Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Like an Olympian

There is something about working out while watching the Olympics that really pushes me to work harder.  Last night, I was watching the Men’s Diving competition.  As the meet progressed I found myself pushing harder and harder.  The funny thing is that I thought I was taking it easy, until I looked down and saw my pace was more than 1 mph more than my average.   What I found even more funny was that I was watching Diving.  It wasn't a race, and I was on a stationary bike.  

What is it about watching sports that morphs you into a feeling like a superhero?  I felt invincible while working out.  I by no means felt like I was pushing myself too far.  Like I mentioned, I could have pushed more...

Has this happened to you?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tri, Tri, Tri Setting Goals

It was easy for me to forgot how successful I am when I set and work towards my goals.  I am not talking about the: I will lose 57 pounds.  I am talking about the: I will  lose 5 pounds by the end of this month goals.  Sure, I have a master goal set, but I also have mini goals (short term goals) set to help me achieve the master goal.  These mini goals were really keeping me going the first few months I was on Weight Watchers.  Then for some stupid reason (failing to plan), I wasn't seeing the results I was seeing the first few months. 

Deep down I thought that I had this counting PPV, being conscious of the types of foods I am eating, and exercising mastered.  BAHAHAHA!!!  I was WRONG!  It is funny (not) how you think you have everything under control, and you really don't.  I wasn't cheating the PP system; I was really cheating myself. There is a reason that after you reach your goal in WW they consider you Lifetime, and encourage you to weigh in at least monthly.  I digress.

Before my spiral out of control, I thought, "April, all you have to do is exercise more and the weight should just come off."  Weight Watchers staff thought that I wasn't losing weight, because my body was adjusting to my new work out schedule.  I wasn't forthright with the fact that I wasn't tracking or setting goals.

A couple months ago, I signed up for the Lazyman Triathalon at my YMCA.  Really, it is not that difficult to do.  I had 6 weeks to bike 112 miles, run or walk 26.3 miles, and swim 2.5 miles (or row 13.1 - I opted to do the rowing).  It seemed overwhelming at first.  I didn't want to sign up, because what if I did not finish?   What would that say about me?  Well, the nice, encouraging staff at my Y was very encouraging in getting members to sign up.

Desk Attendant: "Would you like to sign up for the Lazyman Triathlon?'
Me: "I don't know."
DA: "You have 6 weeks to complete it, and there are different exercises to do if you can't do the traditional tri exercises." 
Me: I am more of a take a class type of person.
DA: "Taking Group Cycling will count towards the cycling portion and any water fitness class will count towards the swimming portion."
Me: "Hmm... I still don't know."
DA: "It's free and you get a shirt once you complete it"
Me: "OK"

When I got home from my work out, I reviewed the card she gave me.  I thought, "This won't be so daunting if I break it up into what I need to accomplish each week."  So, out came my handy dandy calculator app.  I broke it down to: 4.3 miles of walking/18.7 of cycling/2.25 rowing a week.  Very achievable and less daunting.  My nightly dog walks easily add up to over 4.3 miles over a week.  I bike 10-14 miles 2x a week at the Y.  Rowing - was new to me.  I did seriously consider taking the water fitness classes (3 would have completed swim requirement), but there were no water fitness classes offered when I am available to take them (darn work getting in the way ;)).

About a month ago, I met with a trainer at they gym, and she showed me how to use the rowing machine. They looked prehistoric to me, so I was sure that I wouldn't be able to figure them out on my own.  Good think my trainer has a good sense of humor.  She did not laugh at me, but she enthusiastically encouraged me to try it out.  She took me through how to set the machine up, and it is much easier than any other piece of cardio equipment in the gym.  I quickly learned that I could row 2000 meters in 15 minutes.  That is over a mile, because 1,600 meters = 1 mile.  So thirty minutes on the rowing machine a week would certainly help me reach the goal of completing the tri. 

This triathlon was really what helped me not lose total control.  I was working towards fulfilling the requirements to finish the triathlon, because I told the other members at my meeting that I signed up.  I couldn't let my WW friends down or think that I am not doing a good job. 

Photography done by a 6 year old who can't hold still.
The weekly breakdown of exercises were the mini goals I was setting for myself every week.  Really, they were not enough for my journey.  It took a swift kick in the pants (figuratively) from my loving husband for me to realize that I was about to fail myself.  I am not going to get into the details of the conversation, but what he said to me kicked me into overdrive.  I weighed myself.  I was still up from my lowest WW weigh-in weight a month prior.  This was Sunday.  I vowed to track every morsel I put in my mouth.  I vowed to make my work outs count.  I just had to do these two things until I weighed in on Thursday.  I was very committed to both of these things.  It showed when I stepped on the scale.  I was down 2.4 pounds.  I had lost the weight I gained back plus a little more.  I will take that! 
The weekly breakdown of exercises were the mini goals I was setting for myself every week.  Really, they were not enough for my journey.  It took a swift kick in the pants (figuratively) from my loving husband for me to realize that I was about to fail myself.  I am not going to get into the details of the conversation, but what he said to me kicked me into overdrive.  I weighed myself.  I was still up from my lowest WW weigh-in weight a month prior.  This was Sunday.  I vowed to track every morsel I put in my mouth.  I vowed to make my work outs count.  I just had to do these two things until I weighed in on Thursday.  I was very committed to both of these things.  It showed when I stepped on the scale.  I was down 2.4 pounds.  I had lost the weight I gained back plus a little more.  I will take that! 

In all seriousness, I can truly attribute the loss to buckling down and creating mini goals.  Breaking the big goal apart into manageable sections - just like I did with the Lazyman.  When I falter, I need to remind myself to get back on track with 1. Setting mini goals, 2. Tracking food, and 3. Exercise.

To keep the streak of shedding weight going, I will create 2-3 mini goals a week.  Here are mine for this week.
1. I will work out 6 days this week.
2. I will create a menu for the week.
3. I will track everything I put into my mouth.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I got back on the wagon Sunday.  I logged everything I put into my mouth.  I was quite surprised to see that I was consuming more PPV than I thought.  I still felt hungery after eating my alloted portions, so in my mind I was not consuming enough food.  Well, there are plenty of foods that Weight Watchers has assigned a zero point value.  Those are foods I need to consume more of, anyway - vegetables and fruits.

I have been exercising regularly.  My first tracking sheet is almost full.  Tonight, I made myself do 18 reps in my set.  I can see my arms are really starting to become defined.  I may need to e-mail my trainer for some leg exercises.

After three days of tracking, I am back on track with one point to spare ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chugga Chugga

I am losing steam. I am really having a hard time remembering why I started this journey.  What brought me into my first Weight Watchers meeting? 

On the way home from the gym the tonight, (it was still in the 90's in MN) I thought about my work out:

45 minutes on the bike (10.25 miles)
15 minutes on the rowing machine (1.4 miles)
15 reps triceps
15 reps biceps
15 reps chest
15 reps shoulders
15 reps back
?? abs, but I killed 'em
15 reps hips
15 reps thighs

I thought about the trainer that was working.  She is also one of the running coaches.  She seemed meek, but I know she has several impressive races under her belt.  While I was working out, she approached me to chat.   People usually don't approach me when I work out.  On my way home, I realized I had on a shirt was from the last 5K I ran...over a year ago.  I haven't really run since then.  I think she approached me to talk about running, but we ended up talking working out and schedules.

"I bet I can run a mile.  I remember the only time I ran the complete mile in high school, I beat a couple of girls on the track team.  I can do it again.  I have run 2 5Ks before.  Whoa, it is still 93.  I need to take the dog out before I go to bed.  Maybe I should see how far we can run in this heat.  At least the sun is not out."  (Please tell me I am not the only one who has these conversations in my head).

When I got home, I grabbed my phone and the dog.  We ran 4 blocks, walked 1, ran 3, walked 4 home .79 miles).  The dog was immensely happy.  She came home, drank water, gave me kisses, and passed out.

I took a shower.  As I was drying off I noticed I am starting to get more muscle definition.  What does my insecure self do?  I march into our office.  I ask DH if he sees the definition I see.  He agrees that he sees it.  I told him that I am feeling like giving up.  My weight is stagnant, but seeing the definition is motivating.  He encouraged me to keep going by pointing out how far I have come on my journey.

It reminded me that I should not focus on one number to benchmark myself, but several factors.  Stamina, definition, fit of my clothes, quality of my daily life, other NSV (Non-Scale Victories) such as being able to work out for almost 2 hours when 30 minutes 3 months ago was difficult.

How do you measure progress?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Packing for a Road Trip: Food Edition

When you go on a road trip what do you plan for meals and snacks?  Is it a whatever fast food place catches your fancy, and whatever is available at the gas station? 

When DH and I embarked on our road trip from the Twin Cities Metro to Keystone, ND we had a fairly tight budget.  We didn't want to spend all of our money on food, so we decided that we would pack snacks for the car and picnic lunches.  We would splurge on dinners out.  Afterall, who wants to prepare food after being a tourist for a day?

Here is an idea of what we snacked on in the car and while we were vactioning:
Baby Carrots
Chex Mix
Pretzel Twists
Energy Balls (recipe here)
Apple Slices

We made sandwiches from lunch meat, mustard, and cheese slices and ate from our snack foods for meals.

I bought 30 pack of Spring Water from CostCo for less than $5.00.  Had we bought single bottles from the gas station we would cost more than $30.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I am....

Hey kids!  I have several posts already planned, so you may get to read more about my journey more frequently :)

Whilst DH and I were hiking, we were discussing how we would not have been able to climb the mountain 3 years ago.  We talked about how far we have come fitness wise in the past few months.  I kept saying, "I am..." in our conversation.  This lead me to really analyze my vision.  My vision of where I am today and where I want to go.  Here are the statements that describe who I am...

I am strong.
I am athletic.
I am a mountain climber.
I am getting healthy.
I am happy.
I am on a wellness journey.
I am a hard worker.
I am positive.
I am bright.
I am challenged.
I am good looking.

What are you?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mysterious Ways: Hiking

I don't often post spiritual stuff, but after DH and my hiking experience; it is hard not to post about the whole experience.

DH and I went on a vacation to South Dakota.  We visited the Badlands and Black Hills.  We went to the Crazy Horse Memorial.  During the orientation video Billy Mills was explaining why the Black Hills were selected to be the site of the memorial.  (Billy Mills is from the Lakota Tribe and Olympic Gold Medal Winner)  He discussed that the Black Hills are a very spiritual area for the Native Americans. I was really hoping to leave the Black Hills with this feeling.

One thing DH wanted to do during our trip was hike.  He researched different places to hike in the Black Hills.  He picked Harney Peak/Tower Trail #9.  The trail is rated Easy/Moderate.  It is 3.5+ miles up.  We also chose the day with the coolest temperature during our trip (the first day of our trip was 104 degrees).  Take note that Harney Peak is the highest natural point East of the Rockies. 

Harney Peak taken from a Custer Park road
First, we applied insect repellant/suncreen.  We had lunch in the picnic area near the trail head.  I advised DH to bring two bottles of water with us.  One for the way up, and one for the way down.  I grabbed some grapes to nosh on during our journey. We were ready to go.

 We set off on the trail.  We were not smart on the way up to use an app such as RunKeeper or All Trails.  We had a vague idea of where we were headed based on the maps we saw.  The only mile marker we saw stated that it was 1 1/2 miles back to the trail head.  So, we had two miles left to go.  We were trying to gauge how far we had left and where we were going.  While the trail was clear, our views of the mountains were foggy.  

The beginning of the trail was gravel and fairly easy to walk on.  As we ascended the trail the terrain became more unpredictable and challenging.  It was rock, dirt, wooden steps, concrete steps, and wooden bridges.  Oh, I forgot to mention tree roots.  There were tree roots we had to navigate around too.  There were many ups and downs on the trail - physically - oh, and emotionally, too.  At one point, DH and I discussed turning back, because of the down ups before we started to ascend to the top of the mountain.  We did not have faith that we could do it. 

As we neared the top, the fog started to lift.  We started enjoying the view more. At this point, we really weren't sure how to feel.  Exhausted from the exercise, excited to see the top of the mountain we were climbing, motivated to get it done.  We had people telling us that we were almost there. 

We came to a Y in the trail.  I saw that one  way took you on a hard trail (Trail #2) and the other went to the peak.  DH started to go down the hard trail and I started up the makeshift stairs of rock on lumber.  I was second guessing my direction, when a kind lady coming down the stairs said, "You have about 250 steps to the top" On the inside I was thinking, "Thank God, for people OCD enough to count steps."  She also told DH and another group they were headed the wrong way.  Then, she told us a little ways up the steps was a mountain goat eating near the trail.  I got excited to have a chance at a wildlife viewing.  The mountain goat on the other hand was all paparazzi'd out.  We could not get a good view of his face.  It was still cool to watch him eat and not care that a lot of people were passing by.
 I did not count to see if we actually only had 250 more steps to go.  I was so exhausted it took everything I had to stand upright and put one foot in front of the other.  I cannot express the joy I felt when I saw Harney Tower.  Harney Tower was a tower they used way back in the day to watch for fires. 
We explored the tower and the surrounding area (as far as we were comfortable).  DH took this picture from where he walked.  I was too scared #fearofheights.  If you look you can see me standing safely on the stairs near the tower.  As soon as my confidence grew, I climbed onto a flat part and stretched my legs.  I took in more of the view.

 Below is a view from the tower.  At this point the fog hasn't completely lifted.

Another view of Harney Tower (taken from near where I stretched)

 DH and I told each other that we were proud of each other for climbing a mountain.  Then, we headed back down.  DH brought up the GPS on his phone, so we could track our speed and distance.  It really helped in keeping our attitudes in check.  When we got towards the bottom, we the fog cleared up.  We could see the breathtaking views of the mountains.  DH and I discussed how so many times on the way up we felt like giving up and going back.  We couldn't see the peak from most of the trail, no matter how much it cleared up.  DH said that he would have given up had he seen the peak from the beginning.

DH isn't a religious man, but I brought up how I felt God works in mysterious ways.  In my knowledge and opinion God does not interfere with human free will.  If He would not have created the weather conditions to be foggy, and DH and I agreed we would have given up on the hike at one point or another.  When I did feel like giving up, I felt my spiritual side guiding me to continue.  I never mentioned to DH that I wanted to give up after on particular grueling up-down-up in the trail.  He didn't mention he was feeling the same way either. 

Towards the beginning/end of the trail there was this tree laying across the trail.  On the way back, I was sooooooooooooo very excited to see the tree.  Never in my life did I think I would welcome an obstacle.  I truly felt accomplished after completing the climb/hike.  I also felt my spirituality strengthen.

 What has gotten you through a tough work out?  Has it strengthened your roots?

Monday, July 2, 2012

The consultation

I admit I am not expert when it comes to physical activity.   There are a few things I know:

  • Physical activity helps keep your body healthy (in so many ways)
  • Varying types of activity keeps your body challenged and minimizes plateaus
  • I like taking classes like Hip Hop Hustle and Zumba
  • If I can't make a class, I like to ride the stationary bikes in the Fitness Center in the Y.
  • I hate the dreadmill.

Now, that we have been Y members for 3 months, I see that I am doing a lot of the same things and that I have been on a plateau.  I have been doing activities that make me comfortable.  The opinion of a professional was needed, so I met with a personal trainer for a consultation.  The Y offers these for free.  When I belonged to fitness centers in the past, I have had these consultations.  They are very helpful and intended to help orient you with the facility.

The trainer I met with was fairly easy going.  Not a drill sargent or Jillian Michaels.  She listened to me and showed me equipment and exercises that she thought would be a good fit for my personality and fitness goals.  She took into account, what I know about my body.  I develop muscle faster than I lose fat.  My legs bulk up fast.  I want to tone up on top and strengthen my core. 

I went to the Y tonight and did the routine we set up.  It was able to complete the upper body and core training in a half hour.  I did a 15 minute cardio warm-up on the rowing machine (I feel totally B.A. on the rowing machine) and dove into my strength training routine.   I worked on my triceps, upper back, chest, biceps, and shoulders.  I did two ab exercises (well four, because biceps and shoulders are on the ball).  I missed out on my hip and thigh exercises.  I am forgoing too much lower body strength training, because my legs and butt do bulk up fast.

In a month, I will meet again with the trainer to see how my program is going.  We can and will make adjustments from there.