Friday, June 29, 2012

Riding in the Rain (by Tug)

So my last post was ten days ago.  While not quite the 7 day time frame I was shoting for, it's a lot better than the month between posts that it has been since February. 

So the last time I blogged, I was lamenting the fact that I hadn't done any weight training in a while.  I think it was almost three weeks (or was it two????).  Well... I'm happy to report that I finally got my butt into gear and have been faithfully (can you really say 3 times in one, single, solitary week is faithful???) returning to the basement for workouts.  To my delight, I hadn't lost any noticeable strength.  That is, I was still able to do the same number (or more) of reps at the same weights as when I had stopped the workouts.  I should probably disclose here that my weight training regimen is composed of bench press and curls with free-weights.  I then switch over to using resistance bands for rows and butterflies.  After that, I do planks.  I just started to incorprate lunges into the routine as well.  So its not totally weight training.  Actually, very little weights, unless you count body weight and resistance bands as weight training. 

As you can see, I don't really do a ton of different exercises.  What I've been doing is using the above exercises in a circuit routine, doing a set of each, going from one exercise immediately into the next with no rest in between until all six exercises have been completed.  Then I rest for a minute and do it all over.  Truth be told, I don't have a lot weights in total.  If you asked what my max bench press would be, I'd have no idea.  I'm at the max of weights that I have, but I just keep adding reps.  I'm not completely convinced that this is the way to go in terms of building brute strength (I'd guess most muscle mags would say I'm right), but it is helping me acheive a more "tight" and toned muscular physique, which is really what I want in the first place.  I'm not interested in being able to pull or push a bus off of train tracks (although that might be useful in a dire situation).  I just want to look and feel better than I have the past few years.  I think this workout, however minimal it is, is helping me get to where I want to be.  As a family, we have been watching American Ninja Warrior on TV.  It's been a bit motivating when it comes to wanting to go workout.  About 10 years ago, I think I could've crushed that course.  Or at least finished it.  As I near my 40s I am finding myself longing for the fitness level I had back then.  I wouldn't say that I'm grossly out of shape by any stretch of the imagination, but the Ninja obstacle course would seriously kick my butt today. 

From my workout description above, you can see there's little work for my legs.  I've been using my bike riding for my lower body workout.  Due to some other things going on last weekend (sister and her family visiting from VA and baseball games and birthday parties, etc) I was unable to get out ride like I've been doing.  However, I was able to get out once during the last work week.  In fact, with this bike ride I think I found myself turning a corner in my quest to get out and get fit.  Not so much because of the nature of the ride, but because of the mind set going into the ride. 

For the last two weeks here in Denver it has been HOT.  Yes, all-caps kind of HOT.  Record breaking, triple digit heat almost every day.  Also, we've had a lot of wildfires popping up all over the state, with a couple of them relatively close to the Front Range communities along the Rockies.  On some days, when the wind is right, you can actually smell the smoke from these fires.  We've really had no rain to speak of for almost a month, and a lot of hot, dry and windy days.  What does this have to do with the bike ride?  This past Wednesday made it a week since my last bike ride, so I circled it on the calendar as a day I wanted to get out.  Plus it was Bike To Work Day here in Colorado.  Without riding on the weekend, I really felt like I had to get out and ride.  I was really chomping at the bit.  The Wednesday morning forecast, much to my surprise, actually said it was supposed to rain and thunderstorm in the PM, right where I usually go for my mid-week rides after work.  I packed my cycling shorts, jersey and socks and put the bike in the back of the truck with designs on getting a ride in, certain the forecasters were delusional. 

After work, sure enough, rain was falling when I walked into the parking lot and began heading home.  In the past, this would have been a perfect excuse to pull the plug on my ride.  Not now.  On interstate, heading towards my spot and during stops in the stop-and-go traffic, I changed into my gear and made a bee line for the trail.  I was going to get a ride in, dang it, rain or no rain.  About 2/3 of the way there, the rain stopped and skies cleared.  In fact, the southern end of the trail was sunny.  Even though I thought I was going to get soaked, I had a dry ride. 

I guess the title of this post is a bit misleading.  But i wanted to have it there because of the mindset that it represents.  I wasn't going to let rain put a damper on my need to ride.  That's right.  A NEED to ride.  I have found that I do, in fact, need to ride.  Not only for the exercise, but for the time I get alone, with my own thoughts.  And for the way that finding a good cadence that makes me uncomfortable has an odd way of making me comfortable.  Head phones on, more for background than anything, and thinking about everything and nothing at the same time.  Thinking of my bank account and how it never seems to have as much in it as I want, then focusing on the burn in my quads.  Thinking of Andi and the kids and what our next adventure will be and how I don't see to have enough time to do all the things I want to do with them, then switching gears and thinking of how much my lungs hurt and how badly I want to stop and turn around.  Thinking of how I want more out of life, then finding that the little downhill that is the payoff after the lung-busting climb gives me a second wind that would last the rest of the ride.  Learning that if I push just a little bit harder this time around, it gets easier the next time out.   Somewhere in the miles I have realized something that I've probably known for a long time. As silly as it sounds, cycling has become life.  Life has become cycling. 

I have learned -- or more perhaps more accurately, relearned -- that in order to get anywhere and do anything, I need to push the pedals.  The speed and force with which I pedal has a direct influence on how quickly and enjoyable the trip is. I have everything I need to get where I want.  I just have have to put in the work to make it happen.  My rides are a reminder to put in the work.  The scenery and the feeling afterwards are always worth it.  I can't rest on my laurels.  I need to put in the work.  Whether it's literally at work, or at home, relationally, I need to propel myself forward.  Even when that hilltop seems like too much effort to get to, I need to keep going.  Because on the backside of every hill, there's a fun 35mph white-knuckle descent just waiting to make me smile. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Redefining Goals by Andi

Hello friends!  You have tuned in today!  One week ago I decided to spare the scale its electronic life and stick with my kick-butt circuit workout for another week.  The news this week?  I'm hanging steady at 158.2.  Am I discouraged?  Not really.  I have been eating well, sweating hard, increasing my weights a little (it was getting a little easy) and I have been noticing some cool definition in my arms and shoulders.  Obvioulsy, I am creating muscle and losing a little fat to be doing all this and staying the same weight. 

Back in January, I made a goal of getting to 140.  Not gonna happen.  It's not.  And that's ok.  I would like to slim down still but that weight is not compatable to getting healthy in the way I think I need to get healthy.  Meaning, I want to be strong.  I don't want to be a stick and I don't want to be void of muscle definition.  I think muscle strength begets health in so many ways.  I also think it increases my metabolism to allow me more food thus I don't have to diet.  I just have to eat healthy!  Deal.  But I need a goal. 

First, I plan to run the Dirty Girl run in September.  I need to register.  If any of you want to join me, let me know!  Second, I need to get a better handle on healthy eating.  What does this look like?  Not sure yet.  Minimize processed foods.  Eat natural.  Try to stay around 1400 calories a day.  I am anxious to see a movie recommended by my friend Samantha.  It's called Forks Over Knives.  There is a long wait on our Blockbuster account.  I may have to actually GO to a Blockbuster store!  More on that movie after I get to see it.  And I think I should focus on a smalller size clothes.  I think I will feel a big success in this quest when I can fit into a size 8 and feel NO tightness.  A comfortable 8.  Right now, most clothes are a 10.  Some of them are a little tight.  Most fit well. 

This topic reminds me of a segment on some late night fake news show (Inside Edition or something like that) that told of a dating company that hosted nights out where singles could meet other singles over a drink.  The kicker...all the women had to be a size 8 or lower.  The bouncer staff even checked the womens' clothing tags for sizes! The men had no size restriction.  Shocker.  I was horrified.  Please understand that this has nothing to do with my goal of a size 8.  It's just, I used to be a size 8.  I have a lot of nice clothes that are that size.  I think I would feel good at that size.  I have no plans to check out this dating group.  (I gotta man!)  In fact, I am secreting hoping these desperate women who would allow a bouncer to read their clothing tags will find someone special, get married at a lovely size 4, have a beautiful honeymoon, create a mircle of life, lose all the pregnancy weight and then some, work full time earning enough money to allow them to live a comfortable life and never have to worry about their husbands leaving them for a woman half their age since it's clear thier husbands fell in love with what was on the inside.

Okay!  On that note, I wish you all another great week!  Maybe you can check out that movie Forks Over Knives and comment about it.  This week, I'm going to keep up the circuits, ask my husband to put the scale away to where I won't find it for a few months and enjoy the fact that I can hold the planks for 40 seconds now as opposed to 30 seconds in May. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

40 Miles From Denver...

Wow.  So much for weekly posting.  I've been shameful at following up with my effort of one post a week.

So my last post was May 15th.  That was over a month ago.  Quite a bit has happened since then.  I've started a new job, read some good books, taken some good camping trips with the family, and been on some good bike rides.  There's been some bad in there too.  We'll get to that.

Right after my last post, Andi and the kids and I went on a camping trip to Redstone, CO.  Beautiful campground located south of Carbondale and near Aspen.  Redstone is a very small (population 93) town that was created as a place for a coal baron to house his miners back in the 1800s.  Lots of cool, gingerbread style homes mixed with new mountain style homes.  Andi and I have said we could live there.  Cool place.  Right along the Frying Pan River (a creek by eastern standards).  We spent 3 nights there.  First full day, we all walked the mile-plus into the town from the campsite.  As a treat, we had ice cream and the kids played at the park.  It was fairly hot and the kids didn't want to walk back, so I took Kady and we jogged the mile back to the campsite to get the car for pick-up of the rest of the family.  Even though Kady wanted to stop every 30 feet or so to check to see if the rest of them were behind us, it was a good trail run back.  Got up a good sweat.  Andi may have thought i got the short end of the stick having to go back alone, but i enjoy my solitary time (with the dog) where i can get in some exercise and move at my own, decidedly faster pace. The high altitude makes it even better (read: more strenuous).  The second day we went back into town, then drove up over some mountain pass (can't remember the name).  I saw several cyclists on what was probably 15 miles of uphill at between 6 and 13 grade.  While at the same time thinking them insane for attempting it, a voice in the back of my head said "someday you'll do this".  I do want to get better at climbing hills on my bike.  Someday I'd like to do "Ride the Rockies".

The following weekend, we were in Mesa Verde with the kids and my mom, camping in the pop-up.  This was a great trip.  I'd never been to the extreme SW portion of the state.  After a long 10 hour drive to get there, i really welcomed the out-of-car experiences we had in store for the next two days.  Day 1 was spent doing two guided ranger tours through some of the old ruins in the area.  The tour descriptions all made them out to be pretty strenuous, with steep descents and ascents into and out of the canyons, narrow ledges, and steep ladders to climb.  The rangers even talked of people dying on these trips from heart attacks and tried to talk people out of going.  Channelling my inner Indiana Jones, these were fantastic excursions.  Living up to the hype, there were a couple of times where i was out of breath after some climbs.   Day 2 was filled with more of the same.  The kids would like to go back and I really think we could've used one more day, maybe two, to do some of the "off the beaten path" and unadvertised tours.  They would take longer, be longer, and have more hiking.  Just what I'd want. 

As the above would indicate, we've been pretty busy.  In another frame of mind, I'd use that as excuse for slacking off on my working out.  I really have no excuse.  I don't think I've lifted weights since Memorial Day.  I think I'm enjoying my new time with the kids and Andi too much.  Or maybe I'm enjoying some new TV shows too much.  Or maybe I'm just enjoying coming up with excuses why I don't need to workout.  Whatever is going on, i need to stop it and get back in the mindset of working out.  I don't want to be ripped.  But i don't want to be "soft" either.  So far, i haven't lost the muscle firmness I've built up.  And truthfully, i feel pretty good.  I'd still like to be bigger in the chest and firmer in the gut.  Most people say they can tell I've been lifting weights and that I "look good".  But that shouldn't be an excuse to stop altogether.  We don't have any trips planned until late July and no more Cub Scout meetings until school starts up.  Only baseball on Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings.  I WILL BEGIN TO LIFT WEIGHTS AGAIN.

One thing that I've been very happy with is the amount of cycling that I've been able to get in.  So much so that I'm finally starting to think of myself as a cyclist rather than just a bike rider.  Which i suppose is a good thing.  About a year ago i started shaving my legs like the pros in the Tour de France (and many other non-pros in the Denver area that i see on the bike routes) in a weird way to help me focus on my cycling regimen.  I figured not riding often and having shaved legs would just be weird.  If i could honestly say i was riding a lot, it wouldn't be so weird.  Yeah, weird in and of itself.  I know.  Anyway... back to the riding.  Andi (thank you Lord for giving me such an amazing and understanding wife) has been letting me take a couple of hours after work once or twice a week to get in some short, 20 mile rides.  I've been parking at Riverpointe (Santa Fe and US285) and then riding down to Chatfield, climbing the dam, and then riding back.  The first couple of times, the ride up the dam was awful.  Now its not so bad.  So I'm definitely getting stronger on the sustained uphills.  For Father's Day this past Sunday, i left the house at 8am and set out for a ride to Morrison, then down C470 to Chatfield, then to US285 where I hooked up with the Bear Creek Trail and headed back home.  I wanted to get 40 miles in.  When i passed my doorstep at the house, i had exactly 39, so i road around for another mile before i finished.  My thought on this route initially was that Morrison to Chatfield is typically downhill along C470.  What i didn't account for was the bike path that follows the highway actually has quite a bit of uphill.  The first 15 miles were peppered with long ascents followed by short descents.  The next 15 were a slight and steady downhill, then the last 10 were steady uphill back home.  My legs were cooked when i got home.  I have to say, i really wanted to stop and turn around at about mile 14 but, befitting on a Fathers Day morning, i began to think of my dad and how hard he fought his cancer before he died.  He never gave up the fight against his disease, so why should i give up because of a bit of muscle pain on a bike ride?  I kept going and I'm glad i did.  I felt amazing afterwards.  Tired, but amazing.  I know my goal on January 1 was to ride a charity ride.  That isn't going to happen.  With my new schedule and Andi's continued understanding, i am hoping to train up to 60 or 70 miles on a ride.  That way, when next years bike season kicks off, i can feel very good about entering a ride.  If i can get in two rides mid-week and one ride during the weekend, i should be able to get there.  Some of you might scoff at these totals (i know my brother-in-law would), but hey... you gotta start somewhere and do what you can, when you can.

On the food side, I've been eating a sack lunch at work 4 out of 5 days.  Usually a turkey, ham, or roast beef sandwich coupled with trail mix and/or a granola bar and a banana/orange/apple.  Dinners have been salmon, steak or chicken for the most part, with some salads and fruits thrown in.  Not a lot of meals out, and definitely far fewer fast-food meals than i was eating when i worked at my old job.  Have i mentioned i love the schedule?  Not only is it more time at home, its dinner at home. 

So, by next post, i am hoping to report that I continue to rack up some big miles on the bike and that i have resumed the weight training regimen.  I even want to work in more leg exercises. 

Will it happen?  That remains to be seen.  I've said i would in the past and dropped the ball.  Only time will tell.  I remain committed to a healthier lifestyle.  I just need the will to help me get there.  With the Lord's help, i can do it.

As always.... thanks for reading! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Death to the Scale by Andi

After a week of circuit including tons of sweat and healthier eating, I have gained 2 pounds.  That's right.  My new official weigh loss since January is ten pounds.  Whoo hoo.  (read WTF).  I am very discouraged.  However, I am not dumping this work out.  There is no way this is bad for me.  No way.  I actually ran into the author of this particular circuit workout today in the gym.  I told him of this side effect.  He seemed confused.  Probably thought I was goofing off on the food, which I really have gotten back on track this past week.  He said I am definitely burning a lot of calories so keep it up.  I will.  Another week.  I feel good.  I think weight training is important to overall health so I may have to do something drastic like throw out the little judgemental box in the bathroom. 

Today I increased my cardio by doing 17 minutes of high cardio before the circuit workout.  I did arms and core today.  Still running for a minute in between each set. I also bumped up my run from a 5.5 to a 5.8.  I ate very well.  Had one little bag of skittles but otherwise ate clean.  Oatmeal with blueberries and a little pecans and almonds, thin sandwich buns with turkey, fruit and fat free cottage cheese, a protein shake, 4 oz steak, broccoli, lettuce with low fat dressing.  That's a clean eating day!  Aside from the skittles.  Maybe I am not eating enough?  My workout was about 450 calories.  Something to consider.  I have also done a better job getting plenty of water but I know I need more.  I think I had about 52 ounces. 

Next post will be in 7 days.  What's gonna happen?  Tune-in to find out!  The scale will live another week. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Intro to Circuit Training by Andi

I am disappointed to report to you all that I remain off track.  The past few weeks have been void of discipline.  We took a great camping vacation to Mesa Verde during which time I hiked, but ate pretty bad.  About 2 hours into the drive down there (a ten hour drive) we stopped at a gas station and picked up snacks.  I went over board and chose poorly.  I found chocolate peanut butter bugles.  They were really yummy.  Of course I ate the whole bag which seemed like a normal woman serving size but I am pretty sure the bag was fit for 3.5 servings.  I also picked me up some corn nuts.  I am sure they are not as healthy as I excused them for telling myself "Corn nuts.  Natural.  Corn.  Good for me."  Anyhow, this diversion to the gas station set the tone for my eating for the week.  I had my share of these marvelous thin cookie fig newtons and some wine coolers and Pringles.  Those things are still the bees knees.  As you can imagine, fresh fruit and veggies while camping is not easy.  Anyhow, I am up to 156.4.  So I have gained about 4 pounds since the work weight loss challenge.  It could be worse.

My work buddy, Mikie, got her hands on a really cool workout.  By cool, I mean kick butt.  I learned today (my third day of this new workout) it's called "circuit training."  I have heard this term before but did not realize was it really was.  I thought it was jumping from machine to machine.  What we are doing is running for one minute in between each weight exercise. I alternate days with lower body and upper body.  I have 4 weight exercises and I do 15 reps and three sets.  Upper body is easy for me because I am comfortable with it.  I have been doing that for six months or so.  Lower body weights is new to me.  I discovered some new muscles in my rear!   Who knew?  Circuit training is hard but a good thing.  I really don't like running.  So by the time one minute is up, I am really to get off the treadmill for a break!  Works for me!  I don't like hogging the treadmill for 45 minutes but so far, I don't think I've pissed anyone off too much.  I have been sure to follow the workout with a protein shake.  I moved my workouts to after work.  With the kids new summer schedule, it made more sense to stay a little later at work and work out then.  I will revert to 4:00 wake up time when school goes back in session.  For now, 5:50 works very nicely.  It's a good feeling sipping on a cup of coffee watching the news and kissing my man goodbye for the day.  Or giving the head nod on those mornings when I don't wish to subject him to my morning coffee breath. 

I am happy about what I have accomplished this week with my workouts and eating.  I hope the numbers will show for it next week.  I know muscle weighs more than fat and although I am not bulking up from the past 6 months of weights, I do believe part of my slower weight loss is due to gaining muscle.  PART.  I need to get a hold on my eating. 

For two days now I have used the My Fitness Pal to track my food.  It's so annoying to track food.  But if I eat like I did today for  another 5 weeks, it says I will be down 9 pounds.  So, I think I will get back into the habit.  The so annoying habit. 

Speaking of annoying, we got back on Wii Fit last weekend and I am "overweight" again.  I want to get into that normal range so bad.  I hate hate hate it when the little Wii Fit voice tells me I am overweight especially in front of my family who escape the judgement of little Wii Fit voice because they are all "healthy weight."  And then Wii fit voice has the audacity to tell me that a healthy weight for me may be 132.  Excuse me?  Can we just focus on like 145?  Maybe start with 150.  I think I am kinda healthy now.  So kiss my ass, Wii Fit voice. 

I digress.  Spiritual Finesses.  Tug has been reading a lot of very thought provoking books.  We have had some great discussions on faith.  I started one of the books.  It's called A Case for Faith.  I like it.  However, a little over a week ago, I got together with some girlfriends of mine who I have not seen in a while which resulted in the book taking a back seat.  This "Bunko Group" does not play Bunko anymore, rather we all go out to dinner and eat and talk.  Recently we decided to do a book club with each other.  I have been out of the loop a bit with Tug's old crappy schedule but now I can see them again.  So last we met, we were at a wine/painting place and had a great time.  We always do.  We decided the next book we will read will be Fifty Shades of Grey.  So I bought it on our family Kindle.  I mention that this is our family Kindle so you understand that I need to finish this book fast and delete it before my eight year old decides to give it a try.  Wow.  I heard this book is mommy porn and I cannot argue with that assessment.  I have put aside the Case for Faith for Fifty Shade of Grey and I feel pretty slimy about it.  However, it's intriguing.  I need to know what is up with this man.  Clearly, my spiritual fitness quest is on hold.

So that's the story.  Brace yourself for a big weight loss when I weigh in next week!  This circuit training cannot let me down!