Monday, July 2, 2012

Weight Loss Report: Month 2

Remember all that boisterous talk about me reaching another 5 pound milestone by the time July 1st rolled around?  When I started out on this weight loss adventure, I vowed to lose 5 pounds a month until I reached my goal weight.  If that would have happened, I would be about half way to the finish line right now.  Confession time...I did not reach that goal this month.  I lost 1 pound in June.  Only 1 pound!  This is painful to admit, let alone put it out there for everyone to know.  Yeah, I am disappointed, but if I am honest with myself I know there were several instances in the past four weeks when I fell off the diet train with gusto.  It is summer time and my entire household has fallen into a nice easy schedule of relaxing and snacking 'round the clock.  I have kept up with my diet journal in an effort to remain within my allotted calorie count, but the contents of it have far more processed snack foods that it should.  A sinful bite here and a sweet taste there adds up quickly.  My freezer is stocked with ice cream and the cookie jar is filled with homemade chocolate chunk cookies for my ever hungry two growing sons.  There have been endless social gatherings with family and friends where margaritas and delicious summer comfort foods were plentiful.  Again, I am not making excuses for my behavior.  I could have done better and I did not.  This is simply an honest inventory of my dietary sins from the last four weeks.

There is an up side I am happy to report, or several actually.  Yes, I have slipped up quite a bit diet-wise during the month of June, but my workouts have been incredible.  I have returned to my strength training routine like a beast and it has started to pay off.  My routine has been a three-day split and I do things slightly different each time.  I have the attention span of a gnat when it is something I don't want to do.  I work all upper body twice a week and legs once per week.  Why legs only once per week?  Running is my first workout love, so between morning runs with my buds and the occasional treadmill excursion my legs get worked in excess.  Last month I spent a great deal of time in the gym just knocking off my body's cobwebs and getting back into a steady routine without my muscles screaming for mercy with each rep.  This month my strength has returned and I can see the early signs of muscle definition.  Yeah!  Nothing strokes your ego better than finally seeing the results of your hard physical labor.  It takes about 12 weeks of regular weight lifting and dieting for your body's strength gains to show up in full glory, so this is truly the early stages.  My body still carries a thick layer of fat, though not a much as it used to.  Things don't jiggle like they did two months ago.  I am still thick, but the thickness is more solid and toned lately.  Put a check mark in the success column for this.  Strength training is paying off.

On a side note, I have to jump back onto my soapbox and start preaching again.  I hear a lot of women complain about the shape of their bodies, no matter how chunky or thin they may be.  We tend to join a gym and spend all our time on a cardio machine we like and sweat for hours, expecting to see some body shaping results.  A very wise young lady (an aerobics instructor) once said that working out exclusively on just cardio will work the hell out of that one part of your body (cardio, i.e. your heart).  You will end up with a very strong heart, but the rest of your body will look pretty much the same as it always has.  My advice from personal experience is that increased muscle tone can benefit every body type.  This is not some newly adopted idea of mine.  I have long preached the benefits of women increasing their muscle mass.   I am just as guilty as anyone about not practicing what I preach in this area.

All the general complaints we have about the female physique can be improved by increasing our muscle mass.  Jiggling thighs, chunks of cellulite, flabby arms, and droopy boobs can be coaxed into better shape with regular strength training.  Not having a gym membership is no excuse to avoid strength training.  Simple old fashioned moves like push ups, squats, lunges and crunches can be done anywhere, anytime, without any equipment.  Bottom line is you have to shoot for the complete package.  You have to eat good nutritious foods, you have to burn fat with challenging cardio sessions and you must include regular strength training to see positive results.  Anyone can lose weight by restricting their calories alone, but their body won't be anything they want to show off because their body's muscle-to-fat ratio will still be lopsided.  No one wants to be skinny enough to be able to fit into a bikini and then too embarrassed to actually walk around in it because of their jiggling flabbiness.

Speed work is now a part of my weekly rotation as well.  I have been forced to do speed intervals on the treadmill (UGH!) because several of the local school tracks have been under repair for weeks.  For a slug like me, the only thing worse than actually doing speed work is having to do said speed work on the revolving belt of a treadmill like a freakin' hamster in a cage.  I breathe louder, I sweat more and my uncoordinated tendencies reach an all time high when I do speed work.  Having all this on display, in a gym, on a treadmill next to other unsuspecting patrons is just plain wrong.  Last week, I ended up on a treadmill next to my son's old first grade teacher and I could tell my sweat droplets flying into her personal space was a wee bit of a distraction for her.  The good news is I have done either a speed interval or a tempo run once per week this past month and it is tolerable enough for me to want to keep it up a little longer.  One welcome benefit is that although my speed sessions are shorter, they burn more calories in less time than my usual back-of-the-pack pace.  The pay off will be revealed whenever I sign up for my next race to see if I can push my limits just a little without too much carnage.

Total up all these developments and the result is that I am down one complete jeans size after two months of effort.  The numbers on the scale are not decreasing as quickly as I would like, but I know the changes are happening because my formerly too tight clothes are becoming wearable again.  My muscle definition is slowly coming into view and I have not given up on speed work just yet.  I have learned the same lesson (again!) that my diet still needs improvement.  Overall I have cleaned up my diet a great deal but I can do so much better.  My house is walking distance from two grocery stores, so keeping a constant stock of fresh fruits and vegetables should be a no-brainer.  My house is also walking distance from roughly 20 or so fast food restaurants, too.  Surely you understand my struggle (wink, wink).  Next month I WILL be down 5 more pounds (yes, I am declaring it!) and I know I will be able to continue to do the same workout efforts barring any illness or injury.  Being on this train for the last two months should mean I have passed a point of no return, pushing me closer to a goal I set weeks ago with no guarantees of success.  I don't want to have to start over again and again like I always have, more discouraged and disgruntled than the times before.  As the saying goes...if you are tired of staring over, then stop giving up.  This will be my new mantra as I head into another month on my weight loss journey.

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