Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My Workouts

From time to time I get asked what kind of workouts or exercise that I’m doing, so I thought I’d share a bit about that part of my journey today.

When I first started my transition into a healthier lifestyle in June 2011, mobility and endurance were a struggle for me.  I was dealing with a sciatic nerve injury, which was intensified by the extra weight I was carrying on my body.  There were many days when it could literally take anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes for me to go from a laying down position to standing up from my bed in the mornings simply due to the pain being so bad and making it so hard to even move.  Once up, standing or walking for more than just a few minutes was out of the question. 

This being the case, in my mind exercise seemed out of reach for me when I first started making changes, although I knew that I needed to somehow find a way to get myself moving more.

For the first 11 months, from June 2011 – May 2012, my exercise was sporadic, at best.  From time to time I would do a brief workout with a video, or would go outside to walk during my lunch break at work, but that was about it.  During that time, I really focused on learning to eat right and get my nutrition into balance.  Self-control in my eating habits became my primary goal.  I knew that I had to get that area under control before exercise would do me much good, because I didn’t want to work myself silly in the gym just to try to keep up with my eating. 

The personal discipline I have learned in my food habits has now transferred over to my exercise.  As I have posted about previously, I joined a gym in May 2012, and have been going strong with it ever since.  I’m finding that I love pushing myself a little bit farther with each workout, be it through a faster speed or higher incline on the treadmill, or by increasing weights or reps in my strength training.  Most of all, I am continually thankful to no longer have the mobility issues I used to suffer with. 

These days, my workouts vary, typically between in the gym and at home workouts, based on my schedule.  I am pretty adamant about exercising a minimum of three times per week, and sometimes get in four in a week.  I know a lot of people swear by 6-days per week workouts, but I know what will realistically work for me, and setting challenging, yet obtainable goals has been key for my success thus far, so right now, my goal remains 3-4 per week.  What do those look like right now?

At the gym:
- My gym routine changes every month or so to keep things fresh, but always involves 30-40 minutes on the treadmill.  I do intervals with my speed, ranging from 3.3mph to 5.0mph with the incline ranging from 1.0 – 8.0.  In addition, I do strength training in the circuit using 12 different machines, lifting/pushing/pulling weights from 30-120 pounds with reps ranging from 25-40.  I also have two additional machines I use that are targeted towards helping the sciatic issues specifically.  When I can catch an extra day in the gym, I’ll swim laps for 30-60 minutes.

At home:
- Running/Walking up and down our hill – We live at the top of a fairly steep incline and our street is just over 1/10th of a mile long.  As my heart rate monitor (HRM) has proven, making laps back and forth up and down the hill provides a great cardio workout and burns a lot of calories! 
- There is a park close by my house and I’ve just recently started making use of their pathways for walking/running
- I have several sets of weights and videos that incorporate both strength and cardio training.  I don’t do these too often, because I much prefer being outside or at the gym, but they’re good for a change every now and then.

That about sums it up! 

(Just a reminder/disclosure…I am not a medical professional or certified trainer, so anything I write in this blog is not intended to be taken as advice, guidance, or recommendations.  It is simply a journal of my own personal experiences.  Thanks!)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Changing Sizes

So much has changed in the last 16 months…I have lost over 135 pounds.  I look at the number on the scale and see the drastic difference.  I log my daily weight into a spreadsheet and I see the downward trend that has continued over the months.  The changes I’ve experienced come in so many practical, every day ways.  For instance…

- I have greatly improved mobility, flexibility, strength, and endurance.  Here at 40 years old, I feel far better than I did at 30. 

- I see photos of myself and can’t help but notice that I look younger and healthier.  I’m not afraid of having my picture taken anymore, and am having fun snapping a new picture with every 5 or 10 pounds I lose.

- After our recent travels I realized that I’m no longer someone who eats candy bars or chips from the gas station at every stop, or gets fast food on the road while traveling.  Instead, I’m someone who books her hotel rooms based on which hotel has the best fitness center and carries fruit and healthy snacks from home. 

I am not yet at my goal weight, but I realize how far I’ve come.  I know I’ve lost, as several people have said to me, “an entire person” with the amount of weight I’ve lost so far, but when I shop for clothes, I still have trouble getting my mind around my shrinking size…

I just took several of my winter coats from years past into the consignment store last weekend to sell them.  They all ranged from a women’s size 3X (26/28) to a women’s size 5X (34/36).  As I pulled each of them out of the closet, I laughed when I tried them all on, one by one, seeing if any of them still fit.  Each and every one of them was way too big for me and there’s no way any of them would work for this winter!

After dropping off the coats and picking up a check from some of the other clothes the consignment store had recently sold for me, I decided to go shopping for a new coat.  I found a beautiful, bright blue one that I loved, and grabbed one to try on.  Now, keep in mind, in my life, I’ve always had to look for the largest sizes available and hope for the best.  I knew that the size 3X coats I had just gotten rid of were too big, so I got a size 2X and wondered if it could possibly fit, and was completely shocked when it was too big!  I picked up a size 1X (18/20) and snickered to myself that there’s no way it was going to fit…but it did, and perfectly!  I guess I still couldn’t believe it though, because I switched back and forth between the 2X and 1X three more times, trying them both on, looking into the mirror, and comparing the way they each fit.  I’m still shaking my head and surprised that the 1X was the best choice and the one I ended up buying!

Goodness, I know that some women would shudder at the thought of being a size 18/20 and think that’s huge, but when you’ve come down from where I started from, it is reason to celebrate!  What’s even more fun, is I know that next year at this time, my beautiful blue size 1X coat will be too big and headed to the consignment store rack!

Feeling great in a size 1X!!!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Whew!  The last month has been a whirlwind!  Here's a few random tidbits of catching up:

- Today is my 16-month anniversary since my change to a healthy lifestyle.  I have now lost a total of 135.3 pounds so far!  I am now just 89.7 pounds away from my goal weight!  Whoo hoo!

- My husband and I recently celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary!  He is a 10-foot-tall superhero in my eyes, and I am so thankful God chose to give us to one another!

- I just finished another one of my college courses in working on my psychology degree and have spent the last several weeks doing a considerable bit of paper writing.  This class was called "Addictive Disorders" and although it focused primarily on substance use and abuse (such as drugs and alcohol, etc.), so much of the class was applicable to food addictions as well.  It provided a great deal of new insight to me in this area. The countdown is on...I've only got 7 classes left until graduation!

- A few months into my weight loss journey, I felt like God wanted me to share my story and to help encourage other people along the way.  One way I've done that is through this blog.  Another way has been through a class I've developed called "Reflections: Healthy and Beautiful from the Inside Out".  While I'm not a dietician or medical professional, I am a pastor, and as such, I've been given the opportunity through my church to present my class in an 8-week small group format.  We're going into Week 4 tomorrow night, and it has been a joy to speak to the women who have attended about spiritual, emotional, and practical issues regarding healthy living! 

- Without going into the details...our family experienced a terrible tragedy in the loss of my brother-in-law in a fatal car accident a couple of weeks ago, and my husband and I and our boys had to take an unexpected road trip to Texas for the funeral, covering over 2,000 miles in 5 days.  Along the way, we saw two major accidents on the interstate (one even had a life flight helicopter land on the highway to help out).  It was a rollercoaster of emotions as we prayed for those involved in those accidents, were grieving our loss, and were thankful for our own safe travels.

Through all of these events, along with many more, such as me continuing to work 40+ hours a week at the investment firm with almost 2 hours a day spent commuting back and forth, teaching a Bible School course on Ethics in Ministry, being out of town for 5 days on our annual pastor's retreat, being sick for two weeks, and keeping up with our kids, I've continued to carve out time to work out and have maintained healthy eating and kept losing weight through it all.

I guess that's the difference between a "diet" and a "lifestyle change" isn't it?  Diets are temporary.  They require strict adherence to work right, and typically have little to no flexibility.  When extraordinary life events pop up, diets can be thrown for a loop.  Making a lifestyle change, however, means learning how to make healthy choices and stick to your commitment, no matter the circumstances or situations you find yourself facing or how busy or hectic your schedule may become.