Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Week one of the current plan showed me that 1700 calories is not too much for my active body to handle.. so what has week two shown me?
Week two has shown me that just because I can handle increasing my intake, there's a fine line between freedom and over-confidence, and it's easy to get off balance.
I have been having a hard time getting enough sleep in the last month or two, and that has had some increasingly bad influences on my fitness. I generally get myself up out of bed at around 6:45 am every morning to make Eric breakfast before he leaves for work, and then have a good hour and half to myself before needing to leave for the gym, which opens at 8:30 and is 10 minutes away by train. But lately, I've been just too tired to pull myself out of bed, and since we have been having pre-cooked oatmeal or leftover pancakes for breakfast 3-4 days of the week, I don't have the extra push of needing to feed my favorite guy to break through the sleepiness. I'm not sure I've managed to get up before 7:30 once in the last 2 or 3 weeks.. and have slept in until after 8 am on more than one occasion, including this morning.
Because of this I have been getting to the gym consistently late, and consistently tired. I have started looking at it as a victory if I arrive before 9:30 am, and even that has been happening less often than I'd like to admit lately. Today I showed up at the crack of 10 am, and had just 30 minutes to squeeze in some strength training before I did some quick stretches and hit the shower. Yesterday I almost didn't make it to my 10 am Group Kick class in time.. though admittedly Eric was working late shift and thus didn't try to wake me up until he got up himself at 8:45. Most days I have been having to choose between strength, cardio, and stretching.. and all three have suffered as a result. In addition to this, the gym was closed two days over the last week. Last Thursday was a national holiday, and Monday was the monthly gym holiday. So I missed out on my opportunity to squeeze in rushed half-workouts on those days.
My plan was to fit in some running over the weekend to make up for it. I have been itching to ramp up my outdoor running again, and the gym closures made it seem like a good idea. I roughly planned to run on Thursday, but didn't wake up in time and opted to fit in Charity Yoga instead and leave the running for the weekend. On Saturday I got in a nice run, and thought that rather than having a rest day between runs, I might try to do a short run all three days. That ended up being a bust, though. We slept in very late on Sunday, and by the time brunch was digested the nice weather had gone.. so I went back to the original plan of Sat/Mon runs. Monday morning it rained.. and I slept in.
Operation Ramp up Running == FAIL.
While this was happening I also ended up with a stretch of social outings. On Wednesday I went to Iranian and Frozen Yogurt with Jessica, Eric and I had Paella on Thursday to save time so I could bake brownies for our co-workers, Friday was a vegan buffet with Keiko, and Saturday we ended up at Indian after a long day. Sunday was, of course, Valentine's day, and while we stayed in and Eric made me a lovely veggie filled lasagna, I had a fairly large piece and we followed it with champagne, chocolate, and brownies.
Any of it would have been no problem taken alone or in pairs, but whenever I find myself with low levels of exercise and high levels of eating outside of the home for more than 2 consecutive days I start to feel off. I was very much looking forward to getting back to it, but it's been a hard go so far, what with the lateness to the gym and lack of sleep.
So, this past week definitely didn't go as effortlessly and well as the previous one. Namely, I haven't been getting in enough exercise, and that, paired with a couple of holidays and a four-day stretch of eating out, have kind of sent my carefully balanced plan out of whack. Rather than the .1kg daily loss of the week previous, this week has seen me bloat up a kilo, and start to slowly come back down. Tonight we are going to Israeli with some old college friends. I am planning to enjoy the outing, but I'm hoping that come tomorrow I can get back into my normal routine of eating at home, and trying to get my gym schedule under control.
So that said, here are some new resolutions based on what I've learned this week:
1. Be better at adjusting my eating habits to reflect my activity level. I am not so good at this, and continued to eat high this weekend despite not getting in my planned workouts and not needing that much food.
2. Be stricter about getting to bed on time, and once in bed leave my iPhone UNDER my pillow while trying to sleep, instead staring at it until 4 am hoping it will lull me to sleep.
3. Get up at 7 am, even if I don't have to make breakfast.
4. Create a structured gym/workout schedule and try to stick to it so that I don't end up skimping on strength or stretches.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Well, it's been a little over a week since I started my new February plan, so I guess it's time to check in and share my progress and my thoughts.
So far? I like it.
For a recap, I decided to increase my intake by about 200 or so calories to the 1700-1750 range, and shift my macro-nutrient percentages around a bit from the 30/30/40 split I was aiming for previously. I've been adjusting the numbers slightly over the course of the past 10 days, but I think I have pretty much settled on a 25% protein, 30-35% fat, and around 45% carb split. My focus is on getting in a good amount of healthy fat, while not letting my protein levels dip too low. I let the carbs come in wherever they fall as a result of that.. but I have been taking care to keep my post-gym recovery meals at a 2:1 carb to protein ratio, since I think I was skimping on that last month.
I've also started incorporating more cacao into my life. More specifically, high quality dark chocolate with lunch, cacao nibs with breakfast, and/or a little chocolate for dessert. I love acquiring and tasting extremely high quality chocolates and get excited over them in the same way (or maybe even more so than) I do over tea, but I am a hoarder, and go through long periods where I don't think to actually have any. I also tend to gravitate more towards fruity or nutty desserts rather than chocolate based ones, so yes, I actually had to make it a point to tell myself to dip into the vast supply of chocolate I have around the house on a more regular basis. =P
So how is it working out? Pretty well. I haven't let myself dip below 1700 calories once since the start of the month, and have had 2 or so days where I went a bit higher while eating out with friends. Beefing up my recovery smoothie and having chocolate with lunch have taken care of most of the additional calories.. and the rest have been divided between breakfast and dessert. I had planned to aim for 400 calories for both breakfast and lunch, but have fallen into more of a routine of having 450 or so for breakfast, making it my biggest meal (as it should be!), and I'm quite happy with that.
Since I started eating more and concentrating on keeping fat at 30% or higher, I've noticed much more consistency in my results. Last month my weight zig-zagged a lot. I'd go down .2kg, then up .1 kg, then down another .2 kg, etc during the week.. and then bloat up for a few days after going out w/ friends on the weekend (sodium and sugar bloat). However, this month I have seen a consistent drop of .1 kg pretty much every day during the week, and my .5kg bloat from the weekend only stuck around for a day and a half before disappearing.
As far as how I feel? Pretty good. I love food, so eating more and incorporating more fats has been really enjoyable. I've had several days where I have gone to bed feeling really, really full, but since my weight has been going down consistently and I still wake up pretty hungry I can only assume that my body needs the energy even though I am eating more than I normally would to feel full. It's very strange in that respect. Of course, since I am consuming the vast majority of my calories earlier in the day, I don't feel overfull every evening. I'd say about 60-80% of the time it's felt just right.
My mood has also improved, thanks to the dark chocolate. :D
So yeah, I'm liking this plan. It would probably be even better if I hadn't slacked off a little at the gym the last week and a half, but it really says a lot that it feels so good even without me hitting my fitness goals 100%. I never felt in the least like I was underfeeding myself or being too restrictive before, because.. let's face it, I'm just not the type to stick to the plan just because It's The Plan. I have always expected to go over my calorie range 1-2 times per week while out, I grab for the almonds when my tummy rumbles before dinner, and if someone brings me goodies at work, I eat them gleefully and without guilt. But I think it's pretty clear that, as I was beginning to suspect, my body does benefit from the extra fuel, and my mood definitely benefits from the extra degree of freedom. :D
Friday, January 29, 2010
So one of my resolutions last night was to research and pick out some races for this year in order to have some concrete goals to aim for. I'm thinking a 5k in the spring, and a 10k in the fall, though of course this might change depending on my progress and personal whim. I haven't looked too hard yet, but I've already got a couple in mind:
Toda Half Marathon/10k: there's a 10k/half marathon in Saitama in November that does two loops around a lake. Haven't looked up more than that, but it seems promising just from that description alone. I would be aiming for the 10k.
I've also found two 5k/10ks for spring that look fun and doable:
Tokyo English Life Line 5k/10k: charity race for the Tokyo English Life Line on first weekend in May (over Golden Week). The atmosphere is supposedly good, and it's for a good cause with good prizes (not that I'd expect to have a change at any). It's also not too expensive at 3500 yen for pre-registration. Like Run for the Cure it's around the Imperial Palace, which could be good or bad, but probably both. I would like to try a new course, but running the same one again and seeing how I do also sounds appealing.
Tomisato Suika Road Race: another 5k/10k at the end of June in Chiba.This one looks like it would just be pure fun, and there's all you can eat watermelon available after the race! The downsides are that it will be the start of summer, and will take place less than 2 weeks after we return from our trip to the States for a wedding.. but I'm thinking that with the TELL Runathon less than 8 weeks earlier it might not be bad. In fact it might make the difference in me getting back on track after vacation, or falling out of my routine for 6 months like the last trip home.
Obviously, none of these pages have updated with 2010 information yet, but I think they are definitely ones I should keep my eye on.
Friday, January 29, 2010
I don't think I ever updated about this, but in October of this past year I ran my first 5k. I did the 2009 Run for the Cure around the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. Based on my condition in June I briefly entertained the notion of going for the 10k, but I managed to injure my left shin in July by pushing too hard and fast after a 2 week break, and it took me a while to get over that both mentally and physically (but mostly mentally, as it came as quite a blow to my confidence), so I decided not to press my luck and stuck with the original plan by signing up for the 5k.
The race itself was somewhat poorly organized this year. It started late and was a little confusing, but it was fun, and I was very proud to have actually followed through with it. I didn't have as good feeling of a run as I had been the weeks leading up to the race, and began feeling off in just the second split, but I pushed through it and managed to achieve both of the goals I set for myself going into it: 1) Run the entire race, and 2) try to compete it in less than 30 minutes.
I came in at 29:19 according to my unofficial count using RunKeeper.
Training for the race really improved my condition physically. I wasn't breaking through to goal territory or anything, but I came closer to those goals than at any other point in the 2.5 years since I set them. Two weeks before the race, I got my updated numbers at the gym and came in at a personal best with my muscle mass topping out at record 19.9 kg (.4kg above minimum recommended), fat coming in at 16.3 (.3kg below maximum recommended), and my lowest body fat percentage ever of 30.7%.
It's the closest I've ever come to breaking through all three of my personal milestones as far as numbers are concerned. Those being to get above 20 kg muscle, below 16 kg fat, and have a body fat % less than 30%.
Unfortunately, this was closely followed up with some race burn out. I don't think I was physically affected at all, and directly after the race all I could think of was finding another 5k to train for and improve my performance, but after a few days I had let go of the training mentality. I honestly think that the burn out wasn't actually THAT bad, and if I had tried to rein myself in I wouldn't have let up so much, but with the holidays coming up and sunset beginning to fall before I even left work for the day, I didn't do much to keep myself in check and fell from putting about 90% effort into being active to just above 50% effort. I still got in my 30 minutes a day, but I didn't push.
I was really disheartened 6 weeks later when my numbers came back showing a .6 kg drop in muscle and a .6 kg gain in fat, resulting in a 2% gain in body fat. It was the first time I have every honestly felt like crying at my numbers, and also the first time I neglected to enter the new information on Spark for several weeks.
Upon reflection, the numbers themselves weren't what upset me. It was the implications of the changes in those numbers. From everything I've read, muscle mass shouldn't just melt off if you're eating enough to maintain it. Yeah, you loose strength over time if you don't keep using it, but the fact that despite eating enough to gain .6 kg of fat during the same 6 week period, dropping from 90% to 50% effort net me muscle loss at the rate of 100 grams per week was extremely disheartening, and made me question everything I was doing. What am I working so hard for if it's just going to melt off of me any time I decide I need to take it easy for a couple of weeks?
It was very discouraging, and I think it took me until around mid to late December to really come to terms with it, if you can even call it that.
Just before New Year, though, I did rededicate myself to my goals, and came up with some new short term goals and a new approach. I decided to get more heavily into Yoga this upcoming year, and took two charity classes at a nearby yoga studio. I loved them. Unfortunately, they decided not to have any charity classes during the month of January due to special guest teachers.. but the 3 pm Sunday charity class will be back in just over a week, and I am eagerly anticipating its return.
Nutrition-wise I went back to the 30/30/40 macro-nutrient plan I tried in May when I saw my last decent month of bulking. This time I decided to bend my "all whole foods" rule a little and allow whey protein in my post-gym smoothie so I could actually achieve the percentages instead of the 25/25/50 I was doing in May. I have done much better this time around in getting within a few points of the percentages for all three. For a while I felt bad that I could only do it with the help of protein powder, but then I stopped and actually LOOKED at my nutrition tracker and realized that out of the 120 grams of protein I was eating, only 15 of it was coming from whey. The other 105 grams? Chicken, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, milk, nuts, etc. For someone who just 2 years ago sometimes resorted to drinking protein powder with milk before bed just to get above the 60 gram minimum that is amazing progress.
I have kept up this nutrition plan for the month of January, and have been back to about 80-90% effort at the gym, mostly centering on moderate cardio, like Group Kick, bike intervals, beginning yoga (aka group self massage and stretch), and swimming, accompanied by walking the hour to work every day after the gym. It's been a vast improvement, but not as good as I know I could be doing. I got my numbers yesterday, and the results were mixed.. this time I came in at:
weight: 53 kg
fat mass: 16.7 kg
lean muscle: 19.5 kg
body fat: 31.5%
My first reaction was bitter disappointment that my muscle mass remained the same over the previous month. I have been dedicated to my strength training, but have mostly been focusing on proper form rather than increasing weight this month, and have not felt like I was making too much progress.. and it is reflected in the numbers. The worst news of the day was the .29 kg loss of muscle in my core, which is already my weakest part.
On the flip side, there was good news to be had. I have my fat back down to a manageable level. It's nothing to gloat over, but it's a good solid foundation to continue from. I also managed to gain strength in my legs, which is why despite the massive loss in my core and slight decrease in my arms, I remained at the same overall muscle mass.
I was actually so focused on the core loss, that I didn't even notice until 10 minutes later that I had actually achieved something I've never managed before. On the printout there is a diagram of your body with your muscle distribution color-coded to show you your level of fitness. Since starting at the gym I have ALWAYS fallen solidly in the orange alert zone for my entire body save my arms, which are yellow (green is ideal, a blue is athlete). As of yesterday? Both of my legs are also yellow. This is actually a pretty big milestone, and it's too bad my core detracted from the victory of it so much.
Anyway, I spent the day thinking, bought myself a new pair of cute red heels, and arrived at the plan I wrote about last night. I'm aiming to give myself the weekend to finish up 30/30/40 and transition before starting the new plan on Monday (the 1st!), but it's been pretty hard not to dive in right away.
I've never bumped my calories up quite this high on purpose, so I'm a little apprehensive. Mostly that apprehension centers around whether or not I can stay dedicated enough to keep my activity at a level to justify 1700. I don't want to get used to the increase only to slack off and spend most of my time on the sofa. Hence, new running goals.. which are to follow.
Get An Email Alert Each Time TOTCHIKO Posts