Saturday, January 16, 2010
In my last blog, I whined about having indulged in a Big Crunch sandwich at KFC.
The Penguin asked: "Doesn't exercise do more for you than just increase calories burned? Isn't there some inherent worth to a stronger body, better cardiorespiratory condition, and clearer mental capacity? Hm?"
It made me stop and think. Really. Because, you know what? I *don't* exercise so that I can pig out. Well, not entirely!
I exercise because I love to exercise. Both weights and cardio. Working out makes me feel fabulous - whether or not I break a sweat (I *always* break a sweat when doing strength training, and I can feel my heart pumping madly away to keep up!) Working out also makes me stronger, healthier, and makes each and every day go heaps better than it would've if I was dragging from lack of exercise.
So, Penguin, No, I don't think the junk food I eat negates the healthy exercise - but I DO feel that making poor eating choices several times each week isn't exactly the healthy role model I'm trying to set myself! :)
You see, I seem to have this notion that if I eat healthy for a whole week or two, then it'll become a habit. And it mostly works. Mostly, in the sense that I usually make the healthy choices in terms of at least ordering a veggie to go with the entree if I'm dining out, avoiding the fish'n'chips even though I love it (I go for my other favourite, blackened fish, instead), and so on.
When I'm on a fast-food roll, though? That's when I'll be walking through the food court trying to figure out what *else* I can chow down upon. :) Fortunately, the only thing that's appealing to me right now are the meatball sub at Subway and the Big Crunch at KFC. The Big Crunch is *not* healthy except that it's a real chicken breast (we won't talk about intensive poultry farming here, okay?). The meatball sub is probably less healthy - and yet, I load it up with veggies, and it's got all that lovely lycopene from the cooked tomato sauce, so it's not dreadful.
So, why, then do I feel the need to "confess" to the KFC? I think it's mostly tne fact that I didn't stick to plan that day. I was planning a healthy dinner, but got side tracked when I thought of KFC, and instead of sitting still and asking myself if I really, really wanted it, I just "went for it" like it was going to go out of style.
The other reason ... I knew what would happen the next day. Yep. I was back at the mall with time to kill before my bus. And my brain immediately reminded me that a Big Crunch sandwich was within reach. Fortunately, I had another errand to run - dealing with an unexpectedly large cellphone bill - which took a good 30 minutes to handle. By which time, there were only ten minutes to go before the bus pulled in, and I knew I'd be home in less than 45 minutes, soooooo ... it just wasn't as tempting at that point.
So I guess the point I'm trying to make is that I'm not an emotional eater so much as I am an opportunistic eater. It's like my brain scopes out what instant gratification is available in the neighbourhood and focuses on that.
I think I'd like to retrain my brain to look for the possibilities for FUN instead. That would mean more activity, more entertainment, and simply more fun!
So, Penguin, thanks for making me think about it ... now I think I know how I can handle the inevitable-for-me snack attacks in a healthier way. It may not work 100% of the time, but it should work at least 50% - and that is definitely a good start.
In other news, I'd intended to start a 5-day split routine in January. Hadn't managed to do it in the first ten days of January, so I was going to give it the old college try this week.
Monday was easy - that was my last blog. I woke up early, caught the very first bus from here to the subway, had loads of time to do a really good workout.
Tuesday was almost as great - I caught the second bus. I'd woken up in the middle of the night to blog about Monday - not so smart, I was tired, and my chest workout definitely suffered.
Wednesday, second bus to town and a nice, easy, arms day.
Thursday was the toughie. We'd had an overnight product deployment, which had involved being up from 2 to 4. Of course, since I'm a morning person anyway, I just went to bed as usual and woke up at 2, did my thing and went back to sleep. Woke up a bit on the tired side. Still, decided to give it my best shot - got in another great legs-and-back workout!
Friday was chest and arms - and again, the barbell benches were occupied, so I started with the incline bench press, which totally exhausted me so that I wasn't able to do a good regular bench press after! But I got in a great biceps, triceps and shoulder workout after that, so it's all good.
I'd expected it to be tough, for me to be resisting hitting the weights every day. Instead, by Wednesday, I found I was already "in a routine", so it wasn't even something I had to think about - just get up, brush my teeth, get ready, walk to the bus, get to the gym. Once at the gym, the energy and focus I see in there just revs me up and I'm all excited to be working out, too!
The best part is that, after a good strength workout, I'm all hyper and ready for my 3-mile walk to work as a cooldown! So I've got in 15 miles this week, just because I hit the gym first thing in the morning.
It's all good.
Hmm. I thought I was awake, but something tells me I want more sleep. So I'm off ... a few more winks before I start the day!
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
I started my nice little 5-day routine yesterday. Decided to make a *little* extra effort - woke up at 4:30 so I could catch the 5:50 bus. Caught it in PLENTY of time, found that the streets were completely empty, so the bus got to the train quicker. The train was empty, so I got to the gym quicker.
And, best of all, the GYM was empty, too, so I got to do my strength session with zero waiting around! Woohoooo! I love that kind of day.
Did an intense session because it was legs day and my legs are the strongest part of me.
Barbell squats starting at 65 pounds, ending at 105 for the final set.
Working in alternate sets with the barbell squats, I did barbell lunges: starting with 65 and dropping to 45 pounds for the final, longest set.
Dumbell squats with overhead presses. The 5 pounders and the 10 pounders were both easy, but my brain had obviously decided it was hard work to do the 15 pounders - I noticed my form deteriorating rapidly over the final few reps.
And I finished off the leg work with calf raises. 3 sets. Starting at 95 pounds, ending at 175 pounds. Woohooo! (I have a personal goal - to get to 215 pounds before the end of February. That's looking very doable!)
Cooled down with some good slow stretches for my legs, then decided I had enough time to throw in some core work. So I stretched my way through 2 modified planks (PHEW - those are tough, I didn't even last 30 seconds on the second one!), swimming, and then threw in 100 crunches just for fun and to see if I could do it. I CAN do it, but I have to admit, I find crunches boring. Next time I'll go back to my old routine of mixed-up crunches, throw in some bicycle crunches and some reverse crunches and elbow-to-knee ones, too. Keep it fun and still get in the 100+.
Today is back day. I'll have to look up some new exercises - my usual 3 exercises (lat pull downs, seated rows and back hyperextensions) don't really challenge me any more and I'm in danger of sleepwalking through the exercise. :)
That half-hour earlier start also meant that I got to walk to work without stressing about showing up at 10 a.m - I got in just after 9. AND I was able to leave work at 5:30 which was a lot closer to my "ideal" time of 5 ... I've been heading out after 6 most days, which makes me have to rush to catch the last bus home at 7:30 (relying on public transit does make for a long day!)
Sadly, after all that, I went and had a Big Crunch sandwich at KFC for dinner - I'd been feeling REALLY hungry all day (and had been eating PLENTY), but I really, really wanted KFC. It was delicious, but obviously kinda negated the whole exercise thing!
Heh. I could put the positive spin on it - I'm GLAD I did that intense workout first thing in the morning - it burned off a tiny bit of the excess. :)
Today, will hopefully be a good day for eating. I've got breakfast, lunch, AND snacks planned. I'm going to have to play with portion sizing and calorie dense foods - I'm getting way too hungry after the weights sessions.
But practice makes perfect they say. I've *just* started getting back into weights at this intensity, and I accept that there will have to be an adjustment period while my body figures out just exactly what it needs to be able to last out the days after a good workout. I just have to be aware of what those choices are - good thing I'm pretty diligent about using that nutrition tracker. :)
Have a great day, everyone. I need to go back and catch up on the second half of my sleep! :)
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Yeah. That's what my gym's been looking like this past week. but about double the number of people at any given time. Having NOT been to the gym the past 3 weeks before the New Year, I was subconsciously noticing that it's BUSY. Busy at 7 in the morning! What gives?
I hadn't articulated the thought, it was just bugging me that all of last week, it was hard to get at the free weights, and I'd noticed out of my peripheral vision that the cardio machines were looking pretty full, too - I don't do cardio AT the gym, so it doesn't bother me.
And then I read a friend's blog here on SP and the lightbulb went on - it's JANUARY! Yep. New Year's resolution time!
It always amuses me that I can be so dense and unobservant. Sheesh. You think I'd have noticed, given that I myself had also slacked off over the holidays! I think it's partly because I don't particularly celebrate anything - most days seem like most *other* days to me, and unless someone mentions something (or the sound systems around the entire city start play some specific kind of muzak), I don't usually clue in to what's going on in the larger context. Just notice how it affects *me*.
[Yeah, I get FULL points for self-centred. Especially at the gym. I rarely even notice what anyone else is doing - unless they're doing an exercise I want to incorporate and a trainer is giving them pointers. Then I *might* watch - but usually I'm too busy getting my *own* workout done and eager to head out the door for my walk after!]
So. It's that time of year again, huh? Time for resolutions. I really admire people who make resolutions every year. Whether or not those resolutions last the entire year, at least they DO take stock once a year and figure out what needs changing in their lives. I know some people make a plan and stick with it and see fabulous results, while others try it for a while and then find it's impacting too much on their other priorities. And I think either way is just fine.
I'm NOT much into discipline (anyone notice? go check out my Nutrition Tracker for an eye-opening glimpse of zero discipline), so I am of the "try it, try it, try it till you find something you ENJOY" school of thought. I know that exercise is painful or even just distasteful for some people, but for a lot of others, I think it's simply boring or routine. Which explains why they give up after a few attempts and no immediate results.
I do wish our gyms offered more variety. Yes, there's all sorts of cardio machines and free weights and weight machines and classes. You'd think that's enough for EVERYONE to find something they might enjoy. But honestly, it's NOT.
Here's what I would love to see, all in the SAME gym, on TOP of all the stuff that's standard today like the weights and the classes and the cardio machines:
- swimming pools and certified instructors. Not just for aquarobics, but also for plain old swimming, water polo, water volleyball and a bunch of other fun pastimes in the good old H20.
- exercise videos. Seriously. A LOT of people who may not enjoy doing group classes would probably enjoy doing a canned workout. I know you can get those videos from your local library, but that's pretty hit-and-miss. A gym, on the other hand, would know what's new, what's fun, what is getting the buzz. Plus, I would hope that a gym would have the necessary training background to offer a wide selection of *different* workout videos that target different kinds of people.
- a climbing wall and experienced instructors
- a dance studio
- martial arts!! self-defence classes, too!
- outdoor walking running, biking, hiking group sessions
- semi-private fitness areas where the shyer ones can retreat and do their own thing
- more SPACE. Seriously. Sometimes I can't help wondering about the complete lack of personal space. Call me weird, but I *like* being able to lift a heavy barbell and not having to worry that if I have to drop it quick, I'll take out someone's toes!
- more. Just more of *everything*. Especially in January. :)
Sigh. Yes. I know. I'm asking for utopia here. Almost everything I've mentioned can be found in specialty gyms. And what the generic gym offers *is* enough for most people.
But is it?
If so, wouldn't more people just STICK with it? :)
Okay, maybe not. Exercise is difficult for most people, especially when they are just beginning. I just wish we had more ways to keep people interested and coming back because it's FUN rather than because it's yet another chore they have to cross off their list.
Moi? I'd rather go sky diving. :)
Saturday, January 09, 2010
That seems to be becoming a pattern. One that I don't really like, but am too soft in the head to control. :)
Yesterday morning I headed in to the gym, SURE I was going to have a fabulous workout. Guess what? I *did*. I did free weights (the only reason I go to the gym at all is for the weights - and some day, when I've got the time to do a bit of waxing, to hit the swimming pool!) today as usual.
A full body workout. Barbell squats (topped out at 105, YAY!), barbell lunges (first time, so only went up to 55 pounds on this one) and standing calf raises (topping out at 135 pounds, woohooo!) for the legs. Lat pull-downs, seated rows and hyperextensions with a ten-pound plate for my back (strong back - LOVE that!). And finished up with barbell bench presses (hit 45 pounds today - ten less than before the holidays, but it'll come back) and incline flyes for my chest.
I *know* it was a great workout because not only was I upping the weights or reps on every single exercise, I could also feel my heart rate picking WAY up, and I definitely sweated a ton. Phew! It was intense! Loved it! :)
It took me 45 minutes, though, with the new exercises I've added in to the routine, which means I had to hurry on the way to work (I prefer a slower walk!) and managed to finish the 2.8 miles in just about 45 minutes.
I think this means it's definitely time to move to a split routine - I'd been intending to do that, anyway, so this is good timing. Next week, then, will be the first of hopefully many, many months of 5-days-a-week strength training.
The split? Mon: Lower body. Tues: Chest and arms. Wed: Back and core. Thu: Legs and back. Fri: Chest and arms and core.
I want it to take no more than 30 minutes on a week day, so I have time to get to work on foot after the workout. And with this sort of split, that's very doable. PLUS, it gets me in the gym 5 days a week - which is GREAT! Now if I can just catch the slightly earlier bus, I may even have time for a swim *after* work a few times a week - right now it's touch and go whether I leave work in time to catch the last bus home if I insist on walking TO work in the morning! :) Oh, well, I'm sure I'll figure something out. Swimming is way too much fun to let that option languish for too long. :)
The challenge I'm having (have always had) is the eating. I've been eating for the past 3 months as if I'm still working long shifts in retail and bracketing those long shifts with a 2+ mile walk each way to the mall. That level of exercise is definitely a thing of the past - the desk job means that if it weren't for me being stubborn about walking to work and lifting weights, I'd be getting pretty much zero exercise (other than my ever so type-y fingers).
So I need to rework my eating. 3,000 calories a day was needed all of last summer, but right now? I'm finding that any day I stay in the 2000 to 2200 range, I lose a little weight. So I need to figure out how to consistently stay in the LOW 2,000s rather than hitting the high end or more.
Only thing is, my mouth doesn't do what the brain says is smart.
My mouth believes my eyes. And it believes the silly lizard part of my brain that says, "Ooooh. THAT looks good. And so does THAT! And hey, oooh, we haven't had THAT in a long time!"
Yep. Martha Beck totally nailed it [The Four Day Win]
It's like I'm afraid that in 5 minutes there will be no food left in the world. Even though, *intellectually*, I know there is no shortage of food or money to buy food with, my gut still wants to eat everything remotely interesting that it sees.
I'm going to have to NOT judge, but rather just nudge.
"Oooh. Yummy treats"
"Well, you know how that's gonna affect your waistline, right?"
"Oh, okay. But how about THIS one?"
"Umm, well, you *could*, but perhaps you want to wait just fifteen minutes and think it over? You just *had* lunch 10 minutes ago, so it's probably not real hunger."
And so it goes. I've *been* trying that the past couple of days. And had some success with it. I've successfully NOT gone into McDonald's all week, despite hitting the gym 3 times this week and walking past it pretty much every single morning (I have a weakness for the sausage-and-egg McMuffin thing, which doesn't even taste that good when I bite into it, but my brain has somehow wired it in as a feel-good treat!).
When I've gone out for lunch (except for ONE disastrous visit to an Indian take-away place - I didn't even *try* to resist!), I've stuck with bowls of delicious, hot soup. Sadly, it's the snacking *around* the meals that's not been so great. I've had tortilla chips (hey, they're whole grain!). I've had cheese-and-pineapple (delicious, though on the fattening side). I've, sadly, also had two Oh Henry bars ... that was something I'd not done all week, but work got crazy yesterday and I caved to the "usual". Sigh. :)
Dinner last night was Chinese take-out - another of my favourites. I took seconds - when I knew I was already full.
See the problem? I guess I AM on the see-food diet. :)
Gotta start "see"ing something else when I look at the food. I'm not big on discipline. I'd rather use temptation. I just have to figure out a temptation strong enough to overcome the foodie temptation.
I'm off to put on my thinking cap. There's got to be a smart solution. Mostly along the lines of "bring lunch AND healthy snacks and PLAN the day before I even get to work!" (Yeah, it's usually weekdays that are terrible for my eating smart plans! :P
I have to say, though, YAY, ME!!!! on the workouts! I'm loving them, and I love the feeling of strength when I'm done a great workout. And YAY, ME!!!! on the walking. It's COLD out. And I'm still walking. It's windy and icy and snowy. And I'm still walking. With a HUGE grin on my face, too. You oughta see some of the *looks* I get from people coming the other way (all of whom look like they think this is hell frozen over!)
Seriously, folks, it's a MILD winter in the great T.O. :) ONLY -15 this morning (-25 with windchill). That's 5 degrees fahrenheit and feels like -13 with the wind. Delightful weather ... a brisk walk warms you up, gets your face all fresh and chilled and your body just tingling with life. Just remember to slather on some vaseline before you do that - otherwise the exposed skin is gonna get all chapped.
I'm having a ball, can you tell? It's winter. My absolutely favourite season. Actually, they're ALL my favourites - I love that Toronto has such distinct seasons! :)
Gotta go - it's Saturday. A whole day waiting for me to do some mischief. And there's a lot of mischief I WANT to do! :)
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Today, I'll declare, was a *much* more successful day than yesterday.
I got to the gym and got in a GREAT weight workout. Then I walked to work, all 3 miles of it, and managed that in just under 50 minutes (usually I walk slow enough that it takes me almost the whole hour).
AT work, too, life was great today. Solved several minor problems, made a couple of magical things happen, laughed with a few of my colleagues at some minor funnies, cheered up one of the managers who'd been anticipating doom and gloom ... all in all, a very productive day!
I guess I just needed a good night's sleep to put the last couple of days in perspective. Today, I don't even really understand what had me so frazzled - I'm just looking at the whole thing with a bemused smile, going, "WHAT was I thinking?"
Well, they say all's well that ends well. And today definitely ended well - I discovered that being away from the gym for almost a whole month hasn't meant a huge drop in the amount of weight I can lift - maybe a 20% decrease, is all. Yay.
Now I'm falling asleep at the computer - so I'd better say g'nite.
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