Jul 182016
 

I find it interesting how predictable the gym is. The weather gets bad, the gym gets crowded. Summer and nice weather, people are on vacations or doing their fitness outside. Hood to Coast comes and the treadmills are empty. Most holidays–empty. It’s nice that it’s pretty predictable.

I recently noticed that my gym is insanely packed on Mondays. Like it’s full. The parking garage and parking lot has been 100% full–which I’ve only seen on Thanksgiving morning when everyone and their brother is trying to counter-act the day’s eating.

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And it’s not like I was getting to the gym super late on Mondays; I was getting there just before 5 and it was still packed. What was going on? I started to think it was everyone trying to “fix” their weekend indulgences. Then a twitter friend said that Mondays have always been packed at her gym because everyone is trying to start their week off right. That makes sense. And it’s a slightly more positive twist on it.

But as the week goes on, the gym thins out. That’s why Friday nights have always been my favorite gym night of the week. When I started getting fit and losing weight I swam on Friday nights at the nearby community pool because it was usually pretty empty. Instead of fighting over a spot in a lane, or competing with the swim team, swim lessons and water aerobics, I was able to get my swim in and actually enjoy it.

That habit continued over the years. In some ways I kind of disliked working out on Friday nights. The work week would wind down and I’d be itching to get out of office, get my workout in and then start my weekend off right! So even though I disliked having to wait a few extra hours to start my weekend, it was really nice having the gym/pool mostly to myself.

I’d get home after my workout and finally be able to breathe a sigh of relief. WEEKEND! Yay! Michael and I would open a bottle of wine, relax and have a movie night with some pizza.

Since I’ve been back to work part-time I’ve switched my gym schedule. Now Wednesdays and Fridays are my rest days. I just didn’t want to go to the gym or pool after work after being away from the baby so long. And so I get home from work earlier and it’s kinda nice to get to enjoy my Friday nights and relax.

I’m not sure yet what my workout schedule will look like in the future. But right now I swim on Sunday mornings, walk or go to the gym on Mondays and Tuesdays nights, go to the gym on Thursday nights and then gym Saturday morning. (Back in the day I’d get to sleep in on Saturdays and Sundays… a really really really nice, long sleeping in session…I barely remember those days!)

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My goal is to be more efficient when I am in the gym–especially when it’s crowded. The Monday thing is kind of annoying. So when I get there and it’s really crowded, instead of being frustrated I try to be flexible. If what I intended to do isn’t available, I usually have an idea of other things I can do. It’s good to have options–and look at this as an opportunity to switch up the fitness routine–or try a class you’ve never done before. It’s really easy to get into a rut and do the same thing every time you go. You have favorite machines and activities and before you know it, you’re working out the exact same each time and that’s not going to get you anywhere.

So this past Monday when it was packed and there wasn’t a lot of places to work out how I wanted, I switched things up. I did my stretches, ab work and PT exercises first and then did some free weights instead of using the weight machines I wanted to use. And by the time I was done with that, the cardio machine I wanted to use was available. I still got a good workout in, even if it wasn’t what I intended to use.

I’m sure at some point when I’m back to work full time I’ll go back to my old schedule and hit the gym on Fridays. Calm, quiet, relaxing Fridays. A little swim, then home for movie night!

What does your gym schedule look like? Any favorite (or hated) days of the week?

May 232016
 

My Weight Loss Story – Part 1

by Michael

 

Every year, I set personal fitness related goals for myself. In the past, my goals have been around cycling a certain amount of miles. I have a back injury that rears its ugly head from time to time and this has lead me to conclude that if I keep doing the same things, I’ll keep getting the same results. As a result, I’ve decided not to ride my bike everyday or do any of the same exercises on consecutive days.

Last year, I pedaled 2,100 miles over several commutes from my home to work and back. For all of my efforts, I lost zero pounds last year. Losing weight wasn’t the focus of riding all those miles but you’d think that I’d be able to shed weight without thinking about it due to the biking but that just wasn’t the case. I concluded that while I enjoyed exercising, the reason I hadn’t lost any weight was because of my diet.

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My goals this year are to be able to do 100 push-ups in one set and do 10 pull-ups in one set. When I say things like, “I’m going to do more push-ups this year” it holds no water because there’s nothing holding me accountable. I need an amount and a time frame in order to be successful. At the start of this year, I was able to do 15 push-ups and zero pull-ups. My goals seemed lofty for sure but I’m a numbers guy and measurables like this are what drive me to success. I just needed to figure out how I was going to be able to accomplish it.

My first goal was to work my way up to being able to do 100 push-ups in a day. On the day of the Super Bowl, I was able to do 100 push-ups in a single day for the first time in my life. I did them in 5 sets of 20 over about a half hour period. This was a major achievement for me and it was the first time I believed that I would be able to accomplish the push-up goal this year.

Then I was able to do them in 4 sets of 25 push-ups. Shortly after that, 30, 30, 30, 10. Last month, I was able to do them in just 3 sets – 35, 35, 30. The next step from this point is challenging and I’ve concluded that in order to be able to do 100 push-ups in just 2 sets, I will need to do 2 things. 1 – I will have to do more than 100 push-ups in a day and 2 – I will have to lose weight. For every 10 lbs I lose, that’s 1000 fewer pounds that I will have to push-up over the set of 100. Tipping the power to weight ratio in my favor was obviously going to be necessary in order to be successful.

Just like I said earlier about exercising, I need a weight loss goal. I cannot just say to myself that I want to lose weight and have it stick. I just don’t operate like that. At the start of every month, I assess my progress and set a new monthly goal for myself and I get on a scale weekly to monitor my progress. I don’t know how much weight in total I want to lose, I just assume that I’ll know it when I get there. I know that I’m looking for an optimal power-to-weight ratio that allows me to accomplish my push-up and pull-up goals.

What I don’t do is count my calories. I don’t do this because it constantly makes me feel bad. It makes me feel oppressed, like I’m doing something bad that needs constant monitoring when in reality, I’m eating food and I don’t want to beat myself up for doing that. I know what’s good for me to eat and what isn’t. I don’t need to quantify all of the calories I’m consuming.

The other piece to this is that I exercise. A lot. But this isn’t the reason why I’ve lost weight. I’ve lost weight because of the diet. My exercise looks like this – M/W/F, I bike about 21 miles to/from work. T/Th/Sa, I run in my neighborhood. I created a running goal for myself this year of being able to run 6 miles in under an hour. I’m currently up to 4.7 miles in about 45 minutes. All of this is in addition to my push-up and pull-up goals, which I’m working on each twice a week. I wear a heart rate monitor to track this data and on average, I’m burning 6000 calories a week while exercising. Unlike tracking the calories that I consume, tracking the calories that I burn is empowering. It’s proof that I’m working hard and that I’m getting better as I’m able to run further and my per-mile pace drops. This also allows me to not feel any guilt when I want to drink a glass of wine with dinner because I’ve earned it.

So where am I at now with my push-up goal? I’m up to doing 160 (8 x 20) or 150 (6 x 25) twice a week. For the pull-up goal, I’m just doing as many as I can with the assistance of resistance bands over a few sets. The best part about these goals is that I’m not concerned about failure at all. If I do fail, I will have done thousands of push-ups and pull-ups this year and that itself is a huge personal victory for me. I’ll post an update in January and will let you know if I was successful or not in achieving my goals.

Part 2 will be posted tomorrow and will detail the food part of how I lost the weight.