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Mission Accomplished

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The summer has gone by quickly and my challenge has ended. At the beginning I stated my goal as follows:

My challenge is to be in the gym every morning before work Monday through Friday. The only reason I won’t be in the gym is if I’m too sick to be there. Otherwise, no excuses. My goal is to gain more muscle mass, shed more fat and reduce my BMI.

I was in the gym every, single morning this summer except for when I traveled for and was on my vacation. While I battled a couple of “bugs,” none of them were ever bad enough to keep me out of the gym. I did gain more muscle and shed fat. I also reduced my BMI. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

I’m glad I said early on that I wasn’t going to focus on the number on the scale or set a specific weight goal for myself. Even without that goal, I was frustrated numerous times by the scale. I worked harder in this last week than I ever have in the gym and the scale didn’t budge. I weighed in this morning at 166 lbs. That has been my weight for the last 2 weeks…even during the week of crazy hormones.

But the rubber met the road when I measured. There were a couple of areas that didn’t change much or actually got slightly larger. Where I found the biggest improvement was in my abdomen. I lost 4 inches around the lower part of my waist. I lost nearly an inch in the upper part. You’d have to see my abdomen to understand the size differences (and no, I’m not posting pics of that…sorry) between my “upper” waist where the curves are and my “lower” waist where my belly button is (and where the waist in the style of today’s jeans sits). I can visually see the difference in my abs since before I started. That alone was reward for all the hard work I put in this summer.

Here are my final stats as measured this morning and compared to June 3:

September 2, 2012                                                    June 3, 2012

Weight: 166 Lbs                                                          168 lbs

BMI: 26.8                                                                       27.1

Upper Arms: L 11 5/8 R 11 1/2                             L 12 1/4 R 12 1/4

Forearms: L 9 7/8 R 9 7/8                                     L 9 7/8 R 9 5/8

Chest: 34 7/8                                                               35 6/8

Waist: (lower) 32 (upper) 30 7/8                       (lower) 36 (upper) 31 3/4

Hips: 42 7/8                                                                 43 7/8

Thighs: L 24 3/8 R 24 7/8                                      L 24 3/4 R 24 3/4

Knees: L 16 1/4 R 16 1/8                                         L 16 R 16 1/2

Calves: L 15 3/8 R 15 5/8                                       L 15 1/2 R 15 1/2

I want to thank God for helping me do this. I talked to Him a lot in the gym and throughout this journey. I am so grateful to have the Lord in my life, not just for times like this but always…no matter the circumstance…no matter the significance…He is my Rock and my Salvation every single day of my life and without Him I can do nothing.

Next I want to thank my friends and my family whose support and encouragement have meant the world to me. I love you all. Thank you to those of you who have told me you’ve read my blog. It is always humbling…and a little embarrassing…to know you’ve read it because I’ve been pretty detailed and honest in the things I’ve talked about here. But the support you give me in telling me you read it is something so wonderful. You will never know how very much it has meant to me.

Finally, I want to thank my readers & subscribers. I don’t know who most of you are but your numbers show up in my stats on WordPress so I know my blog is being read by others. The kind comments and encouragement I have received from total strangers is so amazing to me. Knowing that you are even interested in what this average woman in her 40’s decided to do with her summer is overwhelming. Thank you for your interest.

I haven’t decided what to do with my blog now that my summer challenge is over. My journey certainly hasn’t ended. I will still be in the gym every week but not with the intensity I was this summer. I will be “striving for fitness” for the rest of my life. I may continue to use this blog to document my ongoing journey.

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My Workout Sched 2.0

This week I will change up my routine and focus more on muscle groups.  I will still do 3 days of weights and 2 days of cardio.  On Mondays I will do chest, tris and shoulders.  On Wednesdays I will do all lower body but I will add some more exercises.  On Fridays I will do back, biceps and abs.  I am still doing 3 sets of 12 reps for each exercise but I will also be adding weight.  For cardio, I will still use the elliptical and treadmill, however, I will bump it up to 45 minutes of cardio instead of 30 and still do this on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Hang on to your hats, folks….this is going to be challenging!  But…that’s what this journey is all about.  When it starts to get easy, it’s time to add more weight and switch things up.  My new workout routine is below:

Upper Body – Day 1

CHEST – push-ups, pulley flies and one of the following:  pec-dec, incline dumbbell presses or flat dumbbell presses

SHOULDERS – butterfly, power clean and one of the following:  shoulder press, forward raises or lateral raises

TRICEPS – pull down extension, kick-backs and one of the following: skull-crushers, dips or overhead raises)

Upper Body – Day 2

BACK – seated rows, lat pulls and one of the following:  dumbbell rows or bent-over barbell rows

BICEPS – dumbbell curls and one of the following:  seated or standing barbell curls

ABS – revers sit-ups w/weighted ball, leg raises and extension

Lower Body

Dead Lifts and one of the following:  squats w/dumbbells, squats on bosu ball or pop squts

All 4 leg machines

CALVES – standing and seated calf raises

Low Back extension

Week 4

Wow!  So hard to believe I’m already at the 4th week of my new workout schedule.  Time is flying by!  I’m learning new things and enjoying my journey.  A thought that continues to be reinforced is about comparison and how it will surely steal your joy if you entertain those thoughts.  You should never compare yourself to others but instead try to be the best YOU that you can be.  If you must compare then compare yourself to yourself.  Are you improving, growing, changing, advancing?  Are you picking yourself up when you fall down?  Are you breaking through the obstacles?  Are you striving to reach your goal?  If you’re doing these things then you are succeeding! 

If you are my age you shouldn’t look across the gym at that twenty-something hard-body with no kids and a revving metabolism and feel bad about yourself because you’re forty-something with 2 kids, have a ton of stretch marks and saggy spots to show for it and a metabolism that isn’t what it used to be.  What joy is there in that?  NONE!  I’m never going to be that young hard-body.  But I can look back through pictures and see how far I’ve come in 2 years.  I know how much better I feel.  I’m extatic about that!  Stop being concerned about how far you have to go and start finding the joy there is to be had in the process.  You just might be the roll model that someone else is looking for.

Ladies, don’t be afraid to use the weight side of the gym.  I think so many women really want to use the weights but either don’t have the first clue what to do (like me) or they are so intimidated by the men they are too afraid to try (also like me).  When I first joined a gym last summer, I told the owner I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and he got me started in circuit training using the machines.  That was great for about the first 6 weeks or so but then my body got used to the routine and stopped responding.  I became frustrated to the point of nearly quitting completely after about 3 months of machine workouts.  That’s when I enlisted the help of a personal trainer who also happens to be my nephew.  The first thing he did was take me over to the weights side of the gym and get me using the barbells and dumbbells.  It was the best thing he could have done and he worked with me until I was confident in the new exercises and could do them on my own.  Almost every gym has trainers available to you.  It is well worth it to purchase a few sessions to get going and then purchase a few more later when you need to change things up.  Free weights are your FRIENDS, people!  Use them!

What I discovered working with my nephew is there’s no reason to be intimidated.  Are there creepers in the gym who watch me workout?  I’ve encountered one in the last year and that was just this past week.  The vast majority of the men in the gym are so involved in what they are doing that they pay no attention to me at all.  There are also some who are willing to help if you ask a question.  I think most of them respect women who use the weights and don’t just relegate themselves day after day to the treadmill or the elliptical machine.

I also think some women are afraid to get “bulky.”  Let me just say this.  I haven’t felt as feminine as I do right now in years….maybe ever.  I’d a lot rather have some lean muscle tone on my arms and legs than go back to what I used to have.  I’ve been lifting weights for a year and I am by no means bulky.  Muscles are feminine, ladies.  You won’t look like Lou Ferrigno.  You don’t have the body type or the hormones for that.

OK…on to this week’s workout.

MONDAY:  After a long weekend of fun and friends, it was hard getting up to go to the gym this morning.  I did my lower body workout and switched out the deadlifts for squats using a bosu ball.  It’s really hard to stand up on the round side of the ball (this is a half-ball with a flat side and a round side) and do squats.  It takes a lot of balance but it really works my thigh muscles.  The first time I did this after my nephew showed me how, I couldn’t walk right for about 3 days!  I’m getting more used to it now.  The rest of my workout was pretty routine.

I got what I call a “fair weather” sinus headache later in the day on Monday.  I get them on bright, sunny, cloudless days.  It must be related to the high pressure on those days or something.  They tend to last for 3 days when I get them.  Bring on the Advil Cold and Sinus!

TUESDAY:  I was in bed by 9 PM Monday night and slept pretty well but still had trouble getting going Tuesday morning.  I tried to be excited about the elliptical machine but I just didn’t have it today.  My sinus headache is still there just under the surface but certainly not horrible.  I still managed to do my 2  miles in under a 15 minute pace each but it was a lot harder today than last week.  Maybe it’s the junk I ate over the weekend….?  Interesting how some days can be so much better than others.

WEDNESDAY:  Ugh!  I think I must be dehydrated.  Getting enough water is one of my biggest challenges.  I’ve had that sinus headache for 2 days now and had to take sinus meds to take the edge off on Monday and Tuesday.  That tends to dry things out quite a bit.  The reason I think I’m dehydrated is because EVERYTHING was hard in the gym this morning….even my 5 minute warm-up on the treadmill.  Each exercise hurt  right from the first repetition.  My muscles felt very fatigued and weak.  It can’t be because I’m not getting enough rest or calories.  I was in bed by 8:45 PM last night and I slept pretty well, too.  It’s got to be fluids.

THURSDAY:  Back on the elliptical today.  It was a little better than Tuesday but not as exhilarating as last week by any means.  I tried to drink more water yesterday and I think it helped.  My sinus headache wasn’t as bad either so I didn’t have to take any meds on Wednesday.  My muscles didn’t burn or ache today like they did on Wednesday either.  Still got the 15 minute mile pace on the first mile and under 14 minutes on the second one.  Mr. Blue Sky gets me going up to about 6.4 for 3 minutes or so. 🙂  The rest of the music my son loaded on my ipod  keeps me in the mid to upper 4 range.  So pace-wise I did pretty well but energy-wise I felt lacking.

FRIDAY:  Today’s workout was pretty good.  I have noticed when I bent down to do the deadlifts that my knees were pointing inward.  I wasn’t sure what the problem was so today I tried changing my grip on the barbell.  At my gym, we have pre-weighted barbells that are bent.  I don’t particularly care for the bent ones, however, they are supposed to be better for you.  They are bent in 4 places and I put my hands on the bends that are closer to the center when I do bicep curls with the barbell.  I was doing the same thing for deadlifts.  When I moved my hands to the bent spots that are closer to the weights at the ends, it changed how my knees bent, too.  I’m guessing it has to do with the over all distribution of the weight.  It was much smoother doing it this way.

That completes Week 4.  I can hardly believe that much time has passed already.  I feel a pretty awesome sense of accomplishment.  I will measure again this weekend and post an update of my stats.  I sure hope I’m moving in the right direction even if the scale doesn’t show it.

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