Tuesday, 16 July 2013

My 30 Day Shred Results

As detailed daily in the last post, I completed the 30 Day Shred. Squee!

If you don’t want to read that long post, here’s a shorter recap:

  • Completed ten days of each level and moved on to the next regardless of whether all moves were mastered. 
  • Attempted to complete the program in 30 consecutive days, but I ended up taking two separate days off about a third of the way through the month, so it actually took me 32 days to complete the program. 
  • Longest consecutive stretch of Shredding = 19 days. 
  • The only other cardio I did was the occasional walk ranging from 1.7 to 3 miles. 
  • Total walking mileage during 30 Day Shred = 31.3 miles. 
  • Did not follow the suggested diet plan. In fact, I ate like a PMSing fatty the entire month. 
  • Had to modify several of the jumping moves in Levels 2 and 3 in deference to my knee.

The point of doing the 30 Day Shred was three-fold: (1) get me off my unfit arse, (2) get me to do some strength training which I avoid like the plague, and (3) build up strength in my leg to help heal my bum right knee which has prevented me from running.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the last post, I took my weight and measurements before I started the program. I’m not going to give you the exact starting and ending numbers, but I will tell you the differences.

  • Weight: Either -0.4 or +1 lb. (Since my scale seems to be on the fritz, I’m going to be kind to myself and say I stayed the same.) 
  • Arms (combined): -7/8” 
  • Thighs (combined): no change 
  • Chest: -1” 
  • Waist: -1/2” 
  • Hips: -3/4” 
  • Total inches lost: -3 and 1/8”

Non-quantitative results:

  • I can now do a full sit-up though my legs still have to be flat on the ground. 
  • Strength in my weaker right arm increased a lot as at first I couldn’t do the leg and weighted arm lifts in the full plank position (from Level 3) but now I can. 
  • My body feels stronger. Hell, I actually have abdominal muscles now. Or at least ones that finally work. 
  • I’ve received a couple of unsolicited comments that my face looks slimmer. 
  • In the before and after photos I took, there’s not a huge difference, but there is a smoothing out of some of my chunky areas which is nice to see.

What I’ve (re-)learned over the last month:

  • Those two pre-days were a god-send. If I had just gone at it full-tilt on the first day, I would have been a ball of sore the day after and would not have continued with the program. 
  • Doing extra leg stretches post-workout was essential for me to work out tight muscles. 
  • Diet is crucial for weight loss. I’m really jazzed about my results from 30 Day Shred, but it’s also a great reminder of the importance of what and how much you eat. Like some other people, I have a major sweet tooth and I’ve let it run rampant. But I do know that if I cut back on all that processed sugar-filled crap, I’ll have more energy, feel better and will lose weight. I’d probably sleep better too, which is another issue I’ve been dealing with for a while now. 
  • I work better and am more motivated by non-weight related goals. I want to lose weight because the number I’m at now is definitely NOT healthy, but thinking about it is just a whole world of stress in itself and that’s not conducive for maintaining a positive mindset. Instead, I find it more beneficial and rewarding to have other goals. I want to be able to do 10-20 full push-ups, 10-20 full sit-ups with knees bent, a two-minute plank, etc. Sure I want to weigh less, but more than that, I want to be fit. Now I understand why people like Cross-Fit so much.

So, where do I go from here?

I want to keep up the momentum, so I’m planning on doing a bit of exercise each day for the next month. My knee has gotten loads better since I started Shred, so I’m going to do a bit of running three days per week, but no more than two miles each time. I’ll see how it goes from there. I ran on Monday and there were some sporadic twinges in areas of both my legs, but I think it was just rust falling off as I’ve felt great since. I’ll alternate running days with three days of yoga and/or strength training. Right now I’m starting with a 30 minute yoga program I found on YouTube. After I did yoga this morning, I also did 10 full sit-ups, 10 arm and leg raises in plank position and 10 modified push-ups for shits and giggles. The seventh day of the week will be a walk day.

As of this coming Monday, I’m also doing three-weeks of fieldwork. So I’ll have a bit of help getting in some practical strength training whilst shoveling and moving wheelbarrows and be prevented from stuffing my face during the day (though god knows the Brits love their biscuits at tea time).

So there it is. The 30 Day Shred was worth my time and I recommend it to anyone who needs a kick in the fitness butt or is having a difficult time getting into strength training.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I'll answer them when I can.

Later gators.

Monday, 17 June 2013

30 Day Shred

There's been no running since the last time I posted. I had two weeks of continuous work travel in May and, ever since I restarted running in March, the inner (medial?) area below my right knee has not been happy. I was hoping it was just adjusting to being active again, but it would appear it's an actual issue.

Sick of feeling like a (now unemployed) bump on a log with a bum knee, I decided to do the 30 Day Shred DVD in the hopes that it will build up my leg muscles and improve my knee situation.

I tried it once last year and ended up a mass of sore muscles for days afterward. To avoid incapacitating myself again, I did two pre-days where I half-assed the program in order to ease myself into the soreness. That was last Monday and Tuesday. I officially began the 30 days on Wednesday and, as of today, have completed Day 6 of Level 1.

I'll track my progress here, in this one post, for the duration of the program. I weighed and measured myself before I started (no, I'm not posting those numbers) and will let you know at the end if there is any improvement. Since I'm still eating like an indiscriminate garbage disposal, I'm not expecting any significant weight loss.

Pre-Day 1: Level 1. Ran in place instead of doing the bouncing cardio (jumping jacks, etc) and only did a few reps of each of the exercises without any hand weights.

Pre-Day 2: Level 1. Ditto above. Only have light soreness in my booty and hamstrings after yesterday's squat-fest.

Day 1: Level 1. Did modified push-ups and only used 1-lb hand weights because I have the pathetic arm strength of a T-Rex. Light soreness in lower body.

Day 2: Level 1. Dithered for over an hour before I finally got to it. Still used the 1-lb weights. About 30 seconds into the warm-up, there was a rumble down under signalling the imminent arrival of the poo poo train into Sphincter Station. I paused the DVD, did my business and was right back at it.

Day 3: Level 1. Muted the DVD and played my ipod because I was so sick of hearing the same words and corny music. Used 5-lbs weights for one of the exercises. Light soreness in abs and legs.

Day 4: Level 1. Didn't Shred until the afternoon. Was only motivated to do so by a well-timed email from my best friend. Used 5-lb weights for half of the exercises. Continued to mute the DVD. Light soreness in abs and legs. Also walked 1.7 miles.

Day 5: Level 1. Used 5-lb weights for all but one set of one exercise. Booyah. Light soreness.

Day 6: Level 1. PMSing for Britain. Didn't complete all reps for some of the exercises (I HATE PUSH-UPS) and used 1-lb weights for two sets. Yelled at Jillian to f*ck off even though she was already muted. Completed workout anyway. Light soreness all over. Walked 2.7 miles to stretch out muscles and alleviate hormonal rage.

Day 7: Level 1. Used 5-lb weights for entire workout. No soreness. No rage. Also walked 1.8 miles.

Day 8: Level 1. Used 5-lb weights. Keeping on keeping on.

Day 9: No Shredding today. Couldn't be arsed. Walked two miles instead. Thinking of doing the Level 1 routine tomorrow sans DVD since I know it by heart now anyway.

Day 10: 9th day of Level 1. Didn't use the DVD -- timed myself with a stopwatch instead. Still sweated profusely, but did not have the desire to shout at Jillian and her crew. A win-win, really.

Day 11: Nothing. Nada. I'd blame it on lady problems or the stars not aligning correctly, but frankly I was just lazy and couldn't be arsed. Scratch all that. Last day of Level 1 now complete. A little accountability can really get you off your ass sometimes. And by accountability, I of course mean shame and guilt. Who cares, it worked.

Day 12: 1st day of Level 2. Had to hang with Anita (who does the modified beginner's moves) for most of the workout. Used the 1 lb weights to ease myself in. And I'm still a total sweaty mess. Need to do more warm-up and cool-down for my calves and shins though. They've been rather tight the last few days.

Day 13: No Shred. It was a big work day and then I tried to go to bed early when I actually got tired to sort out my junky sleepy pattern, but my digestive system thwarted me anyway. Boo.

Day 14: Level 2 complete. Did half the beginner moves, half regular. All with 1 lb weights. Some of the combination exercises are still a bit rough going for this uncoordinated individual, but I'm trying. The knee is angry again, so I had to do some of the easier cardio moves (no double jump rope for me).

Day 15: Third day of Level 2 complete. Used 5-lb weights for most of workout. Right knee is still a bit angry. Doing extra exercises to relieve tightness in shins and calves.

Day 16: Fourth day of Level 2 complete. Same as yesterday. Stupid cranky knee. I also walked three miles afterward.

Day 17: Fifth day of Level 2 complete. Mostly used 5-lb weights. Less knee pain than past few days.

Day 18: Sixth day of Level 2 complete. Ditto yesterday's commentary. Bit sore in booty and abs. Walked 2.7 miles.

Day 19: Seventh day of Level 2 complete. Routine is becoming easier, although I still can't complete the whole of the first strength session with only the 5-lb weights. Walked 2 miles.

Day 20: Eighth day of Level 2 complete. Booyah.

Day 21: Ninth day of Level 2 complete. Knee is feeling better, but still not great. Looked through the Level 3 routine and I can already foresee soreness after the first day. Yikes.

Day 22: Last day of Level 2 complete. Feeling pretty good about my progress.

Day 23: First day of Level 3 complete. Mix of 1- and 5-lb weights. Had to do modified push-ups and plank moves sometimes.

Day 24: Second day of Level 3 complete. Pretty much the same as yesterday, though trying to do regular push-ups, etc before doing modifications. Replaced the jump butt-kicks with single jump rope move in deference to the weak knee. I'll do regular butt kicks tomorrow instead of the jump ones for more cardio. Also, walked 3 miles.

Day 25: Third day of Level 3 complete. Progressing well and doing more full-plank moves. My right arm is super weak though. The mark of being a lefty, I guess.

Day 26: Fourth day of Level 3 complete. Doing all right. Also walked 2 miles. In flip-flops. Which was a huge mistake.

Day 27: Fifth day of Level 3 complete. Dithered for 10 hours before finally shredding. Thankfully I work from home so no one else had to deal with my unwashed self that whole time.

Day 28: Sixth day of Level 3 complete. Used 5-lb weights for the entire workout. Still having to modify a couple of the jumping exercises (and the push-ups), but doing well and feeling good. Also, walked 3 miles.

Day 29: Seventh day of Level 3 complete. Also, walked 2.7 miles.

Day 30: Shredded and walked 2.7 miles. Just two days left!

Day 31: Second to last day of Level 3 complete. I even did the proper mountain climber form and a few jump butt kicks as my knee has been feeling great the last few days. Also, walked 2 miles.

Day 32: And the last day of Shred is done! And I walked 2 miles.

I'll post my results and thoughts on the 30 Day Shred on Monday Tuesday. Happy weekend!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Spring training

If you don't get this joke, you're too young. Move along, whippersnappers.

April wasn't too shabby for running. Well, for me, that is. I ran nine times for a total of 23 miles, which is nearly half my total mileage for the whole of 2012. (Can you tell how much 2012 sucked for me?) I stubbled a bit at the end of the month (weekly mileages were 8, 8, 5, and 2), but with my job coming to an end soon, running cannot be a top priority at the moment.

I've scrapped doing a 10k training program for now. Three-milers take a good deal of effort from me at the moment and my pace and tomato-red post-run face show it. My goal right now is not to train for a race, but to get my fitness back. And I want to do it without courting injury. I've felt twinges here and there in my knee, shins and the soles of my feet throughout the month. Most of it is likely the result of knocking off the rust, but I don't want to push too far too soon and cock it all up. I want to build the habit of running again, make it strong, get fitter and then maybe I'll concern myself with pace and distance goals.

May will see lots of work travel for me. Getting in some running may be difficult, especially for the first trip where I'm trying to only bring a carry-on bag. We'll see how it goes. For now, the English weather is actually quite pleasant (...and now I've probably jinxed it) so I want to take advantage of it as much as possible by getting in short runs whenever I can.

That's it for me. Hope you all are doing well and that spring is actually springing wherever you live.

Later gators.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Slow and steady

I copped out on Sunday and ran only two miles instead of the planned three. It was the last day of the fun fair in the park and I woke up too late to miss the crowds. My hate of people overcame my dedication to running and I cut my run short.

However, I made up that mile today, running three miles instead of the planned two. This is the first week of my self-devised 10k training program. I wore my watch for the first time in nearly two years for today's run. I only slightly winced at the total time. Considering how long it's been since I last ran regularly and the extra chunkage I have attached to my good self, the time wasn't as bad as I expected. But just barely. If I keep on keeping on with running and not eating too much crap, it can only get better from here. Woo!

Friday when I was doing my post run stretches, I thought I'd try doing a plank. Back when I was super fit (for me), I could hold a plank easily for 1.5 minutes. Fast forward to last Friday--I wimped out at 30 seconds and it was a fight to get there as it was. Oy. I tried again on Sunday. Another 30 seconds. I figure I'll keep doing them every other day in the hopes of improvement.

And lastly, for my fellow Game of Thrones fans, here's a gift for you:

Later gators.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Back on the wagon

This is so true in my family. Except for this girl, who has been kicking ass and taking names. I've completed all my planned runs for the last two weeks and this week I've already done one of my three 3-mile runs. Yes, I'm finally back to running 3-milers again. It feels good.

As long as things continue to go smoothly (*knock on wood* < --not a euphemism), I'll be starting a 10K training program next week. I'm still debating whether or not to time my runs. I haven't worn a watch on a run since May 2011. I know I'm extra slow now which will not do my ego too much good to see at first, but part of me wants to have numbers so I can see my improvement as I build mileage. I have a feeling I'll cave and wear the watch. I'm a glutton for punishment...and number crunching.

This should be the title of the next book in the series.

On the Game of Thrones front--the first episode was good, but too short. With the crazy large cast, not everyone showed up in the episode. I've heard that this season will cover about half of Book 3. The question is, which of the numerous important events will end the season? It's obviously going to be one of the weddings, but which one?

All right, that's enough nerd talk. Hope you're all doing well.

Later gators.

Friday, 22 March 2013

What's in a name

I ran another 1.5 miles yesterday morning in the dismal English drizzle. All was fine though I'm dealing with a slightly achy knee on the non-surgery leg. I've been icing it on and off and that seems to be helping. I don't really think the achiness is running related. More like I've been sitting awkwardly again and ticked it off. I'll try to sit more like an adult in future.

So in life stuff, my work contract ends at the end of May. I'm waiting to hear back about a fellowship application and possible teaching opportunities for the next academic year, but otherwise I'm gonna be on the dole as of Memorial Day. As such, I've been considering opening an Etsy shop. I've been encouraged by friends and family to open a shop to sell my creations of and patterns for felt dolls, brooches, ornaments and the like. Most of the stuff I make has a historical, literary or mythological theme, but I also make stuff related to the UK and travel in general.

Anyway, to make a long story short (TOO LATE!), I need help in devising a shop name. I was thinking of going with the name Squirrel Bait (completely unrelated to what I make, but it was one of my nicknames when I was younger....thanks, ma), but that's been taken. A friend suggested the name should be a pun. For example, there's a bookstore in my native New Hampshire that has a cafe called Aesop's Tables. I love that. Again, anything related to history, mythology, classic literature (if I see 50 Shades of anything, we can no longer be friends) or travel that is amusing but not vulgar would be greatly appreciated. You're all pretty clever (though slightly twisted), so I'm sure one of you (that would be you, Mike) will come up with the perfect name.

Hope you all have a great weekend. And for you Game of Thrones fans, here are two teaser trailers for the new season which starts on March 31.

I can't wait to see how they deal with all the crazy stuff that happens in Book 3.

Later gators.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The die is cast

My final doctor's appointment was on Monday. The doctor is really pleased with how well my leg has healed considering, as he put it, "I had to put a lot of holes in your leg." The back of my calf still has some 'settling' to do and the faint residual bruising on my leg could take up to a year to fade. But I don't give a rat's ass because now I can jump back onto the fitness bandwagon in earnest.

I ran 1.5 miles again on Tuesday. My plan for the next two and a half weeks is to build up to running 3 miles at a time again after which I'll begin a 10K program. I'm really looking forward to getting fit again. The mini runs I've done lately have been slow and easy, but my face looks like a tomato by the end of them. Can we say out of shape much? Eh, gotta start somewhere. Might as well be at the bottom.

And so it begins again. I've got the official go ahead. I've got a plan. I've got the motivation. Now let's do this.