Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Phase 1 - Day 3

Today was supposed to be Day 4, aka Yoga X, aka Meg takes the day off 'cause she has yoga class every day anyway, but yesterday morning my brother slept through his alarm and we didn't go to the gym, so I counted yesterday as Yoga X and today as Shoulders & Arms. This workout was less challenging than the others have been so far; I think it's because the movements are so isolated to a certain group of muscles, so my arms and shoulders were on fire but the rest of my body wasn't really working at all. Other than that, though, I liked the workout and felt that the exercises were pretty creative. I need to seriously work on my deltoids. Anything that involved a deltoid lift required me to drop from my usual 10-12.5 pound weights to 7.5, and max out at 6-8 reps instead of 12-15. WEAK. Thankfully, I have faith that this will change with time.

On the eating front, I've been gently experimenting with Intermittent Fasting for the past couple weeks, and today is my second full 24-hour fast. Basically, yesterday I ate lunch at 2:30, and I haven't eaten since. At 2:30 today I'll begin eating regularly again. IF has been shown to have all sorts of benefits, including reducing inflammation and insulin sensitivity, as well as improving mental clarity and sleep patterns (reasons why monks have been doing it basically forever). Also, it's yet another long-lost evolutionary custom; our bodies evolved to go lengthy stretches without food if we couldn't find any to hunt or gather. A quick google search on the subject will net you loads of articles, research, and information, as it's rapidly gaining popularity in the fitness and nutrition world. Anyway, I started a few weeks ago by doing 6- or 12-hour fasts, and then did my first 24-hour fast last Tuesday-Wednesday. It may sound crazy, but I actually enjoyed it. I didn't really feel hungry or shaky (this is probably helped a lot by the low carb/high fat diet I've adopted--my blood sugar is way more stable than it once was), and my brain was noticeably sharper in class the next morning, even without caffeine. I even felt a touch euphoric during the last few hours of the fast. My sleep the night of the fast and the night after was deep and restful. All in all, it was such a success that going forward I'm doing two 24-hour fasts per week, one from Tuesday-Wednesday and one from Friday-Saturday. I picked these days because they coincide (in theory, my brother's faulty alarm clock notwithstanding) with the mornings we don't go to the gym. After switching the gym morning to today instead of yesterday, I considered not doing the fast until this afternoon, but then I just went ahead with it, and working out on a completely empty stomach this morning honestly felt no different than usual. I think the key is stabilizing the blood sugar before moving into fasting; I used to get shaky hungry every few hours, but that was when I was eating loads of grains and sugars, and very low fat. Since reversing this paradigm, I've noticed improvements in almost every aspect of my heath and fitness. GO FAT!

In conclusion, I nearly shrieked with joy this morning when I stepped on the scale and saw that I've dropped five pounds since last week (and last week's weigh-in was itself really good, confirming that I'd successfully shed all my Christmas weight and was back down to where I was in November). I know, I know, it's all water weight, but I haven't been this weight since before college! Encouraging to the extreme.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Phase 1 - Day 2

First, let me congratulate Canada on their gold medal record. It's a bit crazy here, and I suppose Canadians must feel great to be a little less pathetic than usual. Poutine for everyone, hooray!

On to today's workout. This was my intro to the Plyometrics workout, and man did it kick my butt, but it was also really fun. The yoga room at the gym is completely empty early in the morning when my brother, my sister-in-law, and I go, so I had the room all to myself and a big mirror in which to watch myself jump, squat, leap, lunge, etc. I paced myself pretty well, mostly because as I was making my workout sheet last night (I watch the video the night before and write down descriptions of all the exercises on the rep count sheet), I was thinking there was no way I was going to be able to finish the thing if I did as many as Tony and his crew do. This workout is HARD. But I really surprised myself, in that I was able to not only finish, but keep a pretty good match in reps from set one to set two. I think I was so warmed up and having so much fun by the end that I had no problem really giving it my all (but let's not get crazy, I still can't do nearly as many reps in the time alotted as Tony & co.). I love the more balance-intensive poses, especially the Heisman, 180 Jumps, and Rock Star Hops.

Today my food should be pretty great. I brought two hard-boiled eggs, a sliced apple, and 2tbsp peanut butter for breakfast. For lunch I brought a salad with feta, red peppers, and zucchini, as well as a portion of the beef-and-vegetable stew I made and let simmer for three hours last night during the Trek marathon at my brother's (we are so close to finishing DS9--four episodes out from the series finale! That's seven seasons in about three months). The stew I make is so delicious and filling, especially since it's so cold and awful outside. I just get a pound of stewing beef from Vincenzo's every week, and on Sunday I take all the bits of vegetables that I didn't finish in salads/dinners from the week, chop them all up and put them in a big ceramic casserole dish, then pan-sear each piece of beef and put them in with the veggies. Some salt, pepper, rosemary, and a couple cups of water, balsamic vinegar, and worcestershire--just enough liquid to barely cover all the ingredients--and it gets covered and goes in the oven at 350 for 3 hours. It's easy, awesome, and incredibly nutritious.

Tonight is one of my trading nights at the yoga studio, so I'll have a 6:30 class (90mins) and then I'll probably have a snack of almonds and the orange I brought in my bag. When I get home, if I'm super hungry, I'll cook up some quick bacon and eggs, but if I'm not too hungry I'll just go to sleep, because I hate eating so late. It makes me sleep poorly and I'm all groggy in the morning. On trade nights I don't get home till 10:30 or 11, so I have to plan my eating really carefully all day; not just because I won't have a real dinner, but also because I can't eat within three hours of yoga (it's a very hot room and a very strenuous practice, and things can go south real quick if your stomach/upper intestines aren't empty). It's a tight balancing act that I honestly usually fail, forcing me to eat a meal when I get home and go to bed even later. Not good. Tonight I will try to avoid that.

I'm also interested to see how yoga goes tonight, considering I just completely shredded my quads. I can still feel them kind of shaking. Again, plyo is fun, but get ready for pain.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Phase 1 - Day 1

Today I began the P90X program with the Chest & Back and Ab Ripper workouts. I'm doing P90X at the gym, not at home, mostly because I don't have a good workout space in the house (I live in the basement, and my roommate's kids are always around, extremely interested in whatever I'm doing), and also because I don't have the necessary weights, pullup bar, etc. Doing P90X at the gym is a little daunting, though, because I have to put down a mat and carve out a little space for myself to do all the routines, but I also have to trek back and forth to the pullup bar to do those components of the workout. This creates a little more downtime between exercises than I'd like. When I get a HR monitor, I'll check if it's indeed negating my progress.

The workouts I did today were definitely challenging, and I didn't pace myself very well. On some of the exercises, the second time through, I could only complete half as many reps as I did the first time. However, I pleasantly surprised myself with my pushups ability; that's the area where I thought I was going to do the worst. The Ab Ripper workout is okay, but involves a lot of raised-leg exercises, so by the end of a lot of them, my max reps were based on leg fatigue rather than abdominal fatigue, and I'm not sure I got a whole lot out of them abs-wise. My quads were certainly screaming, though. So far, my favorite exercises are the Divebombers, the Lawnmower, the Leg Climb, and the Mason Twists.

Food-wise, I was pretty good today, although I did slip up a bit on sugar when I went to my brother's house. He'd made a pan of brownies--and he makes AWESOME brownies. So I had a small one. Otherwise, I was really full from the lunch I'd had: roasted chicken breast and leg, an avocado with sour cream and hot sauce, a couple slices of artisan cheese from Vincenzo's (I always get a couple fancy cheeses during my weekly V shopping; it's my little treat for the week's snacks), and about a cup (before cooking) of steamed spinach with garlic and butter. I had an apple before the gym this morning, and a cup of frozen strawberries and blueberries with walnuts, coconut flakes, and coconut milk for dessert after lunch. I also had a couple cups of tea at my bro's during our requisite weekend Trek marathon, into which I put a cube of sugar each. So, definitely a high-sugar day (barely stayed below 100g carbs), and kind of a high-calorie day, too, but with the workout and all the walking I did to and from the grocery store and then my bro's house (about two miles, all told) I think today was okay.

It's amazing, though, the effect processed sugar has on me when I don't eat it a lot. The brownie, while delicious, instantly gave me a headache, which is still there even as I type this. I'm going to be more careful this week with grains and sugar; last week was kind of a lapse. Plus, next weekend we go on our work retreat to Thunder Bay, and who knows what they'll have for me to eat there. If it's all crap, at least it'll be a good opportunity for some intermittent fasting!