Monday, April 12, 2010

wk #5 - time to get busy!!!

wooo hoo, 4 weeks down I am so proud of you for sticking to it. but now,
folks, no more mindless exercise. Lets "get 'er done"
If you've ditched me, and signed up for (AND attending) aerobics classes -- awesome, great. If you are still having some difficulty figuring out what to do next, read on. You should plan out 4 days of exercise this week and I suggest doing the same 'arrangement' of exercises for the next two weeks (and throw in one day a week of pilates or yoga). In addition to your 'cardio' (ie. walking -- or heck, you can do some running now) you need to add some strength training. Yes, you do, trust me on this. If you have not yet found a video that you like that encorporates strength training, then here are some other ways to work in the strength training.
First of all, arms. I think arms are tricky. you want them firm, slightly defined, but not looking scary like a woman-man. The muscles are small, so, just lifting weights will not burn off the fat - you have to do cardio at the same time. so, here is what I suggest. during your walking routine, add some weights. I suggest
1-3 pounds. you can get them at the dollar store OR you can use bottles of water, family size can's of soup - just make sure each hand is holding the same weight. while you are walking, do bicep curls and tricep pushbacks. Yes, I know, they say that you are not supposed to work opposing muscle groups on the same day -- well, we're not building MR. AMERICA MUSCLES, we're toning and getting sexy. pretty easy stuff, do biceps for one song, then triceps for the next. When doing biceps, make sure you keep your elbows next to your body. There are a lot of different ways to do bicep curls, I don't know if any one way is the correct way or 'better' way, but, pick one that is comfortable for you. The tricep push backs are something you can do while you are standing up and walking. (tricep kick backs are better on your back if you are slightly bent forward) So, here is how you do them. With the weights/bottles in your hands and arms down at your sides, turn your wrists so the palms of your hands are facing behind you. Keep your arms straight (but don't lock your elbows) and pulse your hands/arms back away from your body. Half-way through your walk time, do some jumping jacks. Start with 30 and if you can do more, go for it, then return to alternating your biceps and triceps.
Alright, so you'll do that 2 of the 4 days. On the other 2 days, you will add LUNGES and you will be using your own body weight, so, no need to carry anything extra, right now, you can add weights later. Now, if you know all the variations of lunges, fabulous! - alternate how you do them. If you only know the standard step forward kind or step back kind, do those. Watch your form. Make sure that the knee does not extend beyond the toe. if you can keep the knee and the ankle lined up vertically, that is the best. If you are new to lunges or have problems with your knees, don't go as deep. If you need to use something to keep your balance, that is okay. But, keep working on them until you don't have to have help--you will burn more calories and use more of your muscle (and core) if you are 'balancing' at the same time. You will be using the largest muscle groups in your body, so, you will find an increase in heart rate. that's okay, that's good because you'll do them for an entire song and then walk for two songs and catch your breath. then repeat. This is a great way to increase the muscle mass of your quadraceps in order to support your knees. If you have knee or back problems, you should not be using an elliptical machine. Walking and lunging is much better.
Make sure you are drinking lots of water and add some additional protein to your diet - whether that is a protein drink or protein bar, just increase your amount a little for the days that you do your strength training. You may take in a few more calories on those days, but, you'll also be burning more calories, so, don't worry so much. Keep the rest of your nutrition/food the same. You will notice a slight gain in weight (under 5 pounds)the first week, but, keep drinking the water and make sure you are getting your protein and it will come off again. Remember, the more muscle you have, the more your metabolism has to work to 'feed' the muscle.
When I added the strength training, I did notice some weight gain, but,this time, I was told ahead of time to expect it. I think that if you don't know it's coming, you can get a little discouraged and even 'quit.' If you are starting week 5, you are still in that 'zone' where most people quit. so, don't quit. Know what is coming and be prepared to accept it and work past it. Because -- you can.

Friday, April 2, 2010

starting week 4?

okay, as you are planning your exercise for next week, you should plan to do something different. Remember when I suggested getting some video's to do? Well, this will be the week to do them. I suggest maybe walking one day, and doing Pilates or Yoga or an aerobics class- just do something different. Try to get at least 25 minutes each day of some type of exercise - 4 days next week. This is Plautau time, meaning, this is when your body starts getting used to what you are doing and it stops making changes. so, change it up - keep your body guessing what you are gonna do to it.
Do you also remember earlier posts where we discussed how long it takes to learn a new habit? Yep, 3 - 6 weeks is when people tend to 'quit.' don't do it, don't quit. You have survived the last three weeks, your mind, soul and body will thank you as you continue on this journey. don't give up. We always underestimate what we are capable of, and believe me, you are capable of doing this. Enlist some help if you need to, ie, a work-out buddy and if you haven't had those 'fat pants' hanging somewhere that you can see them everyday - put them out for all their glory!!! Heck, take a picture of them with your cell phone and use it as wallpaper -whatever you gotta do. Stay motivated and think about the end of the process, not right now.
Make sure you are still eating and drinking plenty of water. Here is a little trick to switch to wheat breads and pasta's. Some of the pasta's are really good, but, I think it really depends on your own taste. so, you may have to try a few. But, we used 1/2 regular spaghetti noodles and 1/2 wheat noodles for a couple of meals then slowly added more wheat and less regular until we were using all wheat. Similar with the breads, start with wheat and work your way to the whole grains.
Easter is this weekend and if you are preparing your own feast, it is easy to try to work in the healthier versions of things, but, it's also easy to 'nibble' and 'taste test' Bring those fat pants and hang them in the kitchen while you are cooking !!!! if you are going to someone elses feast, I suggest you drink a lot of water and eat one of your snacks before you go. Yes, it's Easter, but you have been working too hard to blow all that you have done in just one day. Keep thinking about the big picture. don't deprive yourself. If you want to try all the offerings, just make sure they are in small amounts. Check back next week and we'll get you all ready for week #5. YEA!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the first week?

How was your first week? Do you feel like you have mounds of energy? Nope? That is normal, don't expect change overnight. If you got your three days of twenty minutes then, you did awesome. Seriously! This is the part where I should tell you not to get on the scale, but, since I'm a 'scale junkie' that would be hypocritical of me. I would just suggest that you stay away from it if you can. You may have gained a pound - but it is OK. Weight loss is a 'process' not an instant gratification thing.
I heard people mention 'workout' buddies. You know, someone to motivate you to exercise. If you are a self-motivator, you don't need one. If you need someone to tell you to get up off your ass, then get a motivator that will tell you that. Don't ask a sweet neighbor to be your workout buddy. This is serious business. I would even go so far as to recommend you pick a workout buddy that already has a habit of working out. They will keep you in line. If you can't find one amongst your friends, then I would suggest paying a personal trainer to exercise with you three days a week until you can motivate yourself. But, be ready, they'll make you work. Of course, if you can afford this option, then, use that personal trainer to the extent that you can and have them start you on a workout plan.
The other thing 'buddies' can be good for, is sharing exercise tapes/dvd's. In two weeks, we'll be changing up the walking for some other types of exercise and in home videos are GREAT options. If you can share in the cost - that is even better! So, look out for sales on the video's or check and see what blockbuster/netflix memberships have available in the exercise videos. If you can get a 'turbo jam' video, I would highly recommmend it. it's dancing and fun and the instructor "Chalene' is encouraging and funny without being 'over-the-top.' I also like Kathy Smith workouts - but, I tend to like 'goofy-funny' and she really knows her stuff. IF you like 'cutsie' then Denise Austin will work for you, she also knows her stuff, I just find her really annoying.
Next week try to squeeze in one more day of twenty minutes of walking.
As far as food goes, you may have noticed an increase in appetite. Sometimes, your body needs water and it feels like 'hungry.' if you get the munchies in between snack and meal, then down a glass of water and see if that holds you over.
Two tricks -- I'm a major chocoholic. If that is you, here is something that got me through the early days. I bought a bag of miniature chocolates. I would put one in my lunch every day. Or, I would buy those nestle semisweet choc chips and just put a small handfull in a baggie and take a few every now and then when I felt like I was needing chocolate.
Second trick, if you find you are needing to eat out. You already know what is healthy to pick, but you feel you are being 'deprived' of some fabulous french fries, go ahead and order them. As soon as you get the meal, take half of the french fries and ask the waitress/waiter to take them away from the table.If you ordered a sandwich, then ask for a to-go container and put half the sandwich in the container and put it no the seat next to your purse. Out of sight, out of mind. If you can split the meal with someone, that is even better!!!!
Okay, get up and get moving -- happy exercising and enjoy your journey!!!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

keeping things going

I know it's been a few days... have you been able to get that exercise in? 20 minutes of walking is hardly anything at this point. Use it as time to think or you can do what I did, mindless exercise while watching tv. Do what works for you to get that 20 minutes in three times this week. Your body still benefits and it gets you used to the movement. Don't hop on the scale and expect weight loss and don't try on those jeans -- not yet,anyway.
Start planning your schedule for next week. try to add 5 minutes of walking. Tell yourself, "I'll just do one more song" or 'I'll go until the next commercial,' something like that.
Now, someone mentioned joining a gym. That is great -- if you use it. so many times, people make a new years resolution to get fit. THey purchase a year contract with a fitness center and are really good about going for the first three weeks, then, it all dies down. They feel guilty they spent the money on the membership because they don't go. I would encourage you to 'Build a Habit' of exercise FIRST, then, spend the money on a membership, if you want to. Everything I'm going to tell you about, you can do at home. If you already have a membership and are in the 'guilt' stage. Do this for yourself. Figure out how much it costs you. For example, if you paid/are paying $35.00 a month. then you are basically paying, roughly, a little over $8.00 per week. Maybe that means nothing to you, but, to me, that is a movie ticket, each week. The point is, I don't want you to feel 'guilty' about exercise. You will dread it and find other things to do. "Oh, I SHOULD go to the gym, but....." This way, it is in perspective and you know what you are spending, if the money boils down to very little, don't sweat it. On the other hand, if it is a lot, then think seriously BEFORE you renew that contract.
Habits -- oh, I wish I could remember the article I read that talked about habits. It was inspiring to me. The most important thing I read and still remember reading, was that it takes 12 weeks to make or break a habit. 12 WEEKS !!! Think back to all the other times you've tried to lose weight. At what point did you give up or stop? My guess would be between 3 and 6 weeks. That's when I wanted to stop and give up. I had lost only a few pounds, I was tired (I hadn't figured out the nutrition thing yet) and it all seemed futile. So, when you get to that point, you will be prepared this time, to push through it. You'll know it is coming and sometimes, being prepared wins the battle. As we get closer to that time frame, I will offer some suggestions to keep you on track.
For right now, I have one last suggestion for you with your exercise routine. I would HIGHLY suggest getting a "YOGA" or "Stretching" video that you can do at home once a week. something around 20-30 minutes. If you haven't done either before, it will seem really boring at first (thus, only done once a week) but, then you really learn to enjoy those moments of serenity. If you have netflix, or a 'movie' membership, you may be able to 'try before you buy.' If you like cutesie and annoying, then Denise Austin has a Yoga/Pilates video (she knows her stuff, but I just can't stand her) There is also a video called Yoga for weight loss. I have that one, it is nice and shows beginner, intermediate and advanced. I find it a little boring after doing the P90X version of Yoga, but, it is a good relaxing 1/2 hour.
Next post, we'll talk about weight loss/workout buddies.....

Friday, March 5, 2010

exercise and schedules

First, I recommend that you have a schedule for your meals. Plan your meals ahead of time, so that when you go grocery shopping, you are looking for specific things to purchase for your meals and when you cook, you know what you will be eating instead of 'just grabbing anything.'
Plan your lunches, too, and, initially, I suggest that you measure and weigh your food. Milk 1% has about 100calories for every 8 ounces. That is alright, but, if you get a big glass of milk, you could be taking in a lot more calories than you think (12 oz is 150 calories and comsumes half of your meal quota -- 300 calories) Counting calories sucks. I know, but, initially, until you realize what portion size is, this is the best way to know what you are taking in each day. If you are going to be running around doing errands all day, take your lunch with you! It will help you not grab some of that caloric, cholesterolic, fatic (okay, so that's not a real word - but, you get my point) If you have to go fast food, of course try the sandwiches, but, be careful, the bread alone could set you back not just your lunch calories, but also a 'snack.' We'll talk about breads later, although, I'm pretty sure everyone knows that white bread is empty calories and multigrain and whole wheat is not only healthier, but provides necessary fiber to help make you 'regular.'
If counting calories is too cumbersome for you initially (or too much change all at once) then I recommend that you put your food on your plate. Set it down. Walk away for a minute. Come back to your plate. Is that how much you normally eat? Take 2 spoonfulls off the plate and then eat. Wait fifteen minutes after you finished your meal and decide if you still need those two spoonfuls.
Also, you should plan your exercise activities for the week. Look at your schedule, hubbie's schedule, the kids schedule and figure out when you can do it. If you have not exercised in a long time - like, more than two months, then start easy. Load up that ipod/mp3 player with some great songs and go for a walk for 20 minutes. Walk fast enough so that if you were trying to talk, you would feel like you had to put some extra effort into talking. You should be a little winded. Plan for 3 days for the first 3 weeks. Now, I will tell you what I did. We had a treadmill at home - BORING. It was winter in washington and it was raining, only choice I had at that time. BUT, I recorded the 'House' shows on the DVR and I watched 'House' while I walked on the treadmill. So, Hugh Laurie is partly responsible for getting me into shape ;)
I would also suggest, if you don't already, to take some vitamins. Initially if you want to, you can get Centrum or something like that, but, just keep in mind, that you get what you pay for. Most of the nutrients, in that ONE pill, will not be absorbed by your body. It may have the necessary percentage, but, it is not uniquely designed to be absorbed to full potential. Seriously think about Shaklee, Melaleuca, Juice Plus, GNC products, Arbonne. Okay, start researching the various products prices and talk to some people that have tried them. Shawn and I used the Melaleuca vitapacks for a long time and I could definately tell when I didn't take them. The problem was that we had a pack that we had to take in the morning and another pack at night. It was easy to forget. We now use the GNC packs and get a little extra OMega 3's, Vitamin C and a great combo of Glucosamine,Chondroitin and MSM.
So, before you move on, you should have an inspiration, a start date, current measurements and photos, a goal, a 'finish' date, a menu, an exercise schedule and starting to investigate vitamin brands.
And last, but not least, get out that reusable water bottle. Aluminum, whatever, but, clean it up and get it ready. You HAVE to drink water. Do not discount this. If your bottle holds 20 ounces, make sure you fill it up 4 times EVERY DAY (and drink it) I usually drink two in the morning before lunch and then two in the afternoon/evening. I only drink water now, and on a rare occassional I might have a few ounces of soda, but, initially I was a soda pop freak. Like, seriously, 4 soda's a day. I initially had to 'reward' myself. "If I drink this whole bottle of water, then I can have a soda." Then it was two bottles of water and I worked myself up to having a portion of a soda (because I don't really like the taste anymore) once every few weeks. I still get what I think is a craving, but, I don't get much of the soda down.
Okay, woo hoo. Get going! You are gonna look awesome!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

metabolism and exercise

Okay, so first off, lets talk about metabolism. I initially had this huge speech I was gonna put on here about catabolism and anabolism, etc. But, quite frankly, I fell asleep trying to proofread it. So, here's the skinny (yes, the pun was intended) Your body must process food for energy. The more your body demands energy, the faster your body has to work to process food for energy. It doesn't work an 8 hour day and say "I didn't get to that pile of stuff yet. I'll just put in an hour of overtime.' It works 24 - 7 and if your body needs more energy than it is producing, then it needs to figure out a way to produce more energy in the same amount of time. So, how do we increase metabolism? Well, you could spend lots of money on those 'don't change a thing, just take this tiny pill and you will lose 5 pounds a week" substances. Sure, fill your body with caffeine, ephedrine and toxins--losing weight is all about looking good, not about being healthy, right? You can drop those pounds, BUT, and here is the clencher, as soon as you stop taking those, your metabolism slows down again and you gain weight. I don't know about you, but I can think of something else to spend that $50 (and in some cases more)a month on.
So, how do we get our body to increase the metabolism? Muscle. Yep, muscle. You don't have to have 'buldging biceps' in order to have the muscle that increases your metabolic rate. It has been proven again and again, that muscle requires more nutrients, so, there is no sense in going into all the details. What it boils down to is that if you want to permanently increase your metabolism, you must build muscle. I won't insult your intelligence by explaining more.
Okay, so, you have to exercise, right? Well, guess what else you have to do? You have to eat. You can't not eat. Don't do it. It is a vicious battle. Take a few minutes to look at someone who is anorexic. Does she look sexy and healthy to you? No. Her skin is transparently blue and it dangles on her bones. YUCK.
Feed yourself healthy stuff. I got the best results when I ate about three meals at about 300 calories a piece and then two snacks in between at about a 150 calories for each. So, a Snickers bar, at 271 calories, would be a meal instead of a snack. And since protein in the peanuts is miniscule compared to other foods that have less calories (yes, I tried to rationale the protein in the snickers) Don't do it. It is only one flavor and you could get so much more taste with less calories consumed.

Your mission, should you accept it. You need to figure out what days and times you will exercise. If you are just beginning, then, start from the beginning. Don't go all crazy and plan to spend 1 hour a day exercising, you will peter out quickly. I want you to build a routine that will work for you.
Also, go grocery shopping and cupboard cleaning. You know the food pyramid. It is not a myth - follow it. And, definately watch the calories on those so-called protein bars. If it has less than 5 grams of protein in it, it is not worth your time or money.
Tune in tomorrow when we'll talk about exercise schedules and activites.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Reality Check - Are you ready?

Now, keep in mind that I am in no way an expert at any of this. These are scribblings from someone just like you. No one paid me to lose weight, I didn't get my meals for free, and I didn't have to 'spice-up' my ramblings to sell books or videos. I worked my butt off trying various things - literally.
I really believe you have to have an inspiration. Have you picked yours yet? If you have or haven't decided on one, keep this in mind. You can not, I repeat, can NOT be inspired to lose weight because of your spouse or significant other. You have to do it for You and Your inspiration. I've heard so many times, "I want to lose weight so my husband will find me sexy again." Well, think about it this way.
If you have gained a lot of weight and your spouse is still with you, still kisses you, takes you out, still makes love to you -- Your spouse finds you sexy. Chances are, YOU are the one that does not think you are sexy. I know, it is a harsh reality. But, before you embark on this incredible journey, you need to make sure you are doing it for your reasons. "I want to feel more sexy." If you have a lot of weight to lose (example 30+ pounds) it is going to be a while before your spouse notices any changes. So, if you are looking for confirmation and affirmation from him/her when you get to those 'platau's' -- be prepared to be your own 'inspirer.' Seriously, that is where it is important for you to know why you are doing this. Now, I am being very 'general' here, when I say that men often do not notice subtle changes - except car's and tools, etc. I get my hair done and usually, my husband doesn't notice it until we are about to go to bed -- it's their nature. So, keep that in mind as you start to change your body, that he will likely not really notice until you've lost about 25 pounds.
The next step, after the inspiration, is deciding what your goal is. Let's be realistic. Unless you are 5 foot 10, with small bones, you can not look like Nicole Kidman. If you are pear shaped, you can not look like Dolly Parton - but, Jennifer Lopez, absolutely. Talk about a woman that 'works her pear shape.' Do you get my meaning here? If you are 40 - you can't have a 20 yr old body... Take a look at yourself. Don't make unrealistic goals, but, you should challenge yourself. You are stronger than you think and capable of wonderful things. Pick a start date and a 'rough' end date. Realistically, figure losing approximately 1 1/2 pounds a week. (so if you want to lose 40 pounds you are looking at about 27 weeks) Sometimes it's more, sometimes it's less, but, that is a good healthy and realistic weight loss.
I think a good rule-of-thumb would be to pick a goal weight - not necessarily a a 'size.' I used the method of heighth. so, at 5 feet give yourself 100 pounds and then for every inch above 5 feet, add 5 pounds. for example, I am 5 foot 4. So, I figured 120 pounds to be the goal, but, I added 5 pounds on top, just because I figured I have larger bones and I'm older. 5 foot 6 -- 130 pounds. (Obviously, this is geared towards a 'womans' goal. I am not a man and would not even begin to suggest a goal weight for a man, but, you can google and get all sorts of ideas regarding goal weight for men) Don't get too caught up on the 'size.' Because, as you all know, depending on the brand/designer you could wear a variety of sizes since they design their clothes differently.
Lastly, and here is the hard part folks -- Measurements and Photo's. Now, I will admit, I did not do this until 8 months into my journey and truly wish I had. Make sure you document where you measured from. For the waist - I measured 1 inch above my belly button, four inches above the knee for the thighs. Use a mole or freckle or scar, but write it down, so that when you measure again, you are measuring in the same place each time. Photo's in your bathing suits folks, oh, yes, I said bathing suit. Put the photo where ever you want to hide it, but, I suggest puting it on your personal bathroom mirror.
I remember when I started my journey, articles said to "go buy those 'goal' jeans and hang them up in your room --it will motivate you." I'm sorry. I have to totally disagree. I guess if you were only needing to lose 10 or 15 pounds, that would work. But, looking at a size 5 when you are a size 18 - completely degrading and depressing. I suggest this instead. Take your currently 'favorite' jeans (or shorts) and put them on a hanger. No, don't fold them on there. Spread them out. Use those hangers they use in the stores, where you open out the waist. If you have to use more than one hanger -- do it. Hang those babies up and do not remove them from their new home - save those skinny pants for the last 15 pounds.
Okay, so, before you move on, you need to have an inspiration, a goal, and a start date. Get those Measurements, photo's and 'now' pants. TOMORROW, we tackle the facts and myths about exercise and metabolism.