Monday, April 08, 2013
Before I describe my first workout, I want to discuss why I am doing this, and what I am hoping to achieve from it.
A few months ago, I was in a workout/diet rut. I achieved 'goal weight,' reversed all my warning signs of metabolic syndrome and have maintained it for almost two years. That was the primary objective, but if I'm honest, I'm not really happy with my shape. I was kind of stuck on what to do next, though.
I spent so much time focusing on trying to get to goal weight, I didn't think about what I was going to do next if I got there. Like many people, I struggled with losing, regaining, and plateaus so often, I secretly believed I would never reach my goal.
When I read that Beechnut and others were doing "New Rules of Lifting for Women," it appealed to me as something new to work on as a 'next stage' in my fitness. I thought it would be great to join with others on something outside of the Spark trackers so I could follow with their progress, and have someone to ask questions! So I bought weights and the book "New Rules of Lifting for Life." A little different to NRoL for Women, but similar.
Today I did the first workout. Am I feeling pumped?
The problem isn't with the book or the program; it's me. I don't like weight training. I never really have.
I took classes in high school and college because I tried to make myself do it. Later, I hired personal trainers to make me do it. I know it's good for me. I just don't *like* doing it.
It's not because I'm afraid of 'bulking' up. Please. One thing I have never been is a pretty-pretty princess afraid that I might sweat or get dirty.
We're all here because we either had or have a weight problem. Remember that first day when you were going to commit to exercise, and you just hated it? I don't know about you, but I hated how I was out of breath I was and it was just so hard. I wanted to quit, sit on the couch, and treat myself to an ice cream sandwich for working so hard.
I got past that and eventually came to love walking, hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkeling and diving. I don't care how many calories were burned or exercise minutes I got. I do it for fun.
I am not there with weight training. I did the exercises that I selected from the program, but I can't say that I feel like I gave it my all. I didn't work to fatigue on some. I had a post workout banana-yogurt smoothie, but it felt like a dessert to me, and I'm not sure that I worked hard enough for it to qualify as fuel.
I am going to commit to this for the four weeks, but it is going to be a matter of discipline to do it. On the second workout Wednesday, I am going to try harder to force myself to pick up heavier weight, then let it fatigue. I know what it should feel like, because I've done it before. I have to resist the temptation to say, "Ok, good enough" before it gets there.
Please help keep me accountable. ;)
Sunday, April 07, 2013
I read through the diet section of the NRLL book last night, and I realized that I only put together the Workout "A" section of the program. I forgot to fill in Workout "B"! How the program works is you do Workout A/B on alternating days with rest days in between. I'm going to start a M-W-F schedule starting tomorrow.
So here is Workout "B"
RAMP - Warmups
Plank 2x30 (seconds)
Side Plank and Row 2x10
Dumbbell push press with 5lbs 2x5 (This is a L3 option, but the explosive pushups will put too much stress on my wrists.)
Supine hip extension 2x15
Elevated push up 2x15
Split squat with 5lbs 2x15
Bent over dumbbell row with 5lbs 2x15
Jumping Jacks 2x1 (minutes)
RECOVERY - stretches and cool down
I read the section of the book on diet, and it says that if you're maintaining weight (energy balance, which I am), then don't change anything with diet just yet. Try the program for 4 weeks and see what happens. So that's what I'm going to do.
Well...not quite holding my diet steady. I am making a few modifications. Yesterday at the grocery store I bought my favorite high carb snack - bananas! I made a greek yogurt and half banana smoothie after my DVD workout. I think I will be exerting my muscles enough that glycogen will need to be replaced, so the carbs will be put to good use.
I'll also be raising my healthy fats slightly for more calories. I no longer believe that fats are really the devil that I grew up believing, however, I do not think fats from battery raised animals are healthy. Cows that are raised on grains are high in omega-6s. Grass-fed cows are high in omega-3s. Unfortunately, grass-fed beef is hard for me to find in my area, so I'm sticking mostly with wild caught fish, and organic chickens and eggs, which are easier for me to find. But I will be upping the amount of olive oils and coconut oil used for cooking or salads. I'm a really big fan of coconut milk, so I'll be making smoothies and chai tea with it. I love avocados, so I'll be tossing more into my salads. I recently cut back nuts because I thought this might lead to more fat burn, but it doesn't seem to have worked. This is the n=1 experiment that I'll be trying.
I took my bike for a tune-up yesterday. They said it should be ready by Thursday or Friday. I'll be riding my bike in between my NRLL workouts.
Today is a 'rest' day, but not really. I need to weed the yard and clean the bathrooms. It's a beautiful day to be outside, though.
Have a fantastic Sunday!
Saturday, April 06, 2013
When I say calorie in minus calorie out doesn't work for me, I mean it. My body will adapt my metabolism to nearly any input I give it. In my past two years of maintenance, I've learned a lot about how my body responds.
If I decrease calories and increase exercise, I get sleepy. That's my body trying to preserve my calories so I use less fuel. How do I reverse this? I have to eat. Almost immediately after I eat, I feel more alert. Whenever I feel my energy dragging or needing a nap, I know that my body is trying to put me into low power mode. It's rather frustrating because there's all these calories in my fat just doing nothing, and my body would rather I took a nap.
I cannot eat 200g of carbohydrates, whether that is simple or complex carbs. That causes my body mechanisms to override my appetite control. I don't have a shutoff valve. Wheat grains causes my stomach to bloat. Starches are ok in moderation.
I wish I understood how to get my body to burn the stored fat better. If I exercise more, it wants to put me to sleep. If I eat fewer calories, I'll start maintaining on fewer calories. It's really hard to keep the calories high when I eat only clean freggies and protein. Grains are extremely calorie dense and it's easy to go over 2000 calories, but it's pretty darn hard when you don't eat grains.
I lost 2lbs this week, but my bodyfat and measurements are the same. It was probably just water loss and not any real gains. But I know I AM stronger as I am pushing a heavier weight than before. So, how can some muscle not have been built? I'm scratching my head.
I think my bodyfat is not really what I estimate it to be. I use bioimpedence, and yes, I know it is inaccurate. I just want a ballpark figure, but I think my ball is out of the stands. The reality is more likely my body shape isn't what I expected it to be because my bodyfat is higher than I think it is. 28% is the high side of normal, and if it's higher...well...then I'm still overweight.
I'm a little farther from my goal than I thought when I woke up this morning.
So now what do I do? Work on strength, or fat loss? I don't believe I can do both. Even if I theoretically lost all the fat today, I'd still have a body shape that I don't want.
I have an idea...but...I'm going to do an n=1 experiment before I say more.
Saturday, April 06, 2013
I've finished reading through the "how to design your workout" part of "New Rules of Lifting for Life" and I've come up with a rough plan for the first 4 weeks of Phase 1.
RAMP - warmup exercises and stretches
Stability: Side Plank 2x30 (seconds)
Dynamic Stability: Plank and Pulldown 2x10
Lower body: Bodyweight jump squats 2x5
Squat: Goblet squat 2x15 5lbs
Pull: Standing cable row 2x15 (Modified with resistance band? See comment below)
Single-Leg Stance: Step up 2x15 5lbs
Elevated pushups: 2x15 (Authors make a good point that "girl" pushups don't engage the core enough)
Jumping Jacks: 2x1 (minute) (My modification)
RECOVERY: Abductor stretch, hip flexor/lat stretch, figure-four stretch
I'm going to do a M-W-F schedule, so I won't be trying this until this coming Monday.
I'm skipping ahead to the L2 squats in the program because I already exceed L1. I've heard people who have done NRoLW say there is a 1 rep assessment, and this book seems to be a bit different in the self examination. I'm a little confused on where to start off on my weights, so I've estimated starting with my smallest weights for my first day, and I'll adjust if needed on the second day.
There's another part I found confusing: In the section of the book on equipment, the authors say you need cable machines, elastic bands, or resistance tubing. I have elastic bands, but for the exercises with the cable machines, they don't tell you how to modify it with the alternate equipment. I'm going to make my best guess by tying my bands to something sturdy (not sure what yet), but just wondering how those of you following the program handle this.
I haven't read the section on diet yet, but I think I'm doing ok with this.
I'm taking my bike to get tuned up today. They say it should be ready by next Thursday or Friday. Today I'm going to do a workout DVD, then I have to hit the books.
I've been thinking that I'm limited in my equipment because I don't have a gym, but yesterday when I was looking at my bill for summer school, I realized that I DO have a gym! I've been paying a recreation fee! DOH! I'll go scope it out during the week.
What do you think of the plan? Any advice or opinions are welcome. :)
Friday, April 05, 2013
I haven't started the "New Rules" program yet, but so far I'm digging the philosophy. Just reading the intro paragraphs of "New Rules of Lifting for Life" hit salient points for me:
- "The math and physiology appear simple only if you refuse to acknowledge complexity. There are too many individual metabolic variations, and they're too poorly understood. Then, when you look at weight loss from the behavioral side, you see an equally complex set of variables."
- "People do manage to lose weight and keep it off. I know some of them, and I've probably corresponded with hundreds. Their secret? They figured out how they gained weight, and did the opposite until they lost it."
- "I don't think a diet or training program produces weight loss, any more than a hammer produces a house. It's the person. The best workout or nutrition plan in the world won't work unless it's used by someone who's ready to reorganize his or her life around the goal of losing weight. Even then, it's almost never simple or straightforward."
Hello! This is EXACTLY my experience. This is how I lost weight and maintained it to date. Everything I did to become fat, I reversed. It wasn't fast and easy, and it took me a long time to realize some of my problems were problems.
But that is weight loss. Can this book take me to the next stage of body sculpting? That remains to be seen.
This morning I weighed myself, and I am 2lbs down. Once again, calorie in minus calorie out math does not work for me. The amount of calories I ate and expended had nothing to do with the amount of weight I lost. I didn't measure my bodyfat or collect my measurements, though - I'll do that tomorrow.
I calculate my basal metabolic rate differently than the Spark tracker. Muscle is metabolically active, and fat is completely inert, so I base it on a formula that takes lean mass into account. I won't bore you with the math, but if you are interested in doing this yourself, the formula is in the wikipedia entry for BMR.
According to this calculation, I burn approximately 1300 calories at rest. I then tack on any exercise calories burned. This usually puts me around 1500-1600. I've been tracking my food, but I'm not necessarily focused on calories. On days when I worked out, I was hungrier and I ate more. I ate about 1800 calories on those days. On "rest" days, I was less hungry, and ate about 1400-1500 calories.
If it were as simple as calorie in versus calorie out, I should have maintained or gained weight. This didn't happen. I lost 2lbs, but I ate more than I theoretically burned.
How did that happen? What's the secret? Am I genetic anomaly?
No, not at all. Weight loss doesn't fit into a neat little formula, unfortunately.
Here's what I think happened:
- Strength training workout. I get the feeling that some of you don't really believe I'm pushing hard on the strength training. Yes, little 3lb weights DID in fact cause my arms to burn! However, they no longer burn, so I am a little less pathetic than before, but now I'm grunting on 5lb weights.
Activities that cause muscle fatigue induce extra calorie burn for a few days because your body needs lots of calories to repair it. Hence, why I was crazy hungry. This 'afterburn' will not be recorded in an exercise tracker. The articles I've read say that it requires more calories to build muscle than will actually be used in the final result. Say that a pound of muscle is equal to 1,800 calories. It requires 3,600 calories to BUILD it. This is why low calorie diets do not build muscle.
But you can't simply eat more calories. They have to be good quality calories, or the excess will become fat. You can't build it in a day, either.
- I didn't do strenuous activity every day. I had a couple of lazy days when I did nothing, and a few more low intensity activities just walking around the neighborhood. The day after rest day was when I noticed improvements, if any, that I made from the prior workout.
- Clean eating. I earned a freaking halo this week. I didn't eat any Easter candy or fast food. On days when I ran short on time to cook, I didn't go to the fast food window; I bought rotisserie chickens from the supermarket.
I have a few advantages in this department. I'm not working in an office and I don't have kids, so there was not any candy bowl temptation. There weren't any Cadbury eggs in my line of sight. I love those things.
- No grains. Not trying to stir up a debate about this, but if you want to know what works for me, this is one of them. Your results and choices may vary.
- I am normal weight. I find it easier to tweak my response at a normal weight rather than obese weight. Probably because I cleaned up a lot of my metabolic problems on the way down.
If I were to pin my finger on things that worked out for me this week, I would say food is the biggest factor.
"You can eat your way out of any exercise." ~Jillian Michaels
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