Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sleep Makes me Tired

Lightning storm near Green Bay, WI
Last night an amazing lightning storm passed over my city, and it was the the coolest thing I've seen in a great long time.  It was a nearly non-stop spectacle of light and I, the ameteur idiot with an iPhone, stood outside snapping hundereds of photos in hopes of having one turn out.  Unfortunately, this is as close as I got, and doesn't do it justice, but I thought I'd share.
Last night my husband was asking how I like the gym and I was saying it will be nice when we can go together, so I can learn where everything is and how to use all the equipment the right way.  I told him a funny story about how I brought a barbell from across the room, stepping over equipment with it on my shoulders, to stand in front of the smith machine mirror because the other mirror spots were taken and I don't know how to use the Smith.  So tonight we are going to go together, and he is going to do the same workout with me, to show me everything I need to know about back and biceps.  If my kids behave well in the childcare room, we may make a habit of working out together, which will be helpful to me.  My kids have a history of not playing well in the childcare room, so I'm not holding my breath, but I hope we can at least get a few sessions in, so I can learn as much as I can from my guy.  They do offer introductory services through the gym, but I have a very valuable resource in my possession already. 
This morning I am noticing a huge impact on my energy level, and while I realize it could be the result of a combination of things (hormones, sinuses, sleeping in, etc) I'm guessing the thing that has the hugest impact is that I didn't work out this morning.  It just gets the blood flowing and makes me feel ready for my day. I know I will be able to lift heavier tonight, because I have the benefit of all the food-energy from the day's clean meals, but morning workouts are where it's at for this girl!
So, nothing much to report this morning, just taking the day as it comes, getting mentally ready for my workout tonight, and looking forward to a clean, successful week to finish out week 4 of my program.  Adding the cardio back in will be nice, and the next phases add supersets and active rest between sets, and I think even some plyo, which absolutely kicks my butt!
Hope your Tuesday is off to a great start!  Enjoy your day.

Monday, July 30, 2012

McFlurries and Muscles

Here is my big news, I finally joined a gym.  Primitive, by today's standards of neon lighting and kettle bells, but I kind of like the way it feels like I'm working out in someone's basement, it reminds me of the kind of gym some of bodybuilding's most famous have worked out it.  And I know, I've been subjected to some of the DVD's as my husband pores over them frequently. 
I will admit, it was a bit intimidating at first, not knowing where any of the equipment I needed to use was located, but I found my way around after a few minutes of scoping out the equipment.  And compared to the rickety old cable-based home gym I've been using all of the equipment felt so smooth that I was able to lift heavier.  My gym opens at 5am, and my fellow morning trainers were mostly older folks and a few very muscular men.  I didn't let it intimidate me though, when I needed a weight, I went right over by the free weights where the muscular men were working, and took what I needed.  I was focused on the work, and surprised at how much heavier I could lift this morning.  I am still having problems doing lunges though, my quad muscle tightens up and feels like it's going to tear.  So today I had to end my first set at 5 reps and I didn't attempt any more of them.  I will keep trying each time, until I can figure out what I am doing wrong with my form.  I have legs again on Thursday.
It felt really good to be awake and in a well-lit gym with all the equipment I could ever need, music playing and people pleasantly bantering around me.  I can tell I will get a lot out of this decision to join.  And there is a lap pool, whirlpool and sauna for the weekends when I have a little more time to spend at the gym.  For $10 a month, I can't go wrong!
I went a little off the tracks this weekend, having two cheat meals.  The main courses I chose were both clean, one an ahi-tuna wrap with spinach and the other, chicken fajitas.  The chips and salsa were not the accessory to the crime, but the crime itself, and last night, I took it to a whole new level and had a Rolo McFlurry from McDonalds for dessert.  It's a limited time deal, ya know!  Actually, yesterday was a day that was irritating me with crunch-cravings, and not the kind that get you flat abs.  I wanted to crunch something salty, and chips were calling me.  This is the week where cravings always set in, the week before the monthly disaster.  While I know that it is a flux in blood sugars that causes the cravings, I was driving myself MENTAL craving chips.  And in my opinion, Chili's chips are the absolute best!  So when my husband got home from a photo shoot and mentioned that he was in the mood to eat out, I was happy to oblige.  Probably not my strongest moment on a diet, but I didn't let it get to me too much, because I knew it would fix my craving and I'd be able to get right back on track after.  And that was the case.  I don't plan on doing that every weekend, because it won't equate to the kind of results I am seeking, but once in a while I am willing to listen to my own body and let life fly a little.  I think that is healthy as long as it is in check, it's how I assume "normal" people eat. 
But today, after having a great leg workout, my metabolism is roaring again!  It is 9am and I am already eating my second meal for the day, and I can feel my body starting to buzz from the clean food coming to the rescue.  Today as I was walking into work, I defined what I don'tI am thinking about a year from now, how I'll look, how much weight I will be able to lift, and how I'll feel.  When I think of the future, I only see good things.  Maybe that's a bit of the just-joined-a-gym excitement, but whatever it is, I plan on having a successful year!  Who's with me?

Friday, July 27, 2012

You Rock my World!

I made it through this week much better than I expected, and just as I imagined, I feel really great today knowing that the tough part is behind me.  It is no small thing, the fact that I didn't know if I could do it, and the tough side of me came out in spades, to show the scared part of me just who is in control of this situation.  It makes me feel a bit rebellious, casting off doubts and perservering when the opportunity to take the easy way out was always there as an option. 
In general, I just feel great.  I have so much more energy, way moreso than when I do cardio.  That is because building muscle keeps your metabolism soaring for hours afterword, and cardio doesn't. 
Yesterday was a huge, positive day for me, it was quiet at work and I got the chance to find an old friend on Facebook.  He is someone who has always made me laugh, and our memories are from a time when our friendship filled something missing in each of us.  It has been more than 10 years since we've spoken, so getting reconnected put me on such a high.  It turns out, he is a special ed teacher, who plans on returning to school to get a masters with emphasis on autism.  If you're new to my blog, both of my sons have autism, so it is a huge, fantastic coincidence. 
My mood was spoiled a bit last night, when I was telling my husband that I was happy that today was my last training day for the week.  He said something about being lucky that I could train, as he is trying to lose a little muscle so as to fit the talent agency's tastes.  It is killing him that he can't train as heavy or as often as he wants to, and to be quite honest, there are times when he doesn't handle it with grace.  I said that this is most and the hardest I've trained in years, maybe ever, and my body is sore.  He snipped at me, "This is why I'm not a (personal) trainer."  I was so offended by that.  There was an opportunity to show some support for me and this amazing thing I am doing, and he ended up hurting my feelings.  Instead of telling him that I simply said, "Well, not all of us are machines."  And we left it at that.  But it ate away at me all night and made me mad that he would treat me so poorly just because he is pouting over not being able to train.  I slept on my feelings, because I didn't want to react too emotionally to it, but this morning I was still quite irritated about it.  He has been talking about finally getting his personal trainer certification, and I kept thinking of how he really needs to brush up on his people skills before he decides to get into that field.  Not everyone is as driven as him, personal trainers are there to motivate and push you to your personal best, not to make you feel aweful for sharing a vaulnerable thought with them.
Then I thought about Tony.  He is my most loyal reader/commenter and he is always ALWAYS supportive.  Even though he lives thousands of miles away and we've never met, he has a way of lifting my spirits when I have a bad day, and celebrating my wins with me.  Now that's support. 
So, I am wondering why it is we treat the people closest to us so bad compared to those we don't know as well.  Is it a comfort thing?  I am puzzled by it, but my take-away is this.  My husband and I will have a talk and we'll get through it fine, he might encourage me for a while if he can put his own apathy aside for a minute.  But honestly, I know I always have support in the Blogger community because you guys are the ones who have been where I am, you are the ones fighting the good fight, and dealing with all kinds of emotions, you understand what I'm going through.  I will take that kind of support ANY DAY, and I will use it to acheive my goals.  Perhaps I am the one who should pursue a career in personal training.  Maybe someday I will consider that. 
So this is a scattered post, but it is to thank you, my lovely readers and fellow bloggers, for the continual support and understanding.  You rock my world!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wherein I Give Doubt the Finger

The first thought I had this morning was this: how the hell am I going to get these tired legs to do lunges today?!  But I got up and readied myself mentally for the challenge that lay before me, a proverbial guantlet thrown before me, a second leg day this week (cue dramatic music).  But right before I sat down at the bench to do my first set of leg extensions, I said to myself, let's see what I'm made of!  And what, you ask am I made of?  Certainly not sugar and spice and everything nice.  I am full of grit and determination, and evidentally, a lot of sweat.  Aspire, perspire, inspire.  To my surprise, even though my gams were a tad bit sore yet this morning, it actually felt good to work them.  And those leg extensions?  I upped my weight by twenty pounds this morning, my quads felt really strong today.  They were not the muscle group I was worried about working though, it's my hamstrings that have beeen wicked sore since my Monday workout.  To say I haven't trained them very hard in the past is an understatement!  The workout called for walking lunges, one-legged deadlifts and lying hamstring curls.  As soon as I began the lunges I knew it wasn't going to be a good day to try and impress myself with them.  I barely completed the first ten, and was having that nagging form issue I've had in the past, wherein my quad muscle feels like it's going to tear.  So when I got 5 more in for a second "set" I realized I wasn't able to use proper form due to the prior soreness, and gave up on lunges for the day.  I will get another opportunity to test my metlle next Monday when I revisit leg day once more.  To my surprise, the one-legged deads were ever-so-slightly easier than last workout, and by my third set I got brave and added a 5 pound weight to the mix.  I ended my workout with those lying hammy curls, they were really challenging after the pre-exhaust work, but I managed to get through it by grunts and yelling at myself: c'mon butt, you are going to lift yourself off the floor!  Despite that moving sentiment, I barely squeaked out my last rep, but I got it in.
The program has printable logs you can use to track your workouts (love it) and one of the lines you can fill in is MOOD WHEN STARTING: (today I put tired/sore/uncertain) but just after my quad work I wrote, I FEEL STRONG TODAY!!  and then at the finish I wrote; I DID IT! and that was a great moment.  Once again, I did what I wasn't sure I could do.  Today I tested myself and in the end I found out I have a lot more strength than I knew.  Am I tired?  Hell yeah.  Am I going to be sore for the next few days?  YEP.  Am I going to anti up again on Monday and keep getting better? Guaranteed!
This morning after my workout, I took a visual inventory of my new muscles in the mirror and was thrilled with what I am seeing.  I took a photo of my arm flexed to show my new muscle tone and I was astounded at how buff it looked (for me, that is).  Depending on how I feel, I might take and post some progress photos after I complete week 4 (next week).
Tomorrow is my final training day this week, and it's my favorite(shoulders) and abs, which I am pretty indifferent to.  I know I will knock it out of the park again, and slide into the weekend feeling good about the week I am putting behind me. 
My eating has been completely on plan, my metabolism is crazy revved up and I am sleeping great, even my skin has a glow to it.  But best of all, I feel like my body is healthy.  The magnitude of that feeling is immense!
So here's to you and me,  for having the balls to tackle this thing headfirst!
Happy Thursday friends!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Doubt Cracks the Mind

I will admit, my mind is starting to show a few cracks these days.  Not the kind that drive me to pretend I'm a fictitious comic book character and go on a shooting spree, but the kind that says, wow, this program might be too much for me.  This is the first week of muscle-build, which means heavier weight and lower reps.  I think that even my eyebrows are sore!  I will say, since I figured out my sleep issues were the result of hunger, I have slept like a baby this week, but the downside of that is, when the alarm goes off, my body wants to keep sleeping.  Completely natural, but it's a little frustrating.  The part that is starting to trip me up right now is that my hamstrings are still pretty sore from Monday's workout, and now the program is calling for me to train them again tomorrow.  As I stumbled out of bed today, and even while bending to put my shoes on, I wondered how I was going to pull that off.  And that is when the doubt began to creep in.  Am I fit enough to keep up with this?  And if I don't follow the program now, how am I going to keep up with the following weeks?  What if I do a different body part tomorrow?  Well my answer to that is, all my body parts are sore, but the legs were the least recently trained, so I guess that makes sense to train them tomorrow.  I could have chosen the "lagging bodypart of choice to train tomorrow, but that becomes tricky, needing to let the muscles recover at least a full day, and as I said, everything else is still sore.  So I will give it my best effort to train these sore tree-trunk legs tomorrow, and stay on track.  To be honest, I wouldn't mind seeing my glutes lift a little by the end of this.  I hate my rearview!
As for my upper body, I think it is in identity crisis!  I am seeing more muscle and definition of course, but I also look a little bulky.  As I said before, I am built very solid, have always had broad shoulders and a tendancy to gain easily.  As a teenager I was aware about how hairy and solid I was, and joked about having too much testosterone.  That is just my genetics.  Most girls I grew up with had dainty features, thin arms and legs and I was aware early on that I wasn't the same, my legs were always big, but not fat.  It didn't help matters that I was much shorter than everyone else, so my muscular legs looked even more out of place.  But now I am learning to embrace them, I know it is muscle, and having strong legs makes life easier.  The bulk I'm noticing isn't really bulk.  I think it is the result of having new beautiful muscles growing, but they're still covered in some fat, so they can't shine.  I know they will, it's just a matter of time! 
I weighed myself today, not at all concerned with what the result was (166.4) but just to see what was going on in that area.  I am probably repeating myself but, this is not a weight loss program, it is designed to get you lean by building muscle.  You won't see huge changes in the scale because muscle wieghs more than fat, and if you are following the program and working at the right intensity, there's no way you are building muscle!  And the best part, lean muscle mass burns fat just by having it on your body.  So, let the fat-burn begin.
My metabolism has been so crazy revved up on this program, and since I'm eating so clean, I am really in tune with my body's needs during the day.  I can tell that it is time to eat before I even look at the clock, because I start to feel my engine winding down a bit.  I'm sure that is my body making the effort to repair the muscles.  Did you know that your muscles actually heal/repair/grow while you are at rest, not while you are working them?  Some people I talk to had no idea that was the case.  That's why you need to allow proper rest time between training the same muscle group. 
I know my body will adapt to a heavier load, I haven't been pushing myself like this in a long time.  Today will be about stretching out my sore muscles, resting/relaxing as much as I can, and getting plenty of fluids to prep for tomorrow's leg day.  I'll be sure to report how it went!
Hope your Wednesday's wonderful!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Feeling Good

Are my legs sore today?  Oh MAMA, are they ever!  But my warped little mind always imagines those sore muscles as toned and fit and beautiful, so I feel proud that I worked hard enough to make myself sore.  There have been lackluster workouts in my past that did not lead to sore muscles, nor did they lead to results.  Now I am trying to make sure I get a good amount of stretching in, because the program calls for another leg training day on Thursday.  Yeesh!  I have a feeling I'll be ready by then.  My body is handling the training fairly well, I'm sure I can attribute some of that to the amino acids I take before and after my workout. 
Today was back and biceps, and I got to add a few new things into the workout.  I am noticing that if I allow too long of a rest between sets, I get more tired and it feels really challenging to get another set in.  So, lesson learned.  Right now I try to keep my rests less than a minute between sets, but working out at home I find I can get a little distracted from time to time and the rests occassionaly go a little longer.  I am still modifying my workout to fit into my home-gym setting.  For example, I don't have a Hammer Strength lat pulldown machine at home, so I substituted for reverse-seated lat pull down.  And for T bar rows I substitued bent-over dumbell rows.  There are plenty of substitutions I make to be able to do this at home, but I am really wanting to move things to the gym.  I think I may have the funds to make that happen over the weekend so I can really pump out a phenomenal week next week to finish up the first phase of the program strong. 
I am loving the results I am getting already.  My shoulders and biceps are starting to trim down a little and I can see more muscle/definition in them.  Yes, there is still a lot of work to do, but little changes seem big when you've been stuck in a rut like I have for so long.  I like how the program changes every 2 weeks, keeping it fresh and keeping the body confused for optimal growth.  It might be insane, but I am actually looking forward to adding the cardio back in.  I won't use it as my primary focus, but as an added bonus to weight training.  One of the fantastic side-effects of this program is that it got me back into the habit and got me past my mental block/dislike/predjudice of weight training.  And for someone who has the genetics to build muscle, and someone who has always enjoyed lifting, that feels really good.  It's amazing how quickly my physique started to change once I started weight training again, results I wouldn't have acheived with cardio alone, but I would have spent years of yo-yoing, trying to make headway with an inconsistent diet and cardio, knowing that I needed to be doing more weight training, but dreading it/skipping it.  So I'm really glad that I had the idea to check into this program.  It is hard work, but it makes me feel disciplined and strong, and knowing that I am rising to the challenge makes my drive even more focused.  I am a sucker for a challenge when I believe it is accomplishable.  Being of short stature, I have often been underestimated  and it gives me great pleasure to prove people wrong about me.  Before I started the Live Fit program, I was trying to use motivational quotes to get my off my butt, and had even purchased a decorative little desktop mailbox in which I was intending to put little hand-written words of encouragement/motivation in, so each morning when I woke up, I could pick a slip and the motivational words would help me to not go back to bed.  Most of them were things I thought of myself, things I told myself were reasons driving me to work at my goal.  I wrote down a few ideas and forgot about them until I found them the other day.  The one that struck me the most, was this: "because he thinks you will never change."  It is motivational for me, because it comes back to that idea of proving people wrong.  Someone somewhere in time did not want to be with me, maybe because of my weight, I'll never know, but he is the kind of person to believe the worst about humanity, and I know he probably assumes I am still some fat chick with self-esteem issues.  That pisses me off and adds more fuel to the fire.  But honestly, there are so many people I could use that phrase for.  My husband, my mom, my sister, everyone I went to school with (those that remember me, that is).  Lets face it, how many overweight people actually reach their goal?  It's not easy to do, and requires a lot of sacrifice.  Just this morning I was reading a blog (not a weight-loss blog) and the writer was mentioning coctails and finger foods and haging out with a loved one talking.  Doesn't that sound so inviting?  What a relief to not have to be concerned with every little thing you put in your mouth.  But that's not my reality.  I am not a naturally slim person who can eat/drink whatever I want and stay slim and healthy.  My family history is loaded with heart disease, cancer, strokes, heart attacks and diabetes.  And I have a body that puts on weight (whether muscle or fat) very easily, so I will always have to be vigilant about how I eat.  I am finding that a lot of things sound good, in theory, but either don't taste as good as they sound or don't make me feel good after I eat them.  My husband and I were discussing pizza, which used to be our weekend cheat meal, but we haven't had it in months.  I told him that it sounds good, but I can imagine how aweful my stomach would feel after eating it.  We shared a moment of sorrow over our lost pizza-joy, then remarked how good it feels to have a healthy body.  When I was messed up and trying to find my way back to this place of a healthy mind and body, I took great comfort in thoughts of comfort food, knowing that I could have it on the weekend, and I indulged in it hardcore.  It feels different right now, like I don't want to go off my plan because I'm doing so well.  Its like acing a course all semester, then posting a "C" grade right at the end.  A bit of a letdown.  But as my husband reminded me last weekend, this is for the longrun, not just to get through twelve weeks, and assuming that I will never eat a cheat meal is absurd and not realistic.
So I am still figuring things out right now.  This morning I took some vitamins and it made me have a weird episode of nausea/flush.  It passed rather quickly and I was able to eat, but it just reminded me why I don't like to take vitamins.  It feels really unnatural to me, as funny as that sounds.   I may revisit vitamins at a later time, maybe switch to a high quality liquid vitamin at some point, but I'm skeptical about vitamins altogether, and would prefer to get my nutrients from my food, unless labwork shows sign of a deficiency anywhere.
Well, my thinking well is dried up for now.  I'll leave you with a photo I took yesterday when I arrived to work.  I used my favorite app, Instagram
It's a cozy place to be, but at some point we have to take a leap in order to progress

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hungry Stomach Seeking Garbage

I made it through a sweaty weekend relatively unscathed, and plenty glad that I didn't have to try to force a workout in the extreme heat and humidity.  I had a little more challenging time keeping my food thoughts pure this weekend, but despite that, I did fairly well and feel great about starting week 3 of the Live Fit Trainer.
On Friday night, despite it being a day of rest, I was starting to feel like a zombie, really tired to the point of being "out of it".  On our way out to our favorite restaurant, my husband said that he could tell I was reaching a place that doesn't feel good, and he recommended having a cheat meal, but nothing too heavy.  So I took his advice, had a high-quality burger with avocado and some fries.  I slowly ate a few chips with salsa while we waited for our food.  To be honest, I maybe had about ten chips, they just tasted pretty aweful after eating all whole food ingredients for the past two weeks.  It felt like, for the first time, I could taste the oil they'd been cooked in, and they seemed overcooked, too thick and greasy, and generally not that good at all.  I won't have any problem passing them up in the future.  My burger was good, I actually love avocado.  I got full really fast.  My younger son was having sensory issues and started to behave badly, ruining the second half of our dinner, which also wiped out our opportunity to get ice cream.  I was actually going to have a sweet treat, and was a little disappointed that it didn't happen, but I was able to let it go and realize how much better it was to not eat more fat and worse, sugar.  That night as I tried to sleep, my stomach felt pretty terrible, so full and I could tell it was much harder for my body to process that kind of food compared to how I've been eating.  That made me extra glad I didn't have any ice cream.
Saturday was one of those hurry-up-and-wait kind of days, we couldn't decide what to do and sort of killed a day on our phones/computer, the kids intermittently playing outside, then coming in to cool their sweaty little selves off.  We ended up going to a park in the late evening, just before sunset, when the temperatures cooled a bit.  We stayed until the sun disappeared and our bellies were growling.  My husband was hinting at going to a restaurant, but I said I wanted to stay on track.  That was hard because when I'm hungry, I'm thinking of anything but clean food.  So we ate clean on Saturday, despite the temptations.
Yesterday was another super hot and humid day, but we spent a little time outdoors, playing with the kids.  I didn't have any food prepped for yesterday, and wasn't very on top of my schedule, so I ended up having a few scoops of all natural peanut butter for two consecutive snacks.  It was the most sound nutrition, but it works.  Then, we decided to go bowling to get out of the heat, and entertain the kids.  They had a blast, and they beat us both!  After bowling we were all starving again, and we were trying to decide whether or not to go to a restaurant, but in the end, we decided to save the money and the calories and just eat clean at home. It wasn't the fun thing to do, but it was the right thing to do.  I had some oatmeal with protein powder when we got home, and it tasted so good ( zero carb Isopure is awesome protein powder) and all my desire to eat junk went out the window.  I need to be better prepared so I don't face the "FEED ME" persuaders that pop up when I let it go too long between meals.
Prep in progress: grilled chicken, peppers and onions for Salsa Chicken recipe
I finished off my Sunday by doing the grocery shopping, and then some food prep for the week's meals.  This week I have added colored bell peppers and onions to my grilled chicken with brown rice.  I marinaded in Mrs. Dash's Southwest Chipotle spice and then poured some salsa over the whole thing.  It is really tastey!
Today was leg day, and the moves changed a bit.  Since the next six weeks of the program are focused on muscle building, the weight is heavier and the reps are lower.  It also means more isolation moves.  Today, I thought I would not get up after doing the walking lunges, and then I was introduced into single legged deadlifts!  Wow!  My legs were so shakey when I got done, and I still had three sets of lying leg curls to do. My hamstrings are feeling funky right now and I know they'll be sore, but that's what leads to a great physique.
I learned a lot about myself, my food mentality and my resolve this weekend.  And I am starting Monday feeling assured it'll be a great week!
Happy Monday, and hope your week is off to a great start as well!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Cozy Spot Inside the Box

Today is my first day of rest for week 2 of my Live Fit Trainer program, and it came in perfect time.  I have been noticing my immune system feels a slight bit compromised, and I think I might be ever so slightly over-trained.  Not that I can't handle what I'm doing, but my body will probably just take a little longer to get accomodated to the amount of workload, since I have been so inconsistent with my training in the past year.  I do miss my cardio a little bit, because it is pretty simple compared to weight training, but one of the great things I am gaining from this program is changing my mentality to not live and die by cardio.  I have known that the health/physique benefits of weight training far outweigh those of cardio activity, but I just never challenged myself to act on that knowledge.  That is pretty typical of us overweight folks, isn't it?  Most of us know what to do, to some extent, but the hard part is commiting to doing it.  And then, actually doing it.
My mind is so different right now.  I am not stressing out over food or thinking about ways to eat junk in private so no one will judge me, I am not sad about my body or worrying about what others think of me.  It almost feels like a non-issue right now, I just stick to the plan that's laid before me, and I don't have to deal with any of that other stuff.  I know a huge part of that is because I broke the sugar addiction again.  I was actually eating pretty clean, South Beach-style diet the week before I began this program, so the sugar addiction was taken care of, but I was worried by the higher carb content that the Live Fit program allows.  My body is handling it really well, and I am not finding any desire for sugary treats at all.  The truth is, if you are following the training and sticking to the workouts, your body needs those carbs/starches.  There is a really nice balance to this plan, I think that's why it's easy to stick to.  In the final phase, there will be carb cycling, which I have seen my husband acheive pretty dramatic results from, so I am interested to see how my body will handle that.  My husband's body is a finely-tuned instrument, mine is not quite to that level yet.
The structure of the program is leading to discipline for me, which I've mentioned before, was something I learned from this trial, that I really need in order to stay focused.  But even better, I am not as emotionally reactive/pensive about the whole thing either.  I don't spend hours and hours thinking about what I'm doing, wishing I could binge on something, or looking forward to the weekend so I can let loose and eat all kinds of garbage.  I don't think about it much at all.  I am living inside the box, and that would drive some people nuts, but for me it actually makes me more sane than having a lot of choices.  So all those months that I let slip by, wondering what was different, and how to get back to the "focus" I had when I started, the answer was STRUCTURE.  I am a very undisciplined person without it, and I react very emotionally to lack of it.  It is like a cozy security blanket for me.  Learning this now is so instrumental to my success, it feels like a weight has been lifted, not having to try to figure out how to make this work for me again.  I'm not saying I'll never have an off day, but I'm not even planning ahead for any kind of failure.  I know I can keep up with what I need to do as long as I have a solid plan in place.  What a relief to understand my body in this manner!  It probably makes for really boring blog posts, but that will change once I start experiencing the results of my hard work.
Tonight we will likely go to our favorite restaurant, and I will order the grilled chicken fajitas and just eat the chicken and veggies, maybe one small tortilla and some guacamole.  My body feels really good after that meal, and since I don't have to cook it, it really feels like a treat!  The weather is supposed to be hot and stormy this weekend, so I think we will be spending most of it indoors.  That will leave plenty opportunity for getting some stretching in, and prepare myself to begin week 3 of the program on Monday.
Here's to making it through another successful week!  Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Little Dieter's Rant

Today I saw something that drove me nuts, so forgive me as I rant a bit!  You may recall that my husband is a fitness model and that he is drop-dead gorgeous.  I might be biased.  But his day job is far less glamorous, indeed, he drives a forklift in a warehouse.  Lets just say the guys he works with exemplify why everyone thinks Wisconsinites are beer-swilling rednecks.  Drinking is a pasttime for most blue-collar folks in this neck of the woods.  And we've got the physiques to prove it, yah der hey!  From time to time, my husband will be approached by the guys (and some butch women, unfortunately) who work with him, for diet advice.  This usually equates to my husband telling them they have to give up their 6-pack-a-day-Mountain Dew habit and quit drinking beer.  That is usually the point where peels of laughter can be heard as the offended beer-guzzler walks away in disbelief and disconnect from the problem at hand.  The sentiment is usually something like, I asked you to make me look good, not turn me into a princess.  Oh, there will be some who will brag to him about how they have started a diet, and feel very proud as they eat their processed bologna on mushy white bread sandwhich in front of him.  Some people have absolutely no concept of how to eat healthy, and that is not a dig, it is actually quite astonishing and a little bit sad.  I feel myself wanting to spill my knowledge all over these people. 
Today was just such a day when I came across just such a case.  I was reading a weight loss blog, as I like to do, and the blogger was going through her successes as of late, a little bit of running etc.  Then, at the end of the blog, she posts a photo of what she had for dinner after her run, a greasy, breaded, deep-fried fish dinner.  OK, I am human and I eat garbage sometimes, but she actually proceded to pat herself on the back for not eating the fries, and for staying under her alloted calories for the day (she's one of those Weight Watchers followers).  Now, I am never one to knock a weight-loss program, but I'm sure it is not the intention of the developers of WW to have their dieter eating such crap and still considering themselves "on plan".  If that were the case, you could eat a Big Mac meal and a slice of cake and if you are still under your calorie allotment, it is a healthy diet and you will lose weight.  Yikes!  What are people thinking?  Yes, she ran before eating it, but that doesn't burn nearly as many calories as people think it does, and any cardiological benefit she may have produced would surely be wiped away by the trans-fat laiden garbage she ate afterwords.  I am all for eating a treat/cheat now and then, but I call it what it is.  Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh, maybe she truly doesn't understand what that piece of "fish" is doing to her body.  It is really sad because if she eats like that she probably won't find out until she has a coronary episode.  She'll be one of those people in shock, saying,"I don't understand how this could happen, I am a runner".
I think the saddest thing about it is, people like this concentrate so heavily on numbers/calories to the exclusion of their health.  Yes, I get the idea behind the have-anything-you-want-but-do-it-in-moderation- thinking, they are aiming at having people not bingeing on stuff because of feelings of deprivation.  But what it is doing is allowing people things that are not good for their health as long as they don't eat enough calories to gain a pound.  So what we are seeing as a result is people compromising their health for a few pounds lost.  To me it is sad.  And to say something would be looked at as rude/judgemental.  So I will not say anything, but I don't think I'll read that blog anymore.  I don't want to get attatched to her personality and hope for her only to see her health fail her in the end.  Here's hoping someone shows her the way.
I probably sound like a pompous ass for saying that, but I honestly don't know how else to feel about that.  I have spent years researching weight loss/health, and I probably have more useless information that useful, but if you are really ready to make a change, shouldn't it begin with a foundation of knowledge? 
OK, off my soap box!  Week two's workouts are all done, and I am feeling mighty fine!  Big changes are bound to happen with my squeaky clean diet and my consistent training.  I am looking forward to fall, because it's my favorite season, but also because I know I will look and feel even better, and I'm actually getting really excited for my next semester at college.  I'm still dreaming of moving, still dreading winter, but all things are better when you feel vital!
Hope your week is on track to finish strong!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Did it Anyway

I didn't sleep well again last night.  It was strange because yesterday, despite cutting off the caffeine hours earlier than usual, I felt so energetic all day.  My sleep interrruptions were more from thunderstorms moving through, and a nagging tickle in my throat.  At any rate, I got into my coziest sleep less than an hour before the alarm went off, so by the time it did go off, I was so startled that my heart felt like it was racing.  I felt really tired, my ears felt a little stuffy, my throat a little sore.  In the past, I would have given myself the day off and slept in a little.  But this program is keeping me on track.  Part of it is because it's planned out so well, I don't want to mess up the steps because I know I won't get the most benefit from it doing things in a different order.  Part of it is my drive, I really want there to be an impressive difference when I take my picture at the end of the 12 weeks. 
Today was leg day, and I was really not feeling like doing it, but I knew as soon as I got my first set of leg extensions in, that I would be warm and ready to go.  I was able to increase the weight on some things, and stayed the same on others, but it felt doable.  I know I'll be sore from the workout, but if my upper body is any indication, recovery seems to be happening much quicker than last week, so a temporary soreness is no big deal.  I am still supplementing with branch chain amino acids, which help the muscle recover/repair, I take it before and after my workouts.  I'm not taking vitamins consistently, that's why I've had the same bottle (a 90 day supply) for more than 5 months, and I still have a bunch left.  I don't enjoy taking them.  I do put flax on my oatmeal in the morning, and get more essential fatty acids from macadamia nut oil added to my evening meal.  I am still finding all of the food tastey and am not having any problem sticking to the diet.  I am happy to report that!
So tomorrow is my last day of training for week two, and then I get three days of rest before I head into week 3.  Next week, there are some changes in the program, the order of workouts changes, and there is an extra workout added.  I haven't weighed myself in the past few days, but I can see a difference in the mirror.  Particularily my lower stomach/hips, they are getting flatter.  Because they were so big, it looks really odd to me to see them flatten out, but I know they are going somewhere good.  Years ago, I read that first area you lose weight is the last area that gained weight.  I don't know if it's true, but I can see changes and it makes me happy.  It is worth the work.  My goal for the next few days, is to stretch at least once a day.  It really does help, and it makes me feel good.  Being stiff makes me feel old.  I already have grey hair to do that for me! 
Well, I feel a little brain-dead today, so I won't go on forever like normal.  I hope you are all having a terrific week, plotting your goals and crushing them!  Keep pushing through, Friday's on it's way!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Bigger Life

I was thinking about my Monday morning triceps/chest workout and found humor in the fact that the past two Mondays have been really bad hair days because by the time I get around to fixing my hair, my arms are so trashed that it feels unnatural to lift them, so my hair looks pretty horrible on triceps days.  For the most part, while all the muscles I am working are getting sore, the triceps are the ones I have neglected the most, and they stay sore the longest.  But that is also a huge problem area on my body, I hate those saggy underarms that keep jiggling after you're done waving.  So, as the saying goes, the only way out is through. 
Today was back and biceps.  I was able to use more weight on some of the back exercises, and felt awesome about finally making the mind-muscle connection on the dumbbell rows!! I have been doing them for more than a year, and it has always been difficult for me to feel which muscle I should be working, but today I was not only able to feel that muscle group, but squeeze them for every rep.  I felt the blood rush into the muscles, and it felt so good!  I'm not going to lie, this is HARD WORK, but what keeps me going, is knowing that this work is going to bring about results.  I can't believe the difference already. 
Being on a structured plan is helping me learn a lot about myself.  This morning I was thinking about the weekend before I started the Live Fit program.  My husband and I were going somewhere and I told him about how great I'm going to look when I'm done, because I already have all the tools I need, namely genetics that want to build muscle.  He jokingly challenged me, saying I wasn't going to surpass him, but to give it my best shot, 'lets see what you're made of!'  What I realized this morning is, there is a difference between the confidence I have when I am beginning something I believe will excell at vs trying to force myself what I know I should do.  The difference is huge.  When I am trying to do something just because I know I should, because I don't like being fat, my self-dialogue is usually very negative.  Look at this hideous body!  How could I let it get this bad?!  I am going to end up leaving my kids motherless at an early age.  I need to change this before it gets any uglier.  But when I am about to tackle a goal, one that is challenging, but one I believe I can conquer anyway, the self dialogue is much more confident and positive.  Ok, this is where I'm starting from, and I can go where ever I want from here.  I am shaping my own destinyI have this in the bag.  And my mantra makes its reappearance: I'VE GOT MORE IN ME!  One more rep, one more workout, more heart, more reasons, more drive, more inspirations.  I'm not done yet, I'm still working on this.   And I'm going to challenge myself to use this program to help me get some serious results.  I know I won't be at my dream physique in just 12 weeks, but this program isn't intended to make obese people fitness models, it is designed to create healthy habits in eating and moving.  When it is done, I will keep building on it, changing the workouts but still challenging myself, and eating relatively the same.  It was a huge deal for me to not have a cheat meal over the weekend, especially since I was going from near-binge-type eating on the weekends to not really cheating at all last weekend.  I think I need this program to help me get out of the habits I have been letting slowly creep back into my life without giving it much thought. 
My husband has been going through some personal trials with his budding modelling career, and he is being forced to make some pretty big decisions about whether or not to continue in the business.  My advice to him was something that I can also apply to my journey as well: Whenever you are attempting to do something BIGGER than the life you've been living, there will always be discomfort, there will always be unknowns, but sometimes living in the comfort of the life you know is a detriment.  Besides, that old, comfortable/familiar life will always be a fall-back waiting there if you need to resort back to it.  Truth is, most people aren't really that comfy in their familiar lives, most people would change some things if they had the opportunity, but we settle into what we know, because we don't have to think that much, or challenge anyone/thing, or struggle for results.  There have been a few times when I think of how comfy it would be to just sit on the couch and watch TV and chow down on some junk food to my heart's desire.  Then I think about how that would make me feel after, mentally and physically and I have to challenge my deceptive mind and ask, is that really comfy?  No, but it is what I know, and it is easy to not have to think, to worry about what I'm putting in my mouth, to not have to plan out when to wake up in order to accomodate a workout.  For years I have mistaken my laziness for comfort.  True, it is easier to not have to work at making any kind of change, but staying in the same, miserable place is not comfortable.  So for me, one of the biggest things I have learned about taking on this journey in the first place is, despite the bumps in the road, the struggle is worth the reward.  And the best reward is not the option to be lazy but the gift of being proud of your own accomplishments. 
Are you believing in yourself?  It's the best way to get started! 
Hope you're having an uplifting Tuesday!  Thanks for reading!

Monday, July 16, 2012

A Hamster for a Spotter?

This may have been my most successful weekend in about a year!  I was worried about entertaining my kids myself of Friday, and how that usually leads to eating a bunch of garbage, but Friday went really smoothly for us.  My younger son hurt his toe, so we stopped at a Walgreens to get some supplies, and my kids picked out some treats there.  Normally I would have left the store with a bag full of Pringles and peanut butter cups along with other junk food,  but this time, I simply got some diet A&W root beer, my favorite, and I kept eating the things on my plan.  I didn't really even think about eating anything else, this diet is pretty easy.  I am so greatful about that!
On Saturday, I did some cleaning, kept on my clean diet, and it hit me quite suddenly, none of my muscles are sore right now!  It was a pleasant surprise.  I did have to improvise a little bit on Saturday, when we went to a birthday party that was outdoors, but I planned ahead and brought some beef jerkey.  Not exactly on the Live Fit plan, but still low-carb and protein-esque.  It was one of the only things I could think of that could sit in a 100+ degree car and not spoil.  I felt pretty good about myself for not caving and eating unplanned junk.  Standing in that 90 degree, cloudless day made me feel aweful!  I got a sunburn, and of course it made my sun allergy explode into a fiercely itchy neck and chest rash, and by the time I got home, I had a horrible headache and felt so drained that I took a nap. 
That night we went to dinner at our favorite restaurant, and I decided I was going to keep it clean, so I didn't eat any of the chips and salsa, and I ordered the grilled chicken fajitas.  I had one flour tortilla, that was my "treat", and the chicken and veggies tasted so good, the seasoning had the perfect amount of spice to suit me.  My mouth was happy, and it was clean. 
Sunday was a pretty mellow day, it was really hot and humid again, so we didn't spend more time outside than we absolutely had to.  We were not smart to do all of our errands during the hottest part of the day, but I needed time to get all my cooking done for the week.  It takes me about an hour and a half to get my meals cooked, but it is so much better than having to find time to cook each night, and remembering to bring my lunch every day.  I am sticking with turkey meatloaf muffins (from the Live Fit site) and salsa chicken with brown rice.  I eat plain oatmeal with protein powder for breakfast and dinner, and end my night with 5 egg whites.  I ended up making three batches of turkey muffins over the weekend and have none left (except what I brought to work),  my family has been gobbling them up as quickly as I can make them.  They are definitely a hit.  Here's the link: Jamie Eason's Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
This morning I decided to weigh in, and was happy to see 166 on the scale, that is exactly 4 pounds lost over the course of the week.  I did not expect that, because I have been adding muscle.  But I also didn't go way off the rails with my diet all weekend, that makes a huge difference!  My triceps/chest workout starts with wide pushups, and I immediately felt stronger than last week, able to do nearly all of them from my toes, where last week I did about half or more from my knees.  However, by the time I did three sets of 12, and then 3 sets of two different chest exercises, I was nearly unable to do the narrow pushups, I would get about 3 (from my knees) and my wobbly arms would simply collapse under me.  I wanted to do them, I just physically wasn't able.  But I'm OK with that, I know that means that I have room to grow.  The program is designed very intelligently.  For instance, if I do a chest press as my first movement of a workout, I can usually use 50 #s, but when I start with those wide pushups and then go into the chest press, I have to bump the weight down to 40 or 30.  It makes sense, by exhausting the arm muscles early on, the chest has to do all the work.  Man, do I hate pushups!  But as my husband told me a long time ago, "When you don't like to do something, those are the things you know you have to do in order to improve."  I am dreaming of a month from now, being able to do 3 sets of 12 narrow pushups.  And I am smiling over how good my arms will look by then. ;)
Every workout so far I have had a partner going through the paces with me, and it is so adorable to me that I have to share.  My home gym is right next to our new pet hamster, Fred.  He is nocturnal, so we don't see a lot of Fred.  And he's a little shy, we've only had him about 3 weeks.  But whenever I work out next to him, he pokes his head out, and eventually starts running like mad on his wheel.  He could be in a dead sleep, but when I start working out, so does Fred.  And when I am finished, Fred gets a big drink of water and goes back to sleep. It is really amusing to me.  And since it happens every time, without fail, I think of him as my workout buddy.  It helps wake me up with a smile.
Well, Monday's workout is in the books.  My arms feel nearly unusable, and that's how I know I did something right!  My body is starting to shrink before my eyes, and I feel so much better.  I did miss my Sunday morning cardio, but I'm learning to re-wire my brain, and after chewing it over a bit this weekend, I realize that my gravitating toward cardio was because I didn't feel like pushing myself, making my muscles weak and sore.  Weight training is more challenging for me, and I know it will yield the results I am hoping for in the long run.  Cardio is great for the heart, and torches a few extra calories, but won't get me the physique I want.  I am still learning, and I am a pretty stubborn person, but I'm making progress.  Feeling like I am in control of my destiny is so priceless, food/cravings aren't having their way with me, the only thing that can trip me up now is me.  And right now, that just isn't in the plan.
Happy Monday everyone!  Lets make this week really count!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Feels FUN-omenal

This Friday the 13th superstition is a little absurd, don't you think?  To me, Fridays are like Pizza, even the "bad" ones are still pretty hard to beat.  I am fortunate to have a job where I don't work weekends, so Fridays feel like a holiday-waiting-to-happen for me.  And on this particular Friday, I feel rejuvinated, awake, and very content. 
Today was my first day of rest for the week, so I got to sleep an additional 40 minutes today.  Honestly?  I woke up at my nomal time feeling so well-rested and energized, but I indulged in the extra sleep anyway.  And when I woke the second time,  I felt good.  A lot of my muscle soreness is starting to dissapate from the week's efforts, and I plan on doing a lot of stretching this weekend, to help elongate the muscles while they are at rest.  Already, after just 5 days on this plan, my clothes are fitting better.  I am really getting excited about the prospect of a new, cute wardrobe in fall, when I return to college.  That has always been a driving factor for me, as shallow as it might be.
I mentioned in a previous entry that I usually read through other blogs before I write mine for the day, and one of them that I follow is making me a little...frustrated/sad/irritated.  Not sure exactly what word hits the mark.  This dear, sweet woman is having all kinds of trouble losing weight, along with a bunch of other issues, and has switched over to trying Primal/Paleo.  I am not discounting the plan, I'm sure there is some great element of truth to what the authors have found, and there are millions of supporters of this way of life/weight loss.  But to watch this woman scrutinize over every little issue is excruciating to me.  Is wheat really the devil, or is it that we don't have a counter-balance built into our diets?  No dairy, legumes, grains?  It sounds absurd to me.  But then again, I don't have a lot of the health issues that drive a lot of folks to take on such a strict, restricted way of eating.  I don't get joint pain from eating a plate of brown rice.  On the contrary, it makes me feel energetic and gives me a buzz when I balance it out with lean protein.  And since I am actively burning fuel, my body readily uses those carbs to replenish me of what I have lost.  In fact, other than processed foods/sugars I don't really see one individual food group or food as evil.  It all comes down to balance.  My husband, whom I consider a genius on the subject, was agreeing with me as I ranted about it this morning.  Yes, inflammation is very bad for your body, but most of us have inflammation because we don't balance the easy-to-get omega 6 in our diet with the proper amount of omega 3's.  Omega 3's are the anti-inflammatory that are ESSENTIAL for us to get, that's why they're called ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS.  And, as I have found out by experience, if there isn't a balance in diet AND training, it's going to be an uphill battle.  A tiny bit of leisurely activity doesn't make things happen too quickly, in fact most of the last year I spent yo-yoing up and down the 160's because weight training had all but disappeared from my life, and my cardio activity was spotty at best.  And combined with my wild weekend eating patterns, it's no wonder I ended up back at 170.  But what this week has really shown me is how good I feel when I eat the right things.  Not just mentally, but physically.  I know it sounds so cliche!  I used to expect some sort of joy out of eating junk food, and it rarely ever rose to my expectations.  Yes, junk food tastes good, I am still human, but it never NEVER gives me that buzz like I get when I'm eating clean.  And worse yet, it usually leaves me bloated, uncomfortable, and a little bummed-out. 
My husband, who is a model, has been getting ready for an important interview with two great talent agencies this weekend/week and an ad shoot for the agency he's already  with, and has felt compelled to trim down his already fantastic physique.  He has adjusted his diet slightly (he already eats really clean) and added more cardio to the mix.  He lost 7 pounds in less than 2 weeks, but this morning he was complaining that he hasn't had a cheat meal in almost 2 weeks.  While I knew it must be hard, I told him that I wasn't planning on having one in the four weeks it takes to complete this phase of my program.  He was a little suprised at that, but I told him, honestly, it doesn't bother me.  I can have chicken fajitas and just eat the chicken and veggies, we can still enjoy a nice meal together without eating junk.  For me, it is very much mind-over-matter.  I want to look good and be proud of my accomplishment.  I want to wear cute clothes to school in fall, I want to have more energy and move easier.  I want to be happy.  When I eat the way I know I'm supposed to, everything seems to fall into place, and I don't have to obsess over food.  It isn't I should have this or shouldn't have that, it is more like, this is what I'm having for lunch, this is what's for dinner, case closed.  Less decisions at the time of hunger leads to greater success for me.  And I don't have to obsess over this grain or that macronutrient, because I know if I eat clean and put the workout time in, I cannot fail.
I hope you feel as fantastic as I do this fine Friday!  Anyone else doing the Live Fit Trainer?  I'd love to hear how it's going!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Week One Put to Bed, Baby!

Today was the first day that I was thinking about how nice sleeping in would feel, but I reminded myself that there is time for that on my rest days coming up.  This was my final weight training day for the week, so tomorrow my reward will be sleeping in an extra 40 minutes.  It doesn't sound like a lot, but it is going to feel great.
By the time I had my branch chain amino acids and  a caffeine pill and laced up my shoes, I was already feeling ready for the pump.  Shoulders and abs today, and since I didn't need to use my home gym for any of the moves, I got to do my workout in my bedroom, with music on, and in front of full-length mirrors.  It was nice not having to worry about waking anyone up.  I was surpised to see how good my muscles are starting to look already, muscles have amazing memory.  I felt like I had a great mind-muscle connection today, really able to feel the muscle doing the work, target it for a good burn.  I have always dreamed of strong, beautiful arms, and I know it can be acheived, I have the genetics for it.  My back is starting to look nice too.  Not photo-worthy, but there is some tone there that wasn't before.  I was really happy that my arms were not too tired to get a good workout in today, it was something that was concerning me, as they have been sore all week, and still are.  But it is the kind of itchy/achey sore you get when something is healing, so it actually feels kind of good.  The ab work I did today was sketchy at best.  I never feel like I am getting much out of it while I'm doing it, but I think I'll feel the muscles used tomorrow.  If not, I may substitute a few different ab moves from the program.  I really haven't trained abs much, since I know you can't spot-reduce, and I have so horribly-much fat on top of mine that it'll take years to unbury my abs, but my husband keeps insisting that it is more to support your back, especially as I train my back harder, those muscles need to be balanced out so I can keep the rest of my body balanced.  I will be dutiful and train abs, but I draw the line at calves.  My husband has the most awesome abs, and he NEVER trains them.  The abs actually get hit pretty well doing a bunch of other moves.  Proof is in the puddin, as they say.

My husband, Garrett Anderson in his early modelling endeavors.  Photographer-Brett Stoddart
I am feeling really good about sticking to it this week.  It really didn't feel like a challenge at all.  Maybe because I am not focusing on all the other posibilities (noise) out there where food is concerned, I am just focused on staying inside the guidlines of the program.  This leads to success for me.  Most of my meals were prepped on Sunday, so all I have to do is heat them and I am greatful for that every time I grab for food with my belly growling fiercly.  Not having to wait or plan for meal prep time during the day has been a huge advantage, and I will continue to do Sunday preps from now on. 
Tomorrow will be a day to test me, as I have been in the habit of getting a little lax on Fridays, and most weekends, it just keeps rolling away from me until Monday comes and I'm ready to commit again.  It will be especially challenging for me on Friday night, when my husband is out of town, and I will be left to entertain the kids.  In the past, that has meant bingeing on a bunch of junk food and renting movies and calling it "movie night".  I will say that I don't have ANY cravings right now, and that is a blessing.  I enjoy the food I'm eating and since it's so clean, and I get so hungry, I really look forward to eating it, especially this recipe: Jamie Eason's Turkey Meatloaf Muffins, for some reason they make me get that good-food-buzz every time I eat them, and everyone at my office loves the smell when I warm them up.  Next time I will make a double batch, my kids wanted to eat them all up on me.  Maybe that will be our Friday night fun activity, cooking clean food.  A girl can try, right?
I am on track for having a great week, I have been successful in my efforts and am looking forward to starting week two.  I have a feeling my muscles will be a lot less sore next week.  But boy do I sleep FANTASTIC!
Hope you're having a FANTASTIC Thursday!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stop the Insanity!!

Before each time I blog, I spend a little time catching up on other people's weight loss blogs, and each time I come back feeling fired up in some fashion.  Today, I feel irritated at this society for making weight loss so complicated!  Honestly, there are so many fads/trends and conflicting ideas about the best way to acheive health and lose weight, it makes a person's head spin.  I have been watching a lot of my fellow bloggers scrutinizing over calories and percentages and elimination diets.  Is it just me, or is this the reason a lot of overweight people don't even bother?  Not that that makes it right, but the confusion makes it feel really overwhelming.  The truth is, no matter what kind of weight loss plan you check into, be it Primal or Paleo or Weight Watchers, Atkins, Medifast...you name it, you will undoubtedly find people who have had success and will passionately share their story and try to convert anyone who will listen.  I think it's human nature.  But it is sad that people will follow others so blindly, expecting the same results, completely ignoring their body and it's unique needs. 
I admit that I like structure, someone I trust to tell me what I should do and why.  It has worked for me in the past, far better than trying to figure things out on my own, and I find that I hold myself much more accountable when I have a plan laid out for me.  But, with that in mind, you've got to modify to what works for you, in your life and with your body.  Remember Susan Powter from back in the day?  Her Stop the Insanity and her bubbly personality drove some people nuts!  But I loved her.  It was the first time anyone told me that I didn't have to be perfect in following their plan.  Just move, she would say, it doesn't matter if you can't keep up, just march in place.  Modify.  She was always talking about modification.  She gave us the information, then left it for us to mold it to fit into our lives. 
Can't curl that dumbell more than 5 times?  Well just do five, and next time I'll bet you'll be able to do six.  I love her for giving me that gift.  I wish more programs would talk about modification.  For that reason, Stop the Insanity was probably the one weight loss book that had the first and deepest impact on me, because it wasn't an all-or-nothing message, and I felt that I could work my way up to the "all" part. 
I was reminded of that today as I did my Jamie Eason's Live Fit Trainer leg training today.  I already modify the workouts because it is designed for the gym, and I do it from home.  Today's modification came in the form of not having equipment to do leg presses, so I skipped them, doing lying hamstring curls instead of seated ones, and not training my calves (because, have you seen my calves?  My husband is constantly jealous of them!).  I thought of Susan, felt like a bit of a rebel, and knew that the reason I was going to stick with it is because a long time ago Susan Powter told me it's OK to not be perfect, as long as I just keep moving.
No matter what plan you follow, that is the best advice any one of us can take along for the journey!
Happy Wednesday friends!  Hope you are having a successful week!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

It's a Happy Kind of Sore

Wow!  This morning I am sore!  I guess it is a sign of how far off the fitness track I let myself get in the last year of lackluster commitment.  This morning was back and biceps workout, and I found out just how weak my biceps are!  I used to love curls, and even at one point found the 10lb weights to be too easy, today I really struggled to get them up for three sets of 12 reps.  But I did it.  Pretty much my entire upper body feels like it has been worked in the past two days, as I used a lot of accessory muscles to do these workouts.  I did notice yesterday that I had way more energy throughout the day, and didn't hit the usual 3pm crash that I normally do, and I sleep like a baby  last night.
It feels a little odd not doing cardio, it has been a huge part of this journey from the beginning.  But the reason there is no cardio for the first four weeks is because in this phase we are building muscle.  If you do too much/too high-intensity cardio, your body  burns off some of your muscle.  And for women, it is harder to build muscle, so we don't want to compromise our gains.  Most people know that just by having lean muscle mass on your body you burn fat.  That is a pretty big deal.  Cardio has it's place, and I will enjoy adding it back in for the benefit to my heart, but honestly, you can get your heart rate to the same pace with weight training (if you alter the amount of rest between sets, do active rest or circuit-style training) and spend a lot less time doing cardio in the long run.  A lot of women I know really still believe that doing hours of cardio will get them a fantastic figure.  I know a number of skinny-fat women with no muscle-tone. 
OK, off my soap box!  I am learning a lot as I go, from multiple sources, and it feels good to be back on track again.  Mentally, I feel like I can take on whatever comes my way, and I am looking forward to seeing my body shape up.  I was actually a little disappointed when I saw my arms in the mirror this morning, still sore from yesterday, still so big and gross.  Logically, I knew they wouldn't look any different than they did yesterday, but I thought maybe I would see something looking a little tighter.  I decided not to weigh in right now, I think I'll aim to make it a Monday-morning ritual instead of every day.  It plays with my mind too much.  I know I'll be gaining muscle, and it will make me feel bad to see a gain, but I'm smart enough to know the reasons.  I will also be taking measurements when I feel like I need a boost. 
The "diet" portion of this program is going well for me, as the meals aren't too different from the way I was eating before.  The snacks are where my changes are coming in.  Last month, my snacks were apple w/peanut butter (called "natural" but still included sugar and palm oil, things my body doesn't need), low-fat string cheese and low-fat cottage cheese.  I actually kept the cottage cheese in my menu, because it is affordable and easy to pack.  My other snacks are turkey muffins (recipe on the website) and before bed I eat 5 egg whites with veggies.  I'm not the biggest fan of scrambled eggs, so I may change that up at some point, but it's working for now.  What is out of my "usual" diet?  Whole eggs, turkey bacon, peanut butter, cheese, and whole wheat bread.  I actually feel pretty good so far, and I can tell a difference in how clean I am eating, because I get roaringly hungry when it's time to eat, and after eating, I get a happy little buzz all throughout my body, kind of feels like my body saying thank you for giving it what it needs.  I am supplementing my workouts with amino acids, essential fatty acids (flax on my oatmeal or omega caps), protein powder, a multi vitamin and garlic caps.  In general, I am not a huge fan of taking vitamins, and will likely cut out the multi vitamin and garlic once they are gone. 
Tomorrow is leg day, and I am actually relieved to be letting my arms rest for a day.  Then Thursday is shoulders (one of my favorite parts to train) and abs (one of my least faves to train).  Then three lovely days of rest. 
While it's only been two days so far, I am already learning something about myself; having the structure and everything already planned out for me has made it almost effortless to get out of bed, I don't even argue with myself about whether or not I'm going to.    I like being told what to do by someone who knows what to do and why it works.  Knowing what muscle groups to work together, in what order to train the muscles and even what kind of training (push vs pull, cables vs free weights vs plyos etc).  It is all so confusing for a beginner like me, this plan is really easy to follow, and when I'm doing it, I can see that it has been really well planned-out.  When I'm done, I have worked hard, but feel great!  I can tell I am going to get my strength back and then some. 
Well, time for some turkey muffins and half a cucumber.  Enjoy your day!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Live Fit Trainer, Day 1

***Immediate disclaimer*** Sorry for the disgusting images that follow, but it's Day 1 of a new program, so I want to be able to share my progress in photos.  This poor outfit has been through the wringer of yo-yo'ing, I'm just happy it still fits.
First things first.  All weekend I started to panic about starting a new program.  I knew this one was going to really push me, and I haven't necessarily been pushing myself lately.  I had major doubts about whether or not I could get through it and stick to it.  I even began finding excuses why I wouldn't be able to start today.  I don't have all the equipment, I don't know if I can afford the food I want, oh no, the store was low on turkey, now we don't have enough for the week, etc etc.  This is not uncommon for me to do to myself before I face something that I perceive as a challenge.  But then yesterday, someone tagged me in a photo on Facebook, and I was so extremely repulsed and surprised by the photo that I had to show my husband.  Wow, did I really look that bad?  I remember feeling really feminine and pretty that day.  It was my best friend's wedding, in 1999, and it was a fun day, but looking back at that photo now, it makes me cringe.  And it solidified my need to do this.  I wanted to remove the tag from that photo so it wouldn't show up on my page, but then I realized, that's not me anymore!  My husband reaffirmed, "You're half the person!"  Honestly, I look like I had no neck!  Against my better judgement, here is that aweful photo.
That's me, the linebacker in the lavender dress on the far left.
At any rate, the photo inspired me to try this program and see about giving it all I've got, to help insure I never have to look like that in another photo!  
Phase 1 of this program, which is 4 weeks, focuses purely on weight training.  There is absolutely zero cardio in the first 4 weeks.  Some people would be over the moon about that, but I actually prefer cardio to weight training these days, I think because I don't have the muscle fatigue and aches afterword, but that's just a guess!  Today I trained chest and triceps, and the workout started with wide-stance push ups.  I was feeling cocky and started out on my toes, but found out really quickly how weak I am, and how much energy it takes just to do them from my knees.  In all, I was only able to do 8 of them on my toes, the rest of my reps were from my knees.  Let me tell you, those push ups pre-exhausted my arms so much that everything that followed was way more challenging than usual.  By the time I hit my chest and arms, the next thing on the list was narrow-stance push ups.  My arms were so shakey/wobbly, I was just toast by then!  I was supposed to do 3 sets of 12 of those, but could only muster 16 altogether.  So there is a weak spot that I hope strengthens by the end of this program.  No wonder I wasn't making any progress before, I think I wasn't working hard enough to make my body change.  Even now, 3 hours post workout, and two clean meals later,  my arms still feel like they don't want to be used.  I start work in an hour, so it should be an interesting day!  
This week I have 4 weight workouts in a row, then get 3 days of rest.  I know I can do that, and I know I can do whatever next week has in store for me too.  12 weeks seems like a piece of cake when I break it down into smaller chunks.  Some of the before and after photos are really inspirational and give me hope!  
I took my measurements today, but I think I'll wait to post measurement improvements either until I start Phase 2 in 4 weeks, or until the very end.  I don't have any unrealistic goals attached to this, just to stick with the program and see it through.  I know I've lost some of my muscle and I want it back.  
So here are my day 1 photos:
Bad quality/back lit and all, but you get the general idea

 Day 1 Live Fit Trainer

It's really hard to take a full-length photo of yourself from the back!  Don't like looking at it either.
So there is the ugly truth for everyone to see.  I am hoping to not dread the progress photos as much as I dreaded these.  At any rate, at least I'm not wearing a lavender moo-moo!
Have a great Monday everyone!  And thanks for coming along for the ride!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Live Fit

With both of my doctors out of the office yesterday, my optical sales department was sporting some serious (although proverbial) tumbleweeds, which left me time to surf the internet.  I am one of those people who actually checks my traffic sources on my blog, to see where my readers are coming from, and one of the search tags was for Jamie Eason, so I decided to google her, to see where my humble little blog turned up in the search for her.  I actually follow her on Facebook, and noticed that she mentioned her Live Fit program.  I was assuming it was an expensive program designed for the uber-fit nationality, of which I definitely do not belong, and can't afford to buy myself into.  But I was interested, because I had seen some pretty dramatic before and after photos, so I looked into it.  It is actually sponsored by Bodybuilding.com, a company my husband has ordered from on several occassions, due to the unbeatable prices on all-things-nutrition.  The program is a 12 week program that is really intelligently designed.  I was really impressed.  She is a body builder/fitness model, so she knows her stuff.  And to be honest, once again, the diet she has on the site is quite similar to how I eat on South Beach Diet, nothing too crazy for me. 
The kicker is this, it is 100% free!!  No catch, no gimmicks.  She does recommend a supplement stack, which, of course, you can purchase from Bodybuilding.com, that is how the program is supported, but it is free to anyone who visits.  It really simply explains what activity to do on workout days, and when to rest, and what to eat in order to see results.   And the best part is, she explains why she designed the program the way she did, excluding cardio for the first phase, in order to build muscle.  There are a list of allowed foods to stick to, but within those choices, you can create whatever you want.  There are also some recipes, and printable workout logs where you can track your workouts.  It is basically free personal training from an expert, that is unheard of!  Here's the link, in case anyone wants to check it out.  Jamie Eason's Live Fit Trainer
As I looked over the program, I got really excited about it, it really ignited a spark in me again.  I know I could look and feel amazing if I stuck to all 12 weeks of this program.  When you break it down by the week, it isn't that long to commit to something.  For me, having something laid out for me has always been a huge tool in my success, rather than having to make decisions on my own.  I guess that's not too unusual, that's why a lot of people hire a personal trainer. I feel so hopeful about this program that I am going to keep my cheat meal relatively clean this weekend, maybe some fajita's with guacamole, without the tortillas.  Now I know I'm ready to make a great effort if I am looking at the weekend in a healthier way already.  Back to the straight and narrow.  I keep telling myself, I am going to look so much better and feel much stronger at the end of twelve weeks.  I'm excited about the posibilities again.  And that is a huge, huge deal!
If anyone decides to do the program, drop a comment, we can cheer each other on!
Happy Friday everyone! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Tiny Bites

This is the type of day when I get a half hour into a blog post and then delete the whole thing, drink a Diet Coke, in hopes of gaining wisdom and clarity and try again.  Hopefully this will be a better post than the one I just cleared. 
So, yesterday being the 4th of July, my kids were on edge all day, so excited and good-spirited that they couldn't even bring themselves to fight with each other.  It was extremely hot and extremely humid, the kind of scene where you can actually see the earth's steam rising and sweat beads don't discriminate, but roll off brows and drinks and glide down your back like a bug making tracks.  That is summer in Wisconsin, for sure.  But it has been record-breakingly scorching, so after some mid-morning intense cardio, I pretty much kept myself indoors most of the day.  My husband and I were watching a marathon of Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  We love that show, but it does have a tendency to make you want to eat comfort food.  And my brain was set to "weekend mode" all day, it was certainly a struggle to not eat like a crazy person, especially on a holiday that is notorious for cookouts and junk food.  But I held my ground for most of the day, improvising and reminding myself how torturous those workouts in the sweltering heat have been, and to not let them be for nothing.  I noshed on apples, sugar-free gum, sugar-free popsicles, and drank nearly two gallons of water.  I finally couldn't stand the nagging little voice in my head, and ate a handful of mini Nilla wafers with natural peanut butter on them, and two chocolate stripes cookies.  While I wasn't proud of it, that little treat quieted the destructive little voice for the rest of the day.  We ended our night with fireworks, and my kids did not disappoint with their smiling faces and squeals of joy.  All-in-all, it was a pretty enjoyable day.
I am a bit sleep deprived today, though, after getting to bed late last night, and being nagged by a bug biting me this morning.  I don't know what it is about bugs loving to chomp on me, but it is annoying.  When I lived in Las Vegas, there was one kind of upscale place we rented that was built like a villa, the nicest place we've ever lived, I'd say.  But no matter what they tried, they could not control the cockroaches.  I'd have them crawling on me at night when I was trying to sleep, and it would keep me up the remainder of the night, always thinking I was feeling one on me.  Makes my skin crawl just thinking about it.  Last night's culprit was a tiny thing, not much bigger than a sugar ant, but with a hard shell and wings.  It would wait for me to fall asleep, then come bite me.  First, the back of the neck, then the leg, then the forehead and finally the arm.  Every time it would wake me from a cold sleep, and I would have to turn the lights on to try and find the offender.  Finally I was able to take care of the little guy and fall back asleep about ten minutes before my alarm went off.  Hmmpf!
It makes me relate the two things, the nagging little "eat junk" voice in my head and the naughty little sleep-theiving nibbler.  The smallest things can keep you from what you want and need, if you let them.   Fortunately,  with a little tenacity and improvisation, we can make it past our little challenges, to the point where the path ahead is mostly clear. 
The scale is showing no significant loss this week, but my collar bones are starting to reappear. All is good with the world. 
Blog babble done.  Hope you all have a fantastic Thursday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rethinking Goals

Yesterday I chose to sleep in, because I had the rare opportunity to use my lunch break to get in some cardio.  I hadn't factored in the weather.  It was beautiful in the morning, and I even found myself having to close the patio door because my kids were chilly as we got ready for our day. 
My day at work was busy, despite having help for once, and I didn't end up getting my lunch hour until 2pm.  By the time I was out on the pavement, it was 91 degrees and so humid that you could practically chew the air.  Days like that, you sweat just from looking out the window.  But I was determined to get my walk in, so I made it happen.  I was only planning on doing about 20 minutes, so as not to leave my coworker busy and struggling, but I had never walked the huge block that surrounds my health office, so I decided to give it a go.  My office is situated on top of a fairly steep hill, which meant walking downhill for the beginning of my walk, and uphill at the end.  By the time I got back to my office, I was sweaty and dusty and not generally feeling very feminine.  But I felt like I could breathe better and let me tell you, the air conditioning never felt so good to me!  It ended up being a 40 minute session of cardio, much more than I would have done if I'd gotten up at my scheduled 4:50am.  So it was a success, but it did remind me of one of the reasons it's better to work out first thing in the morning! 
Today?  Despite the sky being hazy on my walk yesterday, I am itching like crazy from my sun allergy. It is getting old.  I had trouble sleeping last night, so I didn't get up to workout, but will make time for one either during my workday or after I get home.  I have a positive outlook about it all right now.  I am trying to change my mentality and conquer this thing one day at a time.  That means, not judging my week as a whole, but each day as it's own opportunity to make this happen.  Friday is a new chance, just as Monday is.  Friday doesn't equate the end of having to try, it is it's own entity, and the choices I make on Friday effect me just as the choices I make on Monday.  Or Wednesday.  I am ready to find a new way to conquer the same old beast.  Tomorrow, to celebrate the holiday, I will stay away from junk, and let the time off be my reward, the time spent with my favorite guys.  If I grill out, it will be clean protein, and will not be followed by a sugar-laden dessert.  That is my goal for myself for tomorrow.  I am the only one I'll be letting down if I don't stick to it.  And I deserve more. 
We finally got some much needed rain, now it is finally feeling like Summer!  For those who celebrate, Happy 4th of July!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

In Case You're Not Selected For the Biggest Loser

My weekend was...(searching for the proper word here)...ecclectic, but I survived to blog about it, so everything is relative. 
My transition into the weekend was blissfully started by an early release at work, due to an excess of hours logged.  I didn't tell my husband that I got done two hours early, and spent the day wondering what I should do with those two hours of all-too-rare me time.  I opted to go to the library, to seek out a book about weight loss.  Not the thrilling adventure some would have opted for, but racing out to the car just before the parking meter expired did provide a slight elevation in pulse.  The book I was checking into was one I'd seen others mentioning in the comment section of a popular weight loss blog.  This book and it's author was mentioned 3 times in the comments of one single blog entry, so I decided to check into it.  I won't go into details about the book or the author, so as not to offend, but it just wasn't for me.  In researching this author, someone had reviewed the book and reported that his idea about exercise is that it doesn't burn fat, it just makes you hungry.  Really?  What about your heart being a muscle?  It needs to be worked in order to stay strong.  All muscles atrophy if not used, why would your heart be any different?  So, frankly, I already knew I wasn't going to read the book before I even began.  The diet portion of the book, which was published in 2008, was quite similar to the Atkins diet, in that it highlighted proteins and fats and discouraged high carb intake.  That is the basis of most dietary advice, in some form, these days, right?  The more we learn about essential fatty acids, the more we see diets that include coconut oil, and macadamia nut oil and flax.  The brain is 60% fat, so consuming essential fatty acids helps protect the brain. 
I digress.  I knew the book wasn't for me, so I searched for something else that could inspire me or give me something else to try.  I looked at another book, to be honest I don't recall the name or the author.  This one had something called the Simeon method, but it was noted that it was modified.  On phase one, you had 28 things you needed to change every single day in order to have total health.  28!  These things included removing the metals from your body, killing the candidia yeast, and meditation.  To be honest, as I scanned the list of all the things you were supposed to do, I was overwhelmed just reading them, I can't imagine spending the time and money to buy all the things he was recommending.  I laughed to myself and put it back on the shelf.  Great for people who are disciplined, but then again, if someone is disciplined, why do they need a weight loss book?
The third book that caught my eye, turned out to be the charm.  At first, I was a little put-off because it was written by the first female winner of the Biggest Loser, Ali Vincent.  Don't get me wrong, I like that show just fine, and find it very inpirational.  But sometimes people who have lost weight quickly and publicly tend to be a little over-peppy for my taste.  I don't want to hear just the good stuff, I want to hear the struggle so I know that it is posible to get through it.  So I know that I can do it.  It isn't a very long book so I decided to give it a try.  I like personal stories, I like going along for the journey.  The book is called Believe it, Be it!  and I have to say, I read it over the weekend, and I'm happy I did.  It was really eye-opening to learn about the show and the 8-10 hours of workouts they were required to do every day (you read that right!  How do you think they lose so much every week?!) but what I really enjoyed about the book is how Ali shares her ugly past with us, and tells us her mindset as she took on the challenges that eventually earned her her new physique.  It really made me think about how little I've been trying to make my goal  happen.  Granted, I don't think it's healthy for a person to workout for that many hours per day.  Let's face it, it's a TV show and they are looking for dramatic results.  But for me, I have merely been coasting on autopilot. 
I spent much time thinking about my future in this struggle, and thinking about the courage and conviction I need to get things moving in a positive motion.  I don't know the dirty little hurtful things I will need to address before I acquire that strength, but I know that my situation is reversible.  And that is uplifting.
My eating was horrific this wekeend, and I realized that comprised nearly 50% of an entire week, so as good as I felt I was doing last week, I can only say I was on-track for little more than half of that time.  That leaves much room for improvement.  I am starting to look at Monday mornings as a fresh start or a do-over on my diet, but it should be perpetually-clean eating with an occasional treat, not junk-fest all weekend, then do-over on Monday.  I also need to stop using food as a celebration (holiday this week, might complicate things) and as a stress reliever (sometimes I don't know whether I hate my kids' autism or ADHD more).  Much more work to be done, but I feel ready to face my demons right now.  I hate not being able to move as easily, and not being able to cross my legs like I used to, and the whole business of sucking air just from a walk up a flight or two of stairs?  Not acceptable in my book.  I will figure this thing out.  I will conquer my demons.  I have faith that one day I will have the health I deserve, and I am the one who determines what that outcome will be by what I invest.