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Um, where's the bike lane?

This week I biked to the gym.  Which was my goal with my biking to hopefully save time.  I picked the wrong week, we have a serious cold snap.  It is about 15 degrees cooler than usual.

It takes about 30 minutes round trip to get to the gym vs around 15-20 minutes in the car.  Of course biking to the gym means I get to cut out about 15 minutes of warmup and cool down time.  So it is mostly a win, but getting my bike downstairs is a bit of a time suck.  I can't wait for my frame handle.  I have to navigate a couple of stairs to get in the building and another 10 in my bootleg spot on the staircase in my building.  It is secretly an arm workout.  

My city is working on bike infrastructure. Most commercial districts have bike parking, and we have lots of bike lanes, but there is a gap in the bike lanes conveniently corresponding to some of my favorite places to go.  I go to downtown often, and I uncovered the center of downtown is disconnected to the bike lanes near the waterfront.  Essentially all of Chunatown.  Also the last 3 blocks home also don't have a lane, and I need to cross a busy street with construction.  I've been walking my bike for most of those last 3 blocks since it isn't a good spot to ride.  One block has a quiet parallel street but the last street is pretty busy, particularly in the commute time.  And not heavily trafficked midday, but not well lit in the pm.  There is a plan to make a sharrow on my street, and make a contiguous route downtown but it is a big hill!  This potential route ends a block from my place, but the street is busy and pretty steep particularly in the last 3 blocks.

The other challenge?  I am trying to figure out an easy way to navigate the stairs and parking my bike at home when I've loaded up my side basket.

Today I biked to the coffee shop, farmers market and the grocery store.  Successful Sunday errands. And after yesterday's dead lifts and the evenings dancing my quads are so tired, I was a slow poke on the ride home and felt every inch of the incline!

How is the bike infrastructure in your city? 

I'm on a bike!

A couple weeks ago I won a bike. It is a Dutch-style bike so it's aimed at people who want to bike for life, not for racing or mountain biking.  With features to hold stuff and make it easy to wear normal clothes.  It is an appliance like bike.   

It is pretty ironic that I wanted to won this sort of bike because I've been on the fence about getting a bike for the past couple of years. I just did not want to join the cult of the cyclist.  No special shoes or Lycra for me.  But I always liked biking, 

my hybrid mountain bike has been collecting dust at my parents for years because I didn't have a storage spot. And I didn't think I could use it with regular clothing (one of the revelations after the minor bike accident I had after aiming to take up biking for my commute during a car less period) 

I don't plan on using my bike for exercise, it's really just to replace my car for short trips. Environmental reasons if you will.

I live a little over a mile from my gym.  It is downtown and there is not a private lot so parking is metered or in the parking garage.  The buses do not run frequently enough so I can bus over to the gym in the AM, and it is just far enough at the walk takes a little bit too long.  Within a 2-3 mile radius is most of my errands and services., just the distance the "experts" say is ideal for a bike ride. 

This weekend I headed out to do my errands on the pedals.  I went to the coffee shop for a snack, the bike shop to get accessories, the farmers market, the grocery store and to the drugstore.  I ended up going to three different neighborhoods to get all that done. typically I wouldn't necessarily done all that on the same day because it would've meant looking for parking three or four different times.

In this case parking was easier almost every errant well except for the grocery store by parking is particularly in high demand at my Whole Foods.  When the store opened after a few weeks they had to double the number of bike spots due to demand.  

By the time I got home I got most of my errands done and 7 miles of bike riding in.  Not bad for a Sunday.  My bike should be a time saver...or at least a multitasker.  I get in some exercise, and it adds minimal time to the errands.  Better yet, I am doing my part to cut down on greenhouse gases.  :)

Here is a pic of my new bike!

 [img]https://fbcdn-photos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn2/s720x720/1471769_10152052765119669_704049962_n.jpg [/Img]

Do any of you bike around town instead of driving? 

Call me Ms. Vain :)

Time for a 90s flashback, I am sure some of you remember this track:

Mr. Vain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvgUdrzGNys

The key lyric is "I know what I want, and I want it now!"

I bet lots of you feel this way in your "weight loss journey."  I surely do.  We all want our results and progress right now!

I have been in the midst of the never-ending plateau.  Basically for the entire year of 2013 to date.  

I have been watching my calories.   Exercise has been semi-regular unfortunately.  Weight loss is all about calories in/calories out.  And let me tell, it wasn't working for me.  I was eating about 1800 calories a day pretty much all year.  And most estimates for TDEE for me are in the neighborhood of 2300-2600 assuming I am not exercising a lot.   

I found, that reality for me is, maintaining was really about 2200.  But nonetheless, I was still eating under my goal, so I should have at least had a trickle of weight loss.  But reality was basicaly a stuck scale.  Moving a pound or 5 in either direction.  Each time I thought something would happen, the next day would have me jumping up to the weight I had been hovering.

Happily, things started to turn around in late July.  I noticed tiny slivers of hope (after some positive lab results for my thyroid, and the end, I hope, of my amenorrhea).

This week looked even better.  I finally moved past that stuck point, and was trending downward for most of the week.  Here is to hoping it continues.

Now here is the bad news.  I have made some changes.  I don't know if they are helping, but I guess I will have to keep them up.

I traded my workouts again.  Let's go back to my initial statement, around "I know what I want!"  We all know that strength training can be the path to the look you want.  But I will also admit, I am also a little sensitve about the idea of bulking up.  Particularly in the neighborhood of my thighs.  :D  And my upper arms.  And there is the other phenom of the "square waist."

So you now have my 3 vanity hot buttons. My goal is to get a balanced hourglass shape.  But I have some challenges, like everyone else.  My focuses: glutes and core.

After a bit of digging I saw a few tips that seemed like modifications I could make, and still work on my path to fitness and a lower body fat.

So I have a few exercises on my list, and I have been building my circuits around these exercises and principals.  So I thought I might as well share:

 

  • I am not working my muscles to failure.  It sounds sacrilege.  But I am not aiming for more muscle size.  It sounds weird but hey, based on my own guestimates, I am not lacking any significant muscle.  Basically this means, when I am lifting my weights, I stop when it is hard, but I can likely do 1-2 more reps.  Once that feels too easy, and I can do 4 more reps I up the weight.  So I am progressing, just a bit slower.
  • I am skipping "lifting heavy" for anything that deals with my quads. I am still doing my lunges.  With lighter weights and more directions. Oh, and I am doing stairs too.  Hitting the quads, with little resistance.
  • I am dialing down the workouts 2x a week.  Basically this means that 2-3 workouts a week are super intense (hello circuits and intervals!).  And the other 2 or so workouts I'll do during the week are easy - walking at a steady pace or moderate cardio or yoga.
  • Minimal direct core training.  I know, sounds crazy!  Basically I am avoiding the weights for my core.  Adding in twisting moves a few tiems a week for a few minutes.  And concentrating extra hard on engaging my core: for workouts and beyond.
I don't know if I will be able to isolate what is prompting the movement in the scale.  But I am happy about that too.  (Oh, and I have seen a few inches drop too.  My waist appears smaller and measuring the same.)

 

I'm not down with "Strong is the new skinny."

So I know the new mantra is "Strong is the new Skinny."

Don't get me wrong, I am on #TeamLiftHeavy #TeamNoPinkDumbbells (heavy for you of course). 

But I just don't agree.  I really have a few issues with this.  I think, it is pretty much more of the same old messaging.  It could be a whole lot better.

So here is why.

1.  It is only promoting one kind of "strong."  (conventionally attractive, women with 15% body fat and a little muscle definition, but not too much or too big)
2.  It places the goal of "getting strong" with "getting hot"
3.  It isn't inclusive or diverse (in body type or ethnicity or age)
4.  It assumes that you can tell someone's fitness level by looking at them

You can be strong and have cellulite (90% of women do).  You can be strong and not have a six-pack.  You can be strong and look like Serena Williams or Sarah Robles or Jennifer Nicole Lee.

Right now, strong is the new skinny is pretty much like "look like a model with 20 extra pounds of muscle so you can be hot."

How come the goal can't be just to get strong so you can put your suitcase in the overhead bin?  Or strong so you don't break your hip when you are 65.  Or strong so you can carry toddler and stroller up ti your 5th floor walk-up.  Or strong so you can beat your personal best? 

I'd rather have something like: strong is the new awesome. With imagery with all types of women of all sizes doing stuff to get stronger, from age 2 to 122 (162?). 

 

 

 

This post is full of random

So today I tried out a new gym.  I am pondering switching, so I decided to try out the former Gold's that is a little closer than 24-hour.  

It was a #fail.  There was so much equipment, there wasn't enough open space to lift weights or stretch or anything without worrying about tripping on people or blocking the aisle.  On the other hand, the workers were super friendly. Infinitelty more so than 24. 

And all the cardio equipment was full.  There wasn't even a lone stationary bike or something.  24 does get packed, but there is usually one free option.  Or a rower free.  :)  And my 24 does have a pretty big stretching area. 

And the other #fail?  Way too many chatterboxes!  I am happy the 60+ year olds are at the gym, I really am.  But these guys were litterly lounging on all of the equipment for the full 30 minutes I did my circuit.  These 3 men did not lift a single weight or use a single machine.  I know people need to rest, but that wasn't resting, that was hanging out.

So, there went that idea.  And I have officially exhausted all of the big gyms in walking distance of my apartment.  There is the crossfit/climbing gym.  But I don't climb so....

There are some private gyms, but those are way out of budget.  Oh well.  There is definitely a market for another option somewhere nearby!  

And the last random thought?  Well I have likely mentioned it somewhere, but I am in the no six-pack club.  For me anyway.  :)  (It is awesome if you want it!).  I like the old school defined waist look.  

Anyway, I noticed that this look isn't exactly in vogue for "fitness" people these days, and there are exercises/approaches thal "straighten" out your waist. So I have been trying to hunt down some "defined waist" workouts.  So I'll be getting my twist on.  And keeping my core engaged as much as possible.  Ask me in a few weeks if it works.  Maybe I'll bust out my belly dance DVD.  :)

We all have to work with what we've got.  I have a short torso, so too much definition would look pretty "square" on me.  I only have about 3 inches between my rib cage and belly button to work with. 

Where is my fitspo role model?

I think I posted on this topic a last year  It is time for a redux.  I am looking for a body role model.

So I know what my shape is (mostly).  I am somewhere in the neighborhood of an hourglass.  I used to look more pear, but things seemed to have evened out a bit on top.  Basically I am busty, go in at the waist, and am sort of hippy.  I also have big quads.  And a short torso. (at the moment my measurements are 42(34H)-34-45)

The big problem is, typical fitspo has a few predominant body shapes: not mine. And the next problem is, some of the typical exercises create a look I don't actually want (square waist, 6 pack).

I have now added a new fitspo option.  Her pics are a little too car model for me, but we are finally getting a little closer to fitspo for me, trainer Lyzabeth Lopez. She apparently has a training center for women, called the Hourglass Workout.  For those of you in T.O. you should go.  Looks fun.

So in terms of "look" I have a few key goals:

  • add shape and lift to my butt (it is sort of flat, but improving)
  • retain/improve my waist definition
  • add leg definition (read this as the line between your quads and hamstrings)
  • add shape to my shoulders
  • improve my hip shape (I have a high/square hip)
  • not add size to my quads 
  • reduce body fat percentage to mid-low 20s

Although there are areas where I do want improved definition.  I also have no aspirations of being fitness model lean.  :) 

So my current mission is to focus on exercises that meet my goals.  Of course everyone under the sun says, women can't get bulky.  Bulky is determined by body fat percentage.  Women don't add muscles quickly.  Blah, blah, blah.  I think this is true in a way, but not 100% accurate.  Women build lower body muscle easier than men do.  Of course there is some variation between individual women.

So I have figured out, a few little things, that will determine how I will tweak my workouts to meet my goals:

  • Weighted exercised on your core, especially obliques, can add size and squareness to your waist.  So I'll just stick with body weight ones.  Or super light resistance.  And twisting exercises.
  • I happen to be one of those women who can develop size in my quads pretty easily (remember my note about leg definition?  Well let's just say I was pretty close to having the definition I want in high school, and I was nowhere near my goal body fat percentage).  So I am going to cut down on the heaviness of weights on quad dominant exercises.
  • I am trying to find out how to make all leg workouts glute focused so I can get the shape I want there.
  • I do not really have any areas where I need to "add size" to improve the overall balance.  So my workouts will be focused on burning fat, maintaining muscle mass and not building or increasing muscle mass.

So some of you are thinking, hey!  What about "lifting heavy" and strength training? I still have a bunch of strength goals (pushups, pullups, deadlifting my body weight).  But I'll probably lighten the load a bit (i.e. not work my muscles to complete failure) to hit my goals.  Also mostly compound lifts and limited isolation exercises.  Maybe when I am really close to goal, I'll add in the isolations.  

I'll work hard, but not so hard I will have completely taxed my muscles.  And I think this should get me where I want.

So as for my strength training?  So far I am focused on a few key exercises:

  • standing overhead press (great for upper body and abs.  perfect!) 
  • bent over or wide grip rows (more abs, upper back and shoulders)
  • straight legged deadlifts (more core, back, glutes, hamstrings)
  • lateral or reverse lunges (glutes, legs, core)
  • kettlebell swings (everywhere!)

And for "cardio?"

  • rowing
  • walking
  • c25k
  • elliptical (higher incline) 

 

Who is your fitspo?  How are you going to workout to get the shape you want?

Row-d to 10k: Week 2

My last few posts have been about my rowing goal.  I want to row 10k @ a 3:00/500m pace at the end of the August.  I am doing one rowing workout per week.  

Last week I did 5000m at about a 3:05 pace.  This is a little slower than my goal.   

Today I did 6 sets of 1000m semi-sprints.  I aimed to "go fast" in each set.  But they weren't true sprints since each one would take 6 minutes. I started in a fasted state again, got to the gym around an hour after I woke up.  Unlike last week, I was absolutely starving.  I went over my calories a bit yesterday, and it was a very low carb day.  About 32%, and I aim for 45%.  Probably why I was so starving in the AM.

When I got to the gym, I hopped straight on the rower and started going. I gave myself about 60-90 sec rests between sets, and aimed to close out each set in a sprint for the last 200-250 meters. 

The most challenging sets were 1, 5, and 6.  At the end, I was really ready to pack it in and get some food, but I decided to tough it out.  

Here were my times (time for 1000m, average 500m pace):

 

  • Set 1: 5:56 (2:58)
  • Set 2: 5:37  (2:49)
  • Set 3: 5:30 (2:45)
  • Set 4: 5:45 (2:52)
  • Set 5: 6:01 (3:01)
  • Set 6: 5:51 (2:55)
Average was 2:53/500m
 
Almost all sets were faster than my target pace!  And set 5, definitely the hardest set, was only a little over.  I didn't pay super close attention to what my closing pace was per set, but the did seem to range between 2:33-2:40.
 
Again, when I focused on my breathing, I was able to go faster.  Same was true when I really focused on finishing the stroke by powering through my core.  I also looked at the stroke graph, to see my power curve.  Very interesting.
 
Next week I plan to row for 45 minutes straight (well minus water breaks of course).  I need to keep my watter bottle full.  And I think I'll make sure I have a normal amount of carbs the day before, to make it a little easier. 
 
We'll check the distance, but this session is for endurance.  Not concerned about the final distance.  

 

Row-d to 10k: Week 1

In my last post I mentioned a retry on the 10k row.  I haven't rowed much over the past few months.  A couple of short rows in a trainer session.  And last week, I did weights and rowing, but puttered out after about 3k. (Maybe because I had done lat pulldowns and seated rows in my weight session. :P)

Based on that session last week, I knew I needed to prioritze rowing practice to hit my goal.

First up, why rowing?  Well there are a few reasons:

  • Full body cardio
  • Great for targeting your back 
  • Feels way harder than the other cardio machines (me and the treadmill are not friends)
  • Sprints really get you into the aerobic and anaerobic zone
  • Feels a bit more real world than the other cardio machines
I'll post up a revised goal post soon.  Don't want to derail this post.
 
So today's goal was to hit 5k straight.  I did take a few water breaks, but that is to be expected.  :)
 
Time: 30:52, which puts me at about a 3:05/500m pace for the full session.  A little behind my goal of less than 3:00.  
 
I did learn a few lessons:
  1. If I concentrate on my breathing, it is easier to stay at or below my pace.  I need to work on this a lot.  
  2. I am weaker, and I had to downgrade the resistance to 2, we'll see how this progresses
  3. I did this in a fasted state: before breakfast, and about 30-45 minutes after waking up 

Next week?  It is sprint time.  I am doing 6 x 1000m with rest breaks, and I'll break these up into mini chunks at sprint pace.  Then I'll add the total time together and see what my pace is.

Making Saturday Rowing Dates

I went to review my goals, and I am way far behind.  So I adjusted, and moved a couple out.  This month, I am going to focus on keeping my workouts consistent and meeting my rowing goal.

So one of my goals is to row a 10K in an hour.  By August 31.  I haven’t attempted this in a while.  And I haven’t had much stamina for rowing.

So I need to schedule and prioritize this one.  8 weeks to go.

My current pace is about 3:03/500m.  Over time.  My fastest 500m is about 2:25.  At the moment.   To hit my goal, I need to maintain the 3 minute pace for 60 minutes.  The good news is, lately my pace has been very close to my target.  

So I need to practice 3 key things:

1.  row for 60 minutes straight
2.  row  at pace for as long as possible
3.  500m sprints and increase my speed so I can finish strong

Here is my schedule for the next couple of Saturdays to hit my goal:

 

  • July 13: 5000m
  • July 20: 6 x 1000m (speed)
  • July 27: Row 45 minutes
  • August 3: 5 x 1500m at pace
  • August 10: 8 x 1000m (speed)
  • August 17: 6 x 1500m at pace
  • August 24: Row for 60 minutes
  • August 31: Row 10k for time

 

It looks hard.  :P

But then I can cross this off my list.  

There are 3 more I need to plan and schedule for:

1.  10 full pushups
2.  3 minute plank
3.  150# deadlift

Look for a plan for those two as well.

This is a sponsored post

This is a little weird for me, but I think it is time to tell you about a few of my recent discoveries and favorite products.

About a month ago, I went into GNC to purchase my iron supplements.  My doctor has instructed me to take a few supplements for various reasons: iron (up to 3X a day), biotin (since I have been having hair issues), calcium and vitamin D.  I also added a B supplement too.  Since my energy levels are a little low, and my daily gummies didn't have enough.  

My hair stylist reccommended MSM as well for my hair issues.  This is way too many vitamins.  And I have to worry about timing them too.  Thyroid medicine + calcum + iron don't mix.  Calcium and iron don't mix.  And I am sure there are more I am missing.  

So I picked up the iron (which is oddly hard to find in the dosage my doctor recommended) and decided to look at the multis.  I like gummies.  GNCs chewables are gross.  And I saw one labeled energy.  It did have most if the other stuff i wanted as well.  I didn't read the label closely enough, as I took one, and felt wide awake.  Apparently it had caffeine.  When I went to return it, I find another multi that seemed to cover my list above.  It has been a month, and I feel like I am getting my energy back.  And happily, I have seen progress on the scale, and it seems a little easier to stay in calories.  So I think my multi is helping.  And even though the pills are huge, it has cut down the number I am taking.  So win, win.  The only multi I have found with over 1000 IU of Vitamin D.

Check it out: Ultra Mega Green Women's Active.  It has a bunch of other nonsense like antioxidant blends and aminios.  Who knows if they are needed, but this one covers my bases.  I try to eat the produce, not supplement it. 

Next up, the perfect water bottle/coffee mug.  I have an abnormal obsession with bottles.  Since I was a kid.  I love getting bottles for my drinks.  No clue why.  Picking out a bottle is a little like being goldilocks.  I used to like plastic ones, until the BPA problem.  I want a bottle I can throw in my purse and not worry about leaking.  And now I am all about stainless steel ones.  I grabbed one that is pretty good and fits in my bag.  I also wanted something good for my coffee, so I was still looking.

And I found a winner.  It doubles as a coffee mug and water bottle.  And it is super insulated.  Today I made some tea, and brewed it on the go.  An hour after I put it in the bottle, it was still too hot to drink.  I added a bit of cool water, and didn't drink it for another hour.  It was still too hot.  Until I left it open for about 20 minutes.  Then it was warm, and stayed that way for another hour or so.  And I finished up the cup.  

In the same bottle added cold water.  And left it in my hot car for an hour.  Still cold, 3 hours later.  Totally worth the $20.  And it has a nice wide mouth so it is easy to clean.  And a sippy lid.  Check out this insulated Klean Kanteen bottle.  Klean Kanteen Insulated: the best water bottle ever!  

And my last reco of the day?  David's Tea!  Great selection of "fun" teas, and decent selection of traditional teas.  Also staffed by friendly employees.  I like to get tea to use as a low to no calorie dessert option.  Chocolate tea?  Sign me up!

And the best reasons to go there over Teavana?  

 

  • More honest about ingredients and added falvorings
  • They don't try to coerce you into turning your 1 oz purchase into a pound by over pouring when they are ringing you up
  • Teal comes in an aluminum bag to keep things fresh with no tin hard sell
  • Tins are priced appropriately
  • Accessories aren't a huge ripoff 
  • Price per cup is good
What are your fave products?

 

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