Tuesday, September 28, 2010
It's been a frustrating few weeks. I seem to have found my way back to plateau-land and this time it's really gotten the better of me. For the first two weeks of the plateau I had started a new, interesting, and more intense workout routine and I was sure it would get results. Instead, I stalled out completely. It's been so discouraging that I've been skipping the workouts for several days to sleep late and play The Sims 2. Fortunately, I'm still eating well so the trend is still even-to-downwards, but I feel a sort of righteous anger I didn't feel the last time I landed on a plateau. I feel like there shouldn't be a plateau here. I was working harder, trying new things, and eating well. Why now? I certainly wasn't stuck in a rut or in a repetitive routine. It just doesn't seem fair.
Unfortunately, though, on some level it does make sense. When I was going up in weight, I was about this weight for about a year and a half even though I was overeating all the time. So my body seems to find this weight comfortable. That, and I think I'm starting to notice the effects of all the strength training I've been doing - my arm muscles, where I don't have much fat, are lean and defined now. It's possible that strength training got easier so gradually that I didn't realize until now that I need more weight, but it's getting clear that I do. And since I don't own any resistance bands or free weights, that could be tough - until now, my own body was enough resistance. But almost 20 pounds lighter and much stronger, it's not enough for a lot of the exercises anymore. And although my cardio is (WAY) more intense and is a new Wii game, it's still boxing, which was my favourite Wii Fit exercise when that was my primary method of cardio. I must need to start doing something that's a bigger leap from that kind of movement, I guess. Time to break out the dance aerobics? I hate pilates and yoga is too low-intensity. Or I could go back to trying running like I had planned.
I also need to get moving earlier in the day, but that feels like a pipe dream. I don't always sleep late, but I am NOT a morning person and the last thing I want to do at 7:30 am is exercise. I want to weigh myself, have my tea, eat breakfast, read the news, and wake up for a bit. Unfortunately, "wake up for a bit" often turns into "don't exercise until 9 pm", which is probably not helping the plateau situation. It's also keeping my fiancÚ up at night because after I exercise I'm wide awake for at least 2 hours. 10 pm exercising means I blather incessantly until 1 am. Lying down within an hour of doing cardio probably isn't doing much for my metabolism or calorie burning either.
Gah. Well, I guess I know there's a problem... I just am not that thrilled about the solution - get up earlier, exercise earlier, stop doing the boxing I love, and try and scrape together some cash for some resistance bands. But maybe I'll feel better if I hop back on the horse today and go and do my boxing one last time. But I know I need to change it up. Last time I got serious about fixing a plateau issue, I lost 2 pounds within a few days of implementing the changes. It will work. I just need to want to do it. But right now, the motivation isn't there - I guess I'll just have to suck it up and do it anyway and when I feel better I know the motivation will follow.
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
I've always thought that the concept of "cheat days" was counterproductive, for many reasons. First of all, it implies that you're doing some kind of temporary program that is so strict that eating something indulgent counts as "cheating". This isn't a mindset that is conducive to long-term weight loss success. Second, even one day (in some cases even one meal) that is full of high-calorie foods can ruin a whole week's worth of exercising and calorie deficits. It would be more accurately called a "sabotage day" rather than a "cheat day"! Third, it encourages guilt as you label some foods as "bad (cheating) foods" and others as "good (healthy) foods". I don't agree with this attitude at all. I'm all about moderation - you can eat anything, as long as the nutrients and calories work out in the end - and I find that making foods "forbidden" or labelling them as "cheating" only makes them more attractive and that craving creates guilt and stress that leads to eating way too much of those foods. If people just ate two cookies, guilt-free, it would save them a lot of heartache over the weight gain that shows up after a binge on eight or ten cookies.
However, I'm nothing if not a realist. Eating healthy has to fit into your life, and life sometimes has times when you need to be flexible. I also think that no lifestyle change can be permanent if you can't have fun and relax sometimes. But rather than say a special occasion is an opportunity to leap off the wagon and fall into old, unhealthy habits, I have a different perspective. When I visit family, or go out for a special dinner, or go to an event, I don't spend time panicking about what I "can't eat". Instead, I decide what I want to eat, regardless of calories/fat/sugar/whatever, then decide what I don't care about that much. Then I eat smaller, but reasonable, portions of the things I like and little or none of the things I don't. And I use simple strategies like paying attention to amounts (as I serve myself, I think something like "three pieces of garlic bread, 1/10 of the tray of lasagna, 1 cup milk") so I'm aware and can enter it later (accurately - no rounding down for the nutrition tracker!) and serving myself a smaller portion and limiting myself to that much only. I can eat whatever I want, but I'm still paying attention to what I'm eating. I'm not wasting calories on things I don't care about eating, so although I am getting to have a piece of chocolate cake, I'm not far off from my calorie range for the day while feeling like I didn't have to sacrifice or deprive myself of the things I enjoy.
My cousin's wedding was this past Saturday, so I spent the weekend travelling, eating on the go, and having a catered meal. I lost a pound anyway, and I got to have, among other things: bacon, lemon meringue pie, poutine, a hot dog, two savoury croissants, roasted garlic cheese dip, breaded shrimp, and a few drinks. I don't feel like I didn't have fun, or that I was constrained by any "rules". I also more than made up for the exercise-routine disruption by dancing for hours at the reception.
So who needs cheat days when you can have delicious food and weight loss too? Special occasions and routine disruptions don't have to be a "binge now, feel guilty later" time - losing weight can coexist nicely with having fun and eating the foods you love without guilt, without sabotaging all your hard work, and without feeling deprived and restricted.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Yesterday, I put on my running shoes, put my hair in a ponytail, and went for a run. It was the first time I've ever done so of my own free will (i.e., not as an angsty teenager in gym class). I finally felt like I was healthy enough and in good enough shape to start working towards something I've always wanted - to be able to run long distances comfortably. Oddly enough, I've always wished I could jog, but I've always felt like I was too out of shape to try it without alarming other pedestrians.
Yesterday was a great start. I ran 1.5 km (just under a mile) in 10 minutes, constantly, without needing to stop to walk. I got a little bit of a stitch in my side partway through, but because I've learned a lot about cardiovascular fitness on SparkPeople, I took that as a reminder to breathe more deeply and evenly, and it went away pretty much immediately. I was tired when I got home, but the pride I had in managing to run the whole way on my first time out made me feel amazing. It's another one of those achievements that reminds me that I'm constantly making progress in this weight-loss journey.
So now I feel like I can call myself a "runner" - being able to run for ten minutes straight is a fabulous first day. I have a schedule I've worked up to run 3 days a week with rest days in between so I don't over-exert myself. It seems to be my cardiovascular endurance that will hold me back - my legs weren't experiencing muscle fatigue at the end, but my breathing was not going to let me hold out much longer. Because of that, I'm going to focus on running the same distance at the same speed for now, until my endurance builds up enough that I can push my legs to run farther without getting extremely short of breath. I know the main mistake rookie runners make is running too fast, too early and getting injured and/or burnt out. I don't want to make that mistake, so I'm sticking to the plan. Once I'm comfortable running this distance, maybe I'll think about using the SparkPeople Spark Your Way to a 5K ( www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness
_articles.asp?id=598 ) to build up to running the loop I measured in my neighbourhood that is almost exactly 5 km long. Once I can comfortably run two miles, then I might use the Spark Your Way to a 10K ( www.sparkpeople.com/resource/
fitness_articles.asp?id=599 ) just to build up endurance, but it's going to be a while before I'm there. It is exciting to see that I could actually jump into the 5K jogging program, though, since I can easily run half a mile as of right now!
I honestly never thought this was possible - but now it seems so straightforward and doable. A lot of people who notice my weight loss (because it's noticeable now!) make comments about how "hard" it is to lose weight. I know they're just admiring my achievements, but I really don't feel like it's "hard" at all - it's just about paying attention to eating and making time to exercise. I still get to eat the chocolate cupcakes I baked on the weekend. I still get to eat meals I love. I still get to go out for dinner with my fiancÚ - wait, did I not mention this yet?
I suppose I also haven't blogged anything about my other life-altering event this month - I got engaged! So I'm getting married - probably in the winter. After losing 1/3 of the weight I want to lose up to this point, my wedding should be incentive to continue to lose the rest on schedule. But it's nice to have started this journey before the ring ever appeared, because I know I'm doing it for me - not for a dress, not for a wedding, not for the photos or the guests; for ME. I'm hoping to lose all the weight in time, since my goal was always the end of this year anyway, but if I don't, I know I will afterwards - no last-minute I-must-lose-20-pounds crash diets for me! I'll be happy with what I've achieved at that point, since I know I will have worked hard for every pound lost. At the same time, I'm so glad that I am changing my life now so that I'll always know I went into getting married feeling confident and proud of my achievements. My fiancÚ is very supportive, too, which is a plus - he's been my rock, especially during the initial ups and downs of this lifestyle change. So I certainly think I've made a good choice in him!
Anyway, I was saying that I don't find weight loss "hard", like people seem to say. I'm just a more athletic (never thought I'd describe myself that way!), more confident, and more accomplished me. I still eat the foods I love. I still have fun doing the sedentary things I like to do (knit, play video games, read, etc.) - but I also do some active things. I'm just achieving goals at the same time - like becoming a runner!
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Apparently I did something right, because I'm down to 79.4 kg (175 lbs) as of today! If I'm being honest, of the things I changed this week, the ones I changed the most were my strength training and my eating habits. Doing my strength training in blocks and eating what felt like ALL THE TIME apparently was enough, since I am not good at going to bed earlier! I don't doubt that the switch to a different cardio schedule helped too (harder day-easier day alternation), but I haven't been doing it long enough to be sure.
I'm going to keep up with a lot of the goals I set for breaking the plateau, because they're just good exercise and eating habits, but realistically I'm giving up on trying to go to bed earlier - I'm going back to trying for consistency on that! I actually love my new exercise schedule, which keeps me from overdoing it and gives more rest time while making sure I still work hard.
I won't feel 100% sure I'm over the plateau until the weekend is over and I'm not back at 80 kg (argh! I hope not!), but going down 0.8 kg (1.75 lbs) in a day is something that never happened before the plateau kicked in, so hopefully this is the beginning of the way down again!
Thursday, August 05, 2010
So these past three weeks I have bounced around the same half a kilogram, despite exercising more and not going to extremes on eating. I read the SP articles on Plateau-Busting, and with them in mind I changed up my fitness plan, eating plan, and habits with a new set of goals to help me get over the hump.
- going to bed earlier,
- eating more frequently throughout the day,
- alternating higher-intensity and lower-intensity exercise days to mix things up,
- completely revamping my strength training regimen from balanced workouts to arm day/core day/leg day, repeat, to allow my body to rest and repair the muscle groups more,
- refueling after exercise,
- doing proper cool-downs after exercise, and
- rehydrating better, especially since it's been really humid and hot this summer.
I also am finding ways to shake up my cardio, since I finally unpacked the rest of my fitness DVDs (I had only found a couple up to now) and that should give me some different activities to do. It's great to have articles like the Plateau-Busting ones here on SP - otherwise I wouldn't have a clue what to change or what I could be doing better. It's counter-intuitive to think that more rest and more frequent eating could actually make the weight start coming off again; in the past, my first instinct would have been to double my workouts and stress about my food intake. Now I know that won't help and I won't waste time on it.
I'm hoping to see weight loss again in the next two weeks. Here's hoping my efforts pay off!
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