Monday, December 21, 2015

A new challenge

So, I'm back at it!  VIP Challenge number 2 began this past weekend.  I completed workout number 1 of 30 this morning at 5:30 am.  Felt really good to get back to the same routine.  I didn't exactly take last week off, but I tried something different that the gym offers, Figure Camp.  I enjoyed it, but ultimately I decided that I want to lose more weight before I move onto tightening and toning.

Also this past week, I was nowhere near perfect with my diet. During my off week, I went out to eat a few times, drank some alcohol a couple of nights, and had some cookies and other sweets. I haven't stepped on the scale since the final weigh-in for the first challenge on Dec. 13. I imagine I have gained back a few of the pounds that I lost doing the fish and asparagus diet...  I'm planning to step on the scale on Wednesday or Thursday of this week to see where I am.

The next six weeks are going to be a challenge for me. We are heading to North Carolina for a few days after Christmas, and then in January we are taking the kids to Florida for a long weekend. I'm not as worried about making time for workouts, but eating the right foods will be difficult. I am going to do the nest that I can.

My goal is to lose another 20 pounds, I will have to work really hard to accomplish that goal.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I did it!

I did it!  I lost more than 20 lbs in this, my first VIP challenge.  I know I haven't checked in here for over 10 days.  It wasn't because I stopped or faltered or cheated or anything like that.  I simply dedicated all of my spare time to working toward my goal.  In my book, I smashed that goal by losing 23.6 lbs in 6 weeks. AMAZING!

Let me back up-- The last time I checked in here, I had set a goal of losing 4 lbs in week 5. I did not quite make it as I only lost 2.9 lbs, leaving me with 4.8 lbs to go for the final week.  I lost 8.2 lbs this last week!  Again, amazing!

Here's what I did: First, I upped my ESC to over 1 hour every day.  I couldn't do it all at once, I had to make time 30 minutes here, 40 minutes there, etc, etc.  For the last 10 days, according to my Jawbone, I averaged 22,826 steps.  Second, I followed the VIP Emergency Instructions.  I think I mentioned those a few posts ago.  Essentially, the instructions were to eat fish and asparagus for every meal (5 servings) for the last four days of the challenge.  On the day before weigh-in, I did a mini-fast.  I ate nothing after 11:00 am and drank only 16 oz of water, 8 oz of black coffee, and a Smooth Move tea at 4:00 pm. For the record, the Smooth Move tea did nothing for me.  Third, I believed.  I set out to prove to myself that I could do this... workout 5 days a week at 5:30 am, eat clean, and lose 20 lbs, and I did it, and then some!  I'm very proud of myself.  I haven't felt this proud of myself since I passed the bar exam in 1998.

What's next?  Another challenge.  Yep, that's right.  I'm doing it again.  20 more pounds need to go!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rough patch ahead

Checking in mid-week.  I'm still plugging away and repeating my mantra.  My at-home scale suggests I'm down 2 pounds already this week, maybe I can eek out another 2 pounds by this week's weigh-in.

That said, I'm heading into a bit of a rough patch.  Friday night we have my husband's office holiday party and Saturday we are headed out to dinner with friends and then to a Red Wings hockey game. I made my dinner selections ahead of time and will have to make sure that I keep myself in check.

We're nearing the home stretch, after tomorrow morning's workout, I will only have 5 mandatory workouts left.

Here's my current plan to finish this challenge strong!

Friday, 12/4 workout # 25, 5:30 AM at the gym
Saturday, 12/5 - planned rest day
Sunday, 12/6 - at home work out #26 (pending permission)
Monday, 12/7 workout # 27 5:30 AM at the gym
Tuesday, 12/8 workout #28 5:30 AM at the gym
Wednesday, 12/9 workout #29 5:30 AM at the gym
Thursday, 12/10 workout #30 5:30 AM at the gym
Friday, 12/11 workout #31 5:30 AM at the gym

Saturday is a mini-fast (no eating after 11 AM) and the instructions say "no exercise today" except for a light walk.

Sunday, FINAL WEIGH-IN! There will be a sign-up sheet on Monday, Dec. 7 for weigh-in times. I'm hoping to get an early slot...

Monday, November 30, 2015

This week’s mantra: 4 pounds down!

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m more than a little overwhelmed at the prospect of losing 7.5 pounds in the next 2 weeks.  People at the gym and on Facebook are talking about the final week’s “special diet” and “special instructions” we’ll receive, but I don’t think I can leave it all until next week.  If I only lose another 2/2.5 lbs this week, that will leave me with 5/5.5 lbs to lose the final week.  So, my mantra for this week is: 4 pounds down!  As I pushed myself during this morning’s workout, that’s what I kept repeating to myself to make me work harder. 

While I was working hard, I kept thinking about the following inspiration: “What the mind can visualize, the body can achieve.”  I wasn’t sure where this “quote” came from, so what did I do, I “googled” it.  Turns out, the original quote is from the author of a book called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and the actual quote is: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve no matter how many times you have failed in the past.”  Hill’s book was written in 1937 near the end of the Great Depression and was a financial self-help book that has sold over 20 million copies. When I found that quote, it rang true with me, but I knew there had to be a fitness angle to it.  With some further internet sleuthing, it turns out that there is a fitness related version of Hill’s inspirational quote, and it is attributed to none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger. Apparently, Arnold is a huge proponent of visualizing fitness goals to coax your mind into believing that it’s possible to achieve what you’re working toward.  He believes that “your body can achieve what your mind can conceive.” 

So, that’s my mantra for this week.  With hard work and determination, I believe I can achieve a 4 pound loss this week.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Weigh in: Good news/bad news

This week's weigh-in has me down another 2.4 pounds for total loss in four weeks of 12.5 pounds. That, of course, is the good news. The bad news is that I still have 7.5 pounds to lose in the next two weeks to make it to my 20 lb goal.  In a word, that feels insurmountable.  Technically, I'm still "on track," but considering that I've only lost 7.5 lbs in the last three weigh-ins, I'm not sure how I lose 7.5 lbs in two weeks.

"They" say not to stress about it. "They" say to stick with the program and follow the instructions, which I have and I will.

I'm also aware of the final week's "emergency instructions," which I'm fully prepared to follow when the times comes. (I'll write about those instructions later.)

Here are a few things I'm planning to start doing this week in the hopes that I might drop 3 or even 4 pounds this week.   

1. I put my Jawbone back on my wrist.  I don't really now why I stopped wearing it back in September, but starting this week, I want to make a concerted effort to crack 12,000 steps, possibly more.

2. Along with number 1, I'm going to increase my ESC to at least 45 minutes a day, and hopefully get a full hour of ESC on the days when I can.

3.  I'm planning to eat fish for dinner each night.

4. I need to keep pushing myself even harder during the boot camp workouts.  One of the trainers reminded us today that with fitness, you only get out what you put in.  If you only give 50%, then you won't see 100% results.  This is not to say that I have been "dogging" it during the workouts, believe me, these workouts are tough, and when I started this challenge, I was really out of shape.  However, as I begin week 5, I can truly feel that I am stronger, and I have more stamina.  I need to remember to push myself further  now that I can do these moves for longer and am stronger. 

I really want to hit that 20 lb mark because this isn't the beginning of my weight loss, as I've mentioned, I'd like to lose 20 lbs more, and in order to keep going with these challenges, I have to lose this initial 20 lbs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The struggle is real

Doubt is creeping in.  I'm trying to push the negative thoughts out my head, but it's a struggle.  I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far, but now that the holidays are here, I'm just not sure if I'm going to make it to my goal of losing 20 pounds by final weigh-in on December 13.  Losing the first 10 pounds was not easy, but those were relatively "low key" weeks where I didn't have to struggle to fit everything in, meal planning and prepping, workouts, empty stomach cardio, work and family obligations, and sleep!  (Yes, it's important to rest these 43 year old bones!)

I've been doing so well, but I'm worried about making it through this Thanksgiving weekend and then the following two weekends.  We have quite a bit going on.  I knew it would be rough going into this challenge, but really, there's never a time when we're not busy with something.  I know I need to take each day one at a time, but it's hard not to look ahead and get overwhelmed with all of the parties, events, and activities we will be attending in the weeks ahead.  I know it will be a struggle.

I need to take a moment to think about how far I've come.  For sure, this week the trainers at the gym have amped up the workouts.  I've come to realize that the old saying, "the workouts don't get easier, you get stronger" doesn't mean what I thought it did.  The saying is true, but not in the way I expected.  Certainly, the workouts have not become easier than they were the first week, of that I am certain.  However, I am definitely stronger.  By way of a few examples that were evident during today's tough workout, here is a small measure of the progress I have made:  I can hold a plank for much longer than I could three weeks ago.  I can do a full swinging sit up and touch my toes for the entire timed set without stopping. I have even made progress with the Russian twists, whereas in the beginning of this challenge I couldn't even keep my heels off the ground for a simple "c-sit," today, I did Russian twists for 20 seconds before I had to rest... not that impressive, I know, but so much better than on Nov. 1. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Two pounds

I'm only down two (2) pounds this week.  I had a feeling it would be a low number.  It's not that I've been slacking or cheating in any way, I just had a feeling that I wouldn't have a big week.  I'm still "on track" to lose 20 pounds by the end of this 6 week challenge.  Three weeks in and I'm down 10 pounds.  Of course I'm happy with that, but I still have a ways to go.  According to the chart provided by VIP, I'm exactly where they think I should be, and in fact, the chart shows that at the end of this week, I can expect to see another low (i.e. 2 lbs) result.  I'm going to keep plugging away.

I suppose one thing I could do is increase my ESC (empty stomach cardio) from 30 minutes to 60 minutes every day.  I could also, for these last 3 weeks, get up 30 minutes earlier and ESC in the morning, before boot camp class.  That will be tough (getting up at 4:00 AM) but if it's only for a short time, maybe I should think about doing that.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ready Responses for the Holiday

So, the holidays are coming up, and I will still be involved in this 6 week challenge.  I know I will find myself in situations where I will have to decline food and drink so that I can strictly follow the nutrition plan we've been given. 

On the private VIP Facebook page, someone posted a thoughtful piece about being prepared for the holidays.  I have discovered through the first 3 weeks of this challenge, that the best advice I have been given is to be prepared; layout my workout clothes before I go to bed, grocery shop ahead of time, prepare meals in advance, especially breakfast when I need to ne up and out the door by 5:10 am.

The VIP post encouraged us to think about how we're going to handle the holidays, and the writer encouraged us to role-play situations, if necessary.  One technique offered by the author of the post was to think of the "food pusher" (i.e. the one saying things like, "it's ok you can have just one piece of pie"; or "you look great, you don't need to lose any weight")  as a bear.  That is, someone who is more afraid of me, or more specifically my success/ my resolve/my willpower, etc. than I am of the food that's being offered.  I like that idea, and will try to implement it.

I also have some responses ready for those moments when my willpower and resolve will be tested.

1. No thank you. (Sometimes that's all you need to say.)

2. That looks delicious but I'm trying hard to watch what I eat. (When you don't want to offend the person who's offering the food she made.)

3. Thank you, but I'm fine with veggies and water. (Really, I am.)

4. No thanks.  I'm in the middle of a fitness challenge, and I've lost [insert number] pounds since November 1, and I'm getting stronger and closer to my goal, and I don't want to jeopardize all of my hard work by eating that [insert delicious food item]. (For those who need an explanation and won't take "no thank you" for an answer.)

5. Thanks, but I am in the middle of a fitness challenge.  It may seem silly to do this during the holidays, but I need to do this for me.  I need to prove to myself that I don't need that [insert food or drink].  I'm putting myself first and making me a priority. (Again, for those who won't take "no thank you" for answer.  The person who may (or may not) need to be put in her place with a moral reason for why I'm declining dessert).

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Shortly after walking into the informational meeting about the 6 week challenge, the first thing the owner of the gym asked those of us who wanted to accept this  challenge was: why do you want to do this?  He asked us to really think about our motivation, and he hoped that our answers would be something beyond just wanting to lose weight.   For me, a big part of why I'm doing this is to lose weight, but losing weight is a result.  Why do I want to put myself through all of this hard work?  Getting up at 4:30? Pushing myself through hard workouts?  Planning all of these meals, some of which I literally have to choke down... hello egg whites and raspberries.  Here are my top 5 reasons for accepting this challenge:

1. To prove to myself that I can do it!
2. To set a good example for my kids.
3. To look better in pictures.
4. To look better in my clothes and to wear clothes I haven't been able to wear.
5. To conquer the Blue Course at the Adventure Park with my son!

First, I need to prove to myself that I can do this.  I've tried and failed so many times to lose weight, be healthy, and get fit.  Instead of having 24 lbs that I wanted to lose when I weighed 144 lbs, now I have 40 lbs to lose to get to where I'd like to be.  I realize it won't happen in one 6 week challenge, but I can get a good start and get back to a better place.

Second, setting a good example for my kids is important to me.  I offer them the food that I'm eating, but they still turn their nose up at the veggies and want rice or pasta on the side.  Because they are both pretty active, and I figure they'll burn off the carbohydrates, I accommodate their desire for pasta and rice.  I require them to eat some sort of vegetables; they like and eat the same ones (cucumbers, carrots, corn, and peas) over and over, but it's better than not eating any veggies,  I suppose.  I keep telling them that their taste buds will change, and one day they will enjoy the veggies I'm eating.

Third, with the proliferation of Facebook and other social media, I find myself being forced to be in pictures.  I don't like the way I look in them.  Ironically, in my mind's eye, I don't see myself as "fat" or "overweight," and then I see a photograph of myself, and I'm appalled at what I see.  I'm doing this so that I feel better about myself and I how I look and feel when I see myself in the bathroom mirror or in photographs.

Fourth, I want to look better in my clothes. When I first started noticing that I was gaining weight, I taped a note to my night stand near my alarm clock that read, "your pants don't fit!"  I was hoping the note would serve as a reminder and motivation to get out of bed and work out.  Truth be told, the note didn't work.  But, 2 weeks into this challenge, I have noticed that my clothes are fitting better, and I look better in them.  That is certainly motivating for me.

Fifth, two summers ago, I took my kids to an Adventure Park.  One of those places where you climb and zip line through the trees. The park we went to only had a limited number of lower level (green and yellow) courses. After conquering those, my son was up for a bigger challenge and begged me to try the blue course with him.   At  eleven years old, he needed an adult to accompany him.  I reluctantly obliged.    Mind you, blue is not even the highest level, there are 1 if not 2 more levels beyond the blue course.  After the first element, which entailed climbing a rope ladder to a platform about 200 feet in the air, I knew this endeavor was not a good idea, but I didn't want to disappoint my son and make him turn around.  By the third element, I was in real trouble.  This element required me to walk across an expanse (I'm not sure how many feet) between two trees.  It was essentially a tight-rope with two ropes at arm-level. Sparing you the gory details, I ended up losing my balance and falling off the tight-rope.  Of course, the harness saved me from falling to the ground, but I COULD.NOT.GET.BACK.UP.  The Adventure Park lifeguards (not their real title) were wonderful, and a young woman rescued me out of the trees.  She tried to encourage me to keep going, but I honestly did not have the arm strength to pull myself back up onto the tight-rope. My son was very disappointed; I, on the other hand, was happy to be alive.  Thankfully, there are no pictures to memorialize this failure.  Next summer, I hope to be in good enough shape to attempt to conquer the blue course!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I got old!

The last time I was serious about losing weight and being fit, about four years ago, I:

1.      was thinking about re-entering the         
  workforce full time
2.      wasn’t forty years old, and
3.      weighed 130 pounds.    

At least that’s what I gleaned from reading the last post I published in September of 2011.

Since then, I:
1.      went back to work full time
2.      turned 40, and
3.      gained 30 pounds.

In my mind, it is not a coincidence that I gained this weight. In the past four years I simply lost control.  I lost control of my eating habits.  I skipped breakfast replacing it with a skinny vanilla latte or other such coffee drink from Starbucks.  I failed to pack a healthy lunch, opting to either go out or eat a frozen meal.  I lost my work out mojo.   I rarely worked out.   I did workouts here and there and even had a trainer coming to the house for a few months back in 2013, but I have not been able to sustain healthy habits for any  significant period of time since going back to work full time.  I have a mostly sedentary job, this fact became crystal clear to me when I began using an activity tracker, specifically the Jawbone Up.   

So, I have resolved to take control of my weight and get back down to a reasonable weight.  

Let me stop here for a moment and talk about my weight.  Before I started this six week challenge, I was not even certain if I had gained 30 pounds in the last 4 years because honestly, I had not stepped on a scale in over a year, if not more.  I loathe the scale.  I hate the idea of stepping on the scale because I know it will reveal an obnoxiously obscene number.  Before I started this challenge, what scared me most was the possibility that I weighed even more than I thought I did, and that came true when I had my official weigh-in for this challenge.

Today, the scale is still not my friend.  I still tremble at the thought of stepping on it because though the numbers have been dropping of late, I know there will come a time when the scale will disappoint me... it will show no loss or a small loss despite all of my hard work and effort.  I'm not sure how I will handle that when that day comes...

Monday, November 16, 2015

From Friday: Follow the Rules (FTR)

Note: this post is out of order.  I had hand-written some thoughts at work, but never had a chance to type them up.

I've been following the rules of this challenge about as best as I can.  That is their motto: FTDI (follow the damn instructions). Certainly, I haven't been perfect... getting up at 4:30 am for a 5:30 am work out makes it pretty tough to do my ESC before breakfast, so I've been doing the ESC after work, before dinner. I've followed the nutrition plan almost perfectly... some days my schedule gets "off" and I'm not eating at exactly 2/3 hour intervals.  Having a full time job makes it challenging to stick to a perfect schedule, but I've done my best.  I have also not cheated on the nutrition plan, even once... no Halloween candy, no coffee drinks, no wine! So where has all of this rule-following gotten me? Well, the first week, I was down 5 lbs, which in my book was pretty darn good. Leading into the weigh-in for week 2, I'm a bit nervous... what if the scale hasn't moved? what it it's only 1 or 2 lbs?  I finally stepped on my bathroom scale, and it suggests a loss of 4.5 lbs for the week, if that's what the official gym scale shows, I'll take it, gladly!

Tonight will be another test of my will power and resolve. Earlier this week, I passed the football banquet test (made and frosted brownies without even a lick and bypassing an entire table full of treats).  I also passed the Halloween candy test (not even a sniff of the kids' candy bags). I passed the book club test (no wine and no appetizers).  When the Planning Department here at work had their open house,  I avoided the donuts and other sweet treats. On Veteran's Day, I didn't take a piece of pizza or any cake. However, tonight is a wine tasting event at the club.  Tomorrow is weigh-in and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize the work I've done all week.

I'm proud of myself for FTR and FTDI.  Have I been spot on perfect... no, of course not.  But I've done the best that I can do given all of my circumstances.  I need to keep going. As long as I keep seeing results on the scale, that will be great motivation for me.

*** UPDATED ***
As noted above, this post is out of order, so here's how Friday night and Saturday went:

I did awesome at the wine tasting. I didn't have any food or wine. I kept my wine glass full of sparkling water. Afterward, when some friends came back to our house, I nibbled on a few cucumbers, broccoli, and cauliflower.  I know that's not following the rules, but it was after mid-night by that point.  Having gone to bed around 1:15 am, unfortunately, I did not get up for the 7 AM workout or weigh-in.  I was disappointed in myself, to say the least.  I did do a longer ESC walk.  I followed the meal plan pretty well, except because I woke up later, my meals were pushed back a bit and I never ate dinner... it would have been at 9:00 pm.

I went to the 7 AM class on Sunday, and as I mentioned in another post, I was only down 3 lbs for the week.  Disappointed, sure, but better than the alternative of a gain or 0-2 lb loss.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Another aspect of this 6 week challenge is the mandatory check-in on Facebook.  We're supposed to check-in at the gym, tag the owner and the manager of our facility, and write something inspiring.  Usually my check-in reads something along the lines of this: "Workout # x/30 done! Feels great! #waytostarttheday." Once a week, normally on Saturday, we are supposed to weigh-in.  I did not make it to the gym on Saturday because we were out way too late on Friday night.  We went to a wine tasting at the country club, and then invited friends back to our house afterward. (I didn't have any food or wine.. I was really, really good.) But, after being awake since 4:10 am and staying up until after 1:00 am, I simply didn't have it in me to get up a 6:00 am for a 7:00 am workout.  That means, I didn't weigh-in until this morning, Sunday.

I will admit I was more than a little disappointed with my 3 lb loss; my bathroom scale suggested a bigger loss of 4.5 lbs, but I've seen some fellow challengers' Facebook posts stating that they had smaller than anticipated losses for the second week, and some saw no movement on the scale whatsoever. So, I will take my 3 lb loss, be happy, and move on to week 3!

Looking ahead for this week, I'm going to continue to follow the meal plan as I have been doing.  Because I had to workout today, I'm going to switch up my morning workout schedule just a bit, M,T (off Wed) Th, Fr, Sat, (off Sunday).  Then I'll go back to my M, T, W (off Th), Fr, Sat schedule.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hello, it's me....

Adele's new single, "Hello" seems quite appropriate for the title of this blog post.  How many times have I started and stopped on this weight-loss journey in the past few years?  It's well-documented here in my blog. 

What am I doing this time? Well, I'm participating in a 6 week challenge at a local gym.  The premise of the challenge is this: they give you all the tools you need to lose 20 pounds, and you pay them $600 up front, but if you lose at least 20 lbs, you get your money back.  In addition to following the meal plan, you must commit to working out 30 times in those 6 weeks (or 5 days a week).  They prefer that you do the workouts at their facility with their certified trainers, but you may ask permission to do at-home workouts if you must.  The class times are more than convenient as they run every half hour starting at 5:30 am until 9:30 am and then start up again at 3:00 pm, and run every hour until the last one at 8:00 pm.

The meal plan is simple enough to follow.  They say it's important to eat the food in the order that's given!

Breakfast: egg whites, spinach, and oatmeal
Snack: Isopure with strawberries and raspberries
Lunch: Either chicken or turkey with a sweet potato and either broccoli, cauliflower or Brussels sprouts
Snack: Isopure with strawberries and raspberries
Dinner: Either white fish or chicken with a salad made with Romaine lettuce along with up to 2 cups of a veggie such as celery, cucumber, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or spinach

In addition to the meal plan and the workouts, they want you to do 30 minutes of ESC (empty stomach cardio).  Squeezing in the ESC has been, remarkably, one of the more challenging aspects of this routine.  As it is, I am attending the 5:30 am workout class.  Ideally, they want you to do the ESC before breakfast.  Also, ideally, they want you to eat breakfast before the workout class.  That means, I have to wake up at 4:10 am, do my ESC, prepare and eat breakfast by 5:00, so I can be out the door and at class by 5:30.  Needless to say, I have been saving my ESC for after work, before dinner.  It's not perfect, but it works for me.  When I can, I do the ESC when I wake up.

I'm two weeks into this program, and I'm officially down 5 lbs.  Tomorrow is our second official weigh-in, and if my scale at home is any indication, I'm down about another 4 pounds, for a total loss of 9 lbs.  I will post results tomorrow. Fingers crosses until then.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Dismal stats

I haven't been posting my stats the past few days because they are, for the most part, dismal... at least the step stats.  I haven't reached 12,000 steps all week.  I'm frustrated with myself for not making more of an effort to move during my work day, but it's harder than it sounds.  I keep telling myself, when the weather breaks, I will get outside and walk around the campus here.  It's too hard to do that here inside the building, too many eyes are watching, and I'm sure wondering why I'm not working.

I have been able to workout, though I have not made it to the gym since Tuesday.  I was planning to go to the gym yesterday, until I received a frantic phone call from my son about a science assignment that he needed help with.  I skipped the gym because he had baseball practice, and we wouldn't have been able to complete the assignment if I had gone to the gym first.

I almost skipped working out all together, but I decided to do a walking workout with Jessica Smith. I chose the  Belly, Buns & Thighs workout.  It's a 40 minute indoor walking routine.  I hadn't done this one before.  It was exactly what I was looking for at 7:15 last night when I finally had a chance to workout... not too intense, but challenging enough where I felt like I was getting a good workout.

I do not recall how I stumbled across Jessica Smith and her *FREE* YouTube workouts, but I really like her style.  She seems so down to earth.  She appears incredibly fit, but not as intimidating as many other trainers.  I enjoy her workouts, and do them when it's cold outside and don't feel like going to a "real" walk.  If you haven't checked out her videos, you should.  She has a whole library of selections available on YouTube.  The selections vary in length, intensity, and target zones.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday, workout edition

In honor of "Throwback Thursday," I picked out an old workout that was provided to me by a personal trainer I worked with about 4 years ago.

This workout was harder for me than I expected. There are a lot of push ups!  I started out doing the push up/taps that Jenna Wolfe introduced to me, but by the end, I was not able to do the taps, just the push ups.  I also modified the workout by doing true jumping jacks instead of the designated "walking jacks."

I was able to finish this workout in just over 40 minutes, and I broke a significant sweat.  For some reason, I equate a "good sweat" with a "good workout," but I've been told that there's really no correlation.  Some people, like me, I guess, just sweat more than others.  I think originally this workout was designed to be done in about 30-35 minutes.  I tried to go from one exercise to the next without much rest in between, but it was difficult, at times, for my old bones to transition quickly from the floor to an upright movement.  Yikes, I'm getting old!

Overall, I thought this was a good workout for me at this point in my attempt to recommit to working out regularly.  I will do this one again, soon.

As a parting thought, I'd like to share with you how much I did not want to workout yesterday afternoon.  I typically do not go to the gym on Wednesdays because that is my designated day to be home with the kids after school.  So, after getting home from work and helping the kids with their homework and chores, I found myself procrastinating.  I found other things to occupy my time to avoid working out.  At one point, my son even called me out on it, asking me why I kept saying "I'm going to work out," but not actually doing it. Part of the reason I'm making these changes in my life is to set a good example for my kids.  So, I hope yesterday's "teachable moment"  - doing something I really didn't feel like doing - will someday resonate with my kids.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Plugging away

I'm still here, plugging away at my new routine. Some days are easier than others.  Since I last checked in here, I've been up and down with a mix of green, red, and yellow days.  ***I keep meaning to take a picture of the chart in my bathroom and post it here.

Instead of listing the stats for each of the last 5 days, I'll post my averages:

Average step count: 11,484 (highest was on Friday with over 15,000 and lowest was on Monday with less than 8,000)
Calorie: Except for Friday night when we were out with friends, I've been at or below my goal of 1325.
UP Food score average: 8.1
Workouts: I worked out 4 out of the last 5 days, skipping Monday because I had a work obligation from 5:30-7 and then book club following that.

I'm working on  a few more introspective and hopefully more interesting posts.  One is about my love/hate relationship with the scale and how I can't bring myself to step on it.  The other post is about the difference between my approach to weight loss and my husband's approach.  I hope you come back to read those!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Not good

Unexpected family issues arose yesterday, and I had to skip my workout entirely.  Family had to come first. I wasn't going to post anything today because yesterday was so bad, but days like yesterday are going to happen, and I have to be able to deal with these set backs.

This morning, my UP "smart coach" had this to say: "You reached 49% of yesterday's goal, short by 6,030 steps.  Consider this Japanese proverb, 'fall 7 times and stand up 8.'  Today is a new opportunity."

That's advice I can take to heart.

Here are the dismal stats:

Steps: 6,064 (if you noticed above, I'm already over 4,000 steps for today!)
Calories: 1084
UP food score: 8.4
No workout.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm okay with a "yellow" day

Yesterday ended up being a "yellow" day.  Though I strive for "green" everyday, I'm okay with yesterday's "yellow," and I'll explain why in a moment.  First, the stats:

Steps: 11,115 (short by 885)
Calories: 1153
UP food score: 8.7/10
Workout: I did this workout from Jenna Wolfe with a few modifications.

I didn't know who Jenna Wolfe was until a few months ago when I came across one of her workouts posted on NBC's website.  I can't explain why, but she instantly became a new fitness hero for me... right up there with Jillian Michaels and Jari Love. If you watched the trailer from The Biggest Loser show, you'll notice she was pregnant when the show was taped.  I know I never looked like that when I was pregnant, but I digress.

I've been receiving Jenna's weekly workout tips in my inbox for awhile, but yesterday was actually the first time I tried one of her workouts all the way through.  At this point in my challenge to eat right and work out, her workouts seemed a little hard for me... three years ago, they wouldn't have seemed so hard.  I approached yesterday's attempt as sort of bench mark for me. I wanted to see how well I could do and how long it would take me to get through the whole thing. Jenna's post suggested it would take about an hour.

I think I did pretty well, which is why I'm okay with my yellow score.  I worked really hard, but it didn't show up in my UP step count. I did have to make a few modifications, and I want to document them here so I can refer to them when I try the same workout in a week or so.

The warm up

100 jog in place* = no modification (*  one repetition is complete when both legs have done the move)
90 jumping jacks with light weight = half way through I had to modify the jumping jacks, in retrospect I should have just dropped the weights.  I can easily do 90 jumping jacks...
80 butt kickers* = no modification
70 mountain climbers = I did them the "easy" way, I'm still building up to true mountain climbers
60 high knees = no modification (I struggled to keep my knees up, but I did it)
50 pikes = (I skipped this one by mistake, initially, and once I realized it, I didn't go back... my bad)
40 push ups = I did them in 4 sets of 10
30 toy soldiers =  I didn't do the squat part
20 squat jumps = no modifications (I'm sure Jenna would have been yelling at me to do them faster and more fluidly)
10 burpees = again, no modification, but I'm sure Jenna would have insisted on better quality burpees

The workout

Set 1:
50 runs left, low step
20 run left, high step
20 crab kicks
20 crab dips
50 runs right, low step
20 runs right, high step
20 crab kicks
20 crab dips

Admittedly, I had to modify the entire set listed above.  My mom has my step.  I tried to do the runs with a child's chair, but it did not feel stable enough, and  the last thing I wanted to do was get hurt. So, instead, I modified the runs listed above with some moves Sean T does in his T25 cardio workout, specifically the "up down explosion runs" and the low, jogging front kicks.  Next time I do this workout, I'll be sure to get my step back from my mom. Or, I will use the bottom basement step... don't know why that just occurred to me now. The crab kicks were hard, I don't think I did them quite right.  The crab dips were also hard from the floor, so I did them using the couch.

Set 2: Jump squat/push up taps

The combination is a pyramid scheme.  You start with 1 jump squat and then do 10 push up taps, then do 2 jump squats, and 9 push up taps, and so on.  I liked this combination a lot.  I really focused on doing good jump squats even when I had to do 10 in row.

Set 3: 15 kick drops followed by 2 minutes of upper cuts with light weights, repeat 3 times.

The kick drops were a little advanced for me, so I made the biggest modification to this set, but I think I made a good choice.  I did 15 side kicks on each leg and 15 standing front round kicks followed by the upper cuts.  I had to lose the weights half way through the second set of upper cuts.

Set 4:
30 sea turtles  = I ended up doing plain old "supermans"
30 mountain climbers = easy

Set 5: Bear crawls

Despite the description given, I wasn't sure I was doing the Bear crawls correctly, so I did 20 walk out push ups instead.

Set 6:
High knees/plank jacks

As with the jump squat/push up taps from set 2, this set is also designed to be a pyramid.  I started with 10 high knees followed by 1 plank jack. Then 9 high knees, 2 plank jacks and so on.

It took me 53 minutes to complete this workout.  Even though I made some modifications, I really tried to push myself.  I tried my best not rest between sets which made it even harder.  I'm looking forward to trying a few more of Jenna's workouts.  In a few weeks, I'll give this one another go, and see how much better I can do.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2 Days in a row!

I felt like I had a great workout yesterday.  As a result, I easily surpassed my 12,000 step goal with a total of 12,501 steps.  It was one of those days where I felt like perhaps something is clicking with my new routine.  Heck, I even gave some thought to upping my step goal, but then I thought better of that idea.  I need to just keep building back up, slowly and steadily.  I can't get too far ahead of myself.  Heck, I do not even know if any of this is actually working because I have not stepped on a scale. (More on that issue in another post).

I'm thinking about adding a few more goals to my daily list.  These include: 1) an UP food score of 8.0 or better and 2) setting a work step goal.  What I mean by number 2 is setting a goal for how many steps I should take between my work hours of 7:15-4:30.  I'm still mulling that one over. I'm not sure what is a reasonable number.  As I've learned, some days are better than others, but that article that I posted yesterday has me thinking about ways I can be more active during my work day.

For those of you scoring at home:

Steps: 12,501
workout: elliptical and strength training (body weight and 5 lb weights)

Color code: Green!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

That's better update with picture

I put my mind to achieving all of my goals yesterday, and I did it! Here are the stats:

Steps: 13,167 steps
Calories: 1224
workout completed: 44 minutes of elliptical plus 15 minutes of strength
Color code: Green Day

It felt good to be back on track. I plan to stay on track for the rest of the week.

Then, this morning, I read this article, and found it a little discouraging. I'm not suggesting that I'm discouraged enough to throw my hands up in the air and give up, but it did make me think to myself, "what's the point of exercising and eating right?"

I have a mostly sedentary job.  I can't help that.  Sure I can make a conscious effort to get up more often during my day and move around. In fact, I've been trying to do so.  Frankly, however, I don't see it really making a difference in my step count at the end of the work day, so I don't imagine it's significantly improving my overall health.

A few months ago, I did ask our HR department if I could have one of those standing desks, similar to the one mentioned in the article, unfortunately, I think the person I emailed thought I was joking.

My husband bought me a stability ball chair for Christmas.  I brought it to the office today, and I plan to put it together on my lunch break.   Maybe making this small change, in addition to the ones I've been working on for the past 2 weeks, will help my overall health improve, despite what the article says.

*** updated to add

                                        Ta da!

Monday, January 19, 2015

That's embarrassing

I knew my weekend statistics were bad, but I didn't realize how bad they were until I synced my UP this morning: 11,062 steps, for the whole weekend.  YIKES!

On Saturday, I was over my calorie allotment by just under 1000 calories (stupid buffet...), and on Sunday, I was over by about 100 calories (not horrible, but still).

I had every intention of working out on both Saturday and Sunday, but neither day went as planned.

Result: two "red" days in a row.

Lesson learned: get up and work out in the morning so that when the rest of the day doesn't go as planned, the workout will already be out of the way!

Hopefully I will get back on track today!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Try, Try, Again

When I was little and learning to fall ice skate, my dad used to sing a little song to me: "When you fall, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try, try again."  I, of course, thought my dad made up that little ditty himself, but I recently learned that the song (with slightly different lyrics) was from a 1936 movie starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers called Swing Time.  (If it had earlier origins, I'm not aware).

This theme of "try, try, again" completely describes my efforts to lose weight. Yesterday, despite my resolve to "redouble my efforts to be less sedentary at work," I failed.  I started working on a project that kept me in my chair for a stretch of 2 hours and 5 minutes, longer than the previous day.  Yikes!

So, even though I met all of my other daily goals, I didn't meet my 12,000 step goal, falling 294 steps short.

Here are my stats:

11,706 steps
62 minute work out (elliptical and strength as planned)
1386 calories (admittedly slightly over, but I always over-estimate some foods)

Rating: Yellow day.

Now, I'm going for a walk around my building.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Is this what sugar addiction feels like?

Someone I work with walked into the office this morning carrying a Starbucks coffee cup. Immediately, my salivary glands went into overdrive.  All of a sudden, I wanted to go to Starbucks. I needed to go to Starbucks.  If my boss hadn't been standing right next to me and my new found resolve to make better food choices, I might have retrieved my coat and car keys and made a run to the closest drive thru.

I know it wasn't the coffee I was craving.  My typical coffee order has nothing to do with coffee. My go to order is a grande, skinny, vanilla latte.  In the fall, I switch to a tall, pumpkin spice latte with non-fat milk, and in December, I look forward to tall, skinny peppermint mochas.  But, as part of my resolution to make better food choices, I've swapped my Starbucks coffee runs for home brewed Green Tea.  (Bonus - I'm also saving money!)

This leads me to believe that I might be having some sort of sugar withdrawal.  I've never really considered myself to be a sugar addict, but my reaction this morning leads me to believe that I might have a problem.  I have not consciously cut out sugar, but by making better food choices and tracking my caloric intake, I have, in essence, not been eating any refined sugar.

I guess this newly discovered "sugar addiction" is an issue I should explore a bit more.


I learned a new word yesterday, portmanteau, which is a type of luggage with two separate sections.  Over time, however, it has a developed a secondary meaning.  It is the description used for a word that combines the sounds and meanings of two different words.  In other words, it's a blended word such as smog (smoke + fog) or my favorite word of late hangry (hungry + angry).

Today, I'm using a portmanteau word that I just made up: greenellow (green + yellow), which is the score I gave myself yesterday.  In truth, I told myself when I started my scoring system that I wasn't going to allow myself to be wishy washy like this. I need to fairly and accurately assess my day and there shouldn't be a middle ground; I either met all my goals for the day (green) or I fell short some how.  But, I decided that yesterday was one of those days where I wasn't going to be so hard on myself.

Here are my stats:

11,135 steps
1240 calories
53 minutes cardio and body weight exercises, specifically Jillian Michaels' Bansish Fat, Boost Metabolism workout DVD

As you can see, I fell short of my 12,000 step goal. If I had taken another 865 steps, it would have been a green day, easily.  At 10:00 pm last night, I contemplated walking around my house for another 1000 steps, but that just didn't seem true to my efforts.  In all other respects yesterday, I did well.  I made good food choices, I worked out even though I really didn't want to, and I drank plenty of water.

My Jawbone UP tells me that at one point yesterday, I was idle for a stretch of 1 hour and 59 minutes.  It also tells me that even if I exercise regularly, long periods of idleness can be detrimental to my overall health.  So, today I am going to redouble my efforts to be less sedentary at work. It shouldn't be that hard for me to get up a few more times during my day and walk around.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Salad Day

Last year, the human resources department at my work started an initiative called "Let's Get Healthy Together!"  One thing, among many, that we do is a once-a-month salad day.  The idea is that anyone who wants to participate contributes a healthy item for a salad bar.   We are encouraged to bring our own re-usable plates and silverware to cut down on wasting paper products, too.

Today was our January salad day.  Shortly before going down to the employee lounge to make may salad, I happened to hit on an article that listed 29 fat burning vegetables.  While creating my salad today, I made a conscious choice to choose as many fat burning foods from that list as I could.  I was able to choose beets, celery, beans, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers.  I skipped the feta cheese, which I usually love to pile on top.

As I said before, baby steps... it's all about making healthy choices each and every time.

Green Day

After being in the "yellow" for two days straight, I managed to score a "green" day.  Here are the stats from yesterday:

I took 12, 174 steps, according to my Up.  I logged 1267 calories, and I worked out for 42 minutes on the elliptical and did strength moves for just under 20 minutes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

One week check in

So, it may not be obvious from the lack of writing around here, but last week, starting on Monday, January 5, 2015, I eased back into a routine.  It makes me very sad to see how far I've gone in the opposite direction of being healthy... I was reading some of the posts about doing P90X back in June of 2011.  I am so far from that healthy person, it's depressing.

For now, however, I've resolved to move more and eat less. To accomplish this resolution, here is my plan.  It's very basic, but I need to start somewhere.wee

Goal 1: 12,000 steps daily (no excuses)
Goal 2: Track all food/calories
     sub goal: to eat 1300 calories or less
     sub goal: eat out less and make better choices
Goal 3: 40 minutes of cardio and 20 minutes of strength training
Goal 4: drink 128 oz of water

I am keeping track of my progress on a simple chart that I hung in my bathroom.  I developed a color coded "accountability" system to rate how well I did each day - again, very basic, but I'm a visual person, and I want to be able to see, at a glance, how I'm doing.

Green: accomplished all goals

Red: failed to reach at least 10,000 steps or failed to work out for at least 30 minutes or ate more than 1450 calories.  Bottom line: if I fail to move or eat right, I will give myself a red.

Yellow: falls somewhere in between.  Example 1: If I accomplish my workout but fall short of 12,000 steps, I'll grade myself a yellow.  Example 2: If I workout and reach at least 10,000 steps but eat more than 1300 calories, I will grade myself a yellow.

Since I started using my color coded system I have had 3 yellow days and 5 green days.

Diving back in without comment

I started to write a post about where I've been for the last (gasp!) three plus years, but after struggling with what to write and feeling like everything I was writing sounded like excuse, after excuse, I decided to just dive back in to writing.  I may get around to posting about my whereabouts, but it is not really all that exciting.  I suppose I can sum of the last 3 years like so: I went back to work full time.  We moved. I got older. I gained weight.