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!