Friday, February 27, 2009

Making it through the week, and a new place to find Workout Content!

I've managed to make it to Friday, without missing a single day at the gym so far this week. Of course every inch of my body is sore and mad at me right now. I've come to the realization that I am not made to run every day. I've ran three out of the four days I was at the gym this week, and I'm starting to get cramping in my calves. This might also have to do with my lack of Yoga this week. Today I'm going to hit the workout Dvd's, Do some Yoga, and try that new 30 Day Shred Dvd (yeah I know I've been slacking, I havn't tried it yet.)

The numbers on the scale are finally heading consistently downward, which has helped keep me on track this week. I've got three days left to make my goal, and I still have my "free day" to use.

The hardest part this week has been keeping my calories down. I've been starving hungry every day, due mostly I think to my increased level of activity. I've been just eeking in under 1500 most days.

I'm up (down?) to doing two sets of 8 pull-ups with the Gravitron set to 80 and the last set of 8 with it set at 70, although I've been stuck there for a couple days, as the first try didn't go so well. I only managed to do 5 on my first try with it set at 70. I'm definitely getting stronger, I can feel the muscles in my arms getting more definition, unfortunately however I still don't see any change in my arms when I look in the mirror. I'm hoping that another couple of weeks will change that.

I've also been toying with restarting the One Hundred Push-Up Challenge again. I'm hesitant only because it's training a lot of the same muscles that I'm using when I do the pull-ups, and I don't want to over stress them. I may hit up the Two Hundred Sit-Up Challenge instead. I could definitely use more core strength!

Oh and as a bonus for all of you still reading, check out this article Replace Your Exercise DVDs with Workout Video Podcasts, it has a lot of ways to get free new exercise content via podcasts and even Netflix! (link courtesy of my brilliant S.O.) I'm hitting up the Netflix list right now, and plan on reviewing each DVD I try.

What are you doing to Challenge yourself?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I upped my run time yesterday, so I'm finally running for a full half hour. I do a two minute warm up, run for half an hour, then a five minute cool down. I had to drop my run speed down a bit, but not by too much. I'll spend the next couple of weeks working on getting my run speed back up at this time.

One huge motivational boost I got this morning was realizing I'm loosing weight again! I havn't lost all the weight I regained during my last "bounce", but I'm moving in a positive (negative?) direction once again.

Since it's a perennial issue for me, and I believe many other people, I've compiled a short list of links regarding motivation:

Beyond the Challenge written for followers of Discovery Health's National Body Challenge, this short article shares a few good bullet points on keeping your motivation going.

Better than Nothin': Create micro goals for higher long term success - The always amazing and inspiring Steph over at Back In Skinny Jeans gives us a new way to structure our goals to help us accomplish more.

How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions - Crabby of the imfamous Cranky Fitness posted this amusing and helpful list of ways to keep your New years resolutions intact (yes, I'm still going to mention those resolutions, all. year. long.)

Re-Motivating: When it Just Ain't Happening - Yet another great post from Crabby at Cranky Fitness about getting your motivational mojo back. You know what. Just read Cranky Fitness. All of it's good.

Insta-Motivation : Quotes to keep you going in the gym - An inspiring list of quotes compiled by the writers over at Women's Health Magazine, there's almost certainly something in there for you to post up on your mirror.

Where do you turn for some extra Motivation?

Monday, February 23, 2009

A few new toys and a DVD review!

Well I didn't make it a whole week. Unfortunately this weekends plans were enough to derail my fitness goals, and set me back to starting the weekly count over. I did manage to get myself some Gold Stars for most of the week, so I'm going to go ahead and buy myself a pair of those nice fold over Yoga pants from Old Navy. This weeks "prize" for myself remains that hot gym bag I'm lusting after, with the runner up "prize" to be determined later.

I got a few things that I had ordered from Amazon in the mail this weekend. A Hamilton Beach individual sized blender and the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred video.

The blender makes awesome smoothies, is nice and quiet, and is compact enough not to be an issue in this space starved NYC apartment. I'm going to put it through it's paces a few more times before I put my final stamp of approval on it, but so far it's a good, cheep addition to my weight loss arsenal.

I havn't had a chance to try the DVD yet, but I've heard good things. Mainly that it's actually a pretty intense workout. I was sold on the idea that the DVD contained three workouts, which progress in intensity. Once I've gotten a chance to try it, I'll write up a solid review of the DVD.

Which brings me to my first ever actual DVD review!
A while back over at Fit Bottomed Girls they reviewed the AM & PM Yoga for beginners DVD by

After reading their review, I decided to use this DVD to accomplish my New Years Resolution of adding Yoga back into my fitness routine. I was a little cautious, as I've never been very good at Yoga, or keeping up a Yoga practice. As soon as I put the DVD in I began to feel a little better, as the instructor, Elena Brower, introduced the program and explained the purpose of the different segments.

The AM section does exactly what it claims, incorporating movement between various poses to add a small bit of aerobic exercise in. By the end of the AM section I felt charged and fully awake. I have not used the PM section yet, since I almost never have time for Yoga before Bed, however having watch the sequence, I am confident that the PM section is just as high quality as the AM section.

I would recommend this DVD to anyone looking to add Yoga into their fitness routine.

What new weapons have you incorporated into your fitness arsenal lately?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Keep those Hips Moving

I'm three days into my "gold star week" and so far I've managed to not only keep my calories under 1500 a day, but also to get myself to exercise for at least a hour a day.

The discouraging part is that number on the scale. I'm guessing it's ticking up because of muscle growth (since the body fat % is staying even) But I was expecting more...calculable results here. Yeah I know, I'm not a patient person.

Belly dancing on Wednesday was fun, I'm still horribly awkward at it, but I've got hope that my movements will work themselves out in time. I went and got myself a hip scarf to help with learning the proper movements.

What have you done this week that was "outside your comfort zone"?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Run Faster and you get a Gold Star!

I had a great workout last night. I pushed myself and ran faster than I've been running. Even upping the pace, for most of the workout I felt like I was taking it easy. The sit-ups were a struggle though, for some reason I think I've lost some ab strength.

I ran into one of those annoying gym things yesterday too. Some guy wanted to do regular pull-ups and dips, but apparently the pull-up bar and/or dip bars were occupied. So he took this giant weight plate and put it on the knee pad on the Gravitron. The Gravitron is this machine that helps you do pull-ups by using a weight stack to offset your weight, pushing you upwards using a pad that you kneel on. Well the moron left weight on the weight stack when he did this, so I had to enlist the assistance of my S.O. to get the weight off the knee pad without getting myself a chin full of upwardly mobile knee pad. I was highly annoyed that anyone would a) do such an idiotic thing just to use a machine in a way it wasn't intended to be used for and b) would not remove said idiotic adjustment to the machine so that other people could return to using the machine in the way it was intended to be used.

The plus side to the story was that once my very patient and helpful S.O. helped me get the weight off the knee pad, I was able to lower the weight offset for two of my sets of pull-ups. I do three sets of 8 pull-ups, and last night I did one set with an offset of 90 (so I'm pulling 60 lbs of my own weight) and was able to do two sets with an offset of 80 (so pulling 70 lbs of my own weight.) I think I can do one, maybe two, pull-ups unassisted now. My main goal at the gym (aside from upping my running speed) is lowering the offset on the Gravitron. Thursday all three sets will be attempted at an offset of 80. I'm shooting to have the offset down to 50 by the end of March. Totally do able at this rate.

I've also instituted a "gold star" system on my calendar. I put a calendar up on the wall in my "office" space at home (where I spend most of my time), I've been putting little different colored check marks to note when I worked out and when I stayed under my caloric budget. I recently went out and got those foil stars they used to use in Elementary school, and now when I do both, I get a gold star for the day ^_^ You wouldn't believe how hard those stars are to find, it took me a couple weeks to find them!

What visual reminders do you use to keep yourself on track? What kinds of rewards do you give yourself for reaching goals?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Little Sugar Hearts

I took the weekend off from all things fitness, mostly due to that insanely commercial and yet totally mandatory holiday that fell on Saturday this year. I have no idea how many calories I consumed between chocolate truffle hearts, Sushi dinners and Mango Sorbet deserts.

Today is re-dedication day. Back to the gym, back to the classes, back to counting calories.

And this time I'm giving myself a goal to reach for, and a prize to win (and a consolation prize just for trying.) If I can make it for a whole week, staying in my caloric budget, and getting an hour of exercise each day (either at the gym or doing yoga at home) , then I will reward myself with This. If I make it through the week without giving up and collapsing into a puddle of "I Can't Do It!"ness, then I will reward myself with a new pair of These.

The good news is that my weekend off didn't do anything horrible to my weight. Despite not counting calories, my choices tended to be healthy (with the notable exception of the VDay chocolates.)

So, Back on the Wagon and heading in the right direction again (I hope.)

How was your weekend?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Trying to find ballance and flow

Yesterday I fell apart. I've been having trouble dealing with all the conflicting pressures I've been placing on myself, to grow personally and professionally I've been challenging myself constantly since loosing my job. Yesterday, after a day of working on my art, pushing myself to complete pieces that have been waiting patiently behind my fitness goals, I cracked.

It's hard sometimes to put a value on the things that I accomplish. Weight loss and fitness goals are easily counted. "I ran for half an hour today." "I did half an hour of Yoga." "I ate 1200 calories." But in the rest of my life, progress is not so easily defined. Do I call a piece done? Do I celebrate the fact that I spent time sketching? What is the goal here?

The upshot of all of this was that I did not go to Belly Dancing last night, and instead spent some time cooking up a very tasty Tilapia recipe with the S.O. (which we accidentally modified heavily due to misreading the instructions.) I did do some Yoga yesterday, half an hour in the morning, so the day wasn't a complete write off, fitness wise.

I think I am in need of some more balance in my life. A way to fit all the pieces together without driving myself batty trying to keep up with everything I want to do. Unfortunately, the first thing that usually gets bumped off my "to dos" is "go to the gym", simply because I am horribly shy and would rather just hide out at home.

I am trying to celebrate the fact that I now consider doing half an hour of yoga "not enough exercise", whereas a year ago, half an hour of yoga would be enough exercise for me to put off exercise for another couple of days. Next week I will go back to Belly Dancing, and Sunday I still plan on attending the Boxing Class of Doom, plus regular gym workouts will resume this evening. Hopefully I can avoid overwhelming myself again.

How do you deal with feeling overwhelmed?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Starting off the week well

I did end up taking yesterday off from any "official" working out, although I ended up walking a lot. Living in NYC you get plenty of walking in, and yesterday I had to transfer between two trains that involve a rather hefty set of stairs. So I got a decent amount of moment in, and I kept my calories right at 1500 (I even managed to budget in a cupcake!)

Today I started with a little Wii Fit Yoga for half an hour, and I'm planing on opening up the brand new Yoga DVD I just got in the mail to try out once my stomach settles down again (I had a rather bad reaction to the multivitamin this morning, I think I need to find a different brand to take.) Later me and the S.O. are heading to the gym to run, although seeing how sore we both still are from Sunday's boxing class, who knows how well that will go. The surprising thing is how sore my legs are, and how *not* sore my arms are. Guess the pull ups are paying off!

How was your start to the week?

Monday, February 9, 2009

A successful weekend

I managed to go to the gym both days this weekend. This is a major victory. On Sunday I even went to the boxing class at the gym.

I went in to the class confident in my new level of fitness, knowing that I would be able to do the exercises and would be fine. Ten minutes into the class I was wondering how I was going to make it through the rest of the class. I kept wondering just how out of shape I really was, was I not working out hard enough during my normal workouts?

I pushed through to the end of the class, wimping out on some of the exercises (Body builders/Squat thrusts are evil - no matter what you call them) and ducking out once for a slow stroll to the water fountain and back. I was drenched by the end of class, and very very tired. Today, I'm sore all over, and hurt in places that havn't hurt in a long time.

Today I'm taking the day off from the gym, I'm just going to do some Yoga to stretch out the muscles.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The gauntlet of going out

Last night we went out with friends to celebrate one of our friends Birthdays. The entire night revolved around food and drink, and was ripe with pitfalls for me. First was Karaoke and Sushi and Drinks. Then was off for Dinner in China town, and then finally back to a friends house for Ice Cream and Dumplings. I tried my best, and ended up doing ok, but not great, avoiding some of the worst food offenders.

It's very difficult in a social situation to turn down food. It's hard, when some of your favorite foods are in front of you, to just say no thank you. It's even harder when it's a constant stream of foods in front of you.

I had sashimi instead of sushi (no rice), and dutifully recorded the half bottle of hot sake I drank in my food log. I had steamed vegetables and water at dinner, resisting the family style banquet of sesame chicken, steak, pork chops, fried rice, and more. I then succumbed to a half bowl of egg custard (doh). At my friends place, I resisted the fried dumplings, but had one cups worth of cookie dough ice cream. It would have been less, but the hostess refilled my bowl after I had declined a refill and I felt so bad about turning it down that I ate it. Silly I know.

In the end I went over 1200 calories over my caloric budget for the day. Made worse by the fact that I hadn't made it to the gym yesterday. I felt so awful about it that I'm considering reinstating my "free day" policy, wherein I designate one day a week where calories are not counted. One day where I can eat whatever I want.

How do you survive Food laden events?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Staying Grateful

Today I was going to write a whiny post all about how I only managed to run for 20 minutes yesterday, and how much I hate restricting my caloric intake. Then, while reading my blog subscriptions, I ran across a wonderful post by MizFit on gratitude. It was a beautiful post, wonderfully written, and it got me thinking about gratitude myself.

As I said in the comments on, every workout I do is a blessing. The ability to walk, to run, to shimmy and shake, to do a pull up (even if I need assistance), all of it is a blessing.

My mother has Multiple Sclerosis, she was diagnosed when I was very young, and as I grew up I watched it steal her ability to move. My Mother was an avid hiker when she was younger, and her favorite story to tell is about when she hiked up Mt. Washington, not knowing there was a road up the back. When the finally reached the top, they were greeted by two typical tourists, one of them turned to the other and said "Oh My God Look! It's a GIRL!" the other one then looked at my mother and asked "Could you go back down a bit so we can get your picture coming up?" To which my mother replied, "Down?! You want me to go Down?! I've been going Up for the past week and you want me to go Down?!"

My mother was also a Belly Dancer, as a hobby if not a profession. After my first belly dancing class I called my mother, coincidentally that day also happened to be her birthday. As grateful as I am to be able to move, I am also grateful that I still have my Mother. She is an extraordinary woman who remains positive and grateful despite all that's been taken from her. I am also grateful for my Father, who is an electrical wizard. He's turned my parents house into a command center for my Mother, who can control the door, the telephone and the lights from her computer, and who can control her computer using voice commands.

I have amazing parents. I am eternally grateful.

What are you grateful for?


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hip Drop

Last night I went to my very first Belly Dancing class. It was, to say the least, an experience. First, I need to preface this by noting that I was attending a Belly Dancing class offered at my Gym, so it's not the kind of class you'd get at a Belly Dancing studio, although I have to say the instructor (who does own a studio) was most definitely a dancing instructor.

One major thing about Belly Dancing, you can't be shy. All of the moves are devised specifically to show off your body in the most sensual way possible. So yeah, it was a tad embarrassing to be learning them in a room full of strangers. It will, hopefully, do wonders for my social anxiety though. I mean, seriously, once you've learned to belly dance, gyrating awkwardly (for me at least) with two dozen perfect strangers, how bad can dinner be? Maybe this will help get me back across the deck into a pool.

I'm also hoping it'll do something to help me move more gracefully. One of the biggest issues I had during the class was that my body is trained to be a martial artist. I move in strait lines, usually with a strike at the end. I am not graceful, I am powerful, but I'd like to be graceful.

There was a lot more leg strength involved than I would have thought, as most of the time you're up on the balls of your feet on at least one foot, and you're almost always in a bit of a squat, keeping your knees bent slightly. I did not feel the workout in my abs as much as I was expecting, but that may be more to my level of inexperience than any failing of the exercise. I'm betting that as I learn to do that hip shimmy thing right my abs will all of a sudden have something to complain about. So far, I can shake, but I can't shimmy.

Thank you to Melissa for the links to her daughters blogs (both of whom are apparently belly dancers!) I will replug them here, as I'm sure they will have more intersting and informative things to say on belly dancing than "Hur, it was hard!" like me ^_^ (I would also like to point out that having skimmed the most recent few posts on all three blogs, I am very happy to have three more blogs to add to my reading list) - Lots of inspiring insights, including a very intriguing writing exercise.
and - this ones more a poetry blog, beautiful stuff!

What scary, brand new, challenging, or exotic things have you tried lately?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In need of a little inspiration

Ok let's get this out of the way, I am a Gemini, the proverbial social butterfly with the attention span of a Goldfish with A.D.D. To say that my devotion to this fitness thing is miraculous would not be an understatement. The only other thing I pursued for a similar length of time and with similar passion has been my Illustration and Graphic Design Career. I would venture so far as to say that that does not count because it's a constantly evolving process of newness and fun, whereas this fitness thing is a day in day out slog through the same trenches.

Yeah, I'm having a negativity problem right about now. I need some inspiration.

So tonight, despite my horrific fear of attending new classes at the gym alone, and my certanty that I will make a giant fool of myself, I am forcing myself to attend a Belly Dancing class tonight. No more excuses, no more thinking "oh I really should do that someday"...No tonight I go. Yes, it's at an awkward time for me (8:00 pm) and Yes, I have to go all by myself, but dammit, I want to try Belly Dancing, and I need to overhaul my routine!

Part of my problem lately has been that my attention has been absorbed by a myriad of other pursuits. Chief among them overhauling my online portfolio and brushing up my skills to help me in the Job Hunt. And while all of this is very healthy and productive, it unfortunately results in me sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, and using lunch and dinner dates as an excuse to get out of the house. Let me tell you, some of the coffee shops here in NYC make the most tastiest cupcakes on earth, my softening middle can attest to that.

One of the other changes I'm trying to psych myself up to is adding swimming back into my routine. It's hard, because the gym with the pool is so far away, which leads to a lot of excuses on my part, but I think maybe a once a week trip would be good.

Any motivational words or inspirations for me?


Monday, February 2, 2009

Feeling the burn again

I finally found an exercise that gives me that familiar sore-the-next-day pain again. I had been slacking on the arm exercises, so on Saturday after my run I decided to pony up to the Gravitron again and see how much strength I'd lost. I could only manage two sets of 5 pull ups with the Gravitron taking 100 lbs of my weight. Uft. What a set back! But I do have that sore feeling in my arms, even today, so I know I'm heading in the right direction again.

I've also upped my running time again, I'm back up to 25 minutes of all out running with a five minute warm up and five minute cool down. I'm also running an 11 1/2 minute mile. I'm totally beat by the end of that run though. I'm going to give it another week and then see about pushing it up to a full half hour at this pace.

I think that after a long time of sitting at this fitness level, I may finally be getting myself back on the path and stepping it up again.

How was your weekend?

Tracking Transformation: Where I stand now