Sunday, April 10, 2016

Moving My Body Forward - Phase 5

Stronger, but not smaller.

This month I will not be sharing stats.  I have no time or inclination to weight or measure myself.  Although I finished NROLFW State 2, I have not had much time to focus on health habits.

So much has been happening.  I just finished another play.  It was fun and thrilling and I had a great cast to work with, but it was also exhausting and time consuming.  There was a fire in my building that took out the laundry rooms and I will be scrambling to find times and places to do laundry in the coming weeks until repairs are made.  I had a bad cold that still lingers intermittently.  My elbow, seemingly almost healed, has taken a turn for the worse.  My insomnia has been raging. 

On the good side, I'm killing it at the gym these days despite the elbow.  I am adding more weight every week.  I still have to be cautious for certain exercises, but I know once the pain is gone I can bring myself to 2014 strength levels.  I still have to watch how much weight I lift and I still can't hang by my arms or pull on it too much.  TRX cables are out of the question.  I top out at 60 pounds on the lat pulldown machine (and even that hurts a bit).

I am beginning to understand why accountability to a coach works so well.   My 4-week exercise stage stretched out to 6 because of the missed workouts from rehearsals, insomnia, and illness. I didn't go to the gym the week my cold was at its worst.  I have skipped cardio days on nights when my insomnia was bad.  I missed the gym during "Hell Week" of rehearsals.  I never would have done that when I was on Lean Eating.  I would not have dared report that I missed a workout.  I was paying for that program.  When I'm not accountable to anyone but the occasional blog reader, I don't feel as compelled.

I was feeling rather down the other day when I caught sight of myself in profile in a full-length mirror.  I can fool myself into thinking I don't look so bad when I am facing front.  From the side it's a different story.  That's the angle where I can truly see how big my stomach is.  When I doing well with diet and exercise, I can turn sideways and see just how cute my butt looks curving out nicely from behind.  My butt still curves out cutely, but it's hard to tell because my stomach sticks out far more.  My butt gets kind of lost.  I know it sounds sort of shallow, but I am growing impatient with myself.  I know it's my own fault that I'm not seeing progress.

I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not on a timeline.  I'm not trying to be perfect.  I'm just trying to be better.  I'm trying to be healthier.  Life is always going to happen.  I should prioritize exercise and healthful eating, but there are times when it can't be a priority.  Sometimes I do need rest.  Sometimes I am in pain.  I have to look at the bigger picture.

I worry that my body has reached a new "set point".  It seems every few years my weight rises to a certain point that I will go above, but struggle to go below.  If I'm stuck at this weight now, how much bigger will I be in my 50s? My 60s?  You could argue that I'm active so it will always be a safeguard against dangerous obesity, but there is no guarantee I will stay active.  I'm far more fragile than I look.  In the past 10 years I have had issues with my knees, shoulder, elbow, and hip.  The hip needed surgery and the elbow has become chronic.  Can my body realistically sustain high levels of activity?  There is a reason why I'm not athletic.  Maybe my chronic klutziness and inability to perform well athletically is just my body telling me it can't handle heavy physical activity.

If I don't fight it, what is the alternative?  My joints stay intact if I don't stress them out too much with heavy lifting and high impact cardio.  I gain weight.  Do I end up with diabetes?  High blood pressure?  High cholesterol?  These things are all in my family.  I could be next in line.

I am trying not to be hard on myself for saying there are times I need to sleep in during many of the Phase 4 challenges.  There have also been times when I have said there is no reason to sleep in.  Rehearsals don't always run so late that I can't go to bed at a reasonable hour and then wake up in the morning to work out.  There is no excuse.

There will be challenges awaiting me in Phase 5.  I can meet them or I can use them as an excuse again.  I hope I do the former more than I do the latter.

My habit for Stage 5 will be to get more sleep.  This is not an easy habit for me because I am a chronic insomniac.  I am not a "night person" and I fall asleep early and easily.  Unfortunately, I don't stay asleep.  I often wake up sometime between midnight and 3AM and sometimes don't go back to sleep again.  This has been an issue for me since I was in middle school.  I also do not do well sleeping in.  Even if it's a weekend if I wake up in the middle of the night, my body won't compensate for the lost sleep by sleeping later.  I rarely ever sleep again once the sun is up  - at least not in my bed.   I will fall asleep in front of the TV, in meetings at work, or in the car though.

Sleep deprivation is said to be a major cause of poor immunity (my constant colds and coughs), excessive hunger, and sweet cravings.  If I get more sleep, will I have few weight problems?

I can't make myself sleep, but I can do things that seem to have helped increase sleep quality in the past.  I need to commit to doing one of these habits each night.

1.  No screens except for reading novels off the iPad.  Once the TV is off, I will not hang out online.  (I recently deactivated my Facebook account, which is going to be helpful.)

2.  Color.  I complain about how my coloring book often creates more stress than it relieves, but I do find I sleep through the night more when I've had a coloring session before bed.

3.  Yoga.  I have noticed that a quiet session consisting of maybe 10-15 minutes of soothing poses has also led to more continuous sleep.

4.  A hot bath with mineral salts.

I'm moving into Stage 3 of The New Rules of Lifting for Women.  Let's see how much more I can build without causing more pain.

Phase 5 Plan:

Habit: Create sleep-inducing rituals

Sunday: AM NROLFW weight workout, PM Riding lesson
Monday: Tap/jazz dance class
Tuesday: NROLFW weight workout
Wednesday: Interval cardio on machine or Zumba session
Thursday: NROLFW weight workout
Friday: Interval cardio on machine or Zumba session

Although I am not doing a progress measurement this month, I want to report how well I did on the vegetable habit.  I had about 80% compliance.   I really worked to plan my meals to make sure that I had vegetables and fruits with each one.

A daily meal plan might look like these:

Breakfast: Smoothie with frozen fruit, coconut milk, almond butter, and a half a container of Greek yogurt.

Lunch: Almond butter and jelly sandwiches with carrot sticks

Dinner: Spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce with a green salad

Snack: Apple and a handful of nuts

Breakfast: 2 eggs, tomatoes, and toasted Ezikiel bread

Lunch: Quinoa with roasted fennel and parsnips

Dinner: Roast chicken with sauteed spinach and sweet potatoes

Snack: Carrot sticks and a bite of cheese




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