Two Workouts and an Adventure

I’m two for two on the the first day of the 21-day challenge.

1) Last night, I moved my alarm clock out of reach of the bed so that I would have to get up to turn it off. I was sooo tempted to go back to bed but I didn’t. I did Firm Burn & Shape (hate this workout), then Namaste Yoga Extended Leg Series (I think that’s the name).

2) This post fulfills my 2nd goal for the challenge – one post a day.

Now for the part of the day I’m really proud of. I had a stressful meeting at work this afternoon, followed by a one-hour commute home, which gave me time to obsess on the meeting. About halfway home, I forced myself to stop thinking about work. Here’s what came after:

You know, the downside to working out in the morning is that I have no way to burn off a stressful workday. This would be a great day to go home and run or do something to really get my heart rate up. Wait, there’s no reason I can’t do an extra workout this afternoon. Is there? No. I could go run. I haven’t been running, though, and I don’t want to mess up my knee. I could do a walk with a steep incline on the treadmill. It’s a beautiful day. A bike ride would be great. I really need to get a bicycle. I could run. Or, hey I could walk around the block. That would get me outside in the sunshine.  Wait a minute. The dog would LOVE to go for a walk. It’s been awhile since I’ve walked her and she would enjoy it so much. That’s it. I’m walking the dog.

So, I got home, changed clothes, and got the leash out. Chocolate was so excited, she barely let me get the leash attached and we were off!

Then, about five minutes into the walk, I had another brainstorm.  I’m walking a 5K this weekend and this is a race where lots of people bring dogs, kids in strollers, you name it.  I could take Chocolate!  Hmm.  This race usually has about 6,000 people and Chocolate has never been around more than a few people at once, plus all those dogs.  She may get too excited.  Can I keep her under control?  Is 5K too much for her?

We did two loops around my neighborhood, which is 1.6 miles, half a 5K.  She was ready for more; in fact, I had to drag her back into the fence.  So the distance I think will be fine.  I’ll carry water so she can have breaks.  Plus, we ran into all the neighborhood dogs today and she did okay with that, especially on the 2nd loop, when she was more tired.

So, two workouts in one day and adventure planned for the weekend!

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21-Day Challenge

Sisterhood 21-Days Challenge
I’ve joined the 21-day challenge, which starts today, at the Sisterhood.  Theoretically, it takes 21 days to form a habit (that hasn’t been my experience), but I’ll give it a shot, anyway.

1.  Exercise every morning.  The key word here is morning.  I actually started doing this on April 6, which is hey, 22 days ago.  I’ve done pretty good, but I’m starting to backslide.  So, starting tomorrow, I’ll exercise every morning for the next 21 day.

2.  Blog here every day.  I’ve been trying to decide if I want to keep this blog going.  Some days I think yes, some days I think no.   This 21 days will be the litmus test to help me decide.

What habits do you want to form?  Head on over to the Sisterhood and join in.

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Book Review: The Female Body Breakthrough

Last week I read The Female Body Breakthrough: The Revolutionary Strength-Training Plan for Losing Fat and Getting the Body You Want by Rachel Cosgrove.  I read this book on my Kindle and this is the first time that I’ve really used the Kindle’s highlight feature a lot.  In fact, it was difficult to read while on my treadmill, because I kept stopping to highlight passages.

The gist of the book is lifting heavy weights and a low carb diet with an emphasis on eating clean – nothing new there.  It’s the details that did it for me.

She advises making strength training the priority of one’s workout regime, with cardio coming in second place.  I usually do the opposite, but am switching around.  I’ve read quite a bit about lifting heavy, but I never felt like I knew enough to do it with injuring myself.  How much weight to start, when to increase etc.  Rachel lays out a plan for lifting on a four-week cycle – with the timing tied to one’s menstrual cycle, which is a very interesting concept.  The cycle involves steady increases in weights over a four-week period – and really pushing yourself the last week – then cutting volume in half to start the next cycle.

She includes a workout plan in the book, but I plan on using workout videos at home, but building up to much heavier weights than I’ve used in the past.  I’m excited, because I’ve always wanted to do Cathe Freidrich videos, but never felt like I was “there yet.”  I finally feel like I have a plan and with this plan, Cathe is definitely in my future.

The eating plan is rather restrictive, but I am incorporating aspects of it.  I’ve already started having a protein shake in the morning and I’m trying to make sure I have at least one fruit or vegetable with every meal and snack.  I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, but they tend to be clustered in my meals – lots of fruits at lunch, lots of vegetables at dinner, etc.  I’m not going to get obsessed with clean eating, because I know from past experience that tends to shut down my diet.  Small changes. . .

I highly recommend this book.  Expect to hear  about this book in future posts, as I will be implementing modified versions of many of her ideas.

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Turning Over a New Leaf: Morning Exercise

I am not a morning person.  At all.  I’m the person who stumbles into work with dark glasses, heads straight for the coffee pot, and really doesn’t wake up until about 10 AM.

I’ve tried exercising in the morning, and except for a short period about 10 years ago, it has never worked for me.  I hear the alarm go off, groan, hit the snooze button, and end up exercising in the evening.  Which is fine, because at least I’m exercising, right?  The only problem is that by the time I get home from work and then work out, it’s seven o’clock and I still have to make supper, eat, clean up, and all that.  I feel like my whole life is work, exercise and eating.

I just finished reading The Female Body Breakthrough by Rachel Cosgrove (which I’ll be reviewing later in the week).  She is a big proponent of exercising first thing in the morning, so that your workout is a priority and nothing else gets in the way.  She also has a strategy that helped me overcome one of my morning exercise obstacles.  I don’t want to eat a big meal before exercising, but I can’t give it my all without breakfast.  In addition to exercising first thing, Rachel says you should eat breakfast within 15 minutes of rising and follow your workout with a protein shake.  Her strategy for managing all these early morning tasks is to have half the shake before you exercise and the rest post-workout.  So simple!  Why did I never think of this before?

Yesterday was my first day.  I prepped as much as possible the night before – getting my clothes out, putting my socks with my shoes, rolling out my yoga mat, setting out the dry ingredients and blender for my shake, etc.  I did hit the snooze when the alarm went off, but I got up the second time it buzzed.  I’m particularly proud of myself because I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep (note to self: don’t drink 3 cups of green tea in the evening).  I whipped up my protein shake and drank half while getting my workout clothes on.  Then I did 30 minutes of high-intensity intervals on the elliptical and 25 minutes of yoga.  Then I finished up the shake while feeding the pets.

I felt good and it was nice having the extra time in the evening to spend on other to-dos.  Yesterday was only the first day, and one day does not a habit make, but it’s a start.

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Book Review: Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir

Half-Assed: A Weight Loss MemoirI saw this book as a giveaway over at the Sisterhood.  It looked interesting and proclaimed to be funny, and since I wanted to read something non-fiction for my 10/10 challenge, I decided to give it a go.

The photo on the cover shows the author standing in one leg of her old “fat” pants; hence the title – she literally lost half her ass, going from 370+ pounds to the 180s.  At the beginning, she talks a bit about her childhood and her eating and non-exercise habits that led to her becoming a morbidly obese adult.  Then she launches into the journey of her weight-loss.

What I liked about the book was the author’s honest portrayal of her struggles, her learning, her successes, and her challenges.  This is not a “how- to-lose-weight-book.”  It’s a memoir.  She began writing as a weight-loss blogger and it shows.  The theme of the book is that there is no magic secret to losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle – it’s a lifelong endeavor, that requires work.  She acknowledges that there is no guarantee that she will keep the weight off, but given the work she has put into learning about nutrition, learning how to cook, and learning how to exercise, she is optimistic, because she can’t “unlearn” what she now knows.

There were some structural problems with the writing.  I found myself getting lost in the timeline – was she living at home with her family or alone in her apartment, how long had she been writing the blog, etc.  It was also not as funny as I expected.  The jokes often seemed forced to me – it was like she got to the end of a paragraph or a chapter, and thought, “oh, this wasn’t funny, better throw in a pun.”  It was certainly entertaining and witty, but not laugh-out-loud funny.

Structural problems aside, the book is worth reading.  For me, the book reinforces my stance that diet is not about the number on the scale; it’s about making healthy food choices so that your body runs better, exercising for fitness, and being comfortable in your own skin.

I give it 4 stars out of five.

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I lost the mission

I have not posted here in nine months. Nine. Months.

I got back on the diet and exercise bandwagon about a week ago, for reasons that I will explain in a later post. I wondered how long it had been since I had really been dedicated to my mission and I knew the blog was the place to look. My last post was June 17, 2009. My first thought was “how sad is that?” It’s now April 2 and I haven’t focused on my weight, my health, and my body in almost a year.

At the time of the last post, I had been eating healthfully and exercising faithfully for 12 weeks and had lost twenty pounds. Since that time, I’ve slowly gone back to my old tricks – eating what was convenient, exercising only sporadically, skipping meals then overeating to compensate – and gained back just over ten pounds in the process. Why are the bad habits so much easier to maintain?

So, now I’m back. Can I stay on track this time? I hope so. While I want to lose the weight again, even more I want to develop healthy, sustainable eating and exercise habits.

I want to find the mission.

What’s my mission? It’s summed up on my About page.

So, I’ve embarked on a lifestyle change. It’s not only about diet and weight-loss, but also it’s about being healthy and feeling good about myself. This blog is a chronicle of my journey to a healthier body, sexier muscles, and skinnier jeans. I may never feel thin, but I am becoming a fit chick.

I was dedicated to that for a three-month period last year.  Can I get back there and stay there?  Can I do it for the long haul?

Let’s find out.

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Weigh-In Wednesday – Shrinking with the Sisterhood

Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans

My Pink sisters are down 4 1/2 pounds this week, with 3 of those pounds being mine. I’m pleased with my own results, obviously, especially after last week’s meager 1/2 pound loss. I’m usually fairly consistent – losing 1 to 1 1/2 pounds a week. I don’t know what’s causing this wide fluctuation, unless it’s the sudden change in exercise habits.

On that subject, I’m thrilled to say that I’m done (so done) with Level 1 of 30-Day Shred. I started Level 2 tonight and it kicked my butt. A) I thought it was much more difficult that Level 1, and B) my air conditioner is torn up and it was 85 degrees in my house when I worked out. I was dripping with sweat, literally, after the first circuit. I’m interested to see if my shoulders are sore tomorrow. I was never sore during L1, but I wimped out on several of the exercises today (can’t remember which ones right now) and had to rest.

Big props to my girls on the fabulous Team Pink!

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10 Things I Love about 30-Day Shred Level 1

  1. I can do 18 push-ups during the first set, now.  18!
  2. My arms are getting buff.
  3. The static lunges with bicep curls (they’re tough, but since they are static, it’s easier on my knee).
  4. My waist looks smaller.
  5. The punching cardio segment.  Love this!  Great way to work off frustration.
  6. The 3-2-1 circuits – the whole workout goes really fast.
  7. My abs are definitely stronger.
  8. Chest flies.  I love chest flies.
  9. Jillians’ tips on form.  My push-ups and oblique crunches are better.
  10. It is SO over!
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10 Things I Hate About 30-Day Shred Level 1

  1. The warmup – hip circles and knee circles?  What is that about?
  2. The cooldown – too short
  3. The lack of low-impact alternatives for the cardio
  4. Listening to Jillian’s annoying commentary, over and over.  And over.
  5. When she says this will “take the place of hours of phoning it in at the gym.”  I cringe every damn time.
  6. The lunges during anterior raises, with my feet facing forward.  It’s just plain awkward and hard to keep my knees behind my toes.
  7. The way they don’t move in time with the beat.
  8. Doing it every day.
  9. Doing it every day.
  10. Did I mention doing it every day?
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Experiments in Running with My Dog

I have always wanted to have a dog to run with, even before I was running. I don’t know why. It just seemed cool.

ChocolateChocolate has been with me two years, but I’ve only recently taken up running again.  I haven’t wanted to try running with her, because I was so focused on finishing the C25K program myself.

Wednesday, she and I were out for a walk, and I decided to try jogging a little.  It worked so well, that I took her with me this morning for my Saturday outdoor run.  I decided to run in my neighborhood, rather than running the route I usually take on Saturdays.  The downside to running in my neighborhood is that it is small – one loop is only 8/10 of a mile, which means I have to go around three or four times.  The upside is that I could put water for both Chocolate and me at the end of my driveway; each time we passed the house, we could stop for a quick water break.

She is SO excited when we go out that I can barely stay at a walk in order to warm-up.  I mean, she is ready to GO!  But she settled down enough for me to jog when it was time to, although she still wanted to go faster than me.  My gait was off at the beginning, because I had to keep such a tight grip on the leash.  However, after about 1 1/2 loops, Chocolate was tired enough that she trotted along beside me (well, a little ahead of me) and I could relax my arms.

However, and this is a big however, on both Wednesday and today, an animal ran across the road the road in front of us.  On Wednesday, it was a rabbit; today it was a squirrel.  Fortunately, both times, I was taking a walk break.  I say fortunately, because Chocolate immediately surged after these fun toys.  I’m afraid that if I had been running, she would have pulled me off balance, leading to who know what injuries.  I’m hoping, as she gets used to running with me, that she will be less likely to do this, but she is bred to hunt, so I don’t know.

Today may be one of the most fun runs I’ve done.  Chocolate is great company and I hope that we have many more runs together in our future.

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