I am really excited to announce that over the next 10 weeks, I along with many of my fellow food bloggers spanning the globe, are taking part in Ten in 2010. #10in10 is the brainchild of Lori from Recipe Girl. I think it is a great idea for those who want support in getting a jump on their health and fitness goals this year, whatever they are. If you are already on your way, or just starting, this is a great group to join!

I have really been working on “getting healthy” over the past year. For those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you know I talk about my fitness goals a lot. It never used to be that way. I used to be “allergic to exercise”, and try to find any other route to look the way I wanted to, that didn’t involve exercise. But when we decided we wanted to move back to VT, and raise animals and garden, I knew I had to get some strength. It started out as my New Year’s Resolution for 2009 – this would give myself over a year to get there. But what I found, was a new passion! Now, my day just isn’t right if I don’t sweat a little 😉 But you will never find me in a gym (unless I am doing martial arts). I have been hunting for regular exercise and strength training that I can do with as little equipment as possible and that I truly enjoy. If possible, ones that teach me a skill while getting exercise in at the same time- factors I know will keep me on track, personally. One of my goals is to get into a fitness routine – that doesn’t feel like a fitness routine, but is FUN!

But what does “getting healthy” mean? And how does one get there? And what does this have to do with food blogging?

First, “getting healthy” means different things to different people. For me, it means building endurance. It means having an increased measure and reserve of energy (I tend to be a low-energy person) so I can do the things I love without being tired. It means being balanced emotionally. It means having the ability to lift heavy things without hurting myself. It means being able to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and possibly snowshoeing without extremely taxing myself or holding back fellow participants. It means, conditioning my body to be able to handle the manual labor that comes with farm work. It also means giving my body the best chance I can to live to 100 years old, staying off prescription drugs and staying away from the doctor as much as possible. It also means having arms like Sarah Connor and being able to outrun the Terminators 😉

How you get there, is by doing a lot of research, making a very specific plan for yourself based on what you want to achieve, and sticking to it. It also means having the right fuel for your body. That is where the connection to food blogging comes in. This year I am freeing myself of buzzwords. Finding a new set of rules that works for me and my body – beyond low-fat, low-carb, sugar-free, protein packed, and all this terminology that is supposed to get you to optimal health and fitness, which never worked for me anyway. Besides humans were fit and healthy before any of this stuff was imagined into existence. So we have the capability to do that again!

I am not a big fan of protein bars/shakes as an everyday thing. I don’t like the word “diet”, I like “lifestyle change”.  I will never eat a diet meal plan that come out of a box, jar, or plastic square, and I certainly don’t like low-fat, low-sugar foods, which are generally a key word for “full of chemicals”. So my diet is not likely to change from the kinds of foods I have been blogging about over the past several months. It is important for me to continue to make foods from scratch, using whole foods that make me feel good and give me the energy to go on. Since this is a large part of what being healthy means to me, I won’t sacrifice real, nourishing foods, for the sake of “getting healthy”. To me, it is an oxymoron.

This summer I tried the low-fat, 1300 calories/day avenue and it did not work for me. I was tracking my caloric intake and calculating grams of protein, fat, and carbs. I was trying to lose about 5-8 lbs of fat, while at the same time gaining muscle. I went to a personal trainer and followed their diet and exercise plan, which required eliminating 20 grams of fat per day from my diet. After 2 weeks I started getting really clumsy, I was bruising easier, I lost productivity with my work. I was losing things. My digestion was bad. I was also very emotional and mentally exhausted. This is the very opposite of my definition of “healthy”. It was then that I realized how much my brain needed fat – good fat – things like nuts, fish oil, olive oil, avocados, eggs, cheese, yogurt and kefir –items which cannot be consumed in regular amounts while trying to stay under 30 grams of fat per day (since those calculators don’t differentiate between good and bad fats). My body also thrives on protein, but gets bogged down with a lot of grains – which is not the same thing as carbs.

I am not a doctor, nor am I certified to tell people how they should pursue their own health goals. I am speaking from my own experience when I say everyone’s body is individual and responds differently to exercise and food. So sometimes it takes a while to reach your goals – because first you have to figure out how to get there. So don’t get frustrated! You can get there! Sometimes it is easier, and sometimes you gotta work for it a little harder!

So here marks the second year on my journey to health. I will continue with weight lifting, calisthenics and cardio. I will also continue with archery. However, I will let go of Martial Arts (for now), as we just don’t have time for everything, something has to give, and this year, it will not be my sanity! I will add kettle bells to my routine and some outdoor activities, especially once we move to Vermont in April.

My goals for this 10 week challenge are:

* Bicep curl sets (3 sets of 10) w/ 20 lb free weights (one 20 lb. dumb bell per arm) – currently I am at 15 lbs.

* One unassisted pull-up – Currently I can do 7 assisted (with a chair under me)

*Turn upper/ inner leg flab to muscle – my biggest problem area

* Lose one pant size

How am I going to do this?

* I will continue my healthy eating plan – but instead of almost daily ice cream treats, I will enjoy a smoothie from my Vitamix 80 % of the time, instead.

* I will not succumb to bread, pasta and grain ladened foods. Instead choosing to eat exclusively veggie pastas like corn, or jerusalem artichoke, and enjoy my grasses like buckwheat and quinoa.

* I will exercise 4-5x/wk, for 30-45 minutes per session – either doing weight lifting, kettle bells, a cardio routine, outdoor activities, practicing martial arts at home, or a combination thereof.

* I will go to range 3x/month to continue with archery training.

Thank you Lori for putting this together for everyone! It is a great way to start the new year and get the support of others!

To read more about the challenge and see how is participating, check out this link!