Tuesday, 31 December 2013

What a Difference a Year Makes (with photos)

Today is New Year's Eve, which means that I have survived another full year of working out and eating well.  In the past 12 months I have missed only 2 planned workouts, but added several incremental workouts, so on balance, I am probably ahead of the game, all things considered. 

It's been a difficult Q4, so I am going to look back on all the wins that I have achieved this year. 

First and most motivating, I have lost 51.5 pounds over the last year.  Although this is less than I had hoped in the summer, considering how badly things fell off the rails in Q4, I will take this result, thank you very much.  About a pound a week is nothing to sneeze at. 

Let's look at the measurements, shall we?

I am down more than 2.5 feet in girthiness compared to last year at this time, and more than 5' in lost inches since I have started working out.  That means a change from a size 26 when I started, down to a size 20 last year, and now down to a size 12. 

In the past year I have really settled into my elliptical routine, but I have added more weights and, recently, a treadmill for running training.  Today I had my 5th C25K session, and although I still don't think I am actually running, I am shuffling much faster than I ever would have thought. 

I an creeping ever closer to my goals:

Still recouping past losses, but I finished the year strong.  Let's hope I can keep these positive trends going. 

Saturday, 28 December 2013

In Shocking News...

... sticking to one's food and exercise plan = weight loss.  Who knew?

I will admit that this is not the most mind-blowing of insights, especially after spending so long at this particular rodeo, but it is very gratifying to see positive results from my first disciplined week back from the wilds of Snackville.

This week I stuck to my guns, more or less, and kept the hitherto rampant snacking under control.  I also upped my workouts back to their previous level to dial up the challenge.  The result: 1.7 pounds down this week to 197.4 pounds.

Depressingly, I am still around 8.7 pounds higher than my previous low weight, but on the good side I am down from my recent high of 199.1 pounds.  1.7 pounds down is right on track for where I want to be after the week I have had, and to get this result during the Christmas week (or as I like to call it, Food-a-palooza), is a major triumph.

I have to stop thinking those "if only..." thoughts, and focus on the good results I am having now.  The plan for this week will be to try and stay focused on my plan, and build on my loss of this week.

Onward and downward!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Christmas was Tryptophan-tastic!

A few events of note happened this week.

The first is that I once again dusted myself off and got back on track for healthy eating and challenging workouts, just in time for the orgy of food that is Christmas.  Ah well, my timing has never been what we can call "good". 

This week I also began a new upper body focused weight routine, as well as a couch to 5K program with the intention of learning how to run.

As for the eating portion of my healthy lifestyle, I have been doing pretty well.  I managed to control my hitherto unbridled snacking when we had both sides of the family over to the Palatial Estate on Christmas Eve for a cocktail party, and I ended up staying on track for the most part.  At one point I caught my hand diving into a dish of cashews before the party and I turned the motion into an elaborate swoop and moved the dish into a cupboard to keep it out of my eye line and that seemed to work - - my snacking was kept at a minimum and I stayed on track for my daily calories. 

Yesterday on Christmas Day we had the full turkey dinner experience at the Nerd's sister's house, with all the tryptophan that comes with it.  The dinner was one of the best turkey dinners I have ever had, and I enjoyed every bite of it.  And the Mexican wedding cookies.  And the peanut brittle.  And the candy cane brittle.  And the chocolate letter "M" (for "Magniloquent", natch).  OK, so I went a little bananas yesterday with the food.  But I got it out of my system, and today had the usual breakfast and no cravings for illicit chocolate (or licit chocolate, for that matter), which is good. 

I have completed week 1 of the "5K Runner" C25K program using the iPad app.  Like most C25K apps, this one sets a warm-up period, then intervals of running alternating with walking, followed by a final cool down period.  The first day was a 25 minute workout involving a 5 minute warm-up followed by 6 intervals of 1 minute running + 1.5 minutes walking, followed by a 5 minute cool down.  Days 2 and 3 still involved the same warm-up and cool down, but with 8 intervals of 1 minute running + 1.5 minutes walking.  All in all this week I "ran" 6 minutes on day 1, then 8 minutes each on days 2 and 3, for a total "run" of 22 minutes this week. 

Am I actually running?  Probably not, but I am going 4.5 mph on the treadmill and I am making an awful lot of noise.  It could actually look like running, if you squint.  The point is to get my body used to the mechanics of what could eventually turn into running, and this is what the app appears to be good for.

Interestingly, for someone who has done 30 minutes to 90 minutes on the elliptical machine for months now, the cardio of the treadmill is very different and much more challenging.  I barely break a sweat after 30 minutes on the elliptical, whereas on the treadmill I am sweating up a storm after the first running interval.  I feel the treadmill more in my hamstrings and glutes than I feel the elliptical, too.  Overall, it's a very different cardio workout.

Right now I am still having to really push to complete the C25K workout, because: i) it is difficult; and ii) running is still not a natural motion for me.  But the emotional reward I feel for completing a C25K workout is still very positive and is helping to keep me on track, which is good.  I don't get a "runner's high", but I get a "stubborn woman's glow", which is almost as good.  The other nice thing about the C25K workout days is that I "only" do 45 minutes on the elliptical, which feels like I am getting away with something. 

On weight days I have been doing 3 sets of 10 reps of my various upper body exercises, which takes between 30 and 40 minutes, depending on how much I futz with the weight bench.  Overall the workout is very challenging, and I am definitely spent after it is done.  I have been following those weight workouts with 60 minutes on the elliptical machine, and each day this week I have really had to push myself not to stop early.  But I did it, and I feel the smug feeling one gets from pushing through to accomplish something one really doesn't want to do. 

Next week I will be doing week 2 of the C25K app, and it already looks a little intimidating to me - - 4 intervals of 1.5 min run + 2 min walking, followed by 2 intervals of 1 minute running + 1 minute walking, for a total run time of 8 minutes.  It's good for me to see that it is the same "run" time as I did this morning, just packaged a little differently.  We'll see how it goes...

This week I had a moral win by getting up at 3.15 am (!) to do my usual weight + elliptical workout on Christmas morning so that we could get out to my parent's house in Brampton around 6.40 am to open stockings with the family.  Driving back to town from the Nerd's sister's place at 10.30 pm I was initially puzzled that the CN Tower was still displaying the same festive green-white-red stripes as on Christmas morning, until I realized that it was still Christmas Day ... just an incredibly long day.  Whew!

Today (Boxing Day) the Nerd and I slept in to 8 am, and although we both did full workouts (he did 90 minutes on the elliptical and I did 30 minutes of C25K and 45 minutes on the elliptical), we were in no rush and it was a very relaxing morning, all things considered.

Tomorrow is Friday, and a normal day.  It's weigh-in day, too, so we'll see how virtuous I *really* have been able to be this week.  I will also be back to the office and back to 60 minutes on the elliptical, according to the plan. 

The balance of today is scheduled to be the day of a thousand naps, so I should get to it.  Those naps won't have themselves, after all...

Monday, 23 December 2013

It's not pretty, but it's not as bad as I feared...

Photo courtesy Emma V Valentine, licensed CC-BY-NC-ND
It was with a considerable degree of trepidation that I faced my nemesis the scale this morning.  After 2 months of eating like a barbarian, I knew there were consequences to be faced.  This was not going to be a quick little blip that was easily overcome.  Nope.  This time I am going to have to face the music and accept the fact that I have backslid and given up literally months of progress.

Yesterday was the first day back on track, and I had a great workout on the treadmill and elliptical machine, followed by a day of excellent healthy food.  I even managed to get my 8 cups of water in.  So far, so good. 

This morning I got up early and faced my new upper body focused weight program.  We had a few rough edges figuring out where to put the weight bench so that there was enough space to do the lifts whilst avoiding knocking the Nerd off the elliptical with the barbell.  I am pleased to report that there were no serious incidents, and we were both able to complete our workouts without major injury. 

This morning I did 3 sets of 10 reps of each of the following: i) military press (30 pounds); ii) barbell upright row (30 pounds); iii) barbell bench press (30 pounds); iv) dumbbell flyes (10 pounds each); v) modified pushups; vi) barbell bent over row (30 pounds); vii) barbell side bend (30 pounds); and viii) situps.  I will do this plan for a week, and then will see about adding reps and/or sets. 

After the weight training I did an hour on the elliptical machine, followed by a nice 5 minute cool-down on the treadmill at a relaxed 2.5 mph pace.  All in all, I felt great after doing what was a pretty intense workout, especially after having been such a slacker for a while.  I am definitely feeling the effects of my C25K workout yesterday, and I expect I will feel this upper body workout tomorrow.  I love the feeling I get when I work out hard - - the muscle soreness tells me that my workouts are shaking my body out of its complacency. 

With the workout finished, it was time for me to step onto the scale and face the music.  And you know what?  It was bad.  But not as bad as I expected.  I thought I was up around 15 pounds, measured after the sodium-tastic craft hot dogs of Saturday night's dinner.  This morning I was "only" up 10.6 pounds, to 199.1 pounds (of course, the word "only" is relative here).  This is still in onederland, still overweight (rather than obese), and not as bad as it could have been.  But it is still 10.6 pounds up from my lowest weight. 

To put it into perspective, I last weighed this much around the end of August.  That's right, I set myself back 4 months with 2 months of poor eating decisions.  In fairness, that's 2 months of creeping up, and 2 months of fighting a holding battle, but it's still 4 months behind where I had been.  So frustrating.

But I have a plan, I have the equipment, and I have run out of patience with my own excuses.  I have recorded this weight on my Fitbit and MyFitnessPal so I am not hiding the fact that I have lost ground.  The good news is that I know I can regain that ground.  It will just take time.  Here's where thing stand as of this morning:

I have 14.1 pounds to go to hit middleweight.  Let's go!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Ugh - backsliding over the holidays is no fun...

So there have been some changes in the Nerd-Sassy Advocate household this fall, not all of them for the better. 

First, and most frustratingly, we both have been bad little backsliders this fall, and have taken every opportunity to snack, indulge, and ease off on the workouts.  Between business trips (2 x 4 days of hotel food each), family visits out of town (2 x 3 days each), holiday parties (2), festive lunches, dinners, or cocktail parties (4), both the Nerd and I have put back on some of the weight that we collectively fought so hard to lose.  In my case, it's around 15 or so pounds up from my lowest recorded weight, although the scale is so horrifyingly high that I can't bear to record my weight right now.  Give me a day or so back on plan and I will record the new (higher) baseline, but for now, all I can say is "yikes!".  And "f---, f---, f---, f---, f---, f---" (you will have to extrapolate the missing letters). 

So it turns out that working out less than usual, eating much more than usual, and eating out much, much more than usual (with the associated sodium hit) has a negative impact on weight loss.  No one could have predicted that.  Oh, wait, EVERYONE could have predicted that.  Sheesh.  Right now I am not so much ashamed as chagrined at myself and my utter lack of discipline.  Dogs have more discipline than I have had this Q4.

On the positive side, it will be relatively easy to stay in a maintenance zone once I actually reach my target, as I have been (up until last week when I blew my brains out with food) cycling around the same 5 pounds over and over.  Maintenance defined.  So that's encouraging.

Discouraging is the fact that I will need to lose those damn 15 pounds that I have lost and lost and lost again.  But really, I have only myself and my unbridled eating to blame, so I have to own it, get back on track, and move on.  At Christmas.  Geez - - I don't make it easy for myself, do I?

In the spirit of kicking my own ass, and as a gift to myself for Christmas, I purchased a newish treadmill.  While I cannot afford one of these things at $1,500+ new, I was able to pick up this AFG 3.1 AT treadmill at half price second-hand from a nice couple that is moving to Calgary. 

This is a very solid treadmill, barely used (as so many treadmills are) and just what I need to begin my C25K program.  And by solid, I mean "incredibly heavy".  That thing is not going anywhere now that it is in the workout room - - it is too damn heavy to move. 

As an aside, I have set myself a couple of fitness objectives for Q1 2014 including being able to do 25 standard pushups in a row (I can currently only do 3 sets of 12 modified pushups), and to be able to run 5K comfortably.  The treadmill will help me deliver on the running goal, which is helpful because this weekend, coincidentally, Toronto had an ice storm and it's not fit outside for people to walk, let alone run.

Yesterday the Nerd and one of our lovely neighbours wrestled the treadmill into the workout room, and the Nerd assembled it for me last night.  The treadmill is Very Large, and Very Heavy, as the Nerd discovered to the dismay of one of his toes (now slightly less broken than it was this time last week - oops!). 

I did my first C25K program this morning, and the treadmill worked great.  It will take a while for me to learn how to run like a normal person, but the C25K app I am using was very useful in giving me the required walk-run intervals.  While I am not sure that you could call the shuffling thing I was doing "running", per se, it was faster than a walk, and eventually may settle into something resembling running.  My goal is just to be able to keep up with a pack of people jogging 5 km, without stopping to walk or pray for death.  It's a simple objective, and one I hope to achieve.  Fortunately, after a year and a half of using the elliptical, my cardio is very strong.  Unfortunately, it turns out that running on a treadmill is an entirely different kind of cardio, so it is still very challenging. 

I completed stage 1 of the New Rules of Lifting for Women, and definitely saw strength improvements, but I stopped stage 2 prematurely - - it is heavily lunge and reverse lunge and modified lunge focused, and my knees were starting to fall apart under the demand.  Since I need my knees to be in as good condition as possible in the spring, I made the executive decision to pull the plug on that program.  I will continue with weight training as I enjoy it and think it is very helpful,  but I am going to focus more on upper body for now.  That will help me with my pushups, too, especially since I have feeble girl arms.  A T-Rex is better at pushups than I am, which is a cry for help if ever I saw one.

So yesterday was not so good a day for discpline, what with me taking (yet another) unplanned rest day, and with the Nerd and I going out for craft hot dogs for dinner.  Today, however, everything is back on track.  I worked out in the morning for 75 minutes (between the treadmill and the elliptical), and we have eaten sensibly today, with no snacking. 

Getting my snacking behaviour back under control will take a few days of sticking to my routine, but I know I can do it.  Christmas Eve-Christmas Day will be challenging, but the Nerd and I are planning a variety of healthy food options as snacks at our family party on Tuesday, and I know I can stick to portions on Christmas Day with the various families.  Getting up at 3am on Christmas Day to workout will be ... challenging ... but we can do it. 

The plan works when we stick to it.  We know it works, as we have both seen fantastic results.  At home, both the Nerd and I are pretty disciplined.  It's out of the house when we go bananas.  That ends this week.  Sadly, I expect it will take me at least until mid-February to get back down to where I once was, but that's the consequences of undisciplined eating.  That'll teach me!

So, it is once more into the breach, with the objective of being back on plan during one of the more social weeks of the year.  Wish us luck!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Sparkle Dress Action Shot and Holiday Party Debrief

So tonight was my firm's Festive Non-Denominational Holiday Party at the Trump tower here in town.  I can't speak for most of the venue, but the staff were friendly on our floor, the food was adequate, and the washrooms were nicer than my first two apartments.  Bigger, too, now that I think about it.

Tonight was the debut of the cocktail length sparkle dress and the return engagement of the sparkle shoes of pain and the sparkle purse of glamour.  Any night that is three levels deep in sparkles is made for fabulousness, if you ask me.

I have learned since the IPIC annual general meeting in September at which I wore a beautiful long formal dress and the sparkle shoes of pain - - I had better pack some flats, or suffer the consequences of trying to gnaw my feet off at the ankles all night.  So I went out and picked up some cute ballet flats, and brought them with me to the party to change into before the dinner. 

The plan worked perfectly - - just when my 4" heels were starting to feel like a Really Bad Idea, I swapped them for the flats, and my feet were immediately more comfortable.  Good thinking ahead (*pats self on back*).  Glamour is all very well and good, but dragging myself home by my elbows because I have crippled my feet with incredibly sparkly and virtually unwearable shoes seems like a bad idea.  Disaster averted!

Anyhoo, the new sparkle dress was extremely well received.  Combine the sparkle dress with the updo that I had done in the morning (for added fabulosity), and I was a force of nature.  I had no less than a dozen people at the party say "Oh my god, I didn't recognize you at all!  You look amazing!"  Score!

I noticed a few things this evening.

For one thing, I felt fabulous, and that made me much more outgoing and social and confident than usual.  Rather than hanging back and watching the crowd, I worked the room much more than I normally do.  It helps that every time I saw someone they were telling me how fabulous I looked, but I was also carrying myself taller and more confidently in a way that was noticeable, even to people with whom I work regularly.

I also noticed that I was smiling much more than usual.  I just looked happier and friendlier, and that made me much more approachable to other people than perhaps is generally the case.  People like spending time with happy people, and tonight, that included me.  Was it the dress?  The updo?  I think it was just the complete package - - I was wearing a dress I felt comfortable and confident in, and I owned more of the room as a result. 

Now it is time for me to go home and go to bed, and hope that I don't impale myself on one of the 800 bobby pins in my hair during the night. 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Sparkle Dress Redux - Photos

12 months ago I made a blog posting asking people whether I should wear a gold and black dress or a purple dress to my firm's annual Festive Non-Denominational Holiday Party.  The response was, overwhelmingly, the purple dress, and I wore it and felt fabulous.

Well, it's that time of year again. 

This year I got all bold and went ahead and bought a dress without crowd-sourcing input.  It's a lovely cocktail length navy thing, with sheer shoulders and, yes, sparkles.  It looks very nice with the sparkle shoes of pain, as well as the sparkle clutch of elegance. 

And, because a picture paints a thousand words, here you go:

Forgive the hair and lack of makeup, but it is Sunday morning and I did not pretty myself all up before taking the picture. 

I am now tottering around my apartment in the sparkle shoes of pain trying to encourage my feet to simply give up and accept the fabulosity without making me pray for death by the end of the evening.  Girlie's gotta sparkle at the party, after all!  Suck it up, buttercup, I am telling my feet.  We'll see how that works.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Aerobic fitness - check; core strength - doing good; upper body strength - help! I have Tyrannosaurus Rex arms!

I have survived two weeks of New Rules of Lifting for Women, and definitely feel the burn in my arms and core. 

I am still enjoying the workouts, and find some of them to be super fun, like the prone jackknifes on the swiss ball.  The new workout equipment is getting used, which really, is half the battle, isn't it?  The workouts are generally enjoyable as well as challenging, and I can't wait to get through the first 6 weeks to see how I have progressed.  1/3 of the way down, 2/3 of the way to go!

I took a look this week at where I stack up on various criteria.  Thanks to the elliptical, my cardio is good, and I have a lot of endurance with a nice low resting heart rate.  That's a good thing. 

I am also getting good core strength, which is really a good thing.  Situps are no problem for me, and the work I am doing with the swiss ball is really paying off. 

So how about that upper body strength? 

Yeah ... not so much.  I can do a whole bunch of incline push-ups, but my attempts at a real push-up end in a tangle of limbs.  I don't think it counts as "half a push-up" when you collapse on the floor in an uncontrolled fall.  Arnold Schwarzenegger, I am not. 

My feeble little T-Rex arms are gradually getting stronger, but it's such a slow process.  I want to be able to do 7-14 standard push-ups, and right now I can do precisely ... well, zero. 

I also need to work on learning how to run.  I tried to run, briefly, the last time I was in Columbus, and it did not go well.  Nothing felt natural, and I was certain that my gait was completely wrong.  A gazelle, I am not. 

In time, though, I want to be able to run 2.5 km in 14:26 - 16:25 minutes.  Why?  Running is a criterion for many things, and it is just a plain good thing to be able to do. 

Walking is also another good thing to do, and I want to ramp up my walking from 5 km to 13 km at a stretch.  Again, just because it's good to push these things. 

Tomorrow is a plain elliptical day, and then Sunday is a rest day (yay!).  Then it's back to the weights on Monday. 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The stability ball waiting for prey...

It looks so innocent, sitting there.  No indication of the havoc that it will unleash on those foolish enough to actually attempt a prone jackknife or swiss ball crunch...!

Here is some of the new equipment in the workout room, intended to facilitate some of the workouts for the New Rules of Lifting for Women.  There is a squat rack and 5' bar (along with, optimistically, weight plates, even though they are completely unnecessary at this point in time).  There is also an adjustable weight bench and dumbbells in various weights, all placed on cushy rubber floor mats.

Today I did a couple of short yoga routines and a pilates routine on the floor and the rubber floor mats worked a treat - - sure, my toes turned black after the workout from friction with the mats, but I had no problem rolling around on the floor at all - - the mats are very cushiony and I had no problem with my knees or back at all.

I have survived the first week of the NROL4W, which means 2 days of workout A and the first day of workout B.  I was immediately struck with how much I felt these workouts in my legs, arms and shoulders - - especially since I had been doing a free weight routine for many months now.  The 5 little exercises really pack a wallop, that's for sure.  Ironically, I am a little less flexible than before because I am stiffer after these workouts, especially in the shoulders and arms, which is why I did some yoga today (even though it's technically a rest day - - but I kept it mellow, so it was still very restful).

I really like the swiss ball crunch and prone jackknife, as well as the bent over barbell row.  I am neutrally disposed to the dumbbell shoulder presses, push-ups and step-ups.  I don't like the squats and deadlifts, but recognize that they are important.  I hate hate hate the lunges, because they hurt my knees, although I suspect that is mostly because I am doing them wrong.  I am still struggling to do the pullovers properly - - my upper body strength is very uneven, and my left arm is much weaker than the right for some reason, making this exercise somewhat difficult. 

Tomorrow I get to do the second series of workout B (deadlifts, lunges, pullovers, shoulder presses, and swiss ball crunches), and then on Wednesday it's time to increase the weight on workout A.

The Nerd also likes the new equipment because he can do pull-ups on the squat rack, he can do his macho push-ups using the incline bench, and he can do his planks and floor work on the cushy rubber floor mats.  

Last week I had to travel to a conference in Washington DC, and happily I was able to do my usual elliptical and the weight routine in the hotel gym, more or less.  The hotel elliptical machine has a different stride length than the machine I use at home, and I find that I tend to lift up on my heels on it, even though I try and keep my foot flat on the pedal.  As a result, for the second year in a row, I have come back with a slightly messed up calf.  The hotel machine also doesn't let me mess with the incline, or at least not that I was able to figure out.  At least this year I only messed up one leg instead of both, like last year.   Another reason to be glad to be home - - I am used to my old faithful machine!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Party Dress Action Shots

From the IPIC Annual General Meeting Gala at the end of September:

On a completely unrelated note, I did my first New Rules of Lifting for Women workout and learned several things.

1. I don't know what I thought I was doing before, but it wasn't squats.  My quads are barking already, and it's just past lunchtime.  It's going to be a looooonnnnngggg 8 weeks. 

2. There IS such a thing as a wrong way to get on a stability ball so that it flings you off in a heap.  Consider me a professional at this.

3. I love my new rubberized floor mats.  Love love love love love.  Photos to follow. 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Circling the wagons

It has been a while since I last posted.  To be honest, I have had a month full of disruptions to my routine that when combined with work stress, have really thrown me off my game.

I have come so far since I first began working out and I am so close to my ultimate goal, but yet am still so far away, that it has been difficult to stay motivated.  I felt like my workouts were not as effective as they had been, which is frustrating when I was working as hard as I was every day. 

So I decided to withdraw and circle the wagons a bit and evaluate what I have been doing and change things up a bit with an eye to sustainability.  I couldn't possibly keep working out at the amount that I had been doing without completely burning out.  I caught myself getting competitive about my workouts and trying for huge calorie burns just for the sake of getting huge burns, rather than trying to achieve specific results (other than weight loss, of course).  There's just no way that I was able to keep doing 90-minute elliptical workouts or 2.5 hour workouts with weights + elliptical, without either going in to work late every morning, or getting up at 4 am.  Working the hours I have been working recently (crazy hours), 4 am just is not feasible.  Neither is going into the office late.

On top of all this I have been teaching a college class at a Southern Ontario law school this month.  This is a great opportunity and I am really enjoying it, but as any teacher or professor will tell you, there is a TON of prep required to teach a class, and for every 3 hour class I have had to spend 9-10 hours in preparation reviewing the cases, writing my notes, and preparing my slides.  Then there's the drive to the college - - 2.5 hours each way from my home in Toronto.  On days I was teaching I was getting back home only around 10 pm.  On weeks when I taught twice it was particularly brutal, with only one day between classes in which to try and catch up on work (impossible!) and prep for the next class.  Thank god I am done teaching for the next two weeks, and I only have two more classes to teach and the final exam to supervise. 

But this month has not been all bad.  I have had some nice wins.

I tested my A1C (glycated hemoglobin) this month, and my values were in the normal range.  A1C is a test of how well one has been controlling fasting blood sugar over the previous 3 months.  I has pre-diabetic when I first started testing my blood sugar last July, and I waited until this month to test my A1C because I only had my first average normal month as recently as May of this year.  It looks like my weight loss and overall health improvements have been reflected in my blood sugar values, which is very gratifying.  And hugely important, given my family history.

All of my cholesterol values were also normal this month, which was nice to see. 

My measurements at the beginning of the month have continued to decrease, to the point where I am now officially a size 12, down from 26 when I first started working out - - that's 7 full sizes down:

The party dress (see previous post) at the IPIC Annual General Meeting was an absolute triumph. I looked great and felt amazing and got a ton of compliments.  I will post a photo once I get to a different computer. 

I also did my charity 5K walk this month.  Overall I raised more than $850 for breast cancer research, and was able to shave a minute off my best 5K walking pace.  Even though it was drizzly, cold and miserable out, I had a fabulous time walking with people from my office, and all for a good cause.

I have decided to shake up my routine in an attempt to re-energize and to kick start my system.  With this in mind, I am going to start working Stage 1 of the New Rules of Lifting for Women.  I will be focusing primarily on the exercise program rather than the diet, as my diet - - when I am not binging on chocolate, that is - - is very good, and it doesn't need that much tweaking.  I will incorporate some elements of the diet into my routine, but I don't need to completely change how I eat, which is good, because I love the Nerd's delicious cooking too much to give it up! 

As for the workouts, the first stage of 6-8 weeks will involve 2 alternating workouts with escalating weight/difficulty.  The first workout involves barbell squats, push-ups, bent over rows, step ups, and prone jackknifes (using the Swiss ball).  The second workout includes deadlifts, dumbbell shoulder presses, the dumbbell replacement for a lat pulldown, lunges, and Swiss ball crunches.  The plan involves fewer exercises and fewer sets than I have been doing in my weight program to date, but higher weights, and more challenge.  Today we went out and got some heavier dumbbells, a barbell and some plates, and of course, a Swiss ball.

From what I have seen of others' results after Stage 1 of the program, my shape will not change that much, but I will see some minor improvement in tone and some noticeable strength improvement.  I used to be much stronger the first time I lost weight when I was using my universal weight machine, and it has been a long road coming back to strength after so many years of being out of shape.  The Nerd got me some heavier dumbbells for my birthday, which is another step in the right direction and very much appreciated.

Oh yeah, I had a birthday last week.  I turned 46 on (Canadian, and the correct) thanksgiving, and it hit me harder than I expected.  Just entering "46" on the elliptical each morning was jarring.  Of course, the alternative to aging really sucks, so I will take having another birthday with as much grace and dignity as I can muster.  After all, I am much, much healthier than I was last year at this time - - I weighed about 265-270 pounds a year ago, and now I weigh 188-195 pounds (depending on whether I measure pre- or post-chocolate binge). 

I am stronger, with better stamina, and am better able to do physical things than last year.  On almost every measurable criteria - - blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure, weight, measurements - - I am healthier than a year ago.  Overall, all of my hard work has really paid off, and I need to simply take a deep breath and gather my energy for the final push to hit my weight loss goal. 

Now I just need to dust myself off, regroup, and charge back into my program.  Wish me luck!  


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

New Party Dress!

I had to pick up a new dress for the Gala next week at the IPIC Annual General Meeting.  The dress code is black tie, which means something long, I think.

Here's what I came up with:
The dress is a nice navy blue wrap style with some sparkly bits at the neckline.  Very nice flow and movement to it.  The dress is an off the rack size 12, which is a huge change from the size 26 I started with.

Let's compare the new dress to my dress for last December's Festive-Non-Denominational-Holiday-Party:

Now I need to find a pair of shoes, as the hiking boots I was wearing don't bring the right touch of understated elegance...And maybe a little clutch purse. Geez - - this dress buying leads to so many other purchases - - crazy!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

What the hell happened this week??

No really, I am serious.  What the hell is going on with my body that would have me lose 4.4 pounds in a single week, when my usual loss is one and a half pounds?  I mean, I had just posted a blog post on the subject, for goshsake.  I had resigned myself to being Miss Slow and Steady, and here I go turning into Ms. Aggressive Weight Loss all in a week.  I am not going to complain too much, mind you, I just wish I could figure out my body and what makes it tick.

Nothing I have eaten has really changed from week to week - - I am trying to avoid snacks just like the week before and the week before that, but I can't say that I am eating anything very different from the usual things.  A lot of Jamie Oliver meals, but that's nothing new. 

Nor has my workout routine really changed.  My new weight program is much more aggressive than my old routine, but I've been doing it for a couple of weeks now.  Perhaps it takes that long for my body to figure out that something is happening to it?  I just don't know.

What probably helps contribute to these results is that I am still very very consistent.  I haven't missed a planned workout in well over a year, and I don't go off the reservation too often with the unbridled snacking.  I continually try and increase my workouts and incorporate new things to keep challenging my body as I become fitter.  Best of all, thanks to the Nerd, I eat very well - - lots of fruits and vegetables and balanced low sodium meals.  Delicious meals, too.  But since none of these things have really changed from week to week, I can't really tell you what is driving this sudden unexpected weight loss.

I lost 4.4 pounds this week - - ridiculous!  I now weigh 188.7 pounds, down 145.2 pounds overall.  That's more than 85% of my total weight loss goal.  I am thrilled with this progress, of course, especially because it brings be 4.4 pounds closer to my goal. 

The loss this week brings me within 3.7 pounds of my next goal.  Even better, I am LESS THAN 20 POUNDS AWAY FROM A NORMAL BMI.  Yes, I am shouting that last bit because it makes me very excited.  Less than 24 pounds to goal, too - - how cool is that?

I have absolutely no illusions that this rate of loss will be sustainable.  I just hope to maintain and consolidate this upcoming week.  It may be shark week, in which case I will be extra-bloat-y and full of hormones and all. 

Speaking of my program, with this sudden and dramatic weight loss I am now down to 1,360 permitted base calories per day on my program.  <mumbles curses under breath>  This virtually guarantees that I will stay on my workout plan, if only to burn enough calories so that I can eat a decent day's worth of calories.  1,600 - 1,800 calories a day seems to be working pretty well for me, so that's what I am shooting for right now.  That requires a workout of some sort, so that keeps me honest with my exercise. 

As for my workouts, in a fit of enthusiasm this morning I tried to take the tension on my elliptical machine up to level 9, from 8.  I did about 20 minutes of that, fantasizing all the way that I would stop my workout early, and finally gave up and returned the tension back to 8.  After that I felt like I was flying, it was so easy and so I finished my planned 75 minutes on the elliptical no problem.  How easily my simple brain is tricked.  So it may be a bit early to dial up the tension, but I can definitely take the weight routine up to 5 sets of 10 reps at 12 pounds, up from the current 5 sets of 8 reps.  We'll work that into the plan effective my first workout of the week on Tuesday. 

I have been taking my rest days on Sundays because at the core of the matter, I just really really like sleeping in and lazing around.  When I take my rest day on Monday I still need to get up early to go to the office, so that's hardly restful.  Taking the rest day on Sunday has been good from a napping point of view at the very least.   I have done Sunday rest day for the last few weeks now and it has worked very well.  I have made a point of not weighing myself on my rest day, and it has helped a ton.  I don't feel like I am starting the week behind the 8 ball, and when I do weigh myself on Monday after my regular workout, my body is back in its rhythm and my weight is usually the same, or slightly lower than my Saturday weigh in. 

It is increasingly challenging to eat within my allowable calories on Sunday, but sleeping in and rolling breakfast into brunch seems to help [grin]. 

My new test kits arrived from the States last week (they're not licensed by Health Canada as yet so I need to trans-ship them from my US drop box).  Tomorrow I will test my A1C and my fasting cholesterol for the first time in months.  I am hoping that the A1C number reflects all the improvements I have made to my fasting blood sugar numbers since I broke through the "consistently normal" barrier in May of this year.  If the number is a good one I will share it with the Matriarch, and I am sure she will be relieved - - since virtually everyone else in my family has diabetes, she will be happy to see that my sugar numbers are normal.  You and I know that they are only normal after 19 months of hard work to bring them out of the pre-diabetic range, but she doesn't need to know that. 

On a final fun note, the Nerd admitted to checking me out in the parking lot this morning.  I was walking back to the car with the Matriarch and we were likely yipping away as is our custom, and the Nerd saw us backlit in the entrance to the parkade.  He thought to himself, "I see Maggie Q's mom, but who is that shapely woman walking with her", before he realized it was yours truly.  Squee!  That made my whole morning!

Onward and downward!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

140.8 pounds down - - slow and steady

Another week on track, and another week of poundage lost.  This week I was able to lose 1.6 pounds to bring me down to 193.1 pounds, for a loss of 140.8 pounds overall. 

I am very pleased with this result, as it shows how sticking to the workout and eating plan yields results.  I snack, and gain weight.  I don't snack, and I lose weight.  Pretty simple feedback loop there.  Even I could eventually figure that one out. 

There's something frustratingly predictable about my weight loss these last couple of weeks.  More often than not recently (in non snacking weeks, anyways), I lose around a pound and a half every week.  I work out a lot and I eat well, so in the back of my mind I am always (greedily) hoping for a larger loss.  I see other people lose 2, 3, 4 and even 5 pounds in a week, and I lust after those losses.  I know that their fact situation is different - - some are much heavier than me, some are men, some are people who have undergone gastric bypass surgery, some are training much harder than me.  I try not to compare myself to others, but I have to admit that I would love to see bigger losses sometimes, if only because it would get me to my goal, faster. 

But slow and steady wins the race to weight loss and lifestyle change.  1.5ish pounds a week is a nice, sustainable loss.  I know this because I have had comparatively few yo-yo swings in my weight loss over the past year and a half.  Sure, they happen, but overall, my weight loss has been pretty linear.

I had a momentary flash of insight today.  I usually lose 1.5 pounds a week because I have set my calorie objectives to achieve - - wait for it - - a 1.5 pound per week weight loss.  In other words, eating the way I do to a calorie target of 1,390 (now) per day before exercise, I should lose 1.5 pounds in a given week.  Just like I have been doing.   So really, losing around a pound and a half each week is a feature of my lifestyle, not a bug.  Many people would have figured that out much sooner than I did, but then, I was hired for my looks, not my smarts. 

So, another week in the books, and now I am only 28.1 pounds away from my overall weight loss goal.  I am still in the 190s (and I will be for another month or so), but I am ever so slowly chipping away at my target. 

Here's a photo for your Saturday enjoyment:

Monday, 2 September 2013

Back on track Week 83: 139 pounds down (with pics)

Want to ride a roller coaster?  Follow my poor snacking decisions this past month.  With all the ups and downs on the scale I could barely keep up, and I finally had to hold an intervention for myself to kick myself in the ass and say "no more snacking!". 

This is what 4 weeks of workouts and 2 weeks of unbridled snacking look like.  The good news - - the really good news, in fact - - is that by snapping out of my destructive eating habits last week and taking control of my calories consumed, I have undone all the damage I caused by my excessive chocolate consumption, and even saw a bit of an overall loss to finish off the month.

The bad side is that I basically gave up almost a month's worth of progress, having to re-lose weight I had already lost.  I can't tell you how many times I lost and regained those 2 pounds between 197 and 199 pounds.  Too many times, at any rate.  That's a little depressing.

You can see this reflected in my overall goal tracker.  Where I was previously on track to hit my goal weight a little early, now I am right back on track for hitting it sometime in January.  That's a little depressing, but not unexpected.  I knew the last 30 pounds were going to be challenging, and eating my way through a candy store this month only increased the challenge.   Because it wasn't challenging enough...

What good things did I learn this month?  One good thing that I learned is that it is relatively easy to get back on track if the good habits in your life are fundamentally sound.  I was still eating very healthy meals thanks to the Nerd's cooking, and I never missed a workout, so once I cut out the snacking, it only took a solid week to get back on track.  I officially finished the month at 194.7 pounds, down 139.2 pounds overall, which is a tiny 1.7 pound loss in August (but a loss nonetheless, so I'll take it). 

Even though the scale was not kind to me this month, I still managed to lose more than an inch off my body (which is the whole point of measuring).  I suspect that I am nearing the end of my physical changes, so from now on in I am expecting to see my losses of inches to taper off somewhat.  I will probably lose fractional inches off various pieces of me as the year winds down, but it is unlikely that I will see another 3" loss in any given month.

This puts me into a size 12 dress depending on the style.  I got a new dress to celebrate, and have gotten a ton of compliments on it.  Photos will follow once I take them.

So how am I progressing, shape-wise?

In a fun NSV I have had to order some new workout gear, because the Old Navy XL stuff I have been wearing since February is starting to get a little too baggy. 

Let's compare to 6 months ago:

I am definitely seeing more definition in my stomach and arms, and my hips, stomach and bust are noticeably smaller compared to 6 months ago. 

My official photo for the office website is also much better:
So progress all around, despite having a somewhat trying month.  I learned that I cannot expect to lose weight if I indulge in unrestrained snacking, and although I still have to fight the food cravings every day, I know that this week will be easier than last week, with a week of healthy eating under my belt. 

It's funny that when I start to eat a lot of chocolate, I just want to keep eating it.  Whereas when I haven't had chocolate in a while, I no longer crave it.  I know that learned scientists have done studies on this, but it's interesting to see it happening to me. 

Even with a tough month I am marginally closer to my goals:

Less than 10 pounds to go to hit middleweight.  I may not do it this month, but I know I can hit it.  And I am now less than 30 pounds away from my overall target, and just over 25 pounds away from having a normal BMI for the first time in more than a decade. 

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Off the reservation ... but coming back

The real truth about trying to lose weight is that it is what goes into your mouth that drives your results.  You can exercise all you want, but if you go crazy with food, there is not enough exercise in the world to overcome all those calories. 

Confession time.  This past week has been a bad one for snacking and for dining out or in with family and friends - lots of snacks, and lots of bigger than normal meals with wine.  The only saving grace is that I have still worked out on plan, so my "consecutive weeks worked out" streak remains intact - now up to 65 weeks and counting.  The bad side is that I have really let my eating, especially my late night snacking, go completely out of control. 

It's time to take things back in hand.  I am doing a few things this week to shake things up and break out of this negative spiral. 

First, I have stopped weighing myself every day.  Even though I only recorded my weight once a week, I was getting completely obsessed with the numbers on the scale, and when they did not decrease, I would get frustrated and binge out on chocolate.  I know, this is not exactly productive behaviour, but what can you do - - they call it "emotional eating", not "rational eating" for a reason.

I am not sure what my new weigh-in intervals will be, but I don't plan to step on the scale until the end of the month just to get a baseline, and then perhaps not until the following month-end.  We'll see if I can resist the temptation to weigh-in.  I have noticed a real tendency for my moods to follow the scale - - when I gain, for whatever reason, I feel depressed, and when I lose, I feel energized and unstoppable.  Those mood swings are taking over my days, and I need to break out of them.

I have not weighed myself for more than a week, and it's actually kind of liberating.  I did hop on the scale for a directional read this morning to see how much work I need to do to get down to my lowest weight - - a lot - - but I was expecting a bump yesterday after a gourmet dinner out at North 44 restaurant with the family last night.    

Second, the incremental chocolate dish on my desk has been banished.  I could not resist the lure of those bite sized chocolates, and they were killers to my carefully planned out days - - especially on days when the aforementioned scale is being uncooperative.  The chocolates ran out on Friday afternoon, and they are not getting replaced any time soon.  This will help me cut out the illicit snacking that has been my achilles heel the past few weeks. 

Third, I have completely changed up my free weight routine.  I have been doing the same free weight routine virtually unchanged since October, and it's time to mix things up and give my muscles a bit of a challenge.

This morning was the first morning of the new routine, and it was a killer.  Very challenging, which is good.  And yes, the new routine includes planks, as promised, which lead to all sorts of creative swearing on the part of yours truly.  I can still only do 5 planks of 30 seconds each - - barely! - - but hope that over time as I continue to work on my core I will be able to do more.

Fourth, it's time to step up the elliptical again.  I took the cross-ramp up to 8 a couple of weeks ago, so today was the time to take the tension up to 8, from 7.  It felt challenging, but good.  I felt great after finishing my workout, and I certainly had a good sweat this morning.  I released all the glows today. I may have actually experienced an endorphin. 

Finally, I need to re-integrate rest days into my program.  I had been good about taking rest days for a while there, but I let my obsession with the scale push me into working out without taking rest days for a few weeks.  One of the symptoms of overtraining is depression, which just leads to binge eating for me.  Another symptom of overtraining is lack of progress.  Just what one wants to see after pushing it as hard as I have been doing.  I know that I have a tendency to overdo things, and failing to take rest days is just one part of that.

So, this week I shake myself, dust myself off, and get back on plan.  The workout plan is on track, and has never fallen off track, so now it is time to get the eating under control.  Today was Day 1 - on track.  Tomorrow I will work on stacking another good day on top of Day 1.  Put enough good days together, and this week will take care of itself. 

Friday, 23 August 2013

Planks. Invented by the Devil.

... because clearly, Satan has a great core. 

This week I tried planks for the first time as part of a challenge.  The challenge required that we do 3 planks of 30 seconds each.  "How hard can that be?" I thought.  That was clearly the voice of someone who had never performed a plank in her life.  Only a complete plank-virgin would think those things would be easy. 

Photo courtesy Suanie, CC-BY-NC-SA
The Nerd came rushing downstairs in alarm as I was halfway through my second plank - - apparently I had developed this strange porpoising type of breathing with dramatic exhalations at intervals that sounded very unsettling.  Kind of like Cheyne-Stokes breathing, actually.  The type of breathing people do right before they expire, in other words.  I wasn't even aware that I was doing it. 

After successfully completing the set of 3 planks (only one of which may have had proper form), I felt it all through my core.  I even felt slightly nauseous, actually, and I think it was due to the fact that my core muscles were not used to being the focus of my attention like that.  I guess my core is an introvert.

It was grueling.  It was awful.  And I immediately decided to add planks to my workout routine.  Now on my weights days I will add 5 x 30 second planks to the list, because anything this difficult to do must be good for me.  Yes, yes, it's the Rollins philosophy, I know, but it's true.  If you don't push yourself, how do you know how far you can go?  In my case, for now, it's 30 seconds.  Who knows where I will be a month from now.

I am assured that with practice, over time I will be able to hold a plank for more than the 30 seconds.  The helpful fellow with the YouTube video who demonstrated the exercise for me informed me - - in a perfectly conversational tone, while planking (!) - - that I could even hold a plank for 3 or 4 minutes at a time, if I wanted to.  I frankly cannot imagine such a day ever dawning, but why not?  I never thought I would be able to survive on the elliptical for more than 15 minutes either, and now I can do almost 2 hours, with the right book to take my mind off the passage of time. 

Wikipedia tells me that the world record for holding a plank is 3 hours, 7 minutes and 15 seconds.  Let's just say that this record is in no danger of being broken by me anytime soon.  Or ever. 

Next week I am going to change up my free weight routine, but the planks are staying. 

Friday, 16 August 2013

I signed up for my first 5K this week...

This week one of my co-workers posted an invitation for people in the firm to join the company team for the Run for the Cure, a race to raise funds to combat breast cancer. 

Most years I would receive this invitation and I would politely decline, but I would sponsor my friends on the team with donations.  It's always easier to pay someone else to do something than to do it yourself, after all.  Pay someone to run for me?  Perfect!

And let's face it - - most years I would not have been able to participate even if I had wanted to - - my body could not handle walking 50 metres, let alone 5,000 metres.  My office is about 550 metres from my apartment (3 short city blocks), and at my heaviest I could not walk that distance without stopping at least once to stretch out my back.  My back muscles would seize up before I had even gone a block, causing me to limp and one of my legs to drag.  Attractive, I know.

But that was before I began working out.  It has been a long time now that I have been able to handle the walk to work with ease, and walking is now part of my regular routine.  I assume that I can walk places, and so I do.  Go to the mall?  No problem.  It's faster, cheaper, and less hassle to walk (as compared to taking the subway one or two stops).  I love the fact that I no longer do frantic calculations in my head to figure out what is the closest I can take transit or a car to a particular place - - if it's nearby, I'll just walk.  No math required.

As for longer distances, I vividly recall planning for a 1.7 km walk from a restaurant to a friend's house last August.  I was easily able to handle the walk, but it was my first significant walk of any measurable distance, and I had been worried that I would not be able to keep up with the others who were walking with us.  I had to talk myself into going, and reassuring myself by telling myself that I could easily handle 550 metres, so I could certainly handle 1,700 metres.  As it happened, not only was I able to keep up, I was not the slowest, which was eye opening for me. 

From that time I have walked increasing distances, to the point where the Nerd and I have repeatedly done 6 mile walks around town.  5 km no longer scares me - - I look at it as a fun challenge.  Walk for an hour?  No problem! 

So this invitation to participate on the firm team for the Run to end Breast Cancer came at an opportune time.  I am fitter than I have been in more than a decade, I am not embarrassed to be seen out in the streets wearing my workout gear (thank you Old Navy Compression leggings!), and I even own a pair of proper running shoes for the first time in my life. 

The walk route is very pretty, too, which is a bonus.  It starts right around the legislature buildings, south around Queens Park, then back up past the University of Toronto campus which has some beautiful old buildings, then up to Bloor Street and across to St. George and down to College Street to Kings College Circle.  Interesting trivia, the course takes me past my law school, my MBA school, and Convocation Hall, where I attended the convocations for each of my graduate degrees. 

The only real question is whether I will walk the course, or whether I will run it.  I can already walk it comfortably, so no incremental training is required.  I have never run as an adult, though, so if I want to run the course I should probably do a C25K program.  I have heard so many people rave about running, but I also have the world's most terrible knees, and I have real concerns about their ability to handle the pounding of running to any significant extent.  After all, most people my age are winding down their running careers because their knees are shot - - it's hardly the time to pick up running. 

But I really want to run the course.  The main reason is that I get done faster, and to my mind, 30 minutes of exercise is better than 60 minutes, any day.  Yes, I am exactly that lazy (!)  Maybe it will be OK to do one little 5K.  I'm sure my knees could handle that, decrepit though they are. 

The other reason I want to run the course is that my friends who will be on the same team will mostly be running, and I want to keep up with them.  If I walk, I will be walking alone (yes, alone with thousands of other Torontonians), which strikes me as less fun somehow. 

I don't know which way I am going to jump yet, but I am registered, so there's no turning back now.  Wish me luck!  (well, wish me luck eventually, because the race is not until the week before Canadian Thanksgiving)

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

My aging rock icon and his views on working out

Photo by: http://www.slidebite.com/Maura Lanahan
Henry Rollins describes himself in his spoken word performances as an "aging rock icon".  I describe him as my "rock star boyfriend" (even though he is no longer a rock star and he is in no way my boyfriend).  The Nerd understands, and approves.  Hank is no threat to the Nerd. 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mr. Rollins, he was a singer with Black Flag, and then with the Rollins Band.  He is also a gifted writer, speaker, radio host, and humanitarian.  Back in 2003 he began touring with the USO and visiting military hospitals to cheer injured - sometimes heartbreakingly injured - veterans.  His stories about some of his visits to hospitals are some of the most moving stories of the human spirit I have ever heard.  Many of Rollins' spoken word performances are available on CD or streaming on the internet.  If you haven't heard Rollins perform, I commend him to you. 

I became exposed to Henry Rollins through the Nerd, who took me to one of Rollins' spoken word shows at Convocation Hall.  Rollins came on stage in a black t-shirt and grey slacks, took a sip of water, wrapped the mic cord around his hand a few times, and he was off.  He didn't stop speaking for more than an hour or so, and I was captivated, on the edge of my seat for the entire time.  Rollins was high energy, well spoken, extremely well read and informed, and his charisma - - well, he did not inherit the "rock star boyfriend" label from nowhere, I tell you what.

I have since seen several of Rollins shows (the most memorable being the one with the Nerd and his mother at Ohio State University), and although Rollins' stories vary, the messages are usually the same.  Be interested in the world.  Be a better person.  Help people.  Be informed.  Be passionate.  Don't take yourself so seriously.  Don't be a dick. 

One of his stories that really resonated with me years ago was his story about The Iron.  I will not do it justice with my paraphrasing, trust me, so you should read it yourself at <www.oldtimestrongman.com/strength-articles/iron-henry-rollins>.  Go read it now.  I'll wait.

The Iron is Rollins' story of how he first began working out, under the not-so-gentle tutelage of his advisor, Mr. Pepperman.  Mr. Pepperman told Rollins to buy weights and what to do with them.  Rollins was to work out with his weight and get stronger, and occasionally Mr. Pepperman would punch Rollins in the solar plexus, just to see how he was progressing: "When I could take the punch we would know that we were getting somewhere."

The long and the short of it is that Rollins eventually shrugged off a punch with a laugh, and along the way learned many valuable lessons about himself, and about perseverance, and about weight lifting.  As Rollins says, much more eloquently than I: "It wasn't until my late twenties that I learned that by working out I had given myself a great gift. I learned that nothing good comes without work and a certain amount of pain. When I finish a set that leaves me shaking, I know more about myself. When something gets bad, I know it can't be as bad as that workout."

In a nutshell, everything worth doing comes with a certain amount of suffering.  It takes work.  You're not going to want to do it at times.  But you should - - it will center you and keep you grounded.  And strength leads to confidence which leads to the strength to do wonderful things - - for yourself, and for other people.

I try to live up to Rollins' message.   I push myself to be stronger, to be more disciplined, to be a better person.  I try and push myself to do more each week.  When I feel like staying in bed and skipping a workout (like this morning), I think about Rollins and how he would kick my ass for even entertaining the thought of missing a workout.  There is, after all, no growth through comfort: "When the Iron doesn't want to come off the mat, it's the kindest thing it can do for you. If it flew up and went through the ceiling, it wouldn't teach you anything."  I want to be taught.  I want to learn.  I want to grow, and to be strong.

"Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds."  Ain't that the truth.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Workout week 80 = 138.5 pounds down [with photos]

This week was a good week. 

I tried yoga for the first time and although I am, as it turns out, about as flexible as a piece of rebar, I really enjoy trying to do the different poses.  It makes me feel all girly and stuff.  Eventually, I hope that the yoga will help me improve my balance and flexibility, even though right now I'm mostly just a lurching fool.  And this lurchiosity, my friends, is why I do my yoga at home, without witnesses.

As for the weight loss, I was right on track this week, losing 1.5 pounds to bring me to a total of 138.5 pounds lost overall.  That's 41.5% of my original body weight lost, or 82% of my total weight loss objective.

Depending on the tool used to calculate these things, I am on track to hit my weight loss goal in early December 2013 or January 2014.  The last couple of weeks of slightly slower weight loss have pushed the goal date out slightly, but I am still trending exactly where I need to be for when I need to get there. 

Last week I upped my free weights to 12 pounds, and this week I added the yoga 3 times a week.  It finally feels like I am getting back into my routine after all the disruption with my vacation.  It feels nice to be back into my routine, too.  I like the predictability of my workouts.

My fasting blood sugars have gotten back to normal, as well.  Last week I had a couple of slightly high readings, which was disappointing considering how normal my numbers had been for so long.  How soon we forget!  It wasn't all that long ago when I would have been thrilled to string along 5 normal numbers, and now to have one high reading puts me into a bad mood. 

We looked at what was causing the elevated results, and it looks like eating dinner too late in the evening is the culprit.  Both times that I had elevated blood sugars occurred the morning after we ate dinner around 9:30 - 10:00 pm.  That appears to be too late.  Now we try and eat earlier, and at the worst, no later than 8:30 pm.  So far, this slight adjustment to my routine appears to be working, and I haven't had an elevated reading since putting this plan into place.

Last week I officially broke into size 14 (according to my end of the month measurements), and in honour of that momentous occasion I am wearing a pair of Gap Classic blue jeans, size 14.  I tried to find the jeans on Gap's website so that I could post a photo, but this style is not on the website.  Considering that these jeans came out of my clothing archive and are at least 13 years old, this is perhaps not surprising.  Oh well.  You will have to trust me that they are hugging every curve.  But they fit fine - - no muffin top!

This week I had my photo taken for the firm's website.  As you may recall, in 2011 I had the sad, puffy photo taken (months before I started working out), and ever since then if you google me you will see this bloated, depressing picture staring back at you:

I look tired and sad and defeated.  138.5 pounds later, you get this:

Same basic pose, same necklace, only now I have a neck (!) and only 1 chin and my necklace hangs lower.  I don't see the progress I make from day to day, but holy cow can I see a difference between these two photos.  I am not sure if I will chose this picture for the website, but at least whatever goes up there will be more representative of what I currently look like.   After all, one always wants one's exes to look at one's photo and say "damn, how could I let her get away", rather than "whew!  Dodged a bullet there!". 

This week's loss puts me well on track to hit my goals by the end of the year or so.  I am only 10 pounds away from Middleweight, and 30.4 pounds away from my overall goal. 

30.4 pounds - - that's like the weight of 3.6 gallons of water.  I can totally reach that.  I just need to keep walking, keep ellipticalizing, keep eating sensibly and keep working on managing my calories.  My calorie goal is down to 1,400 per day which is a challenge on rest days.  However I know I have meals that will get me there, so that's no excuse.  Onward and downward!