Thursday, January 28, 2010
I will update later with a catch up entry and my current progress, but I got my latest numbers today, and it led to some very serious thinking about my goals and approach. Explanation and reasoning forthcoming, I just want to get this down before anything else.
I think I have a plan. It is a new and slightly foreign one to me, but I think it is worth a shot. Starting feb 1, I think I am going to up my calories to 1700. I am going to reincorporate egg yolks during the week, instead of just the weekend. I'm going to aim for 25-30% protein, 25-35% fat, and 40-45% carbs (with the option to change to 45-50% carbs as I see how it works) instead of 30-30-40. 30-30-40 has gotten my fat down a bit. It has given me a good jumping off point, but it's time to focus on building muscle and letting the fat go naturally along with that instead of being the focus. At least for a little while. Taking things in one month increments seems like a good way to avoid burn out.
I chose 1700 on the assumption that I generally burn 500 calories on a good day between walking and the gym. Non gym days I will aim lower. I am thinking of roughly 400 cals for breakfast and lunch, 300 for my post gym smoothie with a 2:1 carb to protein ratio, 3-400 for dinner, and the rest split between snacks and dessert. Practically speaking this probably just means beefing up my smoothie by a few calories, and adding one more snack between lunch and dinner when i'm at my hungriest.
My gym time will place priority on weights and stretching. If I am running low on time, cardio goes first and I will add more walking to make up for it. I will couple this with a rededication to running outside. Tomorrow I will research a good 5k for late spring, and a 10k for the fall, and I will train for them. Both times I hit my highest level of muscle have been when I was most heavily into running. There must be a relationship. I will also take advantage of the return of charity yoga on the weekends.
I will also try harder to get a full 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and keep my waking schedule relatively similar even on the weekends.
The experiment runs for the month of February unless I realize part way through that it's not working.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I swear to god I nearly cried when I got my numbers this morning.. I was so shocked! For the first time in the two years that I have been on spark and going to the gym, I bulked. I am just so amazed and proud of myself that I can't even really put it into words. SO! On to the numbers!
weight: 53.9 kg (was 53.1)
fat mass: 17.6 kg (was 18.3)
lean muscle: 19.5 kg (was 18.7)
body fat: 32.7% (was 34.4%)
Do you see it? I gained .8 kg of lean muscle mass! I have /never/ managed to do that before. I usually see about a 1.0-1.5 kg decrease in fat, and a .2 kg increase in muscle on a really good month. I have /never/ gained more than .3 kg of muscle at a time... /never/.. and this time i gained nearly a FULL KILO. Yeah.. I'm floored. My fat loss was less than usual, coming in at .7 kg down.. which means that overall I gained .1 kg of body weight and drove my BMI up .3%... but for the amount of muscle I packed on I think I would have been thrilled if my fat hadn't moved at all. Prior to today the highest muscle I've ever had was 19.4 kg.. and I blew past that in ONE MONTH. Even in October when I was in great condition I was only at 19.2 kg total. And .5 kg of the muscle gain was in my core, which is by FAR the weakest part of my body. I went from 15.12 kg to 15.67 kg in my core! My arms each gained .1 kg, and my legs each went up about .15 kg. I am still in the orange zone for most of my body and still low on muscle mass.. but the rate of improvement this month was just phenomenal compared to my prior results.
I just can't get over my amazement.. wow..
OH OH OH! I am bordering on the goal range now!! 19.5 kg is right at the bottom edge of my 19.5 - 23.9 target for muscle mass!
I almost cried when I saw it.. And you know what? If I manage to gain .5 kg of muscle, and drop 1 kg of fat in the next month, I will be in target range for both muscle AND fat.. and I will be in the best shape I've ever been in. That is something I can hardly comprehend.. it seems so close. Just... wow.
The only number that I have a hard time believing is the overall weight. It says I went from 53.1 to 53.9, but I think that menstrual bloat and my gigantic breakfast today must have figured into that, because I weighed in at 52.6 at home yesterday morning, and according to the fat and muscle numbers I should have only gone up .1 kg overall. But you know what? Overall weight is by far the least important number to me on that sheet.
I am so proud... ;_;
Oh... and Rene arrived safely yesterday evening and I remembered how much I love her and missed her. I don't think she will be causing me to screw up my routine at all. This morning we walked to my gym together, and then she went off to shop while I worked out and we met up afterward to try the new Starbucks coffee jelly frappucchino. She said she's going to meet me near work at 5 pm so we can walk the hour home together... and she wants to walk the river trail near home with me on Monday when the gym is closed. We also have amazing luck, because my gym is doing a one coin campaign this month which means I can take her with me one time to show off the pool and stuff for just 500 yen. She also seems excited to cook with me, so I won't have to worry too much about eating out other than over the weekends.
Today has gotten off to a fantastic start. :D
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
This feels very strange to type, but I think I might need to start looking for ways to make my running more challenging. Yes.. I just typed that. I don't really know when it happened, and I don't really know that it will stick, but the last week or two running has stopped being much of a challenge, and verging on the border of potentially becoming almost... easy. Now, this is fragile enough seeming that I don't really want to jinx myself by saying it out loud.. but there it is.
I have seen some definite improvements lately, and I think it's been taking my brain longer to catch up than my body. Most days during these last two weeks I have shown up to the gym feeling a little tired and off, and not looking forward to getting on the treadmill... but once I do get on I find myself feeling fine.. even good, and, much to my amazement, I have been consistently blasting past my planned intervals and running continuously instead.
I did it last week Monday and and thought it was a fluke.. but last Friday was possibly the most surprising. I woke up late because Eric was sick and didn't get me up to make him breakfast, like he usually does, I was tired, since it was a Friday, and I got hit with menstrual badness a day early. Definitely not the making of a good gym day. I had my breakfast and coffee, and was pessimistic enough to even pop a tylenol before heading out the door, even though I usually try to avoid painkillers for as long as tolerable. I debated whether or not I would be able to run in that condition on the way to the gym, and was half resolved to just give up and do some high incline power-walking instead. But when I got to the gym and reached my preferred treadmill there happened to be a girl next to me running. Most people at my gym power walk, and the runners are more often than not male, so I I was compelled to at least try a little running while she was still around. I decided on one or two 10 minute intervals, depending on how I held up.
I held up fine.. and I ended up running 27.5 m continuously, and probably could have kept on going if not for the time. I was pretty shocked. I think I spent the rest of the day trying to figure out if it was the late breakfast & coffee, the extra sleep, or the pain killer that did it.. but then I did it again today. I was, again, not really in the mood to run, and decided since it was the middle of the week I'd do two 12.5 m intervals.. and again, I blasted past them and kept going for 27.5.. but for the first time, I let myself briefly entertain the idea that maybe this was getting easy. I mean, I was sweating, and looking forward to the end of my time.. but that's all mental. On the purely physical side of things, I think I felt fine.
I suppose this is where I should probably decide to change things up.. increase my speed, or incline.. or increase my running time. I'm not terribly fond of the first two, though. I'm worried that increasing either speed or incline will sap my desire to run and just exhaust me. Increasing time seems like the only thing I'd be willing to do just yet, but it's tricky because I often show up to the gym later than I should.
I don't know. I'm still not entirely convinced that this is not a complete fluke that will reverse itself in another week or so.. but it's something to keep in mind. It does give me hope that I might actually be able to sign up for the 10k Run for a Cure in October, though. I had been debating the 5k before, but with another four months to work on endurance, I might be able to get up to 10k level in time...
Ah well.. in other news, the next two weeks will be a little bit trying. Our friend Rene is arriving tomorrow from the states to stay with us for two weeks. I'm really looking forward to seeing her and I'm really happy that she's staying with us, but I am a bit apprehensive about the impact of her visit on our wallets and daily lives. She did live here for a year, so I don't expect it to be as taxing as other visitors, though. Part of me is hoping that she has enough to do on her own that Eric and I can still mostly stick to eating at home during the week without feeling like we're ruining her fun. Ideally there would be a combo of going out with her, eating in with her, and her going to see other friends that would let us stick to home-cooked meals around 4 days a week.. but we'll have to see.
I'm supposed to go in and get my numbers next Wednesday, but I'm considering bumping it up to this Friday. I usually like getting it done on Wednesdays because it's the middle of my gym week and seems like the most balanced day to check. The problem being that next Monday the gym is closed, and I might not go on Tuesday since I'm taking the day off for my birthday (and Rene's visit.. combined!), which would make my weigh-in scheduled for the first day after a 5 day gym break. That doesn't sound ideal at all.
I am both curious and apprehensive about getting my numbers. I haven't really budged weight-wise this month.. not the way I would expect based on my previous experience with how my body responds to the level of fitness and nutrition I am currently at. I feel better physically than a month ago, and I think my pants might be a touch looser, but I have a really hard time building muscle, so it's impossible for me to feel comfortable attributing that to an increase in muscle mass rather than my pants just getting stretched out or something.
More muscle would be nice, though..
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I've been busy at work the last week or so, and since work is where I am usually in the best mental place for writing (it being directly after my walk/gym/walk triple energy punch) that means that I have had to put off updates I've been wanting to mention here. But today, I have some time. Yay.
First off, I should probably mention that I did finally put in the order for the ice cream maker. My cherry red cuisinart love machine is probably on its way to Daly City as I write, and will be making the long overseas trip to meet me in a few weeks.. landing just days prior to my (ack) birthday in mid June. Updates forthcoming. :D
Anyway, on to the more relevant information.
I got my numbers taken again last Wednesday.. for the first time since October. They were not pretty, and highlight the reason why I keep on coming back here, despite being told by so many people that I am tiny and don't need to lose weight, etc. That reason is body fat %.
I don't have my numbers with me, but I remember some of the important ones. My weight came in at 53.1 kg (I weighed in at home before breakfast that day at 52.7 kg).. 1.5 kg up from October and smack dab in the very center of 'healthy'. My BMI is similarly almost ideal, at 21.6. But that's pretty much all I have going for me. Here are the others:
Lean muscle mass: 18.7 kg (down from 19.2 kg)
Fat mass: 18.3 kg (up from 16.7 kg)
Body fat: 34.4% (up from 31%-ish)
Yeah. I think that speaks for itself. Even in October.. when I was about 51.5 kg, hitting the gym every day, strength training, running 3 times per week, swimming twice a week, eating well and KNOWING it because my metabolism had me eating several hundred calories more per day than usual to avoid going to bed ravenously hungry.. even /then/ I only managed to make it down to 31% body fat. In the two years since I started working towards getting healthy, I have never once seen the other side of 30% body fat. That is why I continue to work at it, and that is the reason I am here.
I am severely lacking in muscle mass, especially in my core. Even by the Japanese standard, they put me at 80% of ideal for core strength, 85% for arm strength, and 87% for lower body strength. Keep in mind that this is the Japanese standard. Also, keep in mind that by 'ideal' I mean smack dab in the middle of the spectrum. If you want to go with an athletic ideal then it looks even worse for me. I have lost muscle mass in my core and arms since October, but surprisingly, my legs have actually gained a few grams in muscle mass over the previous number. Small victories, right?
Despite my dismal numbers, I have been doing good lately with my routine. It seems to have finally taken root again, and I am back to a place where working in my physical activity and nutrition are second nature again. I have been going to the gym everyday, even if I only have 15 minutes on the floor, and walking like a maniac (I believe I'm on day 17 of my "walk 10,000 steps a day outside" streak.. averaging 14-18k and totally bypassing the trains most days). I'm also in one of my fun experimental phases food-wise... cooking this time, rather than the more common baking type. For the last week or so I have been casually aiming for a 30/30/40 protein-fat-carb split. Mostly I seem to be coming in around 25/25/50, but it's an improvement! My average carb intake has gone down, and protein is up from the 60-70 range to a 75-90 range. It takes a lot of effort on my part to get it that high, but I think it's worth it. I feel quite full everyday, and seem to be falling into my preferred 1300 kcal range most days without any particular planning.
Other than the obvious benefits of higher protein and being satisfied, this has also allowed me to do some interesting things with food lately. Sometimes I fall into the trap of planning dinner around a starch-- rice & pasta being the most common-- and challenging myself to come up with meals not centered around those has been a lot of fun. We've had crepes several times, a casserole, tacos, etc. My crowning achievement thus far was the fantastic Spinach & Whole Wheat tortillas I made up last night. I decided to add the spinach with the hope that the extra bulk would allow me to make my tortillas bigger without adding significantly to the calorie & carb count, and they turned out even better than I'd hoped. Not only were they significantly larger than my usual tortillas for the same amount of calories, but they were also more elastic, meaning I was able to roll them out thinner and more uniformly.. not to mention they taste fantastic and more spinach is always a good thing, in my opinion. The fact that they are a beautiful color is a plus, too. They are perfect for lunch wraps. Last night I pan-seared some thin tofu steaks in chili powder and wrapped them up with cottage cheese, avocado, and sauteed green peppers. Fantastically satisfying dinner, and lunch as well. :>
I suppose that's it for now. I have been working to get my running/swimming thing back on track. I've worked up to two sets of 17.5 m running intervals at 9 kph on the treadmill (today :D), and went back to the pool for the first time yesterday for water aerobics, despite feeling pretty godawful in my swimsuit. I need to find my goggles tonight so I can actually try swimming again tomorrow. And I need to figure out what to make for dinner.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
As often happens, it's been a long time since I last posted any sort of an update or status report. Honestly, that's because progress has been kind of up and down and/or stalled since my last entry. I was doing pretty well and feeling good going into the end of October, but managed to get derailed again in November.
I went home at the very end of October for 2.5 weeks to see my family (first time in two years!) and attend my little sister's extravagant and beautiful wedding. As often happens, the break in routine yielded disastrous results. The trip itself wasn't so bad for the most part. I ate well and did some cooking and baking for my family in the hope of instilling some good habits in them, since my dad had just been diagnosed w/ type II diabetes six months before. I also went to my friend's gym with her once, though that was the only real exercise I managed to fit in. Of course, during the second week of my stay, after the wedding and once Eric got back from visiting his family in Wisconsin, things went a little downhill as we made the rounds of our favorite and most missed restaurants. . but all in all it wasn't so bad. I think I gained maybe a little over a kilo or something.. but the numbers are pretty hazy at this point.
The problem was that because of all the focus on the wedding, when it came time to leave for Tokyo again, I felt like I wasn't quite ready to go home. The trip felt like it was being cut short, and leaving my family and access to the farmer's markets and such was really hard on me. I was pretty out of it and lethargic for several weeks after getting back to Tokyo.
And that's where the real problem lies.
If I had come back energized and ready to get back into my routine, then the slight hiccup of the 2nd half of the trip would have been nothing. But instead I almost completely fell out of my healthy mindset. I made it to the gym a handful of times between November and January, but never enough to really account for much, and I did not put a lot of effort in when I DID make it in. I also stopped tracking somewhere in there.
I went into the Christmas/New Year's season expecting to come out in bad shape, but actually managed to lose weight back down to where I was before the trip over our 10 day holiday since my natural eating habits when I stay at home are generally good and balanced, despite the cookies and cheese and ice cream. I got quite a confidence boost reconfirming that when I'm not tracking and just having what I want when I want it I naturally fall into a decent pattern.
Anyway.. my resolve to go back to the gym on the first day back from the holidays got thwarted for some reason I can't remember, and kept on getting thwarted by work obligations, illness, laziness, or just plain lack of willpower. Being back at work and being sent a full pound of fudge from an international swap on ravelry didn't help, and I ended up creeping back up a little bit at a time after January.
I finally managed to get myself back to the gym in mid to late March, but the routine was once again interrupted when my family came to visit for 2 weeks in early April. There was a lot of eating out and eating my dad's cooking, and cake for my brother's birthday and such.. but at least I got a lot of walking in, I suppose.
Since they left I have been mostly back on track, but with baby steps, so there hasn't been a whole lot of progress. I have been going to the gym again, but haven't managed to make it in more than three or so times any given week, and missed a full two weeks surrounding the Golden Week holidays. (to my credit I tried to go and found out that my membership doesn't allow me access on holidays). I have been back to walking, though. And I really think that walking may be the key to it all for me. During the winter I could not make myself walk anywhere, but now that it's spring again I have been walking to the gym, to work, and back home again and it really seems to make all the difference in my drive to stick to my routine. It also helps balance out the days I have been missing my gym time as well.
So in brief: I was making great progress through October.. made my way back down to about 51 or 51.5 kg, had my running endurance up to about 30 minutes at a time, and saw a significant decrease in my resting heart rate.
I went home, and did okay, but then screwed up when I came back to Tokyo. Hit something like 52.5-53 kg upon/just after my return. Got back down to 51.5 kg throughout January, and then slowly climbed to 53.5ish. Started going to the gym again and brought it down to 53 kg.. then my parents came and I went up to 54 kg (highest in a year.. and ICK feeling). Currently back into the swing of things but progress is slow and I'm still hanging out in the 53 kg range.
I use numbers to show the flow of things, but I think it's important to point out that what really matters to me is how I feel during these times. I have realized that although my ideal weight is somewhere under 50 kg that I haven't pinpointed yet, I tend to feel comfortable as long as I stick in the 50-52 kg range. I don't mind maintaining there if I am not going to the gym regularly and not paying attention to my nutrition as much as I usually like to. 52-53 kg my comfort evaporates, and above 53 kg I feel downright awful physically. Despite all this, I have clearly improved over where I was two years ago before my interest in health went from casual to more 'hardcore'. The 53 kg I am right now is in much better shape than the 53 kg I was back then. When I went back to running after 6 months off I didn't have to start over from zero, I just had to scale it back a bit from what I had been doing.. and that was a really good feeling. It's just that I've had a taste of what it feels like to be healthier than this, and I can't feel comfortable with myself when I get too far away from that, anymore. Or something.
Anyway. That's the update. In other news, over the months since I last wrote anything here I've also moved much further into making more of my food at home. I finally started baking my own whole wheat sandwich bread every weekend over the winter, and since then I have also added granola, yogurt, butter, and (most recently) peanut butter to the list. These are the things that I replenish every week or two as they get used up. I've also stopped buying (or, having brought to me from overseas is more accurate) flour and corn tortillas and making my own instead, I stopped buying english muffins and make them when I want/need them, and I am working on perfecting my pizza dough technique.
There are others I would like to add to the list. Homemade vanilla extract seems like it would save a lot of money in the long run, for example.. and I find more ideas all the time. Currently I am trying to decide whether or not to finally purchase an ice cream maker. I have been eyeing the same one for about a year and a half now.. might it finally be time to just commit? Not sure yet. But it would probably be a good idea, since Haagen Dazs is one of the main reasons I managed get so off track this winter. Not to mention? Homemade yogurt + ice cream maker sounds full of win. O:)
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