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A Week in Santa Fe

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We have been coming to Santa Fe to see opera in August for somewhere between 20 and 25 years now. The Santa Fe Opera produces 5 operas every summer, starting in July with one or two and gradually adding operas until all 5 are in production. By August, all 5 are being performed "in rep," which means a different opera every night, cycling continuously through the five. So you can come for a week and see opera every night. Some might not think that sounds appealing, but for us, it is a highlight of the year.

After so many years, we have developed "traditions," as you might expect. We have stayed at so many places around the square and have explored Santa Fe and its environs fairly thoroughly. Santa Fe is in the mountains between Albuquerque and Taos. Its elevation is 7260 ft (well over a mile above sea level). However, the base elevation of the Santa Fe ski area just outside of town is 10,350 ft, among the highest ski ares in the continental United States. In the summer, you can take the ski lift up to the top and hike to a nearby peak that is somewhere between 11,000 and 12,000 ft. I had my one (and hopefully only) experience with altitude sickness after we foolishly did that hike early in one of our trips. We quickly learned not to schedule any hiking in the mountains until we had been there for several days. Fortunately, I have never had problems with the elevation of Santa Fe, itself.

In the early days, we usually made the trip with large or small groups of Austin friends, fellow opera lovers. Many of those friends are no longer with us or are too infirm to travel now. Walking around the square is always a pleasant visit with many happy memories of past trips and of absent friends. Santa Fe has changed over the years, but much of it that we love has endured.

About 10 years ago, we started staying in condos or suite hotels so that we could have a kitchen. About 6 years ago, we started driving rather than flying so that we could bring plenty of supplies and critical things like my VitaMix (:-). One of the first things we do when we arrive is visit the local Whole Foods and stock up on fruits and vegetables and selections from the deli for our favorite Santa Fe opera tradition -- tailgating. The Santa Fe opera house is an open air theater in the hills of Santa Fe on the Taos road. It is completely covered now (wasn't always, which made for interesting experiences when thunderstorms were in the area). But it is open on the sides so that you have a view of the mountains and the sky. The back of the stage can be open, too, and usually is for the first act. You can see the mountains in the background, with the last remnants of the sunset glowing behind them and the lights of Los Alamos starting to twinkle. Sometime you see thunderstorms in the mountains. I remember one particularly memorable production of the Flying Dutchman when, during the onstage "storm" as the Dutchman was landing, there was a huge thunderstorm raging in the mountains, with thunder and lightening right on cue.

Since it is an open air theater, the opera can't really start until the sun has gone down, which is 8:30 in August. A local tradition has developed of tailgating before the performance -- bringing a picnic dinner or cheese and crackers and champagne -- and watching the sun set before the performance starts.


(view from the parking lot).

We have been doing this for years now. Since we drive, we can bring a camp table (if we are going to have a meal) and chairs (for sipping champagne). Many of the locals go all out with table cloths and candles! Often, you can hear opera selections booming from the nearby cars. Last night, one of our neighbors was actually singing along (and he wasn't bad). It is great fun. My husband always brings his camera as the sunsets can be spectacular with the right weather conditions. Frequently you see rainbows over the mountains.



Happy Sparking!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DAISYBILL 8/20/2009 10:08AM

    Tailgating parties, outdoor opera and Shakespear-in-the park..... I can identify with all those. Love the pics. Thinking of you while you enjoy your reunion.

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NANJET 8/20/2009 12:57AM

    Wow...I never thought I'd hear the words tailgating and Opera in the same paragraph....

Hope you have a great week!

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FITKAT2010 8/18/2009 7:15PM

    How wonderful to share your experience of this with your SparkFamily.

thanks

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TELERIE 8/18/2009 6:13PM

    Sounds wonderful! I love opera and sunsets and open air theaters! Will have to remember if I ever get to Santa Fe!

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TRILLIUM22 8/18/2009 4:03PM

    Sounds like a great time. It looks so beautiful.

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 8/18/2009 3:55PM

    That sounds absolutely wonderful. Reminds me of Ravina on the North Shore of Chicago, but with a much prettier setting.

BTW I couldn't live without my VitaMix!

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PATTYSH 8/18/2009 3:08PM

    What a beautiful setting! I'll bet that is wonderful to experience, and what a fun yearly tradition! You did such a good job describing it that I could just picture it. Looking forward to more pictures! Have a great time!
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Patty

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Running on the Right Side of the Brain

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I have been reading Galloway's book "Training Programs." About half way through is a very interesting section on "mental training." His discussion of "magic words" and "dirty tricks" I found especially intriguing.

Magic words are words or affirmations that evoke positive feelings or associations that can distract you from discomfort or from negative thoughts that hit you when you are under stress. "Dirty tricks" are played on the left brain, either to distract it or to let the right brain briefly take over your thinking through visualization or other acts of imagination. Galloway says to explore these as you train to find what works for you. "The more you use them, the more effective they become."

I decided I would experiment with these ideas during my run this morning. Today was a short run, and I had planned to throw in some hill running. Because of the heat, I wanted to be out no later than 8am and hopefully earlier than that. But just as I was about to leave, a contractor showed up earlier than expected. By the time I had taken him through the work list, it was already past 8:30 and closer to 9:00. My left brain started up immediately, "It's too late to run now. It will already be too hot to run for very long." So my first dirty trick was to lie to my left brain, "That's ok, we'll just do the hills on Cross Valley rather than go up to Ledge Mountain. That's just a couple of block away and we won't have to be out for very long."

The first hill on Cross Valley is short, but steep. As I run (slowly), I practiced some magic words. "My legs are strong today." "They are really powerful." I made it to the top and took a walk break. As my left brain was basking in my accomplishment, I hooked a quick left off of Cross Valley onto a street that would take me to Ledge Mountain Drive. "Whoa," said my left brain. "That's ok, we can turn off when we get to the top of the hill and head home."

This hill was not quite as steep, but much longer than the first one. I ran slowly, repeating my phrases about strong my legs were and how good my breathing was. I noticed a walker ahead of me on the sidewalk, also working her way up the hill. As I reached her, she stopped and leaned against a mailbox to catch her breath. We exchanged greetings, and all of a sudden a vision of Yoda popped into my head. "Be one with the hill," he said. I laughed. The walker didn't look very happy but I don't think it had anything to do with me.

I ran past the turn off to home. "It's not that much farther to Ledge Mountain. Let's do just one lap." The Yoda image had been fun, so I decided to switch from magic words to visualizations.

Ledge Mountain is a short stretch of flat road. One lap is about 3/4 of a mile. My left brain was warning me to be sensible. "It's hot and you've already run harder than you usually do before you get here." I started to run. "But don't you see, someone has installed one of those moving walkways like they have at O'Hare." I summoned up the visual memory of that moving walkway and the physical memory of what it felt like. I saw myself arriving at the train station under the airport and riding the escalator down to the train. About that time I reached the end of the street and turned around to come back.

When I took my walk break, my left brain started chattering again. The sun had come out from behind some clouds and was really beating down. "See, it's really going to be bad now. You should cut this short and go home." "But don't you see, we've just stepped into the sauna at the gym. Isn't it invigorating -- can't you feel your pores opening?" (Fortunately, the sun went back behind some clouds again.) I switched back to the image of the moving walkway on the second lap. As I turned to come back, a breeze started up. It made me think of riding my bike along this stretch of road. So I invoked that memory for a while -- coasting easily along with the wind in my hair. Before I knew it, the second lap was done.

I agreed with my left brain at that point to head for home. The way back is more down hill than up hill, but there is one fairly steep hill shortly after turning off of Ledge Mountain. "You've done enough for today. Just walk it." "But don't you see, my husband is at the top of the hill with a rope. He's going to help us." I pulled my shoulders back, raised my chest a bit, and imagined a rope attached to the center. I saw my husband at the top of the hill, reeling the rope in. Before I knew it, I had run up the hill. The rest of the way was mostly down hill and I was home before I knew it.

Reading over this, I know it sounds fairly silly, but it turned out to be a lot of fun today and I'm going to try it again.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSPLACEDAGAIN 4/8/2010 9:15AM

    I have just found your blogs. I am a new runner and will try this! (Cool that a blog that's almost a year old is still inspiring!) The *picture* of your husband with a rope made me teary!

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2WHEELER 8/29/2009 10:20AM

    I'm using Galloway, too, and try to keep in mind his left vs. right brain tips. My left brain is always in over-drive. I've been keeping notes on some of the wonderful words of encouragement I've received from Sparkers. I plan to have a couple printed off & in my pocket when I run a marathon. Just lately I've been thinking about printing some and adding photos to make a collage. I've tried remembering jokes to entertain myself, but that doesn't work when I'm really tired during a run. I can barely remember what mile I'm on. I've had one visualization that was really successful. Like anything else, practice will probably make it better. I'll have to try the visualization of the people-mover; I liked that.

Keep up the great work.

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KEEPRUNNING4FUN 8/27/2009 10:15AM

    I love it! Thanks for the great ideas. I am such a left brained person and need all the help I can get to be creative. Running has helped me to get my right brain going. My favorite mantra is 'Slow is good. Slow is steady. Slow is strong'. Not very creative, but it keeps me going when it's 90 degrees outside and my left brain is telling me that it's just not worth it, I'm just too slow and I should just quit. Thanks for the inspiration!

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GERBALMAMMA 8/13/2009 6:42PM

    Your brain, either side, is very creative. I enjoyed the virtual trip you provided. I've used a few of those tricks myself upon occasion.

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DAISYBILL 8/13/2009 9:03AM

    I agree. I learned this technique as a small child to get through some rough spots. There really are two "voices" in our heads and each is important to perform certain tasks. Personally, I prefer the right side . LOL. PS About 'the treadmill is my friend..". it worked.... I am loving the programmed cardio and the audio books I got from the library. The book was so good, I did the cardio program TWICE so I could hear one entire CD before stopping. Boy was I revved after that.

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TRILLIUM22 8/13/2009 7:39AM

    Nice blog. I've got to try that "My legs are strong today" Still I kind of worried about you in that Texas heat---sometimes your left brain might be right.

And what does your Galloway training group say about the heat anyway. You kind of get the feeling Galloway would advocate migration so runners could run in 60 degree weather all the time.

I'm still battling with my ego---I've still should slow my LSD run down---use 1:1 ratio rather than 2:1. Well actually it's just not ego. With the long runs even for the half of 15 and 17 miles you pass 3 hours even with my slightly too fast pace. I know 1 min/mile will only add 15 and 17 minutes and you don't do that many long runs, still it starts getting hard fitting it in your schedule.

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KRZYKAT3 8/12/2009 9:52PM

    NOt silly at all. This technique is being employed in health care all the time for insuring better outcome for surgery patients. At the hospitals I work in, it started in the heart enters and is slowly spreading. It why we are building healing environment hospitals now and reinforcing quiet times for healing naps for patients!

Great use of these techniques! emoticon

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GUIN0001 8/12/2009 9:49PM

    If that's being silly, I like being silly. I use positive imaging and magic words all the time. Recently when my sister and I were biking 17 miles uphill, I would tell her the road would probably straighten just around the next bend. It became a joke before it was over. The road did eventually straighten and we were so proud to have met our goal head on.

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SLCB1023 8/12/2009 9:18PM

    Coolness!!! I have done some of the dirty tricks with what I refer to as my inner child... usually when dealing with demands about eating something I don't need. I just say "we will have that tomorrow". And then say it again when tomorrow comes. But I will have to try some of the other tricks and magic words when I run into a bit of negative talk at the gym or one of my other workouts. Thanks for the suggestions, I know they will come in handy. emoticon It is always good to have a wide variety of "tools" handy when the going gets rough.

Comment edited on: 8/12/2009 9:18:53 PM

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PATTYSH 8/12/2009 8:44PM

    Visualization and positive self-talk are not only great training strategies, they are great counseling strategies. I use them with kids (and myself) all of the time. I haven't used them a lot with physical activity, but I will after this.

Thanks for the reminder! I loved reading your blog.
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Patty

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MUPP1970 8/12/2009 8:33PM

    I love it! Thank you for sharing! I experienced that today in a way... got the gym... realized I forgot my HRM and Lefty said, "That's a sign to just go home!" I smiled and made my way to the track.. just happy knowing that just a few weeks ago I would have listened to Lefty. :)

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MSWEEZER 8/12/2009 8:21PM

    Not silly at all. Great way to get thru it. I will try this as well. Thanks for sharing.

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FITKAT2010 8/12/2009 8:18PM

    It doesn't sound silly to me. We must lasso the power of the mind. You did this very well. Congrats and thanks for sharing. I'll be taking this with me tonight while I'm scrubbing the kitchen floor.

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DREMARGRL 8/12/2009 8:03PM

    Ooopps....posted the same thing twice. I was excited about your finding a new way to refresh and improve your workouts! Keep practicing and let me know what happens if you have the time. I'll be gone all weekend till Monday. XO MA

Comment edited on: 8/12/2009 8:05:15 PM

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DREMARGRL 8/12/2009 8:03PM

    OMG...I guess we are BOTH silly then, because I have used visual and mental imagery for years! When my granddaughter was tiny, about three yrs. old, I began teaching this ability to her. When she went to the dentist for her first shot, etc., I went in with her and we went to a far away beach and floated, etc. (you get the picture). The first time I used a physical touch on her legs to take her mind away. Now I don't do that....She just can be calm and relax herself or get more stamina. She has pitched three games in one day at the World Series of Girls' Softball last year...They won the championship. I would like to attribute some of her "grit" and "focus" to that abiltiy...the abitliy to use what you have described in your blog!! FANTASTIC, CATHERINE! That's all I can say. Keep up the good work. I loved reading this and will get the book. XO MARY ANN
PS It's not silly....There a more people than you think that accomplish a lot with their minds. So glad that you are investigating the possiblities of yours!

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6 Month SparkVersary

Sunday, August 09, 2009

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

I signed up with SparkPeople on 26 January 2009, but I consider my real start to be 2 February, which is the day I reset my ID, published my goals, and got to work. It has been fruitful six month, full of accomplishments, surprises, and discoveries.

I never had any doubt that I would meet my weight loss goals. When I set a goal for myself, I'm fairly single minded about pursuing it (my husband would say obsessive, but he's not writing this blog). I knew that I would do what it took for as long as it took. No, my concern was for what would happen after I met my goals. The traits that make me good at reaching goals don't always lend themselves to the longer term. By this I mean that I am prone to throw myself into things at a rate and pace that is not sustainable for the long haul.

I knew the challenge would not be with my diet. About 6 years ago, I learned that I was extremely salt sensitive and as a result, I had already eliminated all processed foods and fast foods from my meals and started cooking everything myself. I enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables and my diet was already fairly healthy. I was just eating too much. I also had a bad habit of skipping meals (because I would get caught up in projects and lose track of the time). Both of those problems were fairly easy to solve with the Nutrition Tracker. In fact, I became very good (too good) at cutting my calories, and I ate fairly consistently at the low end of my calorie range.

No, I knew that my long term challenge would be to find a sustainable physical activity. I had been successful on this front in the past. Most recently, I was a regular walker, having found a walking buddy at work in a good friend of mine. I also went faithfully to a local yoga studio, which I enjoyed very much. But, unfortunately, my teacher moved her studio across town, too far away to fit into my day. Then my friend retired and I started working from home and eventually retired myself. And even though I had a treadmill right outside my work room and my own yoga mats and props, I found that I did not continue with my exercise once I was spending all my time alone at home.

In the short term, after joining SparkPeople, I was on the treadmill every day, upping the intensity and duration every week. I soon discovered that I needed to increase my calories when I increased my exercise minutes to avoid plateaus, but for the most part, I made fairly steady progress. However, I knew that once I reached my target, I was unlikely to use the treadmill every day. I need to find the key.

I started looking for goals that were health oriented rather than scale oriented and that were either open ended or longer term. I got very interested in the nutritional profile of my diet, and set an ongoing goal of meeting all my macro and micro nutritional requirements through the food I was eating without having to take supplements to make up deficiencies (this is really only possible if you aren't cutting calories a lot). I set a goal to reduce my resting heart rate to below 60 bpm. I also set body composition targets and added goals to run races at increasing distances over the next year, starting with a 5K in the spring.

And then I ran my first 5K. I have already blogged about that race and about how it was like a switch flipped in my head. I discovered that I loved to run outside and that I loved to run in a group. All of sudden, running ceased to be exercise and became a passion. I enjoy both the solitary and communal sides of running and can't imagine not having it in my life. I signed up with a training group and haven't looked back. I'm currently training for the Austin Marathon on 14 February 2010, which is the day after my 60th birthday. All my friends are invited to party with me at the finish line.

So here I am, a work in progress. No one will ever confuse me for a Joan Benoit or a (female) Lance Armstrong. But every day I'm a slightly stronger, slightly faster, slightly better ME.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GO-SARA-GO 10/5/2009 10:41PM

    Catherine... this is an AWESOME blog!! Thanks for sharing! :) You are an inspiration to so many of us. It's so great to know that you just started running this year, too. :)

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CORNPICKER73 8/24/2009 9:27PM

    You are amazing! I'm so glad you found running and love it. I can't wait to hear all about your amazing birthday and marathon. What a way to celebrate! emoticon

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DREMARGRL 8/11/2009 11:28PM

    I love this blog, Catherine! We DO have so much more than you know in common. I am proud to call you my Sparkbud! Hang in there and keep on reaching for the moon! I love that about you. XO Mary Ann emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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MYTURN11 8/10/2009 7:10PM

    I understand about running outside, being with nature or even just the exhilaration of running with a group of folks with like goals and for me not fixated within a room and an ipod. Although if the weather is bad, I will take that too in heartbeat!

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 8/10/2009 5:22PM

    What a joy to read that blog!! You are an inspiration.

It is true that we can meet our weight goals if we just do what we are supposed to do...it becomes more fun when we are doing it for healthy reasons. I feel the same way about running as you do, but haven't found a group to run with yet. The Galloway method made all the difference in the world.



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RAINBOWACTIVIST 8/10/2009 4:07PM

    Wow, that's a lot of change to make in six months! Congratulations, Catherine! You are an inspiration.

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NANJET 8/10/2009 1:37PM

    You sound alot like me...I can reach my goals...but have had difficulty maintaining...probably due to the high standards I set for myself...ie...can I maintain this pace for the long haul...

I read a comment on someone's blog reply the other day that is my new Mantra...Perseverance is the difference between losing and maintaining and loosing and regaining...very appropriate for me anyway...

I also am finding registering for races is helpful to maintaining my focus even though I'm basically at my weight and body fat % goal at this time...

So happy 6 month spark anniversary...sounds like a marriage that's gonna last:)

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SLCB1023 8/10/2009 12:31PM

    Thanks for sharing. Lots to think about too since I am a gung-ho person in the beginning .... until I lose interest that is. emoticon

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KLEE46 8/10/2009 8:46AM

    Happy emoticon! I like the way you were able to evaluate and pivot to meaningful goals that ARE sustainable. For many getting slim is the easy part, the maintenance requires vigilance and planning too.

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PAULINLIM 8/10/2009 7:24AM

    Dear Catherine: Thank you for this blog post. You are inspiring.

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FITKAT2010 8/10/2009 6:17AM

    There are so many things I admire in you, Catherine. The list would fill this space and then some. You are an example of determination and true grit. Thank you for being part of my life, and the lives of any other Sparker lucky enough to come across your path.



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Measurements, Part 2

Friday, August 07, 2009

An addendum to my story yesterday about my recent measurements and my trainer's reaction to them:

When my husband got home from work last night, we went to the neighborhood pool to swim (him) and aqua jog (me). As we walked the two blocks, I told him the story about my measurements and about my trainer's asking if he had noticed that I was "getting ripped." He responded, "Well, I really noticed it when I took those pictures of you at your mother's," (This trip was at the end of May). I laughed and said, "I hadn't started working out yet when we made that trip." "Yes, I know, but I thought you looked very good then."

LOL, Do I know my sweetie or do I know my sweetie?

In all fairness to him, most of the more dramatic visual changes did happen with the first 20 pounds lost. These last 6 pounds (and the reason I added the strength training) are all about my health and athletic goals. I want to get rid of as much inter abdominal (less visible) fat as I can because I am convinced that is necessary for me to reach my goal of managing my blood pressure without medication. And I want to get stronger so that I can run long distances without injuring myself. Except for these two considerations, I was pretty happy with 135 and also thought I looked pretty good then. But looks are only part of my equation.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DAISYBILL 8/8/2009 9:38AM

    Whoa... that man is dancing as fast as he can !!! LOL. As for the interabdominal fat.... good thought. I was wondering if I will ever be able to get off BP meds as I have read of many that have. Great goal. emoticon

Comment edited on: 8/8/2009 9:39:23 AM

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FITKAT2010 8/7/2009 7:00PM

    Catherine, he IS a sweetie! And smart too!

That is a very good consideration in the inter-abdominal fat deposit issue. Something we all should take a better look at. It isn't just what we see, or the inches/pounds.

Karen

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PATTYSH 8/7/2009 2:57PM

    He sounds very diplomatic! You are doing so good! I think your progress is amazing.
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Patty

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Measurements

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Today was measurement day for me at the gym. Once a month, my trainer gets out his calipers and tape and we see how I've progressed.

He started taking measurements, and after a couple he said, "this is going to be good!" Then a couple of awesome's escaped (he's 22). He was getting more and more animated. When he finished, he did his calculations and showed me the sheet. In the two months since I added strength training, I've lost 6 pounds. But those 6 pounds break out as 8.149 pounds of fat lost and 2.149 of muscle gained. I've also lost 1.5 inches from both my waist and my hips and reduced by body fat percentage by almost 5%. "That's really great progress," he said, "I rarely see that much muscle gain with that much fat loss." I should add that when I started this training, I increased my calories to maintenance level and my protein intake from 15% to 20% of calories eaten. So this fat has been lost without cutting calories. I probably would not have gained as much muscle if I hadn't increased my calories. So I was feeling pretty good.

We went upstairs to start my session. He was still pretty jazzed. "Look at those biceps," he said as I did my rows. "Your quads are started to get cut," he said as I did my leg extensions. "Is that good," I asked sweetly (I probably shouldn't pull his leg). "Oh yes," he said, "That means you're getting muscle definition," as he showed me his quads. Hmmm, not bad. (In case you are wondering, his quads looked slightly better than mine.)

"Has your husband said anything about how ripped you're getting?" he asked as I did my back extensions. "Well, no." "Really?" he seemed disappointed. "You've got to remember," I said, "that we've been married 35 years and he's a smart man. He told me I looked good before I started working out." He only seemed slightly mollified. "Well, he said, when you go on vacation, I'll bet he notices then."

He's a really sweet kid and I like working with him. And, now that I think of it, he's also a bit of hunk in a triathlete sort of way. But I was feeling a bit protective of him, so I didn't give him KATMOMMA's phone number.
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MUPP1970 8/12/2009 8:35PM

    Fantastic!!!

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SLCB1023 8/7/2009 10:52AM

    Glad to hear that you have a HUNK at the gym too. Amazing progress!!! Your DH will notice soon enough LOL

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DAISYBILL 8/7/2009 10:26AM

    OMG ! ! ! I think that says it all ! ! !

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YARDWALKER 8/7/2009 7:09AM

    Way to Go Catherine! Seeing changes and having others notice is fantastic. What a great feeling. My hubby is right in there with yours. Doesn't notice much, doesn't care. LIkes me as I am I guess. LOL

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NANJET 8/6/2009 9:34PM

    Way to go!! Weight training really makes a HUGE difference...glad you are seeing great results...better yet an enthusiastic trainer!!

You hubby sounds alot like mine...although I know he appreciates how much better shape I'm in...he rarely comments on it...(I think he is worried I might make him start working out...LOL) I don't even think he really knows how much weight I've lost....a credit to him as he never cared when I was overweight either:) I guess he must just love me no matter what...

I'm so happy you are seeing results...It's nice when hard work pays off!!

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FITKAT2010 8/6/2009 8:13PM

    LOL He's not even old enough for a cat snack! LOL LOL

Yep, you impress me a whole lot!

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MSWEEZER 8/6/2009 7:33PM

    Outstanding progress. Great job! I love how you are protecting him from Katmomma. LOL

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IRISHDANCERMOM 8/6/2009 7:09PM

    What a motivating blog! I would love to have your trainer...that eye candy would be fun to work out with. Congratulations on the changes you are enjoying! emoticon

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KALATHIA 8/6/2009 7:08PM

    Sounds like you're making great progress AND having fun! That's the way to do it!

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Kathy

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