Friday, April 30, 2010

Today was a good day!

I've been a member of for several years now and haven't lived up to the goals I've set for myself on there. The site is fantastic, but it also holds you accountable. Some days I just don't wanna hear I screwed up. I don't want to see that I went 500 calories over my allotted intake, so if I don't plug in my food for the day, then I don't know that I went over. And if I didn't see that I went over, then it's like I didn't go over. Yeeeeeaaaaaah. There's logic & common sense for ya, right?

Anyway...I have been trying to get to the bottom of my shitty metabolism or at least see if its shitty metabolism or just my own denial rearing its ugly head again. The last few blogs have touched on that, I think.

Since I'm trying to figure out what's going wrong and where, I've been trying to do better about logging what I eat, what I do for my workout, etc so I can track exactly what's going on.


Today was the first day in THREE years that I didn't go over on ANY of my nutrition goals for the day. Some days I'll be fine on calories, fat & carbs, but be waaaaaay under on protein. Other days I might be okay on everything but fat or carbs. It's tough to get a good mix of where I should be. Today, though...I made it.

I'm pretty proud of myself!!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

General Training and My Typical Workout

From everything I've read and researched about High Intensity Interval Training, it is based on a "work smarter, not harder" mentality. The body doesn't need to work out for hours on end. You don't need to work every muscle, every day. In fact, it's recommended to alternate cardio & weight-training every other day so your body has time to heal itself between workouts. Make sure to stretch, warm-up and cool-down before and after every workout, regardless of what you're doing. This can prevent injury, increase blood-flow and help flush toxins from your body that can harbor sickness and disease.

Weight training will help you build muscle. The stronger the muscles, the more quickly and easily you will burn excess fat. Cardio training will help strengthen your heart & lungs and increase blood flow throughout your body. (The links will show you the numerous benefits of each type of training and their effects on your body & overall health. You can Google them both for more links to various articles online.)

All gyms should offer you a session where a trainer will show you how to work the machines. Many gyms will also offer a personalized training session where you learn how to monitor your resting heart rate and figure out what machines are best for you based on your fitness goals. They can also help you determine what your maximum heart rate should be so you don't overdo it. Some gyms charge for this consultation. Others don't. The YMCA is where I learned what works best for my body and the service was included in my membership. If you don't know for sure what your gym offers, ASK! And even if it is a small fee to have a trainer help you get started, it's well worth the money spent. You can avoid injury and wasted time & money by knowing what you should be doing to meet your goals. 

While the links are posted to the left, I thought I'd break down my workout for you. This is NOT meant to set any example of what you should do. That should be determined by you and your trainer. This is simply an explanation of what my trainer and I figured out for me.

  • Stretch - 10 minutes - warm up the muscles.
  • HIIT on the treadmill (including warm-up & cool-down)  - described below
  • Stretch - 10 minutes - cool down the muscles 
  • Stretch - 10 minutes - warm up the muscles
  • Circuit Weight Training - Upper & lower body muscle groups: This includes several machines that work upper back, shoulder, chest, arms, abs, thigh, calf, butt and lower back muscles. 
  • Stretch - 10 minutes - cool down the muscles
I do crunches/sit-ups every day, whether I'm at the gym or not, seven days a week. At home, I tuck my feet under the edge of  the couch and do between 40 and 50 full sit-ups, taking a minute or so between reps of 10. At the gym, I use a bench with a 30-45° incline and I do crunches. Because of the incline, I do fewer of them for now - usually cranking out about 20-30 - again, doing reps and taking breaks. I do ab-work daily because the majority of my excess weight is in my belly and the leaner the muscles in those areas, the more quickly and easily I will burn fat in that area. 

As far as my HIIT goes (an example of the first week doing this training):

0:00-5:00     3.0 mph - a slow, but steady walking pace
5:00-5:30     5.0 mph - a slow, but steady jogging pace
5:30-6:00     3.0 mph
6:00-6:30     5.2 mph
6:30-7:00     3.0 mph
7:00-7:30     5.4 mph
7:30-8:00     3.0 mph
8:00-8:30     5.4 mph
8:30-9:00     3.0 mph
9:00-9:30     5.2 mph
9:30-10:00   3.0 mph
10:00-10:30 5.0 mph
10:30-15:30 2.4 mph

The highlighted time frames are my "sprints." (Granted, this isn't a sprint for most people, but when you're carrying around 80 extra pounds on legs with a 26" inseam, it sure as hell feels like one. With time, that pace will increase.) When I first started this workout, I had 30 second sprints with a minute and a half in between to ease off and catch my breath. Then, as time went on, I decreased the time to a minute between them, now, thirty seconds between them. Starting tomorrow, I will increase the number of sprints I do from the 6 I do now up to 8 sprints, then 10 the following week or two, then 12 after that. Once I'm consistently doing twelve 30-second sprints without as much difficulty, I'll increase my pace and spread out my stride so my legs are opening more and I'm covering more distance (which will make my pace not seem as difficult. It will work those legs muscles, however and increase the cardio workout I'm getting). 

Over time, this workout (like all workouts) will put you at a plateau. For those unfamiliar with that, it's where what you're doing just doesn't seem to be working much anymore. You can do several things to change that:
  1. Increase your pace
  2. Increase your incline
  3. Spread your stride farther so your legs are opening more
  4. Wear ankle or wrist weights
  5. Change machines (you can do HIIT on a stationary bike and an elliptical, too)
It is vitally important to make sure you're well-hydrated before and after a workout. If you feel thirsty after you work out or you find that you're not sweating much, you're dehydrated. You need water. Not coffee. Not milk. Not soda (not even diet). Not Gatorade or Vitamin Water. PLAIN WATER. Bottled, filtered, tap, from the fountain...whatever it takes to get the water in your system, do it. Not only will it keep your body functioning correctly, it will help flush toxins out of your body that build up during a work out. Between proper stretching & hydration, you shouldn't be sore after a workout, even if you're new to doing it.

 Hope this blog helps explain a little better what I do when I'm in the gym and how you can maximize your workout. :)

If at ANY point in your workout, you feel pain, STOP immediately. Don't push yourself thinking it's just a spasm or a pulled muscle. You could severely injure yourself. For instance, this week, instead of taking today off, I took Wednesday off. My knee was out of joint and I was in some pain. The day off helped my body heal itself. The only reason I didn't go to my doctor to have him take a look at it is because I know my body and I knew what I'd done to get myself in that situation. I don't recommend this for you. If you hurt, it's for a reason and you need to find out what that reason is. It's always a good idea to have your doctor check things out for you before you start working out for the first time or before you continue your workout after an injury.

As always, I am not a health or fitness professional. If your trainer is telling you something different from what you read here, follow their instructions. They know you personally. I don't. I'm simply relaying what works best for my body.

Your average random Saturday

I'm thrilled to see the new followers I have for this blog! I never expected anyone outside my close circle of friends to take an interest in what I was doing, so I'm pleasantly surprised at the turn this has taken. I know I owe some of that appreciation to Sherri (you rock, girl!). Welcome aboard!

Today, I returned to the gym. I usually take Friday's off simply because of my husband's work schedule and our distance from the gym. We've got one car and he works about an 18 hour day on Fridays, so it's tough for me to get anywhere.

I talked to my friend RiceChex last night who discussed the whole veggie cleanse fiasco with me. She asked me what else I could do to kick my metabolism into gear since the cleanse didn't turn out as planned. She reminded me that last year I had more dedication to my workouts than I've had this year. I hadn't really seen it, but after she brought it up, I knew she was right (don't tell her that. I'll never hear the end of it.). So I committed to doing the gym five days a week. Typically I go around 10pm because the family is in bed and @ProjectDance and I can go together and work out. The days I typically take off are Fridays and Saturdays. I think a steady commitment to the gym will help. The newly acquired info about my water intake should help, too.

I'm not doing any low-fat, high-fiber special things with my diet, though I do plan on trying to ease up on the carbs a bit and lowering my fat intake. I'm also going to try to monitor my food through like I was before. I always do better if I can see exactly what's going into my body and what I'm expending energy-wise.

I head to Chicago in 40 days to see NKOTB. I'd hoped to have been at my goal weight (165) before that time came, but considering I've still got about 80lbs to go and I've been stagnant for this long, I don't see that happening. But, I can get to a smaller goal by then and I'm committing to that now. By June 4th. I want to be under 220lbs. Based on the changes I'm making and the experience I've had in the past, I believe this is completely attainable with hard work.

I need your help, though. I need accountability from you all. Encouragement & accountability, both.

Can you help me?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Veggie Cleanse - day 2 - a.k.a: Fail Day

I. Wanna. Die.

No, seriously.

I chose carrots today. Healthy veggie, right? I love carrots, so it shouldn't be an issue. I dragged out a bag of baby carrots and munched on probably a pound of them total. Weird thing was, I still had hunger pangs. Common sense told me to eat more or drink water, which I did. This didn't help, so I called my doctor. He said I could have some lean protein to help with the hunger. I had about 6oz of canned tuna. It distracted the hunger pangs.

In their place, however are pretty bad stomach cramps. So I called my doctor again. He said that the carrots have probably absorbed the excess water in my system and are sitting there in my intestines like a big lump.


He suggested switching to peas or celery and upping my water intake. Said not to do any more protein. Just stick with the new veggie and more water. I tried the celery and drank two bottles of water almost instantly. I still have cramps. This thing SUCKS.

I know y'all hate the F word, but fuck this.

I can't do this. I like veggies, don't get me wrong, but I can't take this.

The stomach cramps and cravings aside, I'm ready to murder people. I got behind someone doing 59 in a 65 speed zone last night and was ready to run them off the road. Homicidal doesn't even begin to cover the mood swings I'm going through.

Enough's enough. I'm not this strong. And I'm certain there aren't enough alibis or English-speaking nonextradition countries out there to hide my ass when I go postal.

Metabolism? You're on your own, buddy. This bitch needs food.

I miss sugar.

I don't get a sweet tooth, per se. I like chocolate and candy as much as the next girl, but it's not the cravings I get (my cravings are salty, crunchy snacks). But when I committed to losing weight and becoming healthier, I knew sugar was something I was going to have to say goodbye to, or at least not visit it as frequently as I had been.

That left me with very few options. There are, of course, the artificial sweeteners, but if you've read any of my blogs, you know how I feel about those. They're dangerous and I don't trust them not to kill me - or at the very least, make my jiggly bits shrivel up and fall off.

I'm a pop drinker. Have been since the womb. I miss it. I'm also a sweet tea drinker, but without sugar to sweeten it, I knew those days were over, too. Not to mention, the caffeine in both beverages act as a diuretic and would affect how much MORE water I'd need to drink. When I'm already supposed to be taking in between 120-140oz a day, every ounce counts. I wasn't willing to risk it.

When I went to the doctor a couple weeks ago and discussed my water intake, I talked to him about how BORING all this damn water was. He suggested trying these little packets of fruit flavored sweetener called Stevita, kind of like Crystal Light (without the death. WOO!). So I took a cherry flavored packet with me. I dumped it in a bottle of water and holy buckets, I'm hooked! It's advertised as being as sweet as sugar, but I think it's actually sweeter.

Since I love my tea, I looked for alternative options. I discovered that Tazo Passion Tea (one of my favorite drinks from Starbucks) is herbal and totally caffeine free. Combine that with Stevia and I knew I could have it. Granted, pure water is the best way to get my water intake, but I knew I'd grow discouraged quickly if I didn't come up with other options. So, between the Tazo w/Stevia and the water with Stevita, I may actually get through this thing!!

I haven't tried Stevia yet in baking or cooking, but I'm anxious to try that, too. If anybody has any tried & true recipes, please let me know!

Dear Sherri,

Dear Sherri,

Thanks, Girl.

You're killin' me!

You realize of course, people are going to read this blog and expect some hugely inspirational messages or helpful diet tips. They're going to imagine in their heads that I'm some fatty-turned-Barbie with all the answers.

When they don't get those things, I'm sending them back to you, k??

Melly (*who's just a slowly converting fatty on day two of a vegetable cleanse and, as a result, is snarkier than her usual self and is sitting in complete awe and disbelief that Sherri-Friggin'-Shepherd just called her out on Twitter)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Veggie cleanse - day 1

This. Sucks.

I've eaten three bags of lima beans today. I put them in a saucepan with a little diced onion (it's the ONE "cheat" I did) and some water. Salt, pepper, Lawry's & garlic powder for some flavor. It's not ham and cornbread, but it'll do.

It's almost 11pm. I've made it thirteen hours. At this point, I'm not thinking of the four days I still have left. I'm going minute by minute. Hour by hour.

I *might* make it til midnight.

I did work out. Kicked ass. 20 min HIIT & 10 mins stretching.

All I want is a fucking cheeseburger.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Vegetable cleanse?

Last summer, I dropped weight like a virgin loses her cherry on prom night. It absolutely melted off of me. I didn't give up all junk foods, but I did make considerable sacrifices and on the days I "cheated" I worked out extra hard or I compensated the next day with what I ate. It paid off.

I'm doing the same thing I did last summer when the weight dropped and so far I'm not making any progress. I go down two pounds, I go up two pounds. I've only lost 5 of the 15lbs I put back on over the winter and the lack of progress is thoroughly pissing me off.

I brought this up to my doctor tonight and he suggested more water (freakin' A! Okay, okay, so I'm not drinking the 10 bottles a day I should be drinking. *wry grin*) and a cleanse of some type. He said it didn't really matter which type of cleanse I did as long as it was enough to shock my body into saying "Umm...what's going on here? Let's kick this metabolism into gear!" And that's the goal here. I'm not out to clean out the colon or flush my kidneys. Just looking to shake up my metabolism.

When I looked at my cupboards when I got home, I realized that I've got some spoilable foods that need to be eaten before we start this cleanse, so I'll be starting it Wednesday or Thursday instead of tomorrow.

For five days, I eat nothing but vegetables. I take a multi-vitamin and drink all the water I want, but nothing food-wise except a vegetable. Wednesday, for instance, I will eat nothing but carrots. I can cook them, steam them, eat them raw. I can season them with any spice, but no butter, sugar, dips or sauces. Thursday, I'll do lima beans (or a different vegetable). So on and so forth. When the five days is up, I munch throughout the day on light foods, introducing them back into my diet slowly.

Again, this isn't for weight loss, it's to boost my metabolism a bit since it seems to be stagnant right now.

I apologize now for those I may piss off with my attitude over the next five days. ;)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

How do you stay motivated?

Such a loaded question.

When I'm motivated, it's based on many things: how I look in the mirror, how I feel, how tight those new jeans are, how bloated my feet are, how tired I feel, how energetic I feel. There are a dozen factors and some come and go.

When I'm not feeling motivated, it helps to get feedback from Danny or Donnie. Jordan and all his talk of stretching does nothing for me, honestly. But let Danny tell me about drinking enough water or Donnie tell me to stop making excuses and do what needs to be done and I'm ALLLLL over it! I can't explain it.

I fight remnants of depression (which I've written about in earlier blogs) and getting out of the house sometimes feels overwhelming, but once I'm working out, I've had very few days when I just couldn't finish my workout. Those days usually fall on the first day after a couple days off, so naturally, it's tougher to do my regular workout on those days. My muscles are a little stiffer, my lungs a little weaker. A day or two in the gym and that goes away.

For me, my workout is guaranteed MEL time. My kids don't go with me and the hubby hasn't used his gym card since we signed up six months ago. Even when @ProjectDance goes with me, we both have our iPods on and we're just in the same room together. It's her time, too. With both of us having kids & husbands & busy lives outside of ourselves, that's sometimes the ONLY time we have that's fully ours. When you look at it as a reward, it feels like less work. Don't get me is work, but it doesn't always feel like it.

You're the only one who can determine what motivates you. You are the maestro of your workout - find out what works for you and then work it. :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A couple disclaimers of sorts

1. I'm NOT a medical professional.
2. I'm NOT formally educated in the medical, dietary or fitness-related fields.
3. My experiences are just that: experiences. I don't claim to be an expert on any of the things I blog about. They're simply guides as to what has worked or not worked for me.
4. If your doctor, dietician or trainer is telling you something different from what I've stated in my blogs, then GO WITH THAT. Again, I don't have the years of medical training he has.

That being said, I know what I know about myself because I take the time to research EVERYTHING I'm told - whether it be something I read online or something my doctor tells me. Yes, I question my doctor. Every time I turn around, actually. Some things he tells me makes sense. Other things, not so much. Either way, I research it so that when I'm asked "Why do you do that?" I can be ready with concrete answers and evidence of what I'm talking about.

I challenge my doctor at every turn.

Doc: "Your lymph nodes are blocked and that's why your sinuses aren't draining."
Me: "Why?"
Doc: "Well....(insert explanations here)."
Me: "What can I do to change that?" or "Why does it do that?

Honestly, I'm sure some days my doctor wants to just strangle me for all the questions I ask. I ask these questions because four years ago, I took control of my health care.

After I dealt with several bouts of unexplained facial paralysis (to this day, nobody knows what happened or why), I was told by my medical doctor (not the one I currently see) that my facial paralysis was caused by...

(wait for it...)


Yes. Read it again: depression.

Now, I know that depression can cause a lot of physical ailments: fatigue, headaches, lethargia, insomnia, etc. But facial paralysis? Really?

I said, "But I don't feel depressed."

She said, "That's the depression talking. Here's a prescription for Lexapro." She told me the facial paralysis was probably permanent, but physical therapy would help me learn to speak more clearly over time.

This was my first dose of just how warped the medical profession had become.

(Surely I don't have to explain why I came to this conclusion, right?)

I, being the opinionated person I am, told her to take her prescription and shove it up her poorly-educated and pharmaceutically-kissed ass and left. I haven't been back.

Nor will I.

Every single symptom I have now, I take to my kinesiologist/chiropractor. When he saw my facial paralysis, he adjusted two spots in my neck. Within 20 minutes, I had feeling back, my muscles worked again and my speech and facial expressions were restored to full use. Had I blindly taken the advice of my MD, I may still have lasting effects of Bell's Palsy. Thankfully, I didn't. I researched. I learned. I chose other options.

When I try new things with my diet or exercise regimen, it's at my doctor's suggestion or because of something I've heard working for someone else. I research stuff to death and my bookmarks are filled to the brim with pages I can go to to back up why it works the way it does.

Again, I don't expect everyone to be on board with me. It'd be nice, but I'm not naive enough to think that's gonna happen. All I ask you to do is listen to what I have to say. Try it for yourself. If you choose not to, that's your problem. I know what works for me and I'm fairly certain, based on my research and experience, that it can work for you, too, but I can't make you do it.

So, that's where I'm at. Just felt the need to explain why I know what I know and why I am so firm in my beliefs that we're capable of creating healthy bodies without the use of pills, operations or ridiculous diet/exercise plans.

(Here's a picture of what I looked like when I went to my MD:)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

This water thing

Some disclaimers:
Ok...first off - I'm not going to die from drinking too much water. I want to relieve your worries right now:
Water Intoxication information
More Water Intoxication info
Even more info on Water Intoxication
I am neither a six month old infant nor an athlete. Nor am I drinking obscene amounts of water in short periods of time. On average, in fact, I'm drinking one 16.9 ounce bottle an hour. And if you've been paying attention to my Twitter, I'm also urinating frequently, which is something the woman who died did not do.

Secondly, I am under my doctor's supervision. He's been my doctor for the last four years and been in the medical profession for almost 15 yrs. While he does approach health holistically, he is licensed and is more than qualified to determine what's right for my health.

Thirdly, I'm neither endorsing this as a diet plan nor am I saying it will work the same way for those who want to try it as it's working for me.

Disclaimers aside, I went to my doctor earlier this week and explained the fact that while I've been working out - maybe not quite as diligently as I should be - for the last two months consistently, I haven't dropped any weight. In fact, I've put weight on.

And before you can say, "Well, muscle weighs more than fat.." blah blah blah...

While I know this is technically true, that's not the case here. I can feel that I'm not losing fat. It's all sitting around my waist and ass. My clothes are tight. I feel bloated and I'm quite lethargic. In fact, the workout I was doing just a month ago has become difficult for me to do. This was of the biggest concern to me when I brought it to my doctor's attention.

He asked me some questions and did some diagnostic testing and determined that my body is not digesting properly due to low stomach acid. It was also determined that I'm not drinking nearly enough water for my weight/activity levels. (This would also help to explain why I don't sweat when I work out, despite my higher heart rate during my cardio-intensive workout.)

Based on these diagnoses, I have been given a supplement to help my body create more stomach acid, which will aid in my digestion and because food is being metabolized correctly, could aid in weight loss. The additional water that I'm taking in will help flush my body of the toxins it's been holding onto, increase my metabolism and aid in my overall cardiovascular & kidney health.

I've had a lot of people say "OMG, I'd die if I drank that much water." I thought that, too. Believe me, I don't ENJOY drinking water. I'd much rather have a soda or a glass of sweet tea, but those are horrible for me. Soda's high in sugar and sodium (and the diet sodas are even worse. Don't get me started.) and sweet tea, obviously has added sugar. But truth of the matter is, good hydration is key to good health, clean complexion, proper body function and staying healthy. When we're properly hydrated, our bodies will let go of retained water because it realizes that it's getting enough and it doesn't have to hang onto what it does get.

"How much water are you drinking?"
For my weight and activity levels, I'm trying to drink between 160-180 ounces a day. My doctor's office is the one who came up with this number. I was told to take my weight and divide it by two. That number put into ounces is the MINIMUM amount of water I should take in to keep my body functioning correctly. This doesn't take into consideration my exercise, extreme weather conditions, excess sodium/alcohol/caffeine intake or whether I'm fighting off a bug of some type. If those things are taken into consideration, I could need to add up to 25% of my weight in ounces of water on top of what I'm already drinking. Hence the reason I am taking in more than half my weight.

A similar number came up when I plugged in information to this water intake calculator. You can use it to loosely determine how much you should be taking in. ALWAYS double-check with your doctor to decide what's best for you.

Someone asked me what I'm eating - I'm really not eating all that differently. I'm trying to cut back on fried foods, limiting sugars (ok...totally not doing that this week, but normally, I do try to limit sugars) and not going overboard on carbs. I don't believe in eliminating any one food or group of foods simply because our bodies are designed to have nutrients that a variety of foods provide.

For those who are wondering, I started out Sunday weighing in at 249lbs (yes, I've gained weight since last summer/fall). I'm at 244 this evening. Like I said before, I can't guarantee this will work the same way for you, I'm simply saying, it's working for me.