Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It's More Than a Regular Ton

You know what would make boot camp better for me?

Well, beer, obviously. But that isn’t what I mean.

What would make boot camp better for me would be for me to finally shed this layer of fat that is hiding all the incredible muscle I’m building. Today while I was doing triceps dips in class, I looked in the mirror and the position and tension at which I was holding my shoulders actually showed some lovely definition. Seeing that in my shoulders actually pushed me to do more dips than I was really comfortable doing in between resting; it made me want to push harder. I am building strong, lean muscles and they are going to look so awesome once they are not being hidden by the massive gelatinous layer of fat that obfuscates them right now. When I can really start to see them, watch out, boot camp; I will be inspired. I am going to be an unstoppable force.

I’ve been saying for the past several posts that I am going to start focusing on the nutrition. Well, I have started today. I am logging my food in a program that tracks calories and macronutrients (fat, fiber, protein, carbs). I’m going to try to eat a good balance, focusing on fiber and good fats (my bad cholesterol is a little elevated, so the doc wants me to try to fix it with diet), and keeping the simple carbs and bad fats to a minimum. I’m going to eat lean proteins and whole grains and green leafy vegetables. I am going to do this right. Am I going to do this perfectly? Hell no. I like food way too much. I’ll screw up. Occasionally I will eat cake. I am going to make an effort, though. That visible muscle definition is calling my name.

Oh, and class today was great. I haven’t weakened nearly as much as I expected after my sickness break. We did partner/station work, and I felt pretty strong. I had a great partner (please forgive me, I can’t remember her name! I feel terrible!). We pushed each other and she was super encouraging.

I am sore today in my legs, butt, back, shoulders, and arms. We did a shitton of push-ups today, so I’m thinking I’ll be sore tomorrow in my chest. I’m learning to embrace the pain, though. It’s beginning to feel wrong to not have at least some soreness. The soreness reminds me that it’s working.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Happy to Be Back!!!

It felt so good to be back at boot camp this morning!

I was surprised at how strong I felt after my long break; but I totally expect today’s strong, solid feeling workout to be followed by a rough day tomorrow. That seems to be how it goes for me; my body performs great right after a rest, but then realizes what it’s done, and suffers for a while to catch up. We’ll see if my prediction is correct in the morning.

You know what I hate? Running.

You know what I surprisingly don’t hate? Running in the rain. Apparently, I am a small child. This morning I didn’t expect us to do our running because of the rain, but we wound up running outside anyway, and it was fun. I had this weird feeling of “it’s raining, and I get to go outside anyway!” Somehow it felt like I was getting away with something, and I loved it. It must have something to do with never getting to play in the rain as a kid, because my Mom was convinced it would make me sick nigh unto death. And she probably didn’t want to have to clean up after muddy little footprints, either.

But today’s running felt good. We did a lap around the block, then went in the studio for a circuit, then did another lap around the block, then stayed in and did the circuit for the rest of the class. The lap around the block starts with a pretty daunting hill (it’s not Bernard hill, but it’s still a good one), and I had to take one short walk break on the hill on the first lap, and a few walk breaks on the hill on the second lap, but other than that, I ran at a nice pace (for me, anyway) the whole block. I even pushed myself for a little speed at the end of the second lap. It’s a small block; I’m guessing a quarter mile, maybe. But I was happy with how I felt at the end of each lap.

The circuit was tough, but it felt good. I felt strong, I felt like I was going at a good pace. I was getting really winded and worn down by the end of the second go-around, but then we were at the end, so it worked out perfectly.

Boot camp was really kickass this morning. It’s a good thing, too, because the rest of my morning pretty much sucked. I woke up at 1:30 AM, and couldn’t go back to sleep. After getting home from boot camp, I took the time to put together a well planned-out day of food, with breakfast, snack, lunch, and second snack, all healthy; then I walked out the door without it. I didn’t realize that I did not have it with me until I was pulling into the parking lot at work; 45 minutes after leaving my driveway (it’s normally a 15 minute drive). So yeah. Thank goodness for boot camp!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Let's Get (a) Physical

Today I went for my physical. They asked a lot of questions, got my vitals (temp and blood pressure), listened to my heart and lungs, took a little blood, poked, prodded, and most importantly, did an EKG.

A lot of my physical indicated that I’m doing great; temperature is normal, blood pressure was very good, goop in my lungs is normal for people with allergies this time of year, blah blah.

Doc: Do you want a steroid shot to help with your inflammation and congestion?

Me: No way! I’m not about to get on the juice, man!

Doc: It’s…no, it’s an anti-inflammatory steroid.

Me: Yeah, I’ll bet that’s what they told Barry Bonds…

Doc: No, anabolic steroids are totally different –


I actually declined the steroid shot because I’m clearing up pretty well on my own. I have taken anti-inflammatory steroids before and they are a freaking life saver. They even save you from things from other planets. You can read about it in my blog post about the time I had an alien monster flesh eating bacteria devouring the side of my head.

Back to the results of the physical.

The one thing that I expected to be normal that wasn’t normal was the EKG. I really didn’t like that the EKG wasn’t normal.

I fully expected to go in there and have the doctor tell me “You’re healthy as a horse! Keep up the hard exercise, your heart is like a machine!”

Instead he says “There are a couple of spots on this EKG that aren’t exactly as they should be. Let’s make an appointment to do a nuclear stress test. I’d also like to ask you some questions about your boot camp.”

So, he asked me about the crying episode, and he asked me about back pain (which I don’t have), and whether I ever feel sick to my stomach during the class.

Me: Well, duh. Yeah. It’s freaking boot camp. I feel sick every time. Sometimes I vomit.

Doc: That’s a common sign of heart issues in women.

Me: Oh, but everybody comes close to puking sometimes in there. It’s part of the program.

Doc: …

Me: I’ve never shit myself, though.

Doc: …

Me: One girl nearly shit herself one day. She doesn’t say shit though. She said she thought she was going to poop her pants. But she didn’t.

Doc: …

Me: Boot camp is fun.

So because I had the emotional episode (and it wasn’t anywhere near my “emotional” time [you know, Aunt Flo, red tide, menstrual cycle]), and I feel nauseous a lot during class, and I have a family history of heart disease, AND there were irregularities on my EKG, we’re doing a contrast dye test. This is where I am pumped full of radioactive material and hooked to odd looking machines and told to walk/jog on a treadmill until I am very close to dying, and they look at something through some kind of medical doohickey. That is the technical explanation.

In all seriousness, I know that this is not a terribly big deal. The doctor did not put any restrictions on my exercise (see you all Monday!); he didn’t put any restrictions on my diet; he didn’t seem terribly worried. Had I only had one or two of the items listed above, he probably would have said let’s wait a year and see if we need to do one at your next physical; but since I had all four, he figured better safe than sorry.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Well, I must apologize for the lack of blog posts this week. I have been rather ill; nothing serious, it’s just that I never really let myself get over the crud that I had, and then I went camping over the weekend. In the springtime. In the cold. In the rain. So yeah. Stupid.

I made it to boot camp on Monday, and it was a fantastic workout led by Amber, Candace, Debbie, and Jackie. They did a great job and pushed us hard to our limits. My thighs were sore before the day was over, and I usually don’t feel soreness until at least 24 hours after a workout. It was awesome.

Then on Tuesday morning I just couldn’t make it. I was very congested and felt really puny; I made it to work, but I just would not have survived a workout. Workouts like we do in START Fitness require one to be able to breathe. With breathing itself being such a challenge what with fighting all the phlegm for the air to get into my lungs, it just didn’t seem like a wise choice. I went through nearly an entire box of tissues on Tuesday.

I was hoping that I’d feel better by Wednesday, but no. On Wednesday I was worse. I was too weak to get up and brush my teeth Wednesday morning; so I didn’t even make it in to work on that day. I stayed home, slept, drank fluids, did saline irrigations on my nose, and tried to kill whatever microbe it is in my body that is making me feel so horrible.

So here we are at Thursday. I’m better, but not well. I made it to work, but not to boot camp. I’m still coughing and nose-blowing, but it seems to be improving. I think that over the weekend I will be able to recover completely. I plan to be back on track with four boot camp days a week plus at least one weekend workout by Monday. I also intend to do a few sets of push-ups and maybe some other strength exercises before bed every night between now and then, because I’m really afraid of how much progress I’ve potentially lost. It’s so unfair that it takes so long to build strength, and so little time to lose it.

Also, you may have noticed some design changes in the blog. I decided to spruce it up a bit. I added my mini-goals and rewards to the sidebar, and I’ll update it as I reach each one. I’m three pounds from my first one. I am going to really buckle down on my nutrition, and hopefully get the fat loss really going. We’ll see.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Still on an Upswing

It’s really amazing how I can go from one extreme to the other.

Today was another fantastic, butt-kicking boot camp. We did partner work today, and I got paired up with Darbi, who is one of the very fit Team Rio people. I have to say, being paired with Darbi pushed me hard, and I really feel like I got a great workout. It was really fun, too; she and I have both been with START fitness in Nashville from the first class, so we were familiar enough with each other to joke around and mess with each other a little bit.

I learned something very important today, too. When doing partner exercises where you control the level of difficulty for your partner, and you are finished with your set and in the “control” position, keep in mind that you may wind up doing a second set where they have the control again before trying to be funny and making it extra difficult for them. Payback can be a bitch…

I’ve been sore all week, but it’s been a very good, productive kind of sore. I know that I am really building muscle and starting to get strong. The next step is to really focus on my nutrition. I have not been paying attention to what I’m eating like I should, and that is what has stalled my weight loss. I’m going to make a point to get that on track, and we’ll see if that steps things up.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This is Why You Don't Quit


Just wow.

Before I say anything else, I want to say that “limping dogs” or “lame dogs” or whatever they called that godforsaken exercise we did this morning suck major ass. OUCH, Y’ALL.

I can’t even explain it here. It would hurt again just thinking about them.

On a different note, this morning’s boot camp was kick ass. Three brutal circuits, each led by a different instructor (congratulations to our three newly certified instructors, by the way: Jackie, Candace, and Debbie! HOOAH!). We broke out into three squads and did the circuits in rotation. It was a high cardio day with plenty of strength training/muscle burnout thrown in. I felt shredded from head to toe, and it felt great.

That’s right. Great. After the grueling, emotional, crazy day I had yesterday, I had a fantastic boot camp day today. It beat my ass to a pulp; it had me gasping for air; I’m going to be sore. But today I’m definitely back to loving it, and being glad I’m doing it. Rah-rah-sis-boom-bah.

And this is why it is so important to NEVER quit after a bad day. Yes, yesterday was a bad day. Yesterday was a very bad day. But those days come and then they go, and you are left with everything else. And everything else is awesome.

Many thanks to everyone yesterday who listened to me, comforted me, encouraged me, bought me frozen custard (love you, Ted), and reminded me that I’m not alone. I knew that I was going to be alright, and so did you. Thanks for helping me get there.

(Oh, and FYI, I’m going to the doctor for a physical and stress test next Friday [Apr. 22]. I’ll let you guys know if I find out anything of note.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sometimes, it Just isn’t Funny

Note: The beginning of this post was written at a time when I was experiencing great emotional distress. I could have waited until the episode had passed and written a normal, funny, this-is-so-hard-but-everything-is-peaches-and-cream blog post, but I am determined to be honest, real, and open here.

I also found out that unexplained overwhelming emotions and crying can be an early sign of heart attack in women. I think I’m fine; but I will be making an appointment for a physical just to be sure. My father was about my age when he had his first heart attack, so I will not be taking any chances. I have way too much left to accomplish to be checking out this early.

Distance runners have a phrase called “hitting the wall.” Physiologically, that occurs when your body has depleted all of its glycogen supplies and must find other energy sources within itself. Science has made this a much less frequent occurrence with the advent of quick-absorbing carbohydrate supplements that athletes can easily consume while racing.

Today, I hit a different kind of wall. I hit an emotional wall. This morning during boot camp, I snapped, and not in a funny way. If you normally read my blog for the humor and rah-rah-sis-boom-bah cheerleader encouragement, you may want to skip the rest of this one. Because today was bad. Today broke me.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure what happened. Yes, the workout was hard, and it hurt, but that is expected. At some point in the workout today, though, I looked at myself in the mirror, and I wanted to give up. All I could see was a big fat beast who has been pushing herself as hard as she can for two months and it’s not good enough. I’m still weak, I’m still fat, I still quit on myself before I’ve hit my true limits. I still can’t use a full range of motion for squats, lunges, or push-ups. Nothing is good enough. I feel like giving up on myself and I feel like everyone else should just give up on me too. I lost my composure at one point; Jessica (a.k.a. “Pink”) stepped over and pushed me through. With her standing there reminding me that I can do it, that I’m almost there, that we’ve got this, I made it through that set.

But then I really lost it.

I had to run to the bathroom and let it out. I cried for at least thirty seconds, hoping that the music was loud enough that no one could hear me (funny how I’ll write all about it here, but while it’s happening I desperately don’t want anyone to know). I regained my composure and ran back out to finish the workout. I finished, struggling the whole time to keep it reigned in. Once we were dismissed, I had to bolt out of there and jump into my car. I fought to hold it together while pulling out of the parking lot, but as soon as I was on the road and away from familiar faces, I began to wail. I don’t mean stress sobs or a few tears, I mean full, power weeping. I had no idea what was wrong with me; but I could not stop. I cried hard all the way home, and through most of my shower. I was barely able to stop long enough to put my makeup on. Once I got to work, I broke down two more times before I finally felt back to normal again.

Now that I’ve pulled myself together, it seems silly that I would get so upset. I have so many loved ones encouraging me and reminding me how proud they are of me; I have so many friends and acquaintances who tell me they think I’m crazy (in a good way) and they are amazed that I am doing this; I have my new, wonderful friends at START who push me, encourage me, and will not let me quit.

I still don’t know what happened today, but I will not let it make me quit. If I quit now, I’ll never, ever have any respect for myself again. This is too big; I have to stay with it. I’ve had several people ask me how long I intend to continue doing this. I honestly don’t have an answer for that. It hadn’t occurred to me to put an end date on this. Will I stop when I reach my weight goal? No. My weight goal has become a very small part of what I want to achieve. So when do I stop? Is there a perfect fitness level where you can slack off and go to maintenance? I don’t know; if there is, I’ve never been anywhere near it. I honestly think I should just keep doing this for as long as Sgt. Ken will have me in his class.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Back in the Swing of Things

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been since Tuesday that I have written a blog post.

I had to miss boot camp on both Wednesday and Thursday, because my cough and chest pain were just too much for me to deal with. Breathing was painful, so it wasn’t possible to make it through a workout such as we do at START. I hated to miss, but it was necessary. I had to get my lungs clear before I could go back.

I was able to make up one class on Sunday. Sgt. Ken’s wife, Stephanie, led a special session on Sunday with a video team present to get some promotional footage. Let me tell you, she did not cut us any slack to make it look easier for the video. It was one of the toughest circuits we’ve done so far. After we were finished, I thought “Wow, I hope I don’t ever have to do that circuit again!”

So, of course, guess what we did on Monday morning?

It was the same circuit. It was not any easier the second time. Honestly, it was crazy hard. I truly have no idea how I keep doing this. The pain is intense; the exhaustion is overwhelming; the exercises cause all kinds of havoc in my body, from making me sob to making me pee on myself a little; but I keep going back for more.

My shoulders, arms, back, butt, and legs are screaming today. I’m trying to remind myself that the worse the pain, the better the results. And the way my butt feels today, it had better look AWESOME by bathing suit season. Also, I expect to easily survive the zombie apocalypse. If I get caught and overtaken by a zombie, man am I going to be pissed.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

*Cough Cough HACK Cough Cough*

Tuesday morning. Day after the tornados in Nashville. Some touched down, there was some damage done in the area, but fortunately for me the only damage done to my property consisted of a broken gutter and a tipped-over basketball goal. Oh, and my windows were open so the inside of the house looked like my daughter had blown through there.

The tornado recap really has nothing to do with boot camp this morning, except that it gave me opportunity to mention that my windows had been open on Monday; this gave all the Tennessee springtime pollen ample opportunity to fill my home, and subsequently my lungs as I was sleeping. So I awoke this morning with a raw, burning chest, a neverending flow of snot running from my nose, and lungs filled with goo.

So what did I do? Well, it’s Tuesday – I went to boot camp. I’ve missed the last two Tuesdays, so I wasn’t about to let a little fire in my chest keep me from going today.

Tuesday is usually running day, but because of the swampy conditions after all the rain yesterday, we did accumulators inside instead. I was very happy that we were going to be inside; running outside might have killed me. Maybe not killed, but breathing in all the tree copulation byproduct while running would not have been a good thing. I was willing to try, but I’m glad I didn’t have to do it.

(As I write this, it occurs to me that those with weak constitutions should probably skip the next paragraph. Particularly if you don’t have a bathroom or a bucket handy.)

The workout got off to a fantastic start when about three minutes into the warm-up I had a small coughing fit, got gagged by my own mucus, and vomited into my tissue. It wasn’t a full-on vomit; just a little string of snot. Which of course gagged me more as it exited my throat. Fortunately I did make it to the bathroom before too much action ensued. It was lovely. I sure hope no one missed it.

Accumulators were very, very difficult in my gross, allergic condition, but I made it through. Sarah the running coach was there, and she kept trying to encourage me to breathe more deeply. I didn’t want to make excuses, but the honest truth was that I just didn’t have any room in my lungs to breathe deeply. I tried to focus on breathing as far down into my lungs as possible, really using my diaphragm, but it was a rough day. I went back and forth between feeling really strong and feeling like I wasn’t going to make it. Obviously, my cardio was weak; my biceps were also weak; triceps felt strong; abs felt strong (I actually surprised myself with some fantastic V-ups today); push-ups were mostly good (my butt goes up when I drop to my knees, but my push-ups from my toes are getting great); lower body felt great.

I struggled a lot today because there was a lot of cardio and that was a killer with respiratory irritation. I couldn’t give the verbal responses we were supposed to give; I couldn’t give the encouragement to my fellow recruits that I wanted to give because I had to take all the recovery time I could to try to replenish my oxygen supply. But I had a lot of strong moments today, too. It all works together to make me stronger. This is working.

Monday is Nature's Way of Saying Screw You

So, after a few weeks of workouts that had me feeling like I was actually getting into shape and turning into one of those people who enjoy exercising...

Monday happens.

Remember the choking sobs I would get with some of the strenuous exercises when I first started START Fitness? It had been three or four weeks since I had experienced that. I was feeling pretty good. Then on Monday I got them again.

Try this: do a really, really hard workout that combines muscle failure sets (real muscle failure sets; don’t phone it in) with cardio intervals. Then, about thirty minutes into it, get down into push up position, and lower yourself about halfway down; hold that for a count of about four, then lower yourself to an inch off the ground. Now use your arms to push your body side to side. See if you don’t sob after two of these. We did four or five, or eight, I don’t know; I can’t count while weeping.

Other than those, Monday felt pretty good. It wore my ass out; but I felt like I finished strong. The things I can do now that I couldn’t even begin to do when I first started are just amazing. Diamond-grip push ups and divebombers come to mind. I couldn’t even begin to do one of either of these before. Now I am able to perform a halfway decent diamond-grip push up (from my knees), and almost do an actual divebomber. Neither are perfect yet; but they sure are a lot closer.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Off-topic: Defending My Parenting Style

Today I took my 14 year old daughter to have her lip pierced.

I know that there are many people who will say, "How irresponsible! Why would she let her daughter do something like that? Do they think that's attractive?"

I will respond first by saying yes, I think it is very cute on her. If you don't like it, don't get one. We like it.

Second, here's how I would let my daughter do something like that. Julia is a brilliant, talented, creative, well-behaved, funny, mature teenager. She does not do drugs; she doesn't drink; she doesn't smoke; she does not engage in other risky behaviors; she makes good grades; she is well spoken, reasonable, and logical. She is what is commonly referred to as a good kid. I don't have to watch over her shoulder every second to be sure she is not getting into trouble. I consider myself a lucky parent.

The lip piercing is a style choice. She wanted some facial jewelry, and this is the one she chose. It is not illegal, dangerous, dirty, or scandalous. It's a piece of metal on her face. Not such a big deal. It's not even permanent; it will grow in if she removes the jewelry.

So I don't see what the big deal is. I know that I'm going to catch a lot of shit from people, especially people from my hometown. But you know what? I don't care. She is not your kid. She's probably a lot better behaved than your kid. I'm proud of her, and I like letting her express herself. So stick that in your juice box and suck on it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Not Sick Anymore! And Seven Weeks

Sorry I’m late with Thursday’s post; I went to lunch with coworkers so couldn’t write at lunchtime, and Thursday night is trivia, beer, and wings night at Wow Wingery (yes, I know; not the best nutrition choice, but it’s our once a week family outing), so there wasn’t a lot of writing and posting time.

But START boot camp on Thursday was AWESOME AS HECK.

(I wanted to use a stronger word than heck there. One that started with F. But I think I’m probably swearing too much for my audience, so I’m trying to back off. That isn’t to say the swearing will go away, but I’ll try to curb it and only use strong words if something is particularly emotional or if it would be really, really funny.)

I did go to the boot camp class at the gym with Ted on Wednesday night since I was feeling better and I had missed START on Wednesday morning. It was a good workout; the kind where you basically get as much as you give, so if you’re motivated to get a good workout, you will. I felt like I got quite a bit out of it.

Of course, I’m a bit biased toward START. There is just so much that I love about it. The camaraderie I’ve formed with all the “charter” Nashville members; the motivation of being led by people as awesome as Sgt. Ken, Amber, Candace, Debbie, and Jackie; the crazy energy in the studio; the encouragement we all give each other; I honestly can’t say enough good things about it. Words don’t do it justice.

So anyway, Thursday was probably my favorite day so far. Maybe it was because it felt so good to just not be sick anymore, or maybe it was because we did partner-assisted exercises and my partner, Sarah, was so great and so much fun to work with. Maybe it was because we did a lot of exercises we had done before, and I could see and feel so much improvement in myself from the last time. I don’t know; but it was a blast. Yes, it was a hard, grueling workout. Yes, many of the exercises hurt. Yes, it was exhausting. Yes, I am very very sore all over today. But somehow it was fun. And tonight I’m going to try to go to the gym to do a spin routine for about an hour, just because I want to.

Am I turning into one of those people who likes to work out? Dude. That’s weird.

One other quick subject before I sign off for this post. Thursday completed my seventh week of START Fitness. In those seven weeks, I have missed a total of four classes, which means I have done a total of 24 START boot camp sessions. That’s 24 times I’ve gotten out of bed at 4:30. 24 times I’ve driven into the city before most people’s morning alarm goes off and done an hour-long workout that is painful and draining. 24 times I have attempted to push my body to its absolute limits.

It’s also 24 times I’ve dedicated an hour to improving my health. 24 times I have built new muscle tissue. 24 times I have learned something new about what my body is capable of. 24 times I’ve had the opportunity to spend an hour with many incredible, fascinating, inspiring people.

Several weeks ago, I asked the question, “Is it worth it?”

The answer is yes.