encouraging the pattern of restrictive eating and heavy exercising that I was trying to overcome. Although I will still read these types of publications once in a while (let’s face it, shallow literature is fun every once in a while), I intentionally don’t subscribe or buy them myself.

For anyone struggling with body image, dieting, or over-exercising issues, I would recommend stepping back from the weight loss magazines. They are not doing you any favors, trust me. Plus, you don’t have to give up fun monthly reading! Here are the magazines I am currently subscribed to:

  • Runner’s World: This magazine is full of great running and fitness tips – without the focus on weight loss. The articles are well written and, often, inspiring. I’ve also learned lots of useful injury-prevention exercises.
  • Women’s Day: This magazine allows me to continue reading about women’s issues, beauty products, cooking, and exercise, but without an obsessive focus on weight and appearance. I think this is an extremely empowering and healthy magazine for women to read. Bonus: there’s always an article about some awesome pet saving their owner. I find these stories simultaneously hilarious and incredible.
  • Time: I’ve got to get my news somehow! Since I don’t listen to the radio much and only download my news podcasts sporadically (at best), Time tells me most of what I know about the world. Don’t judge me. I like the variety of substance and the fact that most articles are short enough to read fairly quickly. Joel Stein‘s comedic column at the end of each issue is always a highlight.

Anyway…back to the stair stepper from my magazine tangent! I’ve improved to the point where I can do 25 minutes and still feel really good. I suspect I could increase my time, but more than 25 mins seems a bit long to be on the machine – I would rather switch to something else for variety. Tonight I was short on time, so I could only squeeze in 20 minutes before heading to basketball.

Before all this exercise, I had some dinner:

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That’s a kidney bean patty on an english muffin with dijon mustard and spinach – veggies on the side. This was YUMMY! After I got back from basketball, I had some homemade hot-cocoa-for-one, cinnamon style.

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In other news, my roommate is currently in the monster pit at the Lady Gaga concert. Just wanted to throw that out there. 🙂

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Dasani Drops

Look what I discovered today:

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This looks like something I would enjoy. Unfortunately, it was being packed up as a donation when I found it, so it wouldn’t have been so appropriate to sample. 🙂 I will be keeping an eye out at the supermarket though.

In other news…my evening was pretty relaxed and late. I have been on a weird schedule the last few days where I am eating all of my meals an hour or two later than I normally would. This morning I didn’t have breakfast until 10! #iLoveRelaxedMornings

Subsequently, lunch was at 3, gym was at 7, and dinner was at 8:30. Dinner was some tofu curry salad in a wrap with spinach. Carrot and celery sticks served with fig butter on the side.

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Afterwards, I decided to try some homemade hot-cocoa-for-one again. Instead of a splash of vanilla, I added a couple shakes of cinnamon this time. It made the drink a little more ‘spicy.’ I will definitely try again! Plus, making it really couldn’t be more simple. Only three ingredients (not counting water):

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cocoa, sweetener, cinnamon

Doesn’t this look delicious?!

yum...chocolate

yum…chocolate

Bestowed: January

I joined Bestowed three months ago in November, and since then I can honestly say that when I see this package at my door, it is a good day.

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Bestowed is a monthly delivery program created by author and nutritionist Heather Bauer. Each month, Heather and her crew send a package with a minimum of five items (in my experience so far, always more) for you to sample. The products sent are by and large food items, although there is an occasional beauty product thrown in. The foods are selected based on their nutritional strengths, and the goal is to help you discover new healthy foods you love. Sounds good, right? Well, opening the box is even better!!

can't wait, can't wait, can't wait

can’t wait, can’t wait, can’t wait

The January package includes the following:

la tortilla low carb, high fiber tortillas: I have actually bought these wraps before and love them, so I was excited to see them in the package although slightly disappointed to have an item not new to me. One of these wraps gives you 52% of your daily recommended value of fiber!

gnu mini bars: Four mini bars were included in the package. I love this type of chewy, whole-grain bar, and I am excited to eat them with yogurt for breakfast!

good health peanut better filled pretzels: Obviously, anything that involves peanut butter can’t really go wrong in my mind. Put peanut butter INSIDE a pretzel? Pure heaven. There are many varieties of peanut-butter filled pretzels on the market, but I haven’t bought any because they always seem to be filled with lots of unnatural ingredients. This brand, however, is made with all-natural and non-GMO ingredients. Plus, the pretzels are whole grain!

FiberRich + crackers: These crackers are low-calorie and high-fiber. Heather recommends them for a small snack with staying power.

nektar honey crystals: If you’re anything like me, you have long been confused about whether artificial sweeteners have more benefits or drawbacks. These honey crystal packets solve the problem for you! Made from honey, the most natural sweetener, these granules are an easy way to transport the sweetener without the stickiness!

good foods made simple: The Good Food Made Simple brand makes frozen – but healthy – breakfasts. Maybe the frozen + healthy combo isn’t an oxymoron after all? Unfortunately, since this is a frozen item, I didn’t actually receive one of the products in the package but instead have a coupon to pick up one for free at a store that carries them. I will have to use their online store locator to track one down. The good news is, the coupon doesn’t expire, so I can take my time. 🙂

the whole gang

the whole gang

So far, I have tried two of the items: peanut-butter pretzels and honey crystals. I snacked on a serving of the pb pretzels before going to the gym, and I enjoyed the honey crystals in some hot cocoa while writing this post! I tried a single-serving hot cocoa recipe that my wonderful roommate taught me:

Hot Cocoa for One

Set water to boil. Meanwhile, combine in mug:
- one heaping tablespoon cocoa powder
- one packet of nektar honey crystals (my roommate said honey, but I wanted to try out the new crystals!)
- a few drops of vanilla
After the water boils, stir into mug and enjoy!

This my first time trying to make cocoa like this instead of using an instant mix. It definitely wasn’t as sweet, but it felt a lot more natural and I enjoyed the slightly bitter taste of the cocoa powder coming through. In fact, it was so good that by the time I went to take a picture to post I had already drunk it all!

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I will definitely use the recipe again! Thanks, roomie. 🙂