Friday, May 30, 2008

Doing Better

I've mostly gotten my workout mojo back. After it took a short sabbatical to the land of discouragement and frustration, my mojo has decided that it's really better off simply heading to the gym and getting the work done.

Note to self: when I feel that frustration level again, I have to call Maria or somebody and workout with them. Some partner stuff. A few laughs. Maybe step my own workout back a notch or two so I can feel some successes.

I've set a new goal for myself. This is one that Zandria has expressed, too, but I am putting my goal on a clock:

On October 16th, I will do an unassisted pull-up.

Guido thinks I already can do one. Part of me is egging myself: when we work out together next to ask him to help me see if this is true. Part of me wants to hold back.

Today I was able to "practice" for this with regular lat pull-downs (the assisted pull-up machine had a line!). I managed 3 sets at 60#, so I'm about 1/2 to my goal. And a 1x rep instead of a set? Maybe Guido is right.

Shoot. I want to aim for a hard goal that I accomplish on October 16th. OK, I'll solicit any suggestions from my peanut gallery. (MizFit.. I am talking to you!)

What's so special about that date? This will be the second anniversary of my first workout this time around. My first session with Guido. My first step to where I am today. It's a big day for me. Last year I marked it privately and quietly. This year, I want to celebrate it.

Question is HOW?

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Just Add A Friend

Found at least one secret to having fun in a workout again: add a friend.

My friend Maria has wanted me to join her at her cool, fun workout facility for some time. I don't know why it hasn't happened before, but today was my first time.

We had a nice session with her great trainer, Jessica, doing squats and push ups and tricep works and balance stuff. Some of it was hard; some of it was easy. The interesting thing: what was hard for me was easy for Maria. What was easy for me was hard for Maria. So we each acted like a mental incentive for the other to do more.

(No, I'm not saying we're competitive individuals. Well, yes I am!)

Maria set her personal record for push ups. And she did her age in pushups! I set my personal record for pushups in a row (20), and I did her age in pushups. I'm lucky Jennifer didn't make me do MY age in pushups. It would have been harder.

For the record, Maria rocks the BOSU, and is so much better now than those pictures from January!

Happy birthday, Maria. Now are you willing to come to my gym for MY birthday? (especially if I get the fabulous Guido to train us both??)

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Tale of the Scale: Losing Faith

I was working out yesterday, having another hard time, and I realized: I've lost faith in myself.

Months ago, I knew that parts of my workout were hard for me. There are things I don't like to do (as there are in life, so there are in the gym). I would do them anyway. I'd put the things I like least at the top of my workout, and reward myself for doing them by doing something else.

Other parts of my workout were challenging, but part of the reason to do them is for the challenge.

Somewhere, I've lost the fun.

Somewhere, I've lost the reward.

Somewhere, I've been beaten by the challenge.

With it, I've lost faith.

I still go to the gym and work hard. But as soon as an obstacle presents itself, I find I'm getting impatient and just moving on. Someone using a machine I want? Fine, I'll do something else. Can't find the handle I want for a cable move? Forget it. Weight feels heavy? I quit.

Then I hate myself for giving up.

I'll get it back. It will take time, but I'll find my confidence again. Until then, I have to give myself a break. I can't quit and then hate myself for quitting; that only compounds the problem.

And any inspirational thoughts you have to help me over this hump are well and truly appreciated.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Am What I Eat

(crossposted at A Stitch in Time)


Michael Pollan's oft-quoted line from In Defense of Food is a good place to start. I try to:

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

It wasn't that long ago that I wouldn't make this claim for myself. While I spurned "fast-food nation" except for the occasional visit to KFC, many of my meals were composed of food items made by someone else, at a place somewhere else, and at sometime in past. It wasn't that easy to look at a dish and identify it's pieces. I was all about throw-it-together quickly from the freezer.

Slowly over the past two years I've been moving back to the idea of eating the way I did when I was child. When you bought simple foods and ingredients from a grocery store: carrots, cabbage, apples, pork chops. When you then took these simple ingredients home and prepared them to be eaten. They were peeled, sliced, chopped, steamed, broiled, baked. In the summertime, they were grilled.

My food doesn't come with a nutrition label. It typically has one ingredient and you can identify that for yourself: carrot, mango, lettuce, brown rice.

That what I'm moving to do now. Today I try to eat:

Vegetables. Fresh and whole when available, frozen for greater seasonal variety. The only canned item in this section would be diced tomatoes.

Fruit. Fresh, whole and in season. Frozen berries to supplement since their season is so short. Canned applesauce occasionally.

Whole Grains. Brown rice, red quinoa, bulgur wheat, polenta, steel-cut oats. Grains that come in small bags or boxes. Grains that you cook with water. You can look at a small pile of these on a plate and know what kind of grain it is. Occasionally I eat a processed grain (a flour product) such as a whole grain slice of bread, tortilla, or pasta. Maybe some cereal. But these products make up about 1 serving/day.

Legumes and nuts. Cooked dried beans (since we are a small household, I do usually to for the canned varieties), dry roasted nuts or nuts in the shell. The beans give me a lot of my protein and the nuts provide quality types of fat. Both give me a lot of my protein.

Fats. Olive oil and canola oil are the fats of choice. A little butter every once in a while. But I try to limit my consumption of saturated and animal based fats.

Meat/Fish/Poultry. About 3-4 days a week I might eat one serving of animal protein. Last fall and winter, I was strict about only eating these on days I pushed heavy weights. It's what finally got me to lose the last bit of weight. Unfortunately, it put me in such a protein deficit that I was unable to build new muscle despite the hard work I was doing.

Protein powder supplements. I tried for a while simply eating more lean proteins. I found that I was returning to my old way of cooking and eating and was gaining back several of the pounds I'd fought hard to lose. My "leaning way" wasn't leaning anymore, though I seem to be building muscles. For a temporary period of time (I'm not sure how long), I will supplement my whole, pure foods with a powder to get the protein I need.

I have a deal with myself. I have permission to eat what I want when I want without guilt. So I can choose to stop at KFC and eat a 3 piece snack box and order an extra biscuit with fake butter and honey. I can choose to have cake or pie or cookies if I want them. Nine times out of ten, when I ask myself if I want these items, the answer is "No." So I leave them for another day.

I am not giving up eating good tasting food. If you ever tasted my grilled veggies with balsamic vinegar, you'd know that I eat for taste.

I am not giving up anything.

I am eating differently than most of my friends and most of the United States. Some might say I am depriving myself of something. But what?

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Workout: The BOB

I usually do this workout late in the week, when I know I’ll have a full two days to recover. It’s not one I’ve seen written up anywhere, and it really needs a companion workout The FOB. The BOB is a workout that targets the entire Back of the Body.

Somewhere I read a discussion that people do exercises for the front of the body because they can see them in the mirrors while the do them, and they tend to get the notice in public. We talk about biceps, chest, abs. Always we talk about abs. But who looks at someone and says: Wow, check out their lats! Those are really sexy hamstrings!

The muscles along the back of the body are the ones that really stabilize us and keep us erect. These muscle groups need as much attention (if not more) than those along the front (except, ofcourse, that all these groups really need to be balanced. Ignore the front for the back and you're in trouble, too).

It’s best if you can do it in a push/pull manner, but when the gym is busy, I take the moves however the equipment allows.

First: Assisted Dips. Find a assist weight that challenges you but let’s you do reps of 15/12/8. For a stable/unstable workout pair with foot pushes, or another balance move.

Second: Back Extensions. 15/15/15. Any variation you favor. Going unstable? Stretchy-band tricep pushups on one foot. 10 each foot.

Third: Leg Extensions: 15/15/15 Do not go too heavy here. Concentrate on finishing the move.

Back on our feet for the Fourth: One Footed/ One Armed Cable Rows. 15/15/15 each side. Alternate paired sides (r arm/r leg) and opposite sides (r arm/l left). Going more unstable? Pair with one footed tricep pull downs.

Fifth: Leg Press. I’m still doing one leg here to get the strength up, but choose your own poison. Going unstable? Pair with another balance move.

Sixth: Lat Pull Down. Because of the arthritis in my one shoulder, I tend to do these in drop-weight fashion. Heavy for 5-8; drop weight, increase reps. At 20#, it’s until I hit functional failure.

Remember to stretch during rest periods and treat yourself to a good stretch (or foam roll) afterwards. Then hit the showers. We’ve earned it.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tale of the Scale:Travel and Business, Ah the Challenge..

This week I shoe-horned my Sunday workout between errands for a conference I was helping to coordinate. I stayed at it as long as I could, both energy and time-wise, and I was happy with the overall work.

Then Monday through Wednesday I was AT the conference. Time was not really under my control; I was up early, out late, eating predetermined foods. I knew I would not have time for a workout while I was there; but rather foolish expected I would stop at the gym on my way home. By the time I hit the exit for 24 Hour, all I wanted was a nap.

I did make my normal workout on Thursday, and I am planning a "make up" workout today or tomorrow. But this is just one week.

It makes me think of the people who travel for business all the time and how they say "I just do not have time or energy in my day". I've always thought, if this is important to you, you'll make the time. And the exercise creates the energy. This week I was wrong.

I spent the better part of 3 days running around, working hard at creating a positive experience for the conference attendees. I did my job and I did well. But there was no spare time nor a drop of spare energy for me to devote to much exercise. I did pack my stretchy bands, and would take short breaks where I'd press, row, curl a little. Even that exertion felt stolen, hard, and half-hearted.

I've seem business people travelling, getting up an hour early so they could get some cardio and a little strenth training in. I've seem women at conferences leaving the last session, running to the hotel to work out before heading out to a night of dinner, drinks and networking. My hats off to you all who do this regularly. This week, I couldn't do it.

Looks like I need to work on some long-day endurance if my life continues demanding that I participate in the world more.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sunset, May 14th 08,tall

We're at the start of a heat wave. The particulate matter in the air, created this stunning sunset.

Remember to drink lots of water! I always aim for 1.5X what I normally drink (so if I drink 8 glasses, I aim for 12) to compensate for what we lose to the heat.

Stay out of the direct sun during the hottest parts of the day. While most think this is 10-2, those are the times that the sun is strongest. Heat accumulates throughout the day, so that the hottest period is often 3-8pm.

Be careful. Stay healthy. And if you can, let someone else pay for the air conditioning. (hit a movie or the mall).

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Tale of the Scale: 5/8 Comfortable

Guido and I repeated an old talk today. We haven't played this game in a while; I rather missed it but welcomed it's absence at the time. It was another round of "Do What I Say, Not What I Do.."

Remember the two of us are very much alike; we know how the other thinks and exactly how to push some key buttons. There has to be a lot of respect in this kind of relationship as it's way too easy to twist the knife. Fortunately, we know that.

We each tend to watch out for the other one a little more than we do ourself, especially when it comes to work and rest. We know the drive (competitiveness? stubbornness?) that motivates us both and we both feel a small need to be the voice of reason for the other.

He is the voice in my head when I'm carrying 50# bags of manure the day after a major upper body workout: "So, Deb, what exactly do you think the term 'rest day' means? Cause it sure doesn't mean this!"

And when he walks with a little hitch in his giddy-up (I am so showing my age when I use that phrase, but isn't it a perfect way to describe a sore hammie??), I'm the one asking: how many hours did you play basketball yesterday? And you're playing today again, too? Do you think your youth is a substitute for rest?

The first time we went this circle was over a year ago. It took us about 2 weeks to realize that we were arguing the same point from both sides. I'd argue that he needed to let an injury heal, but I was fine working hard just weeks after surgery. Well you can imagine his stand. Yes, we are also focused in our arguments. I mean 2 weeks to notice that similarity?

We've come to recognize the pattern a lot quicker (duh, we learn!). A few sentences exchanged and we're laughing and joking about it.

Well, except for the time that I so frustrated him he wanted me to bean him with a 12# hand weight just to put him out of his misery. But I really, really wanted a workout with him and didn't care that I threw out my right shoulder and pulled my left quad a little. If I could ignore those things, why couldn't he?

Head. Weight. It might have been a good idea.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Putting Things Down on Paper

It's odd that there are things I can only write about online and there are things that I can only write about on paper.

It's both writing. The meaning of the words shouldn't change by the medium. Yet it does.

And it's NOT because blogging something makes it public. Well, part if it might be, but I could write a private document, using keystrokes instead of pen and paper. And yet...

And yet, there are times when I need to slow down my thinking process to get to the kernel of truth hiding in the words. The speed of keystrokes mean I don't get deep. Or I get too deep to quickly. Either way, I miss that path I need to take. The road to the truth that at that moment I need to find.

I'm quiet not because I have nothing to say, but because right now I need to say it more slowly than I can sitting at my laptop. I need to chew through some ideas letter by letter instead of word-thought by word-thought.

Process. It's a funny thing. I'm hoping that soon I'll have worked through these ideas niggling at my heart and actually have something to talk about in a more spit-out-my-thoughts-in-a-running-monologue kind of way.

Til I do, it's paper and ink and quiet time.

Tomorrow: a Tale of the Scale. Atleast I can do that.
I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Bout Damn Time!


Trainer Guido and I did the regular "weights and measures" thing today; I usually dread this because whatever success I've had on the weight loss side, I have never been able to get lean. The frustration and disappointment in Guido's voice has always made me dislike the whole exercise. Still it's valuable information for me to know. Important keys to what's going on with me.

Remember, even though I have been at my goal weight for 4 months now, these measurements have always shown that I was still not at a healthy lean body mass. We lost all my old records when I changed memberships at the gym (sigh.. I forgot to ask to get them printed out before they disappeared). When I started, though, I was at 160# and about52% body fat. That means I had about 83# of fat.

My current history only goes back to 1/31/08. At which time I weighed 124# with 31% body fat that works out to 38.3# of fat. That's when Guido switched by diet completely around emphasizing a lot more protein, fewer carbs and a bit more fat (most of it mono-unsaturated).

In the last few weeks everyone has mentioning to me that I'm looking better. Women mention it in the locker room; the few guy friends I know mention it while we're pushing weights. I've shrunk out my bras again. So I was actually looking forward to today.

And the results are in:

I've lost 2.8# of fat and built 3.3# of lean muscle while losing a total of 6" in body measurements.

And I'm finally down to 28.5% body fat. I'm in the healthy range for the first time in decades!

I'm aiming for something more like 24% so there's still work to be done, but I seem to be on the right path for this part of the journey.

Bout Damn Time!

To show how much I've changed in the past 18 months, I'm rewarding myself not with KFC or donuts but with a nice tall protein shake! And maybe a Guinness this evening.

I also blog at: A Stitch In Time throughout the week and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.