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Thoughts after 5 weeks of strength training

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.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

OPAL50 5/23/2012 8:43PM


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2BE-MY-BEST 5/23/2012 8:35PM

    emoticon Your doing emoticon

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MSLZZY 5/23/2012 11:08AM

    emoticon emoticonYou are doing an
excellent job and making strides in the right direction!
I know how excited I was to shrink from size 16's to
size 6's and start wearing smaller clothes.
Congrats on the medium size dress. What a
great feeling of success! HUGS!

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AEBROWNSON 5/23/2012 10:31AM

    Glad you bought the medium!...just a little extra motivation!

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    emoticon emoticon Accomplishments!! emoticon emoticon

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Which White Dress?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I really need to stay out of clothing stores. The trouble is - I emoticon emoticon heart clothes. Yep. I am a clothes-A-holic. If I have extra cash I don't buy decorative objects for my house. I don't buy books (I borrow them from the library, of course!) I have been married for ahem-ty years and I've bought 3 pieces of furniture. But clothes - alas. They're a temptation I can only resist if I stay out of stores.

Fortunately, there are not too many stores where I live. My town is an hour's drive from a mall. It has one small southern department store, a Walmart and a Cato's - and believe me - I can usually find something to buy any time I pop into any of these stores. I don't have too many hard and fast rules for myself, but I try hard to only look in one store a month - which is tacit permission to purchase something once a month. This feels neither too harsh nor too indulgent.

The conundrum is this. I was in the store on Tuesday and there was the perfect white summer dress. Cotton, a soft knit bodice, a gauzy double layer fluff of a skirt that could be tied in different ways to make it either flouncy or long - and the size L was an absolute perfect fit. It was utterly completely adorably beachy cute.

And I am going to be going to the beach this summer.

And I don't have a 'thing' about the size on the tag.


I am really intending to be 12 lbs smaller and I have found that I'm at the point now where each 10 lbs means a different size.

I tried on the "M". Too small. But not so much too small that dropping that 12 lbs won't put me right into it.

And the store gets in only a little new merchandise each week and once it's sold it's gone for good.

So. Which dress should I buy? The one that looks fabulous on me now - but would not work 12 lbs later - so I can feel cute as a button, but only for a short time? Or the one that I could aspire to wearing and look cute as a button in ... Later On - but also for the rest of the summer.

Which one would you choose?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JLITT62 5/17/2012 4:49PM

    First of all, I've totally got you beat in the clothes, shoes & jewelry buying dept! It is the dark side of weight loss . . .

I'd buy the one that fits now. I've personally never found that smaller clothes actually = weight loss for me. Plus you should dress the body you have, not the one you're hoping to have.

You can always take it in if you do lose the weight!

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SPARKLINGME176 5/17/2012 1:39PM

    I have looked at your Spark Page, it seams (taylor joke, haha) that you ARE going to release the 12 #'s need to fit into the medium size. If I felt this is just a 'wish', then I would say the LG & take it in, when the time comes. That's what I do. I generally buy things, dresses especially, large. They are easy to alter @ the dry cleaners, if you don't sew. Also, if you do get the med. put it up where you can see it ALL the time, near your pantry, etc. Wherever your 'food' weakness spot is, works for me!

I am CRAZY about clothes, too! They are my 'reward' for releasing weight, I just released 14 #s.... I think it is time to go SHOPPING! One of my favorite places to go to our local Goodwill store. (there are 5 in town). This helps me keep the costs down, but my rule is I HAVE to donate something if I buy something! I ONLY buy things IF they are in PERFECT condition; I LOVE it; & it fits me perfectly the day I buy it!

My clothes are 10 #s= a size, too! I think it is true for most of us!

Have a fun summer! Looks like you will!

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MSLZZY 5/17/2012 12:37PM

    I'd buy the medium and move heaven and earth to fit
into it. You have the power within you to lose those
last pounds. emoticon emoticon

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ALYNNSELLNER 5/17/2012 11:54AM

    MEDIUM!You know that you're going to lose the weight and you can use it as you 'mini goal dress" I'd set a time frame that you want to lose the other 10-12lbs by and keep the dress hidden until you lose the weight and use the dress as your reward. To me, this is positive reiforcement to stick with your plan. Good luck with your decision!

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GOCELTICSGO 5/17/2012 11:27AM

    I am a clothes-a-holic, too!
I sometimes buy the same dress, pants, shirt - shows you how much I really really like it.
I don't have enough room in my closets. dressers, etc.
I am stacking now.
I need help!

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Walk the walk, but let me talk the talk

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:

Happy Hump day to you all

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Awesome blog - and congrats on the inches lost with all your hard work! I too am focusing more on ST now and wanting to re-shape my body and firm it up as I continue to strive toward my goal weight... I do believe it's all about how we feel though - and not always a number on a scale. You sound fabulous by the way - I can feel your energy through this blog!

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FAERY_FACE 5/14/2012 6:51AM

    I am so glad it's going well with you Bess. You deserve every change you see.

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OPAL50 5/9/2012 8:40PM

    Great blog...thanks for sharing the balance pads website. I've never heard of them.

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CELIAMINER 5/9/2012 10:13AM

    Great blog! I heart my ST. Ha, ha, I tried to use the pointy bracket-3 heart, and was told I had to remove profanity from my blog. Gotta love backwards software.

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CELIAMINER 5/9/2012 10:11AM

    Great blog! I heart my ST.

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JLITT62 5/9/2012 7:47AM

    Nothing will reshape your body like ST!

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MSLZZY 5/9/2012 7:19AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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12 for 12 - May is make someone happy month

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

So here it is a brand new month and this time, I want to concentrate on the people around me instead of always focusing on mememememe. There are some (mostly sisters) who will say that's all I ever think about. It's not true, but maybe it seems that way. I'm not really interested in changing other people, but that's not to say I'm not interested in them. I just think there's room for lots of ways to go about things and your way is probably as good as mine. Still - I'd like to be sure I'm not so busy working on my issues that I don't actually let people know I'm interested in them too. So this month I plan to add complimenting others to my days .

Originally I was just going to do this with my staff. I really like the people who work for me - and they deserve to know it. Also - in order to compliment someone you have to look at what they're doing - and when you do you often notice strengths they have that could be used in other areas of the workplace. People get tired of doing the same thing all the time but they always love being asked to do what they do well. I need to take advantage of these strengths to enliven their day while also enriching the workplace!

But there's no reason I can't do this with friends and family too. So the little tweak I'm giving my May 12 in 12 will be to compliment someone every day.

As for how I'm doing with the other new habits - well - I am not yet a Heidi Klum look-a-like - but I am still down at the lowest weight I've been in a long time and that's 10 lbs lower than when I joined Spark People. I have tracked almost every day since January 1. I have probably not been as good at drinking enough water, there are days I don't get to the gym, but I'm stronger, steadier and fitter than I was 4 months ago. Prayer has helped me over a lot of tough patches this year and I'm exploring new avenues to fulfill my spiritual hunger. So - I am making progress - and for a classic ENFP, that's all I really wanted anyway.

Weight stayed the same today - I did weigh in though I dreaded to - and since I'm still dancing around the same pound and a half - I would say that part is still a wash. What is good is that I ponied up to the scale and acted like a big girl.

So - Happy Hump Day Eve to you all. Time to go out and compliment somebody.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 5/1/2012 10:37PM

    Postivie energy and attitude! Great new goal to add and you
will see so much more when you focus on the strengths of
others. Everyone loves a compliment ~"You are such a
sweetheart" and I know you will do just fine. HUGS!

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NAN041 5/1/2012 8:43PM

    That would be a good challenge for May..

I will start my compliment with you Bess,

for getting us started, Nan

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OPAL50 5/1/2012 7:07PM

    I like this idea. I am going to join you in your endeavor to compliment at least one person each day. emoticon

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Cooked Spaghetti

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!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

3016DEBRA 4/26/2012 12:48PM

  I've always thought a PT might be intimidating, but maybe I've viewed it in the wrong perspective. Congrats on your progress!!! emoticon emoticon

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AEBROWNSON 4/26/2012 10:37AM

    That's just great! Maybe a personal trainer would give me a jumpstart after I finish physical therapy for the hamstring.

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JLITT62 4/26/2012 9:43AM

    The right PT is a joy, even if they can be a PITA.

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MSLZZY 4/26/2012 9:38AM

    Fantastic! With someone to get you motivated and
moving, you are doing great! HUGS!

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