Friday, January 21, 2011

Workout Challenge - Week Three

This week was a reminder that diet and sleep are a HUGE part of the success we see and feel from working out. I ate Five Guys for the first time ever two days ago, and I am STILL recovering from it. I had a small, plain burger and only ate one french fry, but MAN! I couldn't work out on Wednesday after I ate it, because my body was struggling to digest the food and all I wanted to do was nap. My workout yesterday was a real struggle because I was still playing catch-up with the proper fuel I needed to get a good workout. My workout today was even a little on the hard side, and today is the day I modify on my HIIT workout to take it easy on my knees. But, also, there were 4 days this week where I went to sleep close to midnight and got up before 7am. Lack of sleep coupled with 1-2 not-so-great meals threw off my entire week. I am still happy that I was able to do my full week of working out, and I just want to remind everyone that diet really is 80% of your weight-loss/toning program. It's okay to have a slip-day every now and then, but if you do it on a regular basis, you will feel sick, sluggish, moody, bloated, and well, basically, worthless.

Here's to eating healthy and getting enough sleep!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Workout Challenge - Week 2

I don't like Izumi Tabata. He is NOT my friend. He might have gotten the HIIT formula right, but he is still a total butthead in my book. In case you haven't figured it out yet, HIIT was brutal this week. But daily life made up for the brutality. There were a couple of humorous incidents this week that interrupted my workouts.

The first has to do with noise threshold and our home alarm system. As it now appears, the glass-break sensor on our alarm system interprets cymbal crashing as glass breaking. I learned this in the middle of a full sprint on the treadmill while the Cranberries were playing at an unusually loud volume. The alarm scared the crap out of me! I almost fell off of the treadmill while it was going at a pace of 8.5mph. Something tells me there would have been injury to me and damage to the wall behind me had I not caught myself and jumped off. The best part was when I had to answer a call from the alarm monitoring company and give them our verbal password (my sister and husband would appreciate the humor behind the story of the verbal password).

The second was a life lesson I guess Sam (our dog) just haaaaaad to learn. He came in and was curiously sniffing around during another HIIT treadmill workout, and decided to put his paw on the belt to steady himself so he could sniff the moving parts. I'm surprised he doesn't have tread burn now, but it's fun to watch him bark at the moving belt in stress and self-preservation now.

I am proud of myself for making it through all of my workouts this week. I hope it pays off!

On a side note, I made a healthy chili this week that is really delicious, and I wanted to share the recipe, so here it goes!

1 lb lean ground turkey, browned and seasoned with garlic salt and chili powder (brown it in a large pot, the same pot you will use to boil/simmer the chili)
2 cans pinto beans or 1 lb. bag dried pinto beans, soaked and cooked
1 can of corn, or 2 cups frozen corn or fresh corn
.75 cup of fresh diced onion
1 large can of garlic and herb spaghetti sauce (yes, spaghetti sauce) or diced tomatoes of your choosing
garlic powder, chili powder, and cumin for taste

Mix these all together and let them simmer on the stove top for 30 minutes to an hour, until it is thick. This is the mild version for families with small kids. If you want a mild spice, add a cut poblano pepper. If you want a hotter spice, add a jalapeno or habanero (good luck!).

I served it over rice (brown or white both work very well) and it was officially added to our "good leftovers" list.

Here's to week 2!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Exercise Challenge - Week One

Hello Everyone!

So this is not particularly "new", but I just started a workout program that I am really enjoying. It is my 2nd program (my first was 7 weeks long, and it ended last week). I just want to give a little background to everyone, that way if someone else wants to try this program, they can start at the beginning.

The first program was as follows:

Monday: upper body (bis, tris, shoulders, chest, etc.) 40-45 mins.
* I started off with 4 sets of 10 reps, then increased to 6 sets of 10 reps. I started off with 5 lb. dumbbells for the first 3 weeks, then used 10 lb. dumbbells for the remaining 4 weeks. Look up a beginner upper body workout to fit to your liking, but please make sure to include all muscles!

Tuesday: HIIT (treadmill, max out at 8 mph right now) 35 mins.

Wednesday: middle/core (abs and back) 40-45 mins.
* I started off with 4 sets of 10 reps the first 2 weeks, increased to 6 sets of 10 reps the next 2 weeks, then did 8 sets of 10 reps for the remaining 3 weeks. I did side plank crunches (those are AWESOME), crunches with weights, reverse crunches with weights or resistance bands, kneeling superman with resistance bands, alternating bicycle crunches, reverse crunches (for lower back strength), and a 1 minute plank between each exercise. TAKE YOUR TIME IF YOU DO THIS.

Thursday: HIIT (treadmill) 35 mins.

Friday: lower body (legs and glutes) 40-45 mins.
* I started off with 4 sets of 10 reps for the first 3 weeks, then increased to 6 sets of 10 reps for the remaining 4 weeks. I did lunges with weights (first 5 lb. dumbbells then 10 lb. dumbbells), squats with weights (same increase), woodchops, standing leg lifts with resistance band, seated leg press, glute press on a ball, and 1 minute wall sits between each exercise.

Saturday: HIIT (treadmill) 35 mins. (I skipped 2 Saturdays because of the holidays)

That is program number one.

My diet during this program consisted of daily protein shakes (whey protein), tuna, lean chicken, lots of apples and bananas, lots of raw nuts and seeds, brown rice, and of course, holiday food. :-) Yes, I still ate sushi. Mmmmmmmm.

My progress was losing 2 inches off of my natural waste, 1.5 inches off of my drop waste, and .5 inch off of each thigh. I also had noticeable increases in my muscle definition in my arms, abs, and legs.

THIS is my second program, week one:

Monday: Upper and HIIT
Pyramid and reverse pyramid weight increase. This is simply an increase in weight while decreasing reps per set, and then reversing it. So for me I did 20 reps of resistance band, 15 reps with 5 lb. dumbbells, 10 reps with 10 lb. dumbbells, 15 reps with 5 lb. dumbbells, and 20 reps with resistance bands for EACH EXERCISE listed below:

1. Chest press
2. Chest fly
3. One-armed row (do the pyramid on BOTH SIDES)
4. Pullover on ball (this was HARD)
5. Bent-arm lateral raise (standing or seated, doesn't matter)
6. Alternating overhead press (again, standing or seated, I prefer standing
7. Bicep curls
8. Tricep extensions

HIIT consisted of the following:
8 cycles of 20 seconds intense cardio with 10 seconds of rest in between, totalling about 4 minutes per exercise. There are 5 exercises:

1. High knees with jump rope (or without, just make sure you work hard)
2. Burpees (these are KILLER!)
3. Jump lunges
4. 1 big jump forward into a squat and 2 small jumps back
5. lunge ball-change

* this HIIT workout can be found in the archives of

HIIT on treadmill (40 minutes at 7.5 for high and 3.5 for low, music helps!)

Core workout consisting of 6 sets of 10 reps of the following:

1. Ball pass (feet to hands lying down)
2. Ball plank with leg lift (do a plank, but put your feet on the ball for balance, then slowly lift one leg, put it down, and lift the other, put it down. Do this for 6 sets. It. Is. Hard.)
3. Glute lift on ball
4. Roll-ups with ball (this is a pilates move, so do it slowly and controlled for optimum results)
5. Plank press ups on ball (do a plank, but position your elbows on the ball to support your weight, then drop to your knees, and lift up to a plank again. Do this for 6 sets)
6. Side plank crunch
7. Reverse crunch for lower back (on ball or on floor)
8. Dead lifts (my back still hurts from these, ouch)
9. Horizontal woodchops

HIIT workout from Monday (20 mins, 8 cycles of 20 seconds and 10 seconds of rest in between)

REST DAY. You are going to need it. If you must workout, do some low impact cardio (walking, slow jog, swim, low-impact step, etc.)

I am starting with 4 sets of 10 reps of each of the following:

1. Box jumps (OUCH, but also WOOHOO!)
2. Squats with 10 lb. dumbbell in each hand
3. Lunges with 10 lb. dumbbell in each hand
4. Calf raises with 10 lb. dumbbell in each hand
5. Standing leg raise with resistance bands
6. Glute lift on ball (yes, I did this on Wednesday as well)
7. Hydrant lift (I always hated Billy Blanks for making this popular, and I still do)
8. Diagonal woodchops (you know, the original)
9. Seated leg press (I use a 10 lb. weight on each leg, secure onto my foot, and lift from a bent position. Do 4 sets of 10 on each side)
10. Lying inner-leg lift (a pilates move, you can do it with our without resistance bands)
I do a 1 minute long wall sit between the first 5 to 6 exercises, then drop it out of the rest of the routine.

HIIT from Monday and Wednesday, but instead of jump lunges I replace it with alternating high knees and jumping jacks since my legs are weak from my lower body routine. If you have a bad knee/bad knees, you should modify on this day as well for your own safety.

HIIT on the treadmill for 30-40 minutes (high 7.5 and low 3.5)

REST DAY. You are going to need it. Trust me.

My diet during this program is going to be similar to my diet during the first program, sans the holiday food. But I am still keeping the sushi! Mmmmmm. :-)

So tomorrow is the last day of week one for me, but I consider week one done, as the hardest parts of it are all over. I am sore, achy, and I have whined like a baby a few times, but I am really enjoying it so far.