Thursday, February 24, 2011
Warning! A lot of pictures ahead!
As anyone who read my blog from yesterday knows, this past week I both injured my back and was rendered unable to work out AND my nutritionist and I broke up 7 weeks into a 12 week cutting diet. It's been quite the stressful week. Despite that, I have been able to lose 3 pounds of scale weight (157 last week, 154.2 this week- and I did NOT dehydrate) and drop my measurements back down. My hips are back to 41 1/2, and my waist is at right about 26". I'd love for my thighs to shrink more (24". Sigh.), but that will come with time.
The other significant change is that the size 6 pants I bought in anticipation of getting fairly slender during the cutting diet (so that I would have SOMEthing to wear at the end- last time my pants were falling off of me!) are actually zipping up fine and getting closer to being something I can wear outside and not look like I painted my jeans on. So despite all the setbacks, I HAVE managed to make progress.
My method to get things moving downward again was pretty simple: As I said in my blog yesterday, my calories were coming in on average at about 1500/day. I had a gut feeling this was simply not enough for me, followed my instinct, did some quick math, and raised the average to just over 1600 calories a day. I didn't stop there, though- I started to cycle my calories, making the daily number swing widely from day to day, keeping the 1600 or so average. I also started eating (slightly) more carbs than I had been with the nutritionist. I'm guessing it was these little changes that were enough to get my fat loss going again, but it could very well be that it was for some other reason that didn't have anything to do with my food. Only time will tell. I will raise my calories a tad more when I get back into the gym if need be.
So this is all good news...... I guess stress didn't play into it as much as I was hearing it did, because this all happened when I was totally stressed out. Praise God! (No sarcasm, there- I really am giving Him the credit!)
Okay, so now for the plethora of photos:
11 Weeks Front:
12 Weeks Front:
12 Weeks Front, Legs apart (to closer match week 1 for fair comparison):
11 Weeks Right:
12 Weeks Right:
11 Weeks Back:
12 Weeks Back:
11 Weeks Left:
12 Weeks Left:
Close up, Week 4 (12/30/2010- The earliest close-up pic I have during the challenge):
Close-up 12 Weeks:
Just for fun, I also took pics in what I consider one of my two "real" swimsuits (The other one is the red one in my photos). As you can tell, I am not ashamed to be a HUGE Oakland Raiders fan, even living so close to Dallas. (Vallejo California, my hometown, was called "The Little Oakland", and growing up Oakland was just a stones throw away). I like this swimsuit because it gives me more coverage and the racer-back-style ensures the top stays on when I swim. Sting bottoms were NOT designed for high activity, let alone in the water!
First, I took pics from the angle I've done all of my progress pics: With the camera on self-timer, sitting on top of my jewelery box at about upper-ab level (the highest I could get it and still get my whole body in):
Then, I went out to the kitchen and asked my 5'10 1/2" 14-year-old daugter, Lane, to take my pics. Look at the difference a higher angle makes- I look less bottom-heavy. This makes me have even more admiration for those figure gals who have photos taken from below stage level, which isn't exactly lower-half-flattering:
Raiders Suit, 5'10 1/2" person perspective:
Lane, uber tall daughter (this is one truly great kid. As a bonus, I get to live my dream of being 5'10" or taller vicariously through her):
Can't wait to wear this suit this summer! Should be fun in Cowboys territory! (Insert evil grin here.)
I want to thank everyone sincerely for the kind words and encouragement that was left on my blog yesterday. This has really helped me to pull myself up by the bootstraps and forge ahead. This is a pretty awesome group of people, here on Spark. I am grateful for all of you!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
My belief is that, after Squats, lunges are the best exercise out there for the lower body- Especially the butt! If yours is flat, lunges will help round it out. If it's too round, lunges will help it look more compact. The folks I've seen who do lunges religiously have nice firm backsides and hamstrings, and flared hips with reduced saddlebags.
But a lot of people are afraid to lunge and never realize the benefits of this compound move. And with good reason- Lunging wrong can cause some serious damage to knees. I avoided them for a long time, then started to do some experimenting and discovered a few very simple things that finally made lunging possible for me again:
1. Do walking lunges ONLY! Forget stationery lunges or back lunges- both types seem to aggravate the knee of my forward foot when going into the backwards part of either motion. (This would be pushing back into start in the case of front lunges, and lowering down in the case of back lunges). The tendency when going backwards is to stabilize with the toes, and my experience is that when I am stabilizing with the toes my knee will instinctively go in front of my toes to balance my body, which stresses it. Walking lunges enable me to leave my toes out of the equation entirely, if I really concentrate on pressing through my heels.
Also, in my opinion, walking lunges simply do a better job of shaping the lower body, since they use all the muscles together through the entire range of motion.
2. Push through the heel of the front foot! Just as with squats, I make a mindful effort to think "heels, heels, heels" when I am lunging. When I push through the toes of the front foot, there goes my knee too far forward again and I feel that old familiar twinge for the next few(or more) days.
3. Take a big, "This-feels-way-too-long" step forward. The farther out you step, the safer the position is for your front knee because it's as far away as possible from being over the toes.
4. When following through with your back foot (bringing it forward), pause slightly, touching your foot to the ground, when your feet come even to regain-your balance and center yourself, before bringing that back foot forward. This will help keep you from landing on your toes when that foot moves to the front position.
One added note- I hate those short lunges people do to better hit quads. They just look to me to be a knee disaster waiting to happen. If you want to do a multiple-joint exercise that focuses mostly on quads, do front squats.
And that's it! In a nutshell, do walking lunges with big, wide steps, pause before you bring the back foot forward, and stay in your heel on the front foot. You'll feel these the next day, and your backside will thank you!
Monday, January 31, 2011
1. ASK ME FOR HELP! I'm not going to bite, and I'd be honored!
2. YOU AREN'T LIFTING ENOUGH! If you are still leg pressing the same weight you were pressing six months ago (or one year or five years ago), you aren't challenging your muscles and aren't going to see growth. Women especially are guilty of this. They seem to think "Eight pounds is what I curl", instead of "How much more can I curl?"
3. YOU'RE LIFTING TOO MUCH! If you are losing your form (arching your back, using momentum to get the weight up, or otherwise employing bad technique), for Pete's sake, lower the weight and do it correctly! Not only will you dramatically reduce your risk of hurting yourself and gain better muscle, but you also won't look like an idiot to everyone else in the gym.
4. YOU AREN'T GOING LOW ENOUGH ON SQUATS! Check my blog "Squatting Re-learned" to see what I'm talking about. itallmakesadifference.blogspot.com/2
5. YOUR BACK ISN'T STRAIT ENOUGH! Hunching when you do ANY exercise is bad form. You're back should feel so strait that it feels like you're butt is protruding. I see a hunched back most often on Dumbbell Bent Rows and Tricep Kick Backs. Look in the mirror and check your form! You should be able to put a 3/4 full cup of coffee on your back and not have it spill.
6. LET GO! When you set the treadmill to an incline and then hold onto the handles and lean backwards while walking, you are no longer at an incline! Let go and do an incline that you can manage withOUT hanging on!
7. GET OFF THE CARDIO MACHINE! As I've said in the past, lifting weights does more for fat loss and body shaping than cardio ever could. Cut your elliptical time in half and come lift weights! We really aren't scary people at the lifting end of the gym.... really! (Please refer to #1)
8. UNRACK YOUR WEIGHTS! Okay, all of you lugheads... Not everyone can take that 45 or 100-pound plate down from a bar that's 5-feet off the ground. And it's just a hassle to have to put someone else's weights away. Practice good gym etiquette and put ALL your weights away after you are done using them. Even if you started with weights that were already racked.
9. READ A BOOK! Or a magazine...... Pick up some literature on correct lifting technique and setting up a program. You'll be safer and see results quicker this way.
10. TRY SOMETHING NEW! Ever seen the big guys that are in their 50's and played football in College and are STILL lifting the exact same way because "I've always done it like this!"?. Notice that they don't look like college football players anymore? This is because they are missing one very key component: Football! Look, when you're out there doing the stuff that a sport, particularly football, requires, you don't have to be as comprehensive in the gym because the sport itself is most of your workout. But when you take the sport out of the equation, you need to change your gym routine to reflect that! (And they wonder why their bodies never change.)...... This rule also applies to anyone who is not getting results in the gym- You can't do the same routine forever expecting to get the same results, because muscles adapt so quickly. Keep 'em guessing and try new moves frequently!
11. ASK ME TO SPOT YOU! I may be a female, but my partner is the most muscular fella in the gym. If I can spot him, I'm pretty sure that between me and you we can get that heavy weight off of you before it falls on your head and knocks you cold or crushes your sternum. I'd rather spot you than perform CPR.
12. SHUT UP! Just stop talking and exercise, already!
Monday, January 24, 2011
I have mentioned these several times in my status updates here on Spark, but I feel they are a valuable enough tool in my strength and muscle gaining arsenal that they're worth a blog: PACE Weights: paceweights.com/
These were first mentioned to me by Ross, a trainer I worked with a year ago. He told me about little 1/2 pound magnetic weights that attach to other types of metal weights(to include plates on cable machines) and make it possible to go up in poundage. I Googled them, bookmarked the site, then asked for them for Christmas this year.
I'm sure you have experienced times when you can't go up to the next 5 or 10 pound weight, but the current weight is just a little too light for the number of reps you had in mind. It's frustrating! BUT, if you can go up 1/2 pound at a time, you can inch closer to that next weight mark. Ross said "Can you imagine how fast you can gain strength if you can go up just a pound at a time?" He was right- since getting my PACE Weights as a Christmas gift my strength has increased MUCH faster than it did without them.
IMHO they're kinda expensive- the full set is $89 and with shipping it comes out to $103. This is for 18 PACE Weights (9lbs). You can also get a smaller set of 9 PACE Weights (4 1/2 pounds), for $57. But unless you strictly work out with one Dumbbell at a time, I'd recommend the larger set. I've had occasion to use more than 9 of them at once already. And get the case! It makes them portable and more accessible with a place to store them. I take mine to the gym and use them 5 days a week.
My friend Tammie (MajorMom on Spark) saw mine, got PACE Weight envy, and purchased a set for herself. I got a text this morning telling me how much she likes them. This is one really great product!
And no, I'm not on commission! I just believe in recommending a great product when I find it.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
I've helped so many people move off of weight loss plateaus over the last year or so that I thought a blog about it might be prudent. These are also excellent techniques to apply even if you aren't plateaued- This information is good for everyone to know. I'm a firm believer that knowledge is power!
Having said that, there is a lot of information in the blog below. I have been accused lately of being intense. I prefer to think I'm informed. At any rate, you have the potential to be more intense....er... inFORMED after you read this, too.
The very first thing you want to do is be honest with yourself about what you are eating. Are you slipping extra food in there you don't acknowledge? Pretending that cookies are 25 calories a piece? Drinking sugary drinks with the theory that since they slide down so quick the calories don't count? If this is the case get real with yourself, then read.
The next thing you want to do is determine your BMR. I used to do this by an actual mathematical formula, but then I found this web site (there are other BMR calculators online, but this one is my fav because it has other numbers you need on there, too): www.freedieting.com/tools/calorie_ca
lculator.htm Simply enter in your information and then select "Basal Metabolic Rate" (that's what BMR stands for, by the way) in the drop-down menu. BMR is approximately the number of calories that you would burn if you were to just lie around all day. This is a number you do NOT want to go under very often.
Next, choose the drop-down option in the box that has the amount of days/intensity you exercise. The numbers that come up below will give you maintenance, weight loss, and extreme weight loss. Here's one place where I have a beef with this site: The "extreme weight loss" number is almost always less than your BMR. Forget that! For max weight loss, simply bring your caloric intake down to your BMR number. The biggest..... no.... scratch that.... The SOLE cause I've seen of stalled weight loss in a reduced-calorie diet is people eating less than their BMR. When you eat too little, your body slows down it's metabolism in an act of self-preservation in case you should suddenly become comatose. If you raise it to just above your BMR you will actually burn more calories than the added number you are consuming. People have a hard time believing me on this one, until they actually start DOING it. Then they are simply amazed!
The next thing you want to do to maximize your weight loss AND preserve muscle is be careful to get enough protein. I've found a fairly safe and effective ratio for someone is a split of about 40% of calories from each protein and carbs and 20% from fats, most of which you want to be healthy fats. This is pretty easy to figure out if you remember the following things:
- Both Protein and Carbs have 4 calories per gram
- Fat has 9 calories per gram.
(By the way, I cover this information in my blog "Carbs, Fat, Protein" here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
So, let's say your BMR is 1450 calories and you decide that, to be safe, you want to come in at around 1500 calories a day. (Trust me, the extra 50 calories won't matter to a hill of beans in the big picture of weight loss, and since everyone is an individual and the BMR calculator is approximate I always advise to raise the amount slightly just to make sure you are getting enough.)
All you have to do is multiply 1500 by .4 to know how much 40% is of your calories- in this case it is 600. Divide this by 4 (the amount of calories in a gram of both carbs and protein), and you come up with 150. So on a 1500 calorie diet, you want to get about 150 grams of each carbs and protein.
The remaining calories, then, will of course come from fat. (Or you can multiply 1500 by .2 for 20%, but I find it's easier to just work with the remaining calories.) At any rate, by either method the answer for a 1500 calorie diet is 300 calories from fat. Simply divide 300 by 9 (the amount of calories in a gram of fat), and you get the grams of fat you want to shoot for in a day. In this case, it's 33.33. For simplicity's sake, lets round this up to 35. (Yeah, I know that's about 15 more calories a day, but it's no big deal!)
So we have determined that someone on a 1500 calorie diet is going to aim to get in a day:
- 150g protein
- 150g carbs
- 35g fat
Try as much as possible to get an even amount of carbs and protein within each meal, and try to make as much of your fats as possible from healthy/natural sources (the fats in your meats, olive & canola oils, avocados, nuts, etc.). This will, of course, require tracking your foods. The tracker here on Spark does a pretty good job of breaking down macro nutrients (protein, carbs, fat).
It's an interesting way to eat that requires some adjustment. You will find that things like french fries will very quickly throw your numbers way out of whack. You will start to determine if eating something like chocolate cake is worth it to you to feel bloated and see a rise on the scale the next day (it's the carbs, and they'll burn off quick enough once you go back to your exercise and the 40/40/20 way of eating- I cover this in my blog here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=3230942 ). You won't look at food the same after eating like this for a while, and in my opinion that's a good thing.
I'll be honest: Most people have an easier time raising their calories than they do raising their protein and lowering their fat. Why? Because it requires truly changing the way they eat, and folks love their carbs. But if you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll keep looking like you've been looking.
It's your body. It's your choice. But now at least you have the tools to make a difference.
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