Tag Archives: weightlifting

Health kick update

I am pleased to report that my health kick is going well!! To recap, I had quite fuzzy goals. Nothing specific like a dress size, or a race to enter. I just basically wanted to move more, eat more veg, and feel a bit better.

I run in 90-100+ degrees currently - now THAT is dedication.

I run in 90-100+ degrees currently – now THAT is dedication.

Well, so far, I have succeeded! I have run twice a week since that goal. I am pleased that even running this small amount has allowed me to improve – I was worried twice a week might not be regular enough to see improvements in my pace and distance but I have gone from walking 1/2 of my paltry [<— must not be negative! Must be positive about my achievements!] 2.3 miles to jogging the whole way, and from struggling to get a 10.5/min mile, to averaging 9.5/min mile, with a PB of 9.23/mins. NOT BAD. Most importantly twice a week was just enough to get running vaguely pleasant – the first 6 or so runs I HATED almost every minute of – my body ached, my lungs burned and I felt like it was an uphill struggle. Now, while I wouldn’t put running on a par with eating chips on the sofa, it is now enjoyable in its own way. I am about ready to start turning one of my runs into a longer run – I’d like to build up to 10K over the next 6 months or so.

But my Houston Bayou run is pretty beautiful

But my Houston Bayou run is pretty beautiful

I am also zumba-ing once a week, and lifting weights twice a week. I am not sure if twice a week weight lifting will make much difference, but it is good to feel strong and do something a little different to cardio.

Most boring food picture int he world?!?

Most boring food picture in the world?!?

My diet *is* better. It’s not amazing, but it is better. At least 1/2 of the week I am not having a McDonalds for breakfast. The green smoothies started to make me really queasy (my body really revolts against green things), but I have managed to have a banana and greek yogurt, or oatmeal with pumpkin some of the time – that’s a step up. I have a healthy BMI, so I wasn’t looking to particularly cut things from my diet (hello vanilla goldfish), but I was looking to get healthy things in – I am having more salads, and each day I have 1 serving of carrots and 1 of cherry tomatoes as snacks. I am almost at my 5 a day!! It doesn’t sound like much, but when you are allergic to almost all fruit (except the occasional banana) and most vegetables make you hurl (see the green smoothie issue) it’s an achievement.

I am actually also quite proud that I have managed to keep things sane as well. I have never entered any kind of lifestyle change without setting crazy intense goals for myself. Last time I tried sport, I was running a Tough Mudder (all of it! No skipping obstacles!) within 8 months. When I tried a healthy eating plan, I got myself visible abs in 12 weeks (which as I started at the same weight as when I was 24 weeks pregnant with Sam was quite a hard won achievement). It’s very weird for me just to do ‘healthy behaviors’ for the sake of doing healthy behaviors, and to press ahead of them without hope of some clear short term reward. It makes it easy to think ‘oh, I won’t bother with a run today, I’ll do it another time’, but I have soldiered on so far. I keep telling myself that having things in moderation IS a healthy behavior, and I think of all these cheesy motivational quotes like:

“You can choose to make just today [or this meal] healthier”. Or “You are still lapping everyone on the couch”.

gym8-c2e2d54551bddcb807b6a51a4b1cd705_h

Kinda hokey, I know. But hey, whatever works, right?

 

Image credit

http://vi.sualize.us/pos_of_motivation_quotes_videos_tips_gym8_picture_twsM.html

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Goodbye second trimester….

Or, as this post could be called “In which Lekki gets on her soap box again”.

According to this handy little calculator (which is also very helpful at helping me pretend not to be a completely useless-mother-to be and thus be able to actually answer the question “how far along are you?”) my third trimester begins anywhere from August 4th – August 9th. I.e. soon. It has been a while since I last blogged about my pregnancy – but you can take this as a good thing: basically I have been having too much of a rip roaringly good time traveling to NYC, entertaining the bestie on her sojourn to Houston, and working hard. OK, maybe the last one is not so good… I have also not had too much to blog about: straight forward as this pregnancy has gone. I did have lots of growing bump pics, but then some evil-knevil stole my phone and took them away from me. I hope s/he gets some serious guilt when he sees a bunch of bump and ultrasound pics, now lost forever. But… that’s by the by… let’s see how we are doing:

So, I am *checks calculator* 26 weeks and 4 days… 3 months to go! The baby is viable (woo-hoo), so come on out FW (but not like, just yet, or anything). The bump is pretty good, I have gone from this:

End of the first trimester

to this:

20 weeks

To this:

End of second trimester – 27 weeks

with weight gain at a healthy 13 lbs (and rising!).

My comfort level is pretty good. Have had one or two issues: while walking in New York I got this ‘orrible shooting pain down my back through my butt to my knee that made it impossible to walk – in fact made it only possible to literally collapse, thank goodness for NYC cabs everywhere. Mmmmmm…. sciatica. An exercise-based management technique has helped no end. Oh, and I had a night of false labour last week, which is waaaaaaay earlier than expected. Which was terrifying as I DID NOT HAVE MEDICAL INSURANCE TO CHECK EVERYTHING WAS OK, which Republicans think is just fine, as insurance companies should be allowed to exclude ‘pre-existing conditions’. Cough. Basically I woke up in the middle of the night with lower back cramps that radiated to my lower belly. The pain was impressive, and no amount of rocking / ball sitting / walking / curling up and sobbing relieved it. A quick internet search (because, yes, when you have no medical care Google is your only friend) revealed that it was likely heightened by dehydration so I drank 60 oz of water, lay on my left side, and eventually it eased allowing me to sleep for brief 10 minute snatches in between loo trips, marred only by my reassessment of the decision to attempt a natural birth. As you can imagine, I was a rockstar at work the next day.

I have, however, found an OB / GYN. Which was not as easy as it sounds. You think it would be, as you are basically saying “hey, in the US, people massively overpay per person for worse health outcomes, because they are afraid of government interference… so I would like to have you paid vast amounts to not give me the most effective care. Please”. Piece of cake, right?  Nope, because I have had a ‘gap in care’ and so am ‘high risk’ and no one wants to take me. After yelling ‘so you are going to deal with my LACK of care, by denying me more care?’ and  ‘Just to get this straight: you think that I may have some uncontrolled health conditions that could make the birth complex, difficult and expensive. So instead of treating them early and turning a complex, difficult and expensive birth (which the state has to pay for legally, as it is ’emergency care’) into a simpler, easier, less expensive birth… you are going to let them run amok and so become a more complex, more difficult and more expensive birth?’. After receiving several affirmatives, the Women’s Healthcare Specialists of Houston took me on. Hoorah. But in the process of which, I had to do all sorts of promising and faxing of records and proving that I and little Firework, are, to the best of my knowledge, exceptionally healthy. Because you know, we eat right, sleep well, do regular exercise yada yada yada. The ob / gyns all opined that the only reason I had had such an easy pregnancy so far was because I was in, and had maintained, excellent athletic shape. Yeah… that exercise and athletic shape thing. So, in other news, I have got my ever expanding butt off the sofa for the first time in 9 weeks (where has the time gone??) and completed 2 yoga classes, one strength class and 2 ‘runs’.

When I say run, I mean going from 8.5 min miles to 10 min miles. And from 15K to 2.5K.

Post run sweatiness

Included for Walter’s confused expression; he is thinking “I didn’t know whales ran?!?”. Also ignore my terrible hair – there was pre-dye gook in it, and so it looks straw like and straw coloured.

And by ‘strength’ I mean lifting 10lb dumbells and then collapsing on the floor to oogle at John Stewart on my iPad.

John Stewart, lookin’ smokin’ and saying smart things… as he does.

But, it is a start. And Wes is working on the diet, sneaking vegetables into my meals and snacks without me protesting:

“Would you like a chip, Lekki?”

“Mmmm… yes please…. wait, this chip is surprisingly green and ungreasy and kale like”.

He made kale chips.

Wes’ kale chips – actually really delicious

Apart from the potential health hazard of the inherent shock at ‘the-McDonald’s-employees-miss-me-when-I-don’t-go-daily-Wesley’ making kale chips I am sure it is overall a good thing.

So… we have also been receiving awesome, awesome baby clothes and gifts. I absolutely LOVE everything everyone has bought for us.

Oh, and we have been doing the nursery (I was reminded of this as Holly managed to send babygros that matched the nursery perfectly. Cool.). Too early ye say? Well, probs not, as FW is due early Nov, I have a grant due mid-Oct, and am traveling for the last 3 weeks of Sept (work)… and possibly have another grant due mid Sept. So, working backwards, this means the nursery needs to be done by late August: 3 weeks’ time.  Thus we have a lovely grey nursery courtesy of my excellent paint-choosing skills, and Wesley’s excellent paint-applying skills

Dark, but soft, grey walls and our awesome changing table which was given to us!

and a sketch of a mural which I am going to attempt to paint. Yup, the girl who failed basic art at school is going to freestyle it on a wall.Results to come… (good or bad).

The nursery theme is clearly grey & white, with yellow and blue accents (to come) so we have these pics I made too:

Not sure if I want to redo these to make them tidier or not

Can’t wait to meet the little ‘un!

My blogging absence…. meet Firework

Big Fat Positive

Big Fat Positive

I have been way too sporadic in my blog posts of late – and most of you know why. Welcome Firework – due November 5th. Of course, blogging seems like the ideal pregnancy activity, except that every moment not spent sleeping / fighting nausea I have spent trying to keep up to date with my work (have I managed? 90% there. I am getting better). Most people know about little Firework, but superstition stopped me revealing on my blog until 12 weeks (although the pics on facebook are somewhat of a public giveaway). Anyway –  a blogger’s tradition and a little Q&A to meet Firework.

Dates

LMP was January 30th, Firework was conceived on Feb 14th, and I found out I was pregnant 6 days before my next period on Feb 24th.

Why I tested so early?

Because it was Wes’ birthday 🙂

How I found out 

Well, I had had some weird early pregnancy symptoms – a 4-day headache, a pain in my lower back like I had been kicked, and my *ahem* went a weird dark red /purple colour (yes! really! it freaked me out and I was like ‘is this normal? Did it always look like this? Surely I would have noticed?’), plus I felt a pretty sharp implantation pains (I always feel ovulation as well). I knew the very earliest I could test fell on Wes’ birthday, so I figured: why not? It was the first month we had tried, so I bulk bought a pack of pregnancy tests, promising myself that when I got the inevitable negative I wouldn’t test until I was late, and then not again until I was late the following month. I didn’t tell Wes as I didn’t want to seem like a ‘crazy baby lady’ 🙂

Woke up before Wes on his birthday – POAS (peed on a stick) – put it down, set a timer and made myself leave the room. When the timer went off came back, and could not believe I saw a (very faint) pink line..

Barely visible first test (yes, I still have it)

Barely visible first test (yes, I still have it)

How I told Wes

I waited until he woke up, then found him drinking milk straight from the carton. I just went up to him and said “You know how we aren’t doing presents until later? I have an early one for you” and showed him the stick

What Wes said

He was overjoyed. Said it was definitely the best birthday ever. We are not really criers, plus were in a bit of shock. He smiled and was happy and asked how I was feeling (which back then was pretty normal).

How Wes has been

Awesome. He was cooking me dinner every night until I started throwing it up. He asks me every single night if there is anything he can bring me (and will travel for random stuff) and is more than happy to run about after me, just because I “can’t be bothered to get off the sofa”. It’s kinda true what they say: women become mothers when they are pregnant, men become fathers when the baby is born. It is so true, but it works, because while I worry and fuss about the baby, Wes worries and fusses about me. He hates seeing me sick, and can’t do enough to make me more comfortable. He’s a great father-to-be.

Emotional meltdowns:

Just three (I think that is less than usual). One: Early on when I was trying to let a drunk Wes into the house and I was struggling to find the key on his ring and he said “it’s the same as on yours” which was absolutely. the. meanest. thing. ever. Luckily some rational part of my brain decided that perhaps there were worse things, and before Wes could see I ran to the back of the house to ‘read in peace’ i.e. sob myself to sleep.

Two: I walked to breakfast with my friend Stella, giving a small heave on the way. They said the wait for breakfast was 40 mins, I was not happy but agreed. After 1 hour of waiting I put my head between my legs and sobbed uncontrollably. Stella took it well – offered me chocolate and space – and we were seated pronto. I got my ginger pancakes and all was well.

Three: I went into the boot (trunk) of the car and the lid-thing came down and hit – OK, tapped – me on the head. I started crying and didn’t stop for 40 minutes at the whole injustice of the thing. Wes remained calm, amazing sympathetic (if slightly bemused) and bought me crepes.

My parents:

Have been awesome. So excited – Mum is knitting a shawl and when I mentioned that I was waiting for payday to buy new bras that fit, my dad (DAD)whispered to my Mum and she said “we’ll get you some”. They have sent out  Dairy Milk, and my Dad (I repeat: DAD) rummaged around BHS for 32E bras for me 🙂

How the first trimester has been

Shiiiiiiiity (pardon my french). The first 6 weeks were fine – a lot of tiredness and mild nausea that just made me feel nice and pregnant and I thought was cool. I was actually more productive at work as I had stopped training for the 1/2 marathon when I found out (yes…. this is why I didn’t run) and was well rested. Then the real morning sickness hit, and I couldn’t keep liquids down, was throwing up at home, at work, out of the car…. I couldn’t focus at work, as I was just fighting waves of nausea…. I couldn’t keep down protein or vegetables, only cake, pasta, fries, bread, some cheese – which made me miserable. Then the Dr convinced me to take anti-emetics and my life came back. Now I am tired and sometimes nauseous, but my life is back. Now I quite enjoy it.

Exercise / eating

Yeah… I had this plan that I would go fully paleo when pregnant. Not at option when you can’t keep protein of veggies down. I also couldn’t therefore really lift, and after this epidemiological study decided not to run. Yes, Dr.s do say that it is fine to keep running, if your body is used to it, and yes, there have been many women who ran throughout pregnancy with wonderful, healthy pregnancies. And I applaud any women who decides to keep her fitness routine going. It is a personal choice and seemed to me that you were told not to run if your pregnancy was ‘high risk’ – however it also seemed to me that you only know if you are ‘high risk’ if you have signs of impending miscarriage, and sadly, by then, sometimes it is too late. So, for the first trimester only, as I didn’t know if there were any problems with the pregnancy or not, it was swimming only weeks 6-10. Now I have added heavy lifting back in (slightly lower weight for things like squats, absolutely no compromise in form, and no lifts above the head), and with my ob/gyn’s clearance will go back to running, doing couch to 5 K, hopefully this week.

Oh, and diet. Honestly? Atrocious. I crave carbs and sweets and often it is the only thing that quells the nausea. I start with a super healthy breakfast and so my best to stay that way – but I tail off when the nausea hits again.

Weight gain

1.5 – 2 lbs. Hopefully no muscle mass loss, as my strength has not taken a hit. That being said, I am a whale very early on bump-wise though – check out how quickly my belly ‘popped’.

5 weeks - 134 lbs

5 weeks - 134 lbs

11 weeks - 135.5 lbs

12 weeks - 135.5 / 136 lbs. How did this shoot out??

Scans

We got 2 scans, one at 8 weeks where we saw the heartbeat (and Firework looked like a squished frog). This was when we chose to tell everyone.

Squished froglet

And today, we had a nuchal scan (all looked good) at 12 weeks. Apparently I have a huge uterus – every u/s technician comments on it. It wasn’t always big, just grew very quickly. It’s a good thing – lots of room for Firework to move around. But Firework chose today to scrunch his / herself into the very smallest corner and hide away. The u/s technician tried to goad Firework into moving, but poking my abdomen repeatedly with probes and fingers, but this just made Firework scrunch up and hide even more and kick his / her legs (which was incredibly cute) while sucking his / her thumb (ditto on the cuteness). Firework is like Daddy: shy and likes to hide out in their own space. My invasive / exhibitionist genes are not showing yet 🙂

Scrunched child

Cravings:

Loads: berries with cream, mini eggs from Britain, ketchup, donuts (so bad for donuts), buffalo wings, oranges, ketchup, watermelon, ketchup, chips (fries) with malt vinegar and ketchup. More Ketchup.

Best thing I have bought for pregnancy so far:

My belly band is pretty rocking. But I am in love with a rented doppler. I was told not to get it, as some people say it is impossible to hear the heartbeat on your own early, or to distinguish it from other sounds such as your own heartbeat, or your pelvic blood flow. I called the company, and they said that if you are slim, you can hear it from 10 weeks – and it was just $25 a month, so I went for it. I heard the heartbeat the first night! It was easy to distinguish my sounds from Firework’s: my heartbeat and thus blood flow is 66 bpm – Firework’s is over 140! It is a little harder to distinguish between Firework’s blood flow and Firework’s heart beat, but hear you have 2 options: (1) listen for two separate but similar sounds or (2) accept that both are equally signs of a healthy baby. I didn’t use it too often – not a good idea in the first trimester, but lest there are any doubters, I did listen to the heartbeat and measure it as 154 bpm – and the Dr measured it as 155. So – proof that for me it worked. Here is little Firework’s heartbeat 🙂

End of DAMY Bikini Body… on with Tough Mudder

DONE

I did it… 12 weeks on Bikini Body. 12 Thanksgiving-spanning, Department-lunch covering, three-time-of-the-month encompassing weeks. 12 weeks ago I squinted suspiciously at the impossibly-beautiful Amy Layne and debated whether she was another empty promise and short-lived lie. I sent her my $98. Best thing I ever did. Amy got me back ‘on track’, she taught me to care about overall food intake, not focus and obsess over individual macro- micro- whatevero- nutrients. I followed her workouts, stuck to her eating plan and watched myself change so much. For the first time, people really started commenting on how good I look. Not how slim (how skinny-fat), just how different, and how toned. AND, weirdly, for the first time I way relaxed about what I ate. I stopped dreading social occasions, I stopped fearing my own reactions to food. I think I have covered most of what I learned on this journey, but mostly it was;

-Never, ever resort to quick fixes

-Don’t obsess over the scales

-Stick to it through the ‘water weight days’

-Know that water weight days can last > 10 days in some (my) cases!

-Every time you “fall off the wagon”, just get right back on it, that SECOND. Not “tomorrow”; not “after the weekend” – right then.

-Make sure you do the exercises you HATE (hello squats). You probably hate them for a reason.

-Know that hungry before a meal is OK. Hungry all the time is not.

-Give up those artificial sweetners

-Chillax. Keep doing your best. Be proud of yourself for doing so.

40 mins; 1 weeks’ food to reheat and serve

The best practical tip that I learned was: Cook way in advance. Seriously. I would do a weekly shop, then make lietrally, 10 lunches and 10 dinners (5 for me, 5 for Wes). For example:a giant thing of whole wheat pasta with tuna and tomato; a tray of roasted veg and chicken, a large lasagne and tub of pre-cooked fajita mix. Then, portion out into single servings and store in the fridge. Wes and I could grab ‘n’ go as we liked, and it really only took ~40 mins to do the whole thing on a Sunday. Only one kitchen clean up too 🙂

And, I made my goal: a waist of 26″ without squeezing and pinching. I do have bikini-clad progress pics, but you have to email me for them as I fear future employers / students getting a gander 🙂 So you can have final stats instead:

Starting / after 2 weeks / after 4 weeks / after 6 weeks / after 12 weeks:

Weight: 143.5 lbs. / 138.5 / 135.5 / 137 / 134

Chest: 37 / 37 ” / 37 “ / 37″ / 37″ (good grief; no fecking change)

Waist: 30″ / 29″ / 28″ / 28″ / 26″ (wooooooo!)

Hips: 38″ / 37″ / 37″ / 37″ / 37″

What now? Well, a similar eating style + some wine in the evening, but slightly different workouts. Which leads me too:

Tough Mudder Training

So, for bikini body it has been all low weight, high rep ickiness. (I HATE that – let me move mountains, please!). Lots of interval workouts, and I did reach 15K (ever closer to my half marathon goal).

Now, I am switching it up, as my ADHD-like tendencies… OK, OK, my pure ADHD… does not allow me to stick at one plan too long. Here is a summary:

-Weights: 4 times a week, at a level where I fail on the 12th rep. Lots of ab work for the vanity.

-Interval training: Yes, OK, I will do it. At least 3 times a week. With lots of core work for the health.

-Running: Knee not coping so well. Twice a week: one long, one short run. With one elliptical session for the Chuck Bass ogling.

-Yoga: Twice a week, to help my fairly wrecked body. With one post-yoga glass of wine for the pain.

Finally. Pull up training. New (near impossible) goal: to be able to do a pull up (or four) by Tough Mudder. I’ll keep you posted. With videos for the voyeurism.

This week, I am entering the Lookout Mountain 10K. Kinda nervous about a full 10K on a trail… and how busy it will be. Also, I am in so much weight lifting / interval training pain at the moment, the thought of completing it is currently fairly inconceivable… but hey, this is just usual pre-race jitters, right? And, I have a new race to think about:

New Race!!

Woo-freakin’-Hoo. In January, I shall be running in the Canyonlands Half Marathon. Oh so pretty. Oh so damaging to my credit card. This is AWESOME news. But also quite scary. My goal? 2 hours 45. There. I said it. Wish me luck 🙂

The price of pie, ample appreciation for Stella, and umpteen updates

Walter's toothbrush. Relevant for later discussions

The price of pie:

Ah pie… how I love you. But apparently you come with a high price. The bearer of the amazing Amish funeral pie had a head cold-y bronchitis thing. Which I now have. It feels vaguely like someone dangled me upside down, poured liquid cement into my nostrils and let it harden in my sinuses. I do seem to be fighting it better (or at least I have way less symptoms) than the deliverer of the pie (and my husband) though so I am going to say kudos to my healthy eating plan and exercise regime for giving me a kick ass immune system.

I would like to say that the cold has kept me from doing exciting things and writing exciting updates. But this is a lie as actually, I have felt pretty OK with the cold. Pretty amazing actually since I discovered melatonin and am actually sleeping decent hours, and at a decent quality it would seem. I had an epiphany yesterday where, at 8 am, in a pre-caffeinated state with a paper already reviewed and corrected I realised that for the first time in many, many months, I actually felt rested. Happy, happy times.

I also had a moment of Stella-love (despite the germs), and felt moved to share them. So here are 5 things I love about Stella:

1. Her pies. ‘Nuff said. And not a euphemism.

2. Her innate ability not to just ‘go with the crowd’. Early on I was party to a conversation with a group of postdocs. An analysis plan was agreed on and Stella said “great, that should take me about half a day”. Another postdoc said “you don’t say that! You say it takes 3 days and go to the beach for 2”. I remember because I thought that was a sad state of affairs, but did question it. Stella’s reaction was better; all over her face was “There is no way in hell I am doing that, see you at the top”. And I had a moment where I remembered I used to be exactly like that, and actually preferred being like that. I switched my attitude back to how I like, and have been more productive and happier since.

3. Stella is striving for the top – but she is more than happy to take you with her. Whether it is the loneliness of postdoctoral epi, or the insecurity, that is not something I have overtly focused on: how to help others while helping myself. But I looked around, and realised how many researchers (PIs, CHARGE members, other postdocs) out there had gone out of their way to help me, for no other reason than that they could.  So, again, I shifted my perspective and have really enjoyed reaching out to others. Maybe there really is no true altruism, and the rewards I have got from this are my motivation. If so: so be it. It works.

4. Stella defines goals, does everything to meet them, but doesn’t seem (overtly) to end in a spiral of self-criticism and depression if they aren’t met. I mean, sure it is disappointing, but  I can take things way too personally, and way too much a reflection on my core character. One mini Toosie roll does not make me a terrible person.

5. Fun. Stella never forgets the fun in life. Actually, I don’t either, but it’s good to be reminded.

So, that’s the psychology update. What else do I have for ya?

DAMY update:

Ah, it is going so well.  I am losing minimal lbs, but the body fat is shedding. Those trousers that I couldn’t even do up exactly 11 weeks ago (seriously, I didn’t wear them as my Ma had to lend me others) are now too big. Even if I don’t always see the changes, other people have. I keep getting compliments about how much I have changed. So, I am happy and looking forward to switching from the Bikini Body 12-week plan to either DAMY method (ongoing weightloss) or DAMY lifestyle (maintenance). I am not quite sure. I’ll post final stats next week, and maybe (password protected… come on future employers and students read this blog) progress pictures. But in the meantime, as I near the end of the first phase of my DAMY journey this is what I have learned:

  1. Do not let a bad scale week (not day) define you. I used to freak out if the scales didn’t show what I wanted for a couple of days, and institute a radical change of diet. By sticking with Amy’s plan, and simply looking back and ‘tweaking’ things I have made slow and steady improvements.
  2. Overly restricting doesn’t work for me. It leads to a brief, unsustainable period of  burning up my muscle, then extreme ‘off weekend’ where I piled on fat. Do this for several months and it is easy to go from skinny to skinny-fat to fat (I was never fat, I know, but you see the pattern). Much better is to always nourish your body.
  3. Hence, ‘off moments’ are just that: moments. A small piece of pie, or an extra glass of wine, doesn’t mean ‘it is over for the day’. It just means you can keep working to improve your figure / health or achieve your goal: you will just make a smaller improvement today. So, e.g. thanksgiving: I took mostly healthy food: salad, veg, white meat turkey and then had a small amount of (amazing) sweet potato casserole and stuffing. At dessert again: a very small amount of pie (and it is not like I was exactly hungry). But then dinner was right back ‘on plan’ instead of as previously ‘well, I have blown it today – can have what I want’. I guess, I was never ‘starting again tomorrow’ or ‘getting back to it at the end of the weekend’. I was always applying it. Just not always perfectly 🙂
  4. I guess I feel my 12 weeks (11.5) with DAMY so far have taught me a sense of balance and realism. So – I am super looking forward to continuing to work with Amy 🙂 Her workouts are killer 🙂 Which leads to:

Tough Mudder update

Actually the training is going very well. Generally doing the same as before: 2 runs a week (one long, one short) 4 weight sessions (1 chest and tri, 1 back and bi, 1 shoulder and abs, 1 legs. man, I hate the legs), 1 elliptical session (save the old knees) and trying to keep up the body weight and sprint workouts to twice a week. Plus my beloved weekly kickboxing. It sounds a lot, but is rarely more than an hour a day (maybe 1 hour 10 in this last phase of bikini body, but that will drop again soon). 1 hour a day is pretty manageable. My greatest joy as easily completing 15K at 5K training pace [just under an hour and a half] 🙂 . Sadly, although this was 10 days ago, my hips and knees are still hurting from it (no, I didn’t stretch or ice bath after – definitely my bad)  considerably, so I haven’t been able to repeat. I am just waiting for the day that I can (which I think will be after next Saturday’s race) as I actually really enjoyed just zoning out and doing it.

DAMY is focusing on leaning down in this phase, so weights are high rep (20). I am looking forward to going back to low-rep (6-10) and higher weight. I just prefer it. And finally:

Marriage update.

It’s been 6 months (!) Can you Adam ‘n’ Eve it? How are things going? Well, I think our marriage can be summed up thus. Wesley objected to finding Walter’s toothbrush so close to his own (yes, I brush Walter’s teeth daily) so I came home to find this dangling in the front room:

Somewhat Blair Witch esque

I think we’ll be alright 🙂 Speaking of Walter… he says:

Happy Advent y'all.

One step closer to a Tough Mudder.

Eeeek, I was just sent a blog about the Tough Mudder race. Sure, there was talk about skipping obstacles and some happy-go-lucky

“I would encourage anyone to try this out. … I loved the spirit present in the race. … I loved this race…and you might too!”

talk at the end, but there was also talk of water with ice in, tiny tunnels, smoke filled obstacles and such. I am more skeered than ever. Let’s just be glad I met, in fact exceeded (woo!!) all my goals this week. I am assuming that my traning schedule is on point with my fitness and nutrition:

Complete 2 any of 3:

1. Improve 5K time below 30 mins (29.5 mins)

2. Walk for less of the 6 mile jog (HUGE improvement; almost no walking)

3. Complete more of the 8 mile slow and steady / HIIT mix-up. (did it all. Oh yes baby, I sprinted back to my house. And collapsed. But I sprinted none the less).

and to work in some weights for my legs. (DONE!) Ha!

My training went like this:

Thursday:  45 min kickboxing

Friday – am: Timed 5K. Goal: Speed Pm: 20 minutes weights (DAMY workout)

Saturday – light biking

Sunday – 6 mile run. Goal: Endurance

Monday: am: 4 miles HIIT. Pm: Weights (20 min DAMY workout)

Tues: More rest.

Weds: am: 4 mile jog; 4 mile HIIT Pm: Weights (DAMY leg work out)

Goal next week:

Maintain all my times, and turn that 6 miler into a 7 miler (or more?). I (and Gabe, Andrea and Andrew) CAN AND WILL DO THIS!!!!

How to exercise for fat loss

There is a lot of popular press telling you that exercise will not help you lose weight… in fact, you may *gasp* gain weight. The main study sparking this off back in the early 2000s if I recall correctly, got two groups of women and put them on treadmills. One group completed ‘high intensity’ and one group ‘moderate intensity’ exercise, then they were all given a free-for-all buffet, and they all replaced 90% of the calories that they burned leaving the researchers to conclude you will eat all the calories you complete in exercise and ergo – exercise doesn’t lose weight. This was followed by a slew of anecdotal (and possibly some empirical) evidence that people starting an exercise plan do not lose weight. I’ll give some criticisms of these conclusions, but as I do believe there are valid lessons to learn, give some tips of how to exercise and still maintain fat loss.

So, in the experiment above (which I think is a useful pice of scientific evidence) I have two main problems.

1. From a psychological point of view: The lack of ecological validity. This was not people ‘planning’ to conduct exercise for fat loss, it was thrust upon them. If someone said to me ‘I have forced you to burn 500 extra calories’, well, I too might think ‘OK then, I can eat 500, no problems!’. Also, the buffet situation. This does mirror some aspects of ‘real’ life, especially with all the talk of our food cornucopia and obesogenic society. BUT, an unexpected buffet, provided by someone else, as a one-off, is quite different to your home pantry, even if you do have a million restaurants down the road. Even an expected buffet leads me to eat quite differently than when I am at home.

2. From a physiological point of view: there are other, beneficial, metabolic changes related to exercise, which may aid fat loss. These may include, but are not limited to: increased insulin sensitivity, changes in leptin and grehlin, increase in metabolic rate (although this has been over reported), increase in muscle mass.

Note that I keep talking about ‘fat loss’ not weight loss, because I want to step outside of worrying if the scales don’t budge because you are getting bigger muscles, or you are increasing the glycogen they hold, or you have some mild inflammation resulting from the exercise, which may also increase water storage. So, what can we do about it? Here are a few tips:

1. Watch what you eat! Keep a food diary and make sure you are not having larger portions. There is plenty of good advice out there (check out Runner’s World) about how much extra food (if any) you need for different types, and different intensities of exercise.

2. Think about your food timing. The pre- and post- exercise windows are good eating times (30 mins and 1 hour respectively). To both fuel your exercise and to then restore and repair, when your body is most receptive to food and likely to use it for these functions, not convert it to fat. Think about shifting your meal times to work with this, rather than eating extra.

3.Weight lift. Add some strength training as your form of exercise. There is evidence that this will help prevent muscle loss AND aid fat loss.

4. Make sure your exercise hurts. Yup. Bodies quickly adapt to exercise, and evidence is mounting that it is the intensity of exercise that really helps fat loss and post-exercise burn. So, if you are lifting weights, make sure that final rep is really hard. If you are running: make sure you are out of breath by the end. Set a goal and whether that means you go further or faster or for longer, make sure it is hard to complete your goal (I advise a mix of all types of goals). A light jog for 20 mins a day may well have some beneficial effects on your psychology and physiology, and if it is all you can bring yourself to do: go for it! But if you can, make the exercise hard, make it hurt, and make it suck. You should see a steady improvement in your ability, and if not, question if you are pushing yourself enough.

5. Related to 4, but so important it deserves its own point: try HIIT. There are many protocols out there for any type of exercise. Evidence is really mounting that this is the best for fat loss and after exercise burn. I quite like it actually, so give it a try.

Good luck to y’all.

Sorry for the long wall of text and lack of pictures, I am in a rush as I am off for a leisurely bike and hike. Tomorrow the real exercise resumes 🙂