Last updated on November 25th, 2012 at 07:38 pm
Product launch, or launching a new way of life? Different concepts, equally difficult on the scale of success.
The final chapter of my weight loss saga focuses on fitness. There’s no way I would have come close to the amount of weight loss I’ve had to date without moving.
Working out, cardio, walking, weight lifting, getting fit – choose the statement that speaks to you. Use it throughout this article for any of the words that surround movement. I want to share how moving made a difference for me, and it will sink in more if you can relate to it. Put yourself in my shoes, but see yourself moving toward your dream health goals.
I feel like I should preface this post with a small warning. I may get a little graphic about the reality of this weight loss and it’s affects on my body. Just getting that out of the way.
Putting the plateau anger to good use
In my past posts I’ve covered my struggle with getting started back on the road to health, finding products to help me lose the weight, figuring out what to eat to lose weight, and keeping track of everything to help me reach my weight loss goal.
I wouldn’t be writing this now, with the amount of weight loss I have achieved to date, without movement. If I had relied on changing only my diet, I would be about 1/2 way to my goal right now. After the ups and downs, and the energy it took to keep myself motivated to this point, I can’t say that I would be willing to go another 9 months it would take to see the rest of the pounds off if I hadn’t been moving.
The hardest part of any weight loss journey is a plateau.
And just like everyone else on earth, as my weight plateaued along the way, I got annoyed. Pissed off. Downright bitchy.
All the articles in fitness magazines and online forums say the same thing to try and break a plateau. Mix it up, make your workouts a little harder, run or walk a little farther, try a new routine. Absolutely true. Devastatingly hard to apply in the middle of a weight plateau. I was already putting in my 110%. There was nothing else I had to give.
Then I did. Just a little bit more. Trying a little harder.
- extending my intervals on the treadmill by 15-30 seconds
- doing jumping jacks between my weight sets
- mixing up my weight workouts with super-sets
I had to stop thinking about the giant leaps, and take baby steps again. About a week after I would mix things up, I’d see the scale respond. Positive reinforcement goes a long way to motivate. If I thought figuring out the food was hard, finding a fitness routine that worked for me long-term was proving a tough process.
Sleep is overrated
I say that in jest, but if you asked me a year ago what my sleeping pattern was, I would have made the following points:
- I am a night owl
- I go to sleep between 12 and 2 am
- i get about 6 hours sleep a night and feel drained if I get over 7
This pattern in my schedule was a huge sticking point to taking advantage of the best piece of fitness (and life) advice I ever heard.
Do whatever you like LEAST on your list first thing in the morning.
I was not a morning person. The transition to my current and disgustingly early schedule happened over the course of 10 months. Here’s my answer to the sleep pattern question now.
- I get about 6 hours of sleep a night and still feel out of it if I get over 7
- I go to sleep between 10:30 and 11:30
- I am up by 5:45 every day
- I am not a morning person person
Just because I’ve chosen to rearrange my schedule to better support my fitness goals, does not mean I am a morning person. I changed because I needed to fit something very important into my schedule.
Here’s what my workout schedule has looked like for the past 8 months. Looking at this now, even I think I’m nuts.
Cardio – 6 a.m.
- This has grown from a 20 minute power-walk only in the morning, evolving to power-walking 2 miles and not worrying about the time it took.
- Now I’m working to improve my time per mile, starting to jog, and when the energy strikes, actually attempt to sprint.
- Monday-Friday it’s at 6 a.m., or earlier if my husband isn’t commuting since we both want the treadmill in the morning.
- Saturday is typically before 8. Ok maybe around 9. We make sure to run errands or go for a walk to get our steps in.
- Sunday is my recovery day. I have been very bad about letting myself take a break until about 6 weeks ago. Another side-effect of my weight loss success was fear breaking the schedule, in case I would lose ground on my momentum. Now, we make sure there is a long walk – no jogging allowed – at some point in the day.
- I love my Saucony running shoes – my recently retired pair are pictured at the top of this post. I discovered the brand 5 years ago and love the way they fit. If you are ready to upgrade your fitness shoes, here is my advice. Go and talk to an expert about your shoes. Great support and the right sizing makes all the difference in your workout. Their site lets you search on everything from arch height and pronation, to width and color.
- Stretching is fairly new for me too. What a difference! With all the sitting I do, the extra 5 minutes to stretch out the major muscle groups after walking has improved my flexibility in just a few months.
Weights – 6:30 a.m.
- My approach to lifting weights has dramatically changed from my past experience. I used to lift to gain muscle. This time I lifted to tone, sculpt and help maintain muscle mass while losing the weight. What’s the difference? How much weight you are lifting and how many reps you do.
- This approach has also evolved over the months from just a few exercises a week to a full body workout with 3 variations that change weekly.
- Now I focus on super sets which means that it’s intense, but I’m usually done in 20 minutes.
- I love my fitness ball! it gives me so many workout options I had never explored. I attribute my core strength to all the work I do using this product.
- Monday – Abs, Shoulders, and Glutes
- Tuesday – Chest and Triceps
- Thursday – Back, Biceps and Quads
Cardio – 12 p.m.
- I know… I got 2 miles in that morning. What the hell am I doing working out at lunch? Getting steps for my the fitbit wireless activity and sleep tracker . I’m not kidding when I say that I sit for a living. That would be an average of 10 hours a day sitting while I work. I have to actively try and get to my daily goal of 13,000 steps which for me ends up being about 5 miles. I have short legs.
- You know by now that competition works for me, and with the fitbit, I see a constant running feedback of what I’ve done compared to my husband and friends.
- I had a someone I just met at work tell me that my running at lunch was “real dedication”. It doesn’t feel like that, but it was nice to hear that perception.
Here is a screen capture from my fitbit account of my steps for the last 30 days.
If you read that last section and are scratching your head on what the heck a super-set is, or are wondering why I grouped certain body parts together for workouts, don’t worry. The same resources I mentioned before that help you track food and nutrition also have a huge community and a ton resources for your fitness questions and goals – all available online and FREE – CalorieCount.com and SparkPeople.com.
Working it off
There is still a daily struggle with the little voice that controls my hand first thing in the morning and makes me hit the snooze button. I really don’t LOVE the treadmill. I really DO LOVE the way I feel now that I can actually jog most of my 2 miles in the morning and 2+ miles at lunch. This is a new development and hard for me to put out there. I do not categorize myself anywhere near the concept of a “runner”.
The work involved in losing this last 20 pounds was intense. It takes forever… and no matter how many times I tell you that it will take forever to lose the last 10-20 pounds you won’t believe it until you are in it. And it takes forever.
There were so many times when I thought “I am so done”.
- I’d already lost so much, why not stop now?
- It’s taking a month to lose 3-5 pounds (discouraging when compared to the 8-10 pounds I used to drop per month earlier in the process)
- Watching the yo-yo of 2 pounds on, then back off. On, then back off. For a month.
Any of this would kick us to the curb if the scale was the only thing we were looking at. You may be really sick of me saying this about this process but…
This is the part of track everything that makes me smile. Why would I be thrilled to keep track of all the little details? Taking time to write all this stuff down?
Because at the end of any journey, it is really great to look back on where you have been.
Here are my results that I can help me enjoy my health and fitness improvement:
- Then: walking a 28 minute mile
- Now: jogging an 11 minute mile
- Improvement: 60% faster
Resting Heart Rate – taken on the first Saturday of each month:
- Then: 72 BPM
- Now: 53 BPM
- Improvement: I’m in the athlete heart rate range… which is a bit freaky to me. It made my doctor really happy!
Body Fat – logged with my weight twice a week (I use my Tanita Innerscan scale for this measurement):
- Then: 45%
- Now: 17%
- Lost: 28%
Measurements- taken on the first Saturday of each month:
- Then: Waist = 39″
- Now: Waist = 28″
- Overall inches lost to date: 36″ – I lost a YARD of inches all over
- Then: 18/20
- Now: 2/4
- Lost: 7 dress sizes
Results and consequences
I don’t expect any sympathy. No seriously. But I have a friendly warning for those who are losing a significant amount of weight. Your troubles of finding a new bra for a completely different body shape? Ok, you can ask for sympathy from me, but your friends and family may not get it.
Yes, I’m thinner. But I won’t be in a bikini anytime soon. I’ll try to put this to you all gently, but I did warn you earlier in the post that this may get graphic.
I feel like a really fit person, who’s skin is like a melted candle on top. This photo is just a few areas I’m willing to make public as the “not bad” areas. Other areas make me think of my Grandmother in her 80’s.
A few weird things that I’m still trying to figure out? Shaving. Been doing it for over 28 years and apparently there are bones sticking out that didn’t use to. Those are the matching scars below my knees. I keep nicking myself in the same place.
I know now why it’s called an “armpit”. I never had so much trouble figuring out how to get a razor to cooperate in my life. I am seriously going to ask a few thin people how they do this without looking like you are attempting an advanced yoga pose.
Shopping is another story. You would think I would have no problem now finding something that fit. I used to spend hours in a place like Ross, just trying to find anything in my size that fit right. Unfortunately that has not changed. You may not know how little is available in the 18+ sizes a at discount shopping store, but it’s not much. The same holds true with availability of sizes under 8.
Tell me a I’m complaining for nothing here, but after all this hard work to look and feel so much better, I really though a new wardrobe would just POOF! and appear perfectly hung up in my closet. The challenges continue, but I think I’ll survive the new slightly sagging me for now.
Ask me in a year if the elasticity in my skin improves. I hear it can. Maybe. If I’m lucky.
I have to thank all of you who have have been keeping up with my saga on how I lost my 75+ pounds so far. You deserve a medal. There’s so much I learned through this process that I had no idea just how much blog space it would take up until I got it all out.
To our health in dreaming – Heather
Just getting started – continue reading the details:
Disclaimer – the foods, diet, and exercise described here are for informational purposes only. I am not a licensed dietician, fitness instructor or anyone who can claim this process will work for you.
Heather Montgomery is a fitness writer, triathlete, and blogger who is devoted to sharing what she has learned about becoming a triathlete after age 40. She uses her Metabolic Training Certification to help other women struggling to get fit in mid-life. She lives and trains in Santa Rosa, California, the new home of the Ironman triathlon. You can find her biking the Sonoma County wine trails.
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