Body for Life, the Universe, and Everything

Being a description of the author's thoughts on the experience of participating in the "Body for Life" Challenge, questions of great philosophical import, and randomly selected topics of no significance whatsoever

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Location: Missouri, United States

In no particular order, I'm a professional lettering artist, a yoga practitioner, a cat lover, a vegetarian, a reader of everything from books to cereal boxes, married to a very attractive guy named Tom (nope, no kids), an exercise enthusiast, and a lot of other things I don't care to admit in a public forum. I have a BS in applied math that I haven't used in over 10 years, and I can put both feet behind my head. What else would you like to know?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Starting Over

It's time for a fresh start. Life got pretty intense for a while after my last post, and blogging just didn't seem that important relative to all of it. (Rather than go through everything that happened, I will just mention things as they come up in the course of discussion.) Now things have settled down a bit, so I am going to try the approach of posting more frequently, although more briefly.

We finished the BFL Challenge 1, and then a couple of weeks later started Challenge 2, but kept getting more and more spotty about following the regime, so we didn't even take pictures at the end of Challenge 2. Yesterday I weighed myself and took measurements, for the first time in maybe a month, and was unpleasantly surprised. I have definitely lost ground. Not fatally so, but I am not happy about my condition.

The lesson for the day is--wear stuff without an elastic waistband fairly often if you are serious about staying in good shape. The reason I didn't have anything without an elastic waist is sort of a long story. My favorite source for clothes (Lands' End) changed something about their sizing for pants, and I spent several months this past winter trying (unsuccessfully) to find the right size for me--I think I tried 5 different sizes/fit styles. I didn't know they had changed their sizing, and their size 6 pants used to fit me perfectly, so I thought it was me that had changed. I do still have an old pair of jeans from LE that still fits, but it so disreputable after years of hard use that I don't wear it except for really messy projects--in other words, not very often. I didn't know I wasn't the only one with problems with the new sizing until I got a LE catalog a month or so ago announcing that they had totally revamped the sizing of their women's pants... because so many people had complained about the exact same problems that I was having. I am ready to see if they have some pants that fit me again! It has been kind of a pain, only having 2 pairs of pants that fit, and only because they have elastic waists, and having nothing to wear that is in between dresses and sweatpants!

Well, to get back on topic--I decided to start my 3rd Challenge yesterday. Stop eating ice cream every day, start working out 6 days a week again. I started with an upper-body weight workout, as scheduled for Day 1 of a BFL Challenge, and found out that I had lost a bit of ground with how much weight I can lift for a given intensity level. I wasn't pleased about that; however, I wasn't surprised either, and I know how fast I improved when I first started weightlifting, so I know I can gain it back fairly quickly. Of course, my performance in my weight workout might have been detrimentally affected by the fact that I was in a hurry and decided to cut my rest times between sets from 50 seconds to 30. I have found in the past that cutting rest times really does make a noticeable difference, so I wouldn't be surprised if that had an effect.

Then today I had my annual medical checkup, and I made it a point to talk to my doctor about my heart rate. You see, when I do my 20-minute aerobic workout, as per BFL instructions, I take my pulse rate immediately after each of the 4 intervals, and it usually registers somewhere between 180 and 200 beats per minute. (This is taking it manually, not with some monitor, because the monitor on our stationary bike doesn't register about half the time when my heart beats, so its reading bears no relationship to my actual heart rate much of the time. [I don't know why it won't register properly for me; it seems to be fine with Tom.]) According to conventional exercise wisdom, the target zone for my heart rate for an aerobic workout is 109-145 beats per minute. HA!! I get to 145 beats per minute just by walking a bit fast! (My resting heart rate is around 60, so that's not the issue.) My doctor is a woman who I think is in her 40s, and very active--Tom chatted with her when they were both doing the MS 150 (a charity-benefit bike ride of 150 miles in two days) a month ago! She said she had the same heart-rate situation that I have been having, and although the high heart rate won't hurt me (I don't know if that would be true for everyone), it probably means I have gone into the anaerobic zone, which is counterproductive if you are trying to have an aerobic workout. So she recommended that I work a bit less hard and shoot for about 160-170 bpm to get the maximum benefit, even though it seems counter-intuitive that working a bit less intensively will give better results. So I started doing that with today's workout--I backed off a bit, took the resistance levels on the bike down by one notch from what I had been using, and didn't go quite as hard. (Apparently I didn't back it off enough--my heart rates today after the four intervals were 176, 176, 180, and 200! Although according to the bike readouts, I burned about 1/3 fewer calories than usual...sigh. I guess I will have to back it off a bit more.) I probably won't know for a while if that is helping or not, so I am just planning to assume that it will until I have information to the contrary.

My doctor also told me, when I talked with her about BFL, that just about all the people in those before-and-after pictures in the books have taken some kind of steroid or similar product. I don't know if she is correct; it does add a bit of emphasis to my decision not to take any supplements. It also makes me worry a bit about Tom, because although to my knowledge nothing he is taking is a steroid, and I don't think he would knowingly take one, I am not convinced that everything he is taking is safe.

Now if I could just get my eating habits whipped into shape, we'd be in business. I read recently in Skwigg's blog (see the links in the sidebar to get to it and read it yourself) that your diet is about 85% of your results in BFL, so I think I really need to get this under control--maybe it's why I have had such disappointing results in the fat-loss area (although I have been happy about all my new muscle!). The problem is not so much what I eat--as soon as I decided to get back on track yesterday, the ice-cream fixation I've had for the last month just seemed to drop away--it's how often I eat. I just seem to have so much trouble eating 6 times a day--3 meals a day is the best I've managed consistently. I need to figure out how to change that. I think a big key would be having things ready in advance that take very little time to prepare. I am pretty sure that if I had the proper meals served to me 6 times a day, I would eat them and therefore be right on target with my diet, so now I need to figure out how to do that on my own.