Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Momentum

This morning I woke up itching to step on the scale. I have been consistent with my gym visits and I am tracking my food. I am still sometimes inching over that carb line that I would like to stay under (30-100 grams a day) but the more I workout the less I want to eat any junk food. This week so far has shown that in the healthy choices I have been making each day. It isn't always easy, today at my mid morning break I stared at the ham and cheese croissants for a very long time before settling on a banana. I even made sugar free Jello last night to help with my sweet tooth. But stepping on that scale right now, while I am still working on making this a habit, it could be a bad thing. Sometimes I picture huge amounts of weight dropping off  me while I am working out as motivation. The reality can be a little more crushing.


(Source)

As I swam last night I struggled to breath at first. My breathing was all wrong and I felt winded. Yes I am having severe allergies thanks to the horribly dry weather. Yes it was probably a bit of anxiety because it had been a stressful day at work. But after a few laps suddenly I felt my lungs expanding and my breathing got deeper. I felt my body relaxing into the swimming motions. It stopped feeling forced and suddenly it felt a little more natural. That made it easier for me to swim harder and efficiently. I felt my body responding to the oxygen. I felt myself needing less breaks. In the end I was able to whip out 700 yards in the pool. It has become my happy place in a world that feels sometimes a little too hectic.



It was a busy pool day. Everyone was lane sharing and we ended up letting a gentlemen share our lane because all he was doing was squats/jogging/lunges in the pool. My first lane sharing experience (with someone besides my husband) went actually pretty great, all we did was swim around him and sometimes each other. Luckily I have become a lot better at steering and managed the laps effortless without side swiping or splashing him too much. I found that with him in the lane because I didn't want to stop to hold up the lanes, I kept swimming instead of taking my 60-90 second breathers after each 50 yards.When I needed to catch my breath I slowed down and I breathed on every other stroke. When I had caught my breath I sped up and breathed on every 4th stroke. I learned last night that I don't need to panic in the water just because I feel a little winded, I don't even need to stop swimming, I just need to slow down and change my strokes a bit. I am gaining ground on my endurance and breathing techniques. That is something the scale can't show.



In the end, I ended up passing on weighing myself this morning. I don't want to lose my momentum because the scale isn't necessarily reflecting what I envision it should be. I would rather just concentrate fully on my non scale victories and making the gym a daily habit. I do want to be below 300 pounds by the time I turn the big 3-0 in October but for now I am okay with slowly making better choices and taking it all one day at a time. This is the best and strongest I have felt in a very long time. Which was evident by my super sore shoulders and arms last night.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

An Emotional Eater Meets the Gym

I usually try to avoid the gym on Mondays because well EVERYONE works out on Mondays. This Monday was no different, the gym was a bit of a mad house and it seemed that everyone wanted to do an arm day which meant fighting for the machines, something I hate doing. As a side note, what is it about arm day that makes me walk around the house flexing for the rest of the night?? Grow baby guns grow. Since I didn't work out Saturday or Sunday, Monday I knew I needed to get to the gym, busy or not busy. I wasn't feeling it though. The lack of sleep made me really sluggish, especially during my cardio. We ALL know I hate cardio anyways but yesterday it seemed so much harder than normal. But it allllll got done and I felt a lot better for it in the end. I had some other free weight arm exercises planned but unfortunately it took so long to fight for the machines I was hungry and needed to get home to the doggies by the time I finally finished on the machines. Sad but there is always next week!

Yesterdays Workout-

20 Minute HIIT Elliptical workout:

3 minute warm up at a moderate pace
30 seconds of 13-15 resistance at a faster pace
60 seconds of 0 resistance at a slower pace
Alternated between the two for 15 minutes
2 minute cool down  at a slow pace gradually getting slower

Arms/Shoulders/Back

3 sets of 10 reps each

Shoulder Press
Lat Pull Down
Triceps Press
Triceps Dips
Curls
Mid Rows


There was a moment when I contemplated not working out yesterday. The husband knew I was exhausted and offered to just grab a salad so we could go home after work. I thought about it. I pictured my PJ's in my head and imagined how good a hot shower would feel. I saw my soft bed so perfectly in my head. Than I felt a bit of sadness at NOT being able to work out. 

Wait what? 

Yes, sadness at NOT being able to work out. 

Where the heck did that come from?

I have heard urban myths about people using their workouts to help with stress. To me, it seemed like such a far fetched idea, I mean come on, isn't that what cookies and ice cream are for? As an emotional eater, it is easy to fix my problems with ice cream but not so easy to see any other way to cope with stress, anxiety and bad life moments. I have a high stress job. I have a busy life. I have a lot going on at all times. Which means I spend a bulk of my time stressed and fighting strong urges to emotionally eat. So whenever some little bit of stress tips my already hectic scale, I tend to just eat and skip the workouts because why would those help?

But that has been causing its own stress lately. Gaining weight. Joint pain. PCOS symptoms. Turns out emotional eating was causing a lot of stress all on its own.

I have been working on my emotional eating. I have been dealing with it and finding alternatives to emotional eating because when I saw the numbers on my scale blinking up at me, I knew there had to be another way. I didn't realize it till yesterday but somewhere in the last couple of weeks the gym has become that alternative for me. That cringe, that sadness at not going to the gym was because I knew deep down inside that the gym would help. It would help with getting to sleep at a decent time. It would help quiet my mind after a long day of it chattering away and running through a constant lists of need to do's. It has done wonders in helping with the anxiety and panic attacks that nearly crippled me last year.  It helps with the urge to snap and be cranky. It is hard to hold on to the crankiness and wanting to snap at everyone around me when I am pouring down sweat. It is nice to take out my frustrations on the weight machines and feel the burn in my muscles instead of the burn in my stomach after some fast food. It is nice to be able to squash down anxiety with some good old fashioned sweating. 


I have noticed the difference, there are things that working out does for me that emotional eating NEVER did. Working out makes me a more well rounded person. I am able to handle stress more efficiently. I don't freak out as often. After my workout I am even a pleasant person and no longer feel the urge to get snappish. Working out is a good way to get some down time from problem solving and sometimes it even helps with whatever problem I was thinking about in the back of my mind. I am gaining confidence from working out. I am accomplishing things I never thought I would. A month ago I couldn't go one lap in the pool without having to stop to catch my breath, now I can go 300-500 yards before needing a break. Before I could barely stay on the elliptical for 5 minutes, now I am doing 20 minutes of hard HIIT workouts. Yesterday I moved my tricep weights up to 30 instead of my normal 20 (I started out at 10 a few months ago). This is the progress I would never have seen if I didn't head to the gym after a stressful day and instead had chosen to emotionally eat. 


Lately I have been enjoying my workouts. I am even enjoying planning them. I spend a few minutes each day just mapping out what I want to do and accomplish. It gets me pumped for the workout. I still get those few minutes of second guessing, where I don't want to go, especially after working for 9 hours. But I find that those moments only last until I get to the gym and start working out. Once I am in that pool or on that elliptical, I get it done and feel a whole lot better for it. Not to mention I still do squats, incline push ups and leg lifts at my desk through out the day because sitting at a desk sucks otherwise. 

Yesterday I also got my BeautyBox5 in the mail which always makes my day just a little bit better! 


I got to say I haven't gotten a bad box yet this month between Ipsy and now BeautyBox5. More deep conditioner because we all know I love it. A fun looking eye crayon that is like an eye shadow and eye liner mixed into one. Another new nail polish color to try out. Some fun pink toe separators and acne spot treatment. I pretty much just want to try everything like right now!! 

Today is a swim day at the gym. The last couple of weeks I have been doing 600 yard swims but this week my hope is to up it to 800 yards. Now I will be okay with upping it to 650 or 700 yards just as long as I am increasing slowly upwards and getting stronger in my swims. I want to make sure I am always pushing my body so it continues to be a great workout. 

What workout do you have planned? Do you use exercise to de-stress? How have you overcome emotional eating? 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Upper Body Workout and A Friday Night Swim



On Sunday nights we don't sleep apparently. Sort of my own fault. I mean I tried to prepare myself mentally for bed, I went through the warm shower, calm down, pack my gym bag, get my work clothes set out, lay down in bed early thing and I still ended up with only 3 hours of sleep. Usually on Sundays I struggle with sleep because my brain suddenly flips back over to work mode. I start listing off my to do lists for work, prioritizing in my head the big projects I know are sitting on my desk waiting for me and I also for some reason start worrying about household stuff on Sunday's as well. It is sort of my worry day. I also know that working out helps quiet those thoughts and exhausts me so I will sleep better but I didn't head to the gym. It also probably didn't help that on Saturday we were having so much fun we completely forgot to keep an eye on the time to make sure we ended up keeping close to our sleep schedule. Oh well, all I can do is do better next Sunday! Sunday wasn't all bad though, I did catch a great game played by my football team and they won!


Friday though, Friday I got a kick-ass workout in for my upper body. I wanted to walk into the weekend with a great workout under my belt just in case I wasn't able to sneak in another workout for the weekend and good thing I did too because I never did make it to the gym Saturday either.


I don't know how it is at your gym but in my gym it is all big muscular men over by the bench's and free weights. It can be intimidating to walk over there and have all eyes on you as you try to pick out a bench. It is also really hard to find a bench most days. Friday was no different. After I rocked the machines a bit (that is what the M stands for on the post it note, I separate my workouts between working on the machines and working out with the bench or basically non machine exercises) and fought for the butterfly machine (what is it about men that LOVE that machine??), I walked over to see if I could grab a bench. Not a single one was open. So after I did the bent over rows,  I settled for using a stability ball instead of a bench, which is what I use at home actually. It adds to the challenge, keep your balance and do the exercises. 

Then it was swim time. I debated just going home but I was there and I needed the swim time. The husband and I are still arguing to this day over how many meters we ended up doing. I swore up and down we did 600, he thinks we ended up doing 550. Who knows, but what I do know is swimming is hard on arm day. We were in the pool with a gentlemen who was an amazing swimmer. He just kept going and going and going. Later we chatted with him in the hot tub and it turns out swimming is what he turned to when he could no longer run (due to age mostly) and he has built himself up to be able to swim for an hour straight. WOW! Maybe one day. But for now I was proud of my 600 (or 550) yards after a tough arm day workout. I did a LOT of no kicks aka just arms because I wanted to make sure to really get a good arms workout in. I also worked on breathing on every 4 strokes instead of what I have been doing which is every other stroke. What is funny is when I do the breathing every 4 strokes I am concentrating so hard that I forget to kick my legs so it was an added arm workout. I was glad I got in the pool though, it was a great cool down and it just made me feel better after a long week.Fridays are hard for me because the weeks stress and exhaustion catches up to me by the end of the day, resulting in usually a lot of crankiness but working out helps a lot with that. But boy was I sore the next day! OUCH!

On Friday I arrived home from a great workout to two pleasant surprises. One was my Ipsy bag that I have been on the wait list for. I get the Birchbox and BeautyBox5 every month because I LOVE trying out new beauty products without having to buy first. I have found so many great products but I kept seeing Ipsy bags everywhere and just knew I needed to give them a try. For months now I have been crossing my fingers just waiting for the email saying I would get my first bag and it FINALLY arrived.


I am not disappointed. I have always wanted to try gel nail polish. Not to mention the lip gloss looked great on Saturday and I loved how soft the deep hair mask made my hair feel.

The second surprise was one of my 30th birthday presents arrived a month early. I bought two gifts for myself to celebrate my 30th and they weren't expected to show up till around my actual birthday (in roughly a month). I am not complaining, I love that one showed up already and it was a very pleasant surprise.


My dream is to one day see the Eiffel tower in person but for now I will settle for wearing it on my wrist. 

The rest of the weekend was spent laughing with friends, eating good BBQ, roasting s'mores, running errands, cleaning the house, spending time with the animals/husband and being lazy. Obviously I didn't work out but I really don't mind that I took an extra couple of rest days, especially since this week's workouts are planned and ready to go. 


The pool is taken on Mondays and Thursdays with the group pool exercise people so on those days I get to have fun with HIIT elliptical workouts but other than that there is a lot of swimming. Vacation time is only now roughly 4 weeks away and I am getting to be a really strong swimmer for snorkeling. We ALL know leg day is my favorite day and I wish I could just do arms and legs ALLLLLL day everyday but I also know I need to workout other areas of my body on non swim days, so I try to break it all up evenly. 

I haven't been posting a lot of food because we haven't really been eating anything different. In the evenings after the gym we have green smoothies and if we feel we need more we quickly whip up something small. My lunches have been all over the place due to slacking on the grocery shopping front but right now I am fully concentrating on going to the gym. When I go to the gym I tend to make good food choices because I don't want to ruin my hard work. I am also taking a short break from weighing myself. I was getting obsessive with the scale for a bit and I needed a small break. The problem with weighing myself all the time is yes I get excited when I see the difference my workouts are making BUT there is the dark side too, when I gain a pound back or don't lose weight (thanks PCOS), I get really frustrated and the want to give up gets strong. So I am just giving the scale a little break and instead focusing on the non scale victories like, being able to swim harder and longer or even upping my weights recently or making it to the gym consistently. Those are the things that are making me feel great right now!! 

All in all though, even with a small amount of sleep, I am really looking forward to my workout today and getting to the store to buy up some healthy groceries for the week. This week is going to be a great week!!! Positive thoughts, that is what I am working on!! Yes I am EXHAUSTED today but I also have a new week in front of me full of opportunities to get in some great workouts, make healthy eating choices and just to have a great week! So do you! 

I leave you with this cuteness to enjoy...



What workouts do you have planned? Meals? What is your favorite workout?










Friday, September 12, 2014

Leg Day

Yesterday I had decided it was leg day. I had spent the whole day psyching myself up for it and doing squats at my desk and looking up killer leg day workouts to try on my lunch break. I wanted to get excited about my workout and that isn't always easy after a long day for me. Especially on Thursdays when I am extra tired. Now normally I just decide it is leg day and I walk into the gym, do a little bit of elliptical (basing it off of how I feel), do whatever weight machines relate to leg day and then go home. But I have noticed how useful it can be to have a plan and a set workout to go to the gym with, so I did and I placed it on handy dandy post it notes so I could stick it to whatever machine I was working on.


Having a plan made a huge difference. I didn't waste time wandering or having my heart rate drop while I debated what machine to do next. I just popped in my headphones with the current hits station on Pandora and went to work.

Cardio...

Elliptical HIIT Workout:

Set 20 minutes on the elliptical timer.

5 minute warm-up at a moderate pace
30 seconds sprint- go as fast as you can
60 seconds recovery- back to the moderate pace
30 seconds resistance increase- bump that resistance up- I started off at 10 and by the last round was at 15
60 seconds recovery

Alternate between 60 second recoveries and 30 second either sprinting or bumping up the resistance or bumping up the incline (some times I did both to be honest just to add in some extra challenges) till you reach 6 minutes left of your workout (14 minutes in).

60 second bump up the incline and resistance and go all out for that last minute
5 minute cool down at a moderate pace

This workout was a lot of fun and got my blood pumping. I experimented a lot with alternating between my high intensity intervals being just sprinting on the elliptical as fast as I could and messing with the resistance and incline. The lady next to me was doing yoga type stretches while doing the elliptical and I had to keep myself from giggling. To each their own right?! Afterwards I got on one of those new stair stepper machines fully intending to do 5 whole minutes but gosh damn my legs wanted to fall off after 3 minutes. Not to mention I can't seem to figure out how to use them right ever. Maybe I should try the older stair steppers next leg day! 

Strength- Leg/glute Day...

Machines:

10- Seated leg press
10- Seated Leg Curls
10- Leg Extension
10- Glute Machine (I am not sure what it is called, I just know you are in this awkward half plank position)

3 times with 30 second rests in between

Dumbbell:

20- Dumbbell step ups


20- Dumbbell Squats
10- Bridges

3 times with 30 second rests in between

*Friendly reminder, wipe down the rollers when you do the leg curls machines. I got on and got someone else's leg sweat all over my legs because they didn't wipe the rollers down. Um gross! Yes your legs do sweat. 

I had done all of these before except the step ups. I was a little worried about what I would use to step up since all the aerobic rooms with their steps were in use but I found a small box worked just as well. You know, one of those metal things that people hop on to. I had the husband place his foot on one of the metal bars for steadiness because we ALL know I am a major klutz and I got to stepping with my 8 pound weights in hand. By the 8th step up I was hurting but I pushed through because it also felt kind of great as well. Plus I vaguely mentioned something about needing to do more stairs

I would call leg day a success, mostly because walking up and down the parking garages stairs hurt so good afterwards.


Afterwards we made some green smoothies to recover with and I made sure to down all the water to help prevent some soreness today.


These smoothies are pretty simple. I just throw some kale, spinach, coconut milk unsweetened, whey protein, flax seeds, strawberries, banana and ice into a blender for a few minutes. Makes for a wonderful after workout drink. Not to mention it gets me my greens for when I am slacking on eating the greens. 

Yesterday was a success and I went home in a much better mood. I am learning slowly that I can leave my bad day at the gym. There is something utterly calming about working out on the machines and pouring down sweat. Just like there is something truly calming about swimming and listening to my own breath/splashes around me.

Today is chest/arms and a swim day. I am really looking forward to the swim part. Mostly because I get a treat of the steam room and hot tub afterwards!! Whatever gets me motivated right?? Who else is excited it is Friday and that this week is FINALLY over?????? I am already planning out some workouts for this weekend!! 

What kind of smoothies do you make? How do you rock leg day? Any weekend plans?
















Thursday, September 11, 2014

Squat Breaks

I have been trying to squeeze in little bits of fitness at work. Mostly because I get really sore and kind of cranky about sitting in an office chair a good portion of my 40 hours a week. By Thursdays usually my left hip is making major noises and my lower back starts groaning. So I have incorporated little things into my day like squat breaks. I literally get up every couple of hours and squat for 1 minute while still working. Then I use my desk to do incline push ups. That sounds odd I know but it is the perfect height and I have nothing at home that is sturdy enough for me to do it there and I really want to one day be able to accomplish a real push up. It isn't a whole lot but it is more than nothing. Plus it amuses my coworkers, if they happen to poke their head around my cubicle at the right time I can be found standing at my desk squatting and editing a legal brief with my red marker or quit possibly doing some stretches as well or squatting like I am picking weeds out of a flower bed while typing an email response. I try to keep it exciting over here!

The other thing I have been doing at work is taking the stairs. Now I am a lot of floors up and one day I hope to be able to take the stairs all the way up to my floor but for now I am content with taking the stairs when I need to run up or down a floor to drop something off.


It is enough to get my heart rate pumping and yesterday I started jogging up them. That. Was. Hard. I obviously need to do more stairs in my life. Seriously. Stair stepper at the gym here I come!

Yesterday was my swim day at the gym. Which meant a few awkward pictures in the bathroom stall while changing I guess. 


Don't ask, I was feeling super silly and weird before my swim. I was also seriously dragging my feet which is probably why I decided pictures were a good idea. But luckily the husband moves faster than me and nabbed a lane before it got too busy. I lane share with him because I suck at lane sharing and often times he has to gently nudge me to the side when I have encroached on his lane. I am okay with it. For the most part I can follow the wall but every once in awhile during no arms I stray to the middle of the lane or even sometimes during backstroke. 

Last night I wanted to really work on keeping going since most of my focus up until then was my swimming form. When I first started swimming a couple of weeks ago I had to rest after each lap (25 meters roughly) because it was hard work. Last night I was able to go 500 meters before needing a couple minutes to breath and then I rocked out another 200 meters after that to finish it all up. I noticed my form starts to get wonky when I am getting overly tired and that usually signals I need a breather. It was also a busy pool last night so I had to battle through rougher waters than normal, good practice for swimming in the ocean is what I considered it and that kept me from getting irritated each time the splashes in the next lane caused a tidal wave to wash over me. I am still super slow at just legs and I almost drown myself every time with the back stroke (something about my arms bring up water that gets into my nose somehow every.single.time) but my no leg with paddles and my free swim are greatly improving. Even the husband was impressed by my speed during both.

This swim workout I did last night was:

100 yard warm up of free swim
100 yards free swim (faster paced)
100 yards no legs with hand paddles
100 yards of kick board, no arms
100 yards of free swim
50 yards of back stroke
50 yards of no arms
50 yards with paddles
50 yards free swim cool down

I really enjoy swimming. I thought it would be boring without music but it isn't, I like the silence to hear myself think after an 9 hour day filled to the brim with strict deadlines, briefs to edit, filings, phone calls, meetings, emails to answer, index's to keep updated and whatever else is thrown my direction. My work days are hectic and filled to the brim with problem solving, so it is nice to be able to check out during my swim. I find it almost meditative and a great transition into going home to deal with whatever needs to be dealt with there (errands, animals, husband, bills, paperwork, phone calls, emails etc). 

A friend mentioned doing an Ugly Sweater run to me the other day and after taking a look at it, I have decided I NEED this in my life. 


No seriously I do. So it has me debating adding walk/runs to my already hectic schedule, maybe squeezing them into my lunch break or alternate with nights of swimming. I am not sure yet but for now I will add in long hikes on Sundays (you know, when football is NOT on) with the dogs weather permitting (currently the 100 degree prediction for this weekend is NOT weather permitting). Plus it means that we have to go hunt through every bargain bin for the ugliest holiday sweater EVER! Now doesn't that sound fun?! You know it does! 

Tonight the pool is being taken over by the water aerobics people and I debated joining them, I actually like it but I really miss lifting weights. So I will be rocking out a HIIT workout on the elliptical, spending a few minutes on the stair master (cue cringe) and then it is leg daaaaay on the weights.

 

So the results of the challenge were.. a total combined loss of 4.6%. I lost 11 pounds while the husband rocked 15 pounds. I think I could have lost more if I had been slightly stricter on my eating. There were a few stressful days that resulted in a few slips. Stupid PCOS hormones that make it hard to lose weight when I even LOOK at carbs. Even with that, we won this round and now both couples are tied with one win each. BUT there just might be another round approaching. Everyone seems to agree that it is GREAT motivation and accountability!! (Read about the first one here, the first week and the start of the second one)

I have been working on establishing my sleeping schedule all week. In my spare time I have also been reading lots of articles on how to become a morning person. So next week I am taking some of the tips I have been reading about and I am going to do things like move my alarm clock so I don't keep hitting snooze, do something active when I first wake up and start a bed time routine that doesn't have to do with staring at a phone or Kindle (electronics before bed can disrupt our melatonin). In the meant time, this weekend, we are not going to set an alarm to get up and I am sticking to my nightly bed time because the biggest thing is sticking to a set schedule 7 days a week. So far I don't feel a drastic difference though I do get out of bed earlier and easier most mornings. But the articles I read did say it could take a couple weeks of sticking to the sleep schedule for your body to catch up on all your deficit sleep and become rested again. Really fascinating stuff actually when you start reading about it, especially when you get to the part where they list the symptoms and issues with not getting enough sleep. Scary stuff!  

So how is your week been so far?? Making healthy choices? What kind of workouts are you doing?