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.
It has finally arrived…Week 13. The final week of my summer challenge. I can’t believe it’s here already and I’m wondering what took so long? 🙂 It is certainly bittersweet.
MONDAY: Today’s workout was the hardest yet. It didn’t help that I slept horribly last night and there’s that “hormone thing” I mentioned earlier. I am taking comfort in the knowledge that today is the hardest it is going to be because I will feel better as the week goes on and by Friday I will have nailed it.
Today I added one more weight/cardio combo set bringing the total to 8. I reduced my reps with the weights from 10 to 8 and added 15 seconds to the cardio going from 45 to 60 seconds. Once again, that extra 15 seconds doesn’t seem like much on the surface but I’m here to tell you it kicked my butt! The new combo is flat bench dumbbell presses with pop squats. I was not able to do the full 60 seconds of pop squats today without stopping. Can you feel the burn?? I definitely could! Jump rope was a disaster. In the second circuit I couldn’t go more than 20 continuous seconds and I must have missed at least 4 times. One of the misses left a welt on my arm where the rope, which is very hard plastic, snapped back and hit me. Fun times, people, make no mistake about it! I got it together a little better in the third circuit but I had nothing left to give when it was over.
TUESDAY: Today I was supposed to start the new week 4 cardio circuit. When I looked at my workout sheet I noticed there was a discrepancy. It said to do 30 second sprints and 30 second jogs for 12 intervals and a total of 24 minutes. That doesn’t add up. That’s only 12 minutes, not 24. I also wasn’t sure I could manage 30 second sprints with only a 30 second recovery before I had to sprint again. So…I changed things up a bit. I figured the length of time was as important as the difficulty so I did 60 second sprints and 60 second walks (because that’s better for my heart rate than a jog). I did 12 intervals and a total of 24 minutes. I started out at 7.0 sprints but that was WAY too fast so I backed down to 6.5 on the next one but it was still too much. I finally settled at 6.0 for the rest of the intervals. By the time I was done I was drenched in sweat. It was hard but it was good!
I told my nephew about this and his reaction was, “HOLY COW!” He said I did a lot in that workout. He said the math was wrong and I only needed to do 12 minutes of the 30/30 circuits but he encouraged me to do it my way again on Thursday. I think I probably will.
WEDNESDAY: Things are beginning to get back to normal in Hormone Land which made today’s workout a little easier. I didn’t seem to slog through it like I did on Monday. My biggest challenge today was jump rope…again. I just can’t seem to sustain it for more than 24 seconds. I must have missed 4 times on the third circuit. Who knew it could be so hard? Pop squats are also proving to be the bane of my existence. I can’t do those for more than 45 seconds either before my thighs feel like they’re going to ignite. But…if it wasn’t hard it wouldn’t be worth it, right? The hard is still what makes it great! 🙂
I do have a sense of accomplishment every time I am able to get through all 3 circuits of this workout. I’m seriously leaving it ALL in the gym. It is taking a lot out of me but there’s no way I’m quitting. Two more days…I’ve got this!
THURSDAY: Cardio went great this morning! I did the same thing I did on Tuesday and it seemed a little easier today. Of course, my brain was trying to psyche me out with thoughts of, “It’s only supposed to be for 12 minutes….you could just do 6 intervals and call it good…..” Thankfully, I didn’t listen to that garbage and I pushed through to do all 12 intervals. I may keep this interval style going into the maintenance period. I may also keep some of the weight/cardio combo sets. I like the results I’m getting from that sort of workout. My body seems to be responding well to the format and intensity.
FRIDAY: And here we are…the last day of my summer challenge journey. I was awake nearly every hour last night, fearful I would sleep through my alarm and miss my opportunity to finish strong in the gym this morning. Even with the lack of sleep I was up on time and in the gym. I got it all done and I did finish strong. I feel a great sense of accomplishment and it is wonderful.
Yesterday I ate something that made me a little sick. I think it was the side salad I had at lunch. I have to be careful of salads because most restaurants use pre-chopped, bagged lettuce and the preservative on it makes me sick every time I eat it. I asked the girl who took my order on the phone and she assured me they chop their own lettuce at that restaurant. I should have made her ask the chef. Anyway…when I get sick from eating bagged lettuce it sometimes takes 24 hours for it to work through my system. I was concerned it would become an issue in the middle of my workout. But as I was half way through the second circuit I knew I was going to be OK and I started to get emotional. It was hard to keep the lid on things. I knew if I gave into my feelings I would never finish the workout.
Jump rope continued to be a challenge. All I could do was laugh at how ridiculous it was. However, I beat the pop squats! I managed to do 60 seconds on all 3 circuits and THAT felt good. It was progress. The jump rope thing is coordination and I can work on that. Pop squats were endurance. It feels good to have gained endurance.
This last month has been grueling. This workout has been extremely challenging and just managing to get through it all over the last 4 weeks feels amazing. I can’t wait to measure myself on Sunday because I KNOW my body has changed during the last month even if the number on the scale remains the same. I put a pair of jeans on today that I haven’t worn all summer and they are big on me. There is no doubt my body composition has changed.
So I look forward to what Sunday brings when I will measure, weigh and take a picture to finish up my summer challenge. WHOOP!
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.
There was no Status Update 8.0 on Sunday because I was on vacation. Yay! I had a scale where I was but didn’t want to use it in order to stay consistent in my weigh-ins. In fact, the scale where I was said I am lighter…even after eating and with clothes on…than I am at home. This coming Sunday, it will be time to re-weigh and re-measure for the next 4 weeks of my challenge so I will do another update then. For now, here’s how this week went.
MONDAY: I am in the middle of the woods in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and the nearest gym that I can use is an hour away. Needless to say, I’m not going to the gym for a couple of days. However, I can still have a decent workout without weights and equipment.
On Saturday, my sister and I went out in a canoe on the 400 acre private lake that my mother lives on. We paddled around the entire thing and got some great arm, shoulder and back exercise in. It was a beautiful, warm and sunny morning and the lake was nice and calm. We saw a deer come to the edge of the lake for a drink. We also saw a bald eagle and 2 blue herons.
On Sunday, we took a short walk/hike through the wooded portion of my mother’s land hoping to see some wildlife. There are bear, moose, coyote and cougar in her region but we didn’t see anything. The hike was still good exercise though.
After breakfast this morning, my sister and I went out on the deck and I did jumping jacks and toe touches to warm up. I did abs work and my sister taught me a new move for glutes. I also did some push-ups and tricep dips. I held 2 horseshoes in each hand (yes…I said horseshoes) and did some lateral shoulder raises. I also used them to do some pec-dec exercises. Then my sister and I did some leg exercises that she found in Better Homes & Gardens Magazine. Wow! They were a challenge. They worked mostly glutes and hamstrings and required a LOT of balance which is not something I have in abundance. But it was a ton of fun. Afterward, we went for a brisk walk.
TUESDAY: Today is the end of our short vacation and we will be traveling for several hours. I did a short workout on the deck this morning that consisted of jumping jacks and toe touches to warm up, followed by step-ups, calf raises, and several glute and abs floor exercises. I also did bent-knee push ups (because I can go deeper with those) and tricep dips. I am really sore today from the new exercises my sister and I tried. In fact, as the day wore on I became more and more sore. It is hard to walk right! Tomorrow I’m back in the gym and scheduled to do my lower body workout. We’ll see how my lower body is feeling in the morning.
WEDNESDAY: I didn’t feel too bad getting out of bed this morning but decided to skip the lower body workout anyway and do my upper body day 1 routine instead. I felt like I got a lot of lower body work in over the last few days but not a lot of upper. I’m really glad I did this because my “not too bad” feeling when I first got out of bed was quickly replaced by soreness as I started to get moving. It is STILL hard to walk right, too. In addition, when I did my upper body routine it was harder than usual which proves I didn’t get a lot of upper body work in on my vacation.
I also didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and travel is always so difficult, especially when I spend hours in the car sitting in nearly the same position like I did yesterday. My feet and hands swell up and I don’t eat right or drink enough. All of this was evident in the gym this morning, too. And….my monthly gift also arrived this morning so it’s just a trifecta of reasons to retain water. I’m glad I have 4 days until my weight and measurement update. Hopefully, I will have worked this all off by then.
THURSDAY: Amazingly, I am still sore from Monday’s workout with my sister. I’m starting to wonder just how good of shape I’m actually in after all this working out! To make matters worse, I exacerbated it when I got into the car this morning. I don’t know if I hit it on the belt buckle latch or if I strained it further but it was so incredibly painful I couldn’t even sit for a few minutes. I was scheduled to do cardio today but my right side was in so much pain I decided to go easy. I did cardio but I walked at 3.5 pace for 45 minutes. I barely broke a sweat but I felt that muscle for most of it and all day afterward so I’m glad I didn’t go with the elliptical and push for speed.
FRIDAY: My right glute muscle is better this morning. Still sore but much better than yesterday. I’m starting to have hope that by Monday it will be back to normal in time for me to start my new routine. I am very excited about it. I’d like to go into it feeling strong and whole.
I feel like I sort of fizzled out at the end of this last 4 weeks. I like to finish strong and I am not feeling very strong at the moment. I’m also concerned about my measurements coming up on Sunday because I don’t feel like my body changed much, if at all, this time around. I guess the measuring tape and scale will tell.
Sunday, July 22, 2012
No change. I did better on my calories this week, too. I was only over on 2 days and not by very much (59 calories on Monday and 160 on Wednesday). At least I didn’t gain anything this past week.
This next week will be the last full week of my second workout for the summer. On August 1st, my nephew is giving me a new workout that is designed to last for 4 weeks. That will take me through the end of August and be my last workout of my summer challenge. I’ll post details when I have them. It will be a grueling and challenging workout. I’ve already done a modified version of it at his house. It kicked my butt to be sure! I was sore immediately and stayed that way for about 3 days. It’s an all over body workout that incorporates weights and cardio combined into one workout.
The highlight of the week was a trip to Fashion Bug yesterday afternoon to spend a couple gift cards I had. By the way…if you have gift cards from there I suggest you go spend them. Fashion Bug is closing in January. The store in my town is already liquidating (I assume because profits are too low). Anyway, the highlight wasn’t the sale, although that was an added bonus. The highlight was trying on jeans. Fashion Bug has a sizing system called Right Fit jeans. They come in 3 different cuts: yellow square, red triangle, blue circle. The cuts are based on your type of figure: straight, moderately curvy or curvy. I tried on blue circle 14’s and 12’s yesterday. I couldn’t believe how big the 14’s were! That was the last size jean I bought at that store about a year ago. But the 12’s fit! They might be a little tight after I wash them but they fit in the store and they were 50% off so guess who got a new pair of smaller jeans! 🙂
I hope you have a good week and accomplish the goals you set for yourself in the gym. Don’t give up even when you get discouraged. I had a lot of excitement going into this adventure back in June and it has waned a lot since then. But I am not going to stop trying to progress and strive for fitness. It is worth it! Every day isn’t going to be like the one I had on the elliptical machine back in June. Most days are going to be average and low key. But every day I’m in the gym is a day moving forward toward my goal of being fit and trim. So I won’t psyche myself out doing cardio or when I’m laying in bed and I really, really don’t want to get out and go to the gym. I am going to keep pressing toward my goal. Don’t you give up either.
I didn’t do very well logging my meals last week….especially over the weekend. Sunday was a bit of a diet disaster. I did well in the morning but for lunch I ate Chinese with a bunch of people from my church. I love Chinese but I feel so bad the next day it’s usually not worth it to eat it, even when I try to order something with veggies and no breading like on Sunday. I was also careful not to eat until I was stuffed. Then dinner was a combination of whatever I could find in the fridge….cucumbers, veggie dip, a small piece of shortcake with butter and crab rangoons. Not a lot of protein there and too many carbs! UGH!! Then I crashed out on the sofa at around 7:30 PM and was out for the night…for the most part. We won’t even talk about the lack of water for the day.
Oh let’s just move on, shall we? One thing I know for certain is without this blog, I would have caved by now. It is knowing that someone might read this and not wanting to write a post that says “I decided to wimp out and not go to the gym today” that has kept me going every day. So thanks for being part of my daily motivation. It means a lot that you’re interested.
MONDAY: Upper Body Day 1 for the week which is chest, shoulders and tris. My workout went so well that I had extra time at the end. Just for my friend, MHH, I got on the treadmill and did 10 minutes of cardio intervals instead of heading out the door. I’m still tight in my right hamstring so I didn’t push it too hard. I’ll throw in more cardio at the end of weight days from now on if I have time at the end like today. I’m still of the mind that strength training is more important than cardio…at least for me…at the moment so I’m not willing to cut out sets in order to make time for cardio every day. But….I won’t slack and blow it off when there is time to get it done.
TUESDAY: Today is an all cardio day. I did the full amount but I decided to take it a little slower today. My right hamstring is better but still wanting to give me grief so I decided it was best not to push it. I went 45 minutes on the treadmill at 3.5 mph. I was able to do that with hardly any tightness in my hamstring until after the workout. Tomorrow is lower body so we’ll see how the hamstring feels on Thursday when I have to do cardio again. It may just be a light cardio week this week.
WEDNESDAY: Another morning thunderstorm at the gym 🙂 Not like the last one…less thunder and lightening. Today was lower body and it all went fine. I didn’t have extra time at the end to get more cardio in today. My right hamstring is still tight but feels a little better. I’ve been in a perpetual state of soreness since I started this new routine. It’s good because it means I’m working my muscles but sometimes it just makes me tired. Today is a tired day.
THURSDAY: What I’m learning this week is that it’s as much psychological as it is physical…maybe more. Not long ago, cardio was my favorite part of working out. I had no problem jumping on the treadmill after 45 minutes of weights and doing 15 minutes or so of cardio. It’s not that I don’t like it anymore but I sure don’t love it like I used to. Since I’ve increased my time to 45 minutes, it’s been a real psychological battle to get through it all. I find myself watching my time a lot. After the first 4 minutes I’m thinking, “Great! I’m 1/10th of the way through this!” At 10 minutes I’m trying to talk myself into switching to a different machine (today it was elliptical to treadmill) at the 25 minute mark. At 20 minutes I’m coaching myself through the next 5. At 25 minutes I’m telling myself to suck it up and stay where I am. At 30 minutes I’m berating myself for not switching. At 35 minutes I’m telling myself that it’s only 10 more minutes. When I get to the end, I’m not sure if I’m more exhausted because of the physical stress or the mental stress!
FRIDAY: Wow….where did the week go? I am amazed to wake and discover it’s Friday already. Today’s workout was “routine,” I guess. Everything went well and I had 10 extra minutes at the end so I did some walking at 3.5 on the treadmill. I met a nice woman who just started coming with her son in the mornings on her way to work. Her son is 11 and he’s a little chubby. I wouldn’t call him obese, exactly, but he does have a weight problem. She said it was his idea to start coming to the gym. She thinks he’s getting teased.
We humans can be so cruel to each other. I was not very nice to some people when I was his age and I had it returned to me in spades in junior high. What a waste of time and energy. I am glad to see this boy reached out to his mom and asked if they could do something constructive about his situation. Too often, kids who are teased or bullied keep their pain hidden inside until it manifests itself in violence against others or themselves (or both). Maybe this little boy’s experience of finding something positive in the gym will allow him to positively motivate someone else down the road who is getting teased about his weight.
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Weight: 167 lbs.
Back down 3 lbs. I’ll take it.
I have high hopes that this will be a good week. Hormones and mood are back in check. Hopefully my energy levels will stay the same or increase and I’ll see some good progress. I’m trying not to panic over being on the “downhill” side of this adventure and having a vacation coming up soon. I will only miss 2 days in the gym but I know it will be harder to eat right and not eat late in the day. I’ll have to be diligent with the workouts I do to replace what I will miss in the gym.
I had some back and forth discussion this week with my friend, MHH, about adding more cardio to my fitness plans. I’m rather resistant to the idea, mostly because of time constraints in the morning and lack of energy in the evening, not because I dislike cardio. I just read a very interesting article on weight loss vs fat loss and resistance training vs aerobic exercise. If you’re interested you can read it here:
There are benefits to doing BOTH but HOW you do them is key to your success in losing fat and not just losing weight. Furthermore, you need to be careful not to lose muscle. For myself, personally, I want to lose fat and gain muscle. I already have plans for kicking up my pace and doing interval-type resistance and cardio exercises in the 3rd month of my journey this summer. Reading this article has reinforced my plans.
I hope you have a good week of learning and progression.
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.
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
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
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.