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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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Week 11

Here we are in the final 3 weeks of my summer challenge.  This week I get to kick it up another notch with my workout.  I have to say it’s hard but I’m glad it’s hard.  If it was easy, I wouldn’t make any progress.

MONDAY:  In week 2 of my 4 week Fat Blaster workout, I will reduce my reps with the weights by 2 (for a total of 10) and add 15 seconds to the cardio side of the weight/cardio combo sets.  I am also adding an additional combo to the 5 I started out with last week.  You wouldn’t think a measly 15 seconds would make that much of a difference but I’m here to tell you….it sure does!  I could barely utter my name by the time I was done today.  YEAH!!  Bring it on!!

The cardio side of the new set is jumping rope.  Again…45 seconds doesn’t seem like that long but it was.  I had flashbacks of my childhood out on the playground in 4th grade jumping rope.  I swear we would start as soon as we reached a rope and wouldn’t stop till the bell rang and ended recess.  And 45 seconds was difficult??  My 9 year old self was really laughing at my 44 year old self this morning.

No more Debbie Downer for me either.  I’ve been beating myself up and feeling bad about what seemingly little progress I’ve made and honestly, I’m sick of my own whining.  Enough!  How is that attitude going to help me?

I finally did something this weekend that I’ve been wanting to do since I started this journey 11 weeks ago.  I bought new gym clothes!  It was a lot of fun.  It felt good to put on my new pants and shirt this morning and work out in new clothes.  It added a little extra oomph to my workout.  If you’ve never shopped for nice gym clothes, I highly recommend it.  Find a good sale and take advantage of it like I did.

TUESDAY:  With my glute muscle all healed up, I was able to do full-on cardio this morning on the treadmill.  It was nice to return to my “old friend.”  The cardio portion of this week’s workout involves intervals of jogging and sprinting….jog for 60 seconds and sprint for 30.  I did as my nephew suggested and attempted to jog at 4.5 on the first interval and right away I knew my heart rate was not going to get even close to normal by the time I had to sprint again.  So for the next intervals I dropped back to a walking pace.  At the bottom of the sprint portion my heart rate was at 182 and at the bottom of the walk it was at 164.  On Thursday, I’m going to try sprinting at 7.5.  That scares me a little bit because I don’t feel as “in control” at that speed but I need to challenge myself with this.  I should be “winded” at the bottom of the sprint and just beginning to gain my breath at the bottom of the walk.  I wouldn’t say I was exactly “winded” today sprinting at 7.0.

WEDNESDAY:  I had a bit of a slow start this morning.  When I finally got out the door, I drove half way to the gym and realized I forgot my ipod.  I rely on it to time my cardio and rest periods.  Thankfully, I don’t live very far from my gym but the time it took to turn around and get it combined with my late start set me back about 15 minutes.  I decided to forgo my 5 minute warm up on the treadmill.  I think most trainers would frown on that (I know mine would!) but I had to do so much maneuvering of equipment this morning to get the bench in place and all my weights gathered, I was pretty warmed up from that.  I wanted to make sure I got all 3 circuits done this morning so I also skimped a little bit on my rest periods.  If I really needed it, I took the whole thing.  Otherwise, if I had caught my breath and my heart rate was fine, I went on to the next combo even if I had 30 seconds of rest time left.  This bought me enough time to get all 3 circuits done but, boy, was I tired at the end.

I’m also having a little trouble with my right leg after yesterday’s cardio workout (insert eye rolling here).  I have no idea what I did.  I noticed at around the 3rd interval that something felt like it needed to “crack” in my right ankle.  This sensation transitioned into a “sensitivity” of sorts that made it feel like my right leg wasn’t as stable as my left.  There was no pain involved, just this odd feeling.  After I got home, the pain set in and it was difficult to walk.  It seemed to get better as the day wore on but after my workout this morning, it’s back.  I took some ibuprofen in the hopes that it’s just some inflammation.  It hurts if I press up and down the sides of my shin bone.  I hope it’s better by tomorrow so I can do my cardio on the treadmill again.

THURSDAY:  My leg felt pretty good this morning till I got on the treadmill and began my cardio workout.  It felt pretty bad afterward and I even got muscle spasms all the way up into my butt but you know what?  I don’t even care.  I started off my intervals at 7.0 then transitioned to 7.5 for the next 7 intervals.  On number 8 I started at 7.5 then kicked it up to 8.0 for the last 15 seconds of my sprint.  Then on the final interval I went all out at 8.0 for the entire 30 seconds.   I feel fantastic!  I am proud of myself for beating the fear of losing control at that speed and just doing it.  It felt great!  I took some ibuprofen for my leg and it feels a lot better now.  I’m not going to dwell on it and I’m certainly not going to let it defeat me.

FRIDAY:  This day is becoming my favorite part of the week for reasons other than it’s the last day of work for a couple days.  I’m finding that I really need the 2 days of no gym time to recover from this workout.  Don’t get me wrong…once I get going, I really enjoy myself in the gym and I love to sweat when I’m working hard.  I finally feel like I’m leaving it all in the gym every day.  I’m not leaving there at the end feeling like I could have done more.  I’ve actually had to use my rest period to go into the bathroom and mop the sweat off my face and chest!  I know if I stay on point with my diet I’m going to get results from this workout.  If I don’t, there’s something wrong.

This workout is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and next week it will get harder and it will again the week after that.  By the time I’m done, I know I will have accomplished something.  I know I will have challenged myself on levels I never dreamed possible 2 years ago.  A quote from one of my all time favorite movies comes to mind.  It’s from A League of Their Own.  At one point, the star player, Dottie Hinson tells her coach, Jimmy Dugan, that she’s quitting baseball and returning to her home state with her husband who just returned from WWII.  She tells Jimmy that it just got too hard.  And Jimmy replies, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”  I couldn’t agree more.

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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