Sunday, July 31, 2011

NROL4W – Progress: Workouts 3&4

Stage 1

Workout A Workout 3/Workout 4 [2 sets of 12 for each workout]

Squats 25/25/25/25 [increase 13 kg since workout 1]

Push-ups body weight

Seated row 27.5/34/34/34 [increase 20.5 kg since workout 1]

Step up 5kg/6kg/6kg/6kg [height 5 steps; increase 2 kg since workout 1]

Prone jackknife body weight [2 sets of 10]

Workout B Workout 3/Workout 4 [2 sets of 12 for each workout]

Deadlifts 30kg/35kg/35kg/37kg [increase 12 kg since workout 1]

Shoulder press 6kg/7kg/7kg/7kg [increase 3 kg since workout 1]

Lateral pull 34kg/34kg/34kg/34kg [increase 7 kg since workout 1]

Lunges 6kg/7kg/7kg/7kg [increase 1 kg since workout 1]

Swiss ball crunch body weight [2 sets of 10]

It’s been a bit tough getting through this portion because of my bronchitis, but I did the best I could. I’m just focusing on improving each time and making sure to keep a positive attitude – I can do it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Making an Effort

I feel like I need to follow up my ‘If the Shoe Fits’ with a bit more explanation. When I reread that post it sounded very, very negative and made it seem (to me) that I was just sitting in the corner of a room feeling depressed and worthless and only surviving because of a gorgeous pair of heels …

It’s definitely not as simple as that. I guess what I was trying to convey is that inner demons are tough to fight, and sometimes you’ve just got to find something that will help you get through the challenge.

Even if I may not be happy with where I am right now, I do know that I’m taking steps to get to where I want to be. I am moving forward. I am trying … and I do acknowledge that it is an accomplishment to take these steps. I still have occasional frustrating thoughts of ‘What’s the point?! Nothing’s going to change!’ – but they’ve become fleeting moments now instead of constant thoughts. I definitely think that’s progress.

As for that damn mirror – well, even though I haven’t reached my goal, I know that I still have to make an effort. I remember a time when I didn’t care at all, and I think it showed – and of course that made it worse. How am I supposed to feel better about myself and the way I look if I don’t at least try?

I guess this is also part of getting into the right frame of mind to improve your health and getting to know your body. Figuring out what clothes work for your body (and definitely what clothes don’t!); accenting your assets; minimizing your flaws – I guess that’s what everyone wants to do regardless of their body time/body image. It all comes down to taking the time … and making the effort.

Friday, July 29, 2011

If the Shoe Fits ...

I love to shop. I mean I really love to shop. I often go online and just browse through storeafter store, clicking away … and of course there’s the mall. I’m not much of a group/partner shopper as I like to take my time and not feel rushed. I usually find myself picking out a bunch of clothes to try on … and then, that’s when it happens. I look at my reflection and just hate how everything looks. Even if things fit I often feel like they don’t fit right – something just looks odd. Most outfits I think to myself ‘I could never pull this off.’ It doesn’t always stop me from shopping (I mean, I do need clothes for work etc.) but it does dampen my spirits … that is, until I get to a shoe shop. Then, I’m in heaven.

My friends think that I just love shoes and therefore keep buying them, but there’s a much deeper reason to my shoe-addiction. It all has to do with fit. I don’t have to worry about the range of sizes like I do with stores. I know my shoe size. I know which designs are comfortable. I know how to buy shoes, and I feel good in them … and that’s basically the bottom line. I didn’t feel depressed when I walked out of a shoe store because I was size X … It didn’t matter what size it was – because whatever fit looked great.

Many of my friends think that I’m too hard on myself. It’s nice of them to say so, but the problem is, it doesn’t matter unless I believe it for myself. Overcoming the internal negative thoughts is tough work – no matter how much I sweat it out at the gym I cannot escape those

thoughts. I hope that one day I’ll be able to. I think those negative voices have definitely

quieted down … it’s just that they haven’t been replaced by positive thoughts … yet.

So my love of shoes is really the result of a sad story. I don’t know if I’ll ever be happy with the way I look, but I do know that even though I despise the way I look in the mirror, I feel happy and confident when I slip on the perfect pair of heels. With that result, it can’t all be that bad, can it?

Here are my top five pairs of shoes (it was really tough for me to narrow this down!):

The splash of pink in these heels (Nine West) cheers me up.

Dune has become one of my favorite shoe stores in London. I feel in love with this black and white metallic pair.

Here's another funky pair from Dune that I love! I'm usually one that likes things to be coordinated and symmetrical - but I love the fact that each shoe in this pair is a bit different.

My friends usually tease me at the gym - saying I'd wear heels and workout if I could. I joke that if they made trainers in heels I'd be wearing them ... and then I found these! (No, I don't workout in them!) [Made by Ash]

Finally, my absolute favorite pair and most recent purchase designed by United Nude - a work of art in my opinion:

Yes. Until I resolve all those other issues, these shoes will keep me happy indeed.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Resting to Reenergize

I had to take today off from the gym though I didn't intend to. First of all, I didn't have my car for the day. Second of all, it seems like I've developed an allergic reaction to the inhaler that my doctor put me on for my bronchitis -- the last two days have not be fun at all! Still, I did use the day to get some PhD work done and to rest/recuperate a bit.

I also took some time to review the exercise guidelines that were mentioned in NROL4W. I'm half way through the program and I just wanted to make sure that I was doing everything properly before increasing both my sets and my weights. One of the things that was stressed upon in the book is getting enough sleep and taking days off between intense weight workout days in order to let your body recover.

I don't know about you, but I often feel quite a bit of anxiety if I miss a day at the gym. I feel like I've totally set myself back and feel guilty for wasting a day. I'd workout even if I was sick or injured - not smart, I know, but you haven't heard the voices in my head! They're louder than any voice of reason.

I have to admit that after following the plan of taking rest days in between my days of weight-lifting, I do feel better. My muscles don't feel as fatigued as before and I'm actually able to perform my exercises in better form. Well, how about that? This time I have the evidence of actually feeling stronger and better after resting to shush my mind and have it accept the time off ... still, taking an unplanned day off (such as today) makes me very anxious. I guess I still have a ways to go ... but I am trying to take it in stride.

Crustless Spinach and Ricotta Quiche

I had some ricotta left over and I wanted to use it up so I went online to search for different healthy recipes that I could use. After browsing a bit I ended up decided that I wanted to do something with both spinach and ricotta. The most common search result that came up was lasagna. While I am a fan of lasagna, I really didn’t want to eat pasta, so I skipped those. Several of the other recipes called for the use of extra cheeses – cheddar, Parmesan, mozzarella etc. I didn’t want to add much cheese either … so in the end, I kind of made up my own recipe based on the general idea I got from the recipes. I tried it out last night and it was delicious – if I do say so myself J

Here’s the recipe:

Crustless Spinach and Ricotta Quiche
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup onions - finely shopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
200 grams frozen spinach, thawed
1/2 cup medium salsa
1/2 cup skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup egg white substitute
1/2 teaspoon dill
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons grated parmesan cheese

1) Preheat oven to 350F
2) Thaw frozen spinach
3) Heat skillet, add olive oil and onions; cook until they are soft, not brown; add garlic powder and a dash of water to prevent it from congealing
4) Add thawed spinach and stir
5) Add salsa and mix
6) In a bowl, combine the ricotta cheese, egg substitute, dill, pepper, salt, and nutmeg and mix thoroughly
7) Add the spinach mixture and mix thoroughly
8) Lightly spray quiche dishes with no-fat cooking spray (I used individual quiche dishes instead of one bigger one just for variety. Each serving is 2 mini quiche dishes)
9) Fill quiche tins with the spinach mixture
10) Sprinkle 1/2 tsp Parmesan cheese on top of each quiche
11) Bake for 35 minutes
12) Allow quiche to stand for 5-10 minutes before unmolding and serving.

I also made myself a small salad to add a bit of color.
3 leaves of lettuce torn into small pieces
1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced
2 tablespoons of corn kernels
finely grated carrot on top
2 teaspoons of fat free Italian dressing

This is what it looked like:

Nutritional Information
Quiche (2 servings)
Calories 212
Protein 18 g
Carbohydrates 13.5 g
Fiber 5 g
Fat 7.5 g
Saturated fat 3.5 g

Salad (single serving)
Calories 65
Protein 1 g
Carbohydrates 4 g
Fiber 1 g
Fat 0 g/Saturated fat 0 g

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Everlast Talking Jump rope (Product Review)

I’ve been looking for a good jump rope for some time. The ones I’ve used/bought in the past have either been too long or the handle has been uncomfortable or the quality of the rope was too cheap. When I found the Everlast Talking Jump rope online ( I thought I would give it a chance. Although there weren’t any reviews, I didn’t think too much of it (especially at a price of – first of all, it’s produced by Everlast – and I love their brand. Second of all, it has an electronic display that tells you how many calories you’ve burned, how many jumps you’ve done, how long you’ve been jumping for etc. Plus, it talks to you! (Shouts out encouraging comments once in a while, e.g. Not bad!)

After setting the jump rope up, I tried it out. I was really happy that I was able to adjust the length of the rope – it made a big difference. The rope itself seemed to cut through the air smoothly. For my test run (or rather jump), it went well.

However, when I went to actually use the jump rope for part of my workout, I had a different result. After less than 40 seconds of jumping, all of a sudden I stumbled. At first I thought it was just me, and so I attempted to jump again … but then I looked at the rope and noticed that it had completely twisted around itself. You couldn’t just untangle the rope or step on the rope to straighten it out. It refused to budge. Eventually I did manage to get it straightened out, but by that time it was too late – my heart rate was down, I lost my momentum, and I was just overall frustrated.

Disappointing product Everlast.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall ...

This week’s FMM question was quite a deep one. Kenlie asks Was there a defining moment in which you realized that you needed to lose weight? If so, will you elaborate?

This question scares me - mostly because it requires taking an honest look at yourself. My answer to this question is not a simple one. At first I was just going to ignore it but the I thought, no, it’s time for me to get real. Plus, since I’m trying to start a theme of ‘Motivation Monday’ perhaps this is the perfect question for me to address …

I feel like I've been on this weight loss journey for so long (about 15 years) that I don't even remember exactly when or why I started. All I knew was other sources of finding happiness and acceptance were not working - especially when every time I looked in the mirror I just hated what I saw ... I have yet to overcome that, but at least I did reach a point where I thought even though my look was probably is a manifestation of my internal thoughts, at the very least I could start to work on changing myself externally to build enough confidence to confront my inner demons.

I have not been successful yet. I have lost over 20 kg (45 pounds) in the past year and a half … I’m using the past year and a half as my marking point because that is when I was the heaviest I had ever been – I’m furious at myself for letting myself get to that point. But I took that fury out at gym. I am pleased that I’ve lost weight, but to be honest, I have not yet managed to deal with those negative thoughts. I still hate looking at my reflection in the mirror. I still struggle to keep negative, self-deprecating thoughts out of my mind. One day I hope that I’ll be able to tackle these issues … in the meantime, I’ll be hitting the gym.

Alwyn Cosgrove & Motivation Monday

I am so glad I found Alwyn Cosgrove's website today. Cosgrove designed the workouts in NROL4W. His latest post discusses what happens when you stop training, and he discusses strength training vs. endurance training. As he mentioned in NROL4W, strength training is the way to go. I think it just helped me feel a bit more confident in going forward with the program since I've been feeling a bit restless.

He has another really good post about tracking results. I wish I had the opportunity to workout at a gym where the trainers were as particular to keeping track of results and encouraging people to keep working on their goals. Don't get me wrong, the trainers at the Palms are great, but I've always felt like there's something missing. Like when I started my personal training with C, I should have known that something would be off when he didn't take any of my measurements, didn't keep track of any of the workouts that we were doing, and kept talking about other non-related exercise things during our session. I know that the trainers get clients who are not really that keen on personal training - they just want someone to stand next to them while they're working out - but I'm not one of those people. I actually want someone to be there to kick my ass and push me to my potential. I think I'm trying my very best - I'm not afraid of hard work or sweat - but perhaps I could do better, push more weight, up the intensity a bit more? As someone who is interested in health and fitness but is kinda running (independently) blind through the whole thing, I can't fully be confident that what I'm doing is correct or working ... Anyway.

I was going to post another mini-video clip for my Motivation Monday, but I think pointing you over to Alwyn Cosgrove's website is a much better motivation tool.

PS: Alwyn if you ever read this and fancy coming over to Kuwait to train me, let me know!! :)

Seeing is Believing? or Trust what You're Feeling

Ideally, I’d love to see the results of my workouts immediately. Who wouldn’t? But I’m sure anyone who has attempted to get healthy/fitter/lose weight knows that it’s a slow and steady process … and that you’ve got to be patient. That for me is the toughest part – I’m not patient. I can put in the hours at the gym and I can watch what I’m eating, but I’m still impatient. I’ve already mentioned a few times – is this new workout plan really working? The new calorie intake, the focus on weight lifting, the days of rest … is it working? Of course the only way I’ll know is if I stick to the plan. I have to keep in mind that change does not happen overnight. Obvious, but still it’s something that I need to remind myself on a daily basis. Stick to the plan. Keep moving forward. Of course it’s frustrating that no changes can be seen on the scales, but I can’t deny that my jeans are a bit looser and I feel lighter and stronger in general … but still …


I completed workout 3 – upped my shoulder press dumbbell weight to 7 kg – something that I’ve never been able to do. In fact, I’d struggle at lifting 3 kg before. Perhaps the rest between days of weight lifting really is giving my muscles a chance to recover and get stronger? Perhaps. Managed to up a few of the other weights as well. Positive changes!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Salad

I've been experimenting with a few of the recipes from the NROL4W book. I made their Avocado-tuna Salad. It was delicious!! I'm totally hooked on it. It's filling and the flavors work really well together. It takes less than 20 minutes to prepare, and I like that all the ingredients are 'halved' so you can make this salad for 2 people - or just save the other half for the next day.

Avocado-tuna salad
1/2 Hass avocado (3 oz.), peeled and cubed
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 fresh red tomato, diced
1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 6-oz. chunk light tuna in water, drained
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
1 tbsp. minced fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried
1 tbsp. minced fresh basil or 1 tsp. dried

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

372 calories
25 grams protein
32 grams carbs (14 g fiber)
16 grams fat (2 grams saturated)

Unfortunately I didn't have black beans so I used Cannellini beans instead. It's actually 5calories more, but 3 g less in fat and 1 g less in carbs. I also added a tablespoon of lemon and a pinch of pepper.

I'm not much of a food photographer - but this is what it looked like:

Bon appetit!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Time and Money

I've come to realize this complete focus on being healthy takes a lot of time, and it's not cheap either. It's hard for me to admit that my eating habits haven't been great. Diets for me usually consisted of extreme calorie cutting, which only made me feel worse - lethargic, moody, cold, dizzy, depressed, and I guess just overall hungry. My other issue has also been related to portion control - so even though I may have been eating healthy food, I was still eating 2 pieces of grilled fish instead of just the 1 which is all I really needed. Gettinginto the right frame of mind of balancing nutrition and calories and actually eating the food is taking a lot of getting used to. I think I'm definitely in the right place now, but I have a long, long way to go.

So, as I started this new workout plan, I also sat down and made my list of foods that I'd like to cook and wrote down the calorie breakdown of all the foods. I decided to base most of my foods on the recipes in NROL4W since they're all pretty simple to make
and it's the exercise program that I'm mainly focusing on so it made sense. I love that they have the nutrition breakdown right there for you. You don't need to mess around with calculators and converters too much. The one thing that I wish they had more of is vegetarian recipes since I don't eat poultry or red meat. I do eat fish though which makes it a bit easier, but you still lose quite a bit of variety when you omit all the chicken/turkey/beef recipes from the book. I don't want to venture too much outside of what's in the book just yet -- keeping it as simple as possible because as I said, it's time consuming!

My first grocery shop for the bulk of the ingredients took me about 2 hours and set me back over $150 ... and that wasn't even including other ingredients that I needed to buy but was waiting for the day I wanted to prepare them so that the veggies would be fresh. It really irritated me to see that things that were healthier/lower in fat content (which I know doesn't always mean that it's the healthier option) were more expensive - fat free cream cheese; skim ricotta; whole wheat bread; egg white substitute etc. etc. All very expensive - but a gallon of ice cream - cheaper than you can imagine. Anyway.

Then once the groceries were bought and put away it came time to prepare the food. Most of the recipes in the NROL4W book are quite simple to follow, but still, it takes time to prepare the food, measure things out, and really check your portions. You have to be aware -- but I think as you keep weighing and measuring your food it'll soon come naturally.

I think that it's important to think about the time and money it takes to change your lifestyle. Gym memberships; proper workout clothes/gear; healthy food etc. It all adds up. I know that there are ways that you can cut costs, but what I'm saying is that it's just something to be aware of - and to realize that it's worth investing in your health.

Mini-workout update:
Today I needed help with my squats - and that's a good thing! I've finally reached a weight where I can't lift the bar up and over my head without any help (without getting injured). I felt proud as I put the bar+25 kg weight on my back. I'm getting stronger! It feels good. Workout 3A successfully completed :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back on the Bike

It seems like lately every morning starts with a debate, which is very unlike me. I usually have a detailed plan of what I'm going to do each day and I stick to it. However, for the past week I seem to kind of been going with the flow. It's mainly because my PhD writing has to be a priority, so if I wake up and I'm in the mood to write, then I can sit down and do it without feeling like I'm skipping a workout. On the other hand, if I don't feel like writing, then I can finish my workout earlier and then focus once that's done -- just trying to go with the flow.

This morning I woke up really early (4 a.m.) so I got a head start on some of my PhD work. As 7 a.m. was rolling around I start my internal debate - Should I go to RPM at 8 a.m. and just finish my workout for the day or should I skip it - should I stay or should I go ... ... ... Even as I was getting ready for the gym I continued flip-flopping between the two. Why is it so difficult to come up with a definitive answer? I stress myself out with all the internal discussions. I know part of the hesitation was because of my breathing - would I be ready for RPM class? I haven't
done it in ages. Will I push myself too far by going? I knew I needed to do something today, and I've got weights planned for tomorrow ... so ...

Anyway. I ended up going. D was giving the class this morning and
he's my favorite trainer, so that was a bonus. I don't think he was amused that I had a cough drop in my mouth as we went through the tracks, but still, I had to take some precaution against coughing ... and yes, I was conscious enough about having it in my mouth to make sure I didn't swallow it. It all went well until the middle of track 5 -- which is intense intervals. I had to slow it down just a little and lighten my resistance but I kept going. My cough drop had finished by this point and I was tempted to get off my bike to get another because tracks 6 and 7 were really tough. Still, mind over matter - just push through, relax your breathing and just push through. Whew. Relief.

I love RPM class. I think it's a great cardio workout, but you really do need to push yourself. It's
easy to 'cheat' if you want to by reducing your resistance and just peddling, but I tell you, it's harder if you do it that way. Plus, what's the point of coming to the class if you're not ready to give it 100%. The music is fab, and I love that D knows which tracks I dislike so he modifies the workout and avoids those tracks. That's why he's my favorite :) I do miss not going to the class as regularly as I used to, but it's tough to work it into my schedule at the moment. I'm sure I'll get back into it at some point - after I finish my thesis, but for now, I'll try and make it once a week if I can. Workout done for the day!

NROL4W – Progress: Weeks 1&2

Stage 1

Workout A Workout 1/Workout 2 [2 sets of 15 for each workout]

Squats 12kg/12kg/17kg/20kg

Push-ups body weight

Seated row 13.5kg/20.5kg/20.5kg/27.5kg

Step up 5kg/5kg/5kg/5kg [raised the step by 4 steps for workout 2]

Prone jackknife body weight

Workout B Workout 1/Workout 2 [2 sets of 15 for each workout]

Deadlifts 25kg/30kg/30kg/30kg

Shoulder press 4kg/5kg/5kg/6kg

Lateral pull 27.5kg/34kg/34kg/34kg

Lunges 6kg/6kg/6kg/6kg

Swiss ball crunch body weight

Workout 3 starts on Friday (hopefully). This time it’s going to be 2 sets of 12 reps for each exercise. I hope that I can up the weights a bit and maintain my posture. I haven’t noticed too many differences so far, but I definitely am starting to feel a bit stronger! J

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Workout 2 Complete!

I felt so bad for not going to the gym yesterday that I was determined to go today, no matter what the circumstances. Thank goodness I wasn't feeling too terrible today. I ended up going in the afternoon, which is always nice because I got to catch up with quite a few of my friends who I hadn't seen in a few weeks.

I started off with just a light 5 minute warm-up on the treadmill - no cross-trainer
for me until my breathing gets better. Then I went off to do workout B - Dead-lifts, shoulder presses, wide lateral pulls, lunges, and Swiss ball crunches ... I upped the weight on some of the exercises and kept it the same on others. Overall, I didn't feel too bad at all - though I have to say, I am still surprised at how much I sweat during the exercises! Again, looking at just 5 exercises at 2 sets of 15 seems like nothing at all ... yet, it is challenging, especially if you maintain proper form and use as much weight as possible. Anyway. I finished off with just 15 minutes of light walking on the treadmill. It wasn't so much for a cardio exercise as it was just to help me practice maintaining my breathing.

I'm really glad that I went. I was starting to panic. I have exactly enough time to finish stage 1 of NROL4W before I travel - so I can't afford to really skip any workouts. I need to stay motivated and focused.

So now, Stage 1, Workout 2 - complete!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Trying to listen

I woke up this morning feeling no better than the past few days. It was so frustrating. The inhaler that my doctor gave me seems to be having no effect, and I haven't been sleeping that well because of this cough ... On the bright side, I have been eating well - just following the meal plan that I set up a few days ago. However, how am I supposed to balance good nutrition and exercise when I feel so lousy and am not able to give my workouts 100%?

This morning I didn't know what to do -- people always tell me, listen to your body. If you're tired/unwell, it's better to rest and go back to the gym when you're feeling better ... but do you
know how difficult it is to resist? I feel weak and disappointed. I should be strong enough to just get on with all the things I need to get done ... but it doesn't seem to be going that way.

So, today, I decided to 'listen' to my body and I grudgingly stayed home - feeling irritated because now my workout schedule is off by a day and I don't know if I'm going to be well enough to go in tomorrow either ... but hey, it's the right move, right? Right? I don't know.

In any case, I decided to take advantage of taking the day 'off' and use it to get other things done - loads of laundry, tons of paperwork, and a few other errands. The list of things to do was endless - and while I did accomplish quite a lot, there's more to be done ... hmmm, maybe I ended up having a bit of a workout after all?

Friend Makin' Monday

I've been been posting to this blog for a week now and I'm glad I chose to branch this off my other blog and have it focus only on fitness/exercise/health. I've also been exploring other people's blogs about their weight loss/road to a healthier lifestyle journey and I'm amazed at how many terrific blogs are out there ... and how many people are totally encouraging andmotivating.

I've been reading Kenlie's blog All the Weigh and she's been doing a 'Friend Making Monday' ... I thought I'd pa
rticipate this week. Here are the answers to her ten questions - and when you get a chance, check out her blog too!

FMM: Ten Random Questions

1) What do you like most about yourself? I'm a hard-worker. Even if things don't come easy, I'll try my best to get it done (though I may complain a bit along the way)

2) List three characteristics that you like to have in your friends. Loyalty, good sense of humor, compassion for others

3) How often do you brush your teeth? Two to three times a day

4) If you could travel anywhere today, where would you go? Italy -- it's always been a lifelong dream of mine ... and one day I'll make it there!

5) Have you ever met anyone from the blog world in person? Some of my friends blog -- but other than them, no.

6) What is the last show you watched on TV? A few episodes of Curb your Enthusiasm - Larry David had me laughing and cringing with anxiety at the same time!

7) What kind of perfume/cologne do you wear? My two favorites are Calvin Klein's CK One and Carolina Herrera

8) How long ago did you complete your last workout? Sunday morning - I started Workout 2 in Stage 1 of New Rules of Lifting for Women

9) What will you eat for dinner tonight? Zucchini stuffed with crab - my first time trying this recipe!

10) Share something fun that you did over the weekend. Unfortunately it was not an exciting weekend for me at all as I've been ill - so spent most of my time resting ... hopefully things will look up next weekend!

That's it from me!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Motivation Monday

I love my Nike trainers ... and I love this ad!

Go Hard. Go Fast. Get Free.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Struggling a bit

I should have known complaining about cardio would come back to bite me in the butt. I was still feeling rather ill but I decided to head to the gym anyway. I decided that I would just do 10 minutes on the cross-trainer to warm up and then do workout A for week 2 … I am so glad I hadn’t planned on doing more than 10 minutes because I tell you (and I’m totally embarrassed to say this) … that 10 minutes nearly killed me. Three minutes into the workout, on a low resistance, had me totally out of breath and sweating. There was definitely something wrong with my lungs – I didn’t just have the sniffles. Anyway. I forced myself to complete that lousy ten minutes and then I moved on to the weights workout.

Week 2 is basically the same workout plan as week 1. I’m happy to say that the routine went well. I upped all my weights, and despite a bit of a struggle to get situated on the ball for the prone jackknife, I did manage to do both sets with much better form than last time!

It felt weird finishing my workout after only half an hour … even though that half hour was really tough for me breathing-wise, I had to wonder, is this 6-week plan really going to work? Only time will tell.

My pathetic performance on the cross-trainer left me no choice but to make an appointment to see the doctor. I just hope that whatever treatment they give me helps me get better. Fast!

Back to Basics

After coming back from London I was so concerned with just getting into my workout routine that I didn’t really sit down and plan too much – which is very unlike me! So today, I took a bit of time and did the basic stuff I should have done before I actually started.

I weighed myself and took my measurements … I’ll try not to weigh myself everyday, but I know that it will be difficult. I just can’t seem to resist getting on that scale!

I also worked out my meal plan. I’m a bit skeptical about the calorie breakdown that NROL4W suggests – I mean, approximately 1700 to 2000 calories daily?! That’s a helluva lot of calories … still, I told myself that I was going to follow this routine properly, so I’m going to through with it … Now I’ve just got to get my groceries and I’m all set.

I still haven’t worked out the cardio angle to the whole exercise program. The book does include some suggestions of how to include interval training as well as some exercise classes into the program – once again, it’s just so little compared to what I was doing before … but then again, I’ve gone down the route where I exercised a lot and cut my calories drastically and that didn’t work …

The plan is all mapped out – now I’ve just got to stick to it! Let’s see how it goes.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sick of it

Okay, so I’ve only been ill for four days but it feels like forever. It’s really bugging me because I have so much work to and less than six weeks to get it all done. I just cant’ seem to clear my head long enough to focus on the tasks at hand. My main worry is my PhD writing – I’ve got a ton of editing to do before my next trip to London … and it’s not just editing, it’s more like getting the thesis ready so that I can actually submit it in September. The pressure is freaking me out.

Of course I also have to deal with how being ill is interfering with my workouts. The main problem is the lack of energy – I hate wanting to go to the gym but not having the actual energy to properly complete the workout. It just depresses me. Then there’s the lack of appetite, which of course adds to the lack of energy … and finally, every time I cough, my bloody abs hurt because of those freaking prone jackknife exercises!! At least I know the exercise worked my core!

I know. I know. I’m whining. Just needed to get it off my chest.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mind Over Matter

When I woke up this morning, I felt terrible. My head felt heavy and my throat was still sore - kept me from getting a good night's sleep! I wanted to go to the gym and do workout B of NROL4W as I had planned, but my body was saying - sleep! You need more rest! Part of me thought - you really should listen to your body and get the rest, while the other part of me was saying - get to the gym. Do your workout. You'll feel better once you've done it.

I listened to the latter part and went to the gym. My 20 minute warm-up on the cross-trainer felt tough. I had
to will myself to go through with it - the voice in my head urging - come on! You can do it! It's only 20 minutes. This is nothing! Push!! You'd think those words would really inspire me, but they didn't. I kept telling myself - it's all in your head - mind over matter ... but then that made me wonder, which part was in my head? The fatigue? Or the false motivation? Which voice do I listen to? Which feeling is real?

It was a strange situation to be in actually. I mean, I've been in situations before where I have not wanted to go to the gym but I pushed myself to go anyway ... but this time I really did want to go, it's just that I was feeling really fatigued - I don't think I've recovered from my jet lag yet or the basic exhaustion from traveling. Anyway.

After my warm-up I headed upstairs to do workout B.
Deadlifts; Shoulder presses; Lateral pulls; Lunges with weights; Swiss ball crunch - 2 sets of 15 each.

The workout wasn't too difficult. I paid extra attention to the weight I was using today and made sure that I was challenging myself without compromising my form. I definitely felt better about this workout than workout A. I'm sure I'll feel the effects of those lunges in the morning!

My biggest dilemma after finishing the weight sets was - should I do cardio or not? I know that they don't emphasize cardio in NROL4W -- but it feels strange not doing anything. Aside from that, the heavy head and slight nausea that I was feeling was really starting to get to me. I only managed to do 10 minutes on the treadmill before stepping off and calling it a day. I was disappointed that I couldn't do more, but I really was exhausted -- at least I completed Workout B, which was my basic goal for the day ... hopefully with a bit more rest and a lot of water & vitamin C I'll feel better tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Somewhat Sore

I can’t believe I’m sore. I mean, I know that I did the first workout of NROL4W yesterday and that I hadn’t lifted any weights for about three weeks, but I really didn’t think I would feel the effects of yesterday’s workout since I didn’t lift very heavy weights – and it was only 2 sets of 15 reps for each exercise. Still, I definitely feel the tightness in my arms. I’m pleased. I wonder how tomorrow’s workout will go.

I slightly regret having gone to the gym yesterday when I really felt like I was coming down with a cold. My headache has been persisting for over 24 hours now and I still feel fatigued from all the travel etc. I hardly slept last night and I know my lack of sleep in general has been a problem in my overall energy levels. Still, I’m taking today to rest – just trying to make sure I don’t push too hard in the beginning only to make it difficult to complete this 6-week task.

Workout B tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Part of my new routine is based on Lou Schuler's The New Rules of Lifting for Women (written with Cassandra Forsythe and Alwyn Cosgrove). The book itself is very easy to read, with easy to follow explanations. I got through it in about two days, with an extra day to look at the workout routines and meal/nutrition advice more thoroughly.

I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at the lack of cardio as part of the workout. I know that steady cardio exercises are not really the way to go if you want to achieve results and instead high intensity interval training (HIIT) is what I should really focus on, but this book didn't even focus on that. It was all based on lifting weights. Well, what do I know? Obviously since my past workout routines haven't been as successful as I would have liked then something wasn't right. Also, at first glance, the workouts seem easy, simple - just 2 sets at 15 reps of 5 exercises? That can't be enough, can it? As I said before, what do I know -- let's see how this goes.

Today was day 1 of the 6 week-Stage 1 program. After spending some time learning the exercises and making my own chart (I found the one in the book to be very confusing) I headed to the gym.

I started with some basic warm-up stretches followed by 20 minutes of light/medium intensity cardio on the cross-trainer. I then headed to the weight room to do the first exercise - squats. I was a bit distracted in the room as there were quite a few people there and they were talking. I also couldn't remember how much weight I had used before, so I just started with 6 kg on each side. I was a bit annoyed that the two women in the weight room (I didn't know either of them) seemed to be including me in their conversation and standing rather close to me and trying to make eye contact -- could they not see that I was busy? I tried to ignore them, but they were distracting me. [Blog post on gym etiquette coming up soon!] I had to hurry up and finish because a class was going to start in that room so before I knew it, I had finished my 2 sets ... and as I left the room, I regretted not having put more. Oh well, I'll remember it for the next time.

I decided to head upstairs to the women only section of the gym to do the remaining exercises. Since the routine was new for me I wanted a bit of peace and quiet and didn't want to be further distracted or too self-conscious trying the exercises out.

The next portion of the workout was easy ... until I got to the last exercise. Holy Prone Jackknife is all I have to say! OMG who created this exercise? I knew as soon as I read about it in the book that I was going to have difficulty with it. I positioned the exercise ball, made sure there was a mat under me, and stared at the ball for some time. I was trying to visualize the exercise in my head, but since I didn't have to book with me, I couldn't completely remember what I had to do - do I walk my hands in? Push my legs out? Curl my knees in? What was it again? Time for my iPhone ... I did a search for prone jackknife and came to this post on The first thing that caught my eye was the entry that read "I CANNOT DO THIS MOVE." More comments related to this exercise were "Are there any alternatives to this move?" and "Impossible" ... that's when I decided to close all those sites and just look for an explanation of how the exercise was to be done ... (oh, for some reason I couldn't connect to YouTube, and I'm kinda glad I didn't because this demonstration of the prone jackknife does not nearly indicate how tricky the exercise is) ... anyway, back to the explanations ... I read through it, visualized it, and said to myself - you ARE going to do this. No excuses.

So, I steadied the ball (which I think was a bit too big for this exercise) against the wall, firmly planted my hands on the ground, and lifted one leg up to anchor my ankle on the ball ... and here starts the wobbling - it took me several tries to steady the ball with just one leg on it --- let alone two! Still, I was determined. I kept telling myself, you can do this; there's no reason you can't. It wouldn't be in the book if it was impossible. I steadied my arms, tightened my core, and concentrated on keeping my ankles firmly on the ball -- and then slowly started to bring my knees towards my chest. 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... ok, need to move faster if I want to finish this set without flinging the ball out of the studio ... 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. *Whew* I can't believe I did it ... and knowing that I could do it once made the second set much 'easier.' I totally understand why they only listed 2 sets of 8 for the first workout.

And that was it -- I put in another 50 minutes on the treadmill - at a pretty moderate pace with a few sprints every once in a while ... and I was done.

So, my verdict for the first day of NROL4W - the workouts look simple, but the focus has to be on form and on using the correct amount of weight that challenges your muscles.

I definitely think I did not use enough weight for my first time, but I think it's ok since it has been a while since I've lifted any weights. I'm more confident now and I'm looking forward to Workout B day after tomorrow.

Moving Forward

I've been away from my usual routine for the past three weeks. I guess if you really want to get technical, I've actually been away from my usual routine since the beginning of this year ... not much of a routine anymore then, is it? Well, I guess that's what was bound to happen when I finally put all my energy into my PhD research and writing and made my workouts second. It's not that I haven't been going to the gym - I've actually been really diligent - hitting the gym at 6 a.m. for a good 2.5-3 hours pretty much everyday. The thing that was lacking, however, was the excitement ... the added rush of adrenaline leading up to and continuing past each workout. Instead, it became ... routine. Just something I had to do to make sure I got m
y daily exercise and didn't entirely negate all the hard work I've put in over the past year and a half.

Looking back on the past 6 months, it seems like all I've really been able to do is maintain my current weight -- but it's not really about the num
ber, right? Okay so the number on the scale is pretty much the same - but other things are definitely different. My speed, strength, and stamina have all improved - I can't really ignore that ... and while my attitude has changed - it's about being healthy, not just shedding the pounds - there's still the desire to see a change in the number on the scales and the shape of my body ... so here I am once again, back after an almost four week 'work-cation' ... and ready to get right into to the swing of things.

I've got six weeks before my next trip, which means that I've got six solid weeks to get my PhD work done and stick to a reasonable and effective diet and exercise program. What better way to keep track of my progress than through a blog ... so here we go.