Tagged with fitness

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: Competition Prep and Vacation Don’t Mix So Well…


by Kate Richlin-Zack

I’ve decided vacations are not vacations if:

1)      I can’t run around on the beach in a bikini sunning myself like melanoma isn’t an issue and

2)      I can’t eat whatever the heck I want.

Therefore, this past weekend was not a vacation (good luck justifying that on a timesheet, right?)

I spent a long weekend in St. Simons Island visiting with family and friends. It was a much needed break to a certain extent but unfortunately, I couldn’t unplug and unwind completely. As much as I would have loved to eat my way through Georgia’s barrier islands, I have less than two weeks before the competition and I wasn’t about to let three and a half months of hard work and hard earned kneecaps turn to cellulite over hushpuppies and sweet tea (yummmmm). Somehow, I managed to stick to my diet AND workout despite being surrounded by temptation and stonewalled with challenges.

Let’s start with the gym. I’d like a little (ok a LOT) of credit for getting my ass up at 5:30 AM on Thursday so that I could be in the gym by 6 AM so that I could fit in a workout BEFORE I even left for vacation. If you know me, you know I’m not a morning person that was a feat of epic proportions and I have Keurig and my desire to win this friggin’ thing to thank for that. So go me. But Friday was a different story. There was a fitness center at the resort where I stayed but I learned the hard way while trying to squeeze in a workout that the fitness center is a 10 minute drive from  the room – more if you factor in the number of times I would get lost on my way there because no one bothered to consult a cartographer when designing the resort maps. Since I only had an hour and a half to workout, shower, and change before dinner (and drying my hair has become a major operation recently, especially with southern humidity), I opted to do a bodyweight workout on the balcony of my room. No gym? No problem.

Saturday, I promised myself I would make it to the gym come hell or high water and I did. Barely. I thought I checked the times but at 3:45 in the afternoon, the thought of the gym being closed never even crossed my mind. Gyms are open ‘til 10 PM, at least, no? No. After driving around looking for the fitness center for 20 minutes because the resort map was better suited as decorative wall art, I made it to the gym and was unpleasantly surprised to discover that I had less than an hour to do a full weight training workout and 15 minutes of cardio.  And since I had absolutely no idea what kind of equipment was available, I hadn’t planned my workout yet.

I plan my workouts in advance. It usually takes me about 10 minutes to decide which body part is on the docket (usually whichever one isn’t sore), look back at previous workouts to see what exercises I did the last time so I don’t repeat them, and figure out what amount of weight to start with. It only takes 10 minutes because I’m familiar with my gym enough to know exactly where everything is and I will usually group exercises together based on the location of the equipment so I don’t waste time in between exercises – can you tell I was a process engineer at some point in my life? I’m six sigma-ing my workouts. Nerd alert!

But on vacation in an unfamiliar gym, you have to improvise which is what I did, AND with a limited amount of time, I had to improvise further.

Let’s see… I need to do weights and cardio but I only have 40 minutes. How do I do both? Lift extra heavy, do fewer reps, and opt for interval cardio.

I finished up a total-body weight training workout and 6 minutes of high intensity intervals on the bike at 4:58 PM. Boom. Not exactly what I wanted to do, but good enough.

Then there was sticking to the diet. I’ve said in the past, and I can attest to this statement based on the last three months: diet is at least 75% of being in shape. Which is great because dieting is something you can control but it sucks because when you can’t control yourself, going to the gym isn’t going to “undo” any of the damage you do by deviating from your meal plans.

For those of you who read this column consistently, you’re familiar with my weekly food preparation. I weigh and measure everything so that I know EXACTLY how much I’m eating every day. It takes the guess work out of it and ultimately saves me time. You don’t realize how much socializing revolves around food until your food is restricted. Because it was a family vacation, I was frequently eating at restaurants. In fact, almost ALL of my meals were eaten at a restaurant which meant I had little control over what I was eating, how it was prepared, and how much was put on my plate. I became the substitution queen. Do you have UN-sweetened tea? Can you just steam the vegetables? Do you have ANY “vegetables” besides coleslaw? Does the chicken on the salad come with or without the skin? Is it breaded? Can I have vinegar instead of salad dressing?… Oh. My. God. Yes, I’m THAT person now.

And then I have to eyeball the portions. That looks like about 4 oz of salmon, that plate can probably hold about 3 cups of salad greens but let’s enter 4 cups into the food tracker just to be on the safe side. What are the macros in 10 wasabi peas? Why do they have to put out a VAT of wasabi peas?? I have no self-control! No more than 10 wasabi peas otherwise you’ll be screwed at dinner!!

This is my life..

The wait staff was always so polite about it (I’m convinced it’s a southern thing) but I felt bad inconveniencing them and the chefs but again, I only have two more weeks. TWO WEEKS! And I refuse to let my fear of inconveniencing others and a bucket of wasabi peas ruin my chances.

Despite my best efforts, my meal tracking was probably off. I can’t guarantee that everything was cooked without butter or that it was exactly 6 oz of turkey but I knew that if I remained just a little bit hungry throughout the day, I was probably fine. Why was hunger my indicator? Because the past three months I’ve been hungry all day. On a scale of 1-5, 1 being not at all hungry and 5 being ravenous-teeth-marks-in-the-refrigerator hungry, I’m usually around a 2. So since I couldn’t weigh myself or my food, I had to find another indicator and hunger was the best I had. I will unabashedly admit to making a list of all the foods I want to eat once this whole thing is over and it only took me ten minutes to list all the things I’m having as my first meal when this whole thing is over.

This vacation has been an eye opening experience. It’s taught me that it is possible to stick to a diet and workout plan no matter where you are (no excuses!) but it’s not as much fun as being able to drink pina coladas like they’re going out of style without a care in the world.

The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness” is written by the irrepressible Kate Richlin-Zack and runs every other Tues at 10:30AM on Kate-book.com. She is a former plus-sized model turned fitness enthusiast who lost about 50lbs in the process. She loves food and views exercise as a necessary evil in her quest for looking good and feeling confident in hot pants. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Health And Fitness: You Can’t Just Stand There And Look Pretty


by Kate Richlin-Zack

I’ve been operating under the false pretense that the hardest part about competition prep would be sticking to a strict diet or working out on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy turning down cupcakes but it’s a lot easier than I expected… and apparently I love lifting things up and putting them down so I don’t mind hitting the gym in lieu of prime time television. But it wasn’t until I stood in a room with four other competitors during a posing class (yes, a posing class, but I’ll get to that in a minute) wearing nothing but a teeny bikini and Lucite heels that it hit me: I actually have to get on stage.

And that’s when panic set in.

The problem is, skilled athletes and trained professionals make it look easy. You look at pictures of people who are bodybuilding pros and they look so happy. So polished. So confident. And so you sign up with a personal trainer, follow a diet, enter a competition and assume, “if I follow the plan, I’ll look just like the impossibly fit women in the pictures.” And that’s true. When I’m parading around in my underwear admiring my physique from the comfort of my own home, it’s really easy to say, “I did it! Look at me! I  could crack walnuts with my ass cheeks!” But when you have to stand amongst a group of other people who have worked just as hard for walnut cracking capabilities, you realize just how difficult it is to get up on stage and attempt to make it look easy.

And that’s why you need coaches to help you prepare to be on stage. The diet and exercise is vital. But presentation is key and your stage presence (or lack thereof) can decide your fate.

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: Transformations


By Kate Richlin-Zack

The countdown to the competition has begun! Ten weeks down and less than six weeks to go so there is absolutely no turning back now. Also, my checks to cover the entry fees have been cashed and there’s no refund. Regardless, I’m in this and I’m very excited…

But to be completely honest: I’m EXHAUSTED.

Ironically, I’ve been “slacking” when it comes to my usual Lazy Girl tendencies and haven’t had much down time in the last two and a half months. I’m fairly certain I’m in a constant state of sleep deprivation. I can’t remember the last time I was able to just do nothing and think about nothing. I just want to stop. Breathe. Eat cake. Watch the Kardashians. But I can’t. Not yet. And so I force myself to keep going. Not because I want to, but because I’m not finished.

I’ve been applying this quit-when-you’re-done mentality to every aspect of my life. Despite being tired and hungry and doubtful, I just keep going. I leave the gym when I finish my workout. I leave the dinner table when I finish my meal. I leave work when I finish my projects. I leave nothing unfinished. I can’t half ass anything. And somehow it’s easier to just go balls out on everything than it is to figure out what I can half-ass.

It’s hard to keep going when you just want to take a break but the physical transformation is proof positive that the sacrifice and sheer insanity is absolutely worth it.

Watching my body morph  over the last two months has been like a science experiment. It’s actually kind of cool. My abs made an appearance after only a few weeks of following a strict diet and exercise regimen. At first I could only see it in certain lighting or if I was flexing, and I’d be left wondering, “Do I have a six pack?”

Now there’s no doubt. I have a six pack.

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: Set Backs…



by Kate Richlin-Zack

I got off track last week.

I’ve been so good about sticking to my diet and counting all my “macros” (carbs, fat, protein) and planning my meals and then one afternoon, I just had to shove as much food as I possibly could into my face. I wasn’t even hungry, which makes it even more disappointing. Maybe I was back to my old self-destructive eat-the-pain-away habits, but how can I even THINK about using that excuse to justify my behavior when there is no pain to eat away in the first place? My life is awesome, so what the hell am I upset about?

Great question and the short answer is: change is hard… really hard.

Let me first explain that when it comes to my diet for the next couple months, I’m allowed to eat anything I want. Yes. Anything. My only limitations are the amount of protein, carbs, and fat (“macronutrients”) I can consume on a given day. Right now my diet is pretty consistent with the paleo diet – lean meats, lots of vegetables, limited dairy, and complex carbohydrates like whole fruits, plain oatmeal, and yams. If I wanted to, I could fulfill my daily carb quota with Fruit Roll-Ups, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and french fries but I don’t for two reasons: Continue reading

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Health And Fitness: You’re Doing What?

Lazy-Girl's-Guideby Kate Richlin-Zack

Big news, here at Lazy Girl. It’s official- I entered a fitness competition. Not quite sure what I’m talking about? Google “bikini fitness competition” and tell me those women are not seriously disciplined athletes with impressive physiques.

And in a few months, I’ll be competing against them.

Let that sink in for a moment. It hasn’t for me yet, which may or may not be a good thing.

Your favorite couch loving, pajama wearing, milkshake guzzling, pizza devouring, unabashed lazy girl is following a strict diet and working out almost daily in preparation for wearing a glitter bikini the size of an eye patch while covered in fake tanner on stage in front of lord knows how many people. “Intimidated” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

So why the hell are you doing this?
Great question… Continue reading

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: My Favorite Things About The Holidays

By Kate Richlin-Zack

Every other week I rattle on and on about ways to incorporate healthy choices into your lifestyle. Whether it’s tips for staying motivated, reasons you should avoid alcohol, or how to recover from a weekend warrior session, I try to keep you on track to reaching your fitness goals.

But let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t want to think about being healthy. You just want to INDULGE and with the holidays upon us, we are surrounded by temptation. Naturally there are tons of articles floating around about how make healthy choices even when you’re bombarded by office holiday parties and family get togethers. Well, in true Lazy Girl fashion, I say: screw it. Don’t worry about your diet this month. Sometimes you need to embrace your inner fat kid and give ‘em some cake. And since I’m advising all of you to throw caution to the wind when it comes to diet and exercise, this week’s column is going to be a list of my favorite things about the holiday season. You’ll note how most of them are food and the rest are  related to sleeping or lounging.

The first snowfall
I realize this has nothing to do with health or fitness, but come on! Everyone gets excited when it snows. Next time you get a light dusting, see how many of your friends Instagram a photo of the first snowfall. I love to watch from the comfort of my living room as the lights from the Menorah and Christmas tree twinkle. (We celebrated both Hanukah and Christmas growing up in my house, just to clear up any confusion). Preferably I’m wearing my footie flannel pajamas with the drop seat as I sip some egg nog or hot cocoa, which brings me to my next two favorite things about the holiday season…

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: A PMS Survival Guide

By Kate Richlin-Zack

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms including bloating, cramps, headache, and mood swings that occurs consistently during the ten days prior to the start of menstrual flow and vanishes either shortly before or shortly thereafter.  In other words, it’s what I like to call Hell Week, and that’s a drastic understatement.

In addition to the aforementioned typical symptoms, I also experience extreme fatigue, intense food cravings, insatiable hunger, unpredictable bouts of crying, and sporadic emotional meltdowns that often result in reevaluation of every major and minor life decision I’ve ever made. As I sit on the couch drowning Oreos in gallons of milk and contemplating joining the Peace Corps, it’s hard to remember these symptoms are just temporary. One Hell Week left me with a visceral hatred for my husband after he flushed my Oreos down the toilet. In retrospect, I can’t blame him. He watched in absolute horror and disgust as I shoved whole cookies, two at a time, into my mouth leaving crumbs all over my face and chest in a futile attempt to eat my fabricated pain away. He likened me to a crack fiend, so flushing the cookies down the toilet was probably a necessary intervention.

Hell Week is also the week that I know, without a doubt, my diet and exercise efforts will disappear faster than the three pepperoni pizzas I just inhaled. But even though it’s hard to stick with healthy diet and exercise habits when all I want to do is sleep and eat in alternating 12-hour shifts, avoiding junk foods, exercising consistently and following a few other simple tips may actually help me survive Hell Week relatively unscathed in the future.

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Health And Fitness: On coping with stress

By Kate Richlin-Zack

Recently, I have been very stressed out. It comes from a variety of sources. At the moment, my biggest stressor is Hurricane Sandy — she’ll have torn up the eastern seaboard by the time you read this. Suffice it to say she has been incredibly disruptive to my usual routine and my inner peace over the last few days — as I’m sure has been the same for many others. I braved the supermarket, making my way through a panicked crowd to purchase bottled water, canned goods, and three cases of wine. Hey, a girl needs to be prepared!

But besides the occasional natural disaster of epic proportions, life in general can be stressful. Everything from finances to your job (or lack-there-of) to relationships can literally make you mental. There is nothing fun about not being able to pay your bills or avoiding collection agencies. It feels like you’re 12 years old and have gotten called into the principal’s office. Dealing with unreasonable bosses who don’t have a life outside the office or petty coworkers who just want to gossip about the next round of layoffs is not how anyone wants to spend the majority of their waking hours. And when it comes to love and relationships, no matter how much you adore your significant other, at some point they’re going piss you off and/or hurt your feelings. And if you’re not currently in a relationship but want to be, that too could give you a complex wondering whether or not you’re dateable. Life is full of stress.

Turns out, all this stress is really bad for your health. BIG SURPRISE! But here are some of the gory details anyway so that you can stress out about how your current stress level is potentially ruining your life. Continue reading

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Health And Fitness: I Won’t Feel Guilty About My 7 Hour Nap

By Kate Richlin-Zack

I napped for seven hours on Sunday. It was thoroughly amazing.

Sure, seven hours seems a bit lengthy to still qualify as a “nap” (I mean, is there a time limit?), but I’d argue it still counts because it occurred during the day (okay, it started during the day) and I still slept through the night.

A seven hour nap is unusual, even for a lazy girl like me. I don’t even sleep that much on a typical night. Usually it’s closer to six hours per night, unless I’m catching up on “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” or this week’s episode of “Homeland,” in which case it’s probably closer to three.

Not only was the duration of this nap unusual, but the fact that a nap even occurred is an anomaly. I usually avoid napping because of the extent to which I hate waking up. The worst part of my day is getting up in the morning. I’m miserable. Not once in my life have I heard my alarm go off and thought, “Yay! I get to start my day!” I hit the snooze button about 57 times and then I need two cups of coffee just to keep from walking into walls. And if I take a nap, I have to go through the waking up process all over again. So even if I’m exhausted in the middle of the day, I’ll just grab a cup of coffee (okay, it’s really a venti Americano with two shots of espresso, aka “the Black Eye” at Starbucks) and power through.

But this weekend, I decided to indulge my need for sleep and spent Sunday afternoon (and evening) drifting in and out of sleep. When I woke up around 11pm, I felt guilty. Refreshed, but guilty. I’d spent the better part of my day doing absolutely nothing. What a waste!

Maybe not. Turns out sleeping not only contributes to your overall health (and the happiness of those around you who don’t have to deal with your crankiness), but it’s also beneficial for weight loss. Who knew?

Here’s why sleep counts in this whole health and fitness equation. Continue reading

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide To Health And Fitness: But I Don’t Wanna Go To The Gym!

By Kate Richlin-Zack

“But I don’t wanna go to the gym” is one of the most popular complaints I hear and I can’t say that I blame you. Gyms are usually over-crowded with sweaty people bouncing around in tight clothing. The AC is always set to arctic blast and there’s that dank stench of sweat that just hangs. If that’s not off-putting enough for you, there’s the grunting meatheads who always “need a spot, bro” and the women in war paint who look like they’re ready for singles night at the corner bar. Kinda makes you wonder why you spend $75 per month for the pleasure, doesn’t it?

Well, now you don’t have to. This week’s column is all about getting a great workout in the comfort and privacy of your own home. Even if you have limited space and limited equipment, you have no excuse.

If you’re willing to spend a little money, and I’m talking less than what you would pay for a month or two at your neighborhood gym, you can get some basic equipment at your local sporting goods store. Places like Walmart and Target often carry these items as well.

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: The truth about losing weight

By Kate Richlin-Zack

Losing weight is not rocket science. Move more, eat less. The formula can’t get more basic than that. The problem is that it’s not always easy to do. You’re constantly surrounded by temptation. There are times I can actually hear the Burger King insisting I need a Whopper with cheese. Mmm. I’m getting hungry.

Where was I?

Oh right, losing weight.

There are things no one talks about when it comes to losing weight. Things that can derail, discourage, and surprise you. In an effort to save you some of the time that I spent learning these things the hard way as I dropped from a size 16 to a size 6, here are a few of the things that I know now and wish I’d known then…

You’re going to be hungry

If you’re used to consuming over 2000 calories of delicious, fat laden food, you’re going to notice when there’s a deficit. And that’s when Wendy suddenly becomes an irresistible Frosty-pushing siren. It’s like you’re body is protesting, “hey, I’m onto you,” in hopes that you’ll go back to your usual Twinkie diet. But if you want to lose weight, you have to accept the fact that your stomach will be growling. The only upside to watching what you eat is that it will have the biggest influence on your appearance. Skipping dessert is a lot easier than jogging for 30 minutes, in my humble opinion.

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The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Health and Fitness: How to Get Off the Couch and Stay Motivated

By Kate Richlin-Zack

Getting off the couch to do anything can be difficult for a Lazy Girl. Getting off the couch to work out is even more difficult. Who wants to get all sweaty and gross when you can lounge around in sweats? Not me, thank you very much. But if you want rock hard abs and a gravity defying tush, there’s no way around it; you need to exrecise. So how do you overcome the lure of cheese balls and pajama bottoms? They’re so tempting…

Here are a few tips to help you get motivated and stay motivated.

1. Visualize your goal

Normally I associate magazine clippings with ransom notes and psychopaths, but in this case, we can make an exception. Whether you’re cutting pictures out of the latest issue of Women’s Health magazine or pinning “fitspirational” photos on your Pinterest board, you’re essentially visualizing your goal. Identifying what you want is the first and most important step in getting it. Reminding yourself of that goal on a daily basis also helps, and trust me I’m not above plastering my refrigerator with pictures of Jessica Biel in a bikini if it means I’ll think twice before devouring the entire tray of lasagna.

2. Create the perfect playlist

It’s been scientifically proven that music is a great accompaniment to any workout. In fact, it does double duty. Not only does it motivate you to get moving in the first place, it also helps you maintain a constant pace by distracting you from discomfort and fatigue. Skeptical? Remember last Thursday night when you were out for drinks with your girlfriends and Beyonce’s Crazy in Love came on and you just HAD to dance even though your feet were killing you from your new Louboutins? Yeah … that’s what I’m talking about. Fire up your iTunes and make yourself a workout mix. I always get excited whenever new songs are randomly shuffled into the mix as I’m trying not to fall off the treadmill.

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