Posts Tagged ‘exercise’

losing love handles

It has been 2 weeks since I started seriously working on a healthier me. I am happy to report I have lost 4 pounds. I am also happy to report that I have lost almost 3 inches, mainly from my love handles and hips (my hips are the biggest part of me, thanks to my heredity!)

Sidetracked by snow and ice

I did great with recording everything I ate for the first week, but the second week we had a snowstorm which turned into ice. Hubby went to work late and got home early every day, my older kids were hanging out here since they couldn’t drive all around, which means I had to cook meals they would eat too. I think I could’ve lost another pound or 2 this past week if not for that, but I digress.

I have actually increased my exercise, other than a few days last week (which caused me to get stiff and achy in my back again!)  I am doing what is called High Intensity Interval Training. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is about mixing high intensity bursts of exercise with moderate intensity recovery periods. It’s brutal but has incredible advantages. It’s the quickest way to get in fit, lose fat and build stamina.

High Intensity Interval Training

When we do aerobic or cardio exercise, we were always taught to stay within 60-80% of our target heart rate. When you utilize HIIT, you work at the lower heart rate for a specific period and then you do a short, high intensity burst, pushing your heart rate to close to its max.

I use a treadmill for now. When the weather gets nicer, I will go outside some, but for now, I like to be able to control the workout with the treadmill.

treadmill High intensity training intervals

I can tell a HUGE difference in my stamina. I can walk up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing, and 2 weeks ago, we went to a local mountain for a hike. While I didn’t do fantastic, I could tell my body was in better shape than it had been. I am looking forward to climbing to the top of our little mountain very soon!

There is lots of info on HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) online. I am going to show you how someone who was horribly out of shape put this to work.

A workout for an overweight, out-of-shape 40 something woman

A few notes- 30 minute workout, base speed is determined by you, mine has increased as I have gotten in better shape, I usually drag out the last slowdown and cooldown a few minutes. And this workout can be for anybody, lol*

*I am not a doctor or medically licensed individual. Please check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program!

Interval timer Intensity Speed Incline
1- warmup 0-4 min 4 base speed 0
1st hill 4-6 min 6 base speed 6
slowdown 6-8 4 base speed 0
1st speed burst 8-10 6 base +.4 0
slowdown 10-12 4 base speed 0
2nd hill 12-14 9 base speed 8
slowdown 14-16 4 base speed 0
2nd speed burst 16-18 9 base speed +.8 0
slowdown 18-20 4 base speed 0
3rd hill 20-22 9 base speed 8
slowdown 22-24 4 base speed 0
3rd speed burst 24-26 9 base speed +.8 8
slowdown 26-28 4 base speed 0
cool down 28-30 3 base speed -.2 0

This is basically 2 minute intervals of lower intensity and higher intensity. The better shape you are or move into, the higher the levels will need to go. I am actually in the process of moving my intervals to 3 minutes on, 1 minute slowdown, but not quite at it yet, more like 2.5 minutes high intensity and 1.5 slowdown. Download a printable copy of HIIT workout.

What progress can you expect?

FYI- when I began walking on the treadmill for 15 minutes a day in November, my base speed was 2.5. I could not do 2 minutes at an 8 incline. My base speed is currently 2.8, my max speed is 3.5. It is not quite a jog, but almost there! I also do one interval on elevation 6, the other 2 on elevation 8. I like to hike, so speed is not my only goal. I need to be able to climb hills, so using the elevation on the treadmill really helps with this.

For someone who is an athlete, this may not look like much, but it has made a huge difference to me. Whenever I exercised before, I never really felt a difference or saw something I could measure, but by using the HIIT and monitoring my heart rate (I just use what is on my treadmill, although I would like a fancy, schmancy one!) Because I can see the difference, I am motivated to stick with it, unlike ever before.

I believe that by continuing at this rate, I will be able to reach my goal of losing a total of 25 pounds by April!

My Journey to Balance

While working on the body, I am also working on my emotional and mental health over at my other blog. If you feel overwhelmed with your life, I encourage you to come on over and participate! It’s FREE!

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I have been overweight for years. I weigh more (just a little!) than I did when I delivered my youngest daughter (she’ll be 18 in April). I have weighed even more than I do now, but lost weight over the past 2 years due to stress. And that is really odd, because I am a stress eater normally. I can throw down some carbs when I am stressed/depressed!

I went through an extremely stressful past 2 years, with a job that worked me 80+ hours a week and I literally did not have time to eat. Or exercise. Or do anything healthy. I lost a total of 25 pounds over those 2 years. (oh, part of it wasn’t the job, part of the stress was my hubby having a brain aneurysm 2 years ago.) My life has changed quite a bit over the past 4 months. I had a nervous breakdown and went on medical leave.

Since I have much more time on my hands, and because I am trying to take care of myself overall, body and soul, I thought it would be good to try to learn to eat healthy and begin exercising. Since I have been at home I have put back on about 10 pounds and I don’t want to gain even more.

However, I will say, that this is NOT truly about weight loss. If I even stayed the same size as I am now, but were healthy and strong, I’d be okay with that. I thought I would join up with a challenge though, to help me keep motivated! A girl likes to have friends encouraging her on, right? So I am joing the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans challenge!

So, what are my goals?

-To exercise for a minumum of 15 minutes at least 5 out of 7 days a week- I have a treadmill and do speed and hill intervals
-To do a yoga/pilate routine at least 5 days a week (20 minute routine from Amazon)
-To go to bed by 11 pm each night
-To track my food intake by using Sparkpeople.com, EVERYTHING I EAT!

What is the weight goal? I’d like to lose 28 pounds by April 1st. Since this challenge goes through February 28th, I’d say I’d like to lose 18 pounds by then. But like I said, this is about feeling healthier and stronger. That is why I am also incorporating the yoga and pilates, for strength and flexibilty.

I FEEL old. My joints ache. I want to be YOUNG when I am 60, but at 45, I FEEL old!

My Journey to Balance

While working on the body, I am also working on my emotional and mental health over at my other blog. If you feel overwhelmed with your life, I encourage you to come on over and participate! It’s FREE!

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Why do we not do the things we want to,

and do the things we don’t?

The apostle Paul even wrote about it in Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate, I do.

Many times there are habits we want to stop, or habits we want to implement in our lives, yet we are consistently unsuccessful.  We tend to beat ourselves up that we are lazy, or maybe even sinful. Unfortunately, this is just part of human nature. The good news is, you can train yourself to implement change in your life.

I am going to use an example that I got from Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. He is talking mainly about exercise, but the steps are good and can work for ANY habit.


The Main Problems


In a nutshell, “It’s just too much to do, it’s overwhelming!”

So why do most people have trouble making exercise a regular habit? Well, there are probably a number of factors, but here are the main ones as I see it:

  1. Too difficult. People set out with a lot of ambition and enthusiasm, and start out with a big goal. “I’m going to go to the gym for an hour a day!” or “I’m going to run 30 minutes every day!” The problem is that the goal is too difficult to sustain for very long. You can do it for a few days, but you soon run out of energy, and it becomes a drag to do it.
  2. Too many goals. Often we set out to do too much. We want to run, and lift weights, and eat healthy, and quit sweets, and stop drinking soda. Well, those are multiple goals, and you cannot focus on the exercise habit if you’re trying to do all the others at the same time. Or we might start with one goal, but then get caught up in another goal (to stop procrastinating, for example), and lose our focus on the first one.
  3. Not enough motivation. It’s not a lack of discipline, it’s a lack of motivation. The most powerful motivators, in my experience, are logging your habit and public pressure. There are many others that help as well.

The 4 Simple Steps

So how do we solve those problems? Keep it simple. Here are the 4 simple steps to start the exercise habit (and keep it going). I should note that you can use these 4 steps to start any habit.

  1. Set one easy, specific, measurable goal. There are several keys to setting this crucial goal:
    • Written: Write this down. Post it up. If you don’t write it down, it’s not important.
    • Easy: Don’t — DO NOT — set a difficult goal. Set one that is super, super easy. Five minutes of exercise a day. You can do that. Work your way to 10 minutes after a month. Then go to 15 after 2 months. You can see what I mean: make it easy to start with, so you can build your habit, then gradually increase.
    • Specific: By specific, I mean what activity are you going to do, at what time of day, and where? Don’t just say “exercise” or “I’m going to walk”. You have to set a time and place. Make it an appointment you can’t miss.
    • Trigger: I recommend that you have a “trigger” right before you do your habit. For example, you might always brush your teeth right after you shower. The shower is the trigger for brushing your teeth, and because of that, you never forget to brush your teeth. Well, what will you do right before you exercise? Is it right after you wake up? Right after your coffee? Right when you get home? As soon as you take off for lunch? A trigger that you do every single day is important.
    • Measurable: By measurable, I mean that you should be able to say, definitely, whether you hit or miss your goal today. Examples: run for 10 minutes. Walk 1/2 a mile. Do 3 sets of 5 pushups. Each of those has a number that you can shoot for.
    • One goal: Stick to this one goal for at least a month. Two months if you can bear it. Don’t start up a second goal during that 30-day period. If you do, you are scrapping this goal.
  2. Log it daily. This is the key habit. If you can log your workout, you will start to see your progress, and it will motivate you to keep going. And you have to make it a habit to log it right away. Don’t put it off, and say you’ll do it before you go to bed. As soon as you’re done working out, log it. No exceptions. And don’t make the log complicated — that will only make you resist doing the log. Just the date, time, and what you did.
  3. Report to others. I think this is key. You can do it on your blog, on an online forum, with your spouse, or friends or family, or a workout partner, or a coach, or a group, or a class. However you set it up, make it part of the process that you have to report your daily workout to other people. It could be using an online log, or on a forum, or through email, or the phone, or just by telling your co-workers what you did this morning. But be sure that they know your goal, and that you are going to report to them, and be sure that they are expecting it every day.
  4. Add motivation as needed. The first three steps might be enough for you to get the habit going. But if not, don’t just give up. If you miss two consecutive workouts, you need to look at why, and add a new motivation. Rewards, more public pressure, inspiration, whatever it takes. Read this article for more on this. You can add one additional motivator, and then see if it works. If you miss two more consecutive workouts at any time, add another motivator. And so on, until the exercise habit sticks.

Again, while Leo is basically talking about exercise in general here, these steps will work for ANY HABIT. I encourage you, if there is something you are trying to stop doing or something you want to implement in your life, work through each of these steps to see how it would play out.

One of My Elephants

My regular readers know that I have been dealing with depression and anxiety since this summer. I actually have a difficult time leaving the house. I need to go to the Y to exercise, but have not been making it there. I tend to make it  a lot harder on myself than I should. I realized that I don’t want to go through the trouble of getting dressed and getting my shoes on, etc. So, my very first goal for me to work on really isn’t about exercise, but about me getting myself presentable and dressed AS IF I WERE gonna go to the gym. In my mind I feel that is half the battle. And I will probably use my Google calendar to track it. And my trigger? Have my workout clothes easily accessible, and instead of throwing on my old house grubbiesfirst thing in the morning, dress in gym clothes and put my shoes on.

To many of you, that may seem so simplistic, and say “I need to change something bigger than that, this won’t work for me! That is the issue with me and with many people. We take the whole leg of the elephant and try to carm it in our mouth and don’t see that it is possible. We just have to take that one little bite, and once we do that, it tastes SO GOOD, we take one more bite. It will take time, but eventually you can eat the elephant, one little bite at a time!

Eating The Elephant

What about you? What is your elephant in YOUR life that you would like to be eating right now?

My goal is to help as many people as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!

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As I was in the middle of my mental meltdown, my mind was moving SO fast and it was SO loud. I could not slow it down, I could not turn it off. It was only by medication I could get any sleep at all. And all the noise was overwhelming, and exhausting and frightening.

*Disclaimer- I know that there will be mixed opinions about this post and my beliefs behind some of it. The concepts are the same no matter what your spiritual belief, so please reap from it what you will.

Renewing the mind and body

Young Woman Meditating on the FloorAs I am on my personal retreat this week, I am working to implement these 2 habits into my life.

The first is meditation. When you hear the word, you probably envision someone sitting cross-legged, hands on knees, palms up and saying ‘ooohm’. Many Christians assume that meditation is an eastern religion tradition and should therefore refrain from it. The Bible, however, uses the word meditate quite a few times and we are told to meditate on scripture. 

relaxation gods wayI found a relaxation meditation download on Amazon where the speaker walks you through progressive relaxation of the body, all the while soft music is playing, and he quotes scriptures intermittently. This has been awesome! Have I perfected it yet? No, but I do seem to be making progress! My brain is not near as full (no IQ jokes here!) and it seems much quieter between my ears and in my heart. Oh, and I can do this lying in my bed, or sitting in my (parked) car!

The second habit I am implementing is yoga. Again, many Christians shy away from yoga, however, if you don’t consume yourself with the new age traditions associated with it, the physical and mental benefits are fantastic. FYI, yoga is not for sissies! It is difficult to get into and maintain the positions. They are strenghtening to the muscles and to the mind.

stress relief yogaThe yoga session I downloaded is stress relieving for beginners. It is not too difficult and I am able to do most of the poses. I feel so much better after working through the session! I hope to do this either in the mornings or in the evening before bed.
As I get better at both of these personal habits, I believe I will be able to incorporate the 2, to meditate on scripture and seek God’s peace and serenity while working my yoga session. The end result will hopefully be a much more relaxed me, physically, mentally and emotionally!  And the noise will be gone, and I will be able to think clearly and hear God. It has been a while since I could really hear Him.

What about you? Have you tried yoga or meditation? What other methods do you use to clear your mind, reduce stress and increase spiritual awareness?

My goal is to help as many women as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog and you would like to share with them, please click on the appropriate link below!

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not to do listWhile many of us run our lives with either a physical to-do list, on paper or digitally, or a mental to-do list kept in your head, we may need to create another important list. A NOT-to-do list.

Just as I wrote about in this post, we as women are ‘expected’ to do so much. I think it is time that YOU examine your life and see what things you ought to cut out because they are not adding value to your life and they may, in fact, be increasing your stress level.

Here are a few things I have chosen not to do-

  • I don’t keep my phone on me 24-7. I am learning to leave it in the car when I go certain places or at least silence it. Hubby always has his (not a stress factor for him) so I know if there is a TRUE emergency they can call him! I also turn my ringer to silent at night, again, true emergency will call hubby’s phone. And even if I have it, I don’t feel compelled to answer every call.
  • I don’t check my email or blog stats until I have done certain things in the morning that I have set to do, such as take the dog out, unload the dishwasher, have my quiet time, etc. I am choosing to not let my computer run my life.
  • I have decided for now, to not go to the Y for a yoga class, but instead I downloaded a yoga stress relief program I can do at home everyday at the time that is best for me (yoga at the Y was only twice a week on THEIR schedule, not mine)news
  • I don’t watch the news, not even online, unless there is a MAJOR happening. I don’t need the negativity right now, and if the world is coming to an end, I am sure SOMEBODY will tell me!
  • Don’t do something you hate just because of the pressure of someone else. You have to choose what is best for you.
  • I instituted this saying at my home when my kids were young teens: “Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” If they forget they needed something, I did not drop everything to save them, they had to learn from their natural consequences.
  • I have pared down my grooming process, easier hair style, lighter makeup, basic jewelry, simpler clothing choices. It shouldn’t be so difficult to get ready to go anywhere!

What about you? As you try to achieve some balance and sanity in your life, what are some things you have already put on a Not-to-do list, or that you need to add right away?

My goal is to help as many women as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog, please click here to share!

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What are you saying to yourself?

As I begin to work through renewing my mind and body and praying for healing, I am having to learn to rewrite some of the things I tell myself in my head.  Self-talk can be extremely helpful or very detrimental to relieving stress and achieving some emotional balance. One thing I am trying to get ingrained is ‘Progress not Perfection’. No one person is ever a finished product. Seeking perfection in yourself or others is a exercise in futility. By trying to hold ourselves, or those around us, to a standard of perfection, can quickly lead to a downward spiral in depression. We have to realize that life is about each step that we take, even if they are baby steps.

Shouldn’t I strive to be the best person I can be?

Absolutely. And the key parts of that phrase are ‘strive’ and ‘best I can be’. It is a constant process. We will never completely attain it in this life, as we are all human. And as humans, we are all different. We have different strengths and abilities, and our own life experiences will vary the rate at which we each progress.

We must allow ourselves to compete on our own level paying field. I cannot compare myself to you, or to my neighbor or co-worker. As much as possible to reduce stress and live in health and peace, we must concentrate on our personal best, regardless of what others would, should or could do.

My personal best

And even our ‘personal best’ changes from day to day. As for myself, these days, sometimes it’s a chore just to just get out of the bed. Renewal indicates a ongoing, one day at a time process. So I seek to, each day, do what my personal best is for that day. Whether it is taking a walk around the block with my dog, doing 30 minutes of yoga, or just getting out of the bed and into the tub, I have to accept that at this point in my life, I cannot compare what I can do to others, only to myself. And hope and pray that each day is a little better than the day before.

Life is a journey, not a destination. And the path will still be there waiting. Life has no deadline, no finish line, no time table. This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t set personal goals. But if the goal is unrealistic, or for whatever reason, I can’t or don’t complete the goal, there is absolutely no reason to despair.

Personal goals

I used to have much bigger goals, but I have to be realistic at this point. Right now my goals are small, things such as:
getting a full night’s sleep
taking at least a short walk daily
eating 3 meals a day, and really enjoying the food
prayer and meditation, to learn to listen to God and quiet my mind
Being able to go to the grocery store alone with having a panic attack

Venturing out of the box

As I am on a personal retreat in Savannah, I am working to go out each day and do something that is a little outside my comfort zone. Last night, that was going to dinner on my own. Today, part of me wants to stay holed up in my cute little place here, however,  I know that going out to the beach and sitting or walking would be good for me, but I have to push myself to go. Sounds crazy, having to MAKE myself go to the beach. But that is what depression and anxiety will do to you. Put you in a box and make it scary to leave. I AM going, as soon as I publish this post!

As women, if we had a close friend was suffering, you’d be there for her. We have to learn to be there for ourselves, to care of ourselves. And that is what I am learning to do, one day at a time. What can you do today, to take care of YOU?

My goal is to help as many women as possible with these issues we all deal with! Be sure to subscribe via email or RSS so you don’t miss any posts! If you know of someone who would benefit from the info in this post and in my blog, please click here to share!
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