Thursday, July 31, 2014

I'm definitely feeling shredded!

Finished day four of Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, and I must say I have definitely been feeling it! The day after my first workout I was feeling a bit sore, but the next day was even worse! Today I wasn't as sore but I could definitely feel every muscle making itself known even during simple, every day movements. Seriously, my arms and thighs were the worst, and today the abs chimed in lest I forget they had been shredded as well. LOL.

I found some before and after photos online of people who have been through it, and some of them were quite dramatic. This lady posted her before and after pictures (scroll down the page a bit) and I was just amazed. I took measurements, but I started kicking myself for not taking photos as well. So tonight before I started the 4th workout, I had hubby take some photos. I'll post them side-by-side with after photos after the 30th workout - assuming I make it that far. I have every intention of completing this, but I've read many reports online from those who didn't make it. Wish me luck!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Measurements, and Day 1 of 30 Day Shred

I last posted my measurements back in December, which was four months into my weight loss. At that time I had lost 21.5" (54.63cm) but I had only measured one arm and one thigh. If I double those losses to include both arms and thighs, the total was 25.875" (65.75 cm) overall.  Not bad for four months!

But today I was starting Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred, so I wanted to know my starting point to compare with 30 days from now. I have not taken my measurements since December, so I really wasn't prepared for the results.  Shown below is a screen shot of my spreadsheet - my starting measurements 19th August 2013 (BMI 49.3), and today (BMI 32.4). I gotta say I was gobsmacked. The sub-totals include just the measurements I actually took, so again I doubled the arm/thigh measurements and that's the second total line. I've lost 54.5 inches (138.44 cm) -- not bad!

So how did I go with the 30 Day Shred? Well ... I won't lie, it was tough! But there were only two moves I had to modify despite Jillian insisting there is no modification for these moves ... the jumping jacks, and jumping rope. She insisted during the workout that "400 pound people can do jumping jacks, and so can you!" Well as I struggled to do them all and thought I'd bitten off more than I could chew with this workout it occurred to me ... I couldn't do 1 minute intervals when I started the C25K either. I felt like I should just give up but I didn't. Instead I made my own recordings to create 15, 30 and 45 second intervals and did those to work up to the one minute intervals. It may have taken me longer to get through the C25K but I did it!

I decided that if I had to modify a couple of moves to get through this workout, then modify I would. I did proper jumping jacks and jump ropes over half of the time, but when it became too much for me I modified. For jumping jacks that meant keeping the arms going but side-stepping one leg at a time instead of jumping. For jump ropes, it meant instead of jumping with both feet, I sometimes did one foot at a time to lessen the impact. This is partly because I have bad knees but to be totally and completely honest here it was mostly because having lost nearly 100 pounds I have some loose belly flab that just wants to bounce way too hard! It was kind of painful actually. Maybe I need to wear a girdle to get through this workout! It's a thought. I've read that you improve rather quickly so even 4-5 days into it, you should notice it gets easier and you have more endurance. That's likely true, but 4-5 days isn't going to make any difference in my excess skin and flab moving around when I jump.

Also, I think my weights may be too heavy for some of the arm work. Mine are 2.5 kg (about 5.5 lb) and for some exercises they were a bit heavy. But I don't know if I should go out and get 1.5 or 2kg weights, or just keep going now that I've got through day one with these weights.  I don't want to overdo it.  I'd love to hear from anyone else who's done this program - what weight did you use?

There are 3 levels to this workout, each one is done daily for 10 days. I am gonna do my damnedest to make it to the end! Anyway, that's my report for today - I'll be back at it again tomorrow.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

98.5 pounds down, and consulting a personal trainer

Sorry I haven't posted an update in a while. I knew my weight would go up last week and I've really grown tired of the monthly weight gain. I didn't see any point in posting 'yes I'm up again as expected' and bumming out about that when there are so many worse things going on in the world. The shooting down of a passenger plane that flew over a war zone for some unknown reason really shook me up. There were 38 Australian passengers on that plane, two who were retired school teachers that lived nearby for whom the local community has had a public memorial in tribute. The story of the family who lost three children and their grandfather has broken my heart, and of course all the other victims and their loved ones who are suffering right now. My weight struggles are trivial in comparison.

But my journey must continue, so now that the water weight has passed, I'm here to give you an update. At 50 and having PCOS I should hope that my cycle would start tapering off but it appears mother nature has other ideas. But I'm happy to report I've had a drop this week, coming in at 85.6 kg (188.72 lb) which is a loss of 0.6 kg (1.32 lb) since I checked in twelve days ago, and it brings my total loss to 44.7 kg (98.55 lb).  I gotta say, I am sick of the ups and downs, but at least I am moving (creeping slowly) towards the 100 pound mark. And I'm in the 180s now which is fabulous!

Having grown frustrated with the slow progress I started checking out fitness centres in town late last week to see what they offer and get pricing options. Maybe I need to shake things up a bit. At the very least, I could get some advice. I had joined a training studio a few years ago when I was still eating a vegan diet and it didn't product the results I'd hoped. I know that could very well have had to do with the diet, as it was rather carb heavy. When I went there it consisted of group classes 2-3 times a week and was costing me about $100 per month. You could pay extra for one-on-one training, but I didn't. So I already knew what they were about, and I've belonged to Curves in the past as well.

So I decided to stop in and check out a place closer to home called Anytime Fitness. Yup, it's a 24 hour gym so you get a key card that lets you in at any time. They showed me around the place which was basically a lot of equipment and tons of big, burly guys around doing their thing. No classes, they just show you how to use the stuff and leave you to it. Not for me. I know I would need more guidance than that. Oh, and they had a room upstairs where you could do video workouts. Seriously? I can do those at home, and on my schedule. Anyway, it would have cost about $80 a week.

Then earlier this week I went to Vision Personal Training to see what they were about. The lady I met with was nice and I talked to her for about an hour - she was very impressed with how far I've come and asked a lot of questions about what I've been eating, what kinds of workouts I've been doing so far, etc. She was impressed I'd put myself through the C25K and said she could see it in my face how proud of myself I was for that. There were also times she asked about my goals and what I really wanted from this and I teared up a bit because I really didn't know. I've spent all my life feeling rather unworthy, which is one of the reasons I wanted to try running. Just to prove to myself I could do it. But I didn't love running. I mostly didn't want to stall and go back up as I've done several times before.  I've spent my life trying to lose weight and I didn't want to give up this time.

She said firstly that the reason I've stalled lately was likely because I've lost muscle and bone as well as fat. Muscle keeps your metabolism high. The exercises I've been doing, while excellent cardio for my heart and lungs, were doing nothing to build muscle. So I need to do strength training. Then she asked if I could see myself eating this way forever, or if there were foods I really missed that would likely come back into my diet at some point. I told her honestly that I could see transitioning to something similar to a low carb or primal diet but that I didn't want to worry about someone else's rules (e.g. no potatoes) but rather find what worked for me and just eat naturally and intuitively without counting, weighing, measuring etc. I miss sweet potatoes, and once I hit goal I'd like to have those again and maybe even occasional oats or rice if they didn't cause any issues for me, but that wheat and sugar (bread, cakes, cookies and junk) would likely never come back into my diet. She seemed pleased with that. She thought I needed to stop stressing about seeing a certain number on the scale and felt that maybe I needed to use measurements or how my clothes fit to measure my progress.

Then she told me about their program and what they could do for me. They appoint you your own personal trainer who helps you determine your goal, whether that's a certain weight or size, or training for something specific (she could get me to love running if that's what I wanted). Then they devise an eating and exercise plan for you to reach those goals in a predetermined time. You work with that trainer at least twice a week, but you are given exercises to do on other days when you come in for group sessions or even to workout by yourself. Their results are guaranteed.

She also said the diet I'm following was darn near exactly what they would recommend, so there would be minimal tweaks required there. Basically she wanted to see me eating a bit more fat and even carbs, especially after a workout. But otherwise what I was eating was pretty well right on, which was good to hear. We talked for a long time, I really felt good when I left except for one thing. Being as they work so closely with you and guarantee their results, it's not cheap. They would want a joining fee of $199, and thereafter $130 a week (or $260 auto deduction every fortnight), for a minimum period of six months. Wow. I said that would be tough and she said that she could let me sign up for 18 weeks minimum if that helped. That's pretty much 4 months, so not a huge difference. The only alternative is if you're willing to pay the entire fee up front, then you can sign up for just 9 weeks. After that you can do it again to renew for 9 weeks, or transition onto the 18 week or six month plan.  My heart sank. Seriously this sounded SO good and absolutely perfect for me, but I can't swing it financially right now. I was really bummed out.

The next morning I got up and had a drop, and that's where I still am today at 85.6kg (188.72 lb). I took that as a sign. Yes, this would be lovely, and in another year or so I'll be in a better position where I could even afford it. But that drop told me that I will get there if I just keep doing what I'm doing and maybe try to add some strength training on my own. I don't have weight training equipment at home (other than a few dumbbells) but I do have a couple of workout videos that focus on strength training. I could start there for now, or maybe think about joining Curves again, but either way I'm going to keep moving forward. This is my life now, there is no turning back.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Down 97 pounds and counting

As you may know, I've been very frustrated by an apparent lack of progress on the scale of late. It hasn't been completely stagnant - just painfully, horribly slow! I did see a loss this week, weighing in at 86.2 kg (190.04 lb), which is down 1.2 kg (2.65 lb) from last week. That brings my total loss to 44.1 kg (97.22 lb) so I am slowly inching towards the 100 pound milestone.  Not in a straight line, mind you - in fact I didn't even let myself get excited by the 86.2 kilo weigh-in because I ended June at 86.6 and then went back up in the start of July. I figured today the scale would taunt me again and I'd see 87 or 88 again. That's been the pattern lately, the scale givith and the scale taketh away.  But thankfully this morning I'm still at 86.2 kg.  Given I'm at that stage in my cycle where I usually start gaining water weight, it's anyone's guess what the week will bring.  But at this moment I am down 97.22 pounds and I'll take it!

Success isn't a straight line, I know that. Those solid drops week after week for 10 months straight were really nice, and brought me quickly to a 95 pound loss. In June I got over 96 pounds and now mid-way through July I'm at 97.22 pounds gone. Slow as a tortoise BUT ... moving downward overall, despite the fluctuations.  THAT is what I choose to focus on, THAT is what will keep me going. I will not throw in the towel, despite my frustration. I've said this before but it's true - every other weight loss attempt I have given up when I hit a plateau. It's SO frustrating to do everything right and see no progress week after week after week.  According to Dr Poon there are no plateaus on this plan, yet most people on the support groups have had them. So now it's my turn, and it's not even a plateau really, it's constant fluctuations.  This will NOT be the reason I throw in the towel this time.  I WILL reach my goal this time, of that I'm sure.  Because the real challenge will be staying there and maintaining once I get there. If I let things like plateaus, fluctuations and frustration get to me now, how will I ever maintain once I actually reach my goal?  This is practice, that's what it is. This is a lesson to prepare me for what's to come.  So bring it on, I'm a good student. :)

I'm still doing Turbo Jam twice a week and taking two big walks on the weekends. It was really cold and windy this weekend but I got out there anyway and got the walk in.  I've even added a couple of intermittent fasting days during the week just because I'm rarely hungry in the morning.  l only eat two meals a day on weekends anyway, but last week I did that twice during the week as well.  I don't see the point in eating if I'm not hungry, and I've read a lot about intermittent fasting lately, and I think it's a good idea.  When did this three-meals-a-day tradition start anyway?  It doesn't seem natural to be in a constantly 'fed' state, and occasional 'fasting' states are natural for most beings on the planet.  In any case, if I were truly hungry I'd eat something, but I rarely am so I'm going to listen to my body and let it tell me what it needs.

That's all for now, hope you're all having a great week! :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Screw the number on the scale, I'm shrinking!

I held steady this week and didn't lose anything, so it would have been easy to let myself dwell on that and get bummed out. June was really a crappy month, and I'd hoped July would start off with better news, but it is what it is. In the scheme of things, the number on the scale really is not the most important thing and I refuse to let it rule my emotions. Seeing lower numbers week after week for so many months was really nice, but things will start moving downward again when my body is ready. I know the scale does not tell the whole story, and that was confirmed when I received some really lovely compliments - both yesterday from family members, and again this morning from a coworker.

They insisted I've lost more in the last week, but I know I haven't! Then my coworker pointed out that the slacks I'm wearing today were tighter only a couple of weeks ago. I looked down and she's right - they are looser now, particularly in the 'saddlebag' region - an area that I have really hoped would start shrinking soon. Could it be because I'm mixing my workouts up? I still get in a couple of big walks each week and the last one had some really steep climbs in it. I've recently swapped running for doing Turbo Jam indoors, due to the cold weather - Turbo Jam has lots of kicking and punching in all different directions, and some really good waist trimming moves. Could that really make a difference already? I don't know, but whatever the reason I am shrinking even if the scale doesn't know it yet.  Hooray!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Learning to Grieve

So the next chapter of "A Life Complete" by Sallirae Henderson deals with Learning to Grieve. This chapter resonated with me on a few levels. Firstly, she discussed grieving the loss of the familiar. I went through that when I first moved to Australia, and the first couple years were difficult for me. In all the big ways, life here isn't all that different than it was in America. I still have a home, a car, a job, friends and family, etc. But in a thousand small ways it's really different and there was an adjustment period. I missed finding my favourite products in the stores, or celebrating holidays they don't have here. Christmas is in summer, my birthday is now in winter, we drive on the left, and in some ways I even had to learn a new language. Australian English really can be quite unique, with a whole new set of slang words and expressions! There are so many little differences that initially I went through a bit of mourning for the familiar.  I've been here ten years and for the most part I've adjusted fine. I've learned to substitute or do without some things, and for other things there are now import shops and/or online shopping.

Nowadays what I miss most is people with whom I spent my youth and years of shared memories and traditions. I have friends here, but no one who has known me all my life -- no one who remembers all the crazy things we did when we were young. I can share stories with people, but it's not the same as having lived through it with me. I imagine that's kind of what it's like when you get older and most of your friends and family have passed before you. I stay in touch with people from home via phone when I can, but most are not online so that's all I can do, really. I definitely grieve for those I can no longer call, having lost both parents and all grandparents.

Next she discusses how we might grieve our lost youth. We may feel bad about ourselves as we age due to all the advertisements on TV, radio, billboards and magazines featuring products to make us look younger and sexier, with 24-hour 800 numbers so you can buy their products right now (suggesting you don't want to spend another minute succumbing to the effects of age). "How can we feel good about our ageing selves when we're made to feel we must nip in the bud immediately?" The models in those ads seem younger every year and it can be hard to relate.  Suffering from PCOS brings enough symptoms that make me feel unfeminine, so adding loose skin and an ageing appearance as I lose weight can really do a number on my self esteem if I let it. I try not to - I don't spend a lot of time focusing on the negative things, but neither do I feel happy and positive with what I see in the mirror most days. It's not how I expected to feel having lost nearly 100 pounds, so I truly wish I had done it sooner.

Sallirae says that periods of 'time out' to allow the processing of small losses may be necessary, or it may take a year or longer to recover from a major loss of the loved and familiar. Allowing ourselves this time to grieve may save us from the awful devastation of having it all crash down on us in our last years. I do try to find ways to stay in a good headspace most days and I don't really want to spend time grieving a youth I can never revisit. I continue to focus on facing fears, trying new things, and learning new skills to keep my mind sharp (I'm learning to write code). Hopefully I'll start singing again as that's always brought me joy. I've got strong spiritual beliefs. I meditate, but not as often as I'd like - I would like to find time to do more of that, as it helps me find peace within myself.

As far as friends and family, I am planning a trip home to the States next year. By then I should be at a healthy weight and hopefully far enough into maintenance that the familiar foods from home aren't a major temptation. There are a few people I can't wait to see again, as I haven't been home since 2006. And if I've reached my goal and am looking and feeling my best, that would be nice.

How about you? Those of you who are at or approaching middle age, do you find yourself missing who you once were or things you once did that maybe you don't or can't do anymore? If you got to your goal weight later in life, did you find it wasn't all you hoped it would be? What things do you grieve?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Did a Double Workout

So last night I did Turbo Jam Cardio Party and it felt good to work different muscles again. I have rather missed this workout and definitely found some of the moves much easier to do yet I worked harder, if that makes any sense. Some moves that were difficult before I might have modified for example,  whereas now it was easier to do them properly but that meant I actually worked harder. When the 40+ minutes were up I wanted to do a bit more, but something stress-relieving. Things have been hectic at work lately and I just wanted to blow off steam so I threw in a Misty Tripoli's Body Groove workout.

I love her routines ... they are really cool, funky workouts that really let you get your groove on. They are not intense so you won't feel like you're working out, but rather doing fun, creative, freestyle dance ... great for stress relief.  Check out Body Groove here.

I also love Misty Tripoli's attitude in this clip where she discusses body image, definitely worth watching.

I can feel it today in muscles I haven't used in awhile, so I'm going to do this combination three times this week and see how I feel.