Thursday, March 29, 2012

Random Little Secrets to Share

I was thinking last night about how much I do or what I've done in the past that people would really have no idea, or at least you surprise you if you didn't know me insanely well. So... here's some to share.

1. I'm a card carrying member of the American Homebrewers Association. I don't actually brew my own beer, but it gets me discount in my favorite Dogfish Head Alehouse and at a couple other places. It was a Valentines gift from my boyfriend, haha.

2. I was a cheerleader from 5th-8th grade. I gave that up when trying to be on top of the pyramid failed miserably and I was relegated to doing cartwheels.

3. I taught myself algebra in 6th grade because I was so sick of learning fractions for the 80th time. My teacher just gave up and let me do my algebra workbooks in class.

4. I did Model UN in high school and college for 8 years. Despite being an engineer, I had a weird thing for international affairs.

5. I have my entire closet organized by clothing type and then in color order. White, rainbow, brown, grey, black. If it has a pattern, it goes with the dominant color and then closer to the side that has the secondary color. Did I mention I'm kind of OCD?

6. I met the governor of New Jersey when I was 10 for winning a poster contest in 4th grade. I was the county winner so I got to go to the state house and meet her with all the other country winners.

7. I built a battle robot in college for one of my classes. The goal was to smash the other robot in the ring to pieces and knock it out of the circle. One broken wire right before the competition made our robot blind and we lost miserably. I do believe we were hit by a hammer on the end of a rat trap...

8. I tried Irish dancing at age 7 and realized I lacked all coordination. My little sister kept it up and she's been competitively dancing for 15 years and has competed in the Nationals for it. Just think Riverdance, haha.

9. I never really went on a diet or tried to lose weight until 2 years ago when I went in 100% and didn't look back. I was always kind of unhappy, but I never really did anything about it. I don't go into anything halfway it seems...

10. I hate waking up in the morning to the sun shining and the birds chirping. I just want it to be dark and quiet and for those damn birds to stop their squawking!!!

11. I'm terrified of birds. Which is probably why I hate listening to them. I had an incident in St. Mark's Square in Venice, Italy that scarred me for life. And the seagull incident on the Jersey Shore...

12. I have and always will be scared of mummies, petrified bodies, dead bodies, and anything that resembles a dead body. I can't go into the Egypt section of the Natural History Museum in DC...

13. I went to an All Girls Catholic high school... and then promptly went off to college to major in Mechanical and Aerospace engineering where I was one of 12 girls in a class of 120 or so. It was glorious...

14. I didn't listen to pop or modern music for all of junior and senior year. My ipod had nearly exclusively classic rock from the 1960s-1980s, mainly Beatles, Zeppelin, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, and Bon Jovi... hahaha.

15. I watched every single Yankee game on TV in some capacity for the entire 2000 season when I was 13. That's 162 games with the Yankees winning the World Series against the Mets.

16. I'm from Jersey, I go to the Jersey Shore just about every summer, and I've never seen the TV show The Jersey Shore because the cast members aren't even from Jersey!!!

17. I've seen the movie Apollo 13 more than any other movie. I think I watch it at least once a month for entertainment.

18. I wanted to grow up to be Ariel from the Little Mermaid when I was a kid. Now I just dye my hair red and waltz around in bikinis. I think I'm good without the tail.... hahaha

19. I was thrown out of ballet class in 5th grade because I was giving the teacher trouble. I definitely wasn't made for slow, quiet and graceful types of dancing. Or any type of dancing really...

20. I know more about beer from what I've picked up in the last year and a half than most self-proclaimed beer guys do. I'm a fan of a good Barleywine or Strong ale, but my favorites are hoppy reds and ambers.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Workout Queen

It really bums me out how many women (including myself) have said that they feel intimidated by the male-dominated weights section of their gym.

At my gym, I'm often the only woman actually working out with the weights (excluding women using the open space for mat work or using light weights). I thought guys would judge me, or be like "what's she doing over here" or not want to share (haha, I know, crazy, this isn't a sandbox!). So my first time over there by myself I was slightly terrified. And this is something I've heard several women on here mention when questioning to start strength training. But after a workout or two, I started getting comfortable. I'd gather my equipment (I'm amusing lugging 2 25lb kettlebells across the floor with my iPhone shoved into the front of my workout top), stake out my spot for the next half hour and get to work. I'll even ask to share equipment to "work in" as I've realized its called if someone is using it.

And apparently the guys have taken notice, in a good way! I ran into two guys from my gym in the grocery store last night. The first thing they said was "hey, it's the Workout Queen!" And then they proceeded to tell me how impressed they were that I was busting my butt over there and they don't usually see women using the weights. So, it looks like I'm making an impression that I didn't even realize. I'm giving all women a chance to get over there and blend in, or even stand out :) Then they started asking what was in my hand basket and started adding things to their grocery list (greek yogurt, quaker Stila bars, etc.) since "I clearly had this whole thing down", haha.

The moral of the story is that anyone can conquer the weights side of the gym. It doesn't matter if you're lifting 5 lb weights or 50 lb weights. It's a start and it's something people take notice of! So if you're questioning whether to start adding strength training into your cardio workout routine, don't let the weights section scare you out of trying. I promise you'll gain much more respect just by walking over there and trying! And like I blogged about yesterday, strength training and cardio training go hand-in-hand. My 5K time rocked, I deadlifted 100 lbs yesterday (need to work on my grip), and my waist is looking smaller! I don't think it gets much better than that...

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'll Make A Man Outta You

This was the song playing on my iPod when I crossed the finish line of my 5K yesterday. It was oddly fitting, and I think it's the reason I got a personal record 34:51 time in the race, beating my old time by 35 seconds. You see, I haven't run an outdoor 5K race since last June... and I only run once a week. So how in the world did I get a PR???

I've come to realize that all exercise is really interconnected. It's why a lot of fitness professionals and athletes stress cross-training. My workout routine lately has been New Rules of Lifting for Women 3 times a week (with a 10-15 minute cardio warmup and 10 minute cardio cooldown), plus 2 days of cardio like an outdoor run or 45 minutes on the stairmaster. I get incredibly bored doing the same thing every day, so I have to mix it up. And it seems that has effects that goes beyond my sanity.

Strength training makes my legs stronger, so presumably I can run faster and they won't get tired as quickly. And it's good for my heart so I can increase my endurance. If only I didn't have exercise asthma that limits how long I can run without getting too winded to continue. That was my wall for this race. I ran the first 2 miles in 22:30-ish, the first mile was in 10:45 or so, which blew my mind. I NEVER run that quickly in the gym, but being a race setting really helps. I want to keep up! It was after Mile marker 2 that I had to take a walking break, and I ended up taking 2. Around 2.75 mi a girl saw me walking and encouraged me to keep going, so I started running again and kept it up until the finish line. And BAM, under 35! Whoot!

So how does all this tie into being like a man, haha. Well, strength training really goes beyond making your muscles look nice and having a toned bum. I was concerned that my lack of regular outdoor running was really going to affect my time, but somehow it's helped it! I don't look like a man with crazy muscles, but my extra strength helped me run faster. So, to help answer the debate over cardio vs. strength, you can't do one without the other! Strength helps you improve with your cardio with stronger muscles, cardio helps you have a strong heart and endurance so you can improve your strength training.

So to answer the question, has strength training made a man outta me? Nope, but I'm a pretty kick ass woman right now. I can run circles around people AND beat them up, hehe.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Time Will Tell...

If anyone here is guilty of extreme impatience while trying to lose weight, raise your hand...

I have both of mine in the air right now, haha. Because I'm one of the most impatient people ever. You'd think it has gotten better after 2+ years losing weight, keeping it off, putting a bit back on, and trying to get it off again. Not so much.

As I've mentioned in my previous blogs, I'm doing the New Rules of Lifting for Women, which is technically a 6 month program. 6 MONTHS! That's a seriously long commitment. And Phase 1 is at least 6 weeks long, which is also for me a long time to "let things play out". I feel like on MFP with tickers and weight loss numbers and calorie counts in full display, it's hard to see the scale stagnate even if that's expected to happen. I love logging a loss as much as anyone, but it's a huge shift in mindset to move away from tracking my progress on the scale and tracking it through measurements, new weight lifting records and how my clothes fit. I'm the only person who sees the number on the scale, everyone else sees the other things. But it's still hard to move away from.

I have 6 workouts left in Phase 1, which will likely take me 2 full weeks to finish. I'm hoping to finish Phase 1 by Easter so I can take that long weekend off and start Phase 2 when I return. I'm also trying to move away from the mindset that I MUST lose weight. At this point, my muscles are still developing and they're going to take a while to start burning more fat. My body fat won't disappear overnight (unfortunately, at least not medically unassisted). I'm hoping that after doing this for a month or more I'll start seeing the changes. This week is a terrible example as I feel like I've got an ocean of water weight (my stomach feels huge).

But, the main point is that I need to trust the program for longer than 3 1/2 weeks. A lot of people on here make the mistake of changing things every week and that's entirely too short a time to see if what they're doing really works! Breaking a plateau is not something that can be done overnight. If you're body took a few weeks or months to settle into a plateau, chances are it will take a few weeks to break out of it. Plus this doesn't even take into account replacing fat with muscle mass, something only non-scale measures will tell.

So if you raised your hand about being impatient, coming from someone who completely understands, it's OK but stick with what you're doing! As long as it's healthy and it's something you can keep up for more than a week (crash diets and working out 3 hours a day definitely don't fit into this description), it should start to work. There's always a chance it won't and you'll need to try a new approach, but let your body have the time it needs to do it's thing. In the meantime, I'm going to give it the best chance I can at working by focusing on not messing everything up this weekend. No eating bad meals when I go out for dinner, limiting how much I drink, and hopefully running a 5K on Sunday if the weather holds up.

Monday, March 19, 2012

NROLFW Phase 1 - Halfway Done!

Today is the official halfway point in my New Rules of Lifting for Women Program, Phase 1. I've been at it for 3 full weeks and I'm definitely hooked.

The progress has definitely been mixed. I haven't actually lost any weight, but eating more calories every day (I upped it about 400-500 calories from what I was eating) hasn't made me gain weight it seems like either. That was my major concern with following the eating plan, and so far it's worked out well. I fluctuate between 155 and 158 depending on the day and what I've eaten and such. I've added in mostly healthy calories too, but it's nice that I have a little extra cushion when I do treat myself. I definitely earned my Guinness beers this weekend for St. Patrick's Day, my boyfriend and I walked to the pub and back for a round trip of at least 4 miles.

As for the workout part of the program, I've increased the weights I've been using on every exercise. I started with only 60 lbs on a squat and I've been able to go up to 115 lbs by switching to the squat rack and using the padded foam thing to cushion the bar. I find kettlebells work really well for step ups and lunges, they're much easier to hold on to than dumbbells. I can tell my upper body is improving. I'm hoping to do the more difficult form of the push up by the end of Phase 1, right now I can do regular ones on my toes on the floor. I think the next step is lifting up a leg or something, yikes!

I was a bit dubious about not doing as much cardio, but this program is still getting my HR up as much as when I'm on the Stairmaster or something. It ranges between 150-180 depending on what I'm doing, so I'm still burning lots of calories. I start and end with 10-15 minutes of cardio, so overall it's a power packed hour of exercise. My plan this week is for Mon, Wed and Fri for New Rules workouts, tomorrow I'm judging a middle and high school science fair (so nerdy, I love it) and Thursday I'm gonna aim to run outside to get in one more run before my 5K on Sunday. Then I'm taking Saturday off so I'm rested for the 5K, but I suspect Randy and I will be walking around DC or something.

I took measurements when I started 3 weeks ago and I'll do measurements again when I finish. My body fat % was at 29.7% to start with. I'd love to get it down a bit after these first 6 weeks, not sure how accurate the hand held device is though. But it's at least a point of reference. It's really the measuring tape that will tell though.

Friday, March 16, 2012

My Top Five Lists

MFP-ers are always looking for new ideas on here about everything from snacks to workouts to surviving the weekends (yeah, I need advice on that last one myself!). So, I thought I'd list out some of my favorite things to give others new ideas.

My 5 Favorite Snacks:
1. Apple slices with Better N Peanut Butter (chocolate) - 180 calories
2. Fiber One Brownies, Chocolate variety - 90 calories
3. Hummus with Special K crackers - 170 calories
4. Greek Yogurt (Chobani, Dannon Oikos and Fage are the best) - 120-160 calories
5. String cheese or colby jack cheese sticks - 60-80 calories

My 5 Favorite Exercises:
1. New Rules of Lifting for Women
2. Turbo Fire
3. Running
4. Stairmaster (I've grown to love it)
5. Crossramp machine (kind of a mix between a stairmaster and an ellipcal)

My 5 Favorite Breakfast Ideas:
1. Breakfast sandwich with egg patty, slice of cheese on an english muffin - 230 calories
2. Oatmeal - 150-200 calories
3. Bowl of Multigrain Cheerios with soy milk - ~200 calories
4. English muffin toasted with some peanut butter - 200 calories
5. Veggies egg scramble with some cheese and avocado on top (from my favorite brunch place) - Unknown calories, but delcious and not horribly unhealthy

My 5 Favorite Ways to Get More Protein:
1. Grilled chicken breast for diner
2. Greek yogurt
3. Soy milk
4. Protein granola bars
5. Low or no sodium added lunch meat

My 5 Favorite Snacks that Taste Like They Should Have A Ton More Calories:1. Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies in Chocolate
2. Better N Peanut Butter Chocolate - only 100 calories per serving!
3. My Protein smoothies - Greek yogurt, protein powder, soy milk, a bit of Trop 50 juice and some frozen fruit - Tastes like a delicious milkshake/smoothie but has less than 300 calories and the same protein as a chicken breast
4. Fage 0% Greek Yogurt with Mango Guabana or strawberry Goji - 120 calories
5. Jello 60 calorie no sugar chocolate pudding

My 5 Favorite "Swaps" to Reduce Calories in Dishes
1. Greek yogurt in place of eggs and oil in recipes, also good in place of Sour Cream
2. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter instead of real butter (honestly, tastes the same...)
3. Truvia instead of sugar in my coffee
4. Light soy milk instead of real milk (not hard, I'm lactose intolerant! LOL)
5. Balsamic vinegar instead of salad dressing, its only 15 calories per tablespoon and tastes delicious.

My 5 Favorite Things I Don't Have to Worry about Anymore:
1. Not being able to find clothes I want to buy in my size
2. Fitting into any size seat and on any amusement park ride without worrying about annoying the person sitting next to me by spilling over into their space
3. Walking up steps or a hill with someone and still being able to carry on normal conversation, since I'm not completely out of breath.
4. Wanting to bury myself under the sand at the beach or hide under the water in the pool while wearing a bathing suit, let alone my bikinis! Love my bikinis, haha...
5. Feeling out of place in the weights side of the gym. Yes I have muscles, yes I'm squating with a 95 lb barbell, and yes, I'm using that weight bench!!!

So, there you have it. Please feel free to add on to any of these lists in the comment section with your own ideas! This post is meant to share and inspire :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Eating More and Losing More

It has to happen at some point. You think you're doing everything right, cutting calories, working out 6 days a week and generally being healthy. And the scale doesn't move! Your clothes don't fit any different. And most likely, you're incredibly frustrated.

I feel like that's been me for the last 6 months. I workout out dilligently (pretty much all cardio), I was watching my calories and I had a big calorie deficit. And the SCALE WOULDN'T BUDGE! In fact, it went up about 5 lbs in that time. WTF!

And then I started chatting with other MFP friends that were near their goal weight, and I noticed a trend. A lot of them were weight training. Most of them were eating 1600, 1800 even 2000 calories a day... and losing weight or inches or both! What is going on here!?!? So I bought a book to help me figure it out: The New Rules of Lifting For Women (as I talked about in my last 2 blogs). The most important thing I got out of that was I can't keep starving myself.

Yep, that's really what it boils down to. Working out 5-6 times a week, burning 500 calories and eating 1200 a day means my calorie deficit is around 1000. Which would be aweosme, if I still weighed 215 pounds and needed to lost 75 lbs. But now I'm at 155 and I want to lose around 5-10 lbs, or at the very least replace some fat with muscle (which the scale is terrible at determining).

So, the starvation is over. The book recommends that I eat 1650 calories on rest days and 1950 on workout days. That's an extra 500-700 calories! And the key is to make sure those calories are a good balance of carbs, protein and fat (I'm at 50c/25p/25f) but the book recommends 30% protein and the rest split between carbs and fat (I'm working up to 30% protein). And honestly, I feel better. I can do my entire workout and not feel dizzy. I eat snacks throughout the day to keep my metabolism going. And I'm sticking to 3 New Rules workouts a week, with 1-2 cardio days mixed in.

I know results take time, but the scale really is down 2 entire lbs from last Friday and I've been eating MORE! I'm not ready to call this a complete success, but I'm really interested to see where I am at the end of Phase 1 (which is 6 weeks long).

So, if you're stuck in a rut, eating and working out like crazy but not losing, try and take a step back and look at your calorie deficit. It really shouldn't be more than 500 calories if you're close to your goal. Your body just can't handle it. I set my MFP number to a 1/2 a week weight loss (gives me 1680). Its something that I really struggled with the first few days because it goes against everything I programmed my brain to believe. Less food, more exercise, more weight loss. Until that just didn't work anymore. I know I've said this before, in a blog that still is near the top of the Blog list. And honestly, I managed to convince myself otherwise. But following that advice, I got to my lowest weight and lowest pant size EVER! It's not a coincidence, it's math and genetics and how your body works. It just sucks that I forgot all of it and spent the last 6 months doing the wrong thing.

I hope this advice helps those of you who are at the point that I am. I'm not advocating buying this book, but balancing strength training with cardio and eating MORE to fuel your body can be the secret to getting the body you've been wanting all along. The scale might not be the low number you were aiming for, but measurements will tell a completely different story. Besides, only you see the number on the scale. The rest of the world sees how awesome your body looks :)