Saturday, June 30, 2012

Testing my Limits

I enjoy trying new things. I have discovered that I get bored easily when it comes to exercise and going to the gym doing the same old thing every day. Today I decided to test my limits to see exactly what my body is capable of. I now feel a little more in tune with my limits and I know what I need to work on for future endeavors.

Despite the fact that it is sweltering hot in TN today I decided that rather than go to the gym and spend an hour doing the same boring cardio I do every Saturday, that I would take my workout outside and go jogging at a local hiking trail area not far from where I live. I got on my workout clothes, put on sunscreen, filled up my water bottle and drove to my favorite place to go walking. My choice of music to jog to was Rammstein, I figured it would keep me moving along at a good pace and be entertaining. I set up my Nike run app on my phone so I could track my job and I walked to the start of my jogging point to warm up my leg muscles. With determination in my mind I got to my start point and began jogging. 

Now I have to say that no matter how positive you are or how good your intentions are, if your body is not ready for the level of exercise that you put in front of it, you will be twarted by reality quickly. I was able to jog 0.15 miles before I had to stop. My body is not yet ready to handle terrain running. I can run on a treadmill because it is a smooth, constant surface and I am in control of the incline and speed. I can run on sidewalk because it is a mostly smooth constant surface and what subtle changes there are, are not a shock to my body. However, running on a hiking trail with tufted grass, dirt paths, roots that jut up and uneven ground is not quite the same level of beginning running that I am used to. In 2010 I fractured my ankle and since then I have slowly been building up my strength in order to be able to run at all. Today was not my day, and my ankle and knees immediately let me know that running on terrain that I was not accustomed to was not going to work. So instead, I decided to power walk it. The heat wasn't unbearable to me and I thought that it felt good to actually sweat it out. I had my trusty water bottle with me and I was sipping it throughout my walk so I didn't get dehydrated. Overall I was very pleased with my results even though it wasn't the jog I was looking to achieve. 

Discovering that I cannot run on terrain yet isn't all that surprising. I have only been jogging on a treadmill at the gym now for about a week solid. Even on a treadmill I can only handle about 10 minutes of running before I have to slow it down to a moderate paced walk. Now I know that my body still has quite a bit of strengthening to do before I am able to go sprinting through the forests. Does this mean that I will give up on my goal of becoming a workout runner? No. I just have to continue to try in small increments until my muscles and core are strong enough to support my frame when the terrain isn't a constant smooth ride. 

I look forward to being able to post about my first real outdoor run. Even if it takes a long time to get to that point at least I now have a new personal goal to achieve. I'm just happy that I was able to attempt a run, even if it was only 0.15 miles. I listened to my body and knew that pushing myself would only result in hurting myself and not being able to workout until the damaged was healed. I sipped my water and was done with my 20oz bottle by the end of my walk. I was able to control my breathing and I didn't pant or have to sigh heavily in order to get a good breath in, even in the heat. My muscles are not agonizingly sore, they are just happy workout tight. My hips and knees don't hurt, my feet however are a little sore in the arches. According to my Nike trainer on my app, I was 6 minutes and 30 seconds faster on this workout than on previous workouts and I went 0.82 miles more than last time. So I am getting faster and able to go further every time I workout. All of this is happy revelation for me and I am starting to see the payoff for all the time I've spent in the gym this past month!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stubborn Plateau

Over the past few months I have really been actively working on making my life a healthier place. I joined a gym and I go at least 3 days a week but most weeks I go 5-6 days. I have been monitoring my calorie intake daily along with my exercise. I usually am under my calorie allotment, some days I'm way under, other days I'm under just a little. I am still working on figuring out my hunger because since I have increased my activity I notice that I'm not as hungry as I used to be. That may also be due to increasing my intake of water daily which I also track. I want to be proactive about my health and I would love to lose the rest of the weight that I have gained in the 9 years since becoming a mom. 

However, I have reached a stubborn weight loss plateau. For at least a month, maybe more, I have been at anywhere between 195-198lbs. I can't seem to get below 195lbs at all. I have noticed that all my clothes are too big for me and that I am still losing inches off my legs, waist, arms and back. For some reason though that number on the scale not moving like I would like it too just irritates the heck out of me. Being under 200lbs is a nice change, this is the first summer in a long time since that has happened, but I'm still not quite ready for bikini season. I know that weight loss takes time, it doesn't happen over night. It took me almost 10 years to put the weight on, so I'm sure it's going to take time to get it all off. My scale and I fight every morning. It just won't give a girl a break. I roll my eyes and just sigh when I realize that despite all that cardio and strength training I'm doing, despite the reduced calories in my diet daily, I'm still not losing weight. ARRGH! 

Writing down my exercise plan custom made for me by my trainer on my calendar really helped me to see each day during the week what I will be doing. On the days that I have more strength training than others I know to get plenty of rest the night before. I have also discovered that if I eat between 400-460 calories at breakfast, wait an hour, then go work out that I can get through my workout without feeling tired or puny. Recently at the gym I have been able to up the weight on all my leg workouts and I can do a full 20 reps on every machine I use. When I first started going to the gym (almost a month ago), I was barely able to do 10 reps when working on my arms and shoulders. My chest is still a weak spot that I struggle with and I always feel so gimpy when I see women in there who are benching or using huge amounts of weight and I'm standing there barely able to lift a 7.5lbs dumbbell 20 times. However, I have to start somewhere, I won't get stronger if I don't start small and build the muscle in order to be able to lift heavier weight.

My cardio has always been a strong point with me. I usually alternate between the elliptical machine on hill intervals, the treadmill on either hill intervals or jogging and the arc trainer on the program that goes from low resistance to high resistance at an incline. It gives my legs a fantastic workout and I can feel it in my muscles afterwards, it also helps me to practice my breathing and strengthening of my lungs and heart. I still have an issue with breathing while I jog. I'm not sure if it's due to weak lungs or if it's my body protesting, but when I jog it feels as if there is a weight on my chest and it's hard to get a good breathing patterns. I'm working on it, but so far the longest I've been able to stand it is for 10 minutes. I guess that's not bad, considering that I never thought I would see myself jogging on a treadmill or even considering jogging on my walking trails that I do so enjoy. 

I still have days when I get the blahs. Since I do have a history of depression I'm sure that body changes which cause chemical changes and hormone changes can also trigger depression issues. These days don't happen near as often and I haven't had to take medication for depression or anxiety in about a year now. I just know that when those days come, to go workout then come home and relax by either watching some entertaining television, reading my favorite book series or playing on my computer if my brain will allow me to focus long enough to not get bored. If all else fails I always have some dark chocolate almond milk in the fridge and it does seem to help my moods. I'm not sure if that is psychosomatic or not but I'll take it!

I have found that eating healthy and incorporating fresh vegetables and fruits into my diet more is not cheap! Nor are the gluten free pre-packaged foods! I mean a loaf of gluten free bread is over $6 a loaf, however it does last me about a week if not longer. I just hate going to my favorite health food store and dropping $120 on a week's worth of food for me! That just seems retarded. I have a bad habit also about grabbing veggies and not paying attention to their weight. I got over $12 worth of beets the last shopping trip because they were priced by the pound, not per beet. (Whoa!) I have definitely learned it is cheaper to eat unhealthy pre-packaged foods and crap. However I can't eat like that anymore, my body won't allow it. So I invest in my health and pay what I have to in order to be able to have 3 meals a day and snacks that I enjoy and are tasty.

On a funny note...since I discovered that I also have a reaction to coffee that is similar to what I experience when I eat gluten, my husband went online and looked to see if they have gluten free coffee. He found a site which offers gluten free caffeine free coffee substitute We ordered a trial size of the brew and I was so excited when I got it in the mail. I brewed it up the next morning. It brews more like tea than coffee, not coffee pot needed, just add hot water and let steep for 5 minutes. I added creamer and Splenda and sat down to enjoy my cup of "coffee". I didn't like it. There was nothing wrong with it, it tasted just like coffee, a light brew. However, since I haven't had coffee in so long it plain tasted nasty to me. The same way that soda does when on occasion I have some of that. Oh well, now I know that me and coffee have had to end our relationship and I will save so much money not being able to sneak to Starbucks when I get spare cash!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Minor Setbacks

Recently I have been working out like a trooper. Pushing myself to the very limit of my capabilities. Thinking that the harder I push the more benefit I'll see from all that sweat and those curse words uttered under my breath. I have accomplished pulling some muscles in my stomach/ab area that is causing some major pain issues. The pain is causing nausea and difficulty moving about at any sort of speed. I am so irritated by this. I went to the gym this morning, despite feeling like crap. It was not the thing to do. I completed my 30 minutes of cardio and promptly hit the bathroom to throw up. Lovely! What a great reward for pushing myself on that elliptical machine. I came home frustrated and irritable. I napped this afternoon some but didn't wake up feeling any better. I am going to reluctantly take tomorrow off from the gym so maybe I can slowly move around and get those muscles back into a decent working order.

It just seems like every time I try to take the steps I need to get healthy, something happens to set me back. I hurt myself, I get depressed and quit working out, I comfort eat and blow my calorie intake for the day, etc etc. I know that all these factors are completely controllable and not something that is beyond my control, however it just seems like the small obstacles pop up and become big pains soon thereafter. I really want to lose this damn weight. I'm tired of seeing pictures of myself where I look pregnant or like I have some sort of metabolic condition. It has taken me 9 years to get to this size, so I understand that it's probably going to take 2-3 years for me to take off the weight and build body strength. Maybe longer depending on my metabolism and thyroid function. In the meantime I have changed my diet and eliminated a lot of unnecessary "junk" from my diet as well.

I no longer drink coffee. This is a huge thing for me because there was a time when I simply couldn't function without it. I love Starbucks and I love brewing my fru-fru coffee at home where I can add delicious creamers and flavors to it. However, when I discovered that I suffer from a gluten allergy, I also discovered that there is a protein in coffee that reacts in your body the same way that gluten does. It wasn't the caffeine that I was reacting too, it was the protein in the coffee that was sending my cells into fight mode. I no longer drink caffeinated beverages either, just to be on the safe side. Carbonated drinks cause serious stomach bloat, so I have eliminated those as well because gas pains are almost as bad as pain from consuming gluten. I am working on cutting out dairy, since I also am lactose intolerant.

It seems like I've had to eliminate quite a bit of comfort out of my daily routine. I am adjusting to the new way of eating and drinking. I drink mostly water now, occasionally I'll have tea. I prefer flavored green teas if I can get them. I've tried products to flavor my water (Mio, Crystal Light), however I don't like the aftertaste or sweetness of most of these products. Instead I bought a really bright colorful water bottle that I can't help but notice it sitting there and I use it daily to get my 100 ounces of water. I also use an app called Waterlogged which sends me hourly reminders to drink my water and I can log how much I am drinking per day. It helps give me a visual of how I'm doing with charts and graphs and what I need to do to meet goals if I don't make them that day.

Since I don't have a workout partner, I have decided to use Fitocracy to log my workouts and keep track of things regarding my fitness goals. I get tips and recipes from other people in the community of Fitocrats who are also working on getting healthy and losing weight. Reading posts and seeing that other people have the same issues I have or the same questions I have is comforting. You gain levels as you log workouts on the site and there are various other things you can participate in, like quests and achievements. You can join groups that suit your needs or just meet new people and follow their journey. I like being social, even if it is only online.

Going through changes is rough. The human race is dependent and comfortable with what is familiar to them. I have chosen to move away from what I am comfortable with in order to regain my health. My family does not have a history of healthy genetics, I don't want to give my body any reason to become ill or weak before it's time. I lost my sister this year to cancer and I lost my mother in 2006 to cancer. I don't want my family to have to go through that with me because I didn't take care of myself or bad habits from years ago finally caught up with me. We get one chance at life and I'm tired of living mine on autopilot. It's time to make changes, it's time to live for what I want and it's time to stop being afraid of failure because the only failure in life comes from not trying.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Smoothie Indulgence

1 cup of dark chocolate almond milk
1 large banana
1 cup peanut butter (or less if you don't like a lot of PB taste)
1/2 cup plain yogurt (I used greek plain yogurt)
Ice (if you like your smoothie chilled)

Put ingredients into blender until smooth and easily poured.

This is my new favorite indulgence. It has the protein I need after a workout. Not too much sugar and it tastes fantastic. I have to find creative ways to indulge that are not only gluten free but good for me too and sometimes that is easier said than done.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Blueberry Coconut Flour Muffins

Here is the recipe for the Blueberry Bread I made this morning for those who requested it:

6 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 cup sugar (I used splenda)
1/2 cup coconut flour
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 12 standard muffin cups or line with papers. (I used a cast iron skillet instead).

Whisk eggs, butter, milk and sugar in medium bowl until well blended.

Thoroughly combine 1/2 cup coconut flour, lemon peel, salt, baking powder and xanthan gum in a separate medium sized bowl. Sift that flour mixture into the egg mixture and whisk until batter is smooth.

Combine blueberries with 2 teaspoons of coconut flour (I skipped this step) and gently stir them into your batter.

Fill muffin cups (or other choice of bakeware) and bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. (It took 20 minutes in a cast iron skillet) Cool 5 minutes on a wire rack.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Day 3 Workout Schedule

It seems like I've been doing this for a lot more than 3 days now. I am tired today after my workout. It was a fairly light day as far as machine exercises go, so I did more cardio to make up for it.

Bicep curls - 25lbs two sets of 15 reps
Tricep press - 50lbs two sets of 20
Abdominal Crunch - 45lbs two sets of 20
 Cardio - 45 minutes on the treadmill on the hill trainer (level 15). Walked 2.12 miles and burnt 414 calories. 

My arms are sore and unhappy today due to the workout from yesterday. My shoulders are definitely feeling the burn. I just have to remember that all this discomfort will result in my happiness in the future, so don't give up just because it hurts now!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Day 2 of Workout Schedule

I have to start this note off by saying that I have never sweat so much during a cardio workout in my life, I must be doing something right!

Shoulder Press - 15lbs two sets of 15 reps
Military Press - 15lbs two sets of 15 reps
Leg Press - 30lbs two sets of 20 reps
Leg Extension - 20lbs two sets of 20 reps
Leg Curl - 30lbs two sets of 20 reps
Calf Extension - 30lbs two sets of 20 reps

30 minutes on the Arc Trainer on interval training. I burnt 297 calories while doing my cardio.

My muscles are tired but I'm not sore today (yet). I think I'm getting stronger during my cardio and able to keep my heart rate in the cardio zone easier. As my muscles get stronger all this will get easier. =)

Day 1 of Workout Schedule

Today was day 1 of my workout program. I am feeling tired and my arms are a bit sore, but I did everything with the exception of the dip machine because I couldn't pull myself back up.

 Chest Press - 15lbs two sets of 20 reps
 Fly Machine - 30lbs two sets of 20 reps
 Pull down machine - 50lbs two sets of 20 reps
 Seated Row machine - 30lbs two sets of 20 reps
 Tricep Press - 50lbs two sets of 20 reps
 Dips - unable to do, will replace with tricep workout with barbells Cardio -
18 minutes on the elliptical machine burnt 189 calories.

 This is only the beginning, I'll only get stronger from here and I look forward to it. I'm making it my goal that in 12 weeks I will be able to use that dip machine like it or not!