Wednesday, May 23, 2012
That's right. I've been lifting weights now for 5 weeks. In a perfect week I get in 3 sessions, two of them about an hour long and one leisurely Saturday session where I can take as long as I like, working every muscle group. That day, plus two other days during the week I get in some long cardio exercise. Of course, not every week is perfect, but I know what an optimal week for me looks like. I also know this is not a static thing. A month from now - a couple of months - that 'perfect' week will look some different. I will get stronger. I may get bitten by the Zumba bug or perhaps I'll fall in love with a boot camp class. I will get smaller. I will hit my goal weight. Good health, in spite of looking like a Place to Get To is actually a long ride down a dynamic flowing river. Every day some new outside influence will prod me along and while some of those nudges might be Not So Great, many - nay - most of them are fun and interesting and all of them offer me the chance to learn something new.
While I'm really happy to be where I am, I look forward to where I will be - tomorrow - next week - next month. But at this half way point of this particular stretch of TheRiverMe - it's interesting to stop and assess. I call this a half way point because I paid for 10 weekly sessions with the personal trainer. I will probably buy 10 more sessions when week 10 rolls around, but I'll have to stretch those out to every other week or even every 3rd week. The budget won't stretch to buy them every other month, but I believe I'll have enough form and skill to continue on my own and I can check in with the trainer on a regular basis to check any bad habits I may have picked up and, more importantly, to push me harder.
So. Where am I right now? Here are some things I've noticed:
I have more stamina than when I started. I can get on the eliptical machine or a stationary bike, set at a medium-high resistance - and go 45-50 minutes. When I'm done, I'm breathing hard, but not so hard I can't talk and I always transition into a nice long cool down - which is not included in the 45-50 minutes. This is up from 15 minutes in January at a much lower level of resistance.
I have fabulous balance now - Love that!
I can squat and stand again like I did 10 years ago. Putting away books is not a big part of my job at work but I always like to be able to help little library users find cool stuff - and I can get down on the floor to search those easy book shelves and pop back up with ease, while still carrying on a conversation. And without groaning. This is not just stronger thighs, but a stronger back as well!
I have way more nights when I drop off to sleep and wake up hopping out of bed like Jack Rabbit. Long, steady, nourishing nights of sound sleep.
On my Sunday day off from exercising, when Himself says "Let's walk over to White Oak Swamp" (5 miles round trip) I always feel like joining him. No more "I'm tired" responses. Sweet. and yes - 5 miles of walking is the day off - we stroll.
My appetite has been all over the place - with a corresponding fluctuation in weight. I'm hungry for more juicy wet stuff, like watermelon or grapes, but also more protein. I believe some of the weight gain has been stressed muscles filling with fluids. This gyration in my weight has not been frightening - it's circled around about 2 lbs. But it's made me more conscious of the actual nutrition of what I am eating - so much so that I've adopted, for this week at least, my old mantra of
Eat when your hungry /
Eat what you want /
Savor every bite /
Stop when you're full.
Yes. I know. I should be doing this all the time but it is NOT the natural behavior of my past so to do this I really have to concentrate on it. It's okay. I like concentrating on different things at different times. I'll still journal everything I eat - but I plan to add this little extra attention to it.
I've saved the best for last though. On Sunday I began to wonder if my clothes really have begun to fit better or if they're getting old and stretching out. Never mind that a good number of them are new this year. The secret fear is always lurking. I haven't measured myself in a long time - in fact, not in 2 years. I pulled out the tape measure and wrapped it around me - and what do you know - my waist is down an inch and my bust (which includes the dreaded back fat) is 2 inches smaller. Oddly enough, my hips are an inch bigger - but I've always been a top heavy sort of person so those upper measurements are the exciting bonus of weeks of effort.
And that is where I am, 5 weeks into strength training. Who knew it would show results so quickly? What a nice reward.
Oh - and for the curious - I bought the size Medium dress. It's a goal to strive towards.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
I love a horoscope the same way I love a fortune cookie. If there is some subliminal surrendering to their promise, I suspect it does no harm. They are a type of play for me. So I had a good laugh when today Mr.Horoscope wrote this:
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 -- You may think that sharing your plans for the future with a close friend or lover is a smart idea today. However, you could lose precious time explaining your thoughts instead of just putting them into action. Preparation time is over; express yourself by working toward your long-range goals now rather than dispersing your energy by talking about them.
Hmmm. But Mr. Horoscope! Don't you realize that I like to blog here on Wednesdays?
Rest assured, I intend to walk the walk at 8:30 with free weights and balance exercises, but I want to talk about it here. Because I am slowly metamorphosing and it's an utterly fascinating experience - and when I get a chance to talk all about me, I can't resist!
I originally started this period of effort and change with the idea of strengthening my back and my belly muscles. After a bad fall and subsequent poorly treated injury some years ago, crunches and sit-ups were out of the question and those muscles grew weaker and weaker - which only made the pain grow stronger and stronger. From time to time I've tried to strengthen up my core by swimming and yoga and some mat work but evidently the healing had not progressed far enough and the body just wasn't ready yet.
This winter things felt different and with the help of the personal trainer at the gym (I think of him as WtPT) I spent 2 months strengthening that part of my body. Of course, nothing makes you feel better like feeling better, right? And as I gained strength, ambition stepped up to the plate dragging desire along with it. Now I wanted my shoulders and arms to be stronger too.
I plunked down the $ for private lessons.
It's been 3 weeks now and what am I seeing?
The first thing I noticed was better balance. No duh - because WtPT insists I do at least some of my exercises on balance pillows. I heart heart heart these things! I do squats on them and lateral raises and sometimes just stand on them one leg at a time. The reward? Think of it - I can even wear high heels - much less hop up on ladders and walk on uneven surfaces more safely! What a gift!
Then came the thrill when I pulled this tiny shirt out of the ironing basket and tried it on - and it fit! Mind now, I haven't lost an ounce in several weeks (more about that in a bit) but the shirt buttoned right up. It was in the stupid basket because I couldn't wear it yet - still a bit too tight.
Wow! that was exciting. (I know. I am easy to please)
And then there was Monday when I was working those shoulders and arms and suddenly I saw ...just the faintest shadow - but yes! There it was! Muscle!!
Well. What a treat.
It's all very exciting but also strange. For example - I have a very different appetite now and I have to learn how to satisfy it while not overeating . Not to worry, though, I'm sure it will be fun to learn how to do that. And new desires are probing into my consciousness. Nothing has solidified - but I feel like I might want to actually set goals beyond vague "have a stronger back" desires.
Well - it is early days still - but this is a fun time and I had to talk about it - just rest assured - I'm walkin' the walk even as I talk the talk. And you can be sure I'll share with you as I go along.
btw - here's what those balance pads look like: www.isokineticsinc.com/product/ac35b
Happy Hump day to you all
Thursday, April 26, 2012
That's what my arms feel like today - after an hour of almost non-stop exercise yesterday - with much of it focusing on my triceps and pectorals. It has been a very long time since I worked out with a personal trainer. 9 years in fact. I was younger then, I didn't have a serious injury to deal with, I weighed a good 12 lbs less. And important - it was a different trainer - very good - just different.
What has stayed the same is how much I really love both weight training and working with a personal trainer. I absolutely love how hard I will try when there's a coach urging me on. There's a mental meld that happens when someone is as focused on me - if only for an hour - as I am on myself. And I am just egotistical enough to absolutely love it!
It's no surprise that our upper body is the weakest part of our anatomy. Most of us walk to get around so our legs get some sort of workout just living. Arms, chest, back, shoulders ... well... not so much. I do a weekly story hour for about 20 toddlers and at the end I swoop each child up in the air. "Who wants a swoop?" I ask and even the hefty 4-year-olds line up. The have to help by jumping if they want to go high, but any child 5 and under will get a swoop on Wednesday morning. I laughingly call it my upper body work out and it's true - at the end of it I'm breathing hard.
All that swooping has helped me strengthen the inner tricep muscles ... but all the rest of my upper body is functioning below par. Or, rather, all the rest of my upper body is telling me how sore it feels today. Happily not in pain - just sore. Because yesterday the PT made me do things I would not have thought I could. Bench presses, flys, chest presses starting with 2 10 lb dumbbells ... mind you - I ALWAYS start with 3 pounders. It would never have occurred to me to try 2 10 lb weights. We scaled back with each exercise but wow! What a surprise.
I even did some punching and kicking - as stretch out exercises with a little bit of cardio thrown in.
I was so tired at the end of that hour all I wanted to do was go home and go to sleep - something that was not going to happen - it was story hour day - and public hearing night on the county budget. I was in town till 8:30! And how hungry I was! I had eaten a good protein rich breakfast and I had a banana after the workout - and drank nearly 3 quarts of water during the day - but it wasn't till I had a big watery salad full of ice berg lettuce and topped with big chunks of protein rich chicken that I started to wake up. The rest of the day I was turbo-charged but next week I'm going to have another wet juicy protein meal ready for me as soon as I leave the gym.
I remember the last time I was doing regular strength training and how powerful and energized I was. You'd wonder why I'd ever quit - and with some justification I can blame it on a serious injury that was not treated properly. It has taken me a long long time to be ready for this. I can't tell you how grateful I am to be ready again - because this feeling is so wonderful.
Cooked spaghetti? Bring it on!
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