Sunday, April 29, 2007

Time Flies When You're... Um...

Don't how it happened, but I've done 6 weekly reviews and find that I'm actually on week 9!!! How did that happen?

Here's a speedy catch up on what happened since I last left you:
After week 6, while still travelling, I also caught some mean flu-y thing.
So, week 7 was the first week that I was not truly not able to complete my requirements.
I only logged 4 workouts that week: 2 cardio and 2 strength. Wah! I guess it isn't really *that* bad, since it means I only dropped one cardio and one strength, but it feels really bad.

Then came week 8, back home, fighting off the end of the nasty cold. That one was much more typical, I managed to finish all the requirements with a bit extra to spare. It was good to be back on track.

The best news of all is that I've finally lost some weight! When travelling, I had at least three family members that I haven't seen in a while point out that I've lost weight, and when I got home, I found that I was actually 5 pounds lighter than when I started. Crazy. Especially since the first month I didn't lose any weight, which I chalked up to muscle gain.

Well, there it is. And now I'm officially in the last quarter of the plan. The best part is, I already know what I'm doing next... but I won't give it away yet. Sorry!

At this point - I'm happy with my personal progress, though unsatisfied with the Self Challenge workout plan. I feel that it's too easy for me. Maya, on the other hand, is still quite capable of kicking my ass. And she still yells at me for missing workouts. I still haven't figured out how to tell her that I'm actually running at least 3 additional days a week. Ah well, so it goes...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The X Files

Sorry about that title, I couldn't resist.

I'm currently on week 8 - but not really. Technically it's week 9, but remember I crashed. And restarted. Sometimes that's just what it takes.

Miscellany from the past 7+ weeks...

- Running replaced Kenpo for this 90 day period, so Kenpo will have to wait until 902.

- Hell yes there's a 902. I want to realize absolute potential. AbPotX.

- I've been using resistance bands rather than weights. Being no stranger to weight training, at first I thought this would be the wimp approach. Not so, not so. Despite the few occasions where the starting movement involves a slightly slack band to enable full resistance at the peak of the exercise, the bands are muscle-shredding torture monkeys.

- Muscle. Shredding. Torture. Monkeys. And today I just bought one more, a heavyweight one (max 72 lb resistance).

- Hell no I'm not going to 72 lbs. But at this stage it's going to make a world of difference simulating pull-ups.

- I know from the Beachbody message boards that I am not the only woman who wants to kick serious ass in pull-ups. I also know that there is no band that can replace the next step: I'm going to have to get my ass to the gym and pull up for real.

- The other day during a rainy run, my buddy and I came up on an Erie-sized puddle. My buddy circumvented it through the squishy grass. I lept over it with ease. Plyometrics: God love 'em.

- Still, after 12+ Ab Ripper sessions, that V-Up kills me. And I hate every person on that DVD who does it with ease.

- (I love every person on those DVDs. Can you say Dreya Weber?)

- Tony Horton's airborne plyometric push-ups are psychotic and riveting. After finishing my lame-ass 8 or 10, I'll back up to the start of the sequence just to watch him. Oh, and I just got a clap in for the first time last week.

- The greatest change has been in my strength, especially in my upper body. A little muscle definition ("Hey," I said to the mirror the other day, "I don't remember seeing that before...coooooool...") goes a long way toward re-committing to the process.

- Re-commitment had to happen every week. This is not one of those "once you've done it for 30 days it's habit." There is no habit to this, I had to church it up every single Day One.

Finally, I must be employed by Beachbody in a parallel universe because I have been talking this program up left and right. It's not a permanent approach - nothing can replace the cameraderie of a team of people sweating and screaming in pain simultaneously (ahhh, good times, my Performance Max friends, good times). As long as I keep setting physical goals, I'll be showing up and pressing PLAY.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Self Challenge -Week 6 in Review

Now the complications begin. This week, on tuesday, I left for a 9-day trip to Italy for an ultimate frisbee tournament. I've been to this tournament before (many times) so I was quite familiar with what to expect. I knew that I could get plenty of running in but that the strength workouts were going to be the tough part. So I crammed as much on Maya as I could in the beginning of the week and then took a resistence band with me to do the third.

As it turns out, I didn't use it and this is the first week that I don't complete all of my requirements.

2 x 30 minute cardio workouts
1 x 45 minute cardio workouts
3 x 25 minute strength workouts

What I actually did:
6 x cardio workouts: 5 x 45 minutes of running (three of those were in one day - I'm in relay training mode) and 35 minutes of aerobics with Maya

2 x Yourself Fitness workouts: 30 minutes of pilates & 30 minutes of weight training

Yeah. I was in Italy. I don't believe the piadine sandwiches, plates of risotto and strozzapreti really translate into "2 grain-carbs". Delicious!

Self Challenge -Week 5 in Review

Ok, Month 2 - there are a few changes to the routine. I'm still required to do 3 cardio workouts a week, but one of them is now 45 minutes long instead of 30. That was not a problem: I was already doing much more than the required minimum.

As for the strength requirements, they added one more 25 min session a week. Not that huge of a difference but a bit trickier for me, especially when travelling.

The food requirements however took a dramatic turn: they switched to a units plan, where for breakfast, for example, you should eat 2 grain-carbs; 2 fruit-carbs; 1 dairy-protein; and 2 fats. And they provide a chart telling you what your options are for each of those. Doesn't sound too terrible, does it?

So here's what happened that first week into Month 2:

2 x 30 minute cardio workouts
1 x 45 minute cardio workouts
3 x 25 minute strength workouts

What I actually did:
4 x cardio workouts: 160, 30 & 120 minutes of all running and 30 minutes of aerobics with Maya

4 x Yourself Fitness workouts: 45 minutes of upper body, 45 minutes of core & 45 minutes of lower body & 15 minutes of yoga

While I did check out the table, and see what my options were for each meal, I didn't really follow the plan beyond that.

This week wasn't too difficult to keep up with, I seem to be on a roll!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Challengin' while Travellin'

As I've mentioned previously, this is not the first year I've embarked upon the Self challenge. In fact, I have at the very least signed up for it and completed the first month or so for the past four years. What happens around the one month marker that makes me stop, you may ask?

Travel. Every year, right around the same time, I head off for the very same trip: nine days or so in Rimini, Italy for a Beach Ultimate tournament (Big E's team goes every year. I myself don't play).

The travelling lifestyle isn't very conducive to working out. Sure, this really depends on where you go and what options are available to you. In some cases, you may stay in a hotel that has a gym. Or perhaps you've gone to a beach resort, with a tennis court, horseback riding, etc. etc. You shouldn't have a tough time keeping up with your workouts in this case.

For me, it was always the same stumbling block: Strength. It is usually around the time of the challenge where I'm required to do three 25 minute strength workouts a week. In Rimini, I have plenty of cardio options available to me, and they're usually quite easy to fit in. No gyms, however, are available and my bedroom is tiny. I decided this year to set myself up to not fail the strength requirements. I brought an exercise band with me, as well as three pages ripped from an old Self Magazine of an exercise band full body strength workout.

Then, in addition to this, I crammed in two workouts on monday and tuesday (upper body and then lower body), since we weren't leaving until noon on tuesday. Two down, one to go.

We arrived in Rimini on Thursday, the weather was gorgeous. While the team warmed up and practised, I went for a 45 minute jog. I debated doing some pilates on the beach while I waited... perhaps some pushups, a plank or two, ab work... but for some reason, decided against this.

The next day, again gorgeous, I decided it would be my day of rest and didn't workout at all. Saturday came along and I talked myself into a run, another 45 minute jog down the beach. I didn't consider doing any other stuff at this point. Then Sunday, I had a plan - for my relay training, I decided to do my first multiple training run. I went for three 4-5 mile runs, and then I collapsed.

Sunday night, we all drank far too much wine, and I spent monday lying delicately on the sideline. Working out was out of the question. Tuesday, we had to get up early to head back to Bologna and then of course get up even earlier on Wednesday to fly back to San Francisco. When I got home, I managed to talk myself into a Maya workout, the first for this past week, and got some core strength in. However, I also seem to have acquired an illness either on the plane or from the other teammates, and when I got up the next morning to fly to the East Coast, I was feeling even worse.

So with two weeks of travel under my belt, I've come to the following conclusion:

Travel + Cardio = success - at least for me. I love running in new locations, it's a great way to see the town, people watch, get a different perspective. Old Italian men seem to enjoy it too.

Travel + Strength = Not so hot. I can't seem to make myself do a workout in my hotel room and am not likely to do it out on the beach in public. I guess I'm just a wuss that way.

Travel + Flu + any workout = barely happenin'. More on that after the next week in review.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

80% of 90 is Showing Up

Crash. Seriously. It's now Easter Sunday and I can confidently say that I have completed precisely two of my P90X DVD workouts over the last 10 days.

Perhaps I wasn't prepared for the commitment - not exactly a revelation. Maybe I wasn't prepared for the intensity - understatement. None of this matters, however, because the breaking point for a program like this is usually week 4 or 5, and I dutifully obliged. P90X even acknowledges this and makes week 5 a recovery week (not exactly sluffing off, but backing off just enough to let the body heal a bit). I was foolish enough to think that I did not need a recovery week and proceeded with the same workout I had just finished in week 4.

Big mistake.

Another big mistake was not taking the food portion of the program seriously enough (or possibly taking it too seriously). The Eggpounder 4000 put me off, mainly because the food portions were way more than I was accustomed to, and involved ~shudder!~ cooking. I don't cook. After four weeks of trying to cookie-cut the program, trying to eat within the protein, carb, fat blocks listed and/or using the menu plans, food was suddenly a mysterious burden: how do I fuel, when do I fuel, can I eat this? do I have time to fuel, I forgot to fuel and I need to fuel but I don't have time to fuel and suddenly, not surprisingly, I lost all interest in food whatsoever, and stopped caring. No doubt part of that comes from thinking of food solely as FUEL.

Anyway. Time for Plan B: Ignore the lost week, send it off to that bloody island and let The Others sort it out. I'm backing up the program to start week six over again, which isn't going to keep me apace of Sara and her dynamic adjustments to the Self Challenge, but I think that's what this was all about - looking at what it really takes to make a physical goal happen.

Hint: Get out of your head; press PLAY.

Monday, April 2, 2007

With a Squawk!

So after my month 1 evaluation, having surpassed all the exercise requirements but failed the eating ones, I decided that I wasn't happy with my progress. And since I decided I'm still unlikely to follow the meal plan (although month 2's meal plan is much more reasonable - more on that soon), my solution was to switch up and supplement my cardio load.

Ever since I'd gotten the Nike+ attachment for my iPod, my only cardio has been running. But since my running rarely involves sprints or cardio bursts, I've decided that it isn't enough to make me lose weight. So where did I turn in this time of need? To Maya, of course.

Instead of skipping her cardio workouts now, I've decided that I will supplement my 4-5 days of running a week with one intense 45-minute cardio workout with Maya. (This actually ends up being around 35-40 minutes of cardio, because she always adds some weight work at the end).

Maya tiptoes me into the workout with some really easy stuff: step touching, marching in place... Fortunately, this part only lasts about 3 minutes, then she moves into alternating sequences with jumping jacks, fast shuffles (I used to have to do those for tennis lessons) and various squat jacks, kick jacks, double jacks... any kind of jumping jack you could possibly desire, and then my favourite: The Karate Kick with Squat. Except that whenever she says it, it sounds like she's saying "with squawk" and having done a couple of years of Tae Kwon Do, I'm just dying to let loose and squawk out loud with each kick. But then I might disturb our neighbors and we really do love our new house...

I had my second Yourself! evaluation today and found that nothing had really changed, except that I was now able to do 20 pushups without stopping (compared to 15 when I started) and while Maya thinks that my focus should still be upper body strength, I decided to ignore her and switch my focus to cardio.

Now let's watch that kick my fitness plans into shape.

Oh, and then I leave for almost two weeks of travel tomorrow so that completely changes everything in my workout routine anyway. So much for that plan. My new focus will be: how to remain on target even while travelling. I'll let you know how that goes.