Backcountry hiking, half-marathon running, fat-reducing is-it-summer-yet PLAN

I love winter.

I really, really do love winter. I play outside on my snowshoes. I find excuses to buy really awesome winter socks, and I now own three winter coats. I like frost and cold. I love the stillness of being in the woods, branches heavy with snow.

And, in the depths of this delightful deep freeze, I love, really love, planning for the summer.

I’ve had my maps out since December trying to figure out where to hike this summer, and how to work those trips around my running schedule and my girls’ adventure to Iceland and Scotland…

And the over-arching issue for all of these grand plans is simply to get in shape.

So, starting with my fabulous 37.9% body fat (erg – I should really just be calling that 38%) I need yet another plan…

Having blogged for about a year now, I’m seeing a bit of repetition… that there’s more plotting and planning than actual DOING going on a lot of the time. But being in a bit of a bind – getting chubbier again and having some big goals to kick this year – I need to get on with that DOING part.

The basic strategy for the next few months is to increase weight training and cardio while cutting calories via “clean eating”. Tah-dah. Yep, that’s it.

I’ve gone old school again, and printed out a calendar, upon which I’ve penciled in my workout schedule.  The training is essentially worked backwards from my half-marathon trail race in July and my half-marathon road race in August.  And the best part is that I reward myself with stickers on the days I work out. Oh yes, stickers work for me. And I work for stickers. (Who doesn’t love happy face stickers??)

So far, I have FOUR stickers!!!!!!!  WOOT!  And let the positive visualization begin 🙂

Inside out: the real workout plan

Soooo thinking about mind over matter, getting fit, yada yada yada…

It really is all on the inside, isn’t it?

Like, when I have logical discussions with Brain, and Brain is, like, “You should really relax with Netflix tonight and skip that workout. After all, that could be a cold coming on.”  Or, “You really deserve that birthday cake TimBit. After all, you’ve HEARD the rumours, they might DO AWAY with TimBits and this could be YOUR VERY LAST ONE. Ever.” Or simply, “Why bother.”

I coasted through last year depending on a lot of weird motivations to get me through.  Some of it was about not letting my friends down. Or being a good example to others who also wanted to get in shape and lose some weight.  Some of it was about saving face all together, or not dying in the wilderness.  {I don’t think I really was alone to battle it out until I ran that half marathon road race in the Fall.  That might have been my proudest moment of 2014.}

I’ve been trying to pin down my exact WHY behind everything. And every time I speak about it, or write it down, it doesn’t quite seem solid or motivational enough. Digging deep. Etc. Blah Blah.  But how does one start that journey to discover all the answers that are (apparently) on the inside [seriously, how do I get there?]?

The body – whole foods, good stuff only is allowed in.  Okay, that’s a start.  I know what to do. I just need to be consistent. Nourish the body and Brain.

The mind – [Are you listening, Brain???] happy thoughts, happy thoughts…. visualization, meditation, yoga?  Positive self talk?  Maybe I need some Stuart Smally affirmations (I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me…) or some Help help (you is kind, you is smart, you is important…).

The emotions – believing in oneself…right? Confidence? Ditch fear and embrace the unknown? Surround myself with people who genuinely want me to succeed, and learn to accept praise.  Explore some personal development…oh man, do I need to visit that section of Chapters??

So, there are some categories to work on. Somehow. Notes to self.

And when in doubt, there’s always Crave cupcakes. Alright – I know. Not the solution. But I did eat this over the weekend. Um, Brain said I deserved a treat…  Confessional over.

Cupcakex

 

The agony of the non-scale victory

It’s that time again. When the scale stops moving and every single pound lost is an epic battle to the death.  My weight has been fluctuating a bunch for the past two months but still comes back and settles at 200 lbs.  I don’t WANT to be 200 lbs. Anymore. Ever.

This is the part where I’m supposed to be all

  • I went on two epic backcountry hiking trips
  • The two pairs of summer pants I bought in May from Costco actually fit now, and are on the verge of being too loose
  • Upper body muscle tone is developing slowly but surely
  • I set a personal best for a 5K
  • I feel stronger when I run
  • Blah blah blah

I am simply ungrateful for these changes.

I want to be 50 lbs lighter.

Anyway.  I’m back into running/training mode in order to not die on my next big race.  It’s a 21ish km road race in the mountains at the end of September, and I’d like to finish in a respectable time. My 25K trail race in May took me 4 hours…ahaaa.  I’m aiming for about 3.0 hrs on this next race.  Just a nice steady run.

My PiYo workouts have been terrific for building strength and improving my flexibility.  PiYo kind of surprises you that way. You think nothing is happening but suddenly you’re stronger, more flexible, have endurance, etc.

Over the long weekend, I took the opportunity to clean out my closest to get ready for fall. I love fall. To heck with the lazy days of summer. Fall is fresh, new, clean – truly the start of my new year is September rather than January.  But I digress.

Clothes.  I decided to clean out all my XXL summer clothes from the closet, because by the time next summer rolls around, those won’t fit. Heck, they don’t fit now! They hang off me but I wear them because that’s what I have.

I got out the blue recycling bags and trudged upstairs.  I dug deep into the closet for every last stitch. Shirts, sweater, skirts. XXL. Gone. Into the donation bag.  Some things I’d never even worn, because ultimately, I’d bought them only because they fit but I, in fact, hated them.  In fact, I have a lot of clothes I bought only because they fit. That’s just crap. It steals away who you are. Your identity and self-expression.

But enough whining. The clothes are culled, and I’m left with a skeleton crew of some pants and skirts, and a few sweaters (some of which are still too big but I need SOMETHING to wear to work…).  I started digging through my fall clothes to be proactive and weed out the  big ones, and was delighted to find a bag dedicated to items that were once all too small!  Most of them I can now FIT. Woot.

So, not much has changed since my July weigh-in.  And I apologize for forgetting August – I was in the backcountry at that point and had no Internet or inclination to share stagnant results. [Insert sad face]

For NO EXCUSES SEPTEMBER, the game plan is to lose 6 pounds. SIX. POUNDS.  That shouldn’t be too hard, right? I’m going back on the 21 Day Fix nutrition plan, and my workouts will be running, PiYo and the occasional 21 Day Fix workout.

Partners & peeps – embrace the revolution

So, you’re on this journey. Of health, fitness, well-being and overall awesomeness.  And you co-habituate or have a delightful significant other with whom you spend copious amounts of time. And they are not with the program.

Maybe they’re quietly observing from the sidelines.

Maybe you’ve had to turn down a meal or activity you’ve typically done in the past. (Ask me about the endless bags of potato chips that regularly appear on my kitchen counter. It’s like we have a tree in the back yard or something.)

Maybe you’d like to be doing something physical while they’d rather engage in a more sedentary activity.

Maybe they bring home unhealthy snacks and treats and drinks, and eat them while gazing deeply into your eyes.

When you change and are getting stronger, it can be threatening. Empowering for you, but a danger to them. Why? Well – its change, baby. You’re rocking the boat, kicking the hive. You’ve decided to move in a new direction for your own health and well-being. It takes everyone out of their comfort zone.

It’s possible they think they’ll lose you or perhaps it’s triggering something negative in them.

While I’m full on supportive of all-around heath, take it slow and keep it low when introducing the new you to your husband, wife, bestie, etc. Don’t hide it under a bushel, mind you (own it! be proud! love it!) but don’t flaunt it in front of those who could be struggling with both the new YOU and their own desire to make a change. They may not be quite ready yet.

You don’t owe anybody your energy: if they’re sucking you dry, step quietly away from the negativity. Surround yourself with like-minded people, and don’t return to the old gang for affirmation when chances are, you’re clearly not going to get it.

Stick to it. You know, there are people out there watching. Watching to see if you can hang on to this new you. Might be for a month, might be for a year before they acknowledge your efforts and accomplishments. Be that awesome example for them and everyone around you.

Re-phrase your thoughts. Rather than saying to them “I can’t eat that” or “I have to go work out”, try “I want to eat something with more nutrition” or “I’m making time to work out.” Just flip it a bit.  Invite them to try something with you.  Embrace your positive spin and love that you’re being healthy – don’t resent the fact you “can’t” eat ice cream and binge watch 8 seasons of something on Netflix. (Haha – not that that’s a HORRIBLE thing…sometimes we do need to flake out…)

Sometimes this road can be really lonely. Whether you want to start, but your partner doesn’t; or whether you’re already travelling this path… At those times, it seems like you may as well just sit on your ass and do nothing. Don’t fall for that.

Just keep going.

Never give up.

Well, that was a little visit to the soapbox, wasn’t it?

 

 

21 Day Fix review

21 Day Fix is an at-home workout and meal portioning program by trainer (and bikini competitor!) Autumn Calabrese, who promises that you can lose up to 15 lbs in just three weeks, or your money back. (Everyone loves a good money-back guarantee, yes?)

Why I love it
In brief – it taught me proper portion sizes and got me working out daily.

My results
With the 21 Day Fix I lost 5.5 inches and 7.5 lbs in three weeks.

Who will benefit
The 21 Day Fix is a very basic regime of workouts and healthy eating. If you want to…

  • Kick start an epic weight loss journey
  • Get off a weight loss plateau
  • Gain better shape and muscle tone
  • Learn portion control
  • Lose a few pounds and tighten up before a holiday or special event
  • Create healthy habits that will last a lifetime
  • Change up your workout routine with short, 30-minute pops

What’s the scoop?
The Fix comes with a Getting Started guide and a set of seven 30-minute DVD workouts. You receive coloured boxes of varying proportions which all correspond to food categories:

  • Green – veggies
  • Purple – fruit
  • Red – protein
  • Yellow – carbs
  • Blue – healthy fats
  • Orange – seeds, dressings
  • Plus “teaspoons” – oils

Work out your caloric needs through the formula provided in the guide (all based on your current weight), and then you’ll know how many coloured boxes you need per day.  You’re encouraged to drink loads of water, and you can still have your daily dose of caffeine through coffee and tea.  Treats like wine, trail mix, dark chocolate can be worked into the plan, but not in huge quantities.  The guide also provides lists of food for each coloured box, and a few recipes.

You don’t have to eat bulgur and broccoli every day.  I even had a pizza last night using pita bread for the crust, tomato sauce, cheese, ham, peppers and onions…all portioned to fit in the boxes.  You can eat what you want, as long as it fits in those boxes! I was not hungry on this program. If anything, there were days I struggled to eat all that was allocated to me! AND – I was not perfect. There was an incident with a tub of coconut Greek yogurt that shall not be brought up again…

The workout DVDs are only 30 minutes each = no excuses!  The workout schedule assigns specific workouts to each day of the week.

  • Total Body Cardio Fix – cardio conditioning from top to bottom
  • Upper Fix – fab workout for the arms and abs
  • Lower Fix – legs and calves, lunging and stuff
  • Pilates Fix – harder than it sounds, man. Wait until you “mix the bowl.”
  • Cardio Fix – heart rate is on! Work those compound moves.
  • Dirty 30 – a little bit of everything
  • Yoga Fix – wonderful stretching after a hard week

The program has a few bonus materials, such as Autumn’s 30 minute PLYO workout (jumping!) + a 10-minute ab workout, a 3-day fix eating plan for gotta-look-good events (reunion? Photo shoot?), and a Shakeology shaker cup for making shakes.

Pros:

  • I learned to eyeball portion sizes much more accurately.  I know now when I’m going overboard on something. And you get to eat real food: no food in a box, no low-cal diet foods…only real, whole foods = clean eating.
  • The workouts are only 30 minutes, and the sequence day after day works over your whole body for clearly defined results. Each workout has a modifier – if you can’t do the full range, there are alternatives demo’d nicely.
  • Autumn reviews each move before she does it.  There is no quick-change flow from one to another, she ensures that you keep your form so that you max that particular exercise. This means a lot to me – there are gym classes and workout DVDs where I stare at the screen trying to see how they do it, and by the time I figure it out, they move on.
  • This is a long-term weight loss & fitness program! Totally sustainable.

Cons:

  • Stretch times post-workout were not very long; I’d suggest adding your own.
  • You do need to have a yoga mat and a set of light/heavy weights or a resistance band to maximize the workouts. Sold separately! (I suppose this isn’t a HUGE con, but if you went into this budget minded you’d need to splash out a little extra if you didn’t already have these things.)
  • The promise of losing up to 15 lbs is somewhat accurate. If you are going from overweight couch potato to 21 Day Fix, you probably will lose upwards of that amount, no problem. If you’re already fairly fit, you will probably see inches lost, but you won’t have 15 lbs fall off immediately.

Shakeology is a “daily dose of dense nutrition” and is a highly recommended but optional part of the 21 Day Fix. It is a meal replacement shake. Now, it took me three months before I even told anyone I was using this stuff, because in my mind replacing a meal with a supplement was weird.  Well, Shakeo is chock full of superfoods, gives me more energy and kills my cravings.  I love it.  Sometimes I use it for breakfast, other times as a post-workout refresher.  I suggest you use it with the 21 Day Fix (once a day) but that’s completely optional.

Overall, in my challenge group, two of my challengers lost more than 15 lbs each in three weeks. The remaining challengers averaged 2.5 lbs a week.  All great results when the scale heads south!

I love this program enough that I’m doing another round. Like I said, it’s more a lifestyle than a one-off. I would recommend this to everyone, it’s that flexible and sustainable.

Here are my final stats after Round 1 from Day 0 -> Day 21:     

Weight:    207.5 lbs -> 200 lbs
Chest:       41 inches -> 41 inches
R Arm:     13.5 inches -> 13 inches
L. Arm:    13.5 inches -> 13 inches
Waist:       43.5 inches -> 41.5 inches
Hips:         48 inches -> 46.5 inches
R. Thigh:  25 inches -> 24.5 inches
L. Thigh:  25 inches -> 24.5 inches

If you want to pick up the 21 Day Fix, here is the challenge pack link with Shakeology @ $160 USD, and here is the base kit program without Shakeology @ $59.85 USD.  I’ll be here to cheer you on!  Would love to hear your experiences with 21 Day Fix, or field any questions you’ve got – feel free to post below.

Pushing through barriers

Pain of overweightTotally stoked about the Week 5 (do-over) of my couch to half marathon training plan. I made every single training day – woot – and was very careful with my eating/drinking!!

Here are the highlights:

Your mind will quit 100 times before your body ever does.  Feel the pain and do it anyway.

I’ve started paying attention to when I start wanting to throw in the towel when I’m running. Most times, my breathing is okay, my legs are coping, etc. I can still run, but Brain just says, “Hey girl, you’ve already run long enough. You deserve a break.” I’m trying to push past that. It’s hard. But I’m doing it bit by bit.

After you think “Holy shit, I can’t!” Stop and think “Holy shit, I just did.”

This Saturday was my 5 miler on the treadmill.  That is a loooong way for me.  And I did it. There was walking – no doubt! But I finished it in one hour and ten minutes. And then I could go to the hot tub.  That same day, I clocked 31K steps on my FitBit. Yesssssssss.

Fitness is 20% exercise and 80% nutrition.  You can’t outrun your fork.

This week I tried to view food as fuel… tying it in with my training plan, I looked to what my body needed in order to run properly, but without adding in too many empty calories.  Everything I put in my mouth had a purpose, with the exception of two cappuccinos (with sugar!) which were a total treat.

I think I like who I am becoming.

I’m the first to admit that I latch on to something, do it for a while, accomplish a few goals, then move on.  I’d like to think that my “project fitness 2014” is a little more than that.  It’s nice to feel proud of myself, and to be healthier.

Here’s to starting Week 6 of half-marathon training!

Don’t think, just do

One of those weeks, just after you pledge yourself to a new fitness goal, and whammo!

Work gets in the way of life. Life gets in the way of plans.

Getting up at 0500 hrs to get to the gym only worked for two of five work days. My brain totally was a pain in the ass. If I allowed myself to THINK in the wee hours of the morning, I could talk myself into the snooze button, or the logic of “Gee, you seem tired. Maybe take a rest day.” {Note to self, there is no thinking permitted for February}  Of course, for each of the three days I missed, I pledged to get there in the evening for a class or spot of time on the treadmill. No go.

Dead of winter, 0500 hrs - do I really want to get out of bed??

Dead of winter, 0500 hrs – do I really want to get out of bed??

Missed supper twice due to staying late at work. Found myself ogling an old Chinese lady on the train who pulled out a Pop Tart from her bag and was nibbling it top down, making the silver wrapping crinkle. I suddenly wanted that refined fake crazy processed food. Mmmmm Pop Tart.

All shocking. Sigh.

But, good things did happen despite missing CRITICAL GYM TIME:

 

  • Internet whining due to lack of foundational garment support has resulted in a set of Champion sports bras materializing in my possession.  Thanks to the generosity of Ms. A. there shall be RUNNING this weekend on the treadmill.
  • Pineapple was the starring ingredient in this week’s smoothie set.  I picked up a ginormous bag of frozen pineapple at Costco and thoroughly enjoy the fresh flavour and the way this fruit thickens up a smoothie. Ingredients: Pineapple, OJ, vanilla almond milk, banana. Optional items: ice, yogurt and/or ginger.  Love the heat of the ginger with the freshness of the pineapple.
  • Got an email from my Spartan/mud run buddy, Ms. N. who wants to look at some spring and summer goals and wowza, we might have a good one.   Stay tuned.

It’s a new MONTH, peeps!   I will do a “last chance workout” at the gym, then weigh myself.  Let’s see if one month of … (well, I wouldn’t say trying hard, because despite my good intentions I certainly slacked right some good) … MODERATE EFFORT has made a difference.