Monday, October 14, 2013

Back to the Grind - Sort Of

As I mentioned last week, I'm taking some time off from the gym. In that time, I've caught up on sleep and let go of some stress. I'm now a week into my gradual plan back into the gym, so I wanted to give you an update on how it's going.

Diet
My diet is still moderate carbs and decently high calories for my size. I'm having a difficult time getting all the meals in - I've been skipping one meal because I'm just not hungry. I'm listening to my body, and when I'm hungry, I eat. That comes out to 4 times a day. I'm hungrier in the morning and afternoon and not very hungry in the evenings. I find it a fascinating process to learn about how my body works and then to be able to listen to it. During prep, I have to push past my limits in order to achieve my goals; at this time, it's nice to be able to relax and not feel stressed about getting all my meals in.

This weekend, we hung out with some friends, and I was a bit upset I couldn't partake in the potluck. I kept thinking, "I wish I would've started my diet a week later!" But then I'd remember that it was my own choice and if I hadn't eaten whatever I wanted for 5 weeks, maybe I could've started a week later! In the end, I felt better sticking to my new plan (even though the cookies looked and smelled uh-maze-ing!).

I've dropped 4 lbs in the past week. We all know that it's just water, but regardless, I feel better. I know I'm making progress and hopefully soon my clothes will start to fit better. (That's the REAL test - how clothes fit!) I'd really like to lose 2-3 lbs this week. I know I've got at least 2 more lbs of water floating around in my body. Then hopefully the fat loss will really begin.

Cardio
Cardio has just been AM cardio. Lemme tell ya - it was weird NOT doing morning cardio at first, and now it's kinda weird making sure I get up earlier again in order to have time to walk. Since it's not too cold in the mornings yet (and Mr. Treadmill is dying), I've been walking outside. I love walking around the neighborhoods in our little town! I grew up in a house on a county road, not in a neighborhood, so I love that I have neighborhoods around me to explore! Yesterday morning, I found the World's Biggest Leaf!

Biggest Leaf I've Ever Seen!
What challenges do you face after taking a break from the gym? Do you feel you have to re-learn old habits? Is it comforting to you to follow a structured plan?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mr. Treadmill is Dying

I have some sad news to share ... the other special someone in my life, my other relationship, Mr. Treadmill, is very sick. He's been limping along for awhile, but this morning, I realized that his time is limited.

My Faithful Friend, Mr. Treadmill
Last year, he decided to get stuck at a very steep incline (much to J's utter dismay - he doesn't "do incline"). An equipment specialist - one of our friends at the gym - came out to take a look and fixed the issue. Since then, I'd been careful not to push Mr. Treadmill's incline so high. Apparently, even treadmills have limits as to how far they'll be pushed.

A couple months ago, right after my shows, Mr. Treadmill decided he'd had enough of inclines and he was going to remain flat for the remainder of his life span. The "Incline" button no longer works (in addition to the "Up" and the "3" buttons which only work periodically). I didn't realize how much easier cardio is on a flat surface!

This summer, my parents visited us and commented that Mr. Treadmill was a lot louder than when they visited last year. Because the motor had gradually been getting louder, I hadn't realized just how loud it was.

This morning, I was wishing I had ear plugs.

My friends, I think it's time I started looking at other options. I don't want to be unfaithful to my very faithful Mr. Treadmill, but I think our relationship is coming to a close as his life span is also coming to a close. He'll always be close to my heart. After all, I've spent so much quality time with him over the past 3 years, I feel we have a bond.

I don't need a top of the line model - just something durable. Our treadmill gets used a couple hours a day when J and I are both in prep, so unlike most home treadmills, ours will NOT be used as a clothing rack. Neither of us run (unless we're being chased), so we don't need any fancy programs. A cushioned tread and incline functionality are all that we ask for. Oh, and a built-in fan would be really nice (but not necessary)!

Do you have any recommendations for a decent home treadmill? Which brand(s) do you prefer?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

R & R

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I'm taking some time off from the gym. This isn't a new thing, as if you recall, I took some time off last year too. It seems like about this time of year, I just need a break. I usually compete in the Spring and early Summer, which means I start my diet near the beginning of the year. By October, I'm usually burned out and ready for some down time.

It's not that my metabolism is completely dead or I have zero energy; I simply need some time to kick start my metabolism and recharge my tired body. After my last show every year, I have grand intentions to reverse diet out of prep instead of taking the bumpy path back down the mountain that was prep. I'll be the first to admit that I've never been successful at it. Giving my body a break is a good approach to resetting and regrouping.

Training as a Job
I've been out of the gym for a couple weeks now. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but ... I don't miss it. It's not that I don't enjoy working out - I do. It's just that sometimes training gets to feel more like a J-O-B than F-U-N. It becomes something I have to do instead of something I want to do, especially when my training needs to be very specific in order to help me continue to climb the ranks of the NPC.

For the past 2 years, my training has been very specialized - focused on correcting muscle imbalances, improving symmetry, and maintaining a specific size. This means I train some muscle groups twice a week and other groups not at all, and I do plyos for half of my workout instead of straight weight training. Sometimes, I want to summon my inner toddler and scream, "But I don't wanna!" Yet, I know the reward is always totally worth it to me.

Some time away from the gym allows me to rediscover my focus, drive, and passion for training. It gives my body a much-needed break, and it makes my spirit happy.

So while I don't miss being away from the gym, I did discover that I missed just being plain old ACTIVE. I've been going for walks around my neighborhood, enjoying the scenery and the beautiful Fall weather. I didn't follow a structured schedule; mostly, I just went when I felt like it. Some days I felt like it, some days I didn't. And I was ok with that.

What is THAT on My Legs?!
What I wasn't ok with was the change in my body composition. We knew it would happen and I was prepared for it. But it's still kind of a shock to look in the mirror and see some cellulite on my legs, or to realize my arms are now jiggly. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not how I prefer to look or feel.

Easing Back In
J and I decided that it's now time for me to begin following a more structured routine. Yesterday, I started a clean meal program and some light cardio. My meal plan is moderate carbs and decently high calories for now. My body usually responds slowly when I have carbs in my diet, but by substituting the complex carbs for the sugary carbs (mmmm ... cookies and M&M's) I was eating before, my weight should slowly start to drop.

Cardio is just a walk in the mornings - no intervals or anything intense. I enjoy the comfort of indoor cardio, but I also enjoy doing cardio outdoors, so the past 2 mornings, I've bundled up and walked outside instead of indoors on our (slowly dying) treadmill. It's a wonderfully refreshing way to start the day!

Less Stress
This break came at a good time, as August and September were super busy for work. I was able to keep up with my projects at work and not stress about getting to the gym or waking up early to do cardio. I've also been able to catch up on a lot of sleep!

I'm glad I'm able to take some time off. I'm looking forward to getting back into the gym soon and making some good progress for next year!

Do you take time off? Do you enjoy it or do you feel restless? How long of a break do you usually take?