I’ve got a system down now. I’ve been working from home full-time since late last year. It’s wonderful because I pretty much never miss a workout anymore. I get up early, log onto my computer, check my work email and deal with any emergencies. Then I go downstairs and fire up a workout DVD and give it all I’ve got. A quick shower and I’m back on the job before most of my co-workers have even logged on for the morning.
So when Melinda contacted me and offered me a big stack of Jillian Michaels workout DVDs she wasn’t using anymore, I jumped at the chance. (THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!) She also had several Bob Harper DVDs. I’d never heard of Bob Harper so I googled him and the connection is The Biggest Loser, he’s another trainer from that show.
Here’s my admission: I’ve never seen the Biggest Loser – TRUTH! Are you surprised? As far as I know, I AM the biggest loser – I’ve already lived it, I lost 200 pounds and have been keeping it off for over 12 years now! I lost it before that show was even a glimmer in some producer’s greedy eye. So I don’t need to watch it – I’ve already done it. What I need is a show called The Biggest Maintainer!
I’m already living it. Hmm…maybe I should pitch that!
Except the reality is that the Biggest Maintainer is not very exciting – there’s no transformation, no before and after pictures, and the only goal is to go about your daily life staying the same. Can’t see that driving too many ad sales. Oh well.
So this morning I did one of my new DVDs – the Jillian Michaels Ripped In 30. It’s basically the 30-day shred extended pack – 4 more 20-minute workouts with her usual formula (3 cycles of 3 minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio, 1 minute of abs, plus a warm up and cool down). She has new ladies helping her this time and she’s definitely more sassy on this one. I was able to do the “badass” moves on at least some of them. I started with level 1 today, which is still a great workout even if you’ve already done the 30-day shred. Also I like the cool-down on this one better.
And finally, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this stack of DVDs, it’s that female trainers have to look sexy, approachable, and have visible abs, while male trainers just have to look vaguely menacing. I feel like that says something about our culture.
Last week I went for a run for the first time in a few weeks. I’ll admit it, I’ve been focusing on the Shred DVDs, and walking for cardio, and so it had been a while. I was amazed at how great it was! I was so much faster that I shaved several minutes off my normal time for that route (my shortest – about 2.5 miles). I joked on Twitter that the DVD workouts were either making me a better runner, or just more tolerant of fatigue-related agony. I’m sure it’s both. (If you’re not already following me on Twitter…don’t worry about it. I probably have the most lackadaisical approach to a Twitter feed out there, so you’re not missing much).
This week I started over on Level 1 on Monday and worked on trying the more advanced moves. Today I did Level 2, same deal. There are a few facts about me I do have to acknowledge though – I am never, ever going to be able to do a pushup from my toes. That’s just a fact. Even when I’ve been in the most ripped, fittest, leanest shape of my life (that’d be about 2007), I’ve never been able to do a pushup from my toes. It’s just a limitation of my body I’ve accepted. I still try though.
This week I’ve been working on loving my body exactly as it is. I had a dysfunctional view of my body instilled at a young age, and I’ve always been embarrassed or apologetic about the amount of space I take up, no matter what size I am. I’m over it. I’m sick of feeling like I have to apologize for my body, or feel bad about how wide/tall/heavy/big I am. I am exactly as I’m meant to be. As an old ex of mine used to say, “Allah adores wondrous variety.” How boring it would be if we all looked like fashion models. How dull. I’m bringin’ it with the curvy, sexy, soft, delicious body type I have.
So, I took a picture the day I started doing the 30-Day Shred workout DVD. And I took a picture today after I finished my workout. Couple of caveats: I haven’t been doing it every day as recommended, because every time I level up I am so sore the next day that it would be impossible to do it again that day. Also when I got back from my trip to South America I realized that doing it every day was really bumming me out, so I switched to every other day.
Also about a month ago I started journaling my food meticulously, and exercising 5-6 days a week – the DVD every other day, and walking/jogging the other days with the occasional weekend day off for rest.
Other than those modifications, though, I’ve been giving the workout my all. Today I did Level 3 and tried the advanced moves for the first time, I did them for as long as I could do them, then switched to the “beginner” moves for the rest of the period. So…I know you’re all dying to know if I’m shredded yet! Time for the big reveal!
And yet, I feel better. When I look in the mirror I actually think I see a difference. And honestly, that’s really all that matters to me these days: Quieting my critical brain and feeling happy with my body. No, I didn’t get a tan or anything, that’s just a lighting weirdness, both the pictures were taken at about the same time during the day so I don’t know what that’s about. (Also, the first three pics I took today had cats walking through the middle of them. Can’t keep those little jerks off the bathroom counter.)
So, here’s the takeaway for me: Getting fit after 40 is a mental game. Also, toning up/changing your body after 40 ain’t no easy thing and probably takes a lot longer than one might think reasonable.
I’ll probably keep doing the workout or something similar because it checks the “strength training” box on my internal list of stuff I should be doing. Now that I’m over 40, keeping and building muscle mass is more important than ever if I want to stay fit.
I’ve been thinking on this article about why diets always fail in the long run. I’m, clearly, in the very tiny minority in that I’ve kept a large portion of the weight I lost off, however I think that over time I’ve been trending towards the larger majority.
I say that because I cannot for all that is good and great in this world, keep myself at my initial goal weight. I know, crazy, right? I lost 200 pounds, and I can’t manage to stay at my lowest weight ever for the rest of my life. It actually took my last round of liquid dieting (Optifast, to be precise) the really drive home for me that I will not ever be maintaining my “goal” weight.
What I really learned through the Optifast experience was that I could get to that weight, I could probably maintain – if I’m willing to live on a starvation diet forever.
No. I won’t do it.
My life is worth more than that. My time and my energy and my happiness are worth more than that.
Some of the things that chap my hide are that a normal person who never had to lose 200 pounds can eat so many more calories to maintain my goal weight than I could. To maintain that weight I’d have to average about 1300 calories a day (I know this from trial and error). That is not quite starvation, but if I went over one day I’d have to cut back by the same amount the next. Dinner out on Monday? Tuesday I’d get 800 calories. And that, my friends, is a starvation diet.
Every time I go to MyFitnessPal I get reminded that a normal person, with a normal metabolism, could eat 1950 calories at my current weight and lose. Not me. I’m targeting 1600 calories a day right now to maintain. That is a hard reality to swallow. So I target 1600, and some days I stay under, and some days I eat out with friends and have a cocktail because my life is worth more than that. I’m unwilling to spend the rest of my life hungry and exhausted just to be skinny.
Anyway, what I’m doing now is eating clean, exercising 4-6 days a week, and not weighing myself. Because it doesn’t matter. Whatever number comes up is irrelevant because I’m doing the best I can on food and exercise. I’ll weigh what I weigh, doing the best I can to eat healthily and exercise hard most days. And damn, I look good and feel good, isn’t that all anybody could ask for?
I pulled a muscle in my butt. Well, likely it’s a hamstring, but whatever. My butt hurts. It was right at the beginning of the Level 3 workout on the 30-Day Shred. Yes, I’m still doing that. I find that it fits really well into my day, as I’m working from home all the time now, but I can’t take an hour to go for a run in the middle of the day, I need to stay nearby. 20 minutes of working ultra-hard seems to do the trick.
I’ve also added an evening walk to the mix. My husband started a new job in the city, so I walk to the train station in the evenings after work to meet him and walk home with him – bonus, we both get a walk and some fresh air that way.
And I started using MyFitnessPal again. I tried it out last year and found that it had some definite downsides for someone with my personal mental quirks and metabolism. But, I’ve been tracking with pencil and paper for about a month now, and I don’t always like to have to carry around my little book, so I thought I’d try the online version again (I’m always near my computer or smart phone – tech industry, you know), and see if I could tweak it so that I didn’t fall into the mental traps I’d fallen into before. Mainly, I’ve customized my calorie target for each day to try to get it to something that will actually maintain my weight. I’ll see if I can customize it to not show how many calories I have left each day too.
Finally, I’m considering signing up for the Jillian Michaels online program. I know, I know, celebrity trainer, blah blah, BUT I find that I really like her workout DVD and I can’t seem to find what one would do next after I finish the 30 Day Shred program. Mainly I want to get more workout DVDs from her because I really like her style and attitude. I guess a better option right now, since I can’t decide, is to go back and start the 30-Day Shred program over and do the advanced moves on everything. I can get at least another month out of that before I have to do anything else.
I’ve been working through the 30-Day Shred workout DVD that I started back in February, getting back up to speed after my trip to South America and then being under the weather derailed that for a couple of weeks. But, instead of doing it every day I’ve been doing it every other or every 3rd day and interspersing other forms of activity in between, like runs and walks. That’s been working pretty well, I feel like my body is responding better on the days I do the Shred when it has had a day or two to recover from the last one.
Today I did the Level 3 workout for the first time. I feel fine. I mean, if fine can be defined as slightly nauseated, quivery, and definitely sure I’m going to be in a world of ache tomorrow. Then yeah, fine. Totally fine.
In other news, I’m still journaling and staying on target food-wise. And staying the hell off the scale, because I know there’s nothing good that can come of weighing in when I’m doing everything I can already anyway.
I posted recently about the On/Off switch. Well, I’ve been riding the On switch for a little over 2 weeks now. I even had a really bad eating day on Saturday due to attending an event, and I shook it off and got back into the groove right away. It’s such an elusive state that I’m trying to surf it as long as I can, and one of the best ways to do that is to not weigh myself.
I’ve noticed that, on balance, one of the quickest ways I can derail my efforts is to weigh myself. When I weigh in, one of two things happens: Either my number has gone down a bit, and I’m happy and smug and figure I can allow myself a little leeway because I’m doing great. Or I’m up a bit and I’m annoyed and depressed that all my efforts are amounting to nothing so why should I even bother?
Seriously, when I’m working my food and exercise efforts on my own, with nobody to cheerlead or help me work through my emotions, those are my only options. Notice a common outcome? Neither one leads to me continuing to practice my good habits at a focused, motivated level. Nice little trick my mind plays on me, eh? I say again: The biggest challenge in long-term weight management is mental. I have to constantly identify and figure out how to work around the stupid stuff my brain does to me every day.
So, having figured this one out, I weighed myself the day I recommitted to healthy living, and I haven’t since. I’ve decided that I’m going to do this for a month, and maybe I’ll weigh in then to see how things stand. But maybe I won’t!
What I’m doing: I’m journaling every day what I eat. I’m getting exercise at a decent level (I aim for 300 calories burned per day, averaged over the week, so if I don’t work out today, maybe I’ll go for a longer run tomorrow and try to burn at least 600, which is about a 45-50 minute run), and I’m eating clean by avoiding processed food and baked goods.
Today, for the first time since I started a couple of weeks ago I think I can see a difference in my body, maybe a little leaner this morning. And since I’m generally pretty happy with my body these days (especially so since I stopped weighing myself or feeling any pressure to do so), and I’m doing all the right things, I’m not sure I will feel the need to weigh myself after a month, either.