Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What the Fitness Nutritionist Says

I finally got around to contacting a Macros Nutritionist. I had been thinking about it for a few months now. But I wasn't sure if the reason I wasn't losing weight faster with this diet was because I had the wrong numbers or I wasn't being consistent enough. Chances are, it's my consistency. But just to be sure, I wanted a professional to tell me exactly what numbers I should be reaching.

In the Macro-Counting world, there seems to be only one: Paige. Everybody speaks so highly of her. Girls in the challenge say she offered them such great advice. She really does take so many things into account when factoring your numbers. It's a lot more complex than the online calculator says.

It took about two days of back and forth e-mailing. She sent me a questionaire which I filled out and returned. I sent a picture, measurements, my workout plan, and screen shots of my food journal. She asked me more questions about my lifestyle: how active I was at work, if I drank alcohol, how often I went out to eat, etc. Then she gave me the following recommendations:

1. Start taking more supplements. She recommended I take a fish oil, a multivitamin, and vitamin D.

2. Start using Creatine, which is a muscle building supplement. When you are losing weight, the last thing you want to lose is your muscle. And if my goal is to get buff, I am going to need to develop those muscles.

3. Four weight-lifting sessions per week, plus 4 (20 minute) HIIT cardio sessions. This is a less cardio than I was doing time-wise (I was doing 3-30 minutes sessions) but it is one more day at the gym than I was doing before. Or I need to start adding cardio to leg day. Or I just need to find a routine I like at home: perhaps running up and down my stairs for 20 minutes. 

4. And then she gave me these numbers to meet every day:
Protein - 151grams
Carbs - 159 grams
Fat- 60 grams

This is a few more carb grams than I was allowing myself to have, which makes me happy. But it's 5 less fat grams. Plus I need to take a fish oil pill, which contains fat already. I had just gotten used to eating more high-fat options like cheese and peanut butter. I might have to go back to the low-fat methods I was using before. Overall, I think it's only 10 calories less than I was allowing myself before. I will be sitting around 1790 per day.

Most importantly she wants me to start weighing things I never have before, like prepackaged foods. When I eat a granola bar, I just assume it weighs whatever the package says it weighs, but that's not a fact. It could be off a few grams of fats and that can add up fast.

I am considering switching to My Fitness Pal because it seems more user friendly for macro counters, mainly in it lists everything in grams, rather than cups or servings like Lose It does. And it might be time for a fresh start. I have everything logged in Lose It since I got my iPhone four years ago. But if I am rethinking everything I am eating, maybe I should re-enter it and start fresh. Also, the challenge girls always post end of day charts, and mine doesn't do that.

I am excited to get started with them for the New Year. I feel like finally for once, someone has told me what I was supposed to do. Remember when I went to a dietitian, and she looked over my food logs? And for $120 she told me to eat more, mainly for breakfast. But until I found "Flexible Dieting" nobody has ever explained what to eat. There's never been a scientific reason why I can't eat 1800 calories of snickers. Finally somebody has explained food to me logically. Not just a fad, but how your body works. People who follow her numbers get results. If I don't get results in the next 30 days, she'll tweak my numbers until I do. So that's my next goal: consistency.

Best $30 I have EVER spent.

Monday, December 29, 2014

December Challenge Finale

Current Weight: 18.0 pounds
Weekly Gain: .2 pounds
December Challenge Change: + 1.4 pounds

Well, I gained a bit this month. This isn't ideal. And honestly, I am not sure how I gained. I don't feel like my calories were ever over the limit. This means I am either eating too few of calories, or more likely, under-estimating. We all know that I eat out too much. This month was filled with even more of that. I went through a phase where I was scared to death of my kitchen. And I can't say that I am back to 100% comfortable in there. On top of eating out, we ate at other people's houses more than usual. Parties, holidays, cookies, all things that are very hard to track. Underestimating calories is probably what causes most of us to gain weight during the holidays.

Part of me thinks: I have three more days left of the year (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and I could be back to 16.4 pounds or even lower by then. So maybe I will do an end-of-the-year weigh-out. If I remember. And if the number is any good. Otherwise, I am starting the new year at about 18 pounds to lose.

I have contacted a Macro-nutrient Nutritionist. She is going to compile all my stats and exercise habits and past eating history and come up with some numbers for me that I will try to follow for January. I really do believe that Macro-Counting is the most scientifically sound method of weight loss I have ever heard. It seems to work if I stick to it. I just want to make sure I am sticking to the right numbers. I seem to have really good luck at first using the numbers I am getting offline, but then I stall. Hopefully she can help me with that. Ideally, I want to be eating as much as possible and still losing one pound per week. I should hear back from her in a day or two.

My week has been crazy with holidays and working the weekend. I have absolutely no idea what day it is. I have to work this evening, but Erin and I are on for a late gym session none the less. We're off schedule slightly on that as well. Luckily, I only have to work three days this week and then I am off for my birthday weekend. I need to get to the grocery store, get some food prepped, and plan for a nice healthy start to the new year. I am excited to take on 2015. I think it will be an amazing year!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Simply Shredded Week 9

Week Nine. Phase Three. We now move from 6-8 reps to 4-6. We were a tad scared. It is always scary to increase your weight and not know if you will physically be able to lift that bar off you. It's one thing when using a machine and not being able to make it move, but once you've got that squat bar on your back, there's nowhere to go but up!

Day 1 (Monday): Lower Body A. Because of holiday-ish plans, we weren't able to make it to our regularly scheduled Sunday workout. So we rescheduled to Monday night. Most likely, we were more tired than we normally are. My hip was still really sore, though this didn't seem to be a factor. I surprised myself with the machines, but really suffered on the squats. We squeezed out six reps at 115 last week, so I figured I should raise it to 125 (what's a 10 pound increase? A lot!) At 125, I felt like my form was very bad. I never got my booty down to parallel. My legs were burning. And my tailbone was very painful (remember how I fell down the stairs two weeks ago?) By the third set, I took off 20 pounds, making it even lower than last week, but I did eight beautiful squats. Now I don't know where to go from here.

Squats - 125/105 pounds
Deadlifts - 105 pounds 
Leg Extension Machine - 135 pounds 
Leg Curl Machine - 150 pounds 
Calf Raise Machine - 135 pounds

Day 2 (Tuesday): Upper Body A. We were back at it Tuesday evening for arms. After that squat fiasco, I was pretty hesitant to add much weight at all. But I didn't want to miss out on the benefits of Phase III. I was able to go up on everything, even surprising myself with the larger dumbbells for skull crushers. I also was able to do 20s on my curls, which I have tried week after week, and not even been able to do more than one. So I guess I am getting stronger! 

Bench Press - 65 pounds 
Seated Row - 75 pounds 
Seated Shoulder Press - 55 pounds 
Tricep Skull Crushers - 17.5 pound DB (so 35 total)
Curl - 20 pound DB (so 40 total)

Day 4 (Friday): Upper Body B. Then the actual holidays came. I manage to make it to the gym before work on Christmas Eve and I did an at-home HIIT routine on Christmas morning. But family time and gym closures kept us from our weights. We both had Friday off and had planned to make it to the gym. But Erin started not feeling well, and opted to stay home. I knew I needed to attempt the weight on my own, but I was scared to do the lower body day. Upper Body B is primarily machines, so I knew if I attempted to much, I wouldn't be hurt. I started my workout with a 12 minute walk on the treadmill. This always gets my heart rate up for the whole session. Then I attempted going higher on my own. I managed about 2 pull ups at 80, then none at 90 and finally went back to the 100 I have been at for weeks. I was able to increase everything else. 

Assisted Dips - 80 pounds 
Assisted Pull-Ups - 100 pounds
DB Side Lateral - 15 pounds
Tricep Extension Machine - 50 pounds
Bicep Curl Machine - 45 pounds

Day 3 (Saturday): Lower Body B. I started with a ten minute walk/jog on the treadmill. Usually that gets my heart rate up a bit more for the rest of the workout. But something went terribly wrong and my heartrate monitor didn't work properly. It claimed I burned only 95 calories for the 55 minute workout. Even when I can't get my heart rate up at all, I bur 200-300, so this can not be right. And I worked so hard. We increased all our weights. I was able to six of almost everything though. I am cautious to increase too much and I really really want to make sure my form is perfect.

Deadlift - 105 pounds
Leg Press - 250 pounds
Lunges - 105 (bar + 60)
Calf Press - 270

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas to All

I closed the library with Steph on Christmas Eve at 2:00. This morning, I opened the library with Steph at 10:00. She started asking me all these questions about what I had done in the three days since is seen her, and I think my response pretty much sums up Christmas:

If you think that I have had one minute of free time since I last worked with you, you'd be wrong. 

Wednesday. I already had to work early (we close early, so in order to not waste more vacation, we all go in an hour early!) I still made myself get up before work and workout. I wanted to do 30 minutes on the spin bike, but a guy was on it the whole time. So I did sprints in thee stairmill instead. 30 seconds hard - 30 seconds stopped to catch my breath - 30 seconds easy pace. 

Over 300 calories burned later, I headed to work while the rest of the world ran around finishing up their shopping, or enjoying free time with their families. I wouldn't have enjoyed any of those things. Well wishes from my customers is the best part of the holiday season for me!

I got off work at 2:00, picked up some gift sacks, and was home by 2:30. I absolutely needed a nap if I was going to make it through family time. Both from exhaustion and grumpiness. It didn't help that work was dead and I sat there watching the clock tick by for six hours. By 3:15 I was up and showering, and we were on our way. 

4:00- appetizers and wine with Dan's family. Boy, I haven't had wine (or any alcohol in quite a while) I could feel that right away. We played our annual Scrabble game with Joel, ate potato soup, and opened presents. Knowing dinner would be all carbs forced me to eat 11 oz. of pulled pork for lunch. I still didn't hit my protein count. 

Thursday. I thought about doing some kind of at-home workout. I even looked at Pinterest, and back at past workouts I had done during the challenge. But I realized that I needed a rest day this week, and Thursday was just as good of day as any. We slept in a little bit and then headed to my mom's for Christmas with her. My mom is so disorganized and her house is so chaoic, that even an hour there had my blood pressure sky rocketing. The potatoes aren't done, the presents aren't packed up, I have to go get grandma from the home, someone has to let the dogs out, Oh the dog is eating the presents, where did I put that card? Ugh! I was so happy to leave and head over to my aunt's house for our official family Christmas celebration. Maybe next year I should have people over to my house. I just have to stay away from my mother's!

Family time with my mom's extended family. We had ham and potato casserole. The rest was all foods I don't eat. Salads with too much mayo, someone mixing jello with fruit, and weird concoctions I can't even list. I did eat too many cookies and peanut clusters. Once again I stayed to my calorie limit, but I did not meet my protein number. I was out of protein powder, the stores were closed, and there's not no meat left in my house. More family time, and finally that Christmas was over. There are so many things I would rather be doing with my day off. But at least I have someone to share the torture with now! 

After all of that, this is what I had for dinner Christmas night. Janet sent this home with us the night before, because we were too full to eat it. Delicious carbs. Hey, I have to have some kind of celebration, right? And I am never going to make this fit my macros any other day.

Friday. My day started pretty early with my Dad coming to visit us. The best presents always come from my dad. He just buys everything I send him on a list. This in turn makes me feel guilty, because I don't send a list just so he will buy everything. I see all these presents people get for Christmas: new clothes, Christmas money, trips, electronics, and so much of it. Sometimes I get a bit jealous. Maybe I would like the holidays more if I got hundreds of dollars in gifts. But that's not what the holiday is about. I did get some new running shoes. That made me plenty happy. 

My dad left early enough that I could meet Erin at the gym Friday afternoon. However, she wasn't feeling well, and had to skip. I absolutely needed a workout and our schedule is so tight, I could not miss a weight day. We're already behind and just getting further behind with our weekend schedule. I was pretty scared to do legs all by myself (remember this is an increase week.) I also wanted to do some cardio; I had a lot of fluffiness to burn off. I ended up switching my days around and did arm day - alone on the machines is better than alone with a heavy bar on my back. I wanted to do a mile on the treadmill to warm up, but my hip wasn't having it. Afterward, I did a quick 20 minutes on the spin bike. I had a pretty good calorie burn for doing weights. 

Friday evening, we met up with my friend Amy from Atlanta. It was good to catch up with her. There's just so many people to see, and so little holiday time. I hate how rushed it has to be. We ate pizza. Luckily I had a light enough day that I could fit three slim slices and a few chips into my dinner plan. Once again I didn't hit my protein number (I can rarely meet that number if I eat away from home for both meals.) But I did get some protein powder from the store, and create protein hot chocolate. Not a rich and creamy as "regular" cocoa, but for 50 grams of protein, I'll definitely try it again.

Finally, Christmas is over and I am back to work. It's nice to sit down for a second. I have four days of work in a row, and then my schedule lightens up a bit. I still have a Christmas to celebrate with my friends, but that's something to look forward to! Then my birthday celebrations can begin. The kicker is: I would rather skip the food, drink protein shakes, work out, and celebrate with something else. I just don't know what that is! Suggestions?

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Simply Shredded Week 8

Officially, week 8 is the end of Phase II. We have been doing 6-8 reps of everything and next week we are supposed to increase our weight to the point we can only do 4-6 reps. I feel like Phase II is the perfect spot. I'd like to stay here a bit longer. Doing 6-8 reps of something is enough to tire me out, make me feel it the next day, and ensure proper form. I am scared my form will be off when I increase any more. But it's all part of the plan. So on to Phase III next week!

Day 1 (Sunday): Lower Body A. Sunday was pretty ordinary. I was able to increase my squat weight, but just barely get six reps out. I know I will need to increase next week, but I don't want to lose too much of my form. I often impress myself with that leg curl machine. I am able to do more than I think I will eat week.

Squats - 115 pounds
Deadlifts - 95 pounds 
Leg Extension Machine - 128 pounds 
Leg Curl Machine - 130 pounds 
Calf Raise Machine - 115 pounds

Day 2 (Tuesday): Upper Body A. I was having stressed out day on Tuesday. Mostly because I have so many Christmas things to do and no time to get them done. And I have all of these 5ks to do on the treadmill and I am dreading them. But I think a good round in the weight room alleviated a bunch of that stress. I did accidentally go down on my Bench Press weight and didn't realize it until I thought this sure is easy, two rounds in. Then I went back up. I also think that some times I worry so much on increasing weights (this time for seated rows) that I don't use the muscle I am suppose to be squeezing. So I am going to back down on that a bit. Even if I can do eight reps. My curl weight is not increasing. At all. But again, if I could do 20s I would just be swinging and not using my biceps enough.

Bench Press - 55 pounds *try adding 5
Seated Row - 75 pounds 
Seated Shoulder Press - 45 pounds *add
Tricep Skull Crushers - 15 pound DB (so 30 total)
Curl - 17.5 pound DB (so 35 total)

Day 3 (Thursday): Lower Body B. Another leg day. It went fine. Then I made myself do a 5k afterward. My legs were already shaking when I started, but that went away after a little while. But they were dead when I was done. I need to get better at warming up before leg day (well all days) thought. Erin doesn't want to use the treadmill so I only get to do it if I get there before her. And sometimes, I just can't.

Deadlift - 95 pounds
Leg Press - 230 pounds
Lunges - 95 (bar + 50)
Calf Press - 230

Day 4 (Saturday): Upper Body B. I have been a little shocked that I am just not getting better at these assisted pull-ups and dips. Erin challenged me to try 20 pounds less (more) because often we don't realize what we can actually do. I was able to do three. But not four. And I always feel those pull-ups the next day. So I know that I am working, even though it is not getting easier. After a great workout in the weight room, I did sprints on the treadmill (for 5k #8) until my hip hurt so bad I couldn't even finish my run. That's gonna be the end of my treadmill days for a while. 

Assisted Dips - 100 pounds 
Assisted Pull-Ups - 100 pounds
DB Side Lateral - 12 pounds
Tricep Extension Machine - 40 pounds
Bicep Curl Machine - 40 pounds

Monday, December 22, 2014

December Challenge Week 3

Current Weight: 17.8 pounds
Weekly Gain: 2 pounds

What?!?! Bad news this week. Every single day my weight started climbing. 15.8 on Monday, 16 something on Tuesday, 17 something on Wednesday, 18 on Thursday, 19 on Friday. Then luckily it went back down a couple pounds on Saturday and stuck around that number. I don't know what exactly is going on.

I can say: I am not hitting my macros perfectly. My averages for last week were 130 protein (145 goal) 145 carbs (155 goal) 61 fat (64 goal). I am not going over them. But I am not hitting them either. My average calorie intake was 1650, a little lower than the 1800 I am aiming for. This is the second week in a row that I have not hit my numbers and not reached my calorie goal. My thought is that my body is starting to hold on to everything because it is not getting enough. The biggest problem is that I am guestimating everything. We only ate at our own house two or three times this week. Having dinner at my mother-in-law's is even worse than eating out because she doesn't put her nutrition facts online! There are so many treats everywhere, I figure it's better to just quit eating than to risk going into the kicthen and grabbing a cookie (or seeing the bat!) That's why I've been low this week. But my goal for next week is to actually hit the 1800 calories and the macros and hope to see a loss over Christmas week.

Just like Thanksgiving, I am not too worried about the foods for the holidays. We had our annual Cookie bake yesterday. I left after eating one cookie and licking one spoon. I left all the cookies there. I am so proud of myself. Then we met Dan's family at Qdoba for dinner where I used up all my carbs on chips and guacamole. But see, I would much rather waste them on that treat than some cookie I don't really care about.

Working out is going to be the hardest aspect of this week for sure. In the last three minutes of my run on Saturday, my hip (which has been quite sore since I have been doing more treadmill work the last few months) had a shooting pain in it. I couldn't finish running. And I could barely walk the rest of Saturday. I had to take stairs two feet at a time. Sunday morning it was quite a bit better but I decided to rest it up a bit more. I am not going to complete my Twelve 5ks of Christmas. I got 8 of them done. But I am not going to risk that pain again. I will do the final 4 on a bike this week.

Since I was busy Sunday (and with an old-lady hip) Erin and I moved our weight day to Monday. So Monday and Tuesday will be our normal weights. Wednesday the gym is closed anytime I am not at work. Thursday it is closed altogether. I thought Dan and I might take an outside walk, but with my hip hurting, I am not sure that's what I want to do now. Friday, I have the day off, but will celebrate Christmas with my dad, who hasn't nailed down our plans yet. I hope to be able to get another weight/cardio day in there. I work all weekend, and with out-of-town visitors stopping by, my evenings are full as well. I am still hoping to get five workouts in somehow. Even if one is at home.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Finish What you Started

Two weeks from today is New Year's Eve. Two weeks left of 2014. It's time to buckle down and...

I started looking through my goals for 2014. Did I meet any of them? Am I where I wanted to be a year ago?

A year ago I was weighing between three to seven to eleven pounds from my goal weight. Being that close made me realize that the scale was pretty arbitrary and yet I wasn't exactly happy with the shape of my body. I declared that I would stop focusing on losing weight, because that can be mind-numbing after a few years, and start focusing on lifting weights. Well, I accomplished that. Though it took me ten months to get brave enough, or convince my friend Erin enough, to really figure out what that really meant. I wanted 2014 to be the year I did a pull-up. It's not going to be. But it was the year that I figured out how to do an assisted pull-up. Imagine where I would be right now had I actually started this in January instead of late October. 

Not watching my weight also led to me gaining ten pounds in April and another ten in May. Suddenly, I am up twenty pounds and not able to refocus. Then in July, I discovered Macros. It is not fast. But it is scientifically sound. I never go to bed hungry. I am forced to make tough decisions which was something I think was missing from calorie-counting, and I am actually eating to fuel my body rather than just to shove as many delicious things in my mouth. I have lost eleven pounds since I started in July. That's only 2 pounds a month. But I do feel like I could keep this up forever. On the other hand, I am thinking of re-calculating my numbers this week and seeing if I can jump-start another loss. I am also considering paying a nutritionist to calculate my numbers for me. In fact, I am pretty certain I will do this. But that's a post for another day.

Did I accomplish everything I wanted to do in 2014? No. But I am really proud of the things I did accomplish. I can bench press 65 pounds! I can pull up almost half of my weight. I am not scared to use the squat rack in the buff-man's room. I learned to eat a way that actually makes sense. 

But I still have two weeks. And I can't let holiday celebrations get the better of me. So it's time to buckle down. And finish this!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Simply Shredded Week 7

We ended week six feeling really weak, but started seven feeling strong. It led to a good week. We have a routine and we made some great improvements. 

Day 1 (Sunday): Lower Body A. We made the most amazing discovery on Sunday afternoon. Lately the squat bar has really been pinching my back, and affecting my form. I have tried wrapping my towel around the bar and I've tried a variety of sized foam covers they have for it. But they also have this plastic thing that attaches and distribute the weight over your whole back. It made it so much easier to balance and lift the bar. Life changing. Also, I decreased my calf raise today. I wasn't feeling it in the right place, and I think lowering it will make a difference. I am really into form over weight right now. I feel like I have found some happy weights where I know I am pushing myself and don't need to keep increasing. Nothing is easy any longer. 

Squats - 105 pounds (*add)
Deadlifts - 80 pounds 
Leg Extension Machine - 125 pounds 
Leg Curl Machine - 130 pounds 
Calf Raise Machine - 115 pounds
Abs: Leg Raises - non-weighted
Abs: Crunches - non-weighted

Day 2 (Tuesday): Upper Body A. For the first time, I don't think I was able to add one thing on Tuesday. I tried going up on the Bench Press, but couldn't get more than a couple of reps. That probably wore me out for the remaining exercises. I am having the hardest time increasing for biceps. I feel like I have been on that 17.5 for a long time, and I can still only do six.

Bench Press - 55 pounds *try adding 10
Bent Seated Row - 65 pounds *add
Seated Shoulder Press - 45 pounds
Tricep Skull Crushers - 15 pound DB (so 30 total)
Curl - 17.5 pound DB (so 35 total)

Day 3 (Thursday): Lower Body B. Today we made another revolutionary realization. We were having trouble increasing our deadlift weight because we couldn't get the heavier bars off the rack and off the floor. We have to rely on one another to lift it back onto the rack it is kept on. Once, after I had deadlifted the 80 pound bar alone (Erin missed that day) I thought I was going to have to ask a stranger to pick it up for me. Then we saw a man using the squat rack to do deadlifts. There's a place right there about knee level. So you can load it up and remove the weights without having to lift 80+ pounds. All you have to do is the deadlift, which uses your legs and butt more! I was able to increase my weight today, and will be able to increase again next time. And we've all but cut the ab work out of our routine. I know that's bad, but it's not my top priority right now. 

Deadlift - 85 pounds (*add)
Leg Press - 230 pounds
Lunges - 95 (bar + 50)
Calf Press - 230
DB Shrugs
Abs: Weighted Oblique Twists - n/a
Abs: Back Extension - n/a

Day 4 (Saturday): Upper Body B. We have hated the cable machines since day one. Erin feels like her form is off, and I feel like I am over-compensating with other muscles. So we switched to the "regular" machines for both triceps and biceps. I don't think I love the bicep machine, but for once I could feel my triceps burning doing that workout. Besides that big change, I am not getting any better with my pull-ups and dips. But I just keep trucking along!

Assisted Dips - 100 pounds 
Assisted Pull-Ups - 100 pounds
DB Side Lateral - 12 pounds
Tricep Cable Pull-downs - 37.5 pounds
Tricep Extention Machine - 35 pounds
Bicep Cable Curl - 27.5 pounds
Bicep Curl Machine - 40 pounds

Monday, December 15, 2014

December Challenge Week 2

Current Weight: 15.8 pounds
Weekly Loss: .6 pounds
December Loss: .8 pounds

That fifteen finally came back this weekend. But I didn't have the greatest week. I stayed under my calories, and that included a work Holiday Party, so I am pretty proud of that. I also stayed under my Carb numbers, which is extra hard this time of year. But I did not meet my protein or fat requirements and this left me feeling pretty weak and malnourished this week. Please see my notes on squirrels, here!

I certainly am proud of myself for not turning to comfort food and cookies while I was holed up in my bedroom or out of my house most of the week. I am slowly getting back to using my kitchen and sitting in my living room without being a nervous wreck. And my stomach seemed to be less queasy starting Friday, when the trapped was removed from my kitchen.

The common thought was that it was actually a bat - I have an ex-bat zoologist on my library staff. She says that's what a bat would look and sound like. She also says a bat can get through any small space that a mouse could, and an exterminator would not be able to see that small of an opening. This does not make me feel better in that, the bat could return. But the hole in my ceiling is closed up and I am now encouraged to call that drywall guy sooner than later.

Anyway, back to my weight loss. Since the .6 pounds this week was actually from eating lower-calorie than usual (I averaged about 1400 this week) I sure hope I don't see a gain when I get back to my 1800 calories this week.

I did manage to get to the gym five times this week. I am getting so burned out on the treadmill, so I let myself use the Spin Bike for my day of cardio this week. But now I am feeling behind on my Twelve 5ks of Christmas. I have completed 4, and this is the half way point. I don't imagine having more time to do cardio in the next two weeks. But I am determined to get them done! I just imagine I will hate the treadmill by the time I am done.

We're working on week 8 of Simply Shredded this week. That means week 9, and the increase from 6-8 reps to 4-6 should be next week. We are contemplating repeating this week, since next week is Christmas and our schedules are all messed up. The gym is closed and we have to work odd hours. We'll see what happens when we actually compare free time. We just don't want to have to attempt the increase week alone, since it's the most challenging!

All in all, things are going well. My weight is not just falling off, but this time of year, I am happy with the small losses I am seeing.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A Squirrel Attack

Last Saturday morning I was sitting in my living room and I heard some scratches at my chimney. I thought maybe a bird had gotten trapped somewhere. I hate birds. So instead of getting anything done productive around my house, I spent most of the day upstairs. By Saturday evening it was gone. And I spent Sunday in the living room with no problem.

I happen to have Monday off and had just returned from taking Dan to work when I sat down on the couch. I heard a skittering sound over my head, but I tried to convince myself it was just a squirrel walking outside. Then I happened to glance over at the hole in my kitchen ceiling (it's still there from when the plumbers fixed a problem) and I swear I saw something looking down at me.

I freaked out!

I think it's safe to say I had a panic attack. I was hyperventilating crying and shaking all at the same time. I called Dan but he couldn't really help me because he was at work. So I called Jennifer. She was able to calm me down a bit and look up phone numbers for the exterminator. 

I called the Orkin man but it took him three hours to come out. 

The absolute worst part was that my keys were on the counter under the kitchen hole. I was a prisoner in my own home. 

Finally the exterminator comes. He spends two hours at my house. He looked everywhere. He says he can hear it. He thinks it sounds bigger than a mouse. Probably a squirrel he says. But he cannot find anywhere that a squirrel would be able to get into the house. He even asks if it could've come to the front door, like with a delivery man, or in with our Christmas tree. There is not. 

He decides to cover the kitchen hole with the trap. So eventually the squirrel will wander into the hole and be caught in the trap. Just dangling above my kitchen counter. 

I guess this makes me feel safer because at least he can't jump on my head. 

I know it is not logical. I know it is not sane. But I am deathly afraid of bats, squirrels and mice and all rodent type things that can get into my house. I was sick to my stomach that afternoon. 

Now it has been five days. We have not heard from the squirrel; he has not found the trap. I believe this is how insanity begins.

The exterminator says there are a few options: 1) The squirrel died in there, and we will be smelling it very soon. 2) maybe it wasn't a squirrel after all, just a loud mouse. And therefore he's probably still somewhere in my house. 3) or the squirrel left. Though the exterminator claims this is not possible since there is absolutely no way he got in the first place. 4) My co-worker Debbie thinks it looks like a bat, and says it has left if I don't still hear it.  5) Dan thinks it's time to commit me.

I have been sick to my stomach every day since then. I know it's the anxiety, but I can't get it to go away. I do not walk to the kitchen alone. I do not eat at home. I don't even like to be in my house.

This has caused me to not hit my macros numbers at all this week. I can not stand and weigh things in the kitchen, I cannot have my back to the hole. Even though it is covered. On Wednesday I got smart and bought some milk and protein powder for my work breakroom. But I still wasn't able to hit my protein without having snacks at different point in the evening.

Friday, the exterminator came and took the trap away. Everyone acts like it is over. This morning Dan fixed the hole up so nothing can get to me. But I still haven't been able to be down there. At least not alone. I don't know when I will be able to go into another room without scanning for mice or bats. I don't know when I will be able to be in my house by myself. I don't know when my tummy will stop hurting.

Even if I can't get my macro numbers, I have made sure to stay under my carbs. I have done fine, and saw a 15 on the scale again this morning. If anything I am a little weak from not eating enough and that in turn has impacted my weight lifting.

UGH! If I could just unhear what I heard and unsee what I saw!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

December Challenge Week 1

Current Weight: 16.4 pounds
Weekly Loss: .2 pounds

I have been MIA and I am sorry. It's a long story and I will try to get it documented tomorrow.

That 16.4 is Monday's weigh-in. It was a really small change from the 16.6 last week, but at least it is down. Unfortunately the 15 didn't stick around for long. It has to be here soon, but I haven't seen it any this week. I am just hoping for any loss come next Monday.

Erin and I have been doing our Simply Shredded and I feel like I can see my arms toning up. But when I take comparative photos, they are the same. I tried to measure too, but that's so arbitrary and hasn't seemed to change. I am definitely getting stronger. Sometimes I miss BodyPump, just the camaraderie But I love the flexibility, the quickness, and the strength building this program provides. We're already talking about making our own program after this, and what we want to add and never do again.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Simply Shredded Week 6

We did a lot of rearranging last week, just so we could do week five together, but I did more of week six alone than I ever had before. At least now we know what we are doing and it's kind of all auto-pilot. 

Day 1 (Monday): Lower Body A. My week started off on the wrong foot. We usually do leg day on Sunday evening, but Erin had to work the weekend, so we pushed it back to Monday. Then I ended up having to work late on Monday and she had the day off, so we decided to go separately. I was determined to do it, even if it was 9 o'clock at night.  I was only there 45 minutes, I never warmed up and I burned less than 300 calories. But the next day, my legs were on fire.

Squats - 95 pounds (*add another 10)
Deadlifts - 80 pounds 
Leg Extension Machine - 115 pounds (*try 120 which was impossible this week)
Leg Curl Machine - 125 pounds (*add 5-10)
Calf Raise Machine - 135 pounds
Abs: Leg Raises - non-weighted
Abs: Crunches - non-weighted

Day 2 (Tuesday): Upper Body A. My legs were so sore from Monday, but I got to the gym early to run a 5k before arm day. This left me pretty tired, and I don't know if that had an impact on my lifting, but I felt like everything was really hard. We switched up our "bent row" for a "seated row" this week. We both have felt that we weren't using the right muscles in the bent row (Erin thought her lower back hurt too much, and I felt like I was using my shoulders and fore-arms.) By using the seated version, we took the gravity out of the move, and focused everything on our back. I could certainly feel it the next day and plan to make that a permanent change. 

Bench Press - 55 pounds *try adding 10
Bent Seated Row - 60 pounds
Seated Shoulder Press - 45 pounds
Tricep Skull Crushers - 15 pound DB (so 30 total)
Curl - 17.5 pound DB (so 35 total)

Day 3 (Thursday): Lower Body B. Erin had to bail on me, but promised to go the next day, when I was busy. So I went all alone on Thursday night as planned. It wasn't bad. I have been sticking with weights for more than one week on this Phase II section, so it would seem that I finally have things high enough. To the point where I almost contemplate lowering to get perfect form. But instead I have just been staying and aiming for six reps. Like lunges, this was my second week doing 95 pounds. I was able to do 8 each time but it was really really hard. So I am going to stay there another week, rather than risk hurting myself next week. This was also the first time I couldn't just keep going on the leg press machine; I may have actually found my max weight. I could only do six! It was just me and another guy in the weight room and I felt completely comfortable. How far I have come in six weeks!

Deadlift - 80 pounds
Leg Press - 230 pounds
Lunges - 95 (bar + 50)
Calf Press - 230
DB Shrugs
Abs: Weighted Oblique Twists - n/a
Abs: Back Extension - n/a

Day 4 (Saturday): Upper Body B. Saturday has now become the day when we see little improvement and everything seems super hard. We met early in the morning, I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but I just couldn't increase anywhere. I took ten pounds off my dips, and went from 12s to 15s on my laterals, but that's it. I am trying to be okay with that. We both agree that the cable machine is awful. I actually have a lot of problems with it hurting my wrists and Erin has problems with achieving the proper stance. I am not sure if we have it adjusted wrong or what. But we're considering moving over to the bicep/tricep machines next week. The machines seem to really focus on the muscles you are using, versus making you use your whole body. Since we use free weights on the other arm day, it doesn't seem like the machines would be so bad. Of course we don't want to hurt ourselves.

Assisted Dips - 100 pounds 
Assisted Pull-Ups - 100 pounds
DB Side Lateral - 15 pounds
Tricep Cable Pull-downs - 37.5 pounds
Bicep Cable Curl - 27.5 pounds

Friday, December 5, 2014

Birth Weight

On Tuesday, I realized it was just five weeks from my birthday. Usually I am doing some sort of birthday weight-loss countdown, but the challenges have distracted me. And suddenly, I was filled with even more determination. I know that I am heavier this Thanksgiving/Christmas than I was last year. But not a ton! And I realized that if I worked really hard, there's still a chance, that I could be at a lower weight by my birthday this year than I was last year.

The best part of having a blog is being able to look back at these sorts of things. Here is where I have been the last few years:

2014 - 11 pounds from goal weight.
2013 - 18 pounds from goal weight.
2012 - 28 pounds from goal weight.
2011 - 25? I did keep a record at this time.
2010 - 5 pounds from goal weight, but what I consider my happy weight!

Here is where I was at my Monday morning weigh-in: 15.4 pounds from goal weight.

I have five weeks. My plan is structured so that I lose one pound a week. Which would put me a little under last year. Ultimately, I don't have a lot of control over that scale. I can have a perfect week and lose nothing, and a not so perfect week and lose three pounds. I could be up two pounds tomorrow, just because the scale doesn't like me. But there's also a chance I could be down tomorrow. And down five pounds by my birthday. But I can't let anything derail me.

Here is my motivation whenever:
  • someone offers me a christmas cookie.
  • wine is served at a family gathering.
  • there are delicious muffins on the breakroom table.
  • the annual staff breakfast occurs.
  • all the other holiday parties happen.
  • I am stressed because my shopping isn't finished yet.
  • Or started for that matter. 
  • I want to go out to dinner and not track it.
  • I don't want to eat any more protein. 
  • Ever again.
I mean, look how cute I looked last year!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Thanksgiving Thoughts

I started to write a pre-Thanksgiving post last week. About all the things I am thankful for. I do believe in being grateful. I think happy people are happy with what they have, and that's the most important thing in life. Recognizing the simple joys. It's hard though. I am always trying to be better, do better, weigh less, make more. My friend Jen once told me that I was the most restless person that she had ever met. I don't like to sit still for long. And I am always moving forward to the next thing. But I came to a few realizations this weekend and I think that they should be shared. They aren't necessarily new thoughts. They aren't life changing. But during a long weekend devoted to being thankful, they got me thinking.

1. If you had one day to celebrate, would this be it?
The challenge girls started quite a discussion about enjoying the holiday and eating healthy and not counting calories and what everyone's approach to the big day would be. The biggest consensus was people weren't going to worry about what they ate. They were going to start the day with a good workout, then they were going to enjoy all the delicious foods their family members cooked and start again the next day. This is a fine approach. But I decided it is not for me. This is pretty much how I have lived every Thanksgiving or Christmas, or other holiday, or celebration or Friday night. And I have learned that if I really want to see results I have to be consistent. Every. Single. Day. I know that I could have gained a few pounds this weekend had I not tracked everything. And when I have to work that hard for every pound loss, it's not worth it to throw three weeks away. And that's the realization I had: Thanksgiving isn't worth it. I had three celebrations (Dan's parents, Grandma's retirement home, my mom's house) and none of it was the best food I have ever had. It was turkey and mashed potatoes and green bean casserole and rice, and pie, and rolls. Just like it was every year. And those foods are good. But they aren't great. This isn't the day I wanted to waste all my hard work on.

So I made a deal with myself: if I stick to my macros for all three Thanksgivings, and all four Christmases, I will have a no-counting celebration. And it will be a Mexican Restaurant. And it will involve Enchiladas, and chips and salsa, and margaritas. And that will be a celebration. One I can be excited about. And it will be worth it!

Hearing everyone complain when the weekend was over and they had gained pounds or were starting over, made me realize just how happy I was with this decision.Monday came, and I was lighter than ever. Not back to square one.

2. Eating is a social obligation.
I did feel like the odd person out at most Thanksgivings. I only had dessert once. So the other two times, I passed on dessert, which sounds odd. At the time, I felt guilty. Now I feel victorious. I couldn't make myself pass at my mother-in-laws. It just seems rude. And I know that sounds ridiculous, but it does. I would be the only one passing. It's not an option. Instead I said: I am so full, maybe just a little slice. The truth was, I wasn't full. I ate less than I normally eat at lunch. I just didn't want dessert and definitely didn't want to use up all my carbs.

Same goes with wine. I passed. Everyone else partook. I didn't think it was worth it. I felt strange having water.

But even more than passing on dessert or drinks, I realized that I generally try a little bit of everything. I feel like I should try Janet's rice pilaf and Carol's broccoli salad. I do it to be nice. So I can say ooh, that's salad's really good! So that when people look at my plate they don't realize I skipped their dish. But this year, I just passed. I had turkey, mashed potatoes and green beans or salad. That was it. I worried they would ask if I'd tried it, or don't you eat rice, Karrie? They didn't. But I noticed how much of what I eat is social. Not just: we're going out to eat as a social outing and eating is involved. But: I must eat something I don't want to because it is not socially okay to not participate.

My biggest realization: I have a messed up relationship with food, and way too much guilt in my life.

3. Food as fuel
I have talked about this on several occasions, but it's really my biggest goal right now. I need to see food as fuel. That is it. It doesn't have to have emotional ties to it. It shouldn't be filled with guilt. It shouldn't even have happy feelings associated to it. I need to eat certain foods to keep my metabolism working, my muscles growing, to give myself enough energy to function and survive. That is it. As I get more and more used to counting Macros, this becomes easier to recognize. When I am forced to eat more chicken to reach my protein goal, it is easier to see what I must eat rather than what I'd like to eat.

I think this helped with my eating on the holidays (and I say plural holidays because I have had three already.) There is a point to eating mashed potatoes: I love them. But they don't really fuel me (maybe a little energy) and I don't really need them. So if I can do with just a taste of two, I still got to enjoy them. But I had to fill my plate with dry and boring turkey, because that is what I needed to grow my muscles and lose a pound this week.

In a way this sounds sad. There's no point to eating pie, I don't absolutely love pie. I skipped the pie. Eating is associated with happy celebrations. But the day is supposed to be about so much more than that. I wish we all could re-direct our focus.

I am trying to think of things I could do for my birthday that wouldn't involve food. Not with Dan. Not with my friends. Not with my family.

4. Holiday Hatred
Which leads in well to my ever present dread of the holidays in general. I have tried to pinpoint it. I can't. People seem to love food and families when it comes to the holidays. If I am trying to take the food out of it, that leaves family. I don't love spending time with my family. I see it as a chore. I feel guilty for feeling that way. But I would rather spend time alone. I resent the fact that I get a day off of work that I am forced to spend with people.

Dan thinks I hate being forced to do anything, and that is why I hate the holidays.

But I saw two cars go down the road this weekend with Christmas trees and I got so excited for those families. I started to wonder: am I jealous of everyone else's holiday traditions? I really want to love Christmas. I put up my tree, I love the songs, I put out lights, I get happy to see Santa. None of these things have to do with my family. But do I wish that I got to do these things with people I love? Yes. I decorated my tree alone. Dan has no interest in it. I have decorated my tree alone for years. Yet I still do it. Because some year I am going to love Christmas...

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Challenge

Current Weight: 16.6 pounds

I actually weighed in a little under that this morning. But too many different weigh-in days is too confusing. So that 16.6 was my closing weight for November and it will be my starting weight for December. Then, if I already have a jump start on this week's loss, oh boy! I was down to 15.4 this morning. It almost brought a tear to my eye. For December, the weigh-in day is back to Mondays, so even more accountability.

Every weekend I have a mini goal to weigh the same on Monday that I do on Friday morning. And then everything I do over the weekend has to lead to that goal. I don't expect to lose weight over the weekend, but I don't want my weekend choices to derail all the hard work I did during the week. I made that same goal with myself on Thursday morning last week - the first day of a long weekend. And then, due to sodium intake, or lack of water, not bad eating, I was up a pound on Friday. Luckily it came back down. And in a big way.

I am just smiling about that 15.

You know I love when a new month begins on a Monday. It brings me so much motivation and excitement about what the month holds. Unfortunately I am starting this month off, with too much work to do after the holiday, a sick co-worker, a 10 hour work day, and having to go to the gym alone tonight at 9PM. But I am going to go. I have to meet Erin tomorrow for Arm day, so I can't get off! I just wish I had gone yesterday, when I had the day off. But she had no way of knowing that my coworker was going to ruin our plans. And ultimately, I hate how much my co-workers ruin my plans. They should have no effect on me, but alas, they do.

I am not going to let that scheduling get me down. On my lunch break, I am headed to the grocery store to get supplies for the whole day (I only get one lunch, but am going to need to eat again before I get off of work!) I have a meeting with my Teens this afternoon. I am going to get some healthy choices for snacks. They hate that, but it's less temptation for me. Then I am going to change for the gym before I leave work. So I am ensured that I will get there! If I can make it through today, the rest of the month should be easy breezy!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 2014 Recap

My official weigh-out for my November challenge is tomorrow morning. It is also the official weigh-in of my December challenge. Same great ladies. They are doing such a great job holding me accountable and getting me to eat better and try workouts I never would have done. I never would have known about Simply Shredded if someone in that challenge hadn't appointed me in the right direction. I probably would have just said screw it for Thanksgiving (number one, two and three) but I didn't. Some of them agreed to not count, but I made a pledge to stick to my numbers and I did it. More on that later...

November was my most successful month since July.
Starting Weight: 20 pounds
Ending Weight 16.6 pounds
Total Loss: 3.4 pounds

I didn't lose the five pounds I wanted to lose. I didn't see the 14 pound mark. But I did see the scale move, and that is the most it has moved (in the right direction) in a few months. I only lost 1.2 pounds in October, so I more than doubled that. Overall, since I started counting Macros, I have lost 10 pounds. But I started at the beginning of July. It doesn't seem that long ago, but five months, 10 pounds, is really slow weight loss. But it's still ten pounds!

I met my goal of moving 75 miles in November. I didn't do it all with walking and running. I had to do about 38 miles on the spin bike. I did the other 37 with the original plan. It just got too cold here too early, and for three weeks in November, I could hardly go outside. I didn't want to hate the treadmill anymore than I already did. So I am happy with those numbers. The December challenge is requiring 37.2 miles - all walked/run. So I am glad I saved some of my treadmill hours.

I also met my goal of counting macros and doing the four weeks of Simply Shredded. And like I have mentioned, I love that program and plan to keep it up for the 12 weeks. Then I might make my own similar plan, but there are some things that I never want to do again (the cable bicep curl hurts my wrists!)

Here my my really vague goals for December:
1) Lose three pounds over the holidays. That puts me at 13 pounds just in time for the new year.
2) Survive the holidays. Mentally.
3) Keep tracking, even those holiday goodies.
4) Stick to the 4x/Week lifting plan.
5) Run (or walk) 12 5ks of Christmas - that is the 37.2 goal of the December Challenge. I would like to do them at 5ks, not individual miles. Obviously I won't be doing any outside. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Simply Shredded Week 5

Week five already! Here's where we enter part II of the 12 week program. In phase II you are supposed to lower your reps to the 6-8 range rather than the 8-12 we've been doing. This is the real lifting heavy phase. Everything up to this point has been perfecting form, learning how to use the machines, and making sure you got in a pattern. 

It was difficult to know how much to increase. It's not like 10 pounds on the squat bar is even close to 10 pounds on the tricep bar. On the other hand, we really wanted to push ourselves.

On top of all of this, it's Thanksgiving week. While this is great for me: I only work Monday-Wednesday and have a four day weekend, Erin has to work the weekend and will be out of town Thursday for the Holiday. Plus the gym has reduced hours. This means that for the first time ever, we had to double up one day. 

Day 1 (Sunday): Lower Body A. Late Sunday evening, after Thanksgiving #2, I met Erin at the gym to get week 5 off to a great start. I think it's hard to gauge how much you should increase. Knowing you only have to do six reps seems much less daunting, but if you get down into a squat position and can't get up, then what? It's easier with the machines, because if it's too heavy, it just won't move for you. I would say we pushed ourselves and my legs were shaky when I left. I would also say that I wan't impossibly sore the next day, so I will probably try to increase a few things.

Squats - 95 pounds (*add another 10)
Deadlifts - 80 pounds 
Leg Extension Machine - 115 pounds (*try 120 which was impossible this week)
Leg Curl Machine - 125 pounds (*add 5-10)
Calf Raise Machine - 135 pounds
Abs: Leg Raises - non-weighted
Abs: Crunches - non-weighted

Day 2 (Tuesday): Upper Body A. Because of the holiday, we had to do our first combination day. We started Tuesday evening with arms, like normal, but we added legs on at the end. Boy were we dead by the end of that. I'm not sure if that impacted our results, but it's worth noting. I made the biggest improvement on the Shoulder press this week. We had been doing 30 pounds and really wanted to move up the assisted machine, but you have to be able to do the 45 pound bar. So we did.

Bench Press - 55 pounds
Bent Row - 50 pounds
Seated Shoulder Press - 45 pounds
Tricep Skull Crushers - 12 pound DB (so 24 total)
Curl - 17.5 pound DB (so 35 total)

Day 3 (Tuesday): Lower Body B. Like I said, we were really warn out by the time we were half way done with this workout. We had already been at the gym for 40 minutes by the time we started this one. We ended up cutting out the abs this week. I meant to do them at home, but never did. I felt extremely dead when I was done with this, like unable to climb my stairs when I got home. But I wasn't as sore the next day as I thought I would be.

Deadlift - 80 pounds
Leg Press - 210 pounds
Lunges - 95 (bar + 50)
Calf Press - 210
DB Shrugs
Abs: Weighted Oblique Twists - n/a
Abs: Back Extension - n/a

Day 4 (Friday): Upper Body B. We moved our usual Saturday arm workout to Friday, because we both had it off from work, whereas Erin had to work the weekend. These must be the tiniest little muscles because I just don't seem to improve on them at all. But I still have 7 weeks. And I am expecting the gains to become exponential

Assisted Dips - 110 pounds 
Assisted Pull-Ups - 100 pounds
DB Side Lateral - 12 pounds
Tricep Cable Pull-downs - 37.5 pounds
Bicep Cable Curl - 27.5 pounds