Green Light, GO!!!!!!!

Except that I'm going to be running like my butt is on fire sooner rather than later.

Except that I’m going to be running like my butt is on fire sooner rather than later.

I FINALLY got to go see my awesome doctor over at the orthopedic office this afternoon for what we all hoped was my final follow-up after my unfortunate ankle mishap in November…Nine. Long. Weeks. Ago….

I was X-rayed, again, and by now, I have the drill down…Point your toes toward your head, turn it this way, turn it the other way, keeping knee on the table, yadda, yadda, yadda…

Now, any of you that saw my meltdown…errr…pity-party post from last Saturday night knows that the offending body part keeps swelling up, feeling bruised, and experiencing sharp pains both where the break was and also the opposite side. This obviously bothered me enough that I blogged about it after having a humongous ugly-cry.

Given all that, I went in there all grades of stressed out that I’d overdone it and re-injured it or something equally stupid because that’s just me, and I’m used to things like that.

Ready to laugh? Yeah, thought ya might be…

Seems that I wasn’t doing ENOUGH. Yes, that’s right. My activity level would go in fits and spurts. I’d be all over the building one day, and stressed because I might have overworked it, so I’d stay off it the next…Then it would be a normal movement day, and then the following day it’d be swollen and sore. Apparently, wrapping it and staying off of it last weekend didn’t do it any favors, either, especially since Tuesday & yesterday I was all over the place and had to soak it in a hot tub with a big glass of Shiraz last night. Not, mind you, that I am complaining about drinking Shiraz in a hot bubble bath. 😉

The trick is regular activity. Every day. And I mean, EVERY day…So it’s going to be a lot of floor calf raises, hot dates with my treadmill, Zumba as soon as I can actually, you know, hop/jump on it without excessive pain, and (YAY) WEIGHT LIFTING!!!!!!!! (Because there has been a bit of an iron deficiency here over the past nine weeks.)

Plus, new weight room, which is cool, because the hubs was starting that project right before I took a dive. Of course, everything happens for a reason, and maybe this kept me out of there long enough that he could make it JUST perfect for me. Who knows?

I got the green light, zero restrictions. No more wraps, elastic supports, or anything. I’m healed, y’all, and I have never been so happy to be told I’m normal in my life!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a hot date with my treadmill.

Tell me about your injuries…How well did you heal? Did you follow Doctor’s orders? How did you rehab to get back to normal?


Fitness FAQ

Welcome, Lisa Dutchak from Strength in Balance Fitness!

Welcome, Lisa Dutchak from Strength in Balance Fitness!

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about weight loss. At the end of it, I mentioned an upcoming post featuring Lisa Dutchak, personal trainer at Strength in Balance FitnessThis is that post.

I spend a good bit of time on various health and fitness forums, and there are a lot of opinions about the best way to lose weight, build muscle, etc. and I wanted to talk with Lisa about maybe discussing some of the more frequently posted topics. As I mentioned in my weight loss post, what works for some doesn’t work for all, and I think it’s a matter of trial and error to find what works for you. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Lisa, my friend and go-to person for all things fitness, nutrition, and lifting…

Me: What inspired you to become a personal trainer?

LD:   After really beginning to educate myself during my weight loss and body recomposition journey,  I realized that I had been doing it wrong for so long….and that so many other women are doing the same things that I had done time and time again.  It was through this education and experience that I really developed a passion for health and fitness and since I have always wanted to do something where I could help people, becoming a trainer just really seemed like a natural fit.  The idea of being able to make even one person feel the way I do now is just so rewarding.

Me:  A lot of women will tell me that they want to lose all their weight before they attempt to lift heavy. What are the benefits of lifting weights when someone still has a lot of weight to lose?

LD:   Ah there are so many! First and foremost, from an overall health perspective, strength training is great for your bones and joints.  As women, it’s a great way to reduce your risk of osteoporosis.  Working with weights while losing weight helps you to retain the muscle you already have so that the weight you are losing is primarily fat.  This helps to keep a nice shape to the body. Muscle also burns more calories at rest than fat does (not a load more, but any bit helps!) so overall your body is expending more calories which is never a bad thing.  Strength training also helps to improve day to day activities.  If you have small children, you will find it’s easier to carry them around or lift them up.  If you have pets, you will find that carrying those large bags of pet food is much easier. Even things like regular house cleaning gets easier because you are stronger and more fit.

Me:  30-Day Challenges are very popular right now. What are your thoughts on working the same muscle group three days on, one day off for the duration of the challenge?

LD:  If a 30-Day Challenge is what gets a person from being sedentary to being somewhat active, then I’m all for it.  I don’t think that these challenges will give an individual the types of results they may be looking for or are thinking are possible due to claims made about the challenge, though.  In my opinion, the appeal of these challenges is that they are straight forward and not time consuming.  Most people are under the assumption that regular exercise and activity must take hours upon hours every day of the week and that’s simply not true.  There are many ways that you can become active without leaving your home.  More is not necessarily better.

Me:  Many women are intimidated by weight lifting because they worry they will get bulky and manly. Can you explain why this is such a difficult look to achieve, and that women really don’t need to worry about “accidentally” getting bulky?

LD:  Simply put, it’s just not possible.  First of all, women just do not have the testosterone needed to get “bulky.”  Secondly, in order for the body to produce new muscle tissue, there must be enough calories available to use for new muscle tissue generation.  This means that an individual must be eating well above their maintenance calories (the amount of calories one needs to consume to maintain their current body weight).  Individuals that are looking to achieve that “bodybuilder” look  train in a way that is conducive to that look.  They eat for it and they train for it and often times they supplement for it.  Even for men, it can take years to achieve that look.  It will not ever just “accidentally” happen to a woman.

Me:  Proper nutrition is very important component of weight loss. Another popular trend is near elimination of various food groups, either for a set amount of time short term, or for the long haul. Why do you think certain foods are “demonized” and why is this an unhealthy way to look at food?

LD:  The media plays a big role in the demonization of food groups.  The health and fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and due to that there is always some new bandwagon to jump on.  The fact of the matter is that there is no one food group that is bad for you.  Protein, carbs, and fat all play critical roles in the way the body functions.  Besides legitimately diagnosed medical conditions, there is no reason to ever eliminate a food group from your diet.  

Me:  While we’re on the subject of food, what are your thoughts on VLCD’s (very low calorie diets)?

LD:  The fact is that VLCD’s do give fast results.  Do I support them? No.  I have done the 1200 calorie/day diet and have known many people that have and the end result always tends to be the same: we gain the weight back.  Why? Because in real, day to day life, a VLCD is just simply not sustainable.  Sure, it can be successful for a period of time, but then the individual starts to feel deprived and binges and then that binge turns into 2 days, 1 week, 1 month, and before you know it, the weight that was lost is back.  By adopting a more long term, lifestyle driven approach and creating a moderate deficit a person will not only lose weight, but will do so in a way that still allows most of the foods that they love.  This way they rarely feel like they are giving things up.  The individual is able to learn healthier eating habits and strategies and set themselves up for long term success, rather than an ongoing roller coaster ride.

Me:  Oftentimes, individuals embarking on a reduced calorie diet and a new workout regimen become frustrated when the scale doesn’t move, or worse yet, moves up, rather than down. What causes this?

LD:   If a reduced calorie diet and a new workout regime are started at the same time there is a good possibility that any losses could be masked by water and/or glycogen in the muscles; essentially fluid retention.  This can last a few weeks so it’s certainly nothing to be alarmed about.  If after a few weeks the scale is still not moving, then it’s time to take a closer look at both the diet and exercise plans.

Me:  Five words: muscle weighs more than fat. Your thoughts?  (And let me just say this one drives me nuts 🙂 )

LD:  One pound of muscle and one pound of fat weigh the same… pound.  The difference is that one pound of muscle takes up much less space than one pound of fat; it’s the volume that is different, not the actual weight. 

Me:  What advice would you give a woman that says she is too busy/doesn’t have time, but wants to lose some weight and get healthier?

LD:  First of all, weight loss can be achieved through a caloric deficit alone.  However, being active is imperative for overall health, plus often it does allow for a slightly higher caloric intake. There are many ways to be active that don’t have to include going to a public gym.  There are effective workouts that can be done anywhere and at any time.  Also, an effective workout is not determined by the amount of time spent exercising, but rather the effectiveness of the workout.  Doing something is always better than doing nothing! It’s important to make lifestyle changes that are realistic and that fit within your lifestyle.  This is where the advice of a coach or trainer can really prove invaluable.  There are many professionals out there that will work with you to determine realistic goals, programming, and nutritional habits that fit your life.  And lastly, you are important and you deserve time for yourself!  Making healthy lifestyle changes set a great example for everyone around you: your kids, spouse, siblings, family, friends, and colleagues.  

So there we have it! Some no-nonsense, straight-forward answers from a knowledgeable, certified personal trainer.

I hope that this helps to clear up some of the misconceptions about weight loss, strength training, and nutrition.

Until next time…

You’re Gonna Get Bulky!!!!

Do not…I repeat…DO NOT be afraid of these, ladies. I mean it!

Do not…I repeat…DO NOT be afraid of these, ladies. I mean it!

This blog title pretty much paraphrases everything I’ve heard over the last two and a half months from people that are not familiar with heavy lifting and the benefits for women.

So let’s visit some common myths regarding weight lifting and women:

Myth #1 – You’re going to get bulky, ripply, and masculine.

Myth #2 – Weight lifting increases your bust/chest size. (Oh, thank heavens THIS isn’t true!)

Myth #3 – If you stop weightlifting, all that muscle will turn into fat!

Myth #4 – If you weight train, you can eat anything you want. (Oh, how I wish THIS were true!)

Myth #5 – Women should use hand weights in lighter weights; more reps and lighter weight will give you that “toned” look.

So now that we’ve looked at the myths, let’s take a little more in-depth look at what the facts actually are, shall we?  Because, honestly, I spent way too many years being afraid of lifting heavy free weights BECAUSE of the above-mentioned myths to even think about picking up heavy shit and putting it down again. I hope that this blog entry will actually catch some she-person before she gets sucked into the mythology of women lifting heavy. Had I known five years ago what I know now? OMG…can you IMAGINE how hot I would be at the age of almost 48?

Fact #1 – In response to that whole ripply, bulky thought process: Women lack one major component that men possess to become “bulky.” It’s testosterone. We, as women, simply do not possess the testosterone that it takes to get “bulky.” I can tell you, from personal experience, that I have been lifting heavy since mid-February. I am eating at a deficit (TDEE-20%) to lose fat off of my overly abundant body. Now…If you plan on shooting up testosterone and doing the whole steroid route, you may need to worry about this, but as a regular “Joe(sephine),” I can tell you that it’s going to take a LOT of work (and appropriate macros and a surplus of calories) for me to bulk before I cut to get lean. I can tell you (in MY experience thus far) that eating at a 20% deficit from my Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this acronym) is only going to cost you 1) inches; and 2) pounds. That said? My fears of becoming bulky and musclebound have been totally alleviated.

Fact #2- (And did I mention that I am SOOOO glad this is not true????) While I hate to say it, breasts are composed of fat. Yes, that’s right. F-A-T. I’ve lost about 5 inches off of my chest size since I started working out. Now, many of you may be gasping and thinking, “OMG, NOOOOOO…” please know that I was rocking a hardcore 43.5 inch bust. (I am ashamed to share this, but if it helps anyone? I’m in.) Now, I was doing the Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred when I started taking measurements. The day after I started lifting (I measured on February 16, 2013), it measured 40.5 inches. Not bad, considering I was eating about 1200 calories daily and doing the shred in addition to the Couch to 5K program. I measured weekly, and my last measurements (4/6/13) were 38.5 inches on my bust. So you see where the five inches off my bust came in. We’ll discuss my calorie intake when we discuss fact/myth #4.

Fact #3 – Your muscle will not turn to fat! Unless you throw healthy eating to the wolves when you throw your weight lifting to them, as well, your muscle won’t turn to fat…you will gain fat and lose muscle mass. Here’s the thing. Muscle and fat are two different properties. Fat goes away with exercise, and muscle can (and should) be built by doing exercise. Trying to lose the last 12 or so pounds with my elliptical trainer and weights has been a Godsend.  I know that to build muscle, you have to eat more than your TDEE, and lots of protein to get there. If you quit lifting AND eating correctly, you’re going to see muscle loss and fat gain. Muscle loss due to inactivity, as well as a lack of healthy diet will make you heavier. Muscle seems to disappear when you aren’t feeding it correctly. This is one of those situations that I struggle with daily. I want to eat to lose fat, but still not starve my muscles. Simply put, if you pay attention to your TDEE, and be honest about it, and eat your  recommended calories, you won’t get “fat,” as it were.

Fact #4 – While I know that weight training burns calories after we stop picking heavy stuff up and putting it down, it doesn’t give me license to to go hog wild where food is concerned. Protein is important. REALLY important. I have an open food diary on My Fitness Pal, and I have a friend who will call me on the carpet when I am short on my protein macros. This is important. Protein is a big, hairy deal where muscles are concerned. Eat healthy. Period. If you want to know what your TDEE is, your TDEE-20%, etc, please visit Scooby’s site here. Be advised that you HAVE to be honest about your activity levels, however…

Fact #5 – If you are lifting Barbie pink dumbbells that weigh less than your handbag, then you’re doing it wrong. I don’t mean to be hateful, but let’s look at it how it is…If your handbag weighs more than the dumbbells you’re lifting? That’s simply a waste of your time. (And if you are anything like me, time is a very precious commodity.) Don’t blow it on cute dumbbells. Spend your time wisely picking up barbells with the appropriate weight plates on them, focusing on PROPER form, and go from there.

So, with those myths debunked, let’s talk about the benefits of heavy lifting for women:

You will be physically stronger. This comes in handy when there is a 40 pound bag of birdseed at the feed store available, but no cart. (We feed our wild birds black oil sunflower seeds, and it’s cheaper (cheeper? no pun intended) to buy bulk. Just sayin’.

You will lose body fat. That, alone, should be music to any woman’s ears, provided she’s wanting to lose fat. Have y’all heard the term, “skinny fat”? It’s reserved for people that are skin and bone, uber light weight, that are still squishy. I used to be skinny fat. Weighed about 120 pounds after having my eldest son, at 5 foot 7 inches. I was skin and bone and had zero strength. I gained about ten pounds after the birth of my second son. I was still soft and mushy, even at 5 foot 7 inches and 130 lbs. Let me tell you that body fat percentage is more important than scale weight (to me).

You will gain strength. You never know when your significant other might become disabled and lose the ability to lift and carry the heavy stuff. While I still have 15-20 pounds to drop, however, I can still lift and carry things I never thought possible…and that’s after less than three months of strength training.

You will reduce the chances of osteoporosis. Weight lifting increases bone density. ‘Nuff said. My mom takes Boniva once every however many months, and while I love her? I choose not to follow in those particular footsteps.

You will reduce your chance of back pain and arthritis. The stronger you keep your core and back muscles, the better chance you have of avoiding the aforementioned.

You reduce your chances of heart disease, and diabetes. These two items alone make me happy. For more information, click here.

To further back up my statements, I encourage you to visit the following sites:

Myths of Women’s Weight Training and Bodybuilding

Why You Don’t Have to Get Bulky

Until next time….