Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Only Good Reason to Change Your Body

The "After" that goes with the
"Before" seen in the banner above
Here we go ladies and gentlemen.  It's nearly time for the New Year,  New You,  New Goal resolutions to come surging to the surface of your consciousness.  It's almost time for the Ball, the Other Shoe, and your Defenses to drop.  For a large percentage of the population of the so called developed world, it's nearly time to:

Change Your Body.

Why?  This is my blog, so I get to say why.

The only good reason to change your body, is so that your physical body can better serve your life purpose.

Oh yeah, I went there.  It's really not a very esoteric point of view.  It's rational.  Losing weight, or better still losing fat and developing muscle takes skill, effort, and persistence.  Please believe me, on the journey to your authentic healthy body, vanity will not be enough.  Vanity will be helpful at times, but it will not serve you when everyone around you is enjoying your favorite intoxicating foods, and you are feeling bitter, put upon, and deprived.  Telling yourself,

"I'll look hotter tomorrow if I don't eat that" may not serve to keep you away from the crazy food.

What will keep you away from the crazy food?  Ask yourself what purpose a vital, healthy, energetic body will have in your life, and then dedicate yourself to that service.  For example, there is a very good reason why so many actors and models have the "Abdominal Fortitude" to stay really lean.  99.9% of the time if they're not lean they won't work.  Even if they are endowed with extraordinary talent (in the case of actors, especially female) they won't get a chance to express it on the word stage unless they match the expected physical image required today.  The best example I've read recently came from Tina Fey who lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers and went from writer on Saturday Night Live to on-camera star of  Saturday Night Live.  Now I admit that the physical standards of female beauty in American media drive me nuts.  I think that they are ridiculously narrow, and shockingly difficult to achieve if you weren't born naturally slender, but there's nothing like the burning desire to act to inspire weight loss.

The Burning Desire to Act.

So, is there some action, some activity, some purpose you feel compelled to serve that is inhibited by the current state of your physical body?

Form wanting to fit in an airline seat, all the way to wanting to fit into a size zero,  if you find the reason behind the reason: whether you want to travel the world, or whether you want to be a race horse jockey, (a very legit reason to want to be a size zero) you will find a force that pulls you toward your hearts desire with a powerful and consistent kind of energy.

Go ahead and ask yourself the big question:
How can I best serve humanity?  Go ahead, ask yourself, no one has to know you're risking grandiosity.  From being a fantastic teacher, to running for public office, to being a great and happy mom, developing a fit,vital body will serve your life purpose, and this life purpose will inspire you to eat well and move well over time.

Eating Well and Moving Well Over Time.

This is what it takes.  As I come up on the fourth anniversary of my physical transformation it always comes down to this.  Eating and moving: I can't simplify it any more.  You are going to have to find your personal way of eating and moving that gets you to your goal and keeps you there over time.  Your life purpose is your inspiration for perspiration.  This is an odd time of year in this hemisphere when the days are, short, the nights are long, and we sometimes feel at loose ends.  Take some time, perhaps during one of these long nights, to consider your heart's desire.  Then when you're ready, decide what personal physical reality would serve that longing.  With this awareness in place you are ready to find your plan for eating and moving, not just for the new year, but for good.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Photo Shoot Tomorrow

The "After"
that goes with the "Before" above
It has been a very good week for getting my head back on straight.  First, I joined Weight Watchers on line of all things.  Back in 2007 I joined and went to meetings for about six weeks.  I lost five pounds, but I couldn't stick to the plan and quickly gained it back.  As soon as I started to struggle, I found that I was too embarrassed to go a meeting when I knew I hadn't lost weight that week.  A case of my ego keeping me from what I really wanted.  About a year later I started Turbulence Training, and I found that the key to my transformation, the foundation for change, was actually exercise.

What's Been Holding Me Back

It bears repeating that the fatal flaw in all of my figure recomposition plans is always impatience.  Again and again I have to relearn the lesson that moderate exercise with the right amount of intensity and reasonable progression works over time.  If I push to hard and get hurt I can't train at all.  Anyone who is gearing up for a new training program in the New Year would be wise to start slowly and train safe.  I know from experience that if you focus and commit to a balanced training program, and a sensible eating plan that puts you in a reasonable deficit, your body will improve, sometimes with gratifying speed.

Weight Watcher's?  Really?

Yes really.  I'm doing points plus and I feel full.  You you know how insanely fabulous it feels to be comfortably full after so long?  Since May my appetite has had two settings:  Starving and Stuffed.  It's as if I would go into a huge state and have no memory of the eating sensations in--between.  Ok, I'm a little scared I'll over eat on the fruit, but by weighing and measuring myself once a week I should have the feedback I need.  I haven't had any sugar or flour, and for now I'll just continue to leave them out.  Besides, after the way I had been eating, having oat bran hot cereal with sugar free maple syrup is like having an elegant dessert: with no guilt!

That being said, picture are tomorrow so I didn't eat the oat bran, and I got in plenty of water.  I did have lemon juice in hot water as well, but no flashy tricks.  The pictures are for the flyers for the Four Week Body Lift.  I won't be using any bikini photos for those.  I'm off right now to help my son with a video game puzzle, but I'll be back with more on the shoot, and my new sense of calm.  One day I'm going to get this transformation process right for more than a week at a time.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Easy on the Knees

The "After"
To Go With the "Before" Above
Just a brief post to put in today's fitness routine.

My knee is almost 100%, no weird sensation, no weakness, healed, but this fitness session is still intended to baby the knees by eliminating impact as much as possible.  If the squats irritate the back of my knee I'll go ahead and skip them.

Warm up:

10 Body Weight Squats
10 Stick Ups
10 Push Ups
10 leg Swings Each Leg
Psoas/Quadricep Stretch
Rest 30 Seconds and Repeat 1 Time

Superset A
Squats With 12lb. Body Bar:  8 Reps
Curtsey Lunge 8 Reps
Rest 1 Minute and Repeat 2 Times

Superset B
Strap Assisted Pistol Squats 8 Reps
Plie Squats With 12 lb Body Bar
Rest 1 Minute and Repeat 2 Times

Superset C
Romanian Dead Lift With Body Bar: 12 Reps
Reverse Lunge With Body Bar: 6 Each Leg
Rest 1 Minute and Repeat 2 Times

Interval Training
5 minute walk to warm up
"Baby" Burpees: 30 Seconds
"Easy" Get Ups: 30 Seconds
Repeat For a Total of Six Rounds

Baby burpees are something I've come up with that takes the hop back and the jump out of burpees.  I'll be posting a You Tube video soon.

Easy Get Ups consist of lowering myself to the floor and lying down flat- first by bending the right leg and supporting myself with the right hand to get down, then leading with the right leg to stand back up.  Then I switch sides by bending the left leg and putting the left hand down.

These are practically no impact exercises that will allow me to work back up to Burpees and Turkish Get ups.

My eating is back on track!  I went ahead an bought a 3 month membership to Weight Watchers on line, and after 2 days on Points Plus I feel fantastic.  I'm personalizing the plan by leaving out sugar and all grains except for 1/3 cup of oat bran in the morning.  I got more points than I expected, and it feels great to feel full again.  (But not stuffed!)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Give Me Patience: Right Now

Here is the "After" that goes with
the "Before" in the banner above
If eating right and exercise lead to a great figure, why don't more people do it?  What's more, once you have started to see some success form healthy eating and exercise, why do you stop?

By the way, it's now six days to the photo shoot and counting, and yesterday, well... it wasn't a great day as far as eating and moving go.

What happened?  I tried to cut my calories down too hard.  One taste of the leg of lamb I served for dinner, and I just broke.  It probably didn't help that there was some chardonnay in the house, and that I thought, "A little won't hurt."  It hurt.  My resolve was broken, and I ended up over-eating.  How many times do I have to learn this lesson?  For me, severe under-eating just leads to crazy over eating.

Abdominal Fortitude

We all have different gifts.  I can sing the C above the staff, but I still can't do an unassisted pull up.  Some fitness enthusiasts can fast or cut calories hard without breaking and bingeing, but I just can't seem to.  So I guess that means reasonable calorie deficits, intense workouts that last 45 minutes or less, and lots of patience, are going to be the foundation of my continuing transformation.  "Sigh".  It's not new, or exciting, or some kind of revelation, but there is a pretty big silver lining.

If I'm Not in Such a Darn Hurry, I Can Enjoy Eating and Training Again.

I can eat pretty luxuriously on about 1400 calories a day, and if I'm not trying to kill it in the gym, I can focus on form and enjoy my training again.  What a relief.  Looking back over the past few months, I've been asking myself to do things that I would never recommend to a client.  I think I need to treat my body and mind with a little more respect, and maybe even give myself a break every once in a while.

I just finished my 4 Week Body Lift training session and I feel exhilarated, not at all wiped out.  I am not a natural endurance athlete.  I love to walk but running just hurts.  I've never experienced an endorphin rush from a long endurance workout, but I did get one just 20 minutes ago when I finished my intervals.  I'm beginning to believe that a great deal of the conventional wisdom that we learn about fitness is based on what we know about natural endurance athletes.  It could be that we need to spend more time figuring out what kind of exercise feels good, and then incorporate that into our routines.  It's the same with eating.  Nobody wants to follow an eating plan full of unsatisfying food.

At any rate.  Pictures are six days away, but instead of freaking out, I think I'll go back and re-read "Be Beautiful Now," take a deep breath, and have a little patience.

Monday, December 12, 2011

One Week Until the Photo Shoot- Help!

I can't believe I'm in this position.  Let me tell you what happened last night.  A little beef stew, one slice of apple pie, and I gained three pounds.  I know it's not three pounds of fat, but you know how demoralizing it is to "Be Good" all week and have your work apparently wiped out by a couple of carbs and a few spoon-fulls of sugar.  Sure sure, I know all of the positive things I'm supposed to tell myself right now, but the hard reality is that I'm having pictures taken for my book, and for the first of the year fitness advertising I need to do, in one week.

This Means Fat War

I've got to pull out all the stops.  The good angel sitting on my right shoulder is whispering words of wisdom about shunning crash diets, and the little devil on my left is whispering about ketosis, water depletion, and fasting.  I, meaning my rational self, am forming a plan.  Here's what I'm going to do.

Eating Is 80% of the Battle

When it comes to dieting, and yes I will be dieting for the next seven days, "Know Thyself" is my best advice.  I know for a fact that if I combine low carb eating with intermittent fasting I can shed those pounds by Monday the 19th.  Be aware this is not nutritional advice!  Let's face it though, sometimes push comes to shove and you want to shove the scale in the right direction instead of slowly coaxing your weight down.  This means that for the next seven days I will be eating lots of green leafy vegetables, healthy protein, and not a whole lot of other stuff.  Almond milk will replace cream in my coffee, and sugar and grains will be nowhere to be seen.  I think I'll start my days with hot lemon water as well.

I've Got To Move

My knee gets better every day, but walking a little and yard work isn't going to cut it.  When I look back at this week, the most valuable skill I may have learned is how to put together a fitness routine that lights up my metabolism and pumps up my muscles while protecting my knees.  Here goes.

Warm Up

10 body weight squats
10 Stick Ups
10 Push Ups
10 leg Swings Each Leg
Psoas Stretch- 20 seconds each side
Rest 30 Seconds and Repeat

Superset #1
Strap Assisted Pull Ups- 1 less than failure
1 Arm Shoulder Press- 8 each Side
Rest One Minute And Repeat 2 Times for a Total of 3 sets

Superset #2
Dumb Bell Row- 8 Reps
DB Chest Press- 8 Reps
Rest One Minute and Repeat for a Total of 3 Sets

Superset #3
Decline Push Up- 10 reps
Standing Dumb Bell Curls- 10 Reps
Rest One Minute and Repeat 2 Times for a Total of 3 Sets.

Here's the tricky part.  I need very low impact intervals to keep sparing my knee, which is healing up nicely so,

Warm up- easy 5 minute walk
30 Seconds Standing Cross Crawl, alternate with
5 Turkish Get Ups without weight.

I'll be checking in to let you know how it goes.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are You Afraid to Rest?

Here is the "After"
to go with the "Before" in the banner above.
I believe that the biggest barrier to permanent fat loss and transformation may be impatience.  It makes me cut calories down too low, ignore form in favor of faster progression, and rush into cardio sessions I haven't properly warmed up and prepared for.

Are you like me?  Do you want results now?

Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself and my perceived lack of progress that I make poor choices.  About a week ago, I was gearing up to start writing the Four Week Bodylift program.  I wanted to see a certain number on the scale to use as my starting point, and I decided that cranking up my cardio intervals by sprinting would be a good shock to my system, and that I might get some more rapid fat loss as a result.  What I got instead was pain behind my knee from a strained popliteal tendon.

Here is some information on knee pain from Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Knee pain usually results from:
  • Overuse
  • Poor form during physical activity
  • Not warming up or cooling down
  • Not enough stretching

For knee pain that has just started:
  • Rest and avoid activities that aggravate your pain, especially weight bearing activities.
  • Apply ice. First, apply it every hour for up to 15 minutes. After the first day, apply it at least four times per day.
  • Keep your knee raised as much as possible to bring any swelling down.
  • Wear an ace bandage or elastic sleeve, which you can buy at most pharmacies. This may reduce swelling and provide support.
  • Take acetaminophen for pain or ibuprofen for pain and swelling.
  • Sleep with a pillow underneath or between your knees.
For knee pain related to overuse or physical activity:
  • Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterward. Stretch your quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • Avoid running straight down hills -- walk down instead.
  • Bicycle or swim instead of run.
  • Reduce the amount of exercise you do.
  • Run on a smooth, soft surface, such as a track, instead of on cement.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Every pound that you are overweight puts about 5 extra pounds of pressure on your knee cap when you go up and down stairs. Ask your health care provider for help losing weight.
  • If you have flat feet, try special shoe inserts and arch supports (orthotics).
  • Make sure your running shoes are made well, fit well, and have good cushioning.
Wow, reading that is like getting 50 lashes with a wet noodle.  Overuse?  Yep.  Poor form?  Probably.  Running on cement?  Guilty.

The biggest drag was that I was eager to get started on the Four Week Body Lift, but that meant I would have to violate rule #1:

Rest and avoid activities that aggravate your pain, especially weight bearing activities.

Rats.  So what did I do?  I actually followed the good advice I got, and as of today my knee is completely pain free.  I can hardly believe it.  I listened to the experts and they were right.  There is still a mild sensation behind my knee, so I will be very conservative as I restart my fitness routine.

The most important point of this post is that patience, rest, and recovery will help you reach your fitness goals in the long term, and even in the short term.  I did some more research and it turns out that trying to work through my strain could have resulted in permanent pain.  Yikes.

The silver lining to my minor strain is a renewed sense of gratitude for the physical health that allows me to move, exercise, dance, play, and just enjoy life.  I promise not to take it for granted.

So don't be afraid to rest and recover.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Four Week Body Lift

Body transformation may be 80% diet, but there's one major problem with dieting.  You can't trust it.

Yesterday, I ended the day in a calorie deficit.  I mean I know for a fact that I ate fewer calories than I burned yesterday.  Even by overestimating my calories by 25% and underestimating how much I moved, I should have been burning fat.  Not only that, but I earned a reward for self control by going to a party yesterday, and having nothing but three cups of tea.

Even so, when I got on the scale this morning my weight was up slightly.  One thing I have had to accept on this transformation journey is that the longer you stay committed to permanent weight change the more often you will experience the deficit paradox.

The Deficit Paradox

Notwithstanding the laws of thermodynamics, some days, no matter what you do, the scale will move in the wrong direction.  Especially if you're female. For me, and perhaps for you too, this is the time when when it's tempting to throw in the towel and just eat anything, because what's the point of being good if it doesn't make any difference?  I know, I know, it's probably just water or even muscle making me weigh more, but I don't care.  I want that digital, numerical, mathematical validation that I only seem to get from weighing less.  Talk about diminishing returns.

Exercise Won't Let You Down.

Thank goodness diet isn't the only tool in my bag of tricks.  Not matter what the scale says, if I train, walk, dance, lift, or practice yoga, nothing can erase the benefits of the moving I do in pursuit of my goals.  I see plenty of people who change their weight through diet, but the people who maintain those changes for years and more are the ones who commit to moving more.  Very often this involves getting to the gym on a regular basis, but there are plenty of walkers, swimmers, cyclists, and gardeners who keep their transformations if they just keep moving.

The Four Week Body Lift

To celebrate the power of movement, and to get ready for resolution season, I'm designing the Four Week Body Lift.  This program is a combination of commitment to eating and moving optimally for four weeks, in order to establish new daily habits, and to discover just what can be achieved with total enthusiasm over a manageable period of time.  I am the test subject, and I will put my musings here before I try the program with my clients.  The idea isn't to go all out for four weeks and then indulge in a free for all of sloth and over feeding.  The goal is to give the program your all, and then come in for a soft landing by having a celebration meal, Valentine's Day?, and then talking a maintenance week.  It's a work in progress.

Here's today's fitness routine:

Warm Up:
15 bodyweight squats
10 pushups
10 Stick Ups
10 Leg Swings Each Side
Psoas Stretch 20 seconds Each Side
Rest 30 Seconds and Repeat Entire Sequence

Workout Using 12 Pound Weighted Bar:
Superset 1:
10 Squats With Bar
10 Bent Over Bar Rows
Rest 1 minute and Repeat 2 Times

Superset 2:
Curtsey Lunge- 10 Reps.
Overhead Bar Press- 10 Reps.
Rest 1 Minute and Repeat 2 times

Superset 3:
Good Mornings: 10 Reps
Dips: 10 Reps
Rest 1 Minute and Repeat 2 Times.

Heavy Hoop 1 Minute
20 Jumping Jacks
Repeat 5 Times for a total of six rounds


Later, I'll write more on my eating plan, but for now I'll just say that I'll be eating in a deficit (Under 1,400 calories for me), and avoiding all trigger foods.

Let the fitness begin.