Tag Archives: work out

Holiday Diet Details: Results

 

The year of 2018 has begun, and along with it, many New Years Resolutions. I’m not a huge fan of resolutions in general, though I do have several goals for the blog in the coming year. Also, this year I sort of did things backwards… I started a diet & exercise plan before the holidays, with the intention of loosening up once January started! I know, crazy, right?

This is the post of the original plan
Here’s how I was doing after 2 weeks

 

And this is the story of how it all turned out.

The 7 weeks of the plan were definitely a bit of a roller coaster. I had all the predictable pitfalls and slip-ups: too much wine during girls’ weekend, more than zero cookies, a lot of grazing over the Thanksgiving holiday (compounded by not-so-healthy travel snacking during the 10-hours drive both ways), and Christmas temptations galore.

But the good news is, every time I just couldn’t stop myself from shoving that sugary/carby thing I knew I shouldn’t have into my mouth, I just acknowledged it and moved on.

The whole purpose of this diet started out as a silly joke challenge, because we were going on a Christmas week cruise. And also both my husband and myself were turning 30 the same week! So I said I wanted to look and feel my very best, as I was sure lots of photos were going to be taken (I was right), and you always gain weight on a cruise (also right). We were going to Turks & Caicos, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Bahamas. That meant lots of sun, sand, sea, and bathing suits!

Me enjoying the crystal clear water and white sand beaches of the Caribbean!

So I cleaned up my diet, started tracking actual portion sizes to limit calorie intake, and ramped up my physical exercise. It was slow going, but by week 5 I was feeling the looseness of my pants and began getting actual comments on how I looked like I’d lost some weight from coworkers.

Conveniently, during the final pre-cruise-crucial-week of mega clean eating and restriction, the hubs had to go on a week-long work trip. Yearly reviews were due, a big project needed worked on, and the office holiday party were all happening and required his IRL presence (he works remotely, lucky duck!).

So good news for him, he didn’t have to smell broccoli and brussels sprouts all week, and good news for me, I didn’t have the temptation of his burritoes and beer around!

Workout Plan Results

  • Week 3-4 (Nov 17 – 30):
    • Daily – 20-30 minutes of yoga, 20-30 minute walk
    • MWFSat (or 4x/week) – body weight workout video or run
    Week 5-7 (Dec 1 – 22):
    • Daily – 30-45 minutes of yoga, 30-45 minute walk
    • 6 days/week – body weight workout video or run

     

I would say that I did stick with daily yoga about 80% of the time, but I found that 10-20 minutes was about my daily maximum. Except on weekends when I didn’t have a time crunch to leave the house, a 30 minutes long yoga video just felt like too much. A couple days I did a longer one at night, but in the mornings I can now say that I can stick with it, but about 20 minutes is my maximum.

Walking/getting enough steps every day was easier, because I have a job where I have to walk long distances occasionally (by that I mean cross a street and down 2 blocks). I also made a conscious effort to take the longer way to places, to use the bathroom a floor or 2 down from me, take the stairs rather than the elevator, and to stroll the long way to the parking garage.

Weekends continue to be my biggest struggle, especially now that it is so cold outside. Outdoor walks tend to be the only really active thing we do on weekends, and when it is 50, 40, 20 degrees, that ain’t happening. One night I got desperate enough that I stood up and just marched in place in the living room while watching a movie (yes, the whole hour and 26 minutes) and that seemed to do the trick! So maybe that will be my winter activity answer.

The cruise week was overall quite active, and I was proud of myself for going to the gym 3 times! On the days we were in port, there was a lot of walking, and even on the ship there is a lot of walking up and down stairs and doing laps around the decks. The 27th, which was our stop in Puerto Rico, is my new personal record! This is because I was up early, so I hit the gym for 60 minutes on the elliptical. I was at 10,000 steps by the time we got off the boat.

Once on land, we then proceeded to wander around town and shop, walked all the way to the coast, toured a 6-story old fort, and then walked back to town to sightsee some more. Hence nearly hitting 25 thousand steps in one day! It was a great day. Also, side note, if you’re ever in Puerto Rico, definitely get the coffee! The coffee was so amazing. I’m pumped to have brought about 4 pounds home. Oh, and try the pork and mofongo (plantain or yucca).

I also was able to stick to a 3x/week workout schedule thanks to YouTube and FitnessBlender.com. Working out in my own (warm) house whenever I want to works best for me. If you are the type of person who needs an instructor telling you what to do, or thrive on the competition with strangers next to you, by all means sign up for classes or go to a gym! Whatever works. For me, it is putting on my spandex, surfing through HIIT workouts until I see one that suits my fancy and time needs today, and hitting “play”.

Eating plan results

Food Plan

  • 3-5 meals per day, for a total of ~1000-1200 calories
  • Very limited carbohydrates
  • Daily green drink + vitamins
  • One cheat meal or snack/weekday, one per weekend
  • Only snacks allowed are green tea, raw whole fruits, raw veggies (RV) or steamed veggies (SV)
  • Unlimited salad greens or raw non-starchy veggies

Since measuring out actual portion sizes, I’ve gained an even greater disdain for how outlandish American portions have become, and how used to this we all now are. The human body only needs about 1200-2000 calories to maintain an active, healthy weight, and yet we nibble, bite, and slurp our way to easily 3000 calories per day without a second thought.

Cups, plates, tables, chairs, coffee mugs, bagels, muffins, pizzas, waist sizes. What do these things have in common? They are about 30% larger now than they were in 1980! A 2012 review of 245 restaurants found that 96% of meals exceed the (already generous) USDA recommendations for fat, salt, and overall calories. I bet now, 5 years later, that number is pushing 99%.

The good news is that now I have a more reasonable approach to portions, which I hope sticks with me for life. Your stomach can adjust to fit the volume of food you give it, just like your taste buds adjust to the flavors you normally give it. The bad news is, on a cruise you can have whatever you want, whenever you want… and I definitely took advantage of that!

A whole week with never less than two dinners and sometimes four, plus all the appetizers and desserts, means that my stomach was in pain a lot of the time, and my taste buds are soooo confused by all the fat, salt, and sugar intake.

Ready for the damage a week of pigging out does?

I gained back 10.4 pounds in one week!

Oops 🙁

Cruise birthday cake is seriously amazing, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t like cake. And yeah, those are 3 more dessert plates. Don’t judge.

But hey, now I have the knowledge, habits, and belief that I can do this again, and then some.

 

Overall Results

  • Pounds lost: 16!
  • Inches in waist: -2.5
  • Inches in thighs: -2
  • Inches in stomach: -1
  • Inches in arms: +1 (hooray, bicep muscles!)

Starting weight: 156.2

Ending weight: 140.4!

Post-cruise-weight: 150.8

So, no, I did not hit my goal of 130 pounds

But you know what? I’m okay with that, because 16 pounds in 6 weeks is still really great! And there are SO many other benefits I have realized in this short amount of time.

  • I can do jumping jacks for a full minute
  • Planking is not even a challenge anymore
  • I can do one-legged squats
  • My balance is WAY improved
  • I can do 20+ perfect form pushups
  • Literally all my work pants are loose now
  • I feel way more confident physically
  • Portion sizes make more sense
  • I can actually do this now:

    Those are called “Eagle arms”. Which makes no sense because you’d think that means sticking your arms out to the sides super-far like you’re trying to fly, but whatever, I didn’t make the yoga naming rules…

The biggest benefit of this by far is that I actually look forward to workouts now! If more than 2 days go by without doing HIIT, I start to feel lethargic and miss it. It is definitely still hard to get over the “activation energy” to get started, but that high of finishing a workout, when you’re a little sore, sweaty, and out of breath, but all your muscles are warm and happy, is so worth it.

OMG who have I become? lol

So the moral of the story is, although I didn’t get to my goal weight (yet!) it was a totally worthwhile endeavor. I’ve started tons more healthy habits that I hope to keep as part of my life forever. We all could use a little more movement. Flexibility and muscle mass starts decreasing with age, so it’s up to us to make the time to get and stay in shape.

All of these changes are meant to be a way of life for the long term. This is not a fad, just to lose 10 pounds and be beach ready (though that is how it started). I want to incorporate more movement into my days, strength training and flexibility every week, and pack my plate with healthy, whole, plant based foods as often as possible. Science says that eating lots of plants and moving your body more is the key to health, avoidance of disease, and longevity.

Let’s have a salad and a walk, shall we?

 

 

How do you stay fit & healthy? Are you resolving to eat better or workout more in the new year?

8 Ways to Work Out Without Whipping Out Your Credit Card

 

We all know that our health is our greatest asset. I hope. Health is one of two things you can never get back; that and time. We are only given one body and one life to live. Enjoy what your body can do, use it, and work it out.

“Working out” tends to become a bit of a curse word with some people. They hear that and immediately get exhausted. You think: ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I don’t have energy’ or ‘I can’t afford a gym’. But all these excuses are just that: excuses. Working out doesn’t have to cost any money at all. And working out can be fun.

Think back to when you were a kid. You went outside and played with friends. Maybe you had bike races or foot races, played basketball or softball, rolled in leaves and climbed trees. Hopscotch, jump rope, kickball, four square. All of these things get you moving, in a way that is fun. As adults, we need to re-discover “play time“.

My friend in college and our box fort
My friend in college and the box fort we built in our apartment.

As a society, we have become more and more sedentary as life becomes full of conveniences. We get out of bed to go sit in the car to go sit at a desk to then sit in the car to come home to sit on the couch. There is no hunting and gathering, building our own houses, gardening, running from danger. This has lead to the greatest health threats and most dire health situation humanity has know. We hear every day about the ‘obesity epidemic’ and how diabetes is on the rise.

You have the power to change that. You have the power over your own body and your own life.

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There are tons of cheap-to-free ways to work out. I’ll list them in order of free to most expensive:

1. Walking: The simplest and easiest way to do wonders for your health. Walking takes no money at all, can be done at any time, anywhere, and you can start at any comfort level. If all you can manage is to the end of the driveway and back, great, start there. If you already walk a half hour after dinner, awesome! Walking has been shown scientifically to be so beneficial for all things health related, there is no reason not to start right now!

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2. Jogging: Only slightly more challenging than walking. Start with walking, then once you can comfortably walk for 30 minutes, pick up the pace for a minute or two. If you like jogging, increase it until you can run a 5K. Who knows how far you can go! The only costs will be a good pair of shoes if you start doing longer runs.

3. Body weight exercises: this includes things like yoga and pilates, push-ups, jumping jacks, planks, crunches, squats. You can drop a few bucks on a yoga mat or something like that. Look online for ideas and free videos to demonstrate. You can get a great full-body workout for free in your own home.

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Image from the very informative website of Bret Contreras, the “Glute Guy”

4. Workout videos: This is borderline because you can find free videos online, or you can buy workout DVDs. Totally your choice. There is a HUGE amount of workout resources free online, just Google ‘videos’ and the type of workout you’re looking for, or check out one of the Top 30 YouTube channels for free workouts. These can be done on your own time in the comfort of your living room.

5. Bands/weights: This category can be very frugal if you pick up a used set of light free weights at a yard sale or Goodwill, or very pricey if you want to invest in a bench and full weights set. Again, your call. Make sure you consult an expert or at least look up information on proper form so you don’t injure yourself if you’re new to weights.

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6. Sports: Playing a club sport for fun or competition is a great way to have fun while working out, and as a bonus you can meet new people and make new friends. Check out the website of your local sports centers or Google sports that you enjoy in your area. This could be free or cheap, costing you just an application fee, or you could sink a few hundred dollars into new gear. Up to you.

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7. Classes: For this you can check Craigslist or Groupon for free or cheap classes offered near you. Or you can usually buy a single class or set of classes from a gym for a discount. Just look for fliers or ask around, you never know what neat new skill you might learn, and the friends you might make. Take a chance and try something new!

8. A gym membership: Typically the most expensive option, it does come with benefits. Most gyms do offer a free pass, or discounted first months membership if you want to just try it out. You will have access to weights, machines, and classes you otherwise might not. They usually have staff to help you use machines properly, or you could invest in personal training. Make sure you will get your moneys worth though, and actually show up.

In the end, it all comes down to the greatest exercise being one you enjoy and will consistently do. If you don’t move your body, you won’t get the benefits. Find ways to make it fun, buy a used bicycle, try kick-boxing, enlist some family or friends for a weekly stroll in the park. The options are endless once you really think about it and look.

And it all comes down to you. Why should you work out? Sure, it’s nice to look hot. Sure, it’s nice to have visible muscles. But the ultimate goal of health is just that: to be healthy. To have energy to play with your kids, to not get winded walking up stairs, to be able to lift boxes to help a friend move.

To live a longer, healthier, happier life.

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Now stop reading this and go move! =)

 

No pain no gain? — Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

 

Anyone who has ever begun a weight-lifting regimen, shoveled a long driveway, or lifted something heavy only to be sore the next day (or two, or three…) is familiar with the concept of delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

This is the constant ache in your muscles that you feel 24-48 hours after doing something strenuous to which you are not accustomed. To be clear, it is not the same as the sharp, immediate pain of a pull or strain, nor is it the same as the muscle fatigue you feel while working out.

What causes DOMS?

There is some misinformation on the internet and in common knowledge that a build up of lactic acid or lactate, created through aerobic respiration, causes muscle soreness. While it is true that a build-up or inability to get rid of lactate can hinder workouts, this is not the cause of DOMS. This is caused by microscopic tears in the muscles during the “eccentric“, or lengthening, portion of an exercise. This causes the muscle to forcefully contract while it lengthens.

The opposite is the “concentric” portions of an exercise. Examples of eccentric moves include walking or running down hills, the lengthening portion of a bicep curl, the downward portion of a squat or lunge, or jumping. It is believed these microtraumas to the muscle fibers combined with inflammation and swelling cause the associated pain.
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I once had a “leg day” where I did over 200 squats/lunges per leg, and was then limping around for three days after. Hopefully that was just a ‘beginning to build muscle’ stage and won’t be the norm.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent this soreness, especially if it is a new activity. When you first begin letting weights or playing a sport, there is going to be some amount of discomfort. There are a few things you can try to prevent or ease soreness.

To ease muscle aches:

  1. Take an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen or Aleve. This will help calm the ‘pain’ signals to your brain and decrease any swelling so you heal faster.
  2. Take a hot/cold shower. Let me explain. If you take a very cold shower or bath right after the workout, anecdotal evidence says it may help decrease how sore you are later. The next day, if sore, try a soothing hot bath to ease achy muscles.
  3. Try foam rolling. These rolling-pin looking foam tubes are designed to relax the tissue layer surrounding muscles and easy achy soreness. Here’s a Yahoo article about it.
  4. Massage the sore areas. It may hurt a lot while happening, but some swear that it gets rid of pain faster after.
  5. Active recovery. Do light exercise like yoga, walking, or swimming. This makes the muscles continue to move, gets blood flowing through the sore areas, and hopefully help them heal quicker. 
  6. Take Vitamin C before and/or after a workout. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and may help prevent muscle damage caused by free radicals created when muscles work hard.
  7. Try a creme like IcyHot or Bengay to soothe deep muscle soreness.
  8. Drink lots of water and green tea. Staying well-hydrated is always a good idea, but your muscles can be up to 70% water, so keeping them hydrated means keeping them able to work.

While time is really the only thing guaranteed to help make muscle soreness go away, hopefully this article will inspire you to be safe and smart, and ease your way into weights.

Please, DO NOT use this soreness as an excuse to just stop working out! It just means you pushed a little too hard this time.

In fact, some think that DOMS is a necessary part of building new muscles. Here’s an article from fitness magazine Runner’s World on “Why Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness Is a Good Thing” by Mackenzie Lobby
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Your muscles will build themselves back up and get bigger and stronger, especially with repeats of those motions (so keep legs, arms & shoulders days on the schedule). The severity of the soreness will decrease over time as your muscles build and adapt to the exercises.

Eventually whatever left you sore and weak will be no problem at all. Rest and recover, then get back out there!

Regular movement is the number one best thing you can do for your heart, blood pressure, and overall health and wellbeing. 
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For more information you can see This PDF from the American College of Sports Medicine.

Do you have any advice for sore muscles?