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Week 6

This week marks the midway point of my summer workout challenge.  Time sure is flying by!  I really feel like I have to make the most of these next 6 weeks.  I am trying to remind myself that this isn’t about the number on the scale but after last week’s diet disaster, it’s hard not to focus on that.  I didn’t set a particular BMI goal level…only to reduce it.  If I’m honest with myself I have to admit that what I really want is to be out of the “over weight” category…which will require a 16 lb weight loss.  But do I want to focus on that?  I know from past experience that if I get fixated on a number on the scale I will not be able to enjoy the progress I do make if I don’t make that one goal.  I don’t want to do that to myself.  So what is the answer?

MONDAY:  Today was chest, shoulders and triceps day.  There was nothing really remarkable to speak of during my workout except the gym seemed crowded this morning with 2 other people there besides me.  I’ve gotten used to having the place all to myself this early in the morning.  I also had a little bit of an issue with my left shoulder but nothing that made me think I should alter my workout in any way.  Aside from that, it was fine.  My mood and hormones, however, were NOT.  I can’t wait for the next couple of days to pass so I can get back to feeling more like myself again.  Sometimes it really stinks to be female.

I still have no food in the house so finding a good lunch & dinner today is job #1.  I am going grocery shopping tonight so tomorrow will be a better nutrition day.

TUESDAY:  I can already feel the hormone fog beginning to lift.  It is amazing what hormones can do to how I feel, think and act.  I am beginning to get a better perspective on what happened last week and how to move forward from here.  It also helps to have a new supply of food in the house to make better choices with.

I did my first 45 minute cardio workout on the treadmill this morning.  It has been several weeks since I completed an entire workout on the treadmill.  I forgot how hard it is.  It amazes me that I can get so breathless and feel so exhausted by the end and I only burned 3 more calories than I do on the elliptical for the same period of time.  That just seems patently unfair, doesn’t it?  I did go a slightly shorter distance but really it’s basically all the same.  Several times I wanted to give up and only go 30 minutes.  But instead of doing that I backed my speed down a little bit from 7.0 running to 6.5 running for about 4 or 5 intervals.  I also added about 7 seconds to when I switched from walking to running.  That seemed to help.  At the very least, it allowed me to finish my full workout and not succumb to the difficulty.

I noticed some pretty major tenderness in my upper left back today.  I had some shoulder difficulty on the left side on Monday so I wonder if it’s connected.  It actually itches it’s so sore and it feels like I got hit with something and there’s a bruise back there.

WEDNESDAY:  Today was lower body.  Again, nothing remarkable to speak of regarding my workout.  The tenderness in my upper left back is still there but better than yesterday.  I also feel like I’m walking funny today and I wonder if it has anything to do with yesterday’s treadmill workout.  My right foot feels “off.”  I can’t put my finger on the problem.  It just feels like it doesn’t want to work right and I’m slapping it down on the floor when I walk.  It doesn’t hurt but I’m definitely walking funny.  Hmmmmm…….Maybe it’s my shoe.  I have a pair of Birkenstocks I’ve had for about 6 or 7 years.  I LOVE them!  I know my feet are smaller (or rather thinner) than they used to be.  I have adjusted the straps.  Maybe I need to adjust them again.  I have one hole left!

THURSDAY:  I decided this morning to split my cardio workout between the elliptical and the treadmill.  I did the first 25 minutes on the elliptical which was pretty uneventful.  I stuck to the 15 minute mile pace (or slightly under).  When I switched to the treadmill, however, I encountered problems.  First, my left ankle felt like it needed to crack and I couldn’t get it to.  I even got off the treadmill for a minute to stretch and still nothing.  The sensation made me feel like my footing wasn’t sure.  In addition, my right foot was still flapping away on the treadmill whether I was walking or running.  I did 2 running intervals and decided that was enough.  I walked the rest at a 3.5 pace (approx. 16 min. mile).  I still managed to burn a total of 345 calories between the 2 machines but I was unimpressed with my treadmill performance.  It was during this ordeal that I realized my foot flopping issue has nothing to do with my Birkenstock shoes (I wasn’t even wearing them!) and EVERYTHING to do with my rapidly tightening right hamstring muscle.  My leg doesn’t want to fully extend which causes my foot to “flop” about mid-stride.  I guess I need to spend some time doing hamstring stretches tonight.

FRIDAY:  I am always glad to get to this point in the week.  Workouts on Friday are much more motivational because I know I get 2 days of blissful rest after this.  🙂 Today’s workout went pretty well.  I didn’t slack and I tried a new bicep exercise my nephew suggested.  It’s called a French Curl.  You use a barbell with lighter weight than you would use for a traditional bicep curl and place your hands on the bar palms down.  I can already feel some soreness in my arms because I worked muscles that rarely get used.  I love trying new things and seeing/feeling the results afterward.

I also want to give a shout out to my friend, MHH from Sustainable Health and Fitness (http://sustainablehf.wordpress.com/2012/06/06/the-journey/) for helping me with my wretched hamstring muscle.  She reminded me how to stretch it and I spent about 20 minutes rolling around my living room floor and putting my feet on furniture trying to stretch that sucker back into the proper size.  I felt like my leg was slowly shrinking on me!  It is MUCH better today and I am grateful.  So, thanks, MHH!  I love you to pieces!  xoxo

I asked at the beginning of this post what the answer was to my dilemma with the scale.  The answer is proper perspective.  I have to regain the perspective I had at the beginning of this.  I know I am making positive progress because I can feel it in my body and others have commented on it.  Forward motion…no matter how small…is the goal.  Progress….baby steps in the right direction.  Any weight lost will result in a lower BMI which is what I want.  I might not get out of the overweight category this summer and that’s OK.  That doesn’t mean I won’t eventually and when this challenge is over, it gives me something to continue to strive for.

Week 5

This week was the beginning of my new workout for the next month.  As you’ll see, I thought I might be taking it too easy at first.  But after each day I experienced a decent amount of soreness so I know I’m on the right path and I’m challenging myself sufficiently.

MONDAY:  When I sat down last night and determined what my new workout would be for the next 4 weeks I thought I may have been too easy on myself.  I thought I’d whip right through it and have plenty of time at the end for 15 minutes of cardio.  Looking at it on paper it just didn’t seem like that much.  Then I went to the gym this morning and did my first day of upper body (1 of 2 days in my new routine).  I added weight to my shoulder butterflies, power clean and tricep kick-backs.  I no longer think I’m being too easy on myself!  The workout was still approx. 40 to 45 minutes long and not only did I not have time for cardio, the muscles in my arms were quivering when I left the gym.  If soreness follows tomorrow, I know I’m on the right path.

TUESDAY:  This morning I did my first 45 minutes of cardio and I did it on the elliptical machine again.  I didn’t go at the fast pace of 6.4 at all during this workout.  The fastest I went was in the low to mid 5’s.  I did this on purpose because I was adding an extra 15 minutes and I wanted to be able to finish the workout.  I finished and went a total of 3.25 miles so I was still at or under the 15 minute mile pace for all 3 miles.  I also burned 376 calories according to the display on the machine.  It was hard going for that long.  I’m glad it was hard because if it was easy I wouldn’t be challenging myself.

It was also hard to recover from.  It’s been 3 hours since I finished and even with coffee, I’m feeling more fatigued than normal.  It could be because that lovely female gift is going to arrive again this week.  More likely it’s the additional cardio.  I also noticed in the middle of my workout my heart rate dropped to 125 and stayed there for a couple minutes before it suddenly popped back up to 172.  Not sure what that was all about.  I hope it was a glitch in the machine and not in my heart!  I have had issues with my heart rate spiking before.  I’ll have to keep an eye on that.  I am also sore from yesterday’s workout which is a good sign regarding the difficulty level.

WEDNESDAY:  Happy Independence Day!  It might be a national holiday but I was still in the gym this morning to do my lower body workout.  I did sleep in for an hour though so that was nice. 🙂  I have to admit, I’m not really “feeling it” today.  I think I might be fighting another cold bug (gggrrrr!).  For now I plan to ignore it and go on as usual.  I pushed through and got it all done without slacking.  I reintroduced myself to pop squats today.  My trainer showed these to me a few months ago as part of a cardio workout.  They are pretty fun and they really work the thigh muscles.

I plan to spend the rest of the day having some fun in the sun with friends and church family.  I will probably indulge in a few treats, too, but I’m not going to worry about it.  Life isn’t much fun if we deprive ourselves of treats…especially on holidays.  If you’ve worked hard and “earned” the treats, there’s no reason to feel guilty about eating some.

THURSDAY:  Today is a cardio day.  I started off on the elliptical machine but about 25 minutes into my workout I started getting a twinge in my lower left back in the area known as the sacrum.

Last summer I injured my sacrum by running on uneven pavement.  The result was a shooting pain down my left leg that was so intense, I initially thought I had pulled a hamstring muscle.  I spent about $130 over the course of a month at the chiropractor fixing the problem and then had to nurse my leg for another month or so afterward.  A friend of mine who is a physical therapist showed me an awesome stretch that completed the healing process of my injury.  You stand in front of a chair and place your foot in the seat of the chair with your toes toward the back of the chair.  Then you turn the foot that is on the floor so your toes point to the side.  In this position your feet look like they are making the letter “L.”  Then you turn your body in the direction the foot on the floor is pointing and “hang” by bending at the waist and letting your arms dangle.  This action stretches the sacrum.  It is awesome!  I am so grateful to her for showing me this stretch.  It made all the difference in the world to my recovery.

When I felt that familiar twinge yesterday, I finished up the minute I was on and then switched to the treadmill for the last 20 minutes of my workout.  I’m glad I did because the twinge subsided.  It is important to listen when your body speaks so you can avoid injury and a long set-back from reaching your fitness goals.

Over all my workout was pretty good.  I haven’t run intervals for a while so it was nice to do something different for cardio.  I will likely run intervals again next week on Tuesday and Thursday and give the elliptical a rest for a bit.

FRIDAY:  Aahhhh…..Friday!  Today I did the second day of my new upper body workout.  It went well.  I didn’t push too hard doing the barbell curls today.  I am doing 2 more biceps exercises than I was doing last month and I didn’t want to push it where weight was concerned.  I’ll see how the next week goes and increase it if I don’t seem to be challenged.

I’m not looking forward to my weigh in on Sunday.  I indulged on the 4th and that lovely monthly female thing is going to make an appearance this weekend.  Along with it will come extra water retention.  I think I’ll be riding my 5 lb float in the upward direction this time.  We’ll see what Sunday brings.

Stats Update 1.0

Sunday, July 1, 2012

I must admit, I was pretty apprehensive about doing this today. After having the “getting skinny” feeling and then seeing my weight swing up 3 lbs I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I am happy to say I’m relieved and excited about my measurements. In fact, I had to go back and double-check a couple of them. I re-measured my knees because there was an increase in my left knee and my lower waist because the reduction was so big.

Taking into consideration that it’s hard to measure the exact same spot every time, I think I did pretty well. I measure my upper waist in the middle of where the curve starts and my lower waist just above my bellybutton. For knees, I measured the fat above my knee. For calves, I measured the top part to include a pocket of fat I have just below my knee. For my thighs, I measured the top part that has the most fat (that area that always seems to touch). For my chest, I measured the upper part just under my armpits because there is an area of fat there that I want to get rid of. For everything else, I measured the largest area.

Sunday, June 3, 2012                                   Sunday, July 1, 2012 (4 wks)

BMI: 27.1                                                           BMI: 26.8

Weight: 168 lbs                                                Weight: 166 lbs

Upper Arms: R: 12 1/4” L: 12 1/4”         Upper Arms: R: 11 5/8″ L: 11 6/8″

Fore Arms: R: 9 5/8” L: 9 7/8”                Fore Arms: R: 9 5/8″ L: 9 7/8″

Chest: 35 6/8”                                                 Chest: 35.5

Waist: 31 6/8” (upper) 36” (lower)        Waist: 31.5″ (upper) 33 6/8″ (lower)

Hips: 43 7/8”                                                   Hips: 43″

Thighs: R: 24 6/8” L: 24 6/8”                   Thighs: R: 24″ L: 24.25

Knees: R: 16 1/2” L: 16”                              Knees: R: 16.5″ L: 16.25″

Calves: R: 15 1/2” L: 15 1/2”                    Calves: R: 15″ L: 15.25″

As you can see, I went down or stayed the same in every area except my left knee. For some inexplicable reason, I went up 1/4 inch there.

I hope the next 8 weeks go as well or better than the first 4 have.  The pictures below don’t show that much of a physical difference (except the current one is blurry and I smiled at the advice of my sister…haha!) but by measurement, there is a difference.

Me on June 3, 2012

20120701-153742.jpg

Week 3

MONDAY:  Much as I wanted to just stay in bed this  morning, I dragged myself out and got to the gym to do my upper body workout.  It went pretty well, all things considered.  I didn’t push to add more weight but rather maintained what I added last week.  I can definitely tell my body is still fighting off this bug because my muscles don’t feel as sure as they did on Thursday and Friday last week.  I am trying very hard not to be deterred.  I don’t feel any worse this morning so I’m taking that as a good sign.  No sign of infection either so I hope this is just a virus that is going to have to run its course.  I also think this is something different/additional to what I started off with nearly 2 weeks ago because the symptoms are slightly different.

Let this be a lesson in making sure you clean the equipment when you are done with it at the gym and even BEFORE you use it.  I’m not saying that I caught this in the gym although it is possible.  I got exposed to enough illness outside the gym this past month to know it likely came from somewhere else.  However, I am in the gym using the equipment with this illness.  I’m not sick enough to stay home.  No fever, no chills or muscle aches, no chest congestion, no abdominal symptoms.  I DO try and make sure I clean the equipment when I’m done for the sake of others who will use it after me.  I need to remember to also clean it before I even start.  Unfortunately, not everyone in the gym cares enough to clean up when they’re through, sick or not.  There are all kinds of germs lurking in the gym.  Just be careful for yourself and courteous to others by remembering to clean the equipment.

TUESDAY:  Back on the elliptical machine today.  This time I did the “manual” program so I could see how many calories I burned.  I think it said 250 when I was done.  That’s better than what I get on the treadmill…another reason to love the elliptical machine.  I kept the 15 min. mile pace on the second half so that was good.  I need to get the 15 min. mile in the first half, too, though.  Something to shoot for. 🙂

I really have to take the time to put music on my ipod for my cardio workouts.  I’ve had it with the gym music from Pandora.  I thought you were supposed to get variety with that program?  I just keep hearing the same 4 songs when I’m in there.  I know, I know…I’ll get sick of my ipod, too, but at least it will be music I like.

WEDNESDAY:  It was really hard to get out of bed this morning.  After waking to take my thyroid meds, I ended up back in a deep sleep cycle and couldn’t shake the fog when my alarm went off.  I got out the door late and that set me behind at the gym.  I did my lower body workout and added weight to the hip abductor and adductor.  I couldn’t do all 3 sets with the additional weight but I did the first 2.  I also added 10 lbs of weight to my dead lifts and 5 lbs of weight to my low back extensions.  I didn’t have time to get both of my abs exercises in so I added 8 reps to each set and on the 2nd and 3rd set I added a 4 lb medicine ball.  I think I will continue to use the ball because the reverse sit-ups are no longer a challenge just using the weight of my legs.  I have nerve damage in my neck from my thyroid surgery so I shouldn’t do a normal sit up.  It requires too much muscle strain in the front of my neck and it causes tightness and restriction.  I’ve been seeing a massage therapist to help alleviate that and he recommended the reverse sit ups to work my abs.

THURSDAY:  I thought I might have over done it yesterday by adding weight to my dead lifts AND the low back extension because a knot developed in my lower left back during the day on Wednesday.  I’m happy to report there is no sign of it today. 🙂

Oh what a difference having your own music to listen to makes in the gym!!  Now I completely understand why 90% of the people in there have ear buds stuffed into their ears.  My son was kind enough to load some music on my ipod for me earlier this week and this morning was my first time using it in gym.  It was nothing short of AMAZING!!  Not only was I able to go on the elliptical at better than a 15 min. mile pace for both miles (just over 13 mins or so ea.) but I had about the best workout ever.  I felt fantastic when I was done!  It was so nice not to have to find a rhythm on that machine while listening to some schmuck drone on about how he’d like to cheat on his current girlfriend with his ex who has lips like an angel.  Give me a break!  I was motivated today by Five for Fighting, Adelle, ELO, The Monkeys, Journey….stuff an old lady like me can relate to!  Haha!  Who knew I could get going so fast on the elliptical to Mr. Blue Sky?  It was exhilarating!

I can also tell my body is starting to respond to the changes these last 2 1/2 weeks.  I’m starting to get that “skinny feeling.”  You may know what I mean.  It’s this sensation I get when my body is starting to shed weight.  It’s hard to describe.  A friend told me yesterday they knew what I meant and that I wasn’t crazy…it’s a real feeling.  Glad to know I’m not crazy in my head.  But after this morning’s workout….crazy in my attitude can sometimes be a good thing.

FRIDAY:  Went a little later to the gym this morning.  I took the day off from work because friends are coming in for the weekend.  I had a lot to do today but I didn’t let that deter me from making sure I got to the gym.  My workout was good.  I’m mostly just looking forward to spending time with our friends.  I hope you have a good weekend, too.  I’ll update my weight again on Sunday.  Oh!  That nasty cold is gone, now, too.  😉

Week One

Whew!  What a week!  On the up side, I got some decent workouts in and my muscles have been nice and sore but not so much that I can’t move.  That tells me I’m making good progress but not overdoing it.

On the down side, the challenges have been…well…challenging!  I expected the new schedule to be harder to get used to than it actually was so that was a plus.  I have been ready for bed sooner than normal but that was expected.  However, the difficulty with illness mid-week was something that I wasn’t ready for.  Here’s a breakdown of how the week has gone:

MONDAY: I slept horribly on Sunday night and woke up tired on Monday.  I managed to have a decent workout in the gym anyway but by the end of the day I was whipped.

TUESDAY:  I had an emotional start but I still got to the gym and did my cardio work out.

WEDNESDAY:  I got a late start so I had to skip one of my abs exercises but I did a few extra reps on the one I did do to try and make up for it a little.  Wednesday also brought the beginning of a sore throat, sneezing and sinus drainage…YUM!  Nothing like a summer cold to start off a new workout schedule!  I was hoping maybe it was late allergies but no such luck.  I also developed a very sore spot in the middle front of my left shoulder that I hoped was only inflammation and wouldn’t interrupt my Friday workout.  Isn’t it just like the devil to get in there and stir things up when we’re trying to improve our health and lives?  I expected there to be some sort of obstacle.  Seems there always is.  Bedtime came early on this day.  I was in bed by 8:30 PM.

THURSDAY:  I woke Thursday morning wondering if this was going to be a day when I would have to skip the gym due to illness.  My sore throat was no better but also no worse.  My head was a little stuffy but not too bad.  I decided to get up and see how I felt.  I ate breakfast at the computer and looked up 3 random articles from different websites to find out whether it is wise to exercise when an illness is setting in.  Here are the articles I read:

Runners World             http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-241-286–9082-0,00.html

Mayo Clinic           http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/AN01097

Health Magazine          http://fitness.health.com/2011/01/20/should-you-exercise-when-youre-sick/

All of these articles said basically the same thing.  Use the “above the neck” rule.  If symptoms are all above the neck (stuffy nose, sneezing, headache, mild sore throat) then it is perfectly fine to work out but probably a good idea not to push beyond the limits and take it easy.  However, when symptoms involve a fever, muscle aches, fatigue or the digestive system it’s best to skip the gym and let your body rest.  Since my symptoms are all above the neck (that sounds funny…), I went to the gym and did 30 minutes of cardio split between the elliptical and the treadmill but I didn’t do any running.  My heart rate peaked at 171 on the elliptical and 153 on the treadmill.  Not stellar but acceptable because prior to setting this goal for myself I would have let the first tickle in my throat prevent me from going to the gym.  I call this progress!

On a happy note, the sore spot in the front of my shoulder was less sore on Thursday! 🙂

FRIDAY:  TGIF!  I don’t know when I’ve ever been so happy to see a weekend!  I’ve spent the last 2 days plying myself with Traditional Medicinals Organic Lemon Echinacea Throat Coat tea.  It is awesome!  I am feeling better today.  I can tell there is still something going on but it’s not getting any worse.  I hope this is an upward trend.

I did my upper body workout again in the gym today.  Like Thursday, I took it easy and didn’t force myself to do heavier weight.  I can tell my body is fighting this bug because even though I wasn’t using the heaviest weight I’ve used in the past, my muscles were still a little weak and it was hard.   The sore spot in the front of my left shoulder is almost completely gone and didn’t bother me at all in the gym.

The sense of accomplishment I feel having fought my way through this week is intoxicating!  If the rest of the weeks go like this one did, even with challenges, I will be fine with that.

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