Monday, February 20, 2012

Strength In Numbers

The result of my latest blog was the realization that strength training had completely fallen out of my workout routine, and it's probably the main reason why I'm having so much trouble the last few weeks with maintaining any sort of weight loss.

January was a good month, I did get down about 5 lbs from my peak right after New Years. But it was by eating 1200 calories a day and doing cardio 4-5 times a week. I can honestly say I didn't do strength training ONCE the entire month. And what happened? One week of eating semi-normally with one or two overindulgences and I put back on 3 of the 5 pounds! It leads me to believe that I was just running on empty and once I ate like a normal person, it "put the weight back on".

The root of all of this is that I want to look like I did at the end of last Spring. I was running regularly, eating decently but not like a saint, and yes, I was strength training often too! I had more muscle mass, even if I only weighed about 5 pounds less than I do right now. So I looked much better, and I was incredibly happy with it.

Fast forward to now, where I slacked a little during the Holidays, tried to do a 180 in January with having as large of a deficit as I could manage, and I don't look any better. If anything, the muffin top is slightly worse! Blarg...

So between listening to the advice of my MFP friends and really looking at what I was doing last year, I realize that strength training is such a crucial part of the routine when you are 10 lbs away from your goal like I am. That goal number doesn't matter as much if I'm building muscle mass and getting more toned and fit. I was a pretty toned and fit 150 lbs last year. Now I'm a somewhat jiggly 155 lbs. Not a fan... summer will be here entirely too quickly and I own enough bikinis to clothe the entire Victoria Secret modeling crew.

My goals for the next 2 months should help me get towards the body I want to have for summer, and getting in better shape as well. I'm not going to focus on the scale, although I suspect the strength training will help to get around to 150 again. But it's not the way to measure my success, a measuring tape will be.

- Do a committed strength training workout 2 times a week at the gym.
Cardio warmup, 30 minutes of strength/interval training, and then 15-20 minutes cooldown cardio. Just like what I used to do with my personal trainer, only now I'M the trainer. I bought the New Rules of Lifting for Women to guide me along the way.

- Eat more, but eat better.
I don't think 1200 calories is enough for strength training, my body is going to start eating the muscles I'm trying to build! So, I think I'm raising my base calories to 1400 again. I need to add some more healthy foods, probably with an extra snack in my lunch or during the afternoon and making sure I eat a good dinner after my workouts.

- Keeping doing cardio, but cut it back to 2-3 times a week
I still plan on running my 5K in March, and likely 1 or 2 more in the Spring after that. But strength training will indirectly help with my running. Strong muscles are good so I don't tire out as quickly. I'll likely alternate running days and strength days at the gym for a total of 4 out of 5 weekdays. Then likely an interval workout combining both Saturday mornings.

- Stop giving into every temptation that presents itself.
I admit, I love to eat in restaurants and have a few beers and just be normal! But, it's becoming entirely too frequent. I didn't need to order french toast (in which the portion size was HUGE) yesterday. I was all set to order the veggie omelette and I caved. Its little choices like this that are adding up to not losing a single pound in the last 2 weeks (in fact, I'm still up a few). At the very least, I need to start picking the healthiest options on the menu when I do eat out, and make sure to pack a lunch during the week every day.

I'm hoping this renewed focus will keep me motivated and I'll start seeing the results I want by time the weather warms up. I conquered the weights side of the gym on Thursday. It's starting to get less crowded during the week (guess those Resolutioners read that blog post of mine from a while back... hehe). I just need to find my space, grab the weights I'm using or a medicine ball and forget about everyone else around me. And that includes you, creepy man on the arm machine that did 3 reps and then proceeded to stare at my cleavage for the next 5 minutes! HA!

Anyway, the same strategy that lost me 50 pounds 2 years ago (1200 calories and cardio cardio cardio) just isn't going to work now. My body knows my usual tricks. It's time to surprise it with something new.

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