April 23, 2016

Good Saturday!

It is a good, good Saturday! I woke up with some minor aches and pains, nothing specific, and mostly from my Thursday Level 2 "Shred" Workout. I am still feeling the burn in my deltoids, triceps, and shoulders! Oh my goodness!! Today will be a good day to get back into my routine now that school is done, in the bag, so to speak. It has been a good week, and today, is a new day. Yes, today marks DAY ONE of another new beginning. I am excited to see all the Lord has in store for me, and to envision the plans, the changes, and the adventures He has laid out for me to follow. I am following now, obediently following, and with that said, I am anticipating GREAT Things from my GREAT GOD!

"Shred" Update, Level 2

I started Level 2 of Jillian Michael's "30 Day Shred" on Thursday. I wasn't sure if I could handle it, given that I have not worked out regularly in a very long time (like years). However, after completing about 10 days of Level 1, and getting to the point where I could do the basic moves without stopping, I decided to move up to Level 2 so I wouldn't get bored with the routine. I was so glad I did! First off, Level 2 is intense. It is much more challenging that Level 1, but it is not "difficult" per se. I mean, I was able to do almost all the workout except for a couple of the plank moves. I did my best with them, and I feel confident that by day 10, I will be able to handle the routine with better form. Second, after 20 minutes of Level 2, I was dripping wet -- clearly an improvement from Level 1 -- where I barely glistened. Sure, I could have done the advanced moves for a better cardio burn, but in truth, I probably did a middle version, some place between basic and advanced (mixed based on the move). Third, in Level 2, the big thing I noticed was my cardio improvement. I completed the entire 3-circuits without any cardio breaks. I also used 3-lb weights for all the strength moves. I probably should have stuck with the 2-lb, but really I didn't struggle that much, and I think I got a better workout with the heavier weight. Last, I really enjoyed Level 2 -- even more so than Level 1. I think I could stick with Level 2 for a long while and really get a good workout in every time.

As far as my progress regarding weight loss and inch loss, I don't really have much to report. My weight has been yo-yoing between 158 and 160, which has bothered me greatly. I mean, I want to see the scale drop, but it seems stuck right here. On the up side of things, I have noticed a firmer body (hurrah!) I will have to measure myself today, but from looking in the mirror this morning, my abs definitely look slimmer, like noticeably slimmer. I am at least an inch smaller all around my middle. My thighs haven't gotten smaller, but they definitely have taken on more shape. My backside, which tends to be flat, is now a bit more curved (I see it), and that pleases me. I like the shape, as I think it gives me that nice curved look from thigh to back (if you know what I mean). My arms are definitely looking good. I have always had a fairly strong right bicep, but my left arm has been a "skinny minny" for a long time. Now, it is starting to take on some muscle, so my upper body appearance seems more symmetrical. It is a good thing.

What I am seeing most with this new lifestyle change is not so much the weight drop or even the inch loss, but rather I am seeing an overall body shape change. Clearly, a change for the better. Yes, I am seeing muscle start to form, less of the skinny-fat look, less wrinkles and less dimples and crinkles. I am also feeling tighter, sort of firmer in my arms, legs, core section. I have more energy, less fatigue, and I can walk up stairs or across campus without feeling out of breath. My cardio endurance has definitely increased. I feel better, more energetic, and generally, like I am getting "fit."

I think, in time, I will see the weight come off me, and I will continue to see my size get smaller. For now, I am focusing on keeping with the program, trying to do it daily, but mostly every other day, and staying on track with my food diary. I have given up on Atkins for now, and instead, I am following a straight 1200 calorie diet, pretty much eating smaller portions of whatever food is available. I am trying to be conscious of not eating really bad choices, but I am not limiting myself to whole natural foods just yet. I do feel that I might have to up my caloric intake to 1500 soon. I think I might be in a hormone or metabolic slump so boosting my calories and eating every 2-3 hours should help. We will see. I am trying to break out of starvation mode, which is where I am. I mean, I am not hungry and that concerns me. It takes a lot to get me to eat now, so I need to reverse that trend and get back to feeling hungry and needing food for energy. I have thought about Weight Watchers again, but I don't want to spend the money, so I will continue with this approach for 90 days and if I don't see any significant change, I will do something different. My hope is that with consistent workouts 5 times a week, I should start to see the weight come off me. Until then, I will stay focused and keep on working out.

Other News

Last night was my son's Junior Recital at Arizona Christian University. He is a Music major, but he chose a composition recital rather than a performance recital. He plays many instruments so he thought it would be best to showcase his music abilities by writing four compositions and performing them himself. He had a good turn out, about 40 people showed up to attend, and he really knocked it out of the park. I mean, he impressed everyone. I was so proud of him. His performance was interdisciplinary and used technology along with live music. He had two friends, one on electric violin, and one on drums to assist him, and all I can say is WOW! It was amazing, just great. His professors like it, really liked it, and frankly, he outdid himself. I heard them say that they have never had a recital like his before and they doubted they would ever have another one like it. I was so happy to hear them say what his other music teacher has said for years -- he is beyond teaching.

I don't like to brag because my son is talented. He is, but he is not talented in the same way as other music students. For example, I have a good friend whose daughter is a brilliant performer. She is absolutely astonishing on her chosen instrument. She attends a well-known music school, and frankly, she is such a strong and beautiful artist. My son is not like that at all. He is experimental, interdisciplinary, and his approach is creative and innovative. I would say that he could be like my friend's daughter, had he chosen to remain a classical pianist. But, his interest was in progressive rock, fusion, and electronic music, so this is where you see him best.

I think what defines his ability is simply his understanding of music theory and of composition. He just gets it, and as such, he understands music in a way that few performers do. I was chatting with his music theory professor and she said that my son needs to graduate. It was like, he really just needs to graduate and be done. I understood what she was saying to me. She realized that he is so far ahead of the other students that the music teachers cannot really help train him. He already knows everything so they pretty much have to let him go. I am glad that they recognize this about him because this is what his former music teacher did as well. She just let him do whatever he wanted and he never disappointed when it came to performance. I don't mean to say "he knows everything there is to know about music," rather it is just that from a teaching perspective, he is so advanced that really he needs to work with 1) a coach or 2) just on his own as he dives into whatever passion or pursuit he finds challenging.

This has always been the case, I mean, even with school. This is why we homeschooled him so that he could do two science or three language or four computer language studies at the same time. I just had to keep him focused and on track so he could complete the requirements for graduation. It is the same, really, at college. He has to complete the required courses for his BA in Music. The next year is going to be a killer because he is only taking lessons, but he is having to finish all the required classes. I know he is going to struggle to get through them, math and science, etc. But, he told me he is bound to get his degree. He is ready to graduate, and frankly, he wants to be done. Praise be to God! I am so thankful he is ready to be done.

I was so encouraged last night by what I saw. I know he is a rock star when it comes to performance, but last night showed just how much of a professional performer he really has become. He was not nervous. He was brilliant and he just wowed the audience. I feel confident that God has a great plan for His life, and that He will become a professional musician once he finishes his education. Of course, I am praying that He continues to follow the Lord's leading. I am praying He hears the Lord's call on His life. And, I am praying that he obeys that voice so that he will experience all that the Lord has in store for him. Yes, my prayer is that he develops a deep and intensely personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he comes to know the Lord's plan, His will, and His purpose for his life. Selah!

Tying Up Loose Ends

I have had an amazing semester this spring. I mean, it was filled with such high expectations, and in every way, I accomplished my goals. I passed my exams, I am writing my dissertation, and I am about to graduate with my PhD. My prayer is to be able finish what needs finished so I can move on. I want to close out my life as a doctoral student and adjunct teacher, and embrace the new life the Lord has for me as PhD and professor. I am open to teaching full-time or part-time as the Lord leads, but right now, I need a job, a real-paying job. I need work to see me through the next couple years, and I need steady income so I can get my life back on track now that the "lean years of graduate school" are over. I was thinking about this last night how people say "starving graduate student" as a joke whenever someone mentions getting a PhD. In truth, they are not kidding. It is next to impossible to complete a PhD and work full-time. Most cannot do it, and most programs expect you to study full-time and work part-time. This is what I had to do for three years, and this is where I have been -- stuck in that low-paying position -- in order to facilitate my graduate education. I sometimes forget this fact, that in order for me to do this level of study, I had to give up something, and that something was working full-time. I like to think that I chose this path, you know, that I did it willingly when in reality, this was the path the Lord chose for me. He made it possible for me to do this level of study and work part-time so that I could get to where I am today, ready to do my research and ready to graduate. The Lord has done this -- He has made it happen -- He is the One who gets all the credit!

Now, I am on the down-lo, the backside, and I will soon be ready to move on up in the world, to get back to earning income. I have blogged, cried, desired, and stressed over this whole "lack of money" thing, when in fact, I knew exactly what I was doing, that I was faithfully living the way the Lord called me to live. I mean, God provided a way for me to go, and I followed His leading. I abided in His provision, and in doing so, I have made it through to this place and this point in time. Now, though, the tide is turning, and my life is starting to move forward at a steady pace. I am about to finish my long-awaited PhD, and when this happens, I will be ready to move on, to move out, and to move ahead to those precious "next steps."

I am still unsure of His provision and His plan, but I know that whatever He does do, it will be good. It will be sufficient. It will be best.

I am trusting, resting, and abiding in His best for me this good, good day. It is a good Saturday, and I know the Lord has this ALL figured out. He is good to me, so very good to me! Selah!

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