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First Impressions of the NROLFW

Having neglected strength training for the last 6 months, I realized what affect that actually had on my body.

I was around 150 last June, and my waist and hips were each 3 full inches smaller than I am now at weighing 156. That's not a huge difference in weight, but I definitely lost some muscle mass! And I can tell it all went to my hips and stomach. It just goes to show that the scale isn't the end all be all for progress. So I've clearly taken a few steps back, but I've got a plan to move forward again.

New Rules of Lifting For Women was a really interesting read, particularly about the benefits of strength training. I'm not going to stop doing cardio on my off days, but building muscle will help my metabolism and hopefully burn off some of the fat and replace it with some nice muscle. I just need to eat more calories and more protein to do it, otherwise my body is going to try to eat the muscle I'm building! That's just counterproductive.

I did workout 1 yesterday, and the key is to really challenge yourself. I could do step ups onto the workout bench without holding anything, but when you add a 12 lb medicine ball into the mix, it gets hard(er). Same goes with squats. I could squat with just my body weight all day (well, maybe not all day...) but hold a 40 lb barbell on your back and it's a whole new workout. So my goal for this program is to push myself. Pick a weight I think is heavy, and then add a few pounds or go up a notch on the machine. I was happy that I had the drive to push myself, since I was used to my personal trainer doing it for me. I'd use whatever weight he handed me, or do as many reps as he said. Now it's up to me, and I need to be my own personal trainer (yelling and buttkicking included... at least inside my head. I won't yell at myself in the gym, I'll just look insane).

So, my goals for this program are:

1. Try to follow the meal plan as best as possible. That means eating 1600 calories a day at least of good, protein-filled food and healthy stuff. Extra calories don't mean extra chips or something.

2. Get in 3 NROLFW workouts a week and one or two good cardio workouts (probably running).

3. Focus on fitness and not the scale! I should probably hide it all together, but it really helps remind me when I have a crappy weekend that there are consequences and I have to behave. Sunday night takeout dinner with Randy is hazardous...

 

I'll keep you all posted on how things are going. So far, I'm definitely excited! I'm hoping to at least get my waist and hip measurements back to what I had last summer (29.5" waist and 36" hips).

Feast or Famine

I've never been the personality to half-ass anything in life. Unsurprisingly, eating is no different. Either I'm stellar at eating my 1400 calories or whatever a day, sticking to my usual staple of breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks that rarely wavers during the week. Or I'm eating entirely too much. But, I've gotten to the point in my attempted fitness journey where I need to eat just enough.

I'm starting the New Rules of Lifting for Women program this week and part of it relies on the nutrition plan. In terms of types of food and getting enough protein, I'm right on track when I'm eating properly (getting my weekends under control was the subject of the last post). But then I estimated how many calories I should be eating a day (for workout and non-workout days). I nearly died when I saw it wanted me to eat nearly 2000 calories for maintenance! On a daily basis, I feel like you've just asked me to run a marathon every morning! I'm so used to my set-in ways that adding 500 calories or more seems crazy. I know my metabolism is kinda crappy, and honestly I'm terrified if I try to eat 2000 calories every day, I'm just going to gain a ton of weight.

For someone who has been limiting what I eat for 2 years now, I hope I'm not the only one facing this issue of what to do when you need to get more calories. I'm about to start a pretty intensive weight training program, and I still plan to do cardio on my off-strength days to prepare for a 5K in a month. And I really wonder if my "feast or famine" mentality is the reason my metabolism is bad and the scale swings so much. Maybe if I can manage to eat a bit more during the week and less on the weekends, if things will settle down and maybe I'll even consistantly lose weight! What a concept...

Since I like to work up to big changes, I'm planning to try to add some calories that are recomended, but not all, at least to start off with. I'm planning a strength training session today (Workout A in Phase 1) so I'm going to want to get at least 1600 calories to make up for that (likely just adding a protein shake in addition to dinner). I know building muscle requires food for fuel, I'm still just terrified at the idea of gaining even more weight than I've put on in the last few months (it's a solid 7 lbs, and I hate it). If I at least looked better, even if I didn't weigh much less, from strength training, I'll be happy. But I don't want the scale to go up and I look worse!

Anyway, this program is really going to test my mentality about how I have to approach things. More food isn't a bad thing if I'm balancing it with 3 strength training workouts a week. And I've heard it'll take a few weeks for anything to happen (and that the scale might even go up!). Yikes...  I'll keep you all posted. If anyone who has done the program can offer some tips for the first few weeks about food and such, I'm all ears :)

Just One More Bite...

Like many people on here, I've realized that even after 2 years of a healthier me, I still have a terrible relationship with food.

I'm not the type that eats when I'm stressed or depressed or something. I don't eat when I'm bored really. I'm just terrible with saying no and stopping myself. When I'm home, and I have all my healthy options in front of me and little to no junk food, I'm amazing. But I don't stay at home 24 hours a day. And most of the weekend I'm not even at home, I'm at my boyfriend's (where his fridge is filled with beer and milk and little else...).

It's the tempations at work: Donut Thursdays, random cookies in the break room, leftover donuts from Donut Thursdays. And then when I'm out for dinner, there's a whole menu of bad and delicious things to pick from! And impulsively, I keep choosing the bad ones even though I KNOW BETTER! And I'll always let myself have a few beers. But still... if presented with the option, I have a terrible habit of not making the best one.

Short of saying I'm going to do something about it, I don't really know what else there is. Randy and I have agreed that we need to cook dinner in more often to save money, so that helps and he's a good cook (usually we have a grilled protein, rice and grilled veggies so it's pretty healthy). But when I go out, I really need to stop being stupid. Take Sunday brunch for example. I was all set to order the veggie omelette. And then out of my mouth pops "I'll have the stuffed french toast" (head smack inserted here). I don't know why I do it, and it's frustrating that I keep doing it!

I think this all goes back to my tendency to make impulsive decisions with everything. One more donut, I could use that dress from Macys, what's one more beer... and then I look at my credit card bill or my food diary or something the next day and smack myself in the head for being stupid. Not sure what point I'm trying to make, I'm just writing it out that I realize I've got issues with making better decisions. And food really needs to be the focus on that. Even when I eat out, I need to stop ordering crap. And I think I need to voice this to Randy too so he's on board and helps me. He'll order whatever he wants so it makes it a bit tricky.

So if you see me making bad food choices, please call me out on it. Like today. I had a donut for Donut Thursdays. And I didn't need to. I'm now hungry since there is no nutritional value in a donut, and I need to go burn it off at the gym today. There, it's a starting point...

Strength In Numbers

The result of my latest blog was the realization that strength training had completely fallen out of my workout routine, and it's probably the main reason why I'm having so much trouble the last few weeks with maintaining any sort of weight loss.

January was a good month, I did get down about 5 lbs from my peak right after New Years. But it was by eating 1200 calories a day and doing cardio 4-5 times a week. I can honestly say I didn't do strength training ONCE the entire month. And what happened? One week of eating semi-normally with one or two overindulgences and I put back on 3 of the 5 pounds! It leads me to believe that I was just running on empty and once I ate like a normal person, it "put the weight back on".

The root of all of this is that I want to look like I did at the end of last Spring. I was running regularly, eating decently but not like a saint, and yes, I was strength training often too! I had more muscle mass, even if I only weighed about 5 pounds less than I do right now. So I looked much better, and I was incredibly happy with it.

Fast forward to now, where I slacked a little during the Holidays, tried to do a 180 in January with having as large of a deficit as I could manage, and I don't look any  better. If anything, the muffin top is slightly worse! Blarg...

So between listening to the advice of my MFP friends and really looking at what I was doing last year, I realize that strength training is such a crucial part of the routine when you are 10 lbs away from your goal like I am. That goal number doesn't matter as much if I'm building muscle mass and getting more toned and fit. I was a pretty toned and fit 150 lbs last year. Now I'm a somewhat jiggly 155 lbs. Not a fan... summer will be here entirely too quickly and I own enough bikinis to clothe the entire Victoria Secret modeling crew.

My goals for the next 2 months should help me get towards the body I want to have for summer, and getting in better shape as well. I'm not going to focus on the scale, although I suspect the strength training will help to get around to 150 again. But it's not the way to measure my success, a measuring tape will be.

- Do a committed strength training workout 2 times a week at the gym.
Cardio warmup, 30 minutes of strength/interval training, and then 15-20 minutes cooldown cardio. Just like what I used to do with my personal trainer, only now I'M the trainer. I bought the New Rules of Lifting for Women to guide me along the way.

- Eat more, but eat better.
I don't think 1200 calories is enough for strength training, my body is going to start eating the muscles I'm trying to build! So, I think I'm raising my base calories to 1400 again. I need to add some more healthy foods, probably with an extra snack in my lunch or during the afternoon and making sure I eat a good dinner after my workouts.

- Keeping doing cardio, but cut it back to 2-3 times a week
I still plan on running my 5K in March, and likely 1 or 2 more in the Spring after that. But strength training will indirectly help with my running. Strong muscles are good so I don't tire out as quickly. I'll likely alternate running days and strength days at the gym for a total of 4 out of 5 weekdays. Then likely an interval workout combining both Saturday mornings.

- Stop giving into every temptation that presents itself.
I admit, I love to eat in restaurants and have a few beers and just be normal! But, it's becoming entirely too frequent. I didn't need to order french toast (in which the portion size was HUGE) yesterday. I was all set to order the veggie omelette and I caved. Its little choices like this that are adding up to not losing a single pound in the last 2 weeks (in fact, I'm still up a few). At the very least, I need to start picking the healthiest options on the menu when I do eat out, and make sure to pack a lunch during the week every day.

I'm hoping this renewed focus will keep me motivated and I'll start seeing the results I want by time the weather warms up. I conquered the weights side of the gym on Thursday. It's starting to get less crowded during the week (guess those Resolutioners read that blog post of mine from a while back... hehe). I just need to find my space, grab the weights I'm using or a medicine ball and forget about everyone else around me. And that includes you, creepy man on the arm machine that did 3 reps and then proceeded to stare at my cleavage for the next 5 minutes! HA!

Anyway, the same strategy that lost me 50 pounds 2 years ago (1200 calories and cardio cardio cardio) just isn't going to work now. My body knows my usual tricks. It's time to surprise it with something new.

My Blog: http://shrinkingrocketscientist.blogspot.com/2012/02/strength-in-numbers.html

2 Years on MFP! And Still Learning...

I realized that I started the whole "weight loss journey" 2 years ago yesterday. How in the world has 2 years gone by already? And how in the world have I managed to not only lose about 60 pounds (give or take depending on the day), but I've kept if off for a year on top of that!

I know that dieting is usually a start and stop process. You get really into wanting to lose weight, manage to keep it up for a month and lose 5 pounds, and then old habits creep back in and you're right where you started. That's not how my mindset works for anything in life, weight loss included.

If I set my mind to something, I HAVE to finish it. I've been like that since I was a little kid. Getting into programs in school, getting into my #1 choice college, getting a job in the career I wanted. It was never a question of "if" this is going to happen. I knew it would if I worked at it. So I approached my next big challenge with weight loss in the same mindset. I had just started my job right out of school and I knew if I didn't change my habits now, it would be MUCH harder later. New routine I had to get used to, new city, more money to buy healthy food and such. It was the ideal time to go for it. And I did 100%. It was pretty awesome that the weight came off without too much difficulty. It also helped that I didn't have much of a social life in DC yet, so I could focus and not eat out in restaurants too much. After about 9 months of successfully losing weight, I was down to around 155 in October of 2010 and I met my current boyfriend.

Year 2 was SO completely different than Year 1. I was down to 150 last February, in a relationship, rocking an entire wardrobe of new clothes that were size 6 (when I started a size 16), and I was training for a 5K! Seriously? Me... running... 3.1 miles?? Yeah, I thought I was nuts too. But May 1st I ran my first 5K without stopping in DC, along Pennsylvania Ave and past the Capitol Building. I did 2 more that spring with my best time of 35:26. I wore a bikini this summer! And I did all of this while maintaining my weight loss.

I admit this fall got a bit chaotic, I like to eat dinner and have drinks with the boyfriend every weekend. A few pounds crept back on from the holidays, but I still kept up my habits 90% of the time, working out at least 4 days a week. It's helping me realize that you can't stop living your life forever. Sometimes you have to travel for work, eat a delicous dinner your boyfriend cooked you, or just enjoy a few beers. And while I battled with feeling guilty and angry with myself for "giving in," I need to learn that it's part of life! I always use the term Diet Hermit and it's something that I don't think is realisitic. It's great for getting weight off more quickly in the beginning, but it's not something that can be done long term.

So here I am with the first day of Year 3 in this whole thing. I'm right around 155, still fitting into my size 6 clothes (which is awesome because it's really expensive to keep buying new clothes). I admit my habits haven't been as stellar as usual in the past 2 weeks, but that doesn't stop me from getting right back on track today. I have another 5K scheduled for March 25th and it's helping me keep in focus. I still have a goal around 145 in mind, which is 10 pounds away. It seems SO far, even compared to when I was 200 pounds and looking at my 150 goal as INSANE! But I did it. And I can do it again. Even if it takes all of Year 3, I know I'll get there at some point. And stay there! I just have to keep reminding myself of where I started.

And where I am today (well, October of last year on my 25th birthday, 3 years after the Before photo above)

Who knows what I'll look like next year :)

My Own Worst Enemy

It seems like every time I get a good routine going and lose a few pounds, I immediately start to get a little to complacent and I blow it. Of course it happened again this past weekend with eating out too much. I did great all week, didn't cheat at all, and managed to lose 1.8 lbs by Friday over the previous 2 weeks. Then I ate out Friday night, Saturday night, Sunday lunch and Sunday dinner. UGH! Sodium bomb, even though I tried to make good food choices. Plus I drank Saturday and Sunday night (a few beers each night).

There's not much point in doing so well Mon-Thurs or Friday just to blow it every single weekend. It's start to piss me off, even though I know it's something completely under my control. I spend the weekends with my boyfriend, we pretty much spend every Saturday night going out for dinner and drinks. It's how we relax and unwind after working all week and get to spend some time together. Honestly, it's not really something I'm willing to change. I just need to do better in those situations. It also doesn't help that I screwed up Friday and Sunday night too. If I'm gonna let myself have a treat once a week, it needs to stay at once a week. Not 3 days in a row.

I really want to get to my intial goal of 150 by the end of the month, but I just beat myself up about little slip ups that I know I can avoid. Honestly, I expect better of myself and it just makes me angry that I don't follow through with it. I just want these 5 pounds gone so I can be content again. And I know it's me being fixated on the scale again, but trust me, I'm not building muscle to make up for it since I do mostly cardio for exercise. It's my own indulgences and water weight (or pizza weight...).

Another thing that also really gets on my nerves is that I can't handle the same diet that someone who has always been a lower weight can. If I want to maintain my weight, I need to eat below what is really estimated as maintenance calories. Maybe my metabolism hasn't caught up yet, maybe it just sucks to begin with and it's not going to change. But I can't stand that other people can eat what the want, kind of exercise, and stay the same weight. If I let myself do that, I'd gain weight back (and I did for a few months by adding about 10 pounds from my lowest weight that I hit over the summer). I'm not asking to be 5'2" and 110 pounds. I just want to be a healthy 140. But after being considerably overweight my entire life, I just don't know if that's ever going to happen. Maybe if I had no life, no boyfriend and no desire to ever go anywhere but the gym, work and home. But that's completely unrealistic. I just need to do the best I can and hope that it gets me somewhere near 140. I'll take 145! Lately, I'm starting to think I'll take 150. I'm just still not happy with how I look, and it was better when I was in the 140s. It'll never be perfect, but if I can't reel in the bad habits, I have no chance of getting there.

Sorry if this is a bit of a melancholy post, but I know people like it when they get an honest picture of what this journey is really like. I've been doing this for 2 years this month now, lost about 60 pounds at this point. It's starting to get exhausting to do this day in and day out... I really hope I don't have to workout 5 days a week and eat 1200 calories a day forever to stay this way...

My Blog: http://shrinkingrocketscientist.blogspot.com/2012/02/my-own-worst-enemy.html

Little Things Add Up!

So what happens when you take a bunch of small, easy things you can do and you add them all together... you get big weight loss numbers! At least big for me, since I'm under 10 lbs from my initial goal of 145. I haven't made any crazy drastic changes in the last month. But I'm down 4.7 lbs as of this morning. And it's really been the little tweaks that I've made to my habits that have helped me to get to that point. This is after being the same weight/gaining for the past 3 months. It doesn't take a lot to reverse the trend!

- Look at what you're eating and swap out one or two things for something healthier.
I was snacking on granola bars and stuff during the day, so I swapped that out for an apple every afternoon. Much more filling and it's all natural. My dinner was too often something processed from Trader Joes like pasta. So I swapped that out for chicken breast (Whole Foods sells it already coated with a parmesan mix) and a sweet potato. It's not an overhaul of my diet, but it helps to get rid of some higher sodium, lower nutrional value foods for ones that are better for you.

- Workout a little bit harder
I had gotten lazy in the gym, I'll admit it. But I was still going 3-4 times a week. So I vowed to really sweat if I was going to the gym, at least 3 days out of the 4 that I go during the week. So, I took up running, signed up for a 5K and now that's my workout most of the time. I still use the other cardio machines on occasion, but I try to avoid them since my HR doesn't get nearly as high as when I run.

- Be honest with logging food
I found myself nibbling and snacking on things and I wouldn't consider it really eating, it was just a bite or two right? Well, they add up! I was eating 50-80 calories of "nibbling" before I even ate my dinner at night! Just because I was hungry and didnt want to wait 15 minutes to cook the chicken, haha. So, I started logging it, and it's helped me to stop doing it! And I've been counting out the number of crackers or crisps and putting them in a bowl, so I don't take more than a serving and I don't eat half the package at once.

- Stick with what you're doing!
I know I'm incredibly impatient, so forcing myself to stick to what I'm doing for more than a week has helped a ton in getting things moving again. I have an off week every now and then, I didn't lose at all last week, but I stuck to it and I lost 1.8 lbs this week. So if the scale isn't moving for you and you're doing something new, just give it another week or two. It really does take that long for your body to "get with the program".

So there's my words of wisdom for the day. This weekend will be a bit challenging since I'm going to a Superbowl party, but I'm planning to eat smart and not nibble on any of the snacks. It's OK to have one slice of pizza... but when you add eating chips or something while watching the game, a few beers and more chips, it's a mess. I get to pick one treat and that's it. Same goes with any eating out I might do this weekend with the boyfriend. SMART CHOICES! Doesn't have to be a huge change, but little things really do add up to big weight loss numbers :)

My Blog: http://shrinkingrocketscientist.blogspot.com/2012/02/little-things-add-up.html

Beating A Dead Metabolism

Winter hibernation has a tendency to kill the motivation to exercise, eat right and make healthier choices. It felt like my metabolism went into hibernation too, along with a bit of motivation! But after one full month of getting my sorry bum back in gear, things are looking up.

I started January at 157.8 (boooooo!!!). It was the highest I had been in a year after being really good at staying around 150 for the first 9-10 months of 2011. Then that winter hibernation kicked in (I think it was the October snowstorm on the East Coast that started it all). But since January has been unseaonably warm (thank you global warming!), I've come out of hibernation and now so has my metabolism.

After 4 weeks of eating right, watching my portions and moving into my new condo (what a workout!)... I'm down to 153.3 for a total of 4.5 lbs lost. I ran an entire 5K on the treadmill without stopping in 40m, 30sec. I've been able to say no to crappy food and make healthier choices at restaurants.

And best of all, my metabolism is back! That's the really crucial part, because it helps me to absorb less than steallar food choices without gaining 3 pounds instantly. I really do feel better and more energized.

So, for anyone who's metabolism is still in hibernation, it just takes some dedication for a few weeks of eating right and working out to rev it up again. I've been keeping my calories pretty low lately to keep the weight loss going. I plan to increase it a few hundred eventually when I settle into a weight I'm comfortable with. I'm aiming for 145-150. But with how things are going, we'll see what it possible :) I'd LOVE times a million to finally hit my goal of 140. I keep making progress to get there and then something throws a wrench in the plan or my body stops cooperating. Either way, I'm going to try. At least me and my body are on the same page again :)

My Blog: http://shrinkingrocketscientist.blogspot.com/2012/02/beating-dead-metabolism.html

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