Thursday, September 30, 2010

a little bit of spreading the love...

I saw this lovely picture on tumblr while I was watching oprah's latest show on embracing our own beauty - gotta love a bit of multi-tasking. I got all tingly and happy feeling, so I thought it was a sure sign I should spread the love.

from this lovely site

Its easy to focus on the outside; for me, especially so when I'm focussed on losing weight and getting my booty into some kind of shape. I thought this was a lovely reminder that our beauty is actually inside, written on the pages of our lives, in the various and wonderful colours of the experiences and lessons we have. So here's to you, you beautiful thing xx

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

she thinks she can...

Sometimes it feels like being at a healthy weight is just a dream for me, sometimes it feels like its just around the corner. Weight loss is so fickle and I am far from a master of it.

But what I do know, is that I will get there. My plan is working, albeit slowly, and sometimes I do find it hard to believe that I can now do what I honestly could not before. 

I know I am not the only type A out there, striving for perfection and missing the imaginary ideal. So I'm cutting myself some slack and celebrating what I can, and do, do. 

dynamic shynamic: glute 8/30

Ah, the glute exercises keep coming, number 8 is the lovable dynamic lunge.

From a standing position, I take a decent step forward with one leg, and drop, keeping my front knee from bending any more than 90 degrees, and making sure my calf remains perpendicular with the floor. I drop as far as I can, then come back up and push backwards with my front foot. And repeat. I did each side for about 30 reps, continued on with other moves and then repeated.

This is a pretty awesome move for glute workout. If I say my glutes burn, that makes it sound as though I am an exercise guru, so whatever the amateur version of burn is - thats how this move makes me feel.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

superman flys: glute 7/30...

I found myself doing another exercise video for glute exercise 7, the old school superman fly. This video was Jillian's No More Trouble Zones. I initially thought it was an odd name considering she loves to poo-poo any ideas of "spot" training or fat reduction but she makes it pretty clear during the vid that its all about toning.

And man oh man its a tough workout.

Its just shy of an hour long video and goes through a brief warm up (which includes my frenemy of all exercise maneuvers, jumping jacks) and then 5 or 6 circuits focussing on particular muscle groups and a lovely stretch out at the end. To be fair I always do a longer stretch/cool-down than Jillian does in her videos, I clearly like to bask in the post-exercise cool down longer than she does. I always say thanks to Jillian and whoever is with her, and clap for myself too. Yup, dork I am :)

Some of the moves are really tough and I found myself grunting out loud during some of them - its funny how much a grunt can help me get through a move or hold a position for a bit longer. Nothing could help during the "surrender"* move though, and I must work on that. Anyway, I was alone in the apartment so it hardly matters, maybe I should grunt all the time and I would wizz through my exercise. I saw a man blow his nose into his hand (without a tissue or hanky, eww) at the gym the other day so I doubt a bit of grunting would offend anyone.

The glutes section is a killer; incorporating superman flys, which I found really work my lower back and glutes. I haven't done superman flys in, oh, lets say, forever? I did what Jill told me to, lifting my chest and knees off the floor while lying face down, feeling every bit as cool as I know I would getting about in the sky in a cape and blue leotard. The old booty is take all this extra attention pretty well, its sore mind you, but it seems to be coping.

The abs section is also fantastic, in a "please don't make me do any more" way. I am really enjoying adding more variety into my workouts. It is very easy to stick at the "same old, same old", especially when its giving results but it can get ho hum and drag at times.

Naturally, if anyone out there has ideas for glute exercises you think I should try just drop me a line or whack up a comment...

*The surrender move is done in a standing position with small hand weights held over head, arms in full extension, then one foot is stepped back, the knee is dropped to a one-knee-kneeling position, the other knee is dropped too to a full-kneeling position and the first leg down is then used to bring you back up to the original standing position. All done with arms above your head!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

0.75 of this, 0.25 of that...

About a year ago Mr C and I got serious about watching what we ate. We are both avid food lovers and can easily get carried away. But, our bodies were not thriving on the copious goodnesses we put in them. And, worse, we were realising we didn't like our bodies much. And that just wouldn't do.

We are both massive geeks, so we researched what we should do next. Google saw an onslaught of searches like "calorie allowance", "bmr", "weight loss", "magic diet pill". Pretty much all results showed a honking big arrow pointing at change your eating habits here. And so we did.

We kept up with the googling, reading blogs, articles, basically anything that would teach us how we were meant to defeat and conquer. We stumbled upon a show called X Weighted or some such nonsense that was Canadian based [hello canucks!] with a semi-compassionate-obnoxious host who would try to teach people how to eat well and exercise. We watched the show maybe 6 times and then Mr CompassiObnoxious became too much for us to bear and we canned it.

One of the shows included a meeting between a successful weight loser and someone in progress - some true gems of wisdom were passed on and one stuck with me -  losing weight, is 75% what you eat and 25% what you do. Call me slow but I had this silly idea that if you exercised hard regularly you could eat anything and be slim. This really got me thinking and re-examining the whole calories in vs calories out paradigm. A one hour bike ride does not equal a burger or chocolate bar.

I think of that rule pretty regularly, I don't necessarily agree with the percentage breakdown but it reminds me that weight loss, and indeed being healthy, takes both eating well and moving well.

I think at times I do make the mistake of thinking "I've exercised so I can afford to eat some high calorie treat". But bit-by-bit I'm beginning to classify food and exercise into completely different categories based on how they make me feel not just the calories they add to, or subtract from, my booty.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

zumba rumba: glute 6/30...

I was resisting the Zumba draw but three amazing women gave me reason to stop resisting and give it a go - the bff: who gave me the vids in the first place - a dear friend, lets call her SuperJhy*: has recently given Zumba a run for its money - and dietgirl: has long let her Zumba-loving flag fly.

And, I am joining the party - I love it! I'm not even going to dally about saying so or draw out the suspense of my feelings by discussing the pros and cons first. Shame on me for waiting so long to try it. It is fun. The time flew by. I sweated up a storm. I am aching in body from my abs to my quads to parts of my body that might have never been used before. And yes, the all important Gluteus Maximi were zinging immediately afterwards and ached on waking the next day - sure signs they loved getting some flavour with the Zumba team.

I am not, however, co-ordinated. In fact, the more I thought about moving my hips the more awkward I was - but the instructors on the vid often go back to basics to show you how to do it. And they regularly remind you, its moving that matters and it doesn't really matter how talented at the Reggeaton you are - I love that attitude as much as I love Zumba idea.

*SuperJhy, if you hate your pseudo let me know, it does rhyme with SuperFly though

Monday, September 20, 2010

the neck is not invited to this party: glute 5/30...

Ah, Jillian, I love the sayings you've scattered throughout your exercise vids. This one she says during push-ups to remind us to keep our necks in a neutral position.

I haven't done the 30day shred in quite some time but I found myself in need of a workout, rain was a-falling and all the cardio machines in my gym were in use. I know, how rude of my fellow apartment dwellers, hhummph. So instead of throwing myself on the floor, thumping the ground and screaming at them I bolted back to the homestead and let Jillian tell me what to do. This option also had the bonus of letting Jillian tell me what glute exercise 5 would be.

Level 1 of the 30day shred incorporates loads of exercises that are truely fantastic but the one I find works my booty the most is the lunge. So lets say the lunge as well the whole level 1 of the 30day shred is glute exercise 5.

I know my lunge form is quite bad - I feel like I barely dip during the exercise, my rear knee gets absolutely nowhere near the floor. But, it makes my muscles really burn, ouch. And the next day, double ouch.

In fact I was so sore from this workout that its a clear sign I'm not covering everything during my usual cardio and resistance workouts. So I have decided to try to re-incorporate Jillian's fantastic workouts into my routines.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

squat it out: glute 4/30...

Mr C just reminded me it has been 11days since I posted. I have the posts going on in my head but they just haven't transformed into readable form :)

So glute exercise 4 was The Squat. Quite a change from my previous more cardio oriented glute exercises. Variety, people, is the spice of life :)

I channeled my old instructor from pump classes and tried to keep good form - abs engaged, feet hip width apart, weight balanced in the heels of my feet and tried to imagine a seat was just behind me and I was lowering my booty to sit in it, and just at the last minute I'd say oh-no-booty, no sitting for you, and I would stand up straight trying to use my glutes as much as possible. I repeated this 40 times after my usual cardio and weights workout. Surely that was enough to wake up the next day with a perfect peach for a bum?

The junk in the trunk was sore the next day but so too were my quads. So I'm thinking squats are a good lower body exercise all round - much like my pump instructor used to say, I knew she was wise.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

pedal pusher: glute 3/30

When I was a kid capris were called pedal pushers. Well, at least, that is what my mum called them. Sometimes she even called them knickerbockers. For real, she didn't even giggle afterwards. She had a few names for other things that I have since learned no one else actually says; like pomp instead of fart, and a half-up pony-tail-style hair style she calls pollyanna; I went on a school camp when I was a naive 11year old and getting ready one day I told one of my roomies I was doing my hair in pollyanna. Oh my, the laughter that followed. I worked out pretty fast no one else calls it that :)

My dad was in the navy for most of my childhood so we also had a smattering of naval terms through our household language, like smalley eats for nibbles, boffin for smart, bravo-echo-delta for bed time. I'm guessing every family has these made up names or names for things that are way out of common day speak; if I'm wrong about this please don't tell me, I don't want to be the only one with weirdo family talk.

In anycase, the whole reason I remembered any of this is because glute exercise number three is the glory of all pedal machina, the exercise bike. Such an amazing segue-introduction you are unlikely to see again.

My first regular exercise I did, starting about 6years ago, was the trusty exercise bike. That thing alone gave me years back in health rewards and was probably responsible for a solid 10kilos of weight loss. My rule was - the first 40minutes of tv viewing had to be done whilst using the exercise bike. And it worked people. Before I knew it my knickerbockers were too baggy, I wasn't puffed walking around all day and I was on track to bringing my booty back into line.

As for a good glute exercise, I think its awesome - my butt is truely sore after a solid exercise bike workout. Oftentimes it is also numb, but I think this is because bike seats are made for people with no derrière and as I have said before, this is not me. Paying closer attention to how I feel after using the masterful machine I definitely feel it in my glutes, but to be honest mostly in my quads and hamstrings. Hopefully this doesn't disqualify it as a glute exercise.

I use the exercise bike, much the same way as I use the cross trainer - gradually ramp up the resistance until its pretty tough during the first half and bring it back down during the second half. I used to just (more slowly) ramp up the resistance during whole workout, and not worry about bringing it back down, until a wise physio told me how daft this was and that I should do my hardest work whilst I am warm but not exhausted.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

round round: glute 2/30

I'd like to introduce glute exercise 2, the cross trainer. TaDa!

The cross trainer and I have a love hate relationship but we seem to make it work on a regular basis and there is no denying the chemistry we have. Unlike walking, this exercise is a piece of equipment and thus requires more effort than just popping on my gear and hitting the streets. But in my current abode its actually very similar; I get out of the elevator on the ground floor and instead of turning right to hit the pavement, I turn left and hit the gym. My life is exceptionally difficult.

I do like that the cross trainer requires minimal concentration; I pretty much stand on it, get the pedals moving and try to maintain a consistent speed. I start at a doable resistance and increase it over the first half of my work out until I'm really feeling it in the legs and they really just want to quit. Then I bring it back down slowly over the final half of my workout. I have become somewhat anal about hitting a calorie count on the machine that is nice multiple of 5. I don't really care what the calories are, and seriously doubt they are accurate, but I like it to be a nice number to keep the ocd monsters at bay.

I sometimes really struggle to get on the cross trainer, especially if I've only just done a session the day before and my body wants some sunshine. But living in the northwest means rain is a part of life and I'm just not up for my usual 90mins walking in rain. And, to be honest, sometimes the only way I'll do my exercise that day is to bribe myself with some tv trash viewing, which is easy to do on the cross trainer. I used the cross trainer on day 2 of the challenge because I was short on time and I get more cardio in using the cross trainer than walking.

So, in terms in this glute challenge, the cross trainer does not give me the same muscle twitchiness that walking does. I do recall when I first started using the cross trainer seriously that my butt muscles hurt quite alot, to the point where sitting the day afterwards was uncomfortable. I've realised these two things constitute my ranking of exercise: does it make my muscles ping afterwards? And, does it make my muscles really hurt afterwards? Somehow, this seems like a pretty daft scale to measure exercise. And kinda mean to myself. I'm going to have to work on this.

Because I know it was worrying everyone, I have looked up my muscle pinging phenomenon and it is quite normal apparently. Thankfully I can give up the freakoid label I had given myself, phew, I feel like a dodged something pretty major there.

I'm a tortoise: glute 1/30...

Walking is guest glute exercise numero uno - you think thats a cop out? Mayhaps, but it fits my criteria of an everyday doable exercise.

I love the idea of an exercise you do basically anywhere - throw on your gear and off you go. Running is much the same, but I am a tortoise and runners are hares, I learnt this lesson long ago for Aesop himself and I'm embracing it; so walking it is for me.

Walking can give you as much or as little as you put into it. Do a quick search on google and you'll get loads of recommendations about how to get more bang for you buck when it comes to walking for fitness and toning.

I've mentioned that I walk most days. I have been rather remiss with this recently - Mr C has had some odd working hours and our usual routine would have had us walking in the wee hours, and thats just plain crazy people. We've been back in our usual routine for walking for a couple of days now. The first day coincided with the beginning of this awesome challenge so I paid a little more attention to my technique and how I felt afterwards.

So for technique; I have done research on this before and Jillian had a whole segment on her radio show about it a while ago. We all know Jillian knows how to do every exercise like a rockstar so I take her advice with much seriousness :)

Posture: starting top down, I try to stand straight up or slightly leaning forward, neck neutral and eyes looking about 3-4 meters ahead of me, keep my shoulders back and engage my abs.
Movement: I let my arms swing naturally, I never "pump" them like a speed demon, if I notice my fingers get that swelling feeling I walk with my arms stretched up over my head for a little while (Mr C loves this, because it makes us look like we are completely normal :) ). I try to keep my stride natural but longish, so I move my hips and legs through a good range, and at the moment before I lift my foot before another stride I try to have my corresponding glute engaged and present in the movement. I try to keep my feet facing forward or perhaps a little outward when they strike the ground.
Speed: I don't pay alot of attention to how fast I go, I try to get to that point where I find it difficult to hold a conversation without puffing a little bit between words. Somedays I seem to fly through the usual kilometers and others are a struggle. The time for my standard walk is pretty consistent day-to-day and has gone down steadily over the past couple of months.
Afterwards feeling: I have never discussed this before, but I can always tell if I've done a good workout by these odd little pings I get in my muscles. I notice when I pay more attention to my posture and movement during walking the pings in my glutes, quads and hamstrings are far more noticable. I have no idea what these pings are, but they are like tiny tiny muscle spasms or something, not unpleasant at all, its like a little sign from the muscles that they think they've done good. I might have to look these up and see if I am some kind of muscle pinging freakoid.

Personally I think walking is a great exercise for everything - it may well make a re-emergence as another glute exercise with some alterations.

On a totally different note: A massive shout to Skinny Latte who got married yesterday! Yay for  Mrs and Mr SkinnyLatte, much love and happiness is sent your way!