Guess who's back, back again

I know that it's been almost a year and a half since I actually updated this blog, but I want everyone to know that I was still working out. I still went running and biking, did aqua aerobics and personal training, and even started swimming [with actual swim lessons to learn how to swim properly! And he said I was a natural swimmer and didn't really need lessons aside from learning how to breathe, so he taught me more advanced stuff like flip turns and diving and stuff]. Until November.

In a long story that I'd rather not get into, in November I had to move. I was never particularly happy in Rhode Island [I was happier than my dark depression days, but not happy], even though I loved my job and my gym and my house setup [I miss my home gym!]. But I missed my friends, and I missed earning a livable paycheck, so I packed up and went back to Chicago. I gave myself the winter off to get settled, I knew I would gain weight and get out of shape, but it was something I had to do with all the other stress in my life.

I'm still not "settled" per say, I'm still working on that livable paycheck thing [I've got it some weeks, but I'm still a temp with the company I started at in December so hours fluctuate], my apartment isn't close to ideal, and there's no way I can afford a gym here because they're so expensive. But I've got my friends, I work for a great non-profit, and winter's finally[?] over. *glares at the 49 degree forecast for today*

So, it's time to get serious about working out again. I'm limited in what I can do [no space in my apartment, and I mean that quite literally; no gym membership], but that's not a reason to skip the things I can do. What can I do? Running, of course. My first answer to everything! Incline pushups at my desk at work. "Desk yoga" [you laugh but it really helped my back when it was spasming this winter!]. Just getting out and walking around [I live within a mile of everything I need, except most of my friends, so there's no reason to take the bus].

I snapped this picture at work [the only place I can see most of my body in a mirror] a couple weeks ago. I haven't gained a terrible amount of weight [I honestly thought I'd gained so much more!], but I have lost a lot of muscle and gained a lot of body fat that personal training had usually taken care of.

I know it's been a while since I last posted "progress pics" but if you don't want to go through the archives, believe me, it's a noticeable difference. Especially regarding my upper arms and chest.

So, I buckled down and bought new running shoes. It took me a couple more weeks to actually get out there, but this Tuesday I finally went on a run with my friend Kelly. Okay, it was more of a run/walk. Okay, it was more of a walk with occasional bursts of running that were slower than my walking pace. I'm starting a 5K training plan on Sunday with structured running blocks to help me improve.

That's me, stopping at the peace garden during our run. I still don't like morning runs, but at least the lakeshore path isn't crowded at 9am.

And these were my pedometer stats for Tuesday, which is not entirely accurate with regards to the running distance [because, like I said, our running pace was slower than my usual walking pace] but it's got the distance logged.

It was an exhausting but good outing. I'm still sore [so instead of our planned Thursday run, we're going tomorrow morning]. But I'm back.

January update

I know, it's been a few months. I'm sorry about that. I have this habit of not updating during the holidays, due to being too busy and also not focusing on weight loss but rather maintaining (also, dealing with some mental health stuff). In addition, I was recovering from an injury and was unable to run so I had nothing to talk about in that regards.

I completed another Fight for Fitness session, although I didn't win it or even have amazing stat changes. I'm sitting this next session out, because I'm focusing on other things (this is my first semester back in school), but I plan to return when the next one starts in April. I miss it, though, both the fun, hard workouts and the friends I'd made.

I'm still going to aqua aerobics, although not as consistently as I used to. I took a few weeks off but I've been back for a couple now. Getting into the water is great, and I love laughing with all the old ladies.

I'm finally back to running, after a mysterious injury that kept me out for months. I was afraid that getting back to it would be difficult, but last weekend I ran my fastest 5k time in over a year. (Unofficial 5k. I wasn't actually doing a race.) It turns out that keeping up with other fitness stuff, like strength training and swimming, does wonders for your running pace even when you can't run. Imagine that! (Now, if only I could get back to the mentality of wanting to go for runs... that part's still difficult!)

I hadn't been biking a lot lately due to the weather, but now I have class in Providence so I have to get 15 miles in at least twice a week, so that's something.

I'm still losing weight. Well, I was stuck for a while, but I've finally gotten out of the 170s (where I always get stuck) and now the weight's dropping pretty quickly again. As of this morning, I'm down to 160.3. Part of me is comfortable with where I am right now, but part of me still wants to keep losing. I don't know if that's partly because of society's expectations or if it's actually all my own desires. This is something I've been struggling with, and I wonder if I'll ever figure it out.

So, hopefully you'll see me around these parts again more frequently. I'm really sorry to everyone.

Fight for Fitness results

I've been holding off on this post for a while, waiting to have my official final stats from Fight for Fitness. I knew I ended the ten weeks on a great note, and I've learned and accomplished a lot during this time, but I wanted those final numbers to paint a full picture. (Plus, I haven't had a spare moment until now! "Spare moment" being relative, as I am currently en route to Chicago.)

First, we had a fitness assessment to see how our hard work translated to muscle use. We didn't do this at the beginning of the program, so I had no basis for comparison, but I still did a lot better than I expected. I couldn't do the mile run, since I'm still injured (but finally making significant progress with that!), but I walked it in 15 minutes which is a pretty great walking pace. Then, I was tested on how many sit-ups I could do in a minute. At the beginning of the program, I couldn't even do five sit-ups without stopping. During the test, however, I far exceeded that! I can't remember if it was 21 or 24 (24 seems like too many for me…) but either way, it's a good number. Actually, the only thing I didn't do so well on was the plank (I held it for a little over a minute), but that was because I had a tickle in my throat and couldn't stop coughing. Oops!

Second, we had new measurements taken. I officially lost 10.2 pounds, which isn't the number I had originally shot for but I'm happy with, because I didn't know how much muscle I would build. And let me tell you: it was a lot! But first, my measurements!

Hips: 43 / 42 [start / end]
Waist: 38 / 36
Chest: 37½ / 36¼
Bust: 41 / 40¼
Thigh: 25¼ / 25
Calf: 15½ / 15¼
Arm: 13½ / 13¼

Not bad, not bad…. I'm honestly not surprised that my calf and thigh didn't lose much since they've always been the most muscular parts of my body (all that running and biking). But two inches in my waist is nice! And the ¾ inch lost in my chest is enough for me to comfortably fit into the dress for my friend's wedding on this trip so, hey, perfect!

How about some pictures to go with those numbers? The change is slight, but I think you can see a difference.

(I wish I was more consistent about how I take the pictures, size and distance etc, but I think you get the idea.)

Plus, let's take a look at my SUPER HOT ARMS:
Oh yeah!

But now it's time for the big news… my body fat percentage! When I started, it was the first time I'd ever had my body fat measured, so I didn't know what to expect. My starting number was 28.7, which is… average, but not what I want. (I wonder what my body fat percentage must've been when I first started exercising a year and a half ago!) Well, today I'm much happier with my number: 24.9%! I lost almost 4% of body fat in just ten weeks! I was hoping to get down to 26.something, so I was shocked to see this number. And I've been smiling about it for the past 24 hours. I worked hard, and I'm glad it shows! (My trainer told me that my body fat in my abdomen alone went from 36 to 24. Wow!)

And, it turns out (I just received the email as I was writing this…), I won the Fight for Fitness challenge, having lost the most body fat out of everyone in the program! I had honestly forgotten that there was even a prize until it was mentioned when I got my measurements taken last week, so I was never really competing for the prize or anything. Still, it's nice to have won… even if I have no clue what the actual prize is!

I definitely want to do the next FFFF session, but it depends on finances (it starts the week after I get back from Chicago, and I'll have a couple really short paychecks due to the trip.) Maybe I should take up a collection? ;)

That's all for today, but I do have blog posts coming up in the next week or so about swimming, yoga, and the Color Me Rad 5K (don't worry, I walked it and didn't injure my foot further…). Lots of pictures for that one! Until next time, check me out on twitter for more spontaneous updates (including Chicago shenanigans!).
There's a lot of discussion in almost any weight loss community about weighing daily versus once a week or month [or even never]. Some people get frustrated by the daily fluctuations [or lack thereof], which is understandable. If you had a perfect day yesterday, you ate within your calorie range and burned a ton at the gym, but the scale was up this morning? Well, it happens, but a lot of people take that as, "Why am I even bothering?" It's important to remember that weight loss is a gradual process, you often don't see a drop in the scale the day after [personally, I'm always up a couple pounds after strength training days], but it's going to have a downward trend after a while.

It's important for me to remember this, as well. Now, I am a daily weigher and if I'm up one day, it doesn't usually phase me. I take it in stride and know that it will even out. I'm doing everything right so I have faith in the process. Usually. Except this week. This week... I gained four pounds in five days. Despite increasing my exercise [I still can't run, but I've been swimming instead!], discussing changing my nutrition with my trainer, adding in yoga... the scale kept going up. Half a pound one day, a full pound the next... it was awful, and I actually cried on Thursday when I hit 174. Maybe I should take a break from the scale, I thought, if it's affecting me this much. I mean, I'm seeing improvements otherwise. My clothes are all bigger on me, and I'm fitting into smaller sizes. I'm lifting heavier weights and improving on my pull-ups. I don't have to stop and catch my breath after every single lap in the pool anymore. I bought a new bathing suit, they accidentally sent me a small instead of a medium, and it fits.

These are all definite signs of my improving fitness, so why am I so upset at one number going in the wrong direction? Am I really that fixated on the scale, despite thinking that I'm not? But be honest, wouldn't you be upset at seeing something like this, too?

Thankfully, however, the clouds broke on Friday [actually, they really did... It stormed Thursday night/Friday morning and took away all that heat and humidity!] and my weight was back down a pound. Then two more on Saturday. And three more today! 

And you know what? While I was waiting for my hard work to pay off, I went through my graphs and looked at the progress I've made, even if it wasn't showing up at the moment on the scale. I definitely have an overall trend, and it's definitely going in the right direction, even if some individual days don't show it.

Today's weigh in, I'm down to 168.2 which means that I'm 6 pounds less than I was on Thursday. I haven't done anything drastic, no crash diets for me. I just kept doing what I had been doing all along, and it eventually paid off. Trust the process, and it always will.

Are you a daily weigher, or less frequently? Does that work best for you, or should you switch?

Monday Excitement

I woke up this morning with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. No, it's not that I was excited to get to work [although I do love my job...], it's something else. Today is the first day of yoga at my gym! They offer a series of six week sessions, but I was too late in joining last session so I've been eagerly awaiting the start of the next session. For the next six weeks, I will finally be getting formal instruction on yoga! And sure, it's a beginner class, but... I've gotta start somewhere, right?

I've been doing yoga on and off [unfortunately, mostly off] for the past 8 years, and I've written a little about it before. But, it may surprise some of you [or not...], I've never taken a class. Everything I've learned in yoga, I've learned on my own with the help of DVDs, books, and articles online. Which means, I'm probably doing a lot of things wrong! I knew that I'd eventually have to attend classes with a certified instructor at some point but I just hadn't gotten around to it. Well, thank you, YMCA! I'm excited to start in just six hours!

Another reason I need formal instruction, besides making sure my form is correct, is that I someday want to become an instructor myself. Yoga has helped me out a lot in the last decade, and I wouldn't be walking if it weren't for yoga. Even if I only become an instructor to conduct free community classes at the library, I want to give back some way. And the best way to give back to yoga is to give it forward! And, well, it's hard to achieve the level needed to become an instructor on your own. Not impossible, but definitely hard. So, yay, classes!

But it's only a six week, once a week session, and we'll see how I'm doing after that, but I will eventually want to peruse more advanced yoga and do it more than once a week. To that result, I started looking up yoga studios... and what do you know, there's actually one right behind my gym! Actually, they partner with my gym [who knew??] and if I present my gym membership card, I get $5 off each class! That's cheaper than even the student rate, so that's pretty cool. They have lots of different classes, and community yoga on Wednesday nights, so I'm sure that I'll find something I'll enjoy. Even between Monday and Wednesday, that's way more yoga than I've been doing lately.

Of course, today starts yoga and I still have three Monday sessions of Fight for Fitness, so that means I'll be at the gym for four and a half hours on Mondays for the next three weeks! The good news is, I'll be super warmed up for my training sessions...

Well, I'm off to work. I hope you can find something in your Monday to make it enjoyable too!