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It really DOES start with food

When last I wrote in January I was beginning to experiment with a new running program formerly known as Couch to 5K (now known as Ease into 5K). I found the program interesting and for a while I did OK with it. Then in early December, I took a deep breath, looked at all the holiday events coming up during the month and decided to just leave the gym alone for a while. Trying to force the issue and “just go” after work when it was late at night and I was way too tired only served to make me miserable and guilty. So for the month of December I was persona non grata in the gym.

Even though I was trying from September until December to at least run on the treadmill, it wasn’t enough to maintain the fitness level I had attained over the previous 15 months. While the scale wasn’t moving much my body composition changed A LOT! I lost my muscle tone and my jeans became uncomfortably tight. I am a walking example of what our trainers tell us all the time about the number on the scale. Skinny-fat is the real deal, people! I’m still a size 14 but it is a very different feeling/fitting size 14 (or 12 depending on the jeans) than the one I had back in August and it’s getting worse.

In January, I put an end to all the slacking and finally…FINALLY…went back to the gym and ventured into the weight room for the first time in 3 months. It wasn’t quite the fish-out-of-water feeling but it was close. Not wanting to over-do, I only did 2 sets of 12 reps for the 3 muscle groups I chose to work (chest, shoulders, tris). The most sobering aspect of it all was how low I had to go on the weights. I basically had to start all over again at square one.

I went with less sets and lighter weights because I didn’t want to be immobile the next day. I know that was a good move because I’m old and I didn’t want to risk injury right out of the gate. 🙂 But seriously, it was sobering and even a little humiliating to realize how far I had fallen in 4 months. It took me 15 months to get where I was previously and only 1/3 of that time to lose it all.

I also decided to start all over at Week 1 Day 1 with the 5K running program. It felt pretty easy starting there but just like the weights, I didn’t want to over-do after not running at all for a month and I also didn’t want to discourage myself by trying to pick up where I left off and not be able to do it. I felt it was best to give myself the opportunity to work out and finish strong.

I wish I could say that since January I have progressed steadily along and have made it back to my former weight levels but I can’t. While I have made some advances, I continue to struggle with wanting to be in the gym. Even the Couch 2 5K program isn’t motivating for me. I can’t put my finger on it. I seriously do NOT understand it. The passion for it is just gone.

One thing I am finding a renewed passion for, however, is eating healthy. Both diet and exercise are important for good health but about 80% of the battle is diet. Fueling my renewed interest is a book I recently learned about called It Starts With Food by Dallas & Melissa Hartwig. I am about 2/3 of the way through the book and I am fascinated by the improved health possibilities offered by following their diet regimen called Whole30. Whole30 is designed to be a temporary change in dietary habits (for 30 days) in order to reset your hormonal and digestive health. However, sometimes people stick with it for longer than 30 days because they get such amazing results from following it. I’m not just talking about weight loss either. Their testimonials chronicle reduced or eliminated symptoms from things like chronic fatigue, migraines, Chrohn’s Disease, depression, fibromyalgia, ADHD, MS and so many more.

I think what I’m learning is having muscles and a tight physique are not a big enough motivator for me to make changes in my life in order to obtain them. Neither is trying to gain enough stamina to run a 5K. What got me interested in fitness in the first place was being 42 years old and in the worst health of my life. I felt 82, not 42, and I wanted to have a life. So I made drastic changes to my DIET, and the resulting renewed energy lead me to want to be more fit, too. It was how I FELT physically, not how I LOOKED physically that was my driving motivation.

That being the case I have made a decision to improve how I feel once again. On April 21st I am going to start my first Whole30. I am apprehensive and excited because I know from prior experience with the Master Your Metabolism way of eating that this will be difficult. But I also know from that experience that the results will be WORTH IT and I will FEEL BETTER.

I’ll be honest…I’m waiting till the 21st because I am going to a party on the 20th and the person throwing it is a great cook. 🙂 I want to be able to indulge in all that will be offered and not have to abstain because of my new diet. And this will be more of a “diet” than Master Your Metabolism is. The Whole30 is meant to be temporary. It is designed to help you find what is the optimal way of eating for YOU and it is NOT about weight loss like so many “diets” are. It is about feeling better and achieving optimal health.

Since my blog was such a huge help in keeping me on track and accountable when I did my summer fitness challenge last year, I thought I would use it again to do the same thing during my Whole30. I will be posting statistics again but probably not in the same “no holds barred” fashion I did before. I will also be posting pics but not pics of me. I’ll be posting pics of yummy food instead 🙂

I hope you will come along for the ride to offer your comments and encouragement along the way. I hope during the process or at the end I will find myself wanting to get into the gym regularly again. I also hope that this will inspire others to do the same thing and maybe even take this challenge along with me.

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A Goal…an Accomplishment..and a Rut

Remember me?  It’s been a long time since I last posted anything to my blog…3 months and 3 days to be exact.  You may not have missed me but I definitely missed you 🙂

The last time I wrote I had just completed my summer fitness challenge for myself.  I had been to the gym Mon thru Fri every week for 3 months.  All of June, July and August.  I accomplished my fitness goals and was feeling pretty proud of myself.  I was also feeling something else….total EXHAUSTION!  I think I can officially say that I burned myself out.  Oh, I didn’t do anything horrible like go into adrenal failure or anything like that.  I just physically, mentally and emotionally burned myself out of fitness for a while.

I spent much of September and October trying to get back into the routine.  I lifted a little.  I did a little cardio.  Mostly though I just took time off.  It was at least 10 days into September before I even attempted to enter the gym.  Part of that was because school started and other obligations got in the way.  But, part of it was also the total lack of desire to go.

My rut has continued on through the fall.  The last time I know for sure I lifted weights was October 11th.  I still don’t have any desire to lift and the lack of doing it is starting to show.  I haven’t gained any weight but my body composition is changing.  I am swapping out muscle for fat.

In spite of all this, what I am finding is that I am normal.  I’m finding that many people go through exactly what I am going through…even people who are in better shape and have been at this much longer than me.  The drive and motivation ebbs and flows.  It gives me hope that this cycle will come to an end soon.

I haven’t given up on fitness completely.  My diet isn’t perfect but it is still better than average.  I’m also slowly rediscovering a desire to run.  You may recall that near the end of my summer fitness challenge I began to loathe all things cardio.  I still don’t want to get in there and pound out a bunch of high-intensity intervals but I am interested in building endurance and “learning” to run distances.

A friend of mine who runs shared a beginning runner program that she used from Runner’s World Magazine and I used it for about 4 weeks.  I did pretty well with it.  I have gotten to the level where I can do several intervals of 3 minutes running and 1 minute walking without feeling like I’m going to die.  I call that progress! 🙂  Then I discovered a new blog called My Fascinating Life http://carolinecalcote.com/ This amazing woman lost over 100 lbs using the Nutrisystem diet.  Then she gave herself the challenge of learning to run a 5K.  She used a program from Cool Running called Couch to 5K.  It is now called Ease Into 5K.  I decided to give it a try and added some music to my routine as well.  What a difference that has made.  I don’t know why I ever stopped using my ipod to do cardio with.  It is so much easier to just get lost in the music and not think about how much longer I have to run.

My running workouts last about 30 minutes, 3 times per week.  I get in, I run, I get out.  Sometimes the weights whisper to me when I’m in the walking part of my intervals.  Hopefully some day soon I’ll head over there and pay them a visit.  In the meantime, I am content to learn to run and who knows…maybe next summer’s challenge will be to actually run a 5K.

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