Sunday, March 31, 2013
Week 1 down, and it went fast. My little 4lb weight that was making my arms scream during Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred is too light for me today. I'm doing double the pushups in good form compared to last Sunday. I admit they are the girly on the knees pushups, but I am aiming for a regular military pushup!
My weight is up by 1lb, but I'm not trying to force my mass to a certain number. I'm just doing what needs to be done, and see where it falls.
Trust me. I'm eating stuff like salmon burgers and salads. I'm not gaining fat.
So what did I gain? Water? Muscle? Bone density? Probably a combination of all three. There's no way of knowing.
The only thing I know for sure is that I am stronger. I maxed out my activity for the week, and now I need to step it up.
While I seem to have gained fast, I am not exactly starting from zero.
- I did not grow up fat.
- I played soccer in high school.
- My best friend and I took a semester of weight lifting. We were the only girls in the class!
- I practiced Tae Kwon Do and Hapkido in college.
If you have ever been fit at any time in your life, your body remembers how to build all those pathways. You just need to give it the right stimulus with food and weight bearing exercise.
My legs and core are strong. You think Jillian Michaels is tough? Pfft. Try working with a martial arts master. I had to hold a squat position with good form for almost 30 minutes while we practiced our punches. My instructor almost literally beat any bad form out of me. It wasn't quite Cobra-Kai, but it seemed merciless at the time!
Balancing on one leg in order to throw a kick powerful enough to break 2" boards requires a very stable core. It's actually the core muscles that pushes through and breaks the board.
I've been practicing this week, and I can still do waist height roundhouse and sidekicks, but I no longer have the flexibility to kick anyone in the head. Keep in mind that I am 5'0". Kicking someone in the chest or head required a pretty wide stretch!
All the gains I've achieved this week I'm pretty sure is muscle memory. I'm just rebuilding what I once had.
About four years ago, I got a personal trainer due to a gym special. I weighed 140lbs, which was still about 15lbs overweight. I did not impress with my upper body - I had a really hard time with lateral flies in particular. My lower body, though, was incredibly strong. He put me on the leg press machine and moved the weight up more until he found where I started to strain. I could press 300lbs, but I had best repetition form with 280lbs- twice my body weight. My core was strong and stable - I could hold planks for one minute on day one. Probably because of my martial arts training, maintaining good form was almost second nature. At the end of the three months, he said I was his strongest female client. He said most of his female clients were scared of the weights, didn't eat enough, and barely made any gains.
I had a lot of muscle under my fat. I was fit-fat.
Because I had that muscle once, I can build it again. And it makes me stronger relatively. Leg press of 280lbs at my current weight is a power of approximately 2.25x my bodyweight. It is also relatively easier for me to press that much because I'm not pushing an extra 15lbs of bodyfat.
Low calorie diets depletes muscles. Sorry, but it does. Muscle is very metabolically active, and it requires a lot of calories to maintain. Cardio is also catabolic. Not getting adequate rest between strenuous exercise will continue to break down muscle tissue. A low calorie and high cardio diet was a disaster.
Fortunately, my body remembers.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
This week I didn't have time for workouts.
I made time.
1 minute to get in my workout clothes, 20 minutes to work my circuits, then 5 minutes in the shower. A blip in the radar. Everything that I needed to do later in the day got done.
I didn't have a lot of time to prepare meals, and going through the fast food lane was awfully tempting. But how long does it take to shred lettuce, toss in a tomato, open a can of tuna, and mix with lemon juice?
It was shocking to realize that after wrecking my metabolism and body, it took me 10 years to get back to where I started. Most people have goals that they want to lose xx pounds before their wedding, class reunion, or the summer, then get downtrodden when the scale doesn't cooperate.
Been there myself, and if I hadn't been such a stubborn you-know-what, 10 years would have turned into never.
You have two choices. Keep going, or give up. We all have weeks where things didn't go our way.
I sure wish I could have figured out all the right pieces and lost my weight in the first year, but I didn't. It was a learning process. There was a progression.
DENIAL: "I'm fat because of my 'slow' metabolism. " or "It must be my age."
GET THIN QUICK SCHEME: "I'm going to drink this Slim Fast every day for a month."
FAILURE: "I lost ten pounds on slim fast, and I gained back 15! I'll never lose weight!"
UNDEREAT, OVER-EXERCISE: "I'm going to eat 1000 calories, and do cardio at the gym for a bazillion hours."
FEAR: "Why aren't I losing weight anymore? I'm scared to eat more calories or stop exercising or I might regain!"
QUESTIONING: "Why are other people able to eat so many calories and still lose weight? How is it that bodybuilders can drop bodyfat at will? What's going on here?"
EPIPHANY: "Nutrition controls bodyfat; lifting heavy things raises metabolic burn. I got this."
If you want to lose weight fast, then skip through all the crap and get to the crux of the final steps.
But if motivation is totally tied up in seeing results quick, you're not even close to the end.
If you're doing the same thing over and over again and not seeing results, then something is still wrong with your diet or exercise routine. Saying "I did everything right, but nothing happened" doesn't make a lot of sense. If you're doing what your body needs, it will respond. If your body fights against you, it's a message.
If the response to this is, "But everybody's different and I can't lose weight because of x,y or z," then that is denial. Whatever special challenges you have, if you want it, you make it work.
BTW, this guy's name is Josh Sundquist, a paralympic athlete. joshsundquist.com/
Who cares if someone else can eat as much pizza as they want and still lose weight? They aren't you. And I guarantee, if you lose weight eating fresh freggies and protein, you'll be a million times healthier than the pizza guzzler.
If you aren't getting the results you want doing what you're doing, then change it. Or give up, and start over.
Friday, March 29, 2013
Woohoo!! It's Friday, ladies and gents!
The theme of my blogs this week has been scales do not apply. At this stage in my fitness, I don't care what the scale says. It's not going to tell me if I'm meeting my objective. I'm at a healthy weight and bodyfat percentage. That's pretty awesome.
But what if I want to firm up and tone up?
Losing weight and losing fat isn't enough. I need to get buff. And if I get buff, the bathroom scale is going to hurt my feelings. It might go up.
Goodbye, bathroom scale.
So then how do I tell whether I'm getting more buff?
Pretty much all of my objectives require non-scale goals: bodyfat monitor, tape measurements, how much I can lift and how my clothes look and feel.
My diet and fitness goal is to eat nutritious food and lift heavy things.
This week I haven't lost a single pound. And I don't care!
Here's what's happened in its place:
- Tummy is tightening up. The clean eating has reduced the bulge and poofiness, and the pinch factor is getting smaller. I'm a long, long way from having six pack definition, but I am getting a flatter runway.
- I'm bottom heavy, so I always see changes happen in my upper body first. One of my old sports bras doesn't fit anymore, which means the 'girls' have shrunk (boo). However, the 'girls' have more lift, which looks better on my petite frame anyway.
- My back muscles are looking RIPPED! Seriously. I was shocked when I saw them in the mirror. I was posing like a bodybuilder so I could check them out.
- I can see tendons and muscles in my arm moving when I grab something. Shrinking bodyfat is full of surprises.
- Clothes are feeling great. I fit in size 4/6, but I've been wearing mostly 6s because they've been more comfortable. Really, when size 6s are your 'fat pants,' things are going well.
Here was my plan:
- No calorie counting. I track my food simply so I could monitor the nutritional quality. I didn't intend to count anything, or try to stay within a range. If you are curious, however, I was eating about 1600-1800 calories per day. I don't want to lose weight. I want to change my body composition, and I can only do that by eating a lot of calories. Calorie restriction and muscle growth are incompatible.
- Ate when I was hungry, and stopped when I was full. With my increased fitness activity this week, I was hungry all the time. No problem. I didn't fight it. I ate healthy food when my body wanted it.
- I ate only high quality, nutritious food (with the exception of the pizza, which we will discuss in a minute!). Chicken, salmon, tuna, beef, pork, eggs and veggies of all colors of the rainbow. You know those big packs of lettuce at the wholesale clubs like Sam's or Costco? I ate one whole head of romaine lettuce for lunch every day with my protein serving. If I got hungry in between meals, I ate hard boiled eggs or a cup of greek yogurt. Being hungry was not allowed.
- The only dairy I ate was yogurt. I didn't eat cheese. This was to reduce bloating.
- No grains. Small amount of potatoes a couple of times in the week. Tonight I'm having a sweet potato with my ribeye, zucchini, and green beans.
The only deviation in my diet was last night when the DH brought home pizza. I was studying for an exam, and he was in charge of dinner. Sigh. I ate two of the smallest slices.
I like pizza as much as the next American, but last night I wished it was a fresh rotisserie chicken instead. Heck, I would rather have KFC because I could have peeled off the breading. I ate the two slices, and I was reminded how easy it is to overeat junk. I didn't feel nearly as full or sated as when I ate my salmon burger at lunch.
When you eat highly nutritious food, you don't need to eat as much.
My fitness routine is probably going to raise some eyebrows. I'm going pretty old school with compound exercises. Dumbell raises, lateral flies, bicep curls, and tricep kickbacks with a small weight combined with squats and lunges. It is a small 4lb weight because I am a wimp, not because I'm scared of muscle. I WANT muscle. BRING THE MUSCLE!
So my weights are puny because my upper body is puny. However, it is time to move to bigger weights. I'm no longer feeling the burn, so that means I have adapted as far as I can go with this level.
I haven't been doing much cardio. Again, my cardio is pretty old school. Jumping jacks and jump rope. Oh, laugh if you want. I want to see YOU do them. Rocky jumped rope!
No matter what exercise I do, I do it until I can't raise my arms or lift my legs anymore, or until I can't possibly do one more pushup or plank. If my arms and legs aren't burning, then I accomplished nothing. Waste of 20 minutes or an hour.
Then I rest and let my body repair until I don't feel the burn anymore.
It just works.
Everyday I'm feeling a little stronger and more capable than the day before.
Every time I do one more pushup than the day before, I know that's progress.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Many people have very unrealistic expectations about weight loss.
Back when I weighed 160, the number on the scale was all that mattered. When you have a lot of weight to lose, it is probably a good enough measure. But if you keep going, eventually body composition is what matters, and that isn't measured on a bathroom scale.
For the movie "Black Swan," Mila Kunis and Natalie Portman both lost about 20lbs for their roles. These women were already thin. A good portion of those 20lbs were a loss of lean mass in order to achieve their svelte ballerina profile.
Natalie Portman said she barely ate anything. Mila Kunis weighed 95lbs. "I had no shape, no boobs, no a**," she told E! Online. "All you saw was bone. I was like, This looks gross."
In contrast, Hillary Swank gained 19lbs of lean mass for the role in "Million Dollar Baby" in order to look like an athletic boxer. According to some reports, she ate almost 4000 calories a day, 200 grams of protein, and 50 grams of carbohydrates. She also had a very intense weight lifting regime, but very little cardio.
Whether one or the other is more attractive is subjective, but it illustrates that scale weight alone does not determine body shape. What you eat and how you train makes changes in body shape.
Here's another example. Christian Bale weighed 120lbs for "The Machinist". He ate coffee and an apple.
He weighed somewhere between 190-220lbs for his role in Batman eating chicken, tuna, and steamed vegetables.
[Note: Bale is a vegetarian, and I had difficulty finding his exact diet for Batman. He has been quoted saying he ate chicken and fish for other roles like "Psycho."]
After getting the part for Batman, Bale said, "I couldn't do a single push-up and so we had months [of training] ahead of us."
According to his personal trainer: "He worked harder than anyone I've ever trained. Every morning he would look different from the day before."
This is where I got to when I made my push to lose the 'last 10 lbs.' If these people can change their shape, why couldn't I?
Where I am currently, my weight staying the same or going up slightly is probably what I want. And yet, I still have a mental block against it. Old habits die hard.
These actors all have specialized nutritionists and personal trainers to make them look this way. Most of us will never have this kind of personalized help.
If you want it, you have to do it yourself.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Some of you are very perceptive. My 'retirement' was due in part to getting my feelings hurt.
Ok, so maybe retirement isn't for me. I'm over it. I've got something to say.
I've been a member of Spark for a very long time. I've seen people come and go, either because they met their goal, or because they gave up in frustration.
Everyone has an opinion on how to lose weight.
- Exercise more, eat less.
- Don't undereat, don't over exercise.
- Eat more whole grains.
- Eat less fat.
- Eat less carbs.
- Don't go over your calories.
- Don't deprive yourself.
Everyone also has an opinion on why we fail.
- Did you count your calories?
- Did you exercise more?
- Did you exercise too much?
- Did you go over your calories?
- Did you go under your calories?
- Did you eat too much fat?
- Did you eat too many carbs?
- Are you drinking enough water?
But here's the weird and unexpected thing that I didn't anticipate when I finally met my goal: hatred.
I've read comments on message boards like, "I hate how some people only have to put in a little effort to lose weight, while I work and work and I can't lose an ounce."
If you've read my story, you know that it took me 10 years to finally get to my goal weight.
A decade. Does that sound easy?
You don't sweat, you don't lose weight. If your muscles aren't sore at the end of every workout, then you will only maintain your weight. I don't care how many calories were burned. No muscle burn, no shape change.
If your muscles aren't burning, you are only staying the same.
Doesn't that sound like a plateau?
Here's my opinion. I'm going to defy the normal convention that maintenance is hard. It is easier to maintain weight when eating clean, whole produce and protein is a daily part of life. It was harder for me to go from 44% bodyfat to 28% bodyfat. This was because I was sick. My metabolism was broken. I was never meant to carry that much fat.
Once I got below 30% bodyfat, suddenly things started working again. My body responds better to exercise and good food with seemingly less effort.
It is true. I am working out with less effort. I am losing weight with less effort. It is less effort to move a normal weight of 125lbs versus an obese weight of 160lbs.
If I want to see improvement, I still have to sweat. I have to work my muscles until they are sore.
Plateau means staying the same. More time on the treadmill isn't going to help either. You're just running in place.
I get that some people don't like my messaging. Maybe I am just preaching to the choir.
Those of us who 'made it' have a few differences in how we approached it, but we have a lot more in common.
So if you 'hate' someone because they seemingly have it so much easier than you, I suggest trying to learn from them instead. Those of us who reached goal weight didn't bang our heads on the same brick wall over and over again. We adapted and learned what our bodies needed.
And, finally, if you don't like my blogs or how I lost weight, then please feel free to move on to another. I'd rather have a few quality friends than a ton of strangers. I'm seeing the appeal of private blogs.
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