Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rest Day

Today is my mom's birthday. She is 79 years old today. She lives in a retirement home in Durham, about 30 min. from here, but I had meetings this afternoon so I had to call her to wish her a happy instead of visiting. It's a good thing I did! Poor Mom. She told me the entire retirement home is under quarantine because the Norwalk (or whatever they are calling it now) virus is running rampant through the building. Tons of the residents are sick. All the public areas are closed off, including the dining room, so meals are being delivered to their rooms. They aren't supposed to leave their rooms unless absolutely necessary, and the Health Dept. doesn't even want them to leave the building! Mom is just fine, but going absolutely stir-crazy. She's still driving, and misses getting out and about. She thinks the quarantine may be lifted by Friday. So we are postponing her birthday meal until we've moved into our new house.

I really believe in the hard-hard-easy workout schedule, but I didn't feel that today's 30 min. walk with the dog did me much good. TOO easy. Maybe it'll at least keep me from being so stiff tomorrow! Still, it was nice being out in the fresh (if chilly) air and felt good to be moving. Since I'm practically like those people in Wall-E who never move but float through life on their chaise lounges, I think it would be wise to incorporate at least a 30 min. walk into every day, regardless of what else I'm doing. I haven't been this out of shape for years!

I can really feel the effects of yesterday's Christi workout, especially in my arms, LOL, courtesy of Christi's crazy-fun choreography. My deltoids and triceps are pleasantly sore, and my quads are wondering what hit them.

I feel really encouraged, though! This morning at 6 DS and I swung by the Teeter on the way to school to get some lunch provisions. Sigh. I still haven't done my weekly shopping yet. I noticed, while whizzing quickly up and down the aisles, that my legs already feel stronger and more flexible!

Ooooooh, how I love working out. Next week will be even better once I start working with the weights. I usually drop a whole size in about a week when I start strength training.

After my walk with Huck, it was late and we were all hungry and ready for dinner, so we decided to go out. I just threw on a sweater over my exercise bra (the Iron Maiden!!) and squeezed myself into my only pair of wearable jeans. It was so funny, because I usually don't wear street clothes over my exercise bra, but when I looked down while we were at the restaurat, I totally had a uniboob! It's not as evident under my baggy t-shirts that I wear for working out, but in this closer fitting sweater, yep, the unmistakable uniboob. And no one said anything-- they let me go out in public looking like some kind of deformed hoochie-mama!

Guys. They don't get it.

We've got a long way to go on all fronts, but making definite progress! I feel like a wimp starting off so slowly, but I really learned my lesson about overdoing it a few years ago.

Do y'all remember The Firm exercise videos? (Yikes, talk about Stepford!) They were all the rage. I was trying out my very first Firm workout. I was so excited. I even dutifully watched the little infomericial at the beginning of the video about using proper form. The man tried to tell me, oh yes, he told me several times, but I didn't listen.

I attacked that workout with gusto, really went for the Gold! It was only the next day when I could not move a single part of my body without experiencing excruciating pain-- I mean, it HURT just to walk, and getting up from a chair made me want to cry!-- that I remembered the man said, in his cheesy "I am the Narrator" voice, "Never attempt to do all the exercises your first time." No kidding! I had nearly terminal DOMS for over a week. It put me off strength training for years, in fact.

Slow and steady is the way! I'll be doing roundhouse kicks and 360s on my step no sweat soon enough. I can't decide if I want to do step or kickbox tomorrow-- but I'm eager to see if it's feeling any easier cardio-wise.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Still Jumpin'

By the end of the day I had started to feel the DOMS from yesterday's workout, so I decided to go with a high-low workout today. I have a vintage Christi Taylor workout from her Just For Fun series, called Still Jumpin'. The entire thing is about 65 minutes long, counting the warmup, cooldown, and stretch. There are 2 routines, but I only did the first one, plus the cooldown combination and stretch. It's a lot of fun! I had it in VHS and got it reformatted onto DVD because it's such a great workout with really fun choreography. The soundtrack seems to be all 70's and 80's pop (Then Came You, Rhythm is Gonna Get You, Love Lifted Us Up, Still the One).

As I mentioned, Christi's choreography is pretty innovative with a lot of her own moves (lunge-switch with a twist, down up and away, jogging boxstep, hip-hip, hopscotch, and kick the corner, for example) and fewer "standard" moves like grapevines, chausees, and shuffle-ball changes. My only criticism is that there are just WAY too many hamstring curls in part one, and a fairly tedious section of repeated grapevines where you kind of do chest flies with your arms and cross them at the wrists about 100 times. But it's really mostly a lot of fun, dancy choreography.

I will say I don't care for the way Christi cues. She cues the moves 2 beats in advance, so instead of cueing what you're supposed to be doing NOW, she's telling you what you're gonna do NEXT. Some people prefer that, but I find it confusing, especially when I'm trying to learn new choreography.

Once again, this formerly "Easy Day" workout kicked my out-of-shape posterior. I had to stop between each of the 4 combinations for a 2-minute break water and air break. My HRM says I burned 450 calories, not too shabby for only half a workout. I also had to stop halfway through to stretch my calves and soleus muscles. My rate of perceived exertion: ghastly, though perhaps a bit better than yesterday.

I am sure there will be pain tomorrow! I felt muscles today I had forgotten I had, LOL!
My plan is to take a long walk tomorrow instead of doing a workout, to give the muscles some recovery time. I definitely do not want to get injured right now!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Back on the Phit Wagon, Day 1

As you may have gathered from a previous post, I work out at home with DVDs. I love the privacy, the fact I can do it whenever it's convenient for me, plus it's like having my own personal trainer with me every day. If you think you can't get a good workout at home, I'm here to tell you, you have not met Cathe Friedrich. Oh, I SO want that woman's abs. Buns too.

I have an aerobic step bench, a fitness ball, resistance bands, a collection of dumbbells and a barbell. I generally do 6 workouts per week. Depending on which rotation I'm doing, I'll do total body strength training 2 or 3 times a week, or I'll do a 4 day split alternating parts of the upper and lower body.

I also have a delightfully torturous DVD that will beat. you. down: Cathe Friedrich's Butts and Guts, which I try also to work in every week, as well as her Legs and Glutes, which is not as tough, but has more floor work. Oh, how I hate floor work. And barbell lunges. And you know what they say: the ones you hate the most are the ones you need the most!

For cardio conditioning, I alternate between aerobic step, high-low aerobics, and kickbox. I used to run about 30 miles per week, and I really miss it. Unfortunately, there's nothing but hillwork here in Central NC, and I quickly blew out both achilles tendons soon after I moved here, abruptly ending my training for the Chicago marathon. I am toying with the idea of maybe getting back into running. I have some really good running shoes designed to minimize stress on the achilles by raising the heel cup. But let me just get back to where I can finish my indoor workouts first, LOL!

Of course, being not only fluffy but also disgustingly out of shape, I'm nowhere near ready to tackle the above. The sheer effort of moving my current bulk will probably effectively double the intensity of any workout right now, LOL! My plan for this week is to concentrate on cardio and getting back into my routine. I figure the DOMS just from moving again will probably be plenty to endure this week. I'm shooting for 5 30-minute cardio workouts and maybe a few extended walks with the dog.

Today I did Lower Intensity Step from Cathe's 4 Day Split series (you can preview by clicking on the link; all Cathe's DVDs include streaming video samples). Not all at once, with many pauses to gasp and drink, but I did get all the way through it, including the intensity blasts. I admit my outer-thigh around the world and jump shot series were not my best efforts, but hey, I was moving! I put in 35 minutes of respectable cardio work. I felt pretty ghastly through most of it, but I know from past experience that cardio conditioning improves amazingly rapidly. In about 3 weeks I'll probably be able to get through most of my cardio workouts without taking any breaks.

Tomorrow I will either do Christi Taylor (high-low) or some kickbox, depending on how sore I am. 4 Day Split also has a bootcamp segement for one of the cardio workouts, which I will not be ready to attempt for several weeks. Drop and give you 20? Would you settle for 1, maybe? My current state of feebleness is discouraging in the extreme, but it can only get better from here! I am determined that this is the year I will SURPASS DS in doing pushups. He does 80 a day. I read about an 80-year-old female athlete that can do 100 a day, it HAS to be possible!

Next week I'll start working strength training back in, which is the foundation of my whole program. I know that muscle burns 3 times more calories at rest than other tissue, that you get the afterburn effect for 36 hrs. after a good strength workout, and that the only way to noodge my stubborn metabolism into overdrive is to increase my muscle mass. Weirdly, most of my excess avoir-dupois seems to have settled around my hips, my upper body hasn't changed as much. I say weirdly because I've always been shaped like an inverted triangle, and I have, until now, had a classic case of "Indian Butt": meaning, I don't have one! Strength training is pretty much the only way to get gut fat to budge, and please, dear God, do something about these saddlebags I've never had before!

I also know I need to start eating for performance, which means 6 small, high-quality meals and snacks throughout the day to keep my metabolism churning. That part is going to be a challenge, especially now that my blender is broken and I can't make protein shakes. However, it is a worthwhile investment in my overall health and well-being, so I should bite the bullet and get a new blender. (Are you listening, self??)

Last year I pre-ordered Cathe's then-in-production magnum opus, the 40 DVD set, STS (Shock Training System). The name alone is enough to strike terror into my heart! Well, it just arrived a few weeks ago. I haven't yet opened it, but this week will start previewing MesoCycle 1. I haven't checked in with the forums since it's been released, but STS is supposed to be the mother of all strength training systems. I can't remember how many mesocycles it includes, but each is designed to improve a specific target, such as overall strength (one of them will increase your current level by 5%), muscle endurance, and power.

It even includes software to help you determine your 1 rep max for each and every exercise, so that you are working to the best of your ability every time, without too little or too much weight. Also, no exercise can be "too advanced" now that I can determine the exact right weight for me. I think the software also helps with nutritional planning. I look forward to trying STS with eagerness as well as apprehension. I have a feeling I'm going to need several new dumbbell sets pretty quickly here.

I'll post about STS as I preview each mesocycle.

PhitDiva debuts

OK, I admit it: for years, I was a workout junkie, strung out on the endorphins, high on Cathe.Com and VideoFitness. In other words, I had no life (LOL!). Seriously, last year when I worked in Chicago, my life consisted of work, working out, walking to Starbucks for my daily Venti Green Tea Latte, watching Gray's Anatomy, and sleeping. Then true love knocked on my door. (Among other things.)

Now I'm back home in NC, sharing a home with my Darlin' Companion, and doing the 50-50 custody 2-step with my ex. I loved my time in Chicago, but it was really, really, really the pits being without my DS except for one weekend a month. I now have a whole household, including my DS (eo week), my DC, his dog, Huckleberry, and his two cats (Elsa and Sienna). Poof. Instant family. Now I'm cooking at least 5 days a week.

I love to cook. I mean, I really, really love to cook. I had not really cooked for so many years I had forgotten how much I enjoy feeding people. Now I am totally addicted to cooking delicious dish after delicious dish.

Shoot, I'd pretty much dispensed with the entire notion of dinner, except for when DS was with me, and I'd make something for him. DC's bachelor diet pretty much consisted of Mountain Dew, chicken wings and pizza, so when we moved in together I set about to improve his nutrition, but enjoyably. I figured if I cooked it at home, and could get him to eat it, it was bound to be more nutritious than what he'd previously been eating. So that he wouldn't feel "deprived," I tried to cook all his favorites, including homemade desserts. And overall, he eats much better now and is feeling better, too. Unfortunately, all of this cooking has brought back my appetite and I've actually been eating for the first time in years.

Normally, this would not be a big deal, as I generally burn anywhere from 1000-2000 calories a day working out, depending on what I'm doing. Seriously, my young & hot Dr. in Chicago said my good cholesterol was 3 times higher than his and he was envious! However, between this and that, I started missing workouts so they became much less regular. And of course, last year, not being hampered by the possession of a car (YES!! I HATE having to maintain a car), I walked everywhere. Real fast, since I live my life on "Indian time" and am constantly late. I am now as sedentary as a sloth, since I work at home. Whole days go by when I don't even leave the house. (I hate to admit this, but sometimes I don't even bother to get dressed, and spend the whole day in my jammies.)

The coup de grace to my fitness routine came in August, when I broke my foot, and really could not work out for 6+ good weeks. Then of course, things started heating up at work, my travel schedule picked up, and our TV bit the dust, the birthday/holiday season was coming, and I was always going to get back into exercise "tomorrow," "next week," "after this next business trip."

You can guess the result. I, the Library Diva, Fitness Addict, and formerly fat person, have become a currently, well, let's just say, fluffy, person. I can hardly squeeze a toe into my size 2 jeans... my size 4 too-cute-for-words denim miniskirt is but a distant memory... (dang, I was SO looking forward to violating the office dress code with that thing) and even my size 6 "fat" jeans won't come anywhere near fastening. In short, we have a crisis. This Diva will NOT put up with this. I must shrink. Instantly.

I'm at the outer limit of what my wardrobe can contain. I actually popped a button off a skirt while on a client visit and spent half the day praying my zipper would hold and surreptitiously looking for stray safety pins. As I was shrinking, on the journey from my formerly fat self to my recently sassy and cute self, I saved a few favorite outfits, so I have clothes in various sizes. But I'm now down to one pair of extremely tight jeans and 2 or 3 shirts that fit. At least, without making me look like a hoochiemama. And I REFUSE to buy new clothes in jumbo size.

So today, I put on my workout gear, strapped on the old heart rate monitor, and broke out one of my favorite Cathe DVDs, which includes a "low intensity" step routine. I figured I would "ease" back into things.

Ha! Holy cow, that thing totally kicked my big (but still cute and sexy) butt.
I made it through the whole routine, by stopping numerous times to let my heartrate drop and to guzzle water. I'm in my personal anaerobic zone at anything over 175 and can't be happy there for long.

Tomorrow I'm going to do either kickbox or high-low (aerobics). So this blog is really about keeping myself motivated, and maybe finding a few kindred spirits in the fight against flab. And while yes, I certainly do want to lose the fluff, my major goal is to get into the best shape of my life, ever. I have a whole new pack of strength training DVDs that I can't wait to break into. I lost the weight before, and I can do it again.

But it will be a real challenge, because I am a cooking and food diva too. I refuse to eat "diet" food or anything that does not taste good. Life is too short to avoid eating good food. I don't believe in doing penance at the table.

So can this FitnessDiva balance fine cooking with weightloss and everything else she has to do? We shall see. One thing is clear: I'll need to be creative and find my own way, as conventional weightloss wisdom has never worked for me, yet I lost 70 lbs. and kept it off (kept shrinking, in fact) for 5 years. I do not own a scale and don't believe in them; if you do strength training the BMI is a joke, but I'll measure progress by how I feel and the difficulty level of the workouts I can get through. I know I can do this! Yes, we CAN! And we WILL! Life is also too short to go through it without awesomely cute clothes.