Sunday, November 21, 2010
This may sound ridiculous, but try to enjoy the process of losing your weight and obtaining fitness.
No, I have not lost my mind.
Celebrate the little victories: Relish being in the next size down, at the 5-pound mark you were waiting to get to, being in the 190's and 180's and 170's (or whatever numbers you need to get through). Gloat a little about the scale going down. Look at your emerging waistline or trimmer arms or thinner face with admiration. Enjoy the process! Because if you don't, that's going to be a lot of time you spend half-living, and I can't think of one good reason to do that willingly. Can you?
This is a journey that is uniquely yours. No one else will have the experience of traveling it but you. Enjoy it.
It took me about a year to lose about 45 pounds of excess weight, and although there were some moments of angst ("Why can't I get down below 166???"), I am glad that overall I enjoyed the process and celebrated little victories along the way. Otherwise, it would have been a year of wasted negativity.
No matter how much weight you have to lose, chances are you aren't going to lose it quickly. Life is too short to be waiting for "When I lose this weight". Live life RIGHT NOW, at your current weight, to it's fullest potential. Don't wait to have nice hair, wear stylish clothes, learn to do your makeup, or anything else that you think could make you feel better about yourself. Regardless of your weight, you have every right to feel good about yourself right where you are. And besides, it's good for you! Like I said in my blog "Love Yourself In Your Current Condition", posted back in April, the better you feel about yourself right now, the more likely you will be to see your weight loss efforts through.
How much of your life are you willing to live miserable?
Monday, November 15, 2010
I love rules and find contentment in knowing I am following them. I think it's the German in me. At any rate, even I believe that there are times it's beneficial to break the rules, particularly when it comes to exercise. So, as promised in my last blog, here are some general rules of weight lifting and why I like to break them sometimes.
Rule: Work specific body parts together. (Back with biceps, Chest with shoulders and delts, etc)
When you work the bigger muscle groups (Quads, Hams, Chest, and Back), the smaller muscle groups assist you in the motion. So, it stands to reason that working the Quads and Hamstrings with the Calves and Abs is a wise idea (calves get pulled into most thigh exercises, and abs are used to stabilize heavily on them, as well). Similarly, the "pushing" motion of chest exercises engages the triceps and shoulders, and the "pulling" motion of back exercises engages the biceps, so working those muscle groups together can thoroughly exhaust the smaller muscle groups and require less exercises to finish them off, therefore saving time. This rule of thumb is terrific, but sometimes you may want to break the body parts up differently based on your goals and objectives.
For instance, I am always working to thicken my shoulders, which are naturally very slight, so I keep my shoulders as far away in my weekly split as possible from chest day (shoulders are now Monday and Friday with my thighs, and chest is Wednesday). This not only gives me two days to work shoulders (most of my body parts get hit once a week), but it also give them a "mini" workout between my two "big" shoulder days, with ample time to recover between all of them.
Rule:Work the big body parts first, then work the smaller ones.
For instance, when working the chest and triceps, always work the chest first. The reasoning here is that if you work the triceps first, they will be too tired to fully assist in your chest and you won't get as good a chest workout. Breaking this rule makes sense when the assisting muscle is the one that you want to build up more than the bigger muscle group. So if you are someone with underdeveloped triceps but your chest is coming along pretty good, I'd advise working triceps first, while they are fresh, to get maximum muscle stimulation in them.
I did something similar this morning: Generally it is advised to work quadriceps before hamstrings, but I hit hamstrings first so that they could give lift the most weight with the best form possible on an exercise isolating them away from quads (hyperextensions). I couldn't have given the effort I did on hyperextensions had I done the hack squats and plie squats that came later on in the workout first.
Rule:Work each body part at least 2 times per week.
For a beginner, this is a fine rule. But once you start really pushing your muscles this one doesn't work out very well for a couple of reasons: The first one is that its hard to find time to work every muscle group to the point where it will reach peak growth twice a week. The second reason is that often, after a grueling workout session, it takes a full week to recover the muscle group enough to hammer it again.
The fact is that most body builders and figure gals work most body parts once a week. This is proof that you can achieve muscle growth by breaking the minimum-twice-weekly rule. Like I mentioned above, my thighs and shoulders get hit twice a week, but everything else just once.
There are more, but this blog is long enough............
It might be worth noting that my weight lifting partner, the most muscular man I have ever known personally, breaks just about all of these rules routinely. He works legs together, but chest, back, and shoulders each get their own day. Abs get tossed in at will, and he does arms by themselves. When he works his arms, he usually works biceps (the smaller muscle group) before triceps. (And his horseshoe is the size of a Clydesdale's!) He never warms up with cardio (another weight lifting "rule") and he frequently goes more than a week between body parts, since they are broken down into just one or two muscle groups for each workout session (However, I have never seen him do less than 5 exercises per body part, and multiple sets per exercise). He might work his legs every two weeks, and they are the size of tree trunks! He spends a majority of time on his chest and shoulders and (this makes me nutz!), he has virtually no weight lifting schedule. I'm walking around with my training notebook that has my pre-planned routine, and he struts into the gym and says "I think I'll work back today!". He's doesn't care about the rules because he's been doing this long enough that he knows what works for him.
The point of this blog is this: When you hear a rule or general guideline for exercise, ask yourself if it is conducive to your own goals and objectives for exercise. As long as it does not compromise your safety, you may find you need to adjust accordingly. And sometimes it's nice to change the rules simply to break the monotony and keep things interesting. Even my lifting partner will take a routine out of Flex magazine and do it for several weeks, just to change things up.
Any other rules you've heard that you'd like me to address in this blog? Please ask- I'm sure I'll have something to say about it. :-D
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
NewNarayan asked me to post progress pics, to see any potential muscle growth from my increased weight loads in my workouts. Honestly, I've been lifting like a fiend (for me), in an attempt to build up muscle in the places that needed a little size to make my whole body match. So this morning, on my 44th birthday, I had my daughter take pics.
The first thing I want to point out is that I did NOT do any "tricks" before having her take these. I did not dehydrate yesterday (actually drank some water before these pics were taken and 1 1/2 gallons water yesterday), or reduce my sodium (had a Taco Casa Taco Light and Frijoles for dinner last night), or restrict my diet in any way in prep for taking these pics. And I did not apply self-tanner. If I'd of done these things I probably could have been 5 pounds thinner and less "puffy", therefore showing more muscle definition. But I wanted these pics to give an honest representation of what I look like on a daily basis.
I've posted these pics on my profile, too, but here they are with some explanation:
This is me standing (semi) relaxed. For some reason in these relaxed photos it is more apparent to me that I am bigger through the upper body muscles than it is in the flexed ones:
Here's a close-up, still relaxed (my fav of all the pics):
Side Chest pose. I can see my chest muscles have a little more definition in this one:
Front flexed more traditionally:
I see good and not-so-good things in this. Can anyone see a dif from several months ago?
And here is a rear photo of me flexed:
I am still NOT happy with my hips and the backs of my legs. I have a feeling that unless I did severe and unsustainable diet changes, there simply won't be a dramatic change to this area of my body. I'll always keep working on it, but it's time to stop beating myself up and just congratulate myself for working hard and focus on the parts that I really like. Me thinks it's genetic.
I made some of my own discoveries when these pics were taken. First of all, I was hoping to see a lot more muscle in my legs than the pics taken at the end of my cutting diet, and I don't. That's kinda a bummer.
Second of all, it's apparent, at least to me, that my chest muscles are finally starting to come around. I don't like a hugely developed chest on a busty woman (I just think it looks silly, when thick muscle is topped off by big boobs), but the neglect of my pectoral muscles was apparent and I needed to put SOMETHING on there to make my shoulders and arms look more justifiable.
And thirdly- Holy Bicep, Batman! My arms and shoulders are bigger! Funny thing is, I was never trying to get more developed arms. I guess when I upped the weight load on my chest my arms kinda got drug along for the ride.
Which leads me to the conclusion that bodies are just gonna kinda do what they are gonna do when it comes to weight lifting. I've lifted like a mad woman on my lower half twice a week for months now, without great muscle gains as I had hoped for. I aimed to make my chest muscles more apparent, which I did manage to do (my upper body responds quickly), but my arms and shoulders showed greater gain than my chest did.
At any rate, I'm happy with the overall progress, and don't intend to give up. I'm still in the process of losing about 9 or so more pounds, and I'll get there. I'll keep trying to improve my legs with my best efforts. They're big muscle groups and use a lot of calories, so even if I never do get the hard-leg look I'm after, working them hard will do nothing but benefit me.
Anyway, not too bad for 44, huh?
I feel like Dori in Finding Nemo.... "Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!........."
Thursday, October 21, 2010
I have had several people inquire about using whole-body exercises as opposed to working separate body parts. Many times it seems the whole-body camp gets almost charismatic about how their way is better. Me? I don't see it that way. I like separating body parts instead of working all, or most, of them at once.
There is nothing wrong with whole-body exercises. If this is what trips your trigger and keeps you going to the gym, by all means: Do whole body exercises! We all gotta do what works for us. But me? I'm splitting them up. Here's why:
- First and foremost, for me personally I get better muscle definition and size this way.
- It allows me to spend more time on lagging parts and lets the parts the are more developed (namely, my back) hang tight until the other body parts catch up.
- When I work body parts separately I can "custom form" my body more to my own taste. For instance: I've mentioned in prior blogs that I naturally have very slight shoulders. By working shoulders separate I've been able to add width to them, therefore helping to balance my wide hips and turn my bowling-pin body into a true hourglass.
- When I do enough whole-body exercises to make me feel like all of my body got hit as hard as I'd like, it takes a REALLY long time. Splitting things up helps me either do less exercises at a time and get out of the gym faster, or hone in and do a LOT of exercises on one part to thoroughly exhaust it.
- I bore easily. There are only so many whole-body-type moves out there. With splitting things up I'm not stuck doing the same moves over and over, so it helps to keep things interesting for me.
Here is my current split (a split is what they call it when you "split" body parts up into different days), and why:
- Monday- Quadriceps, Hamstrings, and Delts (These are all body parts that I need to build up more, so I work them twice a week. For this reason, I put them on Mondays and Fridays, to maximize healing time between workout sessions.)
- Tuesday, early AM- Abs (On Tuesdays I have a Weight Watchers meeting and do yoga, so I try to keep it minimal to allow time for the rest of my life to happen. I would do no body parts this day, but I like to try and work abs twice, if I can [as far as I am concerned, one cannot have ripped enough abs], and this puts them far away from my other ab day on Friday, again for max muscle repair)
- Wednesday- Chest, Triceps, and Calves (None of these body parts need to play "catch up", so they all get worked just once a week. I put calves here to keep them away from my quad days on Monday and Friday, when they usually get hit as a secondary muscle. This gives them suffecient repair time before they are singled out.)
- Thursday- Back and Biceps Again, I don't need to build either of these, so once a week is sufficient.
- Friday- Quads, Hams, Delts, and Abs All body parts that need to be hit a second time to build. If I'm short on time, I'll do less sets of these and leave abs out.
- Weekends- Off
I also do cardio, but this is a blog about work-out splits. For my cardio schedule, you can check my Spark page, right side, under "My Program".
I no longer worry about only doing some body parts once a week and here's why: Most figure and body building competitors only work each muscle group once a week. My workout partner is the most muscular person I know, and sometimes he goes MORE than a week between working body parts. The thing is, when he works any body part, he really goes at it: Multiple exercises (I've never seen him do any less than 5 for any given muscle group), and max effort.
If you are just starting out and want to try splits, I'd advise hitting all body parts twice a week. I did this for years, until my imbalances became apparent. The good news is that the body can be shaped according to how you'd like it to look with splits, so there is no need for these imbalances to be permanent things.
Here is that split. When I used it, I usually did just two exercises per body part (abs I did 6- two for each obliques, upper, and lower). It was quite effective:
-Monday- Legs and abs (Quads, Hamstrings, Calves, obliques, upper abs, lower abs)
-Wednesday- Upper body (Pecs, Back, Delts, Biceps, Triceps)
-Friday- Repeat legs and abs
-The next Monday- Repeat Wednesday from week prior
You continue alternating upper with legs and abs, which means that one week you are doing legs and abs on Wednesday, and the next on Monday and Friday (or whichever days of the week you choose to work out). This still hits all body parts twice within a seven-day period.
If you want to lift four days a week and hit everything twice in a calender week, you could still do the above split, but do legs/abs days 1 and 3 and upper days 2 and 4 (or vice verse).
The following split would be good if you want to lift weights 5 days a calendar week while hitting all body parts twice in a 7 day period. With this split you won't be spending hours in the gym each session:
-Day 1- Quads, Biceps
-Day 2- Hamstrings, Calves, Chest
-Day 3- Back, Delts
-Day 4- Abs, Triceps
With this split, you would just start back with day one the next scheduled lifting day after you have completed day 4. Also with this split, personally I would NOT do cardio on day two, because that's a longer lifting day with three body parts.
The above split would also work if you want to lift 4 days a week and hit each body part once. If that were the case, I'd do more exercises per body part (at least 3) to really give it something to recover from before it gets worked again.
I just came up with this last split off of the top of my head. There are no "Hard and fast" rules to setting up a split. There are some general rules, but it's good to even change those up sometimes, just to keep your body guessing. (I'll blog about that next.)
I know this is a lot of information and I hope I haven't overwhelmed, over-informed, or over-bored you. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me and I'll try my best to answer them. I love helping!
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Okay, I have a big confession: As of this morning I am at 160.4 pounds. This is about 3 pounds over where I was allowing myself to be for the purpose of muscle gain, 8 pounds over the top of where I would like to "normally" be, and 12 pounds over where I would truly like to hold my weight on a permanant basis.
There is a bit of a history to this: I started German Volume Training (you can read about it here: www.bodybuilding.com/fun/luis13.htm ) almost 6 weeks ago in an effort to gain some muscle in my legs, chest, and delts. I was only going to do this for 6 weeks, so this is the last week. At any rate, bodies tend to gain muscle better when they are carrying a little extra weight, so I made the choice to allow myself to hover around 157. My plan was, and still is, to get through the training, then take a week off and start working on losing the weight in fairly short order. I had it worked out so that I could still weigh at Weight Watchers once a month, but had time to get down to my goal weight before I had to do my October weigh-in. Or so I thought. The thing is, I gained 3 pounds more than I had intended, and I'm having a real issue with getting it off. 3 pounds may not sound like a lot, but when you add it to the original planned gain, I'm getting off into some dangerous (for me) territory, here.
I know another part of the reason I am at this weight is because of PMS bloat (Sorry to any guys reading this), but the truth is that this isn't a good enough excuse, because my "normal" weight should be low enough to give wiggle room for this.
The fact is that the REAL reason I am up higher is that because I have let myself have a little too much of this here and that there, and it's adding up. And I've been eating more carbs lately, which really holds water and makes me look a lot "fluffier".
And I love baking! I've started doing that again. Of course, I always want to eat what I bake.....
It also hasn't helped that I have been struggling with finding a goal right now. I made the decision not to do figure competition, which I blogged about last. So I lost that goal.
Then I thought I'd found a photographer to do fitness photos on my 44th birthday, but he started showing signs of not being very reliable, and was going to charge me a pretty penny. (As a friend of mine said "That's a lot of cheese for 2 hours of time in front of the camera!") I felt uneasy about using him for my photos.
So I've been a bit adrift, not feeling anything looming over me as far as a goal.
Regardless of the excuse (and these are all excuses), the fact is I am simply too heavy right now. It not only shows on the scale, but also in the mirror.
So I'm back to the old grindstone of being in weight-loss mode.
I guess for now, weekly weigh-ins with Weight Watchers will have to be motivation enough. And next week I WILL BE weighing in, regardless of whether I have to pay dues for being over my goal or not. With WW the highest I can be is 157 (dressed, or course). So unless I lose about 5 1/2 pounds in the next 5 days, I'll be shelling out $12 in dues next Tuesday.
Additionally, as much as I would like to work with a nutritionist again, budget won't allow it, so I'm on my own. It's a LOT harder to self-diagnose than it is to help others, I am finding. But I'm giving it a shot......
Here's my game plan:
- Keep up my lifting and cardio. Honestly, it'd be hard to do much better in this department than I already am. Lack of exercise is NOT why I am where I am. Diet is.
- I'm going to clean up my food choices. Refined carbs are going to all but leave my diet.
- I'm back to a minimum of a gallon of water a day. Water. Not unsweetened tea w/ Splenda. Water.
- I will continue to log my food by writing it down in my WW Journal. I only log breakfast here usually to get the Spark Points. My regular logging is done by hand.
- I will go back to weekly weigh-ins with Weight Watchers, and will continue to do this every week for eternity, as well as continue to stay for the meetings.
- Daily weigh-ins at home until I am down to where I want to be, and I will daily change my weight on the tracker here on Spark to reflect that number.
So here I am, a little back slidden, but not defeated.
I also want to say thank you to the people who have seen my frustrated status update and contacted me. RachelMac encouraged me to blog about this, and RockinButterfly shared her struggles which led me to come back with a "can do" attitude. Then there's Sheri (GymRatAt_40) who wrote me and reminded me to pay attention to the details.
And as always, Anita (Sunshine667), your sweet encouragement has helped to lift me up at a time when I was threatening to wallow in the mire of feeling defeated.
Onward and up......er....... DOWNward!!!!!!!!
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