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A summer of Challenges…

How was your Memorial Day weekend?  Hope everyone had a great 3 day weekend and took some time to remember those who have served.

Memorial Day is marking the start of my summer of fitness challenges.  It may be rough going, but they are called “challenges” for a reason, right?  I have a few short term fitness challenges, a perpetual Plank A Day challenge, and also a fun Weight Watchers based “Good Health Guidelines” challenge.

33 Days of Yoga (#33DaysOfYoga)

Nothing too clever here!  I turn 33 on July 1st, and I want to do 33 days of yoga before my 33rd birthday.  Day one is tomorrow today, May 29th.  I plan on waking up to my yoga dvd, doing yoga at the gym, or celebrating the triumphant return of Yoga in the Park at Millennium Park.

Runner’s World Summer Running Streak (#RWRunStreak)

This is a brand new edition to an already busy summer!  I just came across it today, and it literally inspired me to stop sitting around on my couch and lace up my running shoes at 7pm on a 95 degree day.  The Runner’s World Summer Running Streak is encouraging runners to log at least a mile every day from Memorial Day to the 4th of July.  I usually run 3 days a week, but since I am not really training for anything right now, this has been lacking.  I think the true challenge of this one will be not getting too burnt out on routes, staying motivated in the heat, and running injury free all summer.  A true challenge.  The other unique thing about this challenge is that running a mile is 12 minutes or less, so I may end up running on some lunch breaks here or there!

Plank A Day (#PlankADay)

Try to plank.  Every day.  Forever?  I was doing great on this one, and then really started slacking.  And I can feel it in my core, and my spaghetti arms.  These are areas that I want to work on, and the Plank Police can help me.  I want to keep up with Plank A Day every day.  Right now, 43 seconds.  I would like to get up to 1:30 by the end of the summer.

Good Health Guidelines Challenge (#WWGHGChallenge)

I am doing this one with an online group for the summer.  It will be a nine week challenge, with each week focusing on one of Weight Watchers’ Good Health Guidelines (GHG – not greenhouse gases :)).  These include drinking at least 48oz water a day (No problem here…  I’m a faithful #100ozChallenge participant), focusing on fruits, vegetables, dairy. lean proteins, whole grains and healthy oils.  These are things that are easy to forget, or let slide when your summer gets busy, so I know that this challenge will help me work on one GHG a week, moving towards re-incorporating them in to my daily life.

Sooo…  I might be setting myself up for a lot of structured goals, and I don’t know how they will go, but I am ready for a great summer!

What summer goals do you have?  Do you think any of these challenges will help you get there?

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Making breakthroughs

I have hit the dreaded PLATEAU!  Let’s take a look at 2011:

2011
March-December 2011

And now let’s take a look at 2012:

2012
January-May 2012

From the beginning of March to the end of December, I lost 50.6 lbs.  It was… MONUMENTAL.  I am incredibly proud, and pretty astonished by it, to be honest.  I’ve been running, staying generally active, and treating myself so much better.

However, right now I am at a stagnant point.  As you can see from the photo, basically around February until right now, that progress line is pretty much a straight line.  What is otherwise known as a plateau.  I know it’s not a new phenomenon, it happens to a lot of people, and it is to be expected.  I also know that since January, I have run 2 1/2 Marathons and tracked endless more training miles.  I have kept myself going physically.  It’s the food (and drink) that has started to slip.

This slip is justifiable by saying, “well, I’m eating much better than I used to.”  But that’s not really going to cut it.  I am 4.6lbs from my goal, and when I reach that goal I will have lost 61.4lbs.  I need to find the perfect balance between strict rigidity, and knowing the correct moments to indulge, or celebrate.  This week I have already felt much better about the choices I’ve made, and the planning I’ve done for the long weekend to come.  When I need motivation, this has been helpful:

Before and After
August 2012 – May 2012

Powerful, right?  It is for me.  I distinctly remember that photo on the left.  I was at a wedding.  It was over 90 degrees.  When I went to get ready in my stifling apartment, I put on the dress I wanted to wear, and it wouldn’t zip.  What I have on, that was the only remotely dressy thing I could find that fit me.  By the summer of 2010, I was ready to go up another size in clothes.  Now, it is not really in my nature to say “I can’t believe I let myself get that bad” or “Ugh, I am not even that same person anymore!” because it’s not entirely true.  I was happy-ish, but I was NOT healthy.  I had just finished grad school, and was getting ready to move into what is still be best apartment I’ve ever lived in.  I had just started my “grown up” job.  And by the following March, I had just run out of excuses, and patience.  So I joined, and…  here we are!

I don’t want this summer to be about those last 4lbs.  I want this summer to be about early morning runs, fresh food from the farmers markets, walks on the lakefront, yoga in the park, and enjoying my 33rd birthday with my friends and family!  Of course, I am ready now to stay focused on myself and committed to my exercise schedule, but I want to keep this up for 33 more years.  I want this to be live-able.  Forever!

What did you do when you hit a plateau?

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Torture Thursday…

So, I’m not sure if the torture is for the torture I inflicted on myself, or the torture of uploading an unflattering, sweaty photo, but here goes:

Sweaty Mess
The aftermath of the arc trainer

I trained for the Capital City Half Marathon for about ten weeks, so March to May had a really strong schedule of running Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, elliptical Friday and Sunday, and usually yoga or strength on Tuesdays.  Looking through my training plan, I did pretty well, and ultimately, I was happy with the result.  My goal was to finish at 2:30:00, but when I went back and looked at my time for the F^3 Half Marathon and realized I finished in 2:39:22, I realized that taking off almost 10 minutes in 4 months without hardcore training was just not realistic.  So I am incredibly happy with the 2:34:00 finish.  (Especially finishing on the nose like that!  :))

Getting back to the grindstone, and in to a routine has been hard.  If I had the money and the time, I think I would schedule 1/2 marathons ever 13 weeks so I could train, run, take a week off, then start training all over again, because I obviously do well with schedules.  But financially that is just not possible.  I also want to shake things up a bit for myself, and maybe try a new class at the gym this summer.  I really need to work on my upper body strength, I have noodle arms!

Getting in to the gym yesterday and busting out 30 minutes on the arc trainer felt really really good.  Right now, I’m running because I like it, it helps clear my mind, and it’s good “exercise.”  But I don’t push myself too hard anymore.  I think that since I have been going for distance, I find myself in a leisurely pace, and just stick there…  So I need a good kick in the bum every right now to bust out of this plateau!