Monday, July 30, 2007
A picture of my running route in better weather.
Went out for a rainy run at 8:30 pm tonight, & thus completed Run 1 of Week 2 (CT5K program) . It felt good. Very refreshing to run in the rain, especially after the hot days we've been having.
Week 2's interval program is comprised of a 5 minute warm-up walk, and then alternates between intervals of 90 minute runs & 2 minute walks, & ends with a 5 minute cool-down walk.
Saturday, July 28, 2007
Further evidence of exercise curbing one's appetite: I had "big eyes" at dinner & ordered a whole tuna cosmo (i.e., grinder) but could only eat half of it. (So I had it wrapped up in a doggie bag to take home. Looks like it'll be tomorrow's lunch.)
And I didn't even exercise today. But it looks like all of the exercise I did in the week is obviously having an effect. Yipee!
It appears that my stomach is shrinking.
Also, on a completely unrelated note, I got several compliments today on "how good I looked." The compliments feel great. It's interesting to note that my weight loss is becoming more noticeable to others. Although I'm not tremendously overweight to begin with & have been thin for most of my life, it still feels really good for people to take notice & make positive comments on the changes.
So far, I've walked with two different friends, and am slated to walk with yet another friend next week. It's been really great on two levels: It gives us the chance to catch up & the scenic park serves as inspiration for fitness & also helps the after-work decompression process.
By my efforts, I hope that I can inspire some of my friends to work out more regularly & to find joy in the process of physically remaking themselves into a "tower of power"!
Friday, July 27, 2007
The Tanita Body-Fat Scale (I highly recommend it!)
Just a brief comment on the idea of weighing ourselves during the weight-loss process. A lot of people counsel to only weigh yourself once a week, etc., versus weighing yourself every day. The thinking behind this approach is that, if you do weigh yourself every day, you'll become discouraged by the ups & downs of the scale readings. Well, I'm not so sure about that.
I think a better, more realistic approach is to do what works for you psychologically, & to pick a consistent time of day to hop on the scale. By this of course, I mean that, since you know yourself best & how you generally approach the process of weight-loss & maintenance, you must find a way that allows you the best chances of success.
Here's what I find works best for me: I don't like to focus too much on the scale, but I still think it's a valuable tool for gauging weight-loss over a longer-range period of time. [As we all know by now, the best scales are usually digital (i.e., they don't need any "tuning" or "resetting" like the old fashioned ones), & measure your body fat.] I weigh myself in the morning, before breakfast & only after I've "emptied the tank" so to speak. That usually yields the most accurate weight measurement for me.
Now, while I don't weigh myself every day, I do tend to weigh myself after feeling particularly "victorious" or good about a workout or the way I've been eating. This doesn't always produce outcomes which match my inner feelings of joy, but I've gotten to the point where I can look past the numbers.
For example: Two days ago, the scale read that I was a half-pound lighter, & today, it reads that not only have I gained that half pound back, but that I've got two more pounds on me. I felt OK about that, because I take the long view & know that I'm generally heading in the downward direction. I know that there are many factors to consider (what I ate/drank last night, my muscle mass, etc.), & am reassured by the fact that I look & feel slimmer.
I don't really care that I've gained weight today. Over the past two weeks, I've hit a set-point, gone below it, gone above it, gone further below it, & gone up again. In other words, I know that, since I've already dropped a dress size that I should pay attention to the overall trend of what the scale tells me instead of the daily fluctuations.
So in summation, my advice is to weigh yourself at regular intervals with a technologically advanced scale that gives you other data than just total body weight (i.e., total body fat, water weight, etc.) & to ignore daily weight fluctations. Use other measurements as well -- i.e., a tape measure, how your clothes fit you (particularly your pants), etc., & you'll most likely just feel fine about yourself! After all, building "mental toughness" is part of the fitness/weight-loss process just as much as building one's self-esteem & confidence!
Phew, I've become a super-exerciser this week! Three CT5K workouts & 2 walks! Yesterday I walked 4.25 miles again at the same location, but with a different friend this time. Again, it was a great feeling to walk & talk, & before we knew it, we'd done 4.25 miles. My friend & I hadn't seen each other in a while so there was lots to talk about.
Each workout/walk I do seems to get easier, which feels GREAT! (No, I'm not Tony the Tiger, thank you very much.) I can see my leg muscles becoming tighter, & am starting to feel a bit more peppy throughout my day. This is really incentive to keep going forward with my program!
As for my eating habits, I notice that my appetite has been curbed slightly by my workouts. For dinner (yesterday), I had 2 small bowls of home-made carrot soup (i.e., made with low-fat soy milk, not cream), a sheet of matzo, & a piece of cheese. I hadn't really eaten much throughout the day except for a half a (small) bag of carrots. Guess carrots were the theme of the day yesterday! ;-) I drank lots of water & whoops -- forgot to take my vitamins again. Got to get better about that.
As for reaching my other short-term goals, I have yet to do push-ups & free-weights but am resolved to get in a mini-workout today, or possibly this weekend.
Have a nice weekend!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Went for a run tonight around 8 pm or so, which was my last run of Week 1 of the CT5K training program. So yea! I'm done with the first week of running. I felt pretty good during & after the run, & honestly don't feel sore at all.
Again today, I got a big buzz from the running sections, and was rather disappointed when I had to slow down & walk again. Well, hopefully, I'll start to feel more tuckered out at the end of my workout, or atleast feel like my muscles are somewhat sore & getting more of a workout.
I know the program is supposed to gradually build challenges into the workout, but right now they feel very small & frankly, a bit too easy. Tonight, I again felt like I could've done so much more during my running intervals. Now I was actually running at a fairly good clip, so it wasn't like I was slacking off! I just wanted to keep running!
I've been told by others who've already done the plan to enjoy this part while I still can, because Week 5 will be 20 solid minutes of running & isn't going to feel easy anymore. Honestly, 20 minutes still doesn't sound too strenuous to me, but maybe that's because I'm comparing it to when I was actually in shape & running those 20 minutes! ;-) )
And now, for a few comments on Robert Ullrey's CT5K podcasts: I do like the overall concept of these podcasts but have to admit that it does get a bit repetitive/boring hearing the same music three times in one week. By Run #3, I'd definitely stopped paying active attention to a good deal of what he was saying, except for the parts where he said to change from walking to running. The rest of the time my mind was focused on my body alignment & strides, and occasionally on the lyrics of the podcast music.
Thankfully the music is mostly dance-oriented, which helped me power through the runs, even after Run #3. I'm more accustomed to changing up my music for every run, but it's still really nice to use a podcast for pre-timed workout intervals instead of having to keep track of it on a stopwatch, which is incredibly distracting. That makes the podcasts invaluable.
I guess Robert would've had to make 27 different podcasts in order to have different music for each workout session! I'm sure he could just tape his voice for the remaining two workouts of each week, but that'd be a lot of effort to make a new music mix for each & every workout! ;-)
Knowing that I'm going to need constant variety & challenges to keep my mind agile (yes, I'm such the Gemini!), I think I'll continue to focus on my form should my mind start to wander on Days #2 & 3.
Also, although it might seem obvious, I'm going to incorporate two important tasks into my written nutrition/fitness plan: Taking multi-vitamins & drinking 8 glasses of water a day. Lately, I've been really good about drinking enough water, but am really bad about remembering to take my vitamins. I find it helps to remember to do the basics when they're written down & in a visible location. It's funny; I don't have any trouble remembering the complex stuff, but it's always the simple stuff that I tend to overlook or forget to do.
A few final thoughts before I pack it in for the night: It'd be great to hear from fellow runners -- about your day-to-day running regimen, training experiences, goals for the season or year, etc. You're welcome to post comments on my blog & list your own websites/blogs there. If there's a topic you think is particularly germane, I encourage you to visit my wikizine on Zimbio.com & add the article to this community. Your article will get a lot more traffic that way! ;-)
Happy trails & goodnight!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I really am enjoying walking with my friend. Not only is the walking a good compliment to the CT5K training program, but of course it's nice to have a friend with whom to talk & walk. Looks like we'll probably go walking again next week.
During our walk, we saw all sorts of wildlife in the woods -- deer stopping to take a drink in the stream, birds of all sorts, rabbits, & other small forest animals. For an "urban dweller" like myself, it felt really good to be surrounded by trees and nature.
For "city slickers", connecting with nature can be like reconnecting with a long, lost friend. And for some, reconnecting with nature can be like a much-needed shot of adrenaline to the system. It's odd how easily a person can become accustomed to the pollution, noise, & other nuisances/dangers of city life. When you live in the city, I think you're in more danger of your life becoming a blur, & feeling like you're going through the motions like an automaton. That's why it's all the more essential to be in nature when you live in the city. It's like you are waking yourself up again, so you don't fall into unconscious habits that dull or deaden the experiences of your life. And most corporate workplaces don't help in that regard either. They drone on like slumbering beasts in their inefficient & inane bureaucracy & suck the life (& uniqueness) out of individuals in exchange for a paycheck. Thank goodness for the small wonders of life -- holiday weekends, bike hikes, walks in the park, a Sunday afternoon snooze, etc. They recharge our batteries & make us feel human again! The Europeans have got the hang of enjoying life in small ways. A lot of Americans need to learn this lesson -- It's time we loosen up, regain a sense of life balance, & leave our unhealthy, workaholic ways in the dust! Once again, life balance & moderation are the keys to a sane existence!
Monday, July 23, 2007
Today I went for a late-night run (Run 2 of Week 1, CT5K), which felt really good. There was a nice breeze in the air; it definitely didn't feel like August is approaching. (Usually summers here are really stultifying, even in the evenings, but lately the air has been really pleasant throughout the day. A nice change!) I was actually looking forward to the running parts today, & started to feel a rush right before my first few running intervals. It was weird to feel a runner's high after doing so little (i.e., the total running time is 6 minutes!), but I know it's important to be patient & not rush things (even though I might want to as a result of such surges of excitement). I definitely felt like I could do more than the prescribed 25 minutes (5-minute warm-up walk, then 6 alternating intervals of 60-second runs & 90-second walks, & then a 5-minute cool down walk), which is a really good thing. All the same, I realize that easing oneself into running is the point of the workout. Even when I was running 9 miles every other day, I would pace myself accordingly -- If it was blazing hot & humid (as it can often get in this area of the country!), I'd adjust my pace accordingly & take extra care to stay hydrated.
Speaking of which, I've been looking into running hydration systems, mostly by reading the online reviews & asking fellow runners who've used the systems about their opinions. So far, the systems that got the best reviews are the Amphipod systems and the Fuel Belt systems. I've been counseled to avoid the Camelbak systems, (i.e., hard to keep clean, they can rub & irritate your skin, or bounce too much); so unless they've changed their product line drastically, I'm apt to avoid this brand all together. At some point, I'm going to stop by our local running shop & check out the various systems...... If anyone reading this blog has tried any of these systems & would like to comment on them, please feel free to post your comments. I'd love to hear what you have to say!
Also, if any fellow runners would like to share their comments on the CT5K program, their training regimen, or any races they really love, you're welcome to do so.
A few final thoughts before I sign off: I'm thinking that I should probably add two more goals to the list:
(1) Sit-ups (to strengthen the stomach, very important for back-health & to maintain running form)
(2) Push-ups (Ugh! I hate truly hate these, but I know they are also essential.)
OK, well I wish everyone a good evening & hope you are feeling inspired to workout/run!
P.S. I've just posted my revised fitness & nutrition goals for the next two months on the right-side of the page, which includes the edits I mentioned above. What better way to break down long-term goals than into set smaller goals along the way, with shorter time-frames. That way, the progress is more fun to monitor, because each effort you make towards your goal becomes a tangible, readily achievable step!
Saturday, July 21, 2007
OK, I had a few things to get off my chest in that last post, but I will do my best not to rant about the past, & stay focused on the present. Speaking of which, I'd like to outline my fitness & nutrition goals here:
(1) Lose 25 pounds in the next 4-6 months (by Valentine's Day at the latest).
(2) Complete the CT5K program in 9 weeks/2 months (by September 21st).
(3) Follow the Abs Diet Plan for 6 weeks (concurrent with exercise plan).
(4) Lift free-weights once a week, beginning the week of July 22.
After completing these goals, here's my next tier of goals:
(1) In October, start on new training plan (5K-->marathon training).
(2) Run outside until November/December. Then move indoors for gym workouts -- Continue interval training alternating equipment: treadmill, stairmaster, bike. For weight-lifting regiment: Circuit train using nautilus equipment.
(3) In April, enter 5K races.
(4) By June, enter 10K races.
(5) By October, enter half-marathon races.
After reaching the first set of goals, I'll see where I am on the calendar. If necessary, I'll re-evaluate the timeline for the second tier of goals. I think this is a good start, with specific, measurable, realistic goals.
OK, so here's the reason for my hiatus from running (but certainly NOT from exercise as a whole!) from about mid-October 2006 until about mid-July 2007:
Putting all pride aside for the moment, I've decided to share the below story with you as a precautionary tale of what NOT to do when you're trying to back into shape after a long hiatus from running. This is what happens when a person gives into familial nagging & their own guilt over being out of shape. And while we're at it, we might as well toss in a measure of stubbornness on both sides of the fence as a big contributing factor to the overall outcome.
So, this is the story of how I injured myself while working out, in a rather stupid and easily-avoidable way (!):
Back in October, I'd injured my knees after a rather strenuous workout towards the end of my 10-day stay at Canyon Ranch in Tucson, AZ. I don't think I'd realized the depth of my situation, as I desperately wanted to go on the canyon hike I'd scheduled on my next-to-last day there. Needless to say, I went on the hike anyway, disregarding the painful throbbing in my knees. I took my trusting hiking stick and ended up using it as a crutch for most of the hike! The only thing that kept me going was taking pictures of the wonderful nature beauty of the area. Pictures of that hike can be viewed here.
This knee injury relegated me to several months of doing nothing (even walking was painful!), followed by several months of walking on & off (& some severely limited gym workouts!).
How did I come to injure myself in the first place, you might ask?
Now, normally I'm very practical & sane about how much my body can handle. The effects of the hot Arizona sun hadn't gotten to me, but a gung-ho family member (who shall remain nameless), certainly had. I think it may've been the close quarters of rooming with this person, but apparently prolonged exposure to this person's extreme-exercise insanity had gotten the best of me. This person made no bones about telling me that they felt that I wasn't working out hard enough, which was ridiculous, since I actually was doing quite a lot, especially for not having exercised a whole lot before my visit. (I exercised for several hours a day, starting with 2-3 mile walks at 5:30/6 am.)
Furthermore, how would this person even know WHAT I was doing, since they hadn't been exercising alongside me?! (We went our separate ways for the entire day, only meeting up for the occasional meal. I have to say that after a while, I made a point of making our meetings less & less frequent, as the overbearing attitude of this person made it harder & harder for me to deal with them in a calm manner & simultaneously retain my sanity. Sometimes keeping your cool means keeping your distance!)
Of course, everyone else at Canyon Ranch (my program coordinator, exercise physiologist, nutritionist, etc.) applauded my efforts & kept advising me to keep doing what I was already doing -- exercising reasonably. After all, I knew myself (best!) & what I was capable of doing, & for the majority of my stay, had convinced myself that I wasn't about to use someone else's yard-stick for measuring my own progress; everyone is different, & should follow their own path.
Frankly, the repeated urgings to "push myself more" had really irritated me, because this person had completely ignored the fact that I wasn't in shape to start with & had not done much exercise prior to my arrival. I was working out for myself, not for the benefit of another person. So there!!!!!!
There was, however, a very small subconscious part of me, that felt really badly for being so out-of-shape (especially since I've been an athlete for most of my life). And this part had been slowly and insidiously working on me, in concert with the aforementioned family member's exertion of external pressure. So, that's why, with only a few days left before the end of my stay, I pushed it a bit too far during one of my last workouts, finally succumbing to my own internal feelings of guilt & familial pressure. I certainly learned my lesson! If only I'd managed to block out this person's repeated verbal harangues & had continued on my usual path of sane & moderate exercise!
There was a time when I was quite angry at this person for taking me off course, but frankly, I was even more angry at myself for having listened & diverged off my usual path. Oh well -- I'm past it now, but the memory of this experience serves as a reminder/warning not to do it again!
When it comes right down to it, I'm a big believer that moderation in exercise is a really important factor to maintaining long-term success. It's important to know your own limitations, & take stock of your progress along the way. Your previous experience will serve as an excellent guide.
I'm using Robert Ullrey's great CT5K podcasts, which you can download here. I also use a nifty little iPod arm-band style holder for my workouts, which looks like this.
Earlier this evening, I started with a 5-minute brisk walk & then alternated between intervals of 90 second brisk walks & 60 second runs for a total of 20 minutes. It felt good. Especially because I wasn't out of breath or panting like a dog afterwards! ;-) The program is meant to gently introduce (or in my case, re-introduce) you to running. Now, although I'm an experienced runner, I must confess that it's been several months since my last serious training program. (Yikes, it's hard to admit that publicly!)
I don't make excuses, but if you're curious to hear the reason for my prolonged hiatus from running, you're welcome to click here for the story of my injury, a melodramatic tale of misdirected angst & woe! ;-)
Have a good night! Until the next run......
Thank you for joining me on what I hope will be a well-paved path to total fitness & nutritional nirvana. ;-) OK, so maybe you're not quite yet on that path yourselves, but would like to be there at some point in the not-so-distant future. Or perhaps you're already well on that path. Well, wherever you may be on your own journey to fitness & overall health, I hope that together we can support & inspire each other to reach our goals. The reason I say "together" is that I hope you'll participate by commenting on what I've written -- perhaps sharing related experiences or offering your own advice.
One of the big reasons I've decided to blog about my experiences in this area is that I realize the importance of maintaining accountability for one's actions, as a means to accomplishing one's goals. Since "the path to hell is often paved with good intentions," what better way to be accountable for my actions than by keeping a public journal chronicling my efforts. Since the readership will most likely be looking for inspiration for reaching their own fitness & nutrition goals, I figure I'd better do everything in my power to be successful and achieve my publicly declared fitness goals! ;-) In other words, I'd be way too embarrassed NOT to keep up with my exercise & nutrition routine. ;-) Of course, I'm only joking here, as I think that positive reinforcement is a much better way to move forward towards your goals. There's nothing so uplifting as being able to look at the progress you've made, whether it be over days, months, or years. And that takes me to another big reason I'm blogging about this topic: Charting my day-to-day progress will be a great motivating force, as the steps I document will serve as reinforcement to continue & propel me (and hopefully others) towards such goals.
Now, obviously there will be "hills & valleys" on the road to progress, but I hope that this blog will provide myself & others with ample determination to persevere! So, please take a good look at my Nike kicks pictured above; these little babies are coming with me on my road to guts & glory. ;-)
Now, I'm headed off for some interval training.......