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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 13 – Crossing the Finish Line

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!

Week 12

MONDAY:  I’ve entered week 3 of my Fat Burner 4 week workout.  Today I added another combo set to the circuit bringing the total number of weight/cardio combo sets to 7.  Including the 5 minute warm-up on the treadmill and time to set up the bench and weights, it took me approx. 65 minutes to do it this morning.  I think I’m going to have to start getting up just a little earlier, especially as I enter week 4 so I can make sure I have time to get all 3 circuits done.

As I finished this morning, I was reminded of a scene from another of my favorite movies, Overboard.  The scene shows Goldie Hawn at the end of a day of cleaning this unbelievably dirty house and all she can do is sit in a chair, stare into space and say (making the sound of the letter “B”, not saying “B”) “B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b.”  That is exactly how I felt.  Wobbly, shaky and only able to make a single, continuous sound, “B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b………”

TUESDAY:  Cardio day!  I am doing the same cardio this week as last week.  Intervals of 30 second sprints and 60 second walks.  It went pretty well today.  I did the entire workout at 7.5 sprints and didn’t feel out of control.  However, my right shin started aching again after no pain at all for the last 4 days.  UGH!  I am still determined not to let it stop me.

I also noticed something interesting.  I’ve been writing down my low and peak heart rates at the end of my workout.  Last week, I ran my sprints at 7.0 on Tuesday and my heart rate at the bottom of the final sprint was 182 and at the bottom of the final walk was 164.  On Wednesday, I ran part of them at 7.0, then 7.5, then 8.0.  My heart rate at the bottom of the final sprint was 189 and at the bottom of the final walk was 172.  Today at 7.5, my heart rate at the bottom of the final sprint was 180 and at the bottom of the final walk was 165.  My heart rate is improving!  I’m running .5 mph faster today than a week ago and my heart rate stayed about the same.  That is improvement, people!  I’m excited about that!

WEDNESDAY:  I was in bed by 9 PM last night so I got a decent amount of sleep.  However, I did not want to go to the gym this morning, let alone do 3 complete circuits of my workout.  I know the problem….hormones.  This will be my battle for the next week, at least…UGH!  Once again, this blog and not wanting to admit I was weak and lazy has caused me to persevere and do it all anyway.

One of the nice parts about being in the gym really early in the morning is typically, I get the place to myself.  There are 2 or 3 other folks who are in there every day with me but we are usually doing different things and don’t get in each other’s way.  This new workout requires me to hoard 3 sets of dumbbells and 3 barbells along with an incline bench and now a leg press.  This is usually not a problem when it’s just “us” at the gym.  But this morning, there were no less than NINE people in there with me.  And I’m sorry…but I just don’t think I should have to share!  That’s fair, right?  I’m almost done…just go back home and go to bed.  You can have all the equipment in a week when I’m not here in the mornings anymore…OK?  Thankfully, no one needed anything I was using.  If they had, I would have let them use it.  I’m really not as mean as I appear to be 😉  But…it is a bummer not to have it all to myself.  I’ve gotten spoiled these last 3 months.

But I digress….anyway, I made myself suck it up and I did all 3 circuits.  Not exactly with gusto but I did them.  I had to mop sweat off my face twice during the workout so I know I was making progress in spite of how I felt.  I’m glad I stuck it out and did it though.  I’d rather be tired and achy than disappointed in myself.

THURSDAY:  I have to go back to Wednesday to tell you about this morning’s cardio workout.  I follow a page on Facebook called F5 Lifestyle https://www.facebook.com/F5Lifestyle.  The woman who runs it will often post very helpful tips and advice on health and fitness.  Yesterday, she put up a post showing how to find your Target Heart Rate.  To calculate your Target Heart Rate  take 220 minus your age and that is your Maximum Heart Rate.  Then take your Maximum Heart Rate x 85% and that is your Target Heart Rate.  I did the math for myself and discovered that my MAXIMUM heart rate is 176 and my TARGET heart rate is 150.  While my heart rate is improving as I’m doing these cardio workouts, I am a little concerned that I might be pushing it given that I have palpitations and have had tachycardia symptoms in the past.

Which brings me to today’s workout.  I discussed it with my nephew (and with F5 Lifestyle) and decided to back off my speed on the sprints this morning.  I brought it down to 7.0 from 7.5 and then monitored my heart rate.  On the last interval I topped out at 178 and bottomed out at 161.  I feel more comfortable with that.  When I compare it to last week when I ran at 7.0 I am still seeing improvement.  Those rates were 182 and 164.  So the cardio is doing what it is supposed to do.  I’m topping out at a lower rate and I’m bottoming out at a lower rate.  I am happy about that.
FRIDAY:  I can’t believe I’m at the end of my third week of this new workout.  I can definitely feel it!  It seems with each passing week I am more and more relieved when it’s finally Friday!  My workout today was uneventful.  I got all 3 circuits in.  Now I have to gear myself up for next week because it is going to be even harder than the last 3 weeks were.

I talked to my nephew and he said it would be OK for me to share the workout he created for me so I am posting it below for anyone who might be interested in giving it a try or just curious to see what I’ve been doing for the last 3 weeks.

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Weight Update 11.0

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Weight:  166 lbs.

Aaahhh…progress!  I am down 3 lbs from my weigh-in last week!  EEK!  I am very excited about that.  If the next couple of weeks go as well as this week did, I will definitely reach my goal.

I’m not just seeing the difference on the scale.  I’m also seeing it in how my clothes are fitting and in appearance.  I’m finding that I have to restrain myself from getting too excited.  I have to keep my nose to the grind stone and not lose sight of my goal.  I can’t get complacent.  If anything, I have to be more diligent.  I can’t start thinking I can loosen up on my diet and eat too many things that are not good for me….like junk food.  I have to keep making smart choices and giving my workouts everything I’ve got.

Being this close to the end of my challenge does not mean the work is almost over either.  I will need to maintain what I accomplish, too.  This was never a “diet” or something meant to be temporary.  This is a lifestyle…a way of living…who I am.  I’m doing this because I want to.  I’m choosing to feel better, be better, live better.

I’m also a little sad to be so near the end.  I’m going to miss my morning workouts.  I have the most energy in the morning.  Going back to evening workouts after work is not something I am looking forward to.  It’s really hard to motivate myself to change clothes and get up to the gym after working all day.  I’d rather roll out of bed before the chickens and go than do it at night.  But if I want to keep the progress I’ve gained, I’ll go.  No excuses.

It’s been a while since I posted my diet history so I’ve attached a spreadsheet of what I at this week for anyone who might be interested.

Diet

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 10

It’s a new day…a new month…a new week…and a NEW WORKOUT!  I’m so excited!  It’s also the last leg of my summer challenge so it’s do or die time here.

MONDAY:  Today is the first day of my new Fat Blaster 4 week workout.  If every day is like today, this is going to be a “blast” for sure.  Every week I will do circuits.  Mon, Wed and Fri are weight days.  Tues and Thurs are cardio days.  In the first week I will do a circuit that contains 5 sets of exercises on weight days.  Each set is a weight/cardio combo.  For instance, the first set in the circuit is dumbbell squats and high knee runs.  I take a 90 second rest between sets.  With each week, I add one new weight/cardio combo set to the circuit until the last week when I will do 8 combo sets per circuit.  The minimum goal is to get through an entire circuit at least 2 times.  Today, I did 3.  For cardio days I’ll do intervals on the treadmill that consist of jogging and sprinting….no walking.  This will be the biggest challenge for me, I think, because I have very little endurance.  The first week has 8 intervals.  By the 4th week there will be 12.

I am excited about this workout and I have high expectations of a good fat burn and nice results.  I am NOT going to sabotage my hard work with poor nutrition either.  After last month’s loss of almost all progress, I can’t afford to mess around now.

TUESDAY:  I spoke to my nephew Monday afternoon and he also believes I have suffered an injury in my right glute muscles.  He told me the name of the muscle but I don’t remember it now.  He said I should not still be sore after a week from doing that new exercise.  He believes I overworked the muscle.  So at his advice, when I went to do cardio this morning, I didn’t use the treadmill except for my 5 minute warm-up.  During warm-up, my muscle was pretty sore so I took cues from my body, like he told me to, and I used the bike today.  I’ve never used the bike at the gym before so it was a fun, new experience for me.  It was fun to lean forward and really “dig in” when it came time to “sprint.”  However, I never got my heart rate as high as I like to see it.  The highest it went was in the low 160’s.  I will likely still take it easy on Thursday and use the bike again if it’s available to give that muscle more time to heal but I think I’ll set the resistance higher on the bike.

He also told me to try jogging during the treadmill intervals but if my heart rate stays too high, I should walk instead.  The purpose of the slow jog or walk is to bring my heart rate back down to a normal level before I sprint again.  I already know I have heart rate issues and I’m sometimes sensitive to adrenalin so we’ll see how that goes.  Again, I’m not going to push it.  If my  heart rate stays too high, I will take the cue and drop down to walking instead of jogging.

WEDNESDAY:  Day 3 of my new Fat Burner workout.  I did pretty well this morning.  I pushed myself hard on all the combo sets in the circuit.  I did 3 circuits again this morning.  I was pretty spent by the time I was done.  Execution was a little easier today because I am more familiar with the routine.  The tops of my shoulders and back are still a little sore from Monday but I did the entire workout with no variations anyway.  I’m working hard not to screw up my diet, too, so I can get all the benefits possible from this last month.

THURSDAY:  Cardio again today and my butt muscle still isn’t quite right but it is getting better.  There is lots of improvement over how it felt on Sunday so I think by next Tuesday I should be ready to tear up the treadmill.  For today, I used the stationary bike again only this time, I kicked up the difficulty to 5.  Not extremely difficult but enough that I actually felt some resistance when I pedaled.  My nephew suggested making it hard enough to stand up and pedal but I wasn’t comfortable doing that so I still stayed seated but setting the resistance higher made a big difference.  This time when I got to the 30 second sprints I got my heart rate up into the 180’s.  That’s a little higher than where I’d like to be.  During the 90 second “jog” period my heart rate only came down into the 170’s….which is typically where I like it to be when I sprint.  So in contrast to  feeling like I didn’t get quite enough out of  Tuesday’s cardio workout, today I feel like maybe I got a little too much.  I was dizzy nearly half way through it and I backed off on my “jogging” speed a bit to let my heart rate settle down.  I got through it but by the 8th interval I was glad I was done.

FRIDAY:  Week One is in the books!  I think I did pretty well.  It was a little harder this morning than it was on Wednesday.  I’m not entirely sure why except this was a challenging workout and perhaps I’m still not getting enough water (ok…I know I’m not getting enough water).  Next week I will add a weight/cardio combo set to the circuit which means I will need to get up a little earlier than I have been or I won’t get all 3 circuits done.  I can’t settle for just 2.  That won’t be enough of a challenge.

I’ve done pretty well watching my diet this week, too.  The only indulgence I have allowed myself is a handful of potato chips dipped in low fat sour cream…and we’re talking like 3 or 4….not a whole bowl full.  All in all, I am happy with the way this week has gone and I hope to duplicate it again next week.

Week 9

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.

Week 8

MONDAY:  Rainy days, Mondays and sinus headaches always get me down…..not exactly the lyrics sung by the late Karen Carpenter but they definitely apply to my Monday morning.  I still rolled out of bed at my usual time to get ready to go to the gym.  I still did a complete Upper Body Day 1 workout and didn’t skimp on the weights or the exercises…although I was rather sloth-like today.  But by the time I got home, my headache was gone 🙂  Funny….before this summer challenge I would have let that headache defeat me.  Who knew exercise was the best cure for a sinus headache?  It has happened time and time again, too.  I never would have thought that in a million years.

TUESDAY:  My first coherent thought this morning was “Oh crap…..cardio.”  How did I go from being a cardio fan (I almost said fanatic but if I’m honest I have to say I was never THAT excited about it) to loathing the idea?  It is a mystery to me.  However, I have reached the point where cardio is no longer my idea of a good time.  But I do realize and acknowledge that it is a necessary evil for burning the stores of fat I still have in abundance on my thighs and elsewhere so I will continue to endure it.  Just don’t expect me to like it….much.

This morning I chose the elliptical as my torture machine and I did the full 45 minutes.  I almost stopped at the 25 minute mark and switched to the treadmill but slowed down instead and drank some water.  Aside from that little moment of hesitation, I turned up my ipod, put my nose to the grindstone and pedaled on undaunted.  It is a lot easier when I can shut my mind off and not play the psychological games.

WEDNESDAY:  I got through my lower body workout today but it would have been a whole lot easier if I drank enough water yesterday.  My thigh muscles burned about 2 reps into each set instead of burning near the end of the 12 reps like they should.  That is all thanks to being dehydrated (again), I’m sure.

Why is it so hard to drink enough water?  I bring filtered water with me to work every day in a 24 oz bottle and the vast majority of the time I barely drink half of it.  My friend, MHH over at Sustainable Health and Fitness, shared in her blog this morning http://sustainablehf.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/the-wetter-the-better/) that the old thinking which says a person should drink 6 to 8 8oz glasses of water every day is no longer a good rule of thumb.  Instead, you should take your weight and divide it by 2 and THAT is how many ounces of water you should be drinking.  What a revelation!  The old 48 ounces just turned into 83.5 for me!  I think I’d have to put one of those hats that have the 2 cup holders and a straw on my head and just drink continuously 24/7 in order to consume that much water!  OH!…..and let’s not forget the catheter I’d need to have inserted so I don’t spend every waking moment in the bathroom eliminating all that water.  As my son would say….. FOR REAL??  Yes, Amy…..for real, now stop your whining.  I can complain all I want and that doesn’t change the fact that MHH is right (along with lots of other smart people who have done the research) and I need to just suck up the water and be quiet already.

THURSDAY:  This morning I was supposed to do cardio but I interrupted my regularly scheduled programming.  Today is my last workout day for this week because tomorrow I will be traveling and will not be able to get to the gym before my departure time.  But I anticipate some extra curricular activities this weekend so I’m not worried about one missed day in the gym.

I decided to do my Upper Body Day 2 workout his morning instead of cardio mostly because I just didn’t want to do cardio (how’s that for honesty?).  However, I did my workout with gusto.  I didn’t skimp on the weights AND I was able to get through all 3 sets of bicep curls with the 15 lb weights!  That was the first time I’ve done that since I started my new routine at the beginning of July.  Usually, I can only get through 1.5 sets before I have to drop down to 12’s.  I am excited about that accomplishment!  It means I’m progressing and getting STRONGER!  🙂  I also challenged myself when I did abs by switching out one of the exercises.  I usually do leg raises where I lie on my back with both my legs in the air and I alternate lowering one of them at a time without touching the floor for 3 sets of 12 reps.  Today, I went “old school” and I did leg lifts like we used to have to do in junior high gym class.  I put my hands under my butt for support and raised my legs about 6 or 8 inches off the floor, opened them (like scissors), closed them and then touched the floor quickly before I went into the next raise.  That brought back some torturous memories!

I end this week with anticipation of things to come.   On August 6th I will begin Week 1 of the new workout my nephew has given me for the final 4 weeks of my challenge.  I am totally stoked and can’t wait to start it.  I was initially going to start it on Aug 1st but have decided to delay until the 6th so I’m not changing in the middle of a week.  That means I will continue my current workout for one more week.  The new one promises to be the hardest physical challenge I have ever taken on….voluntarily…..haha!  When I’m a sweaty, exhausted mess on the gym floor, would you remind me of how excited I was at the beginning?

Weight Update 7.0

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weight:  167
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.

Week 7

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.

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