Tag Archives: fitness

Year-Long Challenge Begins!

A couple of posts ago, I asked for ideas for a year-long challenge. In November I challenged myself to get up at 5am every morning for dedicated writing time on my novel. It went so well that I wanted a bigger challenge — a year-long challenge! After mulling and discussing and negotiating, I came up with a plan.

The challenge runs from today, Dec. 1, 2011, to Dec. 1, 2012, and includes two main parts:

  • 100% adherence to a Slow Carb/Primal Lifestyle diet
  • 225 cardio minutes per week

The diet is no grains, no sugar, no potatoes or corn, no fruit, and no dairy 6 days per week. The seventh day is a planned cheat day. I was actually willing to try without cheat days, but my husband felt like this would make it easier for both of us.

The success of the eating portion depends on my having food I want to eat in the house. That means it depends really heavily on my husband, because he’s the cook. We discussed this today, and I think what we’re going to do is identify nine different meals that I like well enough to eat as leftovers, and then he will cook three per week, in rotation. That way, he knows ahead of time exactly what he needs to make, so he doesn’t have to stress about getting a menu from me.

The fitness portion of the challenge focuses on cardio because cardio is the difficult part for me. I’m built for power, and strength work comes easy to me. It’s not a challenge to make time for weights, but it is a challenge for me to do cardio consistently.

I will continue to do strength work and Pilates, but those aren’t officially part of the challenge. In fact, I have an appointment with a new trainer at the gym in Woodinville this evening. His name is Bernard, and he’s a power lifter. I will still be doing Crossfit with Jenny once a week — love that WAY too much to stop — but I’ll be doing my workout in Woodinville with Bernard rather than JR. I love JR, but B is a power lifter, and that’s what I’m built for. I want that workout to be solely about STRENGTH.

So today is Day 1. I did my 45 minutes on the treadmill (4th day this week!) before work this morning, and I’m tracking the things my naturopath wants me to track. Food will be my challenge — most specifically, coming off sugar. Working out with my trainer tonight will help me make it through today, I think, and today will probably be the hardest day.

Okay, world, this year is MINE!

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Wanted: a year-long challenge

At the beginning of November, I challenged myself to get up at 5 every morning and work on my novel. That has gone so well that I want to challenge myself to a year-long goal. This one, however, I want to be fitness- or diet-related. The caveat is that meeting the challenge has to have a payoff commensurate with the effort — success is not its own reward, but thank you for playing — and my husband will have to agree to the payoff terms. The challenge will be all-or-nothing though, so he wouldn’t have to cough up the reward unless I am 100% successful.

So I want to hear your opinions and ideas. What challenge should I undertake? What reward should I ask for? Here are some challenge ideas I’ve thought of, in order of difficulty:

  • A year of working out, a minimum of 30 minutes a day, 6 days per week
  • A year following the Primal Lifestyle workout recommendations
  • A year following the Slow Carb diet
  • A year without sugar
  • A year without grains
  • A year following the Primal Lifestyle diet
  • A year following the Primal Lifestyle diet AND workout recommendations

The degree of difficulty from the top of the list to the bottom of the list is massively different, and it would require some pretty significant motivation for me to commit to something at the bottom of the list. In all honesty, I don’t think my husband can afford the challenges at the bottom of the list. (I’m not sure he wants to afford the ones at the top of the list either, for that matter.)

As far as rewards go, I’ve come up with two: money or a trip. Money would probably be used for a trip. My husband isn’t wild about the idea of a trip, because I don’t like leaving the dogs alone — ergo, he would get stuck at home while I was off doing something fun. I won’t lie and say that’s not a risk. It would depend entirely upon the trip. I don’t think he’d much enjoy a week at Bitterroot Ranch.

So I want and need your comments on this one. What challenge do you think I should undertake? What reward should I request?

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(This was written back in March, but didn’t get posted. Sorry!)

Cute story from one of my workouts this week. Made me feel good anyway.

I work out with Jenny on Sunday and JR on Tuesday. This week, I told JR that I had benchpressed 120lbs (3 sets of 5) with Jenny. He decided he wanted to do one-arm dumbbell presses on the exercise ball. That means my shoulders are supported by the ball, but I have to support my hips using my core strength.

Okay, so the story:

JR looked at my bench press numbers and scrunched up his face. “35lbs, I think. 12 reps.”

I did the set, fairly easily.

He shook his head. “Going up to 40lbs on this next set.”

“Why do you do 12 reps?” I asked. I prefer sets with heavier weight and fewer reps, but JR usually has me work sets of 12.

“I don’t want 12. I want to give you enough weight that you fail at 8-10. But I ask for 12 in case you’re strong enough to do more.”

Makes sense. I did the next set with 40lbs. 12 reps.

He shook his head again. “Have you seen the movie “Unbreakable”?”

I grinned. “The scene with the benchpress?”

He nodded. “Where they can’t load up the bar enough to stop him?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen it.”

“That’s what this feels like. You’re unbreakable. Next set 45 for 10. Or do you want 50?”

I looked dubious at the thought of pushing 50 while supporting my core.

“45 for 10 or 50 for 8.”

“50 for 8,” I said. (I’ll take more weight for fewer reps any day!) I positioned myself on the ball, and he handed me the 50lb dumbbell.

JR giggled like a little boy with every rep. I pressed it a full 12 times on the right and 7 times on the left — then my core gave out. Not my chest. My core. “If I’d been on a bench, I’d have nailed the 12,” I told him.

“Do you know Bernard? He’s a competitive powerlifter. I can’t wait to tell him about you.”

“You want to tell him about your mutant client?”

“I want to tell him he has a new lifting buddy: Unbreakable.”

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Which weighs more? Fat or muscle?

Forgive me — I must rant a tiny bit.

I have two dogs. Pflouff is a Newfoundland bitch, built like a freakin’ tank. Pax is a male curly coated retriever, tall and slender. Which weighs more?

Neither actually. Put them on the scale, and they weigh pretty much exactly the same, even though they are shaped and sized quite differently.

That’s how I, personally, figure out which is heavier — I compare the things in question on a scale. I have Thing A and Thing B. Which is heavier? I put them on the scale to find out.

Unfortunately, if Thing A is a chunk of fat and Thing B is a chunk of muscle, the scale is suddenly not valid. “Muscle weighs more than fat.” No. I can assure you that a 1lb chunk of fat weighs EXACTLY the same as a 1lb chunk of muscle, and 2lb chunk of fat weighs MORE than a 1lb chunk of muscle.

Nooooo, people argue. The muscle is denser and smaller. It weighs more by VOLUME.

I bet Pflouff weighs more by volume too, but who the heck weighs by volume? Is there ANYONE who does their weekly weigh-ins by volume? Does anyone’s doctor ask for a weight by volume?

The statement “muscle weighs more than fat” is meaningless. Here’s the important information concerning fat, muscle, and weight:

* Muscle has weight. Period. If you gain 1lb of muscle, you will weigh 1lb heavier on the scale. If you lose 1lb of muscle you will weigh 1lb less on the scale.

* Fat has weight too. Same principles apply.

* 1lb of muscle takes up less SPACE than 1lb of fat. It looks and functions very differently in your body.

* Muscle gives your body form and pleasing definition. The difference between these two men is muscle. Which do you find more attractive? The more muscular guy also weighs more.

* Muscle gives your body FUNCTION and prevents injury.

* Muscle, even at rest, is active. That means it burns calories even when you’re not doing anything. More muscle means a higher basal metabolism. More muscle means you get to EAT MORE just to maintain weight.

* Fat is never active. It doesn’t burn calories.

* Fat cannot be converted to muscle, nor muscle to fat.

* You have to have fat. You have to have muscle. You have to have bones. You have to have organs. All of these things have weight. On a scale.

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A day of many small successes

I haven’t talked much about my weight or my weight loss efforts. Usually there isn’t much in the way of weight loss efforts honestly. But a couple of weeks ago I read a book called 4 HOUR BODY by Tim Ferriss. I loved it, and I’m following the Slow Carb diet he describes. On that diet, there’s a cheat day once per week, and Yesterday was my cheat day, but I still had a bunch of small successes I’m proud of.

Success number 1: Even though I had a workout scheduled in the afternoon with my Crossfit trainer, Jenny, I still hit the treadmill for about 20 minutes around lunch. And I started the day with 30 squats, 30 wall presses, and 30 chest pulls with an exercise band.

In the afternoon was Crossfit. I love these workouts. I’m not fit enough yet to do the dynamic Crossfit moves (like burpees), and I sometimes have to baby my knee, but I can row, and I can lift weights. Heavy weights. Yesterday, my workout (after warm up and stretching) was four rounds of the following circuit:

  • 250 meter row
  • 105lb bench press to failure
  • 10 ring rows

Just three exercises, but I assure you, I worked hard. I felt I had a small success in each exercise:

  • My rowing was consistent. There’s a graph you can display that helps me see when I’m doing the stroke correctly and getting most of the power from my legs. I was able to do the stroke correctly (and smoothly) throughout each round and through all four rounds.
  • 105 was the highest bench press I’d done, and I was able to do 13 reps. Again, I was consistent. In the fourth circuit, I did 12 and failed at 13.
  • My ring rows have gotten a lot stronger, and my form is solid. I really work my lats.

Lots of compliments from Jenny. 🙂

On the way home, I was hungry. It was 3:30, and our dinner reservations were at 5:30. I needed a snack. I ran through the options in my mind: celery with hummus, celery with natural peanut butter, almonds, edamame, protein shake.

Then suddenly it occurred to me: This was my cheat day. I could have anything I wanted. Chips! Chocolate! Cheese! Bread!

And you know what I WANTED? Healthy stuff. I had a protein shake, a few almonds, and a handful of edamame. I think that was a huge success!

Ended the day by going out to dinner with my husband for Valentine’s Day. We decided at the beginning of the year to go out to one high-end restaurant a month — preferably one we haven’t been to before. Last night we went to Bis on Main in Bellevue. It was most definitely a cheat meal, but we split an appetizer, split a salad, and I ate only half of my entree. I don’t feel guilty about a bite of it!

And today I was right back on track. 🙂

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