Saturday, 31 January 2009

Weekly update

I made it to the gym three times this week, which I was pleased about. I'm just about back into my normal weekly routine after Christmas and the holiday period. Of course, we head off to China in two weeks, but at least I'll be getting my exercise done for two weeks.

On Tuesday I went to Fernwood and tried to do the weights routine that I'd done with Allan at Elite Physique. I had thought about driving over there, but I was a little intimidated by some of the equipment. I had to modify a few things. For example, Fernwood doesn't have the box gadget that I was squatting down to, and the benches were too high. I'm not complaining - if Fernwood had all that hard core weight lifting stuff I would never have walked in the door in the first place.

I was able to practise a lot of things. With the dead lifts, I used a 25 kg bar. The key difference was that it was a pretty little thing that had small compact weights on the end whereas the other one used large 5 kg weights. Not an issue, although the tip Allan gave me to stand a certain distance and then set my starting position so my shins were leaning on the bar just did not work with the Fernwood bar. Still, I was pracitising, which is what the session was all about.

For the squats I didn't try to do a similar weight on my own. Instead, I grabbed a 7.5 kg bar and practised holding it in the new position I'd been shown. My upper arms were quite tired, but it gradually felt more comfortable. I was particularly glad I'd done that one when I trained with Allan this Friday, as the whole position felt much more natural.

It was funny trying to do the lateral pulldown. We use Nautilus equipment at the Fernwood gym I go to. The lateral pulldown machine is usually set up with two grips. There are a couple of bars, one short one and one longer, that lie on the floor beside the machine. I think I've seen someone use them once before. Anyway, I wanted the longer bar, so I picked it up and then was left wondering how to attach it. I finally worked out something. I don't know if I set it up right but it seemed to work ok. I pulled it all apart and put it back to its usual setting when I finished. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been at all surprised if nobody had used it for a while.

I did the chest presses and overhead presses without any trouble, and I did one set of walking lunges. I figured that we'd only done one set on Friday so one set was enough. I hate walking lunges.

I wanted to go for a run during the week but it was just so hot. Not as hot as Melbourne or Adelaide, but still hot. Instead I went to the gym and did cardio. I did 20 mins on the treadmill and 10 mins on the bike. I was dripping sweat by the time I finished and the gym was airconditioned! I had intended to run for the whole half hour, but I caught sight of my face before I started. I was bright red, just from the drive to the gym and walking a couple of blocks. I decided discretion was probably the better part of valour in this case. I did a walk 1 min, run 1 min, to make sure I was able to drink while I was on the treadmill. I really haven't mastered the art of running and drinking at the same time. I managed to do a 6 km/hr, 7.5 km/hr pattern, with a few 9 km/hr minutes thrown in. Not many, but a few.

On Friday it was my PT session with Allan. I arrived in a rush. The gym is 20 mins from work, which really means 25 mins door to door. The car I'm driving doesn't have airconditioning, so I was pretty hot by the time I got there. We skipped the warm up and went straight into the 'heavy' gym. Squatting onto the box was the order of the day. I was lifting the bar without any weights added, so it was 20 kg. The box seemed a long way down.

(Late edit: This post has been sitting in draft for the past week. It's not that I've not been online. I've just been busy.)

Since it's been so long, I'll add a summary and skip to the part of the session that I was most excited about.

After the squats, more deadlifts. With and without shoes on for both squats and deadlifts, which was interesting. It's easier without shoes. Chest presses and something called a mid-row. A chat about nutrition. The exciting bit was that I finally got walking lunges. I've been doing them for nearly three years at the gym, at bootcamp etc, and it's been a struggle every time. Allan mentioned centre of gravity, I put it together with something Billy said which helped me do hip flexor stretches better, and all of a sudden I was "walking and lunging" instead of stepping, lunging, stepping, lunging. I was so excited that I came home to show TB, but I'd cooled down by then and couldn't make myself do them. He was rather amused but kindly took my word for it that I knew how to do them.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Out for a run

I made it out the door this morning for a run. I nearly piked. I'd managed to get up, but TB was up before I was dressed. I hadn't told him I was going. It was so tempting to put my clothes back in the closet and pretend that I'd never even thought about running. Even after I was dressed I procrastinated. I had half a cup of coffee with TB, who realised that if he'd stayed in bed five minutes longer I'd have been gone. I assured him that it's not his fault that I'm suffering major running avoidance.

Eventually I headed outside. Someone was out running at the top of the street, which was encouraging. It had rained heavily overnight, so everything was shiny and new. I love the way the streets look so clean after a decent rain. I jogged off down the road, telling myself that I'd only planned a short run. I've planned to do my longer run on Monday morning instead of Tuesday, as Monday is a holiday.

I just wasn't enjoying it. My breathing was fine but my legs were heavy. I guess that was partly yesterday's gym session. It was a horrible run. I walked nearly half the way, but at least I stayed out there for half an hour and burned 300 calories. I've been feeling good all day, so the run paid off in a big way. I managed to make myself run up a hill on the way home too, although I did walk after I'd run past the top and down the other side. I'm trying not to do the automatic "stop-at-the-top" thing that Krissi is trying to cure me of.

Now all I have to do is get out there again. I can do that! I will do that.

Oh, I bought some Thorlo socks with a gift voucher my Mum got me and I wore them for the first time today. I didn't bother strapping my "blister" area, and my feet were in much better shape than usual when I got home. Money well spent. I must remember to tell Mum!

And, I am so sore this afternoon. I even took some BCAA's, which I haven't done for ages. Ouch. Ouch and ouch. I am hurting in muscles I didn't know I had. I'm going to complain bitterly to TB but I'm really pleased to have proof positive that yesterday's workout was a hard one. Fortunately TB knows that and doesn't actually listen to me when I whinge about sore muscles.

Friday, 23 January 2009


I haven't been blogging lately, mainly because my blog keeps me accountable for the healthy decisions I make around food and exercise. Lately I haven't wanted to be accountable.

Today was the beginning of the new accountable me, so expect to hear from me a little more often. What's different about today? I started a new exercise regime with Alan, a new personal trainer.

There's a whole story here. Alan works with Billy, the guy who ran the bootcamp I did at work. During bootcamp, Billy quietly mentioned to me one day that he'd had great results with one of his clients who wanted to lose weight. They'd achieved their goal through doing weights, not through doing massive amounts of cardio.

I didn't do anything about it at the time, but the conversation has stayed in my mind for months. Finally I decided to do something about it. I figured that I was saving PT money while Krissi was away in Japan, so I could afford to get a few sessions over at Billy's gym. I went over to see him and Alan a couple of weeks ago. What they said really resonated with me and I decided to give it a go. I wanted to start straight away, as I was concerned that I wouldn't exercise while Krissi was away, but it's taken a few weeks to get going. Anyway, to cut a long story short, today was the first PT session with Alan.

I was right - I haven't done much exercise while Krissi has been away. I got to the gym a couple of times, but I haven't made it out for a run for the past two weeks and I haven't been to the gym for over a week. I've had all sorts of seemingly legitimate reasons - visitors, work trips to Melbourne, general busy-ness - but I've known that I needed a kick up the butt.

Alan asked me to write down what I was eating and how I was feeling. I managed it for a couple of days. I didn't like what I was seeing so I stopped. Today, I realised that I was supposed to be bringing him a week's worth of food diary. I plugged the last five days into Calorie King. Amazingly, my food habits weren't at all bad - definitely maintenance level eating. My exercise habits were non-existent. If I'd been exercising I would have been losing weight. Doh!

It was a good wake up call. I realised that by avoiding writing my blog and my food diary I was making it harder for me to achieve my health goals. This week I've been going to bed earlier too, and I've felt much better for it. I think I need to pay some attention to my mantra: "I'm a fit and active person who makes healthy lifestyle choices."

Today's been a good food day and I was at the gym for a PT session. All I have to do is keep making healthy choices, one day at a time.

The PT session was really interesting. I've been having all sorts of guilt feelings about doing weight sessions with someone else, particularly when I love working with Krissi so much. I have two reasons for going to somebody else though. The main one is the weight loss idea that Billy put in my head. Much as I love working with her, Krissi is this gorgeous slim woman who has never had a weight problem in her life. I just don't think that she would be able to relate to me on the weight issues, even though I know that she's able to work with me whether I'm fat or thin. The second one is my knee. Krissi knows that I'm paranoid about it, and it's bound to affect her when she's training with me. I realised that I was working harder on squats with Billy, simply because he didn't know about my knee. I figured that I'd see what sort of difference it made working with someone who wasn't so aware of my history. I don't know if it will make any difference, but it will be interesting to see if it does.

Today we started off with a warm up on the treadmill. Alan didn't have me going very fast. We started at 4km/h and then he moved me up to 5km/h. He went off for a few minutes so I cranked it up to 6 km/h. He was back sooner than I expected and led me off to the "heavy" weights room. There were a few interesting contraptions, including a tool that held the bar off the floor while the weights were added. I guess I'll be learning how to load the bar that way.

We started off with dead lifts. I've always struggled with the form on these, but Alan explained it really simply. After the intro, and checking that I could do them (do 1, do 3) I did three sets of 10, with 10 kgs on the 20 kg bar originally. He added some more weight for the last two sets but I forgot to ask how much.

After that, we moved on to squats with the bar. He unloaded it completely and grabbed a "box". It was a small square bench. When I squatted, I was sitting on the bench and then standing up again. He was taking my technique back to basics, but with an added level of difficulty. I was to squat back on the box as far as I could go. If I'd just been asked to squat down to the box I would have gone to the edge of it. Having to go back as far as possible meant that I was using my hips and glutes much more. I found myself "collapsing" onto the box. (TB told me when I got home that I "collapse" onto the couch too, so this is not a new thing.)

To keep control while lowering myself to the box I had to push my knees and feet out. I was imagining a sumo squat when he said this, but I had to keep them facing straight ahead while pushing them out sideways. I'd never have been able to do this without the mirror. I didn't get the squats completely right, but I did start to gain a lot of control while I was doing them.

We then headed off to the "not so heavy" weights room. This has the weights machines in it too. Lateral pulldowns were the way to go. I was able to do these really well, but Alan still managed to find me some form improvements. I told him that Krissi does that too. There's always something to work on. He assured me that it would still happen to me after I'd been lifting weights for ten years.

Chest presses were next, using dumbbells. When I do this on my own at the gym I stick to 8 kg, with 9 kg being the most I've lifted. Alan was cautious with the weights. I warmed up with 4 kg weights, which seemed ridiculously easy. It gave him a chance to check my form though. I moved on to 7.5 kg weights, then did another set with differently shaped 4 kg weights, then finished with 9.5 kg weights. He told me that he was finding it a different first session with a client, as my form was already good. I explained that I'd been going to the gym for four years, but that I'd really developed confidence with weights in the last twelve months with Krissi. I didn't actually have to tell him that I was loving the session, because I was smiling away.

Overhead presses with a bar came next. It's a long time since I did any overhead presses. In fact, I haven't done too many of these. I think he was glad to have something that he really needed to work on my technique. We finished up with walking lunges. Again, I learned something new. I think it was a smart move, trying out another trainer.

My short term goal is to work really hard for three weeks, on my diet and on my weights program, and see if I start to shift some weight. If it works well, and I decide to continue with Alan, my plan is to focus on the cardio work with Krissi, particularly as we're going to train for the Canberra half marathon, and do weights work with Alan. I have to work out just how much PT I can afford! I can manage two sessions a week, but I might be able to justify three sessions for a quarter to get my weight back under control. I'll just have to give something else up.

I have to get my butt out there and run too. I have a plan for that, but I'm not quite ready to be accountable with my running. Blush!

By the way, I've been reading all the usual blogs and a few new ones, but I've been keeping a low profile as part of my "ostrich-head-in-the-sand" approach to not blogging. I've been really impressed with all your achievements though. Well done.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Weights session

I made it to the gym on Friday. I didn't mention going to the gym to anybody, in case I piked out. Instead, I packed some gym gear into a bag and took it with me when I went shopping. Even I didn't know if I'd make it there. In fact, I didn't know if the gym would even be open.

Because I haven't been going to the gym much lately it feels quite different walking in. I don't know the staff any more. I had to try to remember where in my purse I store my membership card. Fortunately, once I'd made it into the change room I felt back at home again.

I'd decided that this would be a weights session with a 15 minute running warmup. It's a long time since I ran on the treadmill. It's not as much fun as running outside. It didn't take long before I remembered why I didn't like these treadmills. They have the tv screens. If the tv is off, as mine was, you can see yourself running. Now, that's not such a bad thing, but seeing my bouncing chest reminds me that it is bouncing which makes me think about discomfort. If the tv is on, you have to wear earphones to listen. I'm klutzy enough to be pulling the earphones out as I run.

I had the pace a little faster than I usually run, and swapped between running and walking. At the end I cranked up the pace to start the cool down at a higher speed and surprised myself by managing a fast minute. I thought about continuing to run on the treadmill but remembered that I'd planned a weights session.

One thing I find amusing about Fernwood is how few women use the weights. When I arrived there were lots of people in class and a few people using the cardio equipment. There was one person in the weights room. It took me half an hour to do my workout. During that time a few people came in, did a couple of exercises, and left again. Nobody was there for more than 10 minutes. The only time the room ever seems to be busy is when the trainers have clients or there's a small class in there.

Because I haven't done any weights for a couple of weeks I went through my workout using smaller weights and I only did two sets. I was wondering if I'd been a little too conservative during the session as I was handling the exercises with ease. I was a little sore later in the day so it was probably a good decision.

Just for my own record, I did two sets of 12 fitball squats with 5 kg weights, 12 chest presses with 7 kg, 12 arm raises with 5 kg, 15 hip adductors and abductors with 30 kg and 15 seated rows with 23 kg. I made sure to spend some time stretching, particularly my hip flexors, as my right knee (not my 'bad' knee) started reminding me it exists the last time I ran.

While I was at the gym it occurred to me that I hadn't blogged my last run with Krissi. I found that particularly amusing, as it was a pretty hard core run for me as we'd run in the rain. Anyway, it will be a while before I forget it, so I'll skip adding the details here.

As for my 2009 plans on the eating / exercise / weight loss front, I have decided that I'll work on getting one thing right each week. This week, I want to get my gym habit back. I've picked up the class timetable. I might even do a cycle class. My goal for the week is to get to the gym three times. The following week I'll try to add in another good habit, etc etc. That feels achievable.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year

A new year - time to reflect on the past and think about all the exciting things that are going to happen in the future. 2008 was good to me and I'm looking forward to 2009.

There are a few challenges ahead this year. I have to stop being so comfortable with myself and work on maintaining my weight loss. Unfortunately, I have to once more lose all too many of those hard fought kilos I lost a couple of years ago to be back in maintenance mode. While I'm running again, I want to get myself out there more often. I've targetted the Canberra Half Marathon as a goal to give myself something to work towards. Other exercise goals include being fit enough to play hockey on turf next season. On the work front, I have to decide what I want my next job to be. My contract is coming to an end in May. It would be all too easy to renew, but I feel ready for a new challenge professionally.

Over Christmas I've been taking it easy on the exercise front. It's time to get back into a regular routine. I just have to decide what that's going to be. :-)

I'm really looking forward to our trip to China. TB and I head overseas on 15th February. Later in the year, TB turns 50 and my baby sister turns 40. Two major events to celebrate on top of all the usual family occasions. It looks like 2009 is going to be a lot of fun.