What's with the name?

What's with the name? In my mid-twenties, I had essentially gone through one kind of life and am starting to enter another. The people that are probably going to read this blog know exactly what I'm talking about - but for those who don't know, here's a brief rundown . Cheers to Chapter 2! A journey in health in many ways, and to be the best version of myself I can possibly be. I am also a blogger for GreenMommas.com. This is my blog.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Welcome to Ab Challenge August [has it really been 5 months already?]

July Progress: -8 lbs / -36 lbs total

8 spin classes
5 Bodypump classes
25 miles tracked on RunKeeper (walk/run/hike combined)

As month five of my health quest comes to a close, I'm starting to realize how many great new habits I am forming and how my mindset has really changed. Case and point : I packed my gym bag for Monday morning with two t-shirts and no workout pants! I was mid-change in the locker room as was completely bummed that I wasn't going to be able to do my spin class. But hey, no excuses right? Don't worry, I did not do a spin class with no pants! I thought of ways to overcome this mini 'challenge', though. There was another spin class at 1 (I had signed up for the noon class) so what could I do to make it to that one? I thought about just going back to my desk but the idea of not getting my Monday workout in was just not acceptable. So this is what I did - I took the world's shortest shopping trip to TJ Maxx up on Shelburne rd. I darted in there, grabbed a pair of $7.99 workout capris and headed back in to work - I did this all in 10 minutes. I completed the 1pm spin class. That's some hard-core dedication if I do say so myself :). I mean, it's not like I didn't need some more workout clothes anyway, right? I'm at the point where no excuse is acceptable anymore. In fact, I realize how great I feel when I get a good workout that I get pretty upset if I'm going to go a day without it. Five months ago, I would've really enjoyed just hanging out on the couch on a Sunday, relaxing. But on Sunday we did a 3 mile trail hike with Landon, which I definitely enjoyed.

July was a pretty good month. I'm back on the weight loss train! Not like I was ever off but I pulled a pretty high loss this month of 8lbs. I was on point with my workouts - I even had a few weeks where I did more than five workouts, my eating was great. I would've like to have done more like 10 spin classes, however the studio was closed 1/2 of last week so I got more running in than I planned. I did splurge for the first time in a long time during my birthday weekend. The drinks were going down smooth and I did have some mac & cheese (gasp!) for the first time since March. Once every four months having pasta and delicious cheese is really not going to throw me off track. It's a manageable healthy lifestyle [with very planned indulgences]. So here we go, in to August. I really wanted to set some goals in stone [on the blog] to work towards. Seeing how I am obsessed with Pinterest these days, the idea came pretty quickly : Ab Challenge August! YES!

This is the Ab Challenge I'm doing. I'm shooting for three times a week on top of my normal routine. Why Abs, you ask? Now, we all know I am light years away from a six pack. This is more about strengthening my core to aid the fat-burning process in that whole stomach area [that is a massive trouble area for me!]. Plus, between bodypump and the spin & sculpt classes I feel like I am getting plenty of arm/back/leg strength training. A great core workout is what I'm lacking in my training plan [that's what I'm going to call it from now on]. I did a trial run of this ab routine, I barely made it half-way through without stopping from fatigue, so it will be quite a challenge indeed. I will be tracking my stomach and hip inches to see if I actually make an improvement with this strategy.

August Fitness Goals [July plan with the Ab Challenge added]:
Ab Challenge workout 3X/week
Spin 2-3X/week
Bodypump - once a week
Quick 30min run 1-2X/week
Long walk once a week

Weight loss goal :
-7.5 lbs [-43 total] Who's hitting the the 40lb mark this month? ME!

Nutrition Goals:
Keep on course - less booze!

Please follow along, or feel free to do the Ab Challenge with me so I have someone to complain to about how sore I am! Oh, and feel free to check out my Workout playlist on Spotify. I'm always updating!

Pinspiration for August : 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Week 22 Recap

Before I get to the recap, let's have a moment of silence for all those people who take shortcuts with their weight loss - you know, like magic pills, diet fads, etc., etc. They somehow lose weight by seemingly not changing their lifestyle. I don't know about you, but when I get the body I dream of, that I know is hidden inside me somewhere (and it's not a matter of 'if', just 'when', because it WILL happen) I think that people will probably inquire about how I did it. Maybe they'll ask me my 'secret'. And this is what I will say : I changed my lifestyle, made sacrifices and healthy decisions not once in awhile, but EVERY day. I pushed myself and sweat like crazy working hard a minimum of 5 days a week, sometimes more than that. I MADE the time, I MADE myself a priority. I researched the right foods to eat, I adjusted my food intake based on what my body was telling me. Because when (and not if) I get to the top of this fitness/health mountain I am climbing, I want to know that I created this body of mine, just me. It was my own doing and hard work, not because of shortcuts or doctors or dangerous extremes. Enough about that....

Week 22 aka my birthday week hooray! Since I have started losing weight, I have been trying to hold myself back from buying any new clothes. However, soon it's going to be necessary. Enter a good reason to spend a little dough on myself : birthday cash. I've ordered a cute dress for my birthday night, four sizes smaller than  the last 'sized' dress I bought (numbers, not letters). It's the smallest I've been in about 3 years. It was delivered to me on Wednesday, and I immediately pulled it out of the box. I actually slipped it over the dress I was wearing, without even unzipping the side - and it FIT! This was not a stretchy material either, sort of chiffon-like. Not only that, it was a little big, I probably could have ordered another size smaller. WHAT!?! - so exiting. First new item of clothing I purchased since I have been losing weight and it was kind of big. It's a pretty rare occasion where I over estimate the size I am. I digress...back to the recap.

This week I had fun working out! I received a Polar heart rate monitor as a birthday gift, which allows me to see a) my heart rate at all times and b) calories burned in a workout. I've been sort of guessing the calorie burn (based on time input and my current weight on MyFitnessPal app). Now I have a much more accurate number. I also was given a 10 class pass for boot camp! Hoping to start that soon.

Workout this week:
Monday : Spin & Sculpt class/20 min. on the elliptical

Tuesday: Bodypump (burned 325 cal)/Treadmill jog hike (361 cal) = 686 calories burned!

Wednesday : Lunch walk 2.8 miles (280 cal)/evening walk 2.2 miles (280 cal) = 560 calories burned!

Thursday : Bodypump (465 cal)

Friday : Day off

This was an extraordinary cool experiment. The two bodypump classes were the same this week, but at Thursday's class I made it an absolute point to push myself.  I found, somewhere, the athlete in me. During the lunge track (towards the end of the class) I actually caught myself smiling during the last set of squat jumps, realizing the pure power my legs had. If you don't know what squat jumps are, they are exactly what they sound like, a squat and a jump, then back in to the squat, and so on, and so on. I jumped higher and squatted deeper with each rep, sweat pouring in to my eyes and my legs burning. I kept telling myself : turn the pain in to strength, and I did it. I forgot about the pain and found my stride. While others in the class were stopping, I jumped higher and let my muscles catapult me in to the air. I may have only jumped a foot off the ground but it felt like five. My hard work was rewarded with 145 extra calories burned than the class on Tuesday. A heart rate monitor was a brilliant idea as a gift. I can't wait to try it with the spin classes so I know which burns the most!

Instead of telling you about the food I'm eating this week, I'll just show you a picture of my fridge:

Now in case you can't see it (I know it's a crappy pic) -

Top Shelf: Blackberries/Strawberries, tomatoes from the garden, broccoli from the garden, OJ (for Landon), pickles (made with cukes from the garden), Raw milk from Family Cow Farmstand (YUM!)
Middle shelf: Butter (you sure as heck won't catch margarine in my fridge), chard, kale, cukes and beans (all from the garden)
Bottom shelf: Hard boiled eggs, light bread (35 cal/slice), sour cream, pork/steak
Drawers: Squash (from the garden), garlic scapes (from the farmer's market).

Let's just forget about those frappaccinos - I got them for camping, had one, and haven't touched them since. From this picture I can say about 90% of the food in here is local, fresh and organic. My breakfast, lunch and dinner will all have food from this stash this week. I rarely eat anything out of the cabinet - if I do it's organic rice. This is a fridge I am proud of, with many things that were grown by us! Also you may notice there is nothing 'low-fat' or lean protein. Never fear! I have shrimp in the freezer and usually have some sort of poultry for lunch from the cafe. But remember, the fat content of the meal is actually what keeps you full. So no, I don't eat bone-dry chicken breast all the time. I'll take a steak or some pork any day of the week! Fat is good, as a country we absolutely need to get over making everything low fat - it's not natural, and definitely not as tasty.

So, has my hard work paid off this month? On the scale this morning I was down another 2lbs this week, 7.5 total for July! That's 35.5 total! My official weigh in day isn't until Monday and I'll finish off the month with a progress post.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Week 21 Recap

Alright, so I'm going to try and start doing some weekly recaps on my fitness/food for the week. Perhaps you'll be annoyed by it or maybe inspired, I'm not sure. But this is really for me - so I can pinpoint what's working (or the less desirable - what's not).

This week I did three spin classes (two spin & sculpt and one crazy hour of cyctone), a bodypump class and ran/walked a total of 8 1/2 miles over three different days. Wow that sounds like a lot, doesn't it? Now, the spin classes each have at least 15 min of strength training in the routine, and bodypump is pretty much 50 minutes of strength training. If you're wondering what the day spread it looks like this :

Monday : 3.25 mile run in the morning/Spin at lunchtime
Tuesday : Bodypump at lunchtime
Wednesday : 2.6 mile run in the morning/Spin at lunchtime
Thursday : Usually my day 'off' and I do a walk at lunchtime - this week 2.6 miles
Friday : My favorite calorie burning, super-intense class cyctone!

This week I found I really needed that 'day off'. My run on Wednesday morning was not the best, I was pretty sore - but, whatever, I still did it. Probably too much working out but I'm in it for the results people! I tend to work out more so I can drink a few extra glasses of wine, you know? This week especially when I had plans to meet up with three of my good friend separately, for drinks. Trust me when I tell you those extra workouts are going to be handy.

I feel pretty good about what I ate this week. I stuck to the old standby of two hard-boiled eggs  and a cup of berries for breakfast, some sort of light protein and veggie for lunch (except for Thursday I had a 1/2 buffalo chicken sandwich which was crazy good - still only half a sandwich so maybe 300 calories). Sometimes I have a starch with lunch like potatoes or rice, but I'll only do this if I had just completed a workout - your body burns carbs best right after! Dinner - again - protein & veggie. This week it was ham, pork chops, meatballs with a garden-fresh veggie. Although I DID go out last night to wish my dear friend Jackie farewell, as she's moving to Scotland, and had a couple gravy fries & fried shrimp. YUP. Not much, but tasty indeed!

Here's where the workouts were handy - I  had maybe 6 glasses of wine this week, and a Woodchuck. But, with the two extra runs I did this week I can almost forget I had those, you see how that works?

Hopefully there will be great results when I weigh in on Monday, then I'll update the post! I weigh myself on Mondays because I take a two day break from any sort of strength training (which can sometimes make me appear to weigh more the day after!)

In other news, I do believe I have found the perfect homemade deodorant solution - finally! If you've been reading the blogs I have tried lemon juice. However I had to make sure I put in on a while before my clothes, it did end up lightening some of the fabrics. It worked OK, but didn't really hold up to an intense workout. Next, I tried witch hazel and lemon essential oil. Kind of the same deal, just didn't lighten my clothes. Now - to the solution, and again I have only Crunchbetty.com to thank for this one!

Here's what I mixed up last night:
1/4 cup baking soda
1/4 cup cornstarch
5 tb coconut oil (you'll have to warm it up to get it to liquid form)
Essential oils (I put about 8 drops orange & 8 drops lemon in my mix)

Let me tell you this was sooo easy to make, it took me all of 2 minutes, and it's super cheap, so now you have no excuses not to try it. I put mine in a recycled container and applied just a pea-sized amount of it this morning. This formula is cyctone tested! Meaning it held up nicely to a really hard-core workout. I wasn't smelly or drenched! It probably works better, at least for me, then those 'clincal strength' formulas in the store that are like $10 - I kid you not. If only I could find an empty deodorant container to put it in so I can put it on without having to use my fingers. Now I can use my neat little witch hazel/lemon essential oil blend to carry in my gym bag and just use a a deodorant 'refresher' after working out - genius!

Stay tuned, week 21 weigh in is imminent. UPDATE: Week 21 weigh in - 1.5 lb lost last week, 5.5lbs in July, 33.1 lbs total lost since March!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Remember, Enjoy, Think About

If I ask my self ever
If I can go on any further
If I can push any harder
If I really should eat or drink that
If the work is worth it

Remember stretching out my clothes so they would fit
Remember looking in the mirror and wanting to look away
Remember that before shot staring back at me
Remember un-tagging awful pictures
Remember thinking I was pretty only from the neck up
Remember getting on a spin bike thinking I was going to break it
Remember being uncomfortable in my own skin, everywhere.

Enjoy how far I've come
Enjoy the journey, the sweat, the work
Enjoy how much stronger I am
Enjoy lifting more weight than the guy in the class next to me
Enjoy a redefined face with a chin an cheek bones
Enjoy that slimmer profile view
Enjoy sore - the physical feeling of accomplishment

Think about how much I want this
Think about single digit pant sizes
Think about being that hot mommy
Think about shopping in whatever store I want
Think about the people I can inspire
Think about hearing 'you look great'
Think of being proud of the body I've created....

Pick up the pace. Push harder. Lift more. Get up early. Put that 'treat' down. Eat well. Make the time.

The reasons are endless. The reward is great.

Monday, July 16, 2012

An experiment in variety [Stepping it up a notch]

Let's start with a recap of this weekend, so you all know I am far from perfect when it comes to my weight loss plan. We went camping this weekend, packed the cooler and forgot to bring any vegetables. My diet this entire weekend consisted of bread, meat and Woodchuck hard cider (there was one banana and a few hard-boiled eggs in there). I had a s'more and a half, and a few extra marshmallows. I'm not perfect. But, I didn't feel all that crappy about my eating this weekend. We walked a lot. Setting up and breaking down camp took some [sweaty] effort. I swam for probably about 3 hours and have the sunburn to prove it. You see, it's all about balance and you have to allow yourself to indulge (in six 200 calorie Woodchucks) once in a grand while. But I still got some exercise in. Another two pounds down this week (four total this month). The scale was nice to me this week again - maybe I just sweat off a lot this weekend in mid-90s heat, not sure, but I'll assume it's fat loss!

This week, I'm trying to challenge myself again with a few '2 workout' days just like I was doing in month two of my weight-loss competition. This morning, after weeks of swearing to myself I was going to get up early and run, I actually did. My alarm went off at 6am, and 10 min later I was out the door, in 90% humidity, head phones cranked up and ready to go. I was going to do a 'quick run' but I was going strong and not in pain after finishing the first mile in 11 minutes. So, I kept going for 3.25 miles...in 41 minutes. Geez, I am so much faster than I used to be. The second half of the run was much more of a run/walk and I really had to talk myself through it. Around mile 2 the left side of my headphones died, probably from a ton of sweat (could be that they're seven years old, as well). Without the music blasting in my ear it was hard to get motivated. But I did. And the last half mile I averaged a 7.0 mph speed. Even my neighbors gave me a strange look when I was running back to my door, dripping with sweat and frizzed-out hair at 7am. Ya, I know guys, I should probably run more. But it was a really good run, I got sweaty like a man and boy did that cold shower feel extra good this morning. But it felt GOOD. I have to pinpoint what helped me pull myself out of bed, out of the air conditioning and into the mugginess this morning. I HAVE to do that again this week, if not two more times. Also made it to my usual lunchtime spin class today. More sweat, lots of it.

I'm hoping the extra effort will really help me lose double digits in a month. That's what I really want. So far it's been 9 - 8 - 7 - 4. I did go on vacation in month four, but still, that's not a good direction to go in. I need to give it more effort this month. I'm hoping adding in the cardio variety of running on top of my spin classes will really make that scale budge! Or maybe I need to do more strength training. The experiment continues...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The visuals : 4 months before/after photos

Lucky for me I convinced myself to do a 'before' photo at the start of our weight-loss competition. Once I received the 'before' photo in my inbox, I stared at it, I was mad. Surely the photo must have been accidentally stretched horizontally? No, it wasn't. I was angry. I closed it after about 30 seconds vowing it would be my motivator.

This morning (Day 133) I thought I was looking kind of cute before I left for work, so I said why not take a picture of myself in my full-length mirror. The picture I took this morning didn't look too bad, but I thought it wouldn't be a lot different than my starting photo. After all, I'm only about 30% through with my journey. I put the two photos side-by-side and got this:

Look! I have a chin and a neck! And a much smaller tummy. Seeing these two photos side by side made me, well, really proud. Sometimes I don't notice the little changes and get frustrated that I'm not seeing more results. Well, this is results people. The hard evidence : photos. I still am not entirely a fan of the way I look and know I have much farther to go, but honestly, look what I've done in 133 days! LOOK! [Starting to tear up a little right now]. And just for the record, I am still angry about that before photo. Super mad. But I started there, and committed to myself and look what happened. 

I promise there will be more progress photos to come!

Friday, July 6, 2012

When kale becomes your new favorite thing [A Reflection - 4 months in]

I had my final weigh-in of our weight loss [Slim it to win it] competition on Monday. Although I only lost 4 pounds in June, I lost 28 total - in four months! I was stuck on the four pounds though - I had been losing twice that in a months' time in the previous three months. When I start not to see the results I want, that's when I tend to waiver in my fitness/nutrition plan. I get frustrated too easily.

In attempt to shake off my frustration with my 'measly' four pounds, I tried to focus on other accomplishments. What could I do today that I couldn't four months ago? The list started forming quickly. I had jogged a 5k in the last week of June in under 40 minutes (thats about 6 min shorter than when I first tried to attempt it earlier this year in much more of a walk/slow jog style). Ok. Well, that's pretty good. I can tackle a full set of tricep dips - actually lifting most of my body weight up and down with that muscle group in stead of resting my butt on the step and just pretending because I was too heavy to lift the weight, and not strong enough. Hmmm, better. I can hold my own weight up in a wall sit for a minute even with a 10lb weight on my lap. Without going on and on, you get the point here. I am very noticeably STRONGER. Which means I have not only lost pounds of fat, but in that four months had gained a ton [not literally] of muscle. That IS an accomplishment. I try not to focus on the number so much, the scale can definitely be one of my best friends or my worst enemy depending on the day.

Back on the scale this morning - already down another 2lbs this week - which means - 30lbs!!!@@@!!! Pretty cool. This afternoon I went to get lunch and saw the kale at the cafe. My brain had this reaction that told my stomach 'kale sounds delicious'. Decadent, almost. I had to chuckle a little at this though, my body is actually craving good healthy food. Yes, it still sometimes craves junk. Kale (fresh from our garden) is probably one of my favorite things to eat right now.

A lot has happened in four months, and it went by fast. I have to remember this as I continue on (hoping to meet my ultimate goal by March 2013). A little bragging here - I was #5 out of 81 people in our weight loss competition. I didn't win, but I felt like I did, and that's what matters.

A few weeks ago, I made laundry soap for the first time. It was SO easy, and cheap. Washing soda, borax, castile soap, water. That's it. It cleans clothes so well! You won't even need dryer sheets - the static is non-existent. If you want (like I did), you can add a few drops of essential oil(s), but I found you won't smell it on your clothes anyway. Here's the recipe I used if you're interested:

Melt 1 cup castile soap shavings in 16oz of water in a large pot
Add 1 cup borax and 1 cup washing soda
Add 1 gallon water to the pot, heat until everything is incorporated
Let cool completely then add 5-10 drops essential oils if you like)

This was actually a half batch, I couldn't commit to 2+ gallons of laundry soap nor did I have a place to store it. My first batch was a little chunky because I put a whole bar of soap in it and not a cup like the recipe called for, but it works just fine, you just have to shake it up a bit before adding it to your load of wash. This is about $4 to make over a gallon, which is about 5 cents a load if you're curious. You can buy almost all the ingredients at a grocery store in the cleaning isle. Dr. Bronners castile soap bars are $2.99 at City Market in Burlington - cheap! I finally found some glycerin to make liquid hand soap (also at City Market), but still on the hunt for citric acid for my dishwasher soap. May have to order that, but I hear it's a super great shower cleaner as well!

Just something before I end this post : if you're trying to lose weight, realize that it's going to take lots of time, effort, sweat, and changing of habits. I am surely no expert on the matter, and I've tried time and time again but what has changed this time is the commitment. I find all the work has been worth it. Grabbing that dress from the back of your closet that you couldn't wear in years because it was way too small, then slipping it on and realizing it fits again - is a great feeling. You'll forget about all the work and the soreness. YOU are absolutely worth the effort.