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The New Rules of Lifting for Women – Phase 1 re-cap

6 Sep

So here’s a post where I talk about progress and numbers. Get ready to be bored!

I started to work-out regularly in the beginning of June when I first got my membership at my current fitness facility. As I previously mentioned, I mainly stuck to cardio activities for the first month or so — alternating swimming and Zumba classes throughout the week, and Saturday I worked in a pilates barre class that catered to my inner wanna-be-ballerina. I was seeing the weight come off nicely, but I think part of that reason was that it was still towards the beginning of my weight-loss journey, which is when the weight falls off most rapidly/easily anyway. I did the cardio-only thing for about 1.5 months.

I kept seeing mention of how important weight lifting was online whenever I’d be reading up on fitness/health blogs and materials. It seemed like a lot of the paleo/primal crowd was also into things like crossfit and generally lifting heavy. I felt like I had been neglecting a pretty important part of being a healthy human being: strength-training. In fact, I think a lot of us (especially women) don’t realize how important it is for fat-loss. Or we’re so focused on being thin and slender that we don’t really care about strength and muscle tone. At least I wasn’t… I just wanted to be thin.

I decided to start incorporating lifting into my fitness regimen, in hopes of speeding up the fat-loss process. I really didn’t have any clue about weight lifting (reps? sets? what?). So I bought a book called The New Rules of Lifting for Women. I liked the tagline: Lift like a man, look like a goddess. I was sold.

The book has info on weight lifting of course, but also diet. I don’t care much about the diet information — I feel pretty happy with what I’ve been doing (eating paleo). But the program has been interesting and has pushed me out of my comfort zone. Whenever I had lifted weights in the past, I shy’d away from free weights and kept to myself on the machines. It was intimidating when I first started, but I’m glad I did. I have a lot more confidence in the gym (and in my own strength abilities) than I did when I first started. I can ask other lifters (dudes) at the gym if they have more sets on the squat rack, and I listen to myself and think: wow — I sound like I’m a lifter too!

With all this said, it’s time to record the progress of Phase 1. Phase 1 alternated 2 work-outs (A & B). I’d do a work-out 2-3 times weekly (usually Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday). Time to post the progress!

Stage 1 Re-cap:

Workout A:

Barbell Squat

Starting weight: 85 lbs (including bar) ( 2 sets of 15 reps — I couldn’t even do all 15… I think I did like 12 or less each set)

Ending weight: 145 lbs (3 sets of 8)

Special work-out: I was able to do 1 set of 30 reps of the original 85 lbs

Push-up

Not much progress to report here… I still do kneeling push-ups like a chump. I’ve always just done however reps it calls for.

Seated Row:

Starting weight: 45 lbs (2 sets of 15)

Ending weight: 80 lbs (3 sets of 8)

Special work-out: I was able to do 1 set of 36 reps of the original 45 lb

Step-Up (with dumbbells)

Starting weight: 15 lbs (2 sets of 15)

Ending weight: 25 lbs (3 sets of 8)

Special work-out: I was able to do 1 set of 30 reps (each leg) using the original 15 lb dumbells

Prone Jacknife:

Starting: 2 sets of 8

Ending: 3 sets of 15

Special Work-out: I was able to do 1 set of 17 reps (not very impressive)

Work-out B:

Deadlift

Starting: 95 lb (2 sets of 15) — I couldn’t even do all 15… started with set of 10 reps and then 12 reps.

Ending: 115 lb (3 sets of 8 reps)

Special Work-out: I was able to do 1 set of 19 reps with the original 95 lbs

Dumbbell Shoulder Press

Starting: 15 lbs (2 sets of 15)

Ending: 25 lbs (3 sets of 8 reps)

Special Workout: I was able to do 1 set of 20 reps with the original 15 lb dumbbells

Wide-grip lat pulldown

Starting: 50 lbs (2 sets of 15)

Ending: 80 lbs (3 sets of 8 reps)

Special Workout: I was able to do 1 set of 26 reps with the original 50 lbs

Lunge

Starting: 15 lb (2 sets of 15 reps — but I could only do like 10 reps anyway)

Ending: 25 lbs (3 sets of 8 reps)

Special Workout: I was able to do 1 set of 20 reps (each leg) with the original 15 lbs

Swiss ball crunch

Starting: 2 sets of 8 reps

Ending: 3 sets of 15 reps

Special workout: I was able to do 1 set of 23 reps.

Overall, Phase 1 was pretty good. I dipped my toe in the pool of weight lifting. I have more muscle tone in my arms and legs, and as you can see from the numbers above, I’m stronger now.

I’ve been glancing through what’s coming up in Phase 2 and I’m intimidated all over again… but I know it’ll be okay. And I’ll feel even more badass after that’s done too. Now I’m on a 1 week rest period (from weight lifting, but I’m still swimming) until September 10th.

The Art of Being Patient

11 Aug

I didn’t become a near-300lb girl over night. And I certainly won’t become the pinnacle of fitness overnight either. But sometimes… I get impatient with this fat-loss process.

The intention is not to sit here and whine about how long it’s taking for weight to come off. But I want to acknowledge my thoughts and feelings through this journey. And right now, I’m feeling pretty impatient. See, the number on the scale? It’s not moving much these days. I feel like it’s been 2 weeks since losing any pounds. I was thinking that losing 2 lbs a week was a pretty manageable (and pretty slow) goal. Now I’m wondering if I was being naive.

I try not to get too disappointed when I step on the scale and see no change (or gasp… being a few pounds heavier) that day. I remind myself that muscle weighs more than fat, and that my increased muscle mass is no doubt a significant reason that the number’s not decreasing at a steady pace. I also typically weigh myself in the evening (after a full day of eating and drinking lots of water), so there seems to be a lot of variance. I guess I just got used to seeing the number decrease so quickly at the beginning. The first 40 lbs (or however many there were those first 2 months) seemed to come off so quickly… did I think that would continue to the whole way through? To be honest… yeah, I kind of did.

Now it’s important to point out that the number on the scale is not the only thing that matters in seeing fat-loss progression. About a month or so ago, I began to lift weights 2-3 times a week. And it’s not  5lb dumbbells that I lift — it’s 115lb squats and deadlifts, 80 lb lat pull downs… you know…big girl weights. I can feel increased muscle tone in my arms and legs, and that’s great. I also know that muscle weighs more than fat… and if I’m increasing muscle mass, then it’s pretty easy to understand why the scale’s number isn’t decreasing as quickly as it used to. That doesn’t mean I’m not headed in the right direction or doing the right thing. It’s just a bit daunting to realize I still have 70 pounds to lose to hit my goal weight, and the time it’s taking to lose pounds these days makes me think this goal is still a very long time away.

All I can do is continue on my path, and just enjoy the journey. I’ve learned a lot, and I think I’ve inspired some people in my life– which makes me feel great. Co-workers, friends and family members continue to comment and acknowledge the hard work I’m putting in to lose weight and get healthy. The supportive comments really help keep my morale up. I just have to stay focused, stay positive, and really experience the present. I’ve always been a person who kind of lives in the future… always trying to anticipate things. This makes being content nearly impossible. So here’s to the present — and learning to be patient, while I wait for something I’ve spent almost my entire life wanting.

Just Keep Swimming

26 Jul

Don’t worry… even though I suck at blogging, I haven’t been sucking at my goals. In fact, things are going quite well!

I am now at around 233 lb — that’s almost 50 lbs lost from the 2009 weight I had last recorded. I may have lost more — we’ll never know because I never got a true start weight when I began eating healthy back in April. But it doesn’t really matter that much…does it? I’ve lost weight, people have noticed, and I find myself browsing in my closet in search of clothes that still fit.

I wanted to update with my current routine:

Diet:

I still eat paleo almost all the time. The times I don’t, I consider a “cheat” and I try not to have cheats more than only a few times a week, if that. I try to get plenty of proteins, veggies, and some fruits in every day. I’ve been trying to limit nuts and sweet potatoes since I heard they’re not so great for weight loss.

Exercise:

For a while, I was swimming 3 times a week, doing Zumba twice a week, and then Pilates/Barre class once a week. Then I realized that weight training is pretty important and I’d been neglecting it, so I’ve traded in Zumba/pilates for weight training. So currently:

Swim: Sun, Tues, Thurs

I was originally doing swim workouts based on yardage and workouts I found online that involved sets of swims, pulls, kicks, etc. Much like my high school years. For the past week or so, I’ve switched to doing HIIT and steady-pace, which is based on time rather than distance. I’ll warm-up with a 500 or 600 yard build (basically, a 10 minute warm-up), and then do 15 minutes of HIITs, alternating 30 seconds of sprinting with 1 minute of recovery. After the HIIT, I rest for 5 minutes (do some half-assed stretching in the pool), and then proceed to swim for another 15 minutes at a steady pace.

The school of thought here is that HIIT releases triglycerides into your blood stream, and then the steady-pace cardio helps to burn your fat even more after wards. It’s all great and dandy in theory, so I’m giving it a go. Eventually I’ll want to work up to 20-30 min of HIIT, and then 30 min of steady pace.

Weights: Mon, Wed, Sat

I’m working through The New Rules of Lifting for Women: Lift Like a Man, Look Like a Goddess. It’s nice to have a program to follow…otherwise I’d wander aimlessly through the weight section of the gym, or just avoid it completely. The book is focused on free weights. Free weights have always intimidated me… and I’m not quite over that yet. I do barbell squats, dead lifts, among other things. I feel like I see more tone in my arms/upper body, and I know my legs feel more toned…but I’m not sure if that’s a result of the weights, or just losing fat.

Friday is rest day.

So that’s it. That’s the routine… for now. I’m kind of wondering if I get enough cardio (since I only swim like 3 times a week, and it’s about 45 min a session). I always grew up believing cardio was where the fat-loss success was… but a lot of sources now indicate weight training to be the biggest tool in losing fat.

I do miss Zumba though.

Week 1 Goal: Getting Enough Sleep

13 Nov

I hate getting up in the morning. I’m not a morning person, and never have been. When my morning alarm goes off, I wake up with a startle and then feel pissed off. Pissed off at what? Well, myself. I’ll be angry that I was too busy internet-ing and having fun watching re-runs of Scrubs that I neglected to give myself enough time for sleep. How much time should I be giving myself? Well I keep hearing the magic number 8 floating around on what’s ideal. Generally, I think I  get about 6 or 6.5 hrs on a weeknight. If 8’s what I should be getting, it’s no wonder why I’m not happy when I wake up in the morning. So with a goal of 8 hours a night, and with a 6:30 wake-up time, that means I need to be asleep by 22:30 (badasses use military time, fyi). To be asleep by 22:30, I should probably be in bed to allow myself time to relax and get sleepy. So “bed-time” should be 22:00 at the latest, and I should stop using all electronics at 21:00/21:30. Yeah… that’s pretty early. And no, I’m not thrilled. Nights are my playtime, and my favorite toy happens to be my laptop. But life’s a lot more than playtime. I have to start thinking about the bigger picture, and what’s really best for myself and my health. And getting enough sleep (or not enough) affects pretty much your whole life. Not getting enough sleep is linked with weight-gain, anxiety, stress, fatigue and problems with focusing/paying attention. I don’t want to sabotage the good things I do for myself (like eating right or exercising) by choosing to ignore sleep requirements.

So my goal this week is simple: get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I figure it’s best to start off with a goal that shouldn’t be painful to achieve…but will still make a big difference in the rest of my life. Here’s to getting enough zzz’s… and 21:30 bedtimes.