Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Not only do I feel stronger, I look stronger.

Part of my weight loss journey has been the discovery that I love to lift weights. It makes me feel so powerful; I don't bother with those stupid little 2 and 5 lb girlie weights (although I do own a single purple 5 lb hand weight, I don't use it) anymore, I lift as heavy I as I can!

It's paying off. Not only do I look better than I did (and honestly, though I've lost 21 lbs, thanks to the strength training, I look like I've lost more!) but I feel amazing.  I love the burn... my husband thinks I'm nuts, but I really do love that rolling burn that slides down your muscles after finishing a particularly tough set.

And it's starting to show. I mean REALLY show! Yes, my definition's a bit pillowy yet, but it's real definition... the fat's going away, and I'm starting to look powerful, not just feel it.

Wow. Thatsalotta freckles. ;)

I wear more sleeveless shirts now, because I'm PROUD of my arms!  I don't have to hide in enormous t-shirts anymore.

Do I still look pregnant? Not anymore. I haven't had anyone ask me when I was due in a while. I still have tummy fat... quite a bit of it. I'm not quite halfway to my goal weight. But having visible reminders of the fact that I AM doing something for my body, something GOOD? Helps. I'm not hanging my hat on the scale. This is a non-scale-victory, a NSV.  The NSVs are more important to me than what the scale says. If I look good in my skin, feel good, and have the confidence to be in public?

THAT is what matters.

Tonight, I'm going for a run. Not because I need to, but because I want to. I never thought I'd feel like actually running for fun, but I do tonight!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Change your way of thinking

It's funny how we get ourselves into a rut. We think about doing things one way not because it's the best way, but because it's what we're used to. We run the same path, we do the same exercises, we eat the same things, drive the same way to work... everything we do is habitual.

Right now, it's 82 degrees in my house. It's 90 something outside. I wanted to go for a run, but frankly, it's just too damn hot, and I don't want the sun in my eyes anyway.  So I was wallowing on the couch, hand over my eyes (no, seriously. Completely like the melodramatic stuff you see in the movies.) Moaning about how I wanted to run, and couldn't.

"Honey?"  My husband comes in the room.

"WHAT?" I snap crankily.

"What's wrong?"

"I want to run, but it's too hot. I wish I had somewhere to go running inside."

"Don't you have a gym membership?"


"You know, gym? Treadmill?"

I stare at him like he's grown an extra head.

The funny part? I go to a gym a couple miles down the road for my classes, but the company recently bought a satellite location close to my house.

How close, you ask?

.25 miles. No, that's not a typo. I can actually get there in less than 5 minutes, on foot, without crossing any streets. As the crow flies, it's probably like .1 miles.


I didn't think of it, because, well... I don't run inside. I like to run outside. In my defense, I was thinking of something like an indoor track. But I want to run, and I have access to a gym. With treadmills.

So after my meeting here in a minute or two, I'm going to go to the gym, and run in 90 degree weather. On a treadmill.

So when you think you can't do something, or you're in a rut, try thinking outside your self-defined box. Maybe you'll think of a solution you didn't before. Maybe the answer is staring you in the face. Talk it over with someone... even someone who isn't into the things you are. Maybe they'll think of something you didn't.

Like that gym membership you haven't used in a week.

Have I mentioned I love my husband?

Photo by FindingFlora

Sunday, June 17, 2012

If nothing changes? Nothing changes.

I've mentioned my aunt before; she's an amazing lady, smart, successful, and healthy. She made a conscious decision some years ago to get well and truly healthy, and for the most part, she does a damn fine job of it.

She's the source of my favorite quote: "Be inefficient." It's one of her lifestyle philosophies. Basically, it means, stop doing things the easy way. Sure, it's quicker to drive half a mile to the store for a can of soup... but by being inefficient, you can take a more healthy path, and walk or ride a bike. You part at the far end of the grocery store parking lot, instead of right by the door. Things like that.

She has another saying that's one to live by:

"If nothing changes? Nothing changes."

This one's pretty self explanatory, but it's one that most people don't see to get deep down.  Basically? It means that if you do the same thing all the time, how can you expect anything to be different? It applies to all portions of your life. If you sit on your butt day after day, nothing can get better.  You won't lose weight. You won't get more money. You won't stop being bored.

So if something's not working... you need to shake things up. With respects to exercise, this is actually  a pretty effective means of plateau busting. As your body gets used to doing something the same way all the time, it gets more efficient at it... and burns fewer calories. That makes it less effective.  If you go out right now, and walk 2 miles three times per week at the same speed... eventually, you'll stop burning as many calories.

So, nothing changes.

The same goes for diet. If you're constantly dieting, and it's not working... nothing will change. Why would you keep doing the same thing over and over again? Stop dieting!

So if you're stuck, try something new.  Switch up your exercise routine. Try a different calorie range. Eat more. Measure.  Stop eyeballing. There's thousands of new things to try... try them!

After all, if you don't do anything differently? Nothing will change.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Zombies, Run! + C25K Free = Perfect Combination?

The zombies are coming for you!

If you haven't heard about Zombies, Run! yet, and you're a runner (or a walker) then you need to go right now. It was recently released for Android, and also works very beautifully on iPhone and iPod Touch. I run it on my iPod Touch, since I'm not quite wealthy enough to own an iPhone. ;)

I've been walking on and off with Zombies, Run and frankly, I love it. It's good motivation. You get to listen to your own music, interspersed with tidbits of story from your mission.  The premise? It's after the zombie apocalypse, and you are a runner working for Abel Township. Obviously, with fuel at a premium, it makes more sense to send runners out for various tasks! You're uncovering the mystery of the zombie apocalypse, learning about your town, and more.  While you run in the real world, you pick up supplies in the game, which can then be used to build up your town and unlock more missions.

The really fun thing about this is that it's not just an audio book you run to... if you're lucky, you'll get hit with a random zombie chase!  You have to speed up a certain amount, or get caught by the zombies and have to drop supplies to escape them (you don't die.)  I've never had a random zombie chase. At first, that was an iPhone-with-GPS-only feature. They've released accelerometer chases for those of us not blessed with a GPS... but I think you have to run at least at a certain speed to trigger them, since I usually walk it, since I haven't experienced one yet.

Now, since I started running again, I haven't been using Zombies, Run as much, because I'm following a Couch 2 5k program, and need audio cues, since trying to stare at my watch and time it is... hard.  I'm just not that coordinated.  I downloaded the C25K free app, which lets me play my music and tracks the intervals I need to run with an announcement.

I discovered that C25K Free runs in the background!  This means that I can use Zombies, Run, and still use my C25K to actually run.  I did a quick test here in the house, and while the audio from the C25K app, is quiet, it lowers the volume on the Zombie app, so I can hear the cue. I don't need to understand it, because it's pretty obvious... if I'm running, the cue is to stop running, and vice versa.

After giving it a quick, five minute indoor test on my couch, it's time to break out the armband, and give it a real try while actually running. This will be my first time actually running with Zombies, Run. For me, it's been Zombies, Walk. I'm assuming these aren't very fast zoms.

Anyway, I generally run at night; it's quieter, and in the heat of south Georgia... much cooler. We're talking 73 vs 85 here!  I grabbed my dog's leash, started Zombies, Run and hit the start button on the C25K app.

Overall, I think it worked well as a combo.  The only problem is that the announcements for C25K are VERY quiet... difficult to hear over the music from Zombies, Run.  There were a few moments of confusion when the announcement for items picked up muted the music a bit, so if I had any tip for you, it's to turn off the item pickups. That way, when the sound mutes, it's to announce a run or a walk.

I didn't miss any cues, though, and completed my run successfully! The app also pops up a message when in background mode on the screen, which was a visual cue for me in the dark. I'm still not sure how fast you need to run to trigger random zombie chases; even though I was running for a minute at a time, I was unable to get one.  I'm probably not running fast enough, and well... they do say that accelerometer mode is in experimental stages!

I completed this run much more easily, because I was enjoying the narrative/music of the game without constantly checking the app. I think I'll continue to use these in conjunction. I wish I could turn the volume up on the C25K app, but for a makeshift solution until Zombies, Run implements their kickstarter-promised C25K options themselves, I think it will serve nicely.

Photo courtesy of savageblackout.

But I need a workout buddy!

Boys exercising at Hiawatha Playfield, 1911

You know, I hear this a lot. I used to be the queen of this. I wanted to work out, and I knew I always do better with a friend. A few years back, I did kickboxing for a year, and loved it... I had a friend talk me into it, and we kept each other accountable. I loved having her there. 

So this time, when I was getting ready to make the change, I kept trying to nag my friends into joining me. I didn't want to do go by myself, because I know myself... I thrive on the social interaction! 

One day, though, I stepped on the scale. 

Two hundred and eleven pounds. 

I decided that day to go join a gym. I'd seen some signs for a local one just down the street, offering a two week trial for $14. I figured $1 a day was worth a try. 

So I started going. BY MYSELF. It was scary. I wandered around, a little confused and aimless, trying this or that weight machine. Hating myself as I walked on a treadmill. 

Then I noticed the gym offered classes. 

Fast forward 8 months. 

Now, I have friends I work out with. They text me when I don't show up, talk about their lives to me. I didn't make them go, I met them there! Instead of waiting for someone else to start my lifestyle change, I relied on myself, and the thing I wanted happened. I made friends, instead of bringing them. I still try to get my friends to come with me, but I'm not waiting on them to make my life better. 

And you shouldn't either. If you can't get a friend to go... go alone. Make new friends. 

Photo courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Why I lift heavy

Someone posted this really great article in the Fitness forums, and I have to say, I agree with all of it.

Not long ago, I posted a blog on Sparkpeople about overcoming my fear of truly lifting heavy. But I never really explained why I want to.

Too many women are deathly afraid of weights. They've gotten into the myth of "low weight, high reps" for "toning" instead of "bulking up."

Which is unfortunately for them, a TOTAL myth!  Women as a general rule, just can't bulk up.  It's not in our genetic makeup! We're built different from men. And surprisingly, even men don't bulk up that way easily. It takes a LOT of hard work... hours and hours of lifting like a body builder, eating at a massive calorie surplus, taking supplements, and seriously trying. You can't accidentally bulk up by picking up 10 lb weights instead of 3!

The guy who teaches my boot camps, for example? I've seen him lift weights.  He lifts so much that he has to use a special device to keep it stable in his hands so he doesn't lose control of it and drop it.  He's far from huge! He's lean and cut, and has a very low body fat percentage, but he isn't bulky, in any sense of the word!  And he's a dude!

I lift heavy because I want to be strong. I will likely have broader shoulders than most women, because I'm built that way... while I have a small bone structure, I'm a tall woman (5'7) and curvy.  I will never be 130 lbs... and frankly, I don't want to be. When I was a teen, I was proud of the fact that I was heavier than I looked... 145, because I was STRONG. Muscular.

I want to be able to pick up heavy things. Not need help opening pickle jars. I want to have the strong muscles of a powerful woman.

I love how lifting heavy makes me feel.  Is it as heavy as some people? Not yet.  I'm getting there. But it's a study in opposites to look at the others in my classes. Where I'm lifting 25 lbs (two 10 lb weights on a 5 lb dumbell) they're lifting 15, or 10... or less!  And they have been for MONTHS. I know these people; they're friends and comrades, and they have been lifting this way for a long time, so it's not a matter of not being able to, yet.  But I have noticed something since I started ignoring the 7 1/2 lb weights for the 10s.

More people graduated from 5 lb weights to 7 1/2.

Is it because of me? I don't know. I'd like to hope so. But if me lifting heavy in a group Body Blast class inspires a classmate or two to go a bit more challenging... then that's okay with me. :)

Justification Station

One of the things I've noticed when I talk to my friends now is that for some reason, they all seem compelled to tell me why they can't be healthy, or why they're not trying. It's like my mere presence is enough to make them feel guilty, and they've got this idea that I'm judging them or something. So they whip out all the justifications they can. 

I went to a friend's daughter's birthday party and a local fun center. Now, all of my friends are overweight... I mean all of them. And having seen their fridges and how they feed their kids (and themselves) it's easy to see why! 

I'll mention having just come from the gym, and they're like "I've thought about joining, but I don't have anyone to go with." 

There's one girl in particular who does this EVERY time I talk to her. She simply won't go on her own. 

I used to be that way. I stayed fat a long time because of that very excuse. I didn't want to be alone. But you know something? If you rely on other people for your motivation, they WILL fail you. This isn't a matter of if. It's when. Your health isn't a priority to anyone but you, and when your buddy doesn't go, are you really willing to skip out on being healthy because her life is busy? 

So I stopped making excuses. Literally, at the drop of a hat, I made the rash, un-thought-out decision to join a gym. By myself. Without the promise of a friend to motivate me to go. 

I decided to make NEW friends. Friends there, at the gym I went to, who went to the classes I enjoyed. And I have several now, including one very good friend who texts me when I don't show up. She is my extra motivation. I still don't rely on her for it, but she's there for a little extra accountability. 

So have any of you experienced that? Do your friends and family make excuses for why they aren't getting fit and healthy... even if you didn't ask them or bring it up?