Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cardio Overload: A Case for Strength Training

s my recent bikini pictures post in the Success section of the message board show, I've come a long way. But I've been thinking this week about what I really need to do to finish up this journey. Being stuck for 6 months hasn't really been a plateau, as much as it's accidental maintenance. I'm doing enough to keep my body in a steady state, building some muscle since my body fat percentage has dropped, but I also haven't lost enough fat to really make a noticeable difference on the scale. So, here's a few things that are causing it, and a few things I"m gonna change to fix it
I realized this downfall started when I got a gym membership in December and started with a trainer right at the beginning of the year. The trainer had me work with him for 30 minutes a week (mostly strength training) but then whenever I was at the gym otherwise he told me "cardio, cardio, CARDIO!". So I did it. And my weight loss came to a grinding halt. Those 30 minutes of strength training was quite a bit less than the 3 times a week I had been doing before with a Chalean Extreme/Turbo Fire hybrid. And I let myself fall into a habit of just doing cardio at the gym when I wasn't with my trainer.
And then I discovered running and well, I ran away with the cardio idea even more. I've been averaging 4 runs a week, most recently it'll be something like a short, fast run, a normal distance run (like 3-5K), an interval run, and one long run (5k+). With one training session mixed in, and the occasional extra day of... you guessed it... cardio!
More specifically, restaurant food overload. I'm awesome when I can cook for myself, choose on my own, etc. Monday-Friday I'm steallar. Then the weekend hits, I spend time with my kickball team or my boyfriend, and the beer starts flowing. The food gets ordered. The boyfriend gets an ice cream craving. And even if I saw 149.X or even 148! on Thursday morning, it's long gone by Saturday or Sunday morning.
This is where the maintenance part comes in. I might eat a calorie deficit during the week, but even with my calorie zigzagging schedule, I was eating more than I should on the weekends. And being this small with a somewhat low BMR, it was enough to keep me at roughly the same weight. The one weekend where I didn't let myself go in the past month, I was in the 140s the whole week. Then came more restaurant food and beer and soft pretzels and... welll... you get the idea.
There's something to be said about focus and determination. It's essential to have to succeed... and then it drives you nuts. Obsession with numbers... weight, waist measurement, calorie count, protein count, number of miles run... you name it, I count it (you've all seen my excel spreadsheets by now with my weight chart...). I've been fixating on this so much that when it doesn't go the way I want, I'm blinded to the reasons. I know strength training is important, but it doesn't burn 600 calories in one workout. And I know it's important to eat more during the week, but I was saving up calories for the weekend. All bad habits... all fueled by numbers.

So, in general I've been pretty overloaded lately, and it's got to stop. I have one more 5K on June 5th, so 2 weeks away, not even. After that I'm cutting back on the running. I'll aim for 3 times a week: an interval run, a short to normal distance run (even speed), and a long distance run (slow speed). The rest of the days I'm going to make sure strength training makes an appearance! I have Chalean Extreme, I'm dusting off the DVDs and going to follow it again. I'll probably just do the Lean phase workouts and Burn Intervals. Just because I have a gym membership doesn't mean I have to spend 5 dyas a week there. I can go 3 days a week and fit the DVDs in the other days, it's not cheating on my gym... haha.
And as for my weekend issues. I'm just gonna have to sacrifice a little. If Randy wants pizza, I'll gently nudge him to a place with more options for me. If he wants ice cream, I'll get a tiny cup, not a giant one. Instead of guzzling 4 beers at kickball, I'll stick to one or two rum and diet cokes and not eat the bar food. It's small tweaks but I'm still happy and social and not being fussy. 
I'm really hoping this all starts to come together. I do love the bikini picture, but as my sister put it "it looks great except for the tummyness". Well, that tummyness has got to go, and toning up with an infusion of strength training and a defusion of junk food is the way I'm going at it. And I'm sticking to the calorie zigzagging... within reason. I'm gonna knock the calories down a bit, maybe by 100 on the high days and raise it 100 on the low days. I can't do 1900 on a regular day.
Any tips and comments are appreciated! Or suggestions of other strength DVDs to folllow. I think I have another Biggest Loser DVD lying around that I haven't opened yet. 

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