Saturday, March 31, 2012

Still plodding along!

I slept beautifully last night, and had a nice relaxed day today. My week was pretty busy and stressful, so it was nice to just be able to unwind today. I probably spent a little too much time unwinding and not enough preparing for the coming week, but I really did need to relax. I'll just have to plan my time better during the week to make sure I get everything done!

I'm planning morning workouts for next week, Monday/Wednesday/Friday, to see how that works for getting my day started when I have a busy day ahead. I don't start classes until 10, so I don't have to go super early to exercise, but it will still be a challenge. I'm the kind of person who likes to stay in bed until the last minute, until I roll out of bed and have to hurry to get ready that is. I've been better about that since I started keeping a food log, since I know I have to make time for a good breakfast. Still, some days I end up grabbing something fast on my way out the door.

photo from
Today, I feel like this turtle. Sometimes I get to thinking about how long the road ahead of me is and how it is going to take ages to get where I really want to be, and it's hard not to groan or get discouraged. But then I remind myself that the important thing is that I keep going. Just keep plodding along, and little by little, I'll make it. It has been so helpful to have smaller goals that are easily within reach. I have weekly goals, monthly goals, and quarterly goals that are close enough to keep me motivated. It also feels great to accomplish the smaller goals and have that extra boost along the way. So, even if it sometimes seems like I'm a turtle who just passed the first few yards of a mile-long journey, I'm still plodding along!

Question of the day: What animal do you relate to today?

Friday, March 30, 2012

Summer is just around the corner!

Summer break, that is. Four weeks left of classes, then finals. I am so ready for the break. This has been a pretty intense semester, but I have weathered through rather well so far. I ended up working extra hours yesterday, and had a ton of homework to do, so I didn't make it to the gym as planned. I really ought to try working out first thing in the morning. I'm just not a morning person!

I can really feel the difference on the days I miss a workout. For instance, last night I slept horribly. That's pretty normal for me, or was before I started exercising regularly, but it's so much more noticeable after sleeping better due to working out for the last few weeks. One more reason to do better at sticking to my workout schedule. So on that note, I think I'll head to the gym this evening!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Before and After

So, as promised (sorry I didn't get it up yesterday), here is one of my before and after sets. It's not the best comparison, but it's what I have on hand at the moment. The before picture (left) was taken on 23 January 2012, and the after picture was taken on 18 March after I hit the 25 pound weight loss mark. I'll see about getting a better comparison, but this will do for now! As of Tuesday (27 March), I had lost 28 pounds total since the beginning of the year, 9 of which were lost during the 30-day challenge. I also lost roughly 4% body fat over the course of the 30 days (I don't have numbers from before then).

(edit: I had another 'after' picture taken a few moments ago, this one from the side. Hopefully below is a better comparison.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's official

My 30 day challenge is officially over, and I'm generally pleased with my progress. I have really enjoyed resistance training, much more than I ever expected. It's late, so I'll give a full update in the morning including before and after pics. Next up: finishing my research paper on my experiences during the challenge and the accompanying research I did on strength training and weight loss.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Only the beginning!

Tomorrow is the end of the 30-day challenge for my English class. I feel pretty good about the success I have had with the challenge, and I consider this just the beginning of my resistance training experience. I am in it for the long haul, as part of my plan to get healthy and stay healthy. I'll be hitting the weights Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday this week, and I'll likely follow that schedule for the rest of the semester.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, published by the US Department of Health and Human Services, recommend muscle strengthening exercises for all muscle groups on two or more days a week in addition to a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise for all healthy adults. That's just to maintain a standard of health. For those (like me) who are working toward a healthy weight and improved strength, these guidelines recommend 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. The nurse practitioner at the BSU Health Center recommended that I work up to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, five days a week minimum, which I have trouble sticking to some days because I'm a master of procrastination and making excuses. I'm going to keep working at it. I have improved my walking pace, but I still need to work on walking longer - especially on the days I'm not at the gym. 10 to 15 minutes at a time is a good start, as long as I get up to a total of 45 minutes or more for the day, but it's far better (and more efficient!) to have continuous exercise for the full 45 to 60 minutes.

Question of the day: What are your fitness goals?

My short-term goal is to get a minimum of 45 minutes aerobic exercise on each of five days this week (Tuesday-Saturday), in addition to sticking to my resistance training schedule. One of my long(er)-term goals is to become fit enough to start running.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Great day!

Happy weekend everyone! I had a great day today. I slept better last night than I have in a while. I felt good this morning when I got up. I had a fun afternoon with my niece and nephews. And finally, I had an amazing workout. I worked hard and felt great, and now I feel rejuvenated. I really needed that after the way I felt most of the week.

Exercise is good for you, and it generally makes you happier and relieves stress. So why is it so hard to get out there and do it? Of course, one reason for me is that I'm lazy - or at least I try to minimize the amount of work I have to do. It's going to take time for me to build up exercise habits, and even longer for exercise to come more easily for me I imagine. But it's definitely worth the work. Already I'm feeling much stronger, I have more energy, and I'm able to walk faster. I don't have adequate data to say whether I'm losing more fat now than I was before I started resistance training, but I know that the weight I'm losing now is predominantly fat. I invested in a body fat monitor so I could track my body fat percentage - I only wish I had it sooner for a comparison between my weight loss with and without exercise.

Question of the day: This is a bit different from the usual questions - What content would you most like to see added to my blog?
I have been planning on posting before and after pictures, just haven't gotten to it yet, but that's definitely on my list of things to add. I'm also looking at organizing a section of diet and exercise tips, things that I have learned from my research and put into practice, during this 30-day challenge and before. What would you find most interesting or helpful?

Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm a slacker

I haven't posted in a few days because I just haven't felt like it. I also skipped yesterday's workout. It's the first time I have missed a workout entirely, but I'm not going to get too down on myself over it. I was pondering working out today instead of tomorrow, and at this point I still could, but I haven't decided yet. That means I probably won't be going to work out this evening, because that's how it usually works. In order to get something done, you first have to decide to do it.

It's been kind of an off week in general. Sunday and Monday were pretty good, but it mostly went downhill from there. I'm not giving up though. This just means I need to pick myself up and get back on track. I wasn't so faithful about eating healthy meals, though I didn't exceed my daily calories - I just need to renew my commitment to make healthy diet choices. I wasn't as good about walking every day - I need to redouble my efforts to be consistent with exercise. I missed a resistance training workout - I need to get back to the gym and back to my routine.

The most important factor in making a diet and exercise program successful is sticking with it. Don't let the bumps in the road lead to giving up. Just keep at it!

Question of the day: What do you do to pull yourself out of a funk - like when you're having a particularly blah day or week?
I'm not always very good at this, but I usually try to find something to make me laugh or something to remind me how blessed I am.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Busy workout day!

I had another busy day today between classes, meal planning, homework, working out, and keeping up with blogs. Busy is good, I feel so productive when I make it through a busy day and accomplish most of what I set out to do. I was tempted to skip my evening class to spend the time on other things, but I'm glad I didn't, because we have an exam coming up and he spent some time going over what will be on it. I'm also glad I didn't put off my workout, though I was very tempted. I walked to my car after class for my warm-up, then I was tempted to go home and have dinner and come back to campus later. I made myself go directly to the gym instead, and had a really good workout. I did a slightly modified routine because of my bruised leg, but I worked the same muscle groups as usual. I substituted the leg press for leg extensions and leg curls, since the leg extension machine would have been very painful because the bar hits right across the knot and bruise above my ankle. I think I like the leg press better anyway. I'm getting the idea that maybe I should try to mix it up with some of my other exercises as well to see if there is a better fit for me.

The fitness area at the rec center was very busy this evening, but my workout wasn't delayed. I did change up the order of exercises based on which machines were available, so I really only ended up having to wait on one machine. I had a great walk on the treadmill after I finished with the weights. I pushed myself to walk faster for longer, starting at an 18:10 minute/mile pace for two and a half minutes, then speeding up to 16:40 for ten minutes. Jeopardy was on television at this point, so I had a nice distraction trying to come up with the correct questions. Engaging my mind in that way is better than just passively watching a show or listening to music - a better distraction that makes the time seem to go by faster.

Question of the day: What is your favorite distraction, whether during a workout or just passing the time?
In general, my distraction of choice is reading. I haven't tried getting audiobooks to listen to while I work out yet, but I think I'll line some up in the near future. I also enjoy trivia and puzzles!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Feeling much better!

I was pretty under the weather when I posted last night, but my workout yesterday really wasn't that bad. I tried a few things differently, like changing my pace when lifting and doing biceps curls one arm at a time instead of both. The latter was a good idea, as it turns out the main problem I was having with biceps curls before was that the machine just isn't a comfortable fit for me to lift with both arms at once. I will probably do my biceps curls this way from now on. I will have to make some other modifications in my next workout too, because I bruised my leg just above the ankle this afternoon, so I won't be able to use the leg extension machine for a few days.

In spite of not getting enough sleep last night (again), I was feeling so much better when I got up this morning. I received a lot of positive comments and encouragement from friends at church, who noticed that I have lost weight. That's always nice! Beyond the comments from others, I also saw myself in a full-length mirror for the first time since before I started losing weight. I just had to smile and think to myself, "Wow, I really am losing weight!" I mean, I know I am - I feel the difference in my energy level, in how my clothes fit, in the number on the scale, in the monthly measurements I take - but it's different to really SEE the changes.

I had my dad take a couple of pictures today, and they're not too bad, but I'm not going to post yet because I need to see if I can find a better before picture. The one that I have is at a weird angle, so it doesn't give an accurate comparison.

Question of the day: What is the strangest compliment you have ever received?
I have noticed that if you are losing weight, unless you bring up the topic of weight first, people tend to dance around it a bit when they notice and want to compliment you. I can't remember any specific comments at the moment, but I have received some that were pretty off-the-wall - I wish I had written them down at the time!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Tomorrow is another day.

Had a pretty lousy day today. I woke up feeling sick, so I stayed home from the activity I had been planning on going to. By evening I felt somewhat better and decided to make myself go work out, and just take it easy if I needed to, or stop if I started feeling ill again. I made it through my regular workout, but I still just wasn't feeling great even by the time I was finished. And now I'm back to feeling gross again. I guess not every workout can be a great workout after all, and sometimes there are gross days. But tomorrow is another day.

A few people have asked me if I'm going to do before and after pictures to show my progress in getting fit, both for my own benefit and for sharing with others. I plan on posting some pictures here on the blog in the near future, so that's something to look forward to.

Question of the day:  What's your favorite comfort food?
I like soup and a grilled cheese sandwich if it's a cold or grey day. I need to find some healthy soup recipes, since canned soup is pretty much a no-go because of too much sodium.

Friday, March 16, 2012

I need new clothes!

I'm going to have to break down and buy new clothes sooner than I had planned - they're just way too big now! Such a wonderful problem to have!

My feet were rather sore this morning from yesterday's workout. I pushed my warm-up walking harder than I have before, and it showed today. I had to take it a little easier walking today because of it, but that's alright - certainly better than pushing myself too hard and ending up with an injury. Tomorrow is going to be a rather full day with a program for the women's organization at church, my workout, and homework. I like keeping busy, as long as it's not too busy.

I'm well over half-way into my 30 day challenge, and I have come to realize that I have a bit more research to do for the paper I am writing to go along with my research and experiences. My original research was good for preparing me to plan my resistance training and get started, but I'm thinking I need to branch out a little for the purpose of my research paper. One thing I'd like to look at is a comparison between resistance training programs for people at different fitness levels. My focus up until now has been on nutrition and fitness for the purpose of weight loss, since that is what applies to my specific situation, but it would be useful to know how to address the wide range of fitness levels among my audience.

Question of the day: What types of exercise would you include in your own custom fitness program - what exercises do you enjoy/are you most likely to stick to?
So far, I'm still working up to getting in good enough shape so that I have more options for exercise. I'd like to try a lot of different things, like running or zumba or any number of high-intensity aerobic exercises, and find what works best for me.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do it anyway!

Tonight's workout
I really, really, really didn't want to work out today. I felt lousy because of not enough sleep and recovering from yesterday's mild case of food poisoning. Those sound like solid excuses, right? But they are still just excuses. So I told myself I had to do it anyway. I reminded myself how much better I would feel, emotionally at the very least, if I followed through with my workout plans. And finally I dragged myself over to the gym at a little after 8 this evening.

I'm so glad I did. I had my best workout yet - worked harder, got into a good rhythm, increased most of the weights I was lifting, and ended up so energized! I know I keep saying how great a workout I had after every workout so far, but tonight's workout was just awesome. The difference in how I felt before starting my workout and after completing it is really quite amazing. So, when I'm just not feeling like working out, my new mantra for getting myself to the gym is, "Do it anyway!"

On another note, I reached 200 page views today! Thank you all for coming to share in my experiences. I especially appreciate the comments you write, keep them coming!

Question of the day: What kinds of excuses do you make for missing a workout?
Mine so far have been more for postponing than missing entirely, and they include "I don't feel like it", "I'm too tired", "I have too much to do", and "I don't need to work out today, I can always do it tomorrow".

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


It's funny how when I'm consciously eating healthy and balanced meals there are days when I have a hard time coming up with enough calories. Today was one of those days. How did I resolve the issue this time? Ice cream. One half-cup serving of strawberry ice cream left over from my nephew's birthday dinner. It is delicious. I think I enjoy it more now than I would have in the past. Since staring my diet back in January, I rarely have desserts, but I don't deny myself completely. I think that's one key for me to succeed. I don't feel deprived, because I'm eating food that is healthy, but that I also enjoy. And on occasion, that includes a treat or dessert. And I know it's working because I have lost 25 pounds so far (as of my weigh-in this morning).

Question of the day: When you're in the mood for a treat, what do you usually go for?
I enjoy a lot of different things, but most often it's something chocolate.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Monday!

So I'm not usually a fan of Mondays, especially the Monday after Spring Break, but today was a good day. I decided to switch to M/W/F for my strength training schedule this week, and had a great workout tonight. I went right after my evening class, so between 7 and 8pm. It was pretty busy both at the treadmills and other cardio machines, and down in the weight room, so I had to wait an extra minute or two here and there for some of the weight machines. That's okay though, it was nice to see so many people working out. Tonight's workout:

I've been reflecting the last few days on why it is I chose resistance training for my immersive research project. The biggest reason is definitely because I want to develop a healthy lifestyle, and strength training is one of the keys to a healthy body. Of course, part of my motivation is to help with my weight loss goals, but that in itself is just another aspect of getting healthy. In my research leading up to this immersion project, I read several articles that commented on the benefits of resistance training, and one of the common points was that building muscle, increasing lean tissue mass, raises your resting metabolic rate. That means you burn more calories even at rest since lean tissue requires more calories. That's something I hadn't thought about before. Another big bonus from strength training is that in addition to building muscle, it strengthens bone and helps prevent osteoporosis. That becomes more and more important as we get older, especially for women. Here's to building a life-long habit of exercise, including strength training!

Question of the day: What do you like most about exercise?
I love that I have more energy throughout the day and just generally feel better when I exercise.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Busy day!

I feel like I've been going non-stop all day! Between errands, meal preparation, exercise, more meal preparation, and more exercise, I've had a very full day. I was so tempted to skip the gym today, but I already felt guilty for putting it off until today so I made myself do it anyway. Even with how busy I was, I'm glad I took the time to work out anyway. Based on how I'm feeling right now, I would say my lower back muscles were worked the hardest today. That would be from a combination of the cardio, weight lifting, running errands, and food preparation, I do believe. Here's tonight's workout:
I am hosting a birthday dinner for my nephew tomorrow, and I spent this evening putting together a lasagna and baking a birthday cake. It took me longer to prepare that lasagna than ever before because I was measuring every single ingredient and carefully portioning them between layers. Normally I would pretty much just throw things together, but I'm still counting calories so I needed to know exactly what went into it. Eating a balanced, healthy diet is a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it to me to stick to it.

Question of the day: When life gets really busy, how do you make sure you're still getting the exercise you need?

Friday, March 9, 2012

So tired...

I didn't make it over to the rec center today, and at this point I won't have a chance to get there before it closes at 9 tonight. I haven't decided whether to try some strength exercises at home tonight, or go to the rec center to work out tomorrow. Probably the latter because using weight machines gives me more control over how much I am working my muscles and how many muscle groups I am working. I'm considering taking a fitness class for body toning so I can learn some more dynamic exercises to add variety to my workouts, but I'm not sure I'm ready for that yet.

I have been so tired all week. I really need to do something about my sleep schedule. That is something I have always struggled with between insomnia, procrastination, and getting too involved in reading or some other activity long past a sensible bed time. During breaks I just let my schedule get out of hand, mostly because I know I don't have anywhere to be in the morning so I don't make myself get to bed at a reasonable time. I need to work on that, especially because of the impact poor sleep has on health.

Question of the day: What do you do to keep a healthy sleep schedule, or what keeps you from sleeping as you should?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

KFC is evil

I very rarely have fried chicken, but I love the taste of KFC extra crispy, usually breast meat. The family I sit for several evenings a week brings KFC for dinner at least once every two weeks, sometimes more. Tonight was a KFC night, and it was so hard to resist having some. It tastes so good, but it is not worth all that fat, all those calories. So I resisted. It's kind of sad that I'm so proud of myself for that feat, but I am. Following a balanced, nutritious diet is such an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and giving in to empty calories just robs me of more nutritious alternatives or leads to overeating, or both. I have done so well with my diet these last two months, but there are still times that I'm sorely tempted to choose unhealthy food, especially when I'm away from home feeding the kids dinner. I don't know if that will ever really get easier, but I know I'm stronger for each time I resist.

Looking forward to tomorrow's workout. I'll have to go during the morning or early afternoon because I'll be working in the evening, but that's fine because it will give me a chance to see what difference it makes to work out before the end of the day.

Question of the day: What time of day do you prefer to exercise?
For my strength training so far I have only done evening workouts, and I like how that turned out, but for cardio I prefer mid-day just before lunch.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hating my treadmill

I really need to make myself walk outside in the morning more often, or head over to the rec center for my cardio. My treadmill at home is pretty horrible, doesn't have any give so my feet end up pretty sore by the time I'm finished. And I can definitely relate to Katie over at Runs for Cookies, who calls hers the "dreadmill". But enough complaining. In spite of sore feet, I feel better for sticking it out.

I must have worked my shoulders more than the rest of my muscles in my last workout - I'm feeling it most there. This is going to take some getting used to, and I may to need to tweak my workouts so that I'm keeping things balanced.

Question of the day: What is your favorite healthy snack?
Right now, mine is cottage cheese and broccoli. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ready... set... stop!

I had hoped to work out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday over Spring Break, but I hurt my right arm over the weekend and still needed time to recover on Monday. I had to remind myself that this isn't a race, and I definitely need to listen to my body as I proceed so I don't end up injuring myself or causing other undue pain. By this morning, my arm was doing much better so I decided to go ahead with a workout this evening. I went with the rower and triceps curl instead of assisted pull-ups and dips tonight, because I didn't want to overtax my arms. I probably won't go back to assisted pull-ups and dips until I'm both stronger and lighter. The row machine exercises mostly the same muscles as the pull-up, but I can set it at lower weights so it works out great. I increased weights on everything else - last time just felt too easy on everything except pull-ups and dips.

I also did 10 minutes cool down on the treadmill today and stretched in between exercises. That worked better overall, I just need to be sure to plan future workouts so that I have plenty of time for it. The facilities close at 9pm over the break, so I need to schedule earlier workouts.

I was pleasantly surprised when I weighed in this morning and registered the same 2 pound weight loss for the week as I had the week before. It would be great if I can maintain that pace, but I know there will be times when I don't lose as much (or anything at all). That's a natural part of long-term weight loss and getting healthy. I need to remind myself so I don't get discouraged when it does happen!

Question of the day: When you're working on a challenging goal, what do you do to keep from getting discouraged?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lazy Saturday

I am so glad for the weekend and for Spring Break. School has been stressing me out just a bit, so it's great to have this time to decompress. I'm sore today after last night's workout, but in a good way. I decided to walk on the treadmill at home earlier, and it seemed so much faster than the treadmill at the rec center - I wasn't able to keep up with setting I used at the rec last night. On the plus side, I was able to watch a show of my choice while I walked, so the time passed quickly.

So I've lost about 20 pounds since the beginning of the semester, which is awesome. I expect that over the next week or two my weight loss will stall a bit because of my change in exercise - at least that tends to be the normal response especially when you start building muscle. I need to remember that and not let the number on the scale discourage me. What's important is that I'm eating healthy, balanced meals and keeping up with my exercise schedule.

Speaking of healthy, balanced meals, it has been so much easier to follow a nutritious diet than I would have expected, because I really do enjoy a lot of healthy foods. The key is to keep track of how much I am eating, since there is such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to food. There are so many free tools available online to help with that. Right now, I'm using SparkPeople to track my nutrition, and it has tools for tracking fitness, weight, and measurements as well. Another good site is LiveStrong, and I'm sure there are many more out there.

Question of the day: Do you worry about nutrition? If so, how do you keep a balanced diet?

Friday, March 2, 2012

I love Friday!

That's right. Friday is awesome. I had a great workout tonight! I almost didn't go because work ran late so I didn't have time before dinner, and after dinner I just didn't feel like going out again. I figured I could just work out tomorrow and it would be fine. I'm glad I made myself go tonight, because putting it off until tomorrow is a bad habit to fall into. I'm also glad for working out this evening because it just went really well. I like evening workouts so far; I may just make that my regular schedule.

I started with a long warm-up, and I was feeling pretty pumped by the time I finished walking a mile. I went ahead and did a two-set workout similar to the one-set round I did on Tuesday. I worked my way through chest press, leg curl, assisted pull-up, leg extension, assisted dip, heel raises on the leg press, biceps curl, back extension, and abdominal crunch with the same weight on most as I did last time. I was able to do more repetitions in the first set tonight, followed by a brief break, and then a second set with about the number of reps I did in my sets on Tuesday. The biggest differences in my workout were the assisted pull-ups and dips. The highest weight setting is not quite high enough to sufficiently offset my weight for me to accomplish 12-15 reps of either pull-ups or dips, so I just did what I could. I'm really going to feel that in the morning, but for now I feel amazing!

Question of the day: In honor of Spring Break (no, I'm not going anywhere), what is your dream vacation?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Good Cardio Day

Today was a little gloomy, especially after what a glorious day we had here in Muncie yesterday. But it wasn't all bad. It was cool, but not too cold, so it felt great to get out and do some fitness walking. I got a decent walk in after classes, and felt invigorated by the time I got home.

I did a bit more research yesterday and today about weightlifting form and technique. My second workout is tomorrow, and I look forward to applying some of the tips I read today. One thing I know I need to work on is keeping a more steady pace from beginning to end of each repetition. Another is engaging my abs more consistently for most exercises. Resistance training takes so much more focus and concentration than I expected.

Tuesday as I was getting ready to go to the rec center, I realized I don't have any good workout music. My task for tonight is to load up my mp3 player with up-beat, high energy songs. Or maybe I'll find a book to listen to while I work out.

Question of the day: What motivates you to exercise?