April 11, 2016

Two More Weeks and its Summer!

It is a beautiful day here in Phoenix. When I say "beautiful," I mean BEAUTIFUL day! The sun is out, the skies are clear, and there is this cool dampness in the gentle breeze. Thank you, Lord, for our blessed rain yesterday. It seems a good downpour has washed away all the dirt, dust and grim. The air smells so good, so clean and so fresh!

I woke up at 7 a.m. this morning feeling fairly well. I didn't sleep with my ceiling fan on, and lately, when I forget to switch it on, I don't sleep nearly as well as when I do. I thought about it last night, but I was too bum lazy to get up and turn the switch. My night sweats (menopause) are pretty significant now, so I will have them about 6-8 times during the night. Thankfully, they don't last very long, maybe 15 seconds or so. But, I get hot enough and sweaty enough that I need the air to cool me down. When I keep the fan on, I find that I am able to tolerate the changes in my internal thermostat without waking up. Last night, I must have rolled over five times, and each time, I found myself waking up a bit more. Needless to say, I didn't sleep as soundly as I could have done so had I just gotten out of bed to flip the switch. Sigh! Live and learn!!

Just an aside: I don't really like to sleep with the fan turned on. My nose and mouth dry out, and I get chilled very easily. I guess it is a trade-off, one of those necessary evils, so to speak. I have to put up with the bad ones in order to avoid the worst symptoms.

Today is Monday, by the way (If I didn't mention it already), and I am at home for the morning. There are two more weeks of school left, and truthfully, I cannot wait to put this semester behind me. It has been rough, really rough, and I am tired of the whole experience. I am ready to move on, and to enjoy the blessed rest of my summer holiday. My plans as of now include finishing out these last two weeks and then spending most of May working on my proposal. I mean, I won't have anything else to do, so there is no reason for me to NOT finish it in time. My professor wants it done by the end of this month, and that has always been my goal. However, I have struggled to take hold and to get a good start. I am still at the same place I was last week -- about 1/2 done in each chapter. Ugh! Perhaps my problem is that I don't really like my topic (LOL!) My students will do this to me during the final push for the essay. They will say "I don't like my topic" and then they want to change it on me. I usually let them so long as their new topic sounds reasonable and doable in the shorter time frame. Still, I feel this way, but I am convinced that this is the Lord's topic of choice, so I am settled. I will do this THING. I will do it -- with His help -- and with His grace. I will do it! Selah!

Weekly Update

I've completed week 1 of the "30 Day Shred." Whew! I cannot believe I have done it, but I have, and I am so blessed already. Jillian Michael's workout is a killer, but a good killer. I started last Tuesday, and I missed one day during the week (Friday) due to family business. I stuck with the program, getting in 5-6 days, and I can already see good results. Yes, I feel better overall, and I look better (which is the BIG thing) in my clothes. I cannot believe that I would feel this better in such a short amount of time.

Normally, it takes 2-3 weeks before you notice changes, but this workout must be a good choice for my body type. What I like about it is the circuit training approach. Michaels uses a "3-2-1 system" where you do 3 minutes of strength, following by 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of ab work, 3 times in 20 minutes. It seems like it would take twice as long to see these results, but Michaels says that because we are keeping our heart rate up and working at an intense rate for short duration, our bodies change faster than if we put in an hour at the gym. I am not sure about the fitness aspects, but I can tell you that if I had to do an hour at the gym, I would give up pretty durn quick! I just do not enjoy working out that much to devote an hour to getting sweaty.

The other aspect of this program that appeals to me is the quick pace and the way we change routines. I like that before I know it, we are in circuit 3 and almost finished. I think the fact that the program alternates between moves in this quick fashion suits me. My goal for this week is to stick with Level 1 through Friday, and then switch to Level 2 on Saturday. I decided yesterday not to rush the weights or move up a level until I could do the entire program through without stopping. I still have to stop to catch my breath toward the end, usually during the final jumping jack sequence and last ab crunch series. I would like to make it all the way through before I change things up. I am also going to get 3-lb weights to use for Level 2. I tried 5-lbs yesterday, and while I can do bicep curls with them, I don't have enough shoulder strength yet to do the other moves well. I will stick with my 2-lb weights through this week, and then move up by 1-lb for level two. I probably will continue to use 5-lb weights on the bicep/squat move because I can do that smoothly.

The good news is that I have lost about 1/2 pound so far. I had hoped to lose a whole pound by this time today, but a 1/2 pound is acceptable to me. I don't normally lose in equal amounts so it is quite normal for me to lose 1/2 last week, and 2-3 pounds this week. My weight loss, even when I did Weight Watchers was like this -- hopping from one week to the next. I always lost pounds, I just didn't do it the way they had hoped. Before I take my shower this morning, I will weigh in to see if there are any additional weight changes. I will measure myself after I get out to check inch loss.

So far, I am noticing the changes in the mirror. I wouldn't say I notice my clothes fitting loosely or anything, but I do notice the changes when I look in the mirror. For example, my waist is definitely shrinking. I tend to have this cut look when I am not bloated. I can't really explain it because I don't really see it on women often. I think it is just my shape. My rib cage cuts away to my stomach, and it creates this curved appearance. I've always had it so I think it might have to do with my scoliosis S-curve (neck, back and hips). Actually, I like the appearance, and it is most noticeable when I reduce my carbs so I am not bloated. Furthermore, I've always had really strong stomach muscles and the combination makes for a nice look. I noticed my ribs showing that cut look this morning, and my muscles around my belly button are looking toned and firm (yea!). Overall, I think my mid-section is tightening up thanks to this workout.

The other thing I am seeing is a toning of my legs, PTL! Yes, my thighs do seem to be responding to all those squats. I still have a ways to go before I will be totally satisfied with their shape, but so far so good. I guess I should say that I am settling for the "best" I can be now rather than some artificial results from yesteryear. If you have been tracking with me since the 80s then you know what I mean. I wanted to look like Jane Fonda back then -- thin and toned. Her figure was perfect to me -- tall and willowy -- with these thin thighs. My thighs tend to get chunky when I work out. Not like really heavy, just muscular, and I never liked that look. I wanted there to be a nice gap between them -- you know -- and although I had that when I was little (thanks to some bowlegged traits from my Dad), as I got older, the gap filled in on me. Now, muscular legs are popular, so for me, at age 53, my goal is to get my legs to no longer be jiggly, but to be strong and very toned. So far, I have seen them tighten up on this program. This gives me a lot of hope that once I finish this program and move to "Killer Buns and Thighs" (oh, did I say that?) I will see even more improvement.

I am taking a cue from my new cousin-in-law who says "if you got it, flaunt it!" Yes, my cousin married late in life, and his wife is a sweet, sweet person. They are a bit older than I am (I think 55-56) and she is in excellent shape. She told me that a couple years ago, she was very heavy and out of shape. She had come through a messy divorce after many years of abuse, and was not at all happy in life. She started working out, dieting, etc., and got in shape. She met my cousin and they were married a year later. Since their marriage, she has really gotten into fitness and eating healthy. She told me that she wanted to have a better quality of life going forward so she is putting in the time to make herself look the best she can. I started to think about her reasoning, and I understand her point of view. For many people, they choose to work out when they are young so they look good, feel good, etc. Some will stick with their commitment to diet and fitness throughout their life. Others will settle once the 40-50s hit, and due to stress at work, lack of time at home, etc., fitness just goes on the back burner. They don't get back into it until the doctor tells them to lose weight or start exercising for heart health.

I am fortunate that I don't have any chronic health issues at this time. Other than my scoliosis and my structural issues (my feet hurt from standing, hips ache when I walk long distance, etc.), I am in pretty good shape. I am dealing with the side effects of menopause (praise God, my period has stopped finally -- four months and counting -- woohoo!) Still, I have some neck pain issues and general malaise. I consider myself to be in pretty good shape (health wise). I don't want to spend my golden years feeling sick, being sick, or suffering from conditions that could have been prevented had I just changed my lifestyle. There is no excuse for allowing these chronic conditions to develop -- if they could have been prevented -- in my view. I mean, some people will develop these conditions regardless of what they do, and I understand that genetics does play a role. But, in my case, neither my Mom or Dad has serious complications that are genetic. Both take high blood pressure medicine and Mom has Type-2 Diabetes. Of course, Mom has CLL, which is not genetic per se, but sometimes various forms can run in families.

My plan is to treat my health now and to do what I can to reduce the risk of complications later on. My goal is to get my diet under control by eating healthy foods. My body needs to be worked so I develop strong muscles which will help support my curved spine. I need to stave off osteoporosis and I need to keep my posture in good order. To do this, I need to build strong muscles in my neck, shoulders and upper back. My hips, thighs and calves need to be strengthened to support my frame. It isn't rocket-science, really, just common sense. I know what I need to do, it is just that I haven't wanted to take my condition seriously until now.

MyFitnessPal

I started using the MyFitnessPal app last year. I didn't get very far into it because I gave up on my routine after a week of trying to run in the desert heat. I was using Atkins tracker, but it is only looking at carbs, and I wanted something a little broader in what it actually tracks. I remember this website, so I logged into it the other day and updated my profile. I like that it keeps me on track for my food choices as well as my exercise. It also calculates everything, and the food diary is pretty extensive. It is so easy to use.


I can use the app on the website as well as with my phone. This way, I can add all the foods I eat, see where I am calorie-wise and then make the necessary adjustments. I am also able to enter my fitness/workouts so that the app calculates how many more calories I can eat per day. I love that it tells me my goals in order to lose 2-pounds per week (my goal). Overall, I think the combination of the app and these DVDs seems to be the "cure" for my fitness woes. I pray I can continue with this program for life -- tracking my food, working out, drinking water, etc. -- in order to get into the best shape possible. I am not looking for miracles anymore, no more unrealistic goals for me. No, I am working toward overall health and vitality, and Lord willing, that will include dropping the 20 pounds and building lots of gorgeous muscle!


In Closing

My target for weight-loss is this summer. I am hoping to take a vacation in July, and because I will be heading to the hot and humid south, I am planning ahead. I realize that by getting into better heart health, I will have more success in dealing with the heat and humidity. Furthermore, by building good solid muscle, I should be able to tolerate the changes from hot and dry desert heat to hot and humid moist heat. That's the plan, anyway. Plus, since the weather is likely to be very sticky, I realize that I need to dress cool -- that means shorts and tees/tanks and sundresses. I want to look my best, and not feel awkward in clothing that exposes more skin than normal. Here in AZ, my summers are spent indoors, so I don't worry so much about dressing cool. I just wear capris and tee shirts almost every day. I rarely wear shorts anymore. But, in the sticky-icky south, I think I will have to wear shorts so I need to get my lower body in short-wearing shape. My plan of attack -- Jillian Michael's and her killer workouts!

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