Monthly Archives: March 2012

Nutrition Talk (as of today)

Nutrition is a complicated subject.  At least for me it is.  The reason I find it complicated is because the information seems to be ever-changing.  One day eggs are “bad” with all their artery-clogging cholesterol.  The next day eggs are “good” with all their muscle-boosting protein.  It gets confusing, and complicated, to try to eat right.

Add to that back-and-forth nonsense all the fad diets that encourage people to cut out entire food groups because they are “bad” (with research backing that claim up, no less)…now you have a serious dilemma when trying to eat healthy.

Of course there are a few areas in which every “expert” seems to agree…trans fats (hydrogenated oils) are bad, excess processed foods with added sugars are bad, and too many calories per day is bad.  All across the board these are accepted to be true.  I suppose those few commonalities are supposed to make us (consumers) feel better about eating.  Well, those rare agreements between “experts” do not make me feel any better.  Not one bit.

Another aspect of nutrition that makes it more complicated for the consumer is language.  When manufacturers were required to label their products with nutrition information and ingredient lists, the language changed.  Sugar was no longer just called “sugar” in most products.  Instead “sugar” became corn syrup or lactose, which deceived consumers into purchasing something they maybe would not have if they knew it was added sugar.

The following are random tidbits I have picked up over the course of the last eight and a half months.  (I am not a nutritionist, nor do I claim to be any sort of expert on this subject.  Additionally, what information is included below is likely to change within a few months/years.)

Sugar is also known as:
barley malt, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice invert syrup, fructose, fruit juice, galactose, glucose, granular fruit grape juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, maltodextrin, maple syrup, molasses, organic cane juice, sorghum, sucrose, and turbinado (this list is courtesy of WH Big Book of Exercises).

Nutrition “Secrets:”
1. The healthiest foods you probably are avoiding are: pork chops, mushrooms, red-pepper flakes, full-fat cheese, iceberg lettuce, scallops, vinegar, and chicken thighs.
2. Fatty foods you should eat (without guilt) are: meat with flavor (such as bacon, rib eye, dark meat chicken, and ham), whole milk, butter (not margarine), full-fat sour cream, coconut, chicken skin, and eggs.
3. Saturated fat is *not* a nutritional villain.  In fact, most types of saturated fat (there are over 13 types) have a positive effect on cholesterol (and some do not have any effect on cholesterol at all).  This, of course, means that the consumption of saturated fat is in *no way* linked to heart disease risk.
4. Foods that you think are healthy (but probably are not): yogurt with fruit on the bottom (added sugar), baked beans (enough sugar added to equal an 8-oz soft drink), california roll (two main ingredients are white rice and imitation crab), fat-free salad dressing (added sugar), reduced-fat peanut butter (added icing sugar), corn oil (high content of omega-6 relative to omega-3 has been linked to an increase in risk of cancer, arthritis, and obesity).
Info pulled from WH Big Book of Exercises.

The number one problem with my current diet is probably my ratio of carbs to protein.  I will be honest, I am not big on counting calories and I am not big on calculating how much of each nutrient I am consuming each day.  This is about to change, though.  First of all, my weight loss has slowed tremendously.  I think that can be attributed to many factors, one of them being my diet.  It has worked for me up to this point (eight and a half months).  However, now that my activity level is *way* up and the level of intensity is also *way* up, I think it is time to re-evaluate things.

The nutritionist I met with a couple months ago recommended I eat 85 to 90 grams of protein each day, which I easily manage.  However, this book recommends “1 gram of protein per pound of desired body weight.”  That would actually bring me to 180 to 185 grams of protein per day.  They also mention that sometimes that is just too much protein for a person to consume, but say that 125 grams should be considered the minimum requirement.  Maybe if I were consuming that extra 40+ grams of protein my muscles would be recovering more quickly.  When I work really hard (which is majority of the time I am in the gym, of course), that muscle group will be sore for 3 to 5 days.  Absurd.  I want to get back to an alternating schedule of working muscle groups, but I need the muscles to recover much more quickly to make that happen.

All of this seems unnecessarily complicated (in my opinion).  I wish things were much more cut-and-dry.  Conflicting information is everywhere and most of it is “backed by research that proves its validity.”  Ridiculous.

How do you figure out what you should and should not eat?  Are you following a specific dietary “plan?”  Do you calculate daily nutritional content (if so, how?)?



Weigh Day (week thirty-seven)

Here is my workout schedule from this week:

Sunday – Legs & Core; 40 mins with Neil (11,434 steps)

Monday – physical therapy; 15 mins with Neil; 45 mins with Denise; 45 mins power yoga (15,490 steps)

Tuesday – whole body; 25 mins with Neil (13,710 steps)

Wednesday – arms & abs; 45 mins of hiking with my girlies – it was too nice of a day to be in a gym for any length of time (14,733 steps)

Thursday – abs; 40 mins with Neil (10,837 steps)

Friday – physical therapy; abs & arms (12,298 steps)

Saturday – 3 hours at the Zoo with my girlies (17,229 steps)

Despite all of that activity, I have nothing *new* to report on the weigh in front.  I hit an all-time low on Wednesday (which I already shared) leaving only eight pounds left to 100 pounds.  Since then, though, I have bounced up and down within a 0.6 range.  This morning I weighed in at exactly 223.0 again.

I must admit with my *huge* loss last week I expected nothing too substantial this week.  Any week I have lost over four pounds has been followed by next to nothing the week after.  However, I still managed a 1.4 loss this week, which is certainly respectable!

Physical therapy is going well, which I truly believe is helping me tremendously (not only in healing my knee, but with working out in general).  Friday’s therapy was insane!  They kicked my butt – seriously.  My legs were trembling and on fire!  As a matter of fact, my legs are still slightly sore today – yeah for new muscle growth/development!  Hopefully this means I will be back to my regularly scheduled programming of running, lunging, jumping, and squatting SOON!  I simply cannot wait!

On a side note, I have been watching documentaries this week that pertain to our industrialized food industry and fast food.  The two I have watched so far are Food, Inc and Fat Head.  I found them both incredibly interesting.  Food, Inc made me want to give up all meat again (which I have done in previous years) and Fat Head made me want to eat more meat.  Go figure, right?  I will definitely be looking into more humanely acquired meat and animal by-products (such as milk, cheese, and eggs).  The thought of animals being mistreated in those factories just breaks my heart.  As I watch more documentaries, I will share with you in case you would like to watch it as well.

9 weeks; 5 days
23.2 pounds

What kind of week did you have?  Was the weather nice enough to take your workout outside?


Countdown To Century: 8

As of this morning I have only EIGHT more pounds to BURN to reach 100 pounds lost!


This number is pretty exciting to me for a few reasons:

1. This is *definitely* the lowest weight I have seen on the scale as an adult!

2. My BMI is now 34.92 which puts me in the Obese Class 1 category instead of my previous Obese Class 3 (morbid obesity) and Obese Class 2 categories!  That’s pretty exciting!

3. I am only 38 pounds away from my initial goal weight of 185…and I am only 23.2 pounds away from being in one-derland!  I cannot believe I am that close in only eight and a half months!!!

I am sure Monday’s rigorous workout schedule helped tremendously!  I spent nearly FOUR hours working out at the gym between physical therapy, cardio, Denise, and power yoga.  It was insane!  By the time we were in the last 10 minutes of yoga I actually wondered if my arms would hold me up for 10 more minutes.  🙂

So, in light of Monday’s insanity, I took it pretty easy yesterday and spent only about an hour at the gym.  I do not want this body to strike against my efforts of weight loss, so I must treat her nicely.

10 weeks; 2 days
23.2 pounds

How is your week coming along?


Weigh Day (week thirty-six)

I must admit this was an unexpected kind of week…in the best possible way!  I had some schedule changes in relation to my workout, and I think that was a great thing.

Here is what my week looked like:

Sunday – R.I.P. workout, inchworms, leg work, core work

Monday – physical therapy and power yoga

Tuesday – 30 min. with Neil

Wednesday – self defense and TRX with Denise

Thursday – 30 min. with Neil

Friday – physical therapy and 40 min. with Neil

Physical therapy is a *big* change in the way I have been working my body – namely my legs.  Ever since this whole knee malfunction, I have not been squatting, lunging, jumping, or otherwise irritating this knee.  That also means; however, that I have not really worked them good enough to make them burn or be sore the next day.  Physical therapy; however, makes my legs *burn* like crazy and feel like limp noodles (which is lovely)!  I truly believe that this addition to my routine has helped this week’s weigh in tremendously!

Power yoga is another new addition this week, and it kicked my butt (as I mentioned previously).  Denise also experimented with me on Wednesday night with some TRX, which I am still slightly sore from in a couple places.  It was amazing (and brand new to my body).

All of these new things combined created one powerful week as far as my weigh in goes.  This is something I was not expecting:


That is another 4.2 pound loss from last week!  This is exciting for a couple reasons!  First, that brings me to 90.6 total pounds lost in 36 weeks!  Second, that means I am 9.4 pounds away from 100 pounds lost (century club)!  How exciting, right?!

So, I think I am going to start a “Century Club Countdown” – which means I will report weigh ins throughout the week as the numbers go down.  I will still have my “official” weekly weigh in on Sundays, though.

Some other exciting news is that Dorsey told me once I hit 100 pounds lost he is going to throw me a party at Fitworks!  He is going to DJ and the whole thing, so it should be loads of fun with some of my favorite people in the world!  My life feels like it is really starting to come together, and I love it!

I wanted to leave you with this:

 To be honest, I am not sure just how much difference I can tell between January’s photo and yesterday’s.  I see small things, I suppose, which is fine.  I know I am heading in the right direction!

10 weeks; 5 days
24.6 pounds

How was your week?


Six Weeks For Change: Finale

Six weeks ago (actually a touch over that now) I hopped on board with Karen over at Waisting Time to improve aspects of ourselves in the six remaining weeks of winter.  My goals were pretty simple:

1. Go to at least one Zumba class (I completed two)
2. Try six new recipes (I have pictures on my camera to share, although, I am not sure I reached six – shame on me!)
3. Improve my balance (this one is a touch harder to measure, per se, although I do feel like it has improved – and I have been actively working on it since the “challenge”)
4. Jump rope successfully (I was *so* close to this one when I was instructed to avoid jumping and running with the bad knee!  I was able to jump with both feet and continuously for at least 45 seconds before my feet caught the rope.  All in all there was still significant improvement)

I would have loved to say all of my goals were met and exceeded, but that is certainly not the case.  I still feel a little disappointed about the whole jump-roping thing, but there is nothing I can do about that.  Once I get the green light for the knee, I will definitely be revisiting that goal!  I will also continue working on my balance (especially doing power yoga every Monday night with Denise and Aaron).

Did you participate in Karen’s “challenge”?  If so, what goals did you set for yourself, and did you meet them?


There’s No *NEED* For The Gym

When I have conversations with people outside the gym about fitness, health, and weight loss they usually combat with, “I can’t afford the gym,” or, “I don’t have time for the gym.”  I understand that the gym is not for everyone.  Some people do not have a gym close enough that they would find it convenient.  Other people truly do not have time for the gym (such as they work during the only hours a close gym is open).  I get that.

However, you do not necessarily *need* a gym to lose weight, be fit, and increase your health.  Food is the number one component anyway.  Really.  What you consume has *far* more to do with how healthy your body is, and how much you weigh.

Aside from food, though (because that is not the purpose or direction of this particular post), there are plenty of options that get your body moving at home – in the office – in the park – anywhere – anytime.  Here are some examples of workouts I have discovered recently that do not *require* a gym membership, and most do not *require* any equipment at all.

I, of course, cannot do all of these exercises right now because of the restrictions for my knee.  However, these look like great workouts and would really deliver some great results (if you stick to them).

The yoga workout above is pretty intense (especially if you do the moves one right after the other) and will really work your body.  I did power yoga last Monday night with Denise and Aaron.  That was the first time I had ever done yoga, and it was seriously intense.  I was pouring sweat (literally) and there were definitely some moves I have yet to master (as in tree with your arms straight up and warrior 3).  Balance is my nemesis – still.  I have improved my balance, but it is still not a strength of mine – yet.

This plank workout is not for the faint of heart – and not for anyone who cannot hold a plank for…a long time.  I plank often (I love them, and, yes, I know that is weird) and this workout still kicked my butt.  No joke.  I ended up using 8 lb weights for the curls and 5 lb for the tricep kick-backs.  I probably could have used heavier weights for the curls, but I did not want to kill myself.  I will also admit that I was not able to run through this entire routine while in plank position.  I did the top two and then stood up.  Two more and stood…then went back for the last one.  I will work up to doing an entire run-though, but that will take some time.  (Which just gives me something to work toward.)

This pilates workout was alright.  It would probably work better for someone who has not done these kinds of moves before (a beginner, perhaps?).  I do Russian twists (similar to the first move) with a 12-lb. med ball, so just twisting like that did not do much for me.  The last move; however, was pretty challenging.  I had a hard time keeping my back entirely straight.  That probably is an indication that I still have some postural muscles to strengthen.  The side plank was pretty easy for me, although I do have trouble figuring out how to position my feet.  Once I get that figured out, I should be golden.

This leg workout is excellent (for me) because it requires no lunging…and only a chair for equipment!  This is one workout that pretty much anyone can do – even if you are just starting out.  Maybe your leg will not go as high to start, but you will still be working those legs!

Everyone has to start somewhere.  I was not able to do a whole lot when I stepped into the gym at over 300 pounds.  At that moment I felt like I was never going to be good at anything (fitness-related).  I felt like I was always going to look awkward and struggle with the simplest moves.  However, just continuing on (not giving up) improved my abilities quickly.  I found that I was doing new things every week.  I was able to squat a little lower, lift the leg a little higher, do two more reps, five more minutes, etc.  My body got stronger every day, and it felt great.

Like I said, you do not *need* the gym.  You just need to make it a priority – in your livingroom, in a park, in your office – and do not let the lack of a gym membership or equipment prevent you from working your body.

Do you workout outside of a gym?  If so, what are your favorite workouts that require little or no equipment?


Finding Myself

This has been a crazy journey…and not a perfectly straight path either.  I have experienced highs and lows, successes and set-backs, joy and frustration…and so much more.  The funny thing is I have learned *so* much about myself in the process.  Things I, apparently, was not aware of before.  For example:

I have crazy discipline/will power.  My journey started a touch over eight months ago, and I can honestly say I have not “cheated” a single time.  I did have a *super small* piece of cake at both of my daughters’ birthday parties, but I did not consider that cheating, per se.  I planned ahead, ate *super tiny* pieces, and exercised my butt off following.  Even my trainer says my food journal looks bizarre without any random “bad” foods lurking about.

I have insane amounts of motivation and drive when I *really* want something.  I must admit I am bad with starting something and not finishing it.  I have always considered myself more an “idea” girl than a “follow-through” girl.  Fabulous ideas pop into my head *all* the time, but I rarely have the endurance to see those fabulous ideas all the way to the end.  I often get bored with things and just let them go.  The good thing about realizing this about myself is that I know when I come across something that *truly* moves me, I will have the “stick-to-it-iveness” to make something wonderful happen.

I am stubborn.  Really stubborn.  Nothing will get me going more than failing at something – especially something I see someone else doing perfectly.  If I falter or struggle with something, you better believe I am *too* stubborn to accept defeat!  I will keep working and keep failing until I get it right.  I will work myself to the point of exhaustion just to say, “I did it.  Finally.”  Denise has learned that about me, too.

I have passion for fitness.  This is something I *never* thought I would say, but it is true.  I absolutely *L*O*V*E* being at the gym.  Love it.  I spend hours, literally, at the gym when I go…and I love every second of it.  I love being around like-minded people – people who value health and fitness.  I also love observing other people doing crazy things and setting goals for myself based on what they are doing.  It motivates me to continue to push myself and step outside my circle of comfort to grow.

I might be an adrenaline junkie.  When I am really working hard, sweating, and feeling all my muscles working to their fullest potential (you know, when your muscles actually start trembling from the weight of your own body)…I have the biggest smile on my face.  When I feel my muscles burning, I want to push harder.  I *love* the way my body feels after I work the crap out of it…and I hardly ever want to stop.  Leaving the gym is the hardest part for me.

The longer I am on this journey, the more I love it.  I have met some amazing and wonderful people.  Inspiring spirits that really motivate me to be better.  Denise is definitely one of them.  I have mentioned before how awesome she is.  My life would not be the same without her in it.  Another is a more recent addition to my favorite people in the world: Aaron.  There is definitely something special about that guy.  He is one of the newer trainers at Fitworks, and I already love him.

The most exciting (and surprising) thing I have learned about myself so far is that I want fitness to be a permanent part of my life.  Not just in the sense that *I* want to work out for the rest of my life.  More so in the way that I want to *share* fitness with other people.  I want to help other people who are feeling how I felt when I started.  Feeling hopeless, like their lives will never change.  Like they are “destined” to be fat forever, regardless of their efforts.  I truly believed (before starting this journey) that I would spend the rest of my life over 300 pounds, and that there was nothing I could really do about it because I had tried *so* many times…and failed.

Meeting the right people changed my life…forever.  Something so small as one person genuinely believing in me is all it took.  One person.  Then it all snowballed from there.

Do you have someone inspiring/motivating in your life?  How instrumental do you think he/she/they have been to your successes and perserverance?


Weigh Day (week thirty-five)

Yes, another week has flown by…and another slow/low week it has been.

I am still so confused how this could be.  I know weight loss fluctuates, and I know muscle growth can counter-balance weight loss.  Logically, I know these things.  Knowing those things; however, does not stop me from feeling irritated.  Sorry.  I know we just had this (whiney) conversation last week.

So, instead of more whining from me, I am just going to recap the week:

Sunday – 2 hours of legs and abs (10,115 steps)
Monday – 2 sessions with Denise (lots of inchworms and modified squat-thrusts) (11,496 steps)
Tuesday – Neil Armstrong machine and arm/abs work (14,860 steps)
Wednesday – legs with Dave (12, 012 steps)
Thursday – Zumba (14,730 steps)
Friday – Physical therapy/legs, arms and abs, Neil Armstrong machine (14,494 steps)
Saturday – break day (11,784 steps)

I will be heading to the gym this afternoon.  I have some new things I want to try out today.  Things I am pretty excited about.  I am hoping to get a whole body workout in today – only a little light on the legs.  Work starts again tomorrow, so I will only have time for physical therapy (which *really* works my legs, by the way) and some time with Neil.

Oh – and about today’s weigh in (I nearly forgot to put that in here – craziness)…


That is 0.6 down from last week.  Still moving.  Still down.  I am going to pretend I am happy and alright with that.  Deep breath and moving forward…

11 weeks; 5 days
28.8 pounds


An Update On This Knee

This knee…is a serious pain in my…knee.  My first physical therapy appointment was yesterday afternoon.  I honestly expected to get a “that’s not that bad” or a “that’ll be easily fixed.”  Let me tell you, that is *not* what was said – ever.

It turns out that my knee is worse than I imagined.  When she marked the edge of my knee cap and then asked me to flex my quad (still lying flat and not bending my leg at all) the shock on her face said it all.  She then marked the edge of knee cap with my quad flexed.  The result?  My knee cap deviates to the left *more* than half an inch when I flex my quad.  I do not even have to bend the stupid leg to dislocate the knee cap – just flex.  My outer quad is *that* much strong than my inner quad.  Go figure.

The other bit of bad news is that my right knee does the same thing…I’m just not symptomatic on that side – yet.  So, all the exercises/stretches I will be doing for my left knee, I will be repeating for my right knee.  Hopefully this will prevent me from doing as much damage to my right knee as I have my left (and, of course, hopefully that prevents the right knee from ever hurting this way).

When the physical therapist checked the strength on all four sections of my quad, it was surprising.  My leg is very strong in three directions, and weak like a child in one (which, of course, is the inner quad).  This imbalance is what is causing my malfunction.  Additionally, my quad muscles and hip flexors are extremely tight, which compounds the problem.  I stretch every day (usually multiple times even), but evidently I am not stretching efficiently enough to properly lengthen/loosen my muscles.  So, they showed me ways to properly stretch…and, who knew a stretch could hurt so bad?!  When she started to stretch the front of my thigh, I almost shot off the table and said an abundance of sailor words!  Sheesh.

In light of this information, I am seriously debating whether continuing with Zumba is a good idea.  I love it, and I seriously want to go back.  However, all that bouncing around and squatting/lunging is strictly forbidden for the sake of not grinding any more of my joint away.  Decisions, decisions.

Looks like this will be a challenging road to travel…and this certainly means more alterations to my workout routines.  I *must* be very aware of how I move my legs and when I flex my quad.  Should be interesting.  Thank goodness I have Denise – she always knows what to do!  🙂


20 Reasons YOU Should Lift Weights

At my gym there is a good mix of men and women that exercise regularly.  I must admit, though, there are very few women who lift weights.  More women are on the treadmills and ellipticals – or in the various cardio classes than on the floor with free weights.  More often when women at my gym decide to “lift weights” they are in the circuit training room using *very* light weights on those movement-restricting machines.

I was talking to one gal last night at the gym who said something along these lines: “I don’t lift weights because I don’t want to be a body builder.”  My guess is that most women (and possibly even some men) associate lifting free weights with “bulking up” and becoming some sort of muscle-bound monster.  That is simply untrue.

I lift weights every week (usually two or three days out of my four to six days at the gym) and I am no where near muscle-bound.  I am; however, just starting to see some real definition when I flex my bicep, and I find this more than a little exciting.  So, I thought I would share some information about lifting weights that I found in a book I just purchased.

1. You’ll Lose 40% More Fat
2. You’ll Burn More Calories
3. Your Clothes Will Fit Better
4. You’ll Keep Your Body Young
5. You’ll Build Stronger Bones
6. You’ll Be More Flexible
7. Your Heart Will Be Healthier
8. You’ll Derail Diabetes
9. You’ll Cut Your Cancer Risk
10. Your Diet Will Improve
11. You’ll Handle Stress Better
12. You’ll Shrug Off Jet Lag
13. You’ll Be Happier
14. You’ll Sleep Better
15. You’ll Get In Shape Faster
16. You’ll Fight Depression
17. You’ll Be More Productive
18. You’ll Add Years to Your Life
19. You’ll Stay Sharp
20. You’ll Even Be Smarter

All of these reasons have an excerpt underneath them in the book that explains the science/proof behind the concept.  Of course this does not mean that cardio is not important, it certainly is.  However, everyone should be lifting weights.  Not super heavy weights, but weights heavy enough to challenge your muscles.  Heavy enough that you have to really work to complete 10 to 12 reps in *perfect form* (the indicator that you are lifting the perfect amount of weight).

Personally, I love lifting weights.  They make me feel stronger and I even can tell a difference the in the way my body feels the day after I lift.  Because of lifting weights, I am *very close* to having my body fat percentage in the “normal” range – high end of that range, of course, but normal none-the-less.  When I started my journey back in July my body fat percentage was over 50%.  I do not have an exact figure because the little machine at the gym does not read anything over 50%.  My BMI was 49.33 (and my BF% is usually 3 or 4 numbers higher).  Now, my BF is 37%.  What a *huge* improvement over the course of less than eight months, right?  Yes, I still have some serious fat to melt away, but I am getting there…thanks to lifting weights.

Do you lift weights?  If not, why?