Saturday, June 25, 2016

Moving My Body Forward - Phase 9, A New Program Beings

I finished The New Rules of Lifting for Women.  As planned I skipped Stage 6.  I was considering going back to it, but I tried one hanging exercise and the pain took over my entire elbow.  I knew I wasn't ready for that yet.

The good news is I am back to my pre-surgery strength.  I can do just as many pushups as I did prior to the health issues.  I can deadlift and squat the same amount of weight.  I may not have quite the amount of endurance I had when I was deeply involved with Lean Eating, but I'm getting there.

More good news is I am noticing some of my clothes are looser.  I still can't wear some of my skirts or shorts from last year, but some of my tops are looser.  I may have to give some of them away before the summer is over because they have become too big to stay on my torso properly.  The dress Kevin bought me in Hawaii fit fine when we bought it back in February, but now it gaps and saps and shows my bra when I sit.  It seems I am losing a bit in my chest and shoulders in spots the tape measure doesn't hit.

The bad news is the program did not make a lick of difference in my regular measurements, weight, or physical appearance.   I still look terrible.  I finally took the plunge and took all my measurements.  I said I would finally give those stats on the blog when I was finished with TNROLFW.  Here are the depressing numbers.

Weight: 148.6
Arm: 14.5
Bust: 39.5
Waist: 33"
Hips: 42

This is exactly where I was when I started the program!

Now that I'm finished with one program, I had to find a new one to work on.

After considering some options, I did decide to go with The Modern Woman's Guide to Strength Training put out by one of my favorite fitness website, Girls Gone Strong.   I am hoping it works.  There is a decent nutrition guide that comes with it (written by the same person who wrote the nutrition program for TNROLFW).  I'm hoping I can stick to the principles it contains.

This program only lasts 16 weeks and then has a bonus program.  There are 3 levels of programs, but as a fairly advanced lifter, I don't see a reason to do levels 1 and 2, so I'm starting on Level 3.  This program was expensive for something that isn't going to last that long, and that's why I hope it does have some effects.  I could have spent less money if I were willing to keep everything fully digital, but I don't want to take devices to the gym.  I wanted some printed material.

I know my lack of progress has been due to my eating.  I just can't seem to get back to a healthful eating rhythm.  All too often I want to eat something I really enjoy rather than make the better choice.  James Fell wrote about that in one of his books.  He said we should eat food that is good, but not food that is delicious.  We don't want to hate our food and be miserable, but often the tastiest food is the most fattening and it's the food we don't want to stop eating once we start.  

It's easy to say you plan to eat nutritiously for the next year, or the next month, or even the next week.  The hard part is eating nutritious food and making the best choices in the present.  I may say, "I'm going to eat my vegetables, limit the refined starches, avoid sweets on a regular basis, and avoid fried foods for the next year," but then I'll say, "Right now I want a chocolate croissant."  (I may also want a doughnut, a chocolate chip cookie, or some ice cream.)  It's not about the well-thought-out meal plan I have for this week.  It's about whether or not I can resist something delicious but fattening right now.  When it comes to eating, the future is easy.  Right now is the hard part.

Phase 9 will continue with my writing down my meals.  Writing down does help give me a visual cue about all the inappropriate nibbles and snacks I take in. It reminds me that I'm not doing as well as I think I am in the food department. 

The exercise will be as follows:

Sunday: AM MWGTST workout, PM Riding
Monday: Long outdoor walk (dance class over for the summer) or indoor Zumba session if weather is inclement
Tuesday: MWGTST Workout plus 10-15 minutes of interval cardio
Wednesday: 40 minutes steady state cardio on bike or elliptical
Thursday: MWGTST Workout plus 10-15 minutes of interval cardio
Friday: 40 minutes steady state cardio on bike or elliptical
Saturday: Riding

Let's see how this goes.  Less than one month until I have a swimsuit vacation.  (I will put on a suit and enjoy swimming no matter how much weight I gain or lose.)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Moving My Body Forward - Phase 8

Deep Thoughts

When I was a child, the nutritional catchphrase tossed around the media was, "You are what you eat."  I thought I knew what the food police were trying to convey to me.  If you eat junk, you are junk.  You are a reflection of what you are eating.  It was slightly insulting and almost too simplistic.  Like most kids, nutritional messages only sank in part way.  I knew what was supposed to be good for me and what was supposed to be bad for me, but when you're young and healthy, you don't care about such things.  Decay and disease are years away and you just want to eat what tastes good.

Since those early days, I have actually matured (just a little) and now I understand what, "You are what you eat," really means.  It goes way beyond the idea that junky food will give you a junky body.

When you eat, food literally does become a part of you.  It enters your body and is broken down into the most essential elements.  From there it is absorbed into your bloodstream.  It feeds you on the most basic, cellular level.  It truly becomes part of who you are physically.  Our bodies are built on the foods we eat.  We truly are what we eat.

Another statement that stuck by me all these years was something a food writer said about eating.  She called it one of the most intimate acts we perform.  Food touches our bodies the way nothing else does.  We bring food into our bodies directly and it eventually touches every part of us.  Shouldn't we be aware and conscious of something so intensely personal?

I don't want to sound too out there and new age.  I'm a realist.  Everything we put into our body can't be holy and pure.  I think this whole "clean eating" mindset is a bit extreme.  Just as the food we eat becomes part of us, we are all related to the food we eat, whether it is clean or not.

In school we learn about the Periodic Table in chemistry class.  The world is made up of 117 elements.  The structure of everything around us is made from chemical combinations of one basic set.  Assuming we are all a product of the Big Bang Theory, then the elements that make us also make up the entire universe.  As the old saying goes, "We are all made of stardust."

There is no magical alchemy in our food, even processed food.  Everything we eat is natural at the basic level.  There aren't foods made of fairy dust or Satan Slime.  It's all just a combination of everything life is made of.  Calm down and stop worrying about "natural" and "clean eating".  If you discover a food is having a negative on your body, don't eat it or at least eat less of it.  If it doesn't seem to be harming you in any significant way, go ahead and eat it.  Just try to focus on those foods that integrate the most what your body is made of.  Eat them until you are satisfied, both physically and emotionally.

Anyway, my last phase of exercise is a bit lame.  I had a hard time in this phase trying to push my weight limits.  I don't think I broke any personal records this month.  (Ooh look!  I'm getting all bodybuilder-ish and talking about PRs!)  I just faithfully did my workouts to the best of my ability and hoped that eventually I'd bust the plateau. 

I did sort of bust the plateau this morning.  I bumped my lat pulldown up to to 80 pounds this month.  It has been a struggle to complete all four sets of four reps.  This morning it wasn't so hard.  I guess I'm ready for the next Phase.

My upcoming phase will be the final stage of The New Rules of Lifting for Women.  I just finished Stage 5, but that Stage 6 is optional.  It's supposed to be a major strength building phase and if your goal is fat loss (as mine is right now) the phase is not as important.  I would like to work on Stage 6, but my elbow still hurts and the upper body work in Stage 6 is intense.  I was working on Stage 6 when I injured my elbow in the first place.  Almost two years later it still hasn't healed completely, so I'm sure not going to do anything to aggravate it.  I'll move on the Stage 7 for my next weight workout.

At some point when I'm 100% healed I will work on Stage 6.  It will be a fun change of pace to throw a massive strength phase into whatever workout program I'm doing.

So what program will I do once I'm done with TNROLFW?  I am still not sure.  I have looked at some books and some online programs.  I have narrowed it down to two. 

The first is The Fit Body Blueprint.  I have worked with Sean Flanagan before and he's a great guy with a realistic approach.  I'm familiar with his approach to food and nutrition and I like it.  This program is 3 1/2 months long, which means I may be stuck looking for another program before 2016 is up.  It's also all digital and I don't like to take electronics to the gym.  I don't even take my phone to the gym.  I take an old iPod Nano for music and that's it.

The second program I am considering is The Modern Women's Guide to Strength Training by Molly Gallbraith.  I have never worked with Gallbraith, although I am a long time fan of her Girls Gone Strong site.   I can buy a printed copy of the program (although it costs 3 times what Flanagan's program costs).  There are three 16-week programs so I won't have to worry about not having a workout for a while.  The nutrition advice is from the same author who wrote the nutrition section of TNROLFW, and I have some reservations about that as I felt the meal plans in the book were a little restrictive (although honestly I think I could use a little smart restriction),

Well, right now I don't have to make a decision because I still have another stage of TNROLFW to finish.  I'll worry more about it then. 

So what will I work on this month?

I think it's time to conquer the beast.  I need to do the habit I hate the most.  I will keep a food journal.

I have been doing an exemplary job of cutting out the evening eating this month.  There have been many times I have stopped myself from mindless snacking before dinner.  I have implemented strategies and developed distractions.  It's all good, but what about the other mindless eating I do?  What about the bad choices I sometimes make for lunch, or the cookies and doughnuts I sometimes grab in the morning or in the afternoon?  Shouldn't I make myself more aware of that?

I am going to write everything down now.  I want to have a record of where I go wrong and when.  If I can obtain a calorie count of my meal, I will do so.  I will also record how satisfied I felt after each meal.  Did I feel stuffed, or did I feel hungry an hour later?  That will help me monitor portion sizes.

Plan for Phase 8

Sunday: AM: NROLFW workout Stage 7, PM: Riding
Monday: Long walk outside (Zumba or other Kinect activities if weather is inclement)
Tuesday: NROLFW workout Stage 7
Wednesday: Zumba or interval cardio on bike or elliptical (40-45 minutes)
Thursday: NROLFW worout Stage 7
Friday: Interval cardio on bike or elliptical (40 minutes)

Habit: Keep a food journal that includes all foods eaten and satiety levels