Category Archives: weight loss

Insanity: Fit Test 2

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I’ve been doing Insanity in hopes of getting back in to somewhat shape, and am having marginal success with it. I do fill stronger in the thighs and do feel that it’s really upping my cardio. But I dont worship the program like so many others do. (Then again, I’m not selling it either). I have been putting in at least 90% effort in to the workouts and am eating much better than previous weeks.

I finished week 2 on Sunday, took a break on Monday, and I just finished my second scheduled fit test about two minutes ago. Seriously, I am sitting on my bedroom floor in a workout bra and shorts whilst drenched in sweat. Appetizing. I know.

Here are my results compared to week 1:

Day 1 Knee Kicks: 84
Day 13 Knee Kicks: 101
Difference: +17

Day 1 Power Kicks: 35
Day 13 Power Kicks: 46
Difference: +11

Day 1 Power Knees (left): 60
Day 13 Power Knees (left): 70
Difference: +10

Day 1 Power Jumps: 21
Day 13 Power Jumps: 31
Difference: +10

Day 1 Globe Jumps: 5
Day 13 Globe Jumps: 8
Difference: +3 (or 12 extra jumps)

Day 1 Suicide Jumps: 5
Day 13 Suicide Jumps: 10
Difference: +5

Day 1 Push Up Jacks: 11
Day 13 Push Up Jacks: 13
Difference: +2

Day 1 Oblique planks things: 33
Day 13 Oblique plank things that I still dont know what they are actually called: 45
Difference: +12

… My conclusions are that I still suck hardcore at anything that puts me in a push up position (suicide jumps and push up jacks). But the good is that my lower body cardio has improved overall, which you can see by the endurance portions in the “power” exercises.

As for weight loss and measurements, I stupidly forgot to measure myself, but I am down about 4lbs in two-ish weeks.

Next fit test is in 13 more days, so I’ll see you at day 36.

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Starting Over…

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Whenever I see those two words put together, I instantly start singing some John Lennon:

I really wish I could write an awesome post about how I spent my holidays healthy and fit, getting in 3 miles every day on the treadmill (or even better, outdoors) and lifting weights like a mad man. I wish I had pictures of how buff I am now or how great my butt looks in two size smaller jeans.

But, I bring you nothing but a scale reading.

And it ain’t pretty.

It’s 6lbs uglier.

Even for photoshop, that's a pretty ugly scale.

So, what does a girl do when she’s gained 6lbs in less than a month?

Eat chocolate?

Nope.

Cry into her pillow?

Uh... creepiest pillow ever.

Get pissed off?

Yep. That’s it. I’m going to get pissed off. And then I am going to go to the gym and freakin’ work the crap out of the free weights. Maybe I’ll even torture the elliptical with my added 6lb weight. Either way, I am going to move in to the kitchen and actually watch what I put on my plate. Take that plate. I bet you dont like being a victim in a Sting song.

Oh, and I joined Weight Watchers. I swore I would never do it, but then I started seeing and hearing more and more success stories that were close to home. I do like the points program so far. It’s fairly simple and it does make sense (though I still dont agree with how they give diet soda no points but juice 1 or 2).

In other news on the home front, Ms. Greer has left us. She was adopted last week and was picked up on Sunday morning. I cried and spent the day feeling empty over her loss. She was such a great dog. She was truly the “Right dog, the wrong me.” And while I almost lost it this morning when there was no dog licking my ankles at 6am to get her food ready, I am so grateful that she was picked up by New Leash and was given a great fur-ever home.

We thought we would have some time between fostering again, but there seems to be a need for a foster transfer. So we are meeting a new potential pup tomorrow. I hope she’s as good as Greer (and equally potty trained).

I really have more posts planned with wedding details and my crafty-Christmas. But for now, this covers it. Have a happy (and healthy) re-start!

Getting Started…

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I’ve had a couple people (hey y’all!) ask me how I started running when I was out of shape and overweight. So much so, that I am going to write this out. Please note that I am not a doctor. People’s individual conditions (asthma, injuries, heart conditions, etc.) should be taken in to consideration before you start any program. I hate to say it, but I firmly believe that many people have bodies that are not meant to run because of these conditions. However, I’ve been proven wrong before. So what do I know… again, not a doctor.

Why yes... I've been watching Doctor Who non-stop for the last week.

First of all, you CANNOT run if you cannot walk. I am dead serious on this. You cant just go out there and run unless you are in great shape or completely healthy. I recommend building up slowly by walking 30 minutes a day for four to six days a week. When that becomes too comfortable, find some high tempo music and walk faster. Then add some hills. Treadmills are great ways to amp up your workout. Most modern brands have different types of workouts. Even now, when I’m too tired to run or it’s an off day, I’ll set it on a random hill workout and let the treadmill dictate my workout.

When you are able to walk 3 miles outside or on a 1-2% treadmill incline without stopping AND with it feeling like a medium level effort, then you are ready to run.

Running will not happen automatically for the majority of us. It will frustrate the hell out of you. You WILL want to give up. You will burn out. There will be plenty of bad days that can certainly outnumber the good ones. Avoid burnout by:

  • Limiting how many days you run. DO NOT run every day. Your body is essentially building up new muscles. You need time to rest and recover. When I started, and even today, I only run 3-4 times a day.
  • Start SLOOOOOOWWWWWW. Speed comes with time. I promise. My first run was a 14 minute mile. A year later, I can run 10:30s. If you insist on running at a certain pace for whatever reason, then give yourself:
  • Time to get better. Just as speed will come, so will endurance. Your first run may only last 10 seconds (or less). Be proud of that. Write it down. Tell your super supportive and understanding friends. Send me an email! Try to run at that same level for a 2 or 3 more runs until you try to run for longer. Add on another 5 seconds and repeat. Celebrate, record it, run at that level a couple more times, and then add on. In a month, you may go from running 10 seconds at a time to running for 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Sign up for a race. Be realistic. For most people starting at my level (which was obese and overweight), give yourself 3-4 months to train. Or, if you are ready to go, try interval running (which I will go in to) or walking a race. 5Ks are the best way to start. They are 3.1 miles long and are a great distance to play with.

And with that, comes my next recommendation. Typically, I would tell everyone to try Couch to 5K. It’s a pretty popular program that has gotten great results. I did it… twice. But here’s what they dont tell you: Couch to 5K doesn’t build you up to a 5K unless you can run a 10 minute mile. Instead, it builds you up to running 30 minutes straight. That’s great if that is your goal (and can be a great one)…

But what if you cant run 30 minute straight? What if your body needs that walk break? Are you still a runner? Can you still become one?

YES. Yes, you can. And dont let anyone ever tell you that you cant.

How do I run 10:30s? I do it with intervals. I run 3:1… in other words, I run for 3 minutes at a 9 min/mile pace and then I walk for 1 minute at a 17 min/mile pace. And then I repeat… over and over again.

I can run a straight mile. In fact, I can run a 5K straight. I’m pretty sure I could run 5, if I really wanted to. But I dont. Running intervals has kept me injury free, helped me avoid burn out, and has made me fall more in tune with my body. And it’s all thanks to this guy:

I bought this book about two weeks before my first 5K in March. A week before that same 5K, I tried it out. I ran a 5K at my normal pace (a 14 minute mile) and finished in 43 minutes. Respectable, but I pretty much wanted to die afterwards. Two days later, I tried to do the 5K with intervals (I started with :45/1:00… run for 45 seconds and then walk for a minute). My time on that run? 41:40. With the race a week away, I turned to Jeff Galloway’s many message boards on Spark and, with their support, ran the race with those same intervals. I did it in 40 minutes.

I was blown away! How could walking while running longer distances help so much? ¬†And even better… I was in no pain. I finished my race feeling like I could go another mile. And with a few exceptions, I’ve felt that way after every single one of my runs ever since. I’ve ran the Galloway method for over 8 months now and I will not be going back to straight running any time soon.

But ultimately, it comes down to what works for you. There are a MILLION plans out there that will get you going. Some will have you run almost every day. Others will have you running only once a week…. your level of commitment should be reflected in the plan you chose. And when you hit a milestone (say, run your first mile or minute), reward yourself. Make it a fun game.

And with that game, make sure you’ve got ample support. People who laugh at you, tell you that your slow, or try to squash your plan are not support. If you end up with no one, send me an email. I’m not joking. I’m here almost 24/7 to help you, rant with you, and jump with joy when you cross the finish line.

And, while I’m thinking about it, I’ve got one more major tips: BUY RUNNING SHOES. Dont just go to payless and pick out the prettiest pair of Nikes you can find or the cheapest pair in the store. Invest in your fitness. Get yourself to a running store and ask to be fitted. Running shoes fit differently than your regular shoes (I wear an 8 in regular shoes, but an 8.5 Wide since I need more room in my toe box and my feet and ankles tend to swell). They will watch you stand, walk, and run to determine your shoe support needs. Shoes can be expensive, but be honest with them. If you cannot afford $150 pair of shoes, then let them know at the start. They will give you options.

So, that’s it. Start slow, avoid burn out, and try different plans till you find the one that works for you. When you do poorly, let it go and move on. When you do great, celebrate.

I hope this helps!

She’s Was Working In a Barbershop…

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I think there is only one person who can accurately describe my current feelings, so I’ll let him do all the talking:

..

.

It’s weigh in day.

..

.

I worked my butt off. Wait, scratch that. I didn’t in fact, I apparently worked so hard, I worked some of it back on.

Mother f$%ker.

My workouts last week were awesome:

Friday: Hard 5K
Saturday: Spin class
Sunday: 8 miles on a treadmill… on a g-damn treadmill… while watching the BEARS game, damnit.
Monday: 20 minute intense core workout
Tuesday: 60 minute upper body strength training
This morning: Tempo 5K

To be honest, this has been the best week I’ve had in eating as well. I’ve even gotten back to tracking.

But what did all my hard work and persistence get me? 168.4
(For those keeping score, that’s a ounce weight gain)

I've sunk so low, I'm not even above posting a Garfield cartoon.

Part of me, the evil Fran Drescher side, is like,

“Honey, forget about it! You see those workouts? You’ve been getting back to strength training, which is FAB, but really… you know you gain weight for awhile after pumping irons…”

The other part of me, the Cici Babcock (if you will) screams,

“Puh-lease, you non-sensical twit. You still at candy, chips, and even freakin’ McDonalds. Who are you trying to fool, cause it ain’t your waistline.”

Of course, Fran’s mom has something to add…

Sylvia

“Oh, hunnny… stohp beehting yoself up ovah id! Id wahz a lohng wheek. New dawg, ahnowing clahss, big fight… ah dounat ere an there won hurt ya!”

And because this Nanny reference has to end at some point…

“Most annoying blog post ever.”

All of these highly annoying, fictional characters have a point. I worked out a ton, and strength training does mean some initial weight gain. HOWEVER, while I also ate pretty decently, I slipped up big time in the snack department. The stress of the new dog and some drama doesn’t help either.

What am I going to do? Keep on, keeping on. I’m washing my hands of it and moving on. More strength training, because it makes me feel good, and I am going to continue pushing my 5K runs just because they make me feel great. Next week, I’ll get back to yoga and I’ll make sure that I really sweat it out in my spin class. That’s all I can do at this point.

12

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Weigh-in days. I wake up, nervously, and being the weigh-in routine:
6am wake up
Forget that it’s Wednesday
Walk around the apartment aimlessly while admiring my fantastic bed head
Make it to the bathroom after several circles around the kitchen counters
As I turn on the showers, realize that, MY GOD, it’s WEDNESDAY.
Turn on the Wii Fit and attempt to place the board in the exact place as last time.
Curse as the tv’s Wii Board berates you for not checking in since last Wednesday
Notice how disheveled my Mii is. And wonder why my belly is sticking out of my shirt. Do underweight Miis have baggy, hobo looking clothes?
Quickly tear off the layers of bed clothes I have on so I dont get charged a single ounce more.
Wait… wait… measuring… measuring… measuring… ALL DONE! wait… wait… wait…
Watch as the BMI meter shouts out “Overweight!” and it makes the “wah-wah-wah” music
BUT, happily dance as I see that I’ve actually lost weight this week.
Get pissed when it’s only 2 ounces.
Remind myself that it IS 2 ounces.
Hear the water splashing in the tub and run off mindlessly…

Yes, I lost 2 ounces this week.

It’s better than nothing? Or gaining. Or being back to the 30lbs heavier weight than I was one year ago.

It all counts, right? Every stinkin’ ounce adds up… eventually.

And I have been loosing inches. Thank gawd. SOB and I went on a home goods Target run on Monday. And while he was on a search for ironing boards and the elusive $3 iron, I went straight for the jeans. All day long, I wondered “Could I be a size smaller now?” I hadn’t really tried on any smaller pants over the last year, so maybe this was my time. I grabbed a pair of size ___ and a pair of dockers in the same size and headed for the changing room.

I’m not joking when I say it took a bit of courage to even put them on. I’ve tried this song and dance before, and I always end up frustrated and (admittedly) in tears. But I’ve ran a half marathon. I can freakin’ try on a pair of pants!

So, I did. The first pair, the dockers, were tight, but buttoned up and zipped. If it weren’t for some obvious rolls going on, I’d count it a success. The jeans, on the other hand, slipped over my thighs like it was nothing. And as I buttoned the top button and zipped the fly, I looked up to see someone standing in her perfect sized jean. No rolls, no muffin tops, no fly or button ready to burst.

 

They just fit. I did some squats in them, just to make sure. And then a booty dance… just because.

I could have cried. Ok, I did cry. I hadn’t worn that size (correctly) since my freshman year of high school. And since the last thing to shrink on my body is always my stomach and hips, I couldn’t be happier to FINALLY see some tangible progress. It’s been a long, emotion sucking road.

Those 2oz are one step closer to getting me to a normal size. I just have to keep telling myself that, and occasionally checking in on the jeans department.

Why I Dont Support Your Weight Loss

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Support from family and friends means the absolute world to me. Even when you dont know it, you are giving me the strength and courage to fight my deamons- weight loss, depression, desire to eat popcorn every night, addiction to MTV reality shows, etc.

Today, one of my coworkers, whom I only see in the Fall, stopped by my office to ask about music gigs. The first thing she said to me was “Oh my goodness. When did you get so small?” She didn’t know that I had been working my ass (literally) off for the last 9 months. She wasn’t prompted or given a cookie to say such nice things. And I wasn’t wearing lyrca infused miracle panties. She just said it.

Feeling good, I thanked her for her words and we started discussing running and all of my races, including this weekend’s Fleet Feet Women’s 10K/5K. Little does she know that when I’m running on Sunday, I’ll be thinking about how her face lit up when I said, without hesitation, that I am running to get healthy.

It’s easy to blow smoke up my ass. It is still that large, but it’s one thing to show genuine interest. And that’s what keeps me moving. I hope I do the same in return for all of my friends who are out there at the gym or are posting fitspiration blogs and race recaps. We are all in this together.

BUT, and it’s a big BUT, I will not support just anyone. You have to do this smartly. This shouldn’t just be about the number on the scale or the size of your tape measure. This is about obtaining the healthiest, manageable lifestyle. For many of us, that does include dropping 20-30-40-50-100lbs. So, just so we are clear on why I’m not friending you back on Sparkpeople or why I refuse to give you any advice on facebook, here’s a list of my exceptions:

I will NOT support you if you are intentionally eating under 1200 calories a day. Whether it be for a wackado diet or your own need to cut your calories, 1200 is not sufficient. 1200 calories is what you need to have normal brain function- that’s not to strive, create, push yourself through tough workouts. 1200 is the baseline low that you should shoot to get over. And when I mean over, let me say that as a 4’11” female at the weight of this tshirt cannon:

I strive to eat between 1400 calories (non-workout days), 1600 calories (strength and short runs), 2000 calories (long runs or over 2 hours of cardio). I’m assuming you are not as short as me, so add about 100 calories to each of those numbers and you most likely have the number you should be eating at if you are female.

I wont even begin to list all the horrors that could go on if you continue to eat at 1200, but let’s sum it up by saying that you will most likely give up, gain weight (starvation mode really does suck), or wind up with depression/muscle loss/fatigue/hair and nail loss/etc. So dont do it, please.

On the same line, I will NOT support you if you partake in a dangerous or redic. diet trend. That 1200 number? Subtract it by about 400 calories. That’s how much you are allowed to eat for the first week of a diet that requires you to also inject yourself with hormones twice a day. How idiotic does that sound? And oddly enough, it’s a real thing that quack doctors supposedly recommend. Do not tell me you are doing this diet to be healthy when clearly the means of getting you there are downright dangerous.

 Even the caveman doesn’t want to participate in the Caveman Diet.

I will NOT support you if you dont give yourself rest days. It’s a rookie mistake, I know, and there are weeks in which I will forget that my body cannot recover unless I let it. If you’re a new runner, dont run every day. In fact, 3 days a week is what most 5K-10K runners use to train. Any more is unnecessary and can lead to injury. And, if you dont allow your body to rest, I can guarantee you that you will burn out.

I will NOT support you if you are not completely honest about your program and effort. I just read a story about a woman who is tired of listing to her friend complain about all the hard work she puts in at the gym with little results to show. The story goes on to say that the author frequently saw her put in 10 minutes on the “old lady” bike and then spend an hour at the juice bar with a protein shake and a cereal bar.

I know, working out is hard work. And often times, you will get sweaty. Your makeup will run. Your hair will become matted and frayed. And fitness clothes? Sometimes not the most flattering to do squats in. Dont get me started on how boring machines can get or how intimidating classes can be… But these are all excuses. You dont burn a cookie off without sweating just a bit. And you certainly cant take back all those trips to Wendys without making some puddles in spin class. Suck it up. You get what you put in. It may not be immediate and it may not be as exciting as you had hoped, but it will come and it will pay off.

And finally, I will NOT support you if you try to sell me something. When did weight loss become the Mary Kay industry? I’m not knocking those who do it, and I apologize in advance if you do sell for these organizations. But here’s a big warning: Do not even attempt to sell to me. I wont bite. Same thought, but dont even try to make me a part of your “sales team.” I’m not going to your fitness party and I’m certainly not trying your “gourmet” shakes (that will subsequently cost me over $200/month for).

It’s that easy. Eat right, put in the right amount of exercise, know when to rest, and dont try to sell me shit. Do this and I promise that I’ll be there at every mile to cheer you on and blow smoke up your huge bum until it’s small and perky.

Fit Book Review

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I own a total of one, count them ONE, fitness oriented books. You’d think with my obsession, I’d have a library full, but I’m sadly not on the book bandwagon.That, and I feel weird about buying books.

Anyways, ever since I started my ongoing Biggest Loser Challenge on sparkpeople.com, I’ve heard nothing but raves for one book in particular:

Friends were getting pretty awesome and consistent results with this book, so I set out to get one. Only problem was my aversion to buying books. While the CPL has a couple in it’s shelves, it is ALWAYS checked out. When I finally got my new toy (my precious!), I decided to bite the bullet and download it. Having an electronic copy made it easier for me to lug it around to my apartment’s gym and local YMCA anyways. Win-win.

Now, for the good stuff.

The book is split up in to four-ish sections:
I. The introduction. Obviously, it does as it should. It gives you a vague overview about what you’re getting in to and some of the benefits of making ladies lift barbells instead of “Barbie” weights. I already lift weights regularly and do not use the pastel colored variety, so this already made sense to me. This is a great section to read if you are on the fence about your need to lift anything but a tv remote and spoon as it does walk you through the medical reasons why weight lifting is better than about 80% of what you probably do in the gym today. Throughout the book, he uses a large number of somewhat recent medical and university based studies to support or break down his findings. He even tells you when they are small studies, which I support as a complete and utter nerd.

What I did not like is how he puts down endurance training. What he says about endurance (especially running), makes sense in that cardio, especially non-interval work for long periods of time, breaks down muscles while strength training builds it back up. However, I think there are many cardiovasucal benefits that outweigh the good and bad of running or elliptical hogging. The trick is, as he notes, is to focus on intervals rather than continuing endurance. Since I Jeff Galloway my runs, I essentially does what the author supports.
 
II. Nutrition. As you most likely know, there are a BAJILLION diets out there. Most of the big ones- Watchers of Weights, Carbs Are Evil, Near Starvation, Carbs Are Our Friends, etc.- get some attention. He sums up his “diet” pretty simply. We cannot survive on 1200 calories (the lowest we can go to optimally function, but oddly, what most diet gurus suggest). We need the right amount of fuel from macro nutrients: fat, carbs, and protein. By eliminating or drastically decreasing one of those nutrients, we are depleting ourselves of what our bodies need to survive and prosper. Especially when lifting, macro nutrients mean even more to help build the muscle. He suggests the Zone like 30-40-30 ratio. Meaning, most meals should be 40% of your caloric intake should be carbs, and 30% and 30% should be fat and protein.

Protein is the main emphasis. He suggests buying whey protein powder, which I have been meaning to get for my morning smoothies. I, personally struggle with protein consumption. I tend to eat only about 60-80 grams a day when we should, as exercisers, get 100+. Now, as we know SOB is a vegan and protein consumption can be very difficult for those who are not living off of perdue chicken planks like I am. The author does mention vegan and vegetarian lifestyles in a somewhat positive way, but this book is not for you if you are unable to manage that large amount of protein in your diet.

III. Workout Plan. Basically, his strength plans are all large muscle groups with light emphasis on the core (which, if you read or study the body, you know that the core are actually muscles connected to other muscles… so you are working your core when you use your legs, shoulders, etc). My first workout was last night and it went like this:
Warm Up: Floor to stand squats
Exercise A (continuous): 2 sets of 15 reps of barbell squats
Exercise B1 and B2 (repeated): 2 sets of 15 reps of 60 degree angle push ups and 2 sets of 15 reps of step ups with 10lb weights in each hand
Exercise C1 and C2 (repeated): 2 sets of 15 reps of standing rows with barbell and 2 sets of 8 reps of a jackknife lunge on the swiss ball

Now, this is the easiest workout, so the amount and quality increases over time, but you can personalize it however you want. He does not tell you how much weight to use, but even though I do lift frequently, I struggled with just the weighted barbell on the squats and rows. Unless you are using a very light or smaller barbell, this could be quite the challenge ahead. Oh, and I should mention that even with the 60 second rests in between the sets, I did this routine in 30 minutes. I like efficiency in my workouts.

Overall, the book gives you enough plans for about 6-9 months of workouts. They are also broken down in different stages and the exercises offer vary in difficulty. The pictures of the workouts are great and really helped me decipher what was needed to be done, but if you aren’t a picture person, his descriptions are pretty straight forward. Just read beforehand.

What I did not like… 6 months is all you get. There is really no explanation on what to do when you finish the program. It’s just done. I also do not like that he doesn’t list the equipment you will need. If I didn’t have access to my apartment gym or YMCA, I’d be furious if I bought this. Just in case you’re curious, you will need: a barbell with plates, a step (preferably a block step or a bench), hand weights over 5lbs, swiss balls, and cable machines (but there are modifications mentioned if you do not have this). All in all, I got it done in my bare minimum apartment gym, but my barbell was much larger than the one used in his book, I used a bench as my step block, and I opted to do the standing row instead of a sitting one since I dont have a cable machine that modifies.

IV. Motivation. The last part is about motivation. To be honest, it didn’t really inspire me, but I’ve been on this journey for awhile. When I got to the last section, I just wanted to do it. I didn’t need to hear about all the excuses he hears or how he wishes me well. I do like that he is no-nonsense. Just get your work done. You’re on vacation? Great. Take it, enjoy it, maybe workout if that’s your thing. But when you get home, get in to the routine. Ok. Kids stressing you out? Deal with that. Work out later. Modify. Adjust. Adjust some more.

So my overall opinion is that this book would be great for those ladies out there who are intimidated by the weight room, but who have some experience with weights or lifting. If you have no idea what a barbell is or cannot perform a pushup on your knees, try something lighter until you’re ready. You will not lose weight with lifting, but you will most likely lose inches and gain some balls-to-the-wall confidence. And, dear god, you will NOT bulk up.