Fitness and a Quick Catch-Up

This site is terrific! (and not because I'm on it...)

This site is terrific! (and not because I’m on it…)

A couple months ago, as summer was coming up fast and grandsons were starting to make their appearances, I was approached via private message over at MyFitnessPal by a gentleman who had put together a success stories-related web site. He asked me if I would be willing to share my story.

Well, uhh… Gee…I don’t know. I guess?

So my willingness to inspire others beat out my initial shyness, because I agreed to do it. In fact, I also agreed to let him publish my review of the FitBit Charge HR, too.

After my first grandson was born on June 11, five weeks early at a terrific hospital 45 minutes away, he was whisked away to their NICU, where I was able to stroke his foot, but not hold him. I won’t refer to him by his real name, but for blog purposes, he shall be known by my nickname for him: GrandBoo.

Once GrandBoo came into the world, my head was filled with thoughts and prayers of him getting bigger and stronger. He was soon transferred to our local hospital, aka my Day Job. I was able to sit with him during breaks and lunches. I wasn’t able to hold him, yet, but talked to him and told him how handsome he was.

I didn’t hold him for the first time until June 28, when my second grandson came into the world, a week overdue. He shall henceforth be known as my GrandBru. ❤

Two days later, I celebrated my 50th birthday, which also goes down in history as the night I splashed water into the back of my iPad and killed it. Because the weather was intermittent thunderstorms, I didn’t plug in the Mac because I didn’t want to lose a second hard drive to lightning strikes. *shrug* With no tablet until several weeks later?  Blogging wasn’t happening. Therefore, I hadn’t had the opportunity to tell you about my space on the aforementioned web site.

While I was in Texas last week (another story for another time) I received a message from yet another gentleman on MFP (My Fitness Pal) who is doing a series of podcasts pertaining to fitness over 40, and he asked me to speak with him, as he saw my story on Real Bodies Real Results – Julie. (<- That’s my piece, there.)

I agreed to do it. I’m interviewing tomorrow evening. It won’t be published till January 1, 2016 (tentatively), but I am all grades of nervous.

I just wanted to say that I’m here, not dead, been traveling, and not for the best of reasons, and still staying as active as the oppressive eastern North Carolina heat will let me be.

I’ll catch you up sooner, rather than later.

Until next time…

And Now a Word About Weight Loss…

I haven’t posted anything recently about weight loss or fitness, and that is probably because I have been distracted by work, family, and little bits of people I shouldn’t be seeing.

As many of my regular readers know, I got kinda fat a couple of  years ago. Not that it happened all of a sudden, mind you. In January of 2013 I was just tipping the BMI scale at obese, and let me tell you, having been a skinny kid? Cruising close to 200 pounds was not something that I was proud of. I got lazy, I got happy, I got complacent. I got a job just around the corner from the cafeteria at work. ‘Nuff said.

The hubs? He loved me thin, he loved me fat, but he also wanted me to be comfortable in my own skin, which I wasn’t at 192.

12-12-03 A wedding photo. 135-ish pounds

12-12-03 A wedding photo. 135-ish pounds

3-2012 - mid 180's :(

3-2012 – mid 180’s 😦

In a moment I’m going to (as I put it to Bobby, a body building friend of mine earlier) grow a pair and show you three progress pictures; one from Week 1, one from May of last year (when I got brave enough to put on a two piece swim suit), and the last from just a couple of weeks ago. I probably need to do one from tonight, but it’s late, I’m tired, and I am feeling comfy in a tee shirt and workout pants, and don’t feel like standing in front of a mirror in a bikini trying to take a decent selfie.

This past 18 months has been more like an experiment in the kitchen than a “journey,” as many people like to call it. It’s like perfecting a recipe that you created. You have to use trial and error to get the correct amount of ingredients into the pot to make it taste the way you like it. Not enough salt? Add more. Maybe cut back on the cayenne pepper. You get what I mean. Everyone’s recipe to where they want to be, physically, is going to be different, just like everyone’s favorite recipe is going to be different.

That said? I’ve tweaked carbs, increased protein, eaten more, eaten less, and am still fine tuning all of this. I’ve bulked and cut, and decided not to bulk again until fall, because bikinis. I have this idea in my mind that if I hit 135 pounds that I’ll be satisfied, but realistically? I know that’s not true. It isn’t about the scale number. It’s about how I look and feel.

I joined a 12-week challenge a month ago, and there are actually minimum cardio minutes to do in order to keep your team going, as well as strength minutes. (And the minimum minutes change from week to week, so you have to stay on the ball, lol!)  I have noticed a lot of change in the past month with the added cardio and regular lifting (and I say regular, because between Christmas and Easter I got slack, had dental stuff done, and just basically got complacent again, lifting one to three times a week and that was it). I guess my competitive nature won’t let me stop, plus I now have a team that I count on, and they count on me, and we all pull our weight (no pun intended).

Why am I telling you all of this? It’s because I see people every day, in person and online, that get frustrated because this isn’t working or that isn’t working, and they just throw up their hands and quit. It isn’t an overnight thing, this getting back to where you once were or better. It takes trial and error. It takes patience. Most importantly? It takes TIME. This stuff isn’t for the impatient, that’s for sure.

Will I ever be through with all of this? Nope. Even after I have reached my personal goal(s), I will continue to pick up the heavy things, because it’s good for my bones and me. I will continue to do some form of cardio, because it’s also good for my heart.

This has been a rather difficult post to write, because it was one thing to write about it without the images, but it’s another different animal to actually SHARE these with the rest of the world. Only a handful of people have seen them.

So while I’m not there, yet, here are those progress photos I mentioned above. Please refrain from laughing so loudly that I can hear you, because I still have some insecurities and see some of that fat girl left in the mirror:

192 pounds, 40-some inch waist 1-13, 163 pounds 31-32 inch waist 5-13.

192 pounds 1-13, 163 pounds 5-13.

145 pounds 5-14. 29" waist. Still need some butt, though.

145 pounds 5-14. Still need some butt, though.

All of this said? In forum-speak: TL;DR (or Too Long; Didn’t Read) – Don’t give up. It sure doesn’t happen overnight. Find what works and stick with it till it doesn’t, then find something else that does. Did I mention don’t give up?

Until next time…

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…..one 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…