Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Abs Issue

Holding steady at 124 lbs. I weighed myself this morning for the first time in a long time. I have felt so good lately that I haven't really cared what my weight is. I am loving my morning workouts.

I have said before I think I have reverse body dysmorphic dysfunction (I think I look way better than my weight suggests). Since I love my morning workouts so much, I also have the reverse problem that most people have. I wake up before my alarm (5:00 am) excited to workout. The snooze button never gets used. I am still just keeping my cardio intervals under 30 minutes for the most part, but the leisurely pace and time to actually stretch and listen to the radio is addicting. By Fridays, my body is usually ready for a rest day but my mind is not. I got up this Friday just to spin my wheels on the bike and read a magazine. I am so thankful for this time, and still my workouts are 'me time' driven and not 'lose weight' driven.

Despite my writing in 2 online journals and explaining till I am blue in the face that what I am doing is not time consuming, just CONSISTENT. People still do not believe my methods. I don't care, but it saddens me that people think there still has to be over obsessed, deprived, extreme way of doing things in order to lose weight. I guess because if they believed it was this 'easy', they would have to face facts that they could do it too.

It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination. 20 minutes a day may be easy for some, but with a newborn and 3 year old this was so challenging. Yet, I stayed consistent. Every day. 20 minutes. I may not have showered, I may not have made dinners, I may not have grocery shopped but I got my 20 minutes a day and am thankful for it.

That is all I can attribute to my weight loss. Consistency. What I can attribute to my abs-well, I had to be patient and see if this really worked before I wrote all this, but I think I can now.

By no means is this an ideal stomach for most. By no means is there a 6 pack there. For the record this was after a day I had cookies as snacks and McDonalds for meals. By no means is this the end result. But considering my stomach was 47 inches around and I weighed 181 lbs on the day I came home from the hospital 7 months ago, I'll take it.

I am going to post my postpartum ab routine only because I want to dispel this myth that more crunches is the answer. And the myth that the only way to a flat stomach postpartum is to have 'hernia' surgery. (now the skin...well, that's another story). What isn't a myth is that abs are made in the kitchen 90% of how your abs look is attributed to diet. Which I why I don't have a 6 pack, but I don't know if I ever want to give up my homemade ice cream on the porch with my kid in order to have one.

this is what I did:
1-2 weeks postpartum: laid on my side trying to pull my belly in. Simple as that yet my mind wouldn't make the connection. This took a long time to get.

3-4 weeks: Once I could do it sidelying. I tried it on my back, even harder. I would use a towel to squeeze my abs together as I did this. Began to ad kegals (they were too painful prior to this.)

Neuromuscular retraining of the deep abdominal muscles on back. Began to add dynamic movement while maintaining that deep ab contraction. I would do this while lying in bed, any time I would think about it.

Began activating them while driving.

2-4 months: could not really lift my head while performing exercises because I was still so weak it hurt my neck, so began to add arms to the dynamic activity, bridging (all with head down on the ground).

4-5 months: Began adding some mini-crunches, lifting the head, rope climb, but still not able to come far up off the ground.

Kept abs contracted during all weight lifting.
Planks on knees then transition to feet.
Holding plank position and adding dynamic activity of upper and lower body.
Knee grabs.

6 months: Added resistance-

Weighted cable rotations
Using a weight to do overhead lat stretch with a mini crunch
Weighted oblique rotations
Progressed to dead bug on a bosu
A couple crunches here and there, usually with a medicine ball
Plank, push up, on elbows, then up

7 months:
Crunches are still last on the list if they make the list at all.
Reverse crunch
Use glider disks for plank/pike

This isn't descriptive, it doesn't have pictures demonstrating these things like a good blog should, it doesn't encompass every exercise. But what I hope it shows is that a million crunches are not, and not even suggested after a trauma such as pregnancy. The progression of doing things correctly and simply is more important that just doing an ab routine that you read in a magazine.

Laying on my side, that's where it all began.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Good Morning Mornings

I have begun waking in the mornings to workout. Finally all the stars aligned and it's possible for me to return to my favorite way to start the day. Wake up at 5, get some email time in, head to the gym while listening to morning radio and get my sweat on before the sun comes up. I come back ready to face the day and stay 5 minutes ahead of the "Mommy's!" and the "I needs".

I didn't do it today, because I had planned to work out with my trainer at 11:30. Lesson learned. Add sleeping in with a sick nanny and I felt like I was one step behind all day. Turned out to be a good day despite this but my mind was still in a cloud. Some fresh made chocolate chip cookies (a project for my son and I while baby took her morning nap) comprised my preworkout snack.

Although I only had 45 minutes because I had to feed a baby in the gym nursery before my trainer, I still had a great workout. Motivated and strong. I think it helped that I finally was working out with someone who lifted a little lighter than me. I felt strong and fit and worthy to be working out in the weight room. Maybe next time I'll even start wearing my weight lifting gloves.

After missing today, I am more excited than ever to return to my mornings. I learned my lesson and am thrilled to return to a routine that I have missed for over a year.

* I am also thinking it's time for the abs post. I had to wait and make sure that what I was doing would really work. I'll take pictures and lay out the routine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I'm There

I thought I was, I tried to tell myself I was, but I wasn't.

In this progression the key to changing bad habits or 'failing' or 'falling off the wagon' is to never force yourself into doing something before you are mentally ready. I never have seen someone go from Quarter Pounder to Low Sodium Lean Meats cold turkey and have it stick.

I do and always will believe that the key to maintainable weight loss is moderation. This is such a hard concept to physically follow. By approaching weight loss in the manner that I do after such a huge gain, I feel like I can finally achieve this in my life.

The recap can be seen in my STAGES page specifically, but big picture:

* Begin eating 1/2 portion sizes of your normal meals.
*Cut soda from 3/day to 1/day. (real soda, stay away from diet)
*50% of the time when eating out chose grilled chicken salad with cheese and dressing.
*Begin eating at home more.
*Begin replacing chips with nuts and fruits.
*At home, start decreasing the amounts of oils, fats and salt you use.
*75% of the time when eating out chose lean meats, carb and veggies.
*Begin to cut out the processed foods.
*90% of time when eating out make smart choices, pass up on cake and dessert.
*Continue to treat yourself to things that are really worth it and you can't get everyday.
*Weigh your food (not measure). Begin to learn about portion sizes. Really learn, you will be shocked at how little food is actually a portion.
*Take the dressing and cheese off your grilled chicken salad.
*Pass up on hot dogs, burgers and cake if you don't really really don't want them. Eat them when you do. But think twice before you make that decision.

And here is where I am now....
I did begin to weigh some food on a food scale. Measuring is not accurate at all but I do use this method for some items for ease and because I really don't care that much right now. I did not do this in order to count calories and have a set number I wanted to achieve in a day. I still have an infant and 3 year old in the house, who has time?

I did it in order to readjust my eyes to what a real portion size is. I have a very distorted view that 3 tacos, 1 bowl of cheese dip and 80 chips is a 'portion' of dinner. I did it for a short time, just to get an idea. I also needed an idea of how much I was eating in case I plateau and need a starting point in which to cut back upon. Again, I am not counting or cycling or planning. I am just learning.

I also began to see a shift in my mentality this week. With my renewed sense of energy and love of life again, I am really not wanting to undo all my gym time. I have limited precious minutes in the gym. I love a cookie, but not enough to eat them all day (except for that one day) and cover up all my hard work.

This has been my problem in the past. I would run 20 miles on a Saturday morning then eat so poorly I looked like I never worked out a day in my life. I always had the knowledge of how to look good, just never the will.

Now, I want to look like I am working hard because I am. To tears most days.

Anyone could stop at any stage of what I have done and live a healthier better life. My goal was to take it as far as I could go-to a balance of a diet free of processed foods and rich in vitamins and minerals and workouts for the mind, body and soul. I thought I was ready after my trip but I wasn't.

Now I am and here is how I know.

This week we had a pool party to attend. For the past 62 lbs I have eaten the hot dog and chips but eaten such small meals or made smarter choices during the day that it has not mattered or interfered with my weight loss. This past party I chose, because I wanted to, to eat at home my chicken and veggies. I would've eaten a hot dog if I wanted, but I didn't. It's that subtle difference of telling yourself you can't have something and not wanting something for yourself.

Took my kids to McDonalds to play and eat while my husband was out for the night. Past 62 lbs: cheeseburger (no bun), small fries and coke. Tonight, I didn't want to feel bloated and gross and didn't want it. So grilled chicken and yogurt parfait it was.

That's how I know. I am going there. Not worried about weight anymore. Worried about what foods are going to give me the most energy, health benefits and satisfaction. Tomorrow that may be a it was grilled chicken and a yogurt parfait.

My new workout routine since it is time to start leaning out in conjunction with a leaner diet:
Monday: full body heavy weights with trainer
Tuesday: interval cardio
Wednesday: yoga, interval cardio
Thursday: full body heavy weights with trainer
Friday: interval cardio
Saturday: full body fast twitch class (weights)
Sunday: outdoor SS run

It is time to decrease the SS cardio, although, how do you decrease it from 20 mins? But I must begin higher intensity intervals. Here is a great explanation, although I consider mine to be 30-45 seconds.

The weights are doing a great job but now I must shed that last layer of fat (the skin is not going anywhere I am afraid....). This is how to do it.

Updated pics soon, computer issues have made blogging and pictures a chore.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Welcome Back

Came back from my trip and fell right back into life. No yoga, no egg white omelets and blueberries, no balance between reading, resting, organizing and just breathing. I still wasn't eating cookies all day (okay, I did one day), but fell right back into the trap of burning the candle at both ends. I wish I could say the trip made it almost okay, but honestly, the worst was yet to come.

My body started just telling me enough, you can only go at such a pace for so long. I got sick, I got tired, I hurt my neck trying to get a 20 lb baby in a carrier into the car. Birthday parties and family outings were scheduled of what seemed like every moment of our days. Innocuous enough, but put together with trying to take care of two children put me so close to a panic attack on a regular basis. Add that to the end of the summer blues where my kids and I were so sick of looking at only each other all day that we had to call daddy home from work one day, it got ugly.

Needless to say, keeping a happy marriage is the last thing on your mind at this time and the most convenient person to take all your stress out upon is your husband. Things got ugly.

I began to question everything about my life. Not only did I really want to stay home, but why did I have kids in the first place? Did I want to stay married? This is so hard, the hardest thing I have ever done, yet hiring more help was still not the answer for me. I couldn't find a solution.

I say this in complete honesty because I hate when people just say everything is great and mask that sometimes life is just hard. I also write with honesty about how hard it got because I am sure that is the reason why I feel so wonderful now. If you don't have some bad times, you never really appreciate the good.

And then things got good. Really really good.

A couple things happened at the same time that turned the tide.

My son went back to school. Not just going to school, I get to drop him off in carpool. When you have a 20 lb child to get in and out of the car just to drop off and pick up your son at school for 3 hours, this is a huge huge wonderful convenience. She takes her morning nap, I drop him off without leaving the car, and I've started trying to find reasons to stop at Starbucks. We have structure, we have plans, we have lunches to pack and places to be and I love every minute of it.

My daughter started sitting up. This means I get to take her to the grocery store and sit in a cart, she can spit up and burp herself, and keep herself entertained while I do things around the house. She is so fun and lovely and joyful. I think I'll keep her after all.

My husband and I have really communicated and worked on our marriage. Date nights where I am getting dressed up, having wine and just enjoying being us again. I truly feel that we are making our marriage so strong by getting through these tough times instead of just 'being'.

I fit into my old jeans. Let's face it, that's what this blog is about. I feel amazing. I had lost motivation because I was so close to my goal yet so far from having the lifestyle to allow me to eat better and exercise with more structure.

I have been keeping a daily journal of diet and exercise and may start doing it here. I lost the drive but I didn't gain any weight during this time. I just kept doing what I was doing.

Since I have returned from the depths of the earth, I am ready now to take on a new step and challenge. I am not pressuring myself because I still find myself trying to do this at 6 months whereas I did it at one year with my first child.

I started with a big trip to the grocery store. Buying fresh fruits and veggies, organic, natural snacks for the kids and lean meats. With this little face leading the way.

**note: I've added a daily log and stages page to help me keep track****

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Now I'm Hungry

So Canyon Ranch may have lost their mojo, but there were some things I could count on to revive mine when I was there....

My favorite view as I run on the treadmill for my morning workout.


Egg White Omelet with Feta and Veggies, Bfast Potatoes, Fruit

Mango Mojito and Fish Tostada

My Favorite Yoga Spot

Grass Fed All Beef Hot Dog, Baked Artichoke Fries, Slaw

Short Ribs with Bok Choy and Mashed Sweet White Potato

Raspberry Cheesecake Mousse

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Au Revoir Canyon Ranch

Weight on their scale when I arrived: 131.6 lbs
Weight on last day: 128.1 lbs

Not bad for eating the most delicious food and barely working out.
My normal meals:

Egg white omlete with spinach, mushrooms, feta cheese, breakfast potatoes, fruit with mint and passionfruit juice (under 400 cals)

Fish tostada or grass fed all beef hot dog with coleslaw and artichoke fries, or veal bacon with avacodo mayo and heirloom tomato BLT on GF bread (all under 400 cals)
Gluten free oatmeal cranberry cookie (170/2)

lara bar (somedays)

Braised short ribs with mongolain bbq sauce, mashed white sweet potato and bok choy or
Lamb chops with kale, plantains and corn relish (under 400 cals each)
Creme brulee or Raspberry cheesecake mousse (under 200 cals each)

Spa services:
Hot stone mani/pedi
Deep tissue massage
Contour and lift facial

Stretch class
Buff booty ballet (x2)
Let's Dance class
Meditation and Breathing
2x 20 mins on tm
20 mins on step mill
my own abs and yoga

I enjoyed the tropical rain forest showers, igloo, herbal laconium and ice cold towels in the spa.

Then why might I not come back for my next planned trips?

Throughout this entire trip I struggled to find my peace. I thought it was just me being unable to relax, forcing it too much. I had such high expectations for this trip, maybe it was just not fair to ask it to meet them.

Don't get me wrong, I eventually found my peace. I am going home with not only a renewed sense of energy, but a renewed sense of focus as well. I realized how good my body feels with the right fuel, maintenance and relaxation. Those goals met, check.

However, it feels ridiculous to say that this wasn't a wonderful vacation, because it was. But the essence of Canyon Ranch was lost and I noticed. I noticed in a big way.

The essence of this place is to take your health and awareness to the next level. It is so different from a Ritz. At a Ritz you can lay by the pool, get spa services, relax and have great meals. That is not the goal of Canyon Ranch.

There is an air around here that makes you want to read about ways to meditate, love yourself and learn about living a present life (all books in the gift store). You are surrounded by people on solo trips in workout clothes and moving on between classes. The staff is reassuring and calming. Tea is handed to you at every room you enter. A haven of breathing and thinking.

or at least it used to be.

This trip, this trip made me feel like I was anywhere else in the world. Cell phones were used everywhere as their 'no cell phone policy' was not enforced. Children and families made this feel like Disney World. They claim it was never a policy to not have children under 14. But I swear that was one of the draws when I initially came. I could get over that if they had pools open for adults only, but they only had one, that didn't get much sun. The service as far as room cleaning and turn down service was horrible. Even a Holiday Inn has the maid come daily right?

And the spa, apparently is open to the public this month and was unaccommodating (despite my booking my appointments before I arrived) and packed. These plus a lot of other little things that I really wish I could have just glossed over. In the past, I have. The service is never spot on but because of the aura that was Canyon Ranch, I never cared or focused on it.

This time, I could not gloss over. Because in addition to the poor service, something else was missing - the essense of Canyon Ranch. I am not picking to be snobbish or a diva. Honestly, those things don't phase me when I am at a Ritz (well, they don't happen at the Ritz). But here, here was supposed to be special.

How can I expect to zen out when there is a cell phone ringing next to me at dinner?

Again, it's just because of the so called focus of this place that these things matter so much.

Was it a great trip? yes, of course. Do I regret coming? come on, I'm not an idiot. Will I come again? not sure. Would I recommend it? not like I would have a year ago.

I look forward to seeing my family. I look forward to them meeting their new mommy. You know, the nice one that didn't cry all the time. The one that made fresh foods. The one that didn't groan and moan every time she got up out of the chair. The one that could get out of bed in the morning.

I can't wait for them to meet me again.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


If we would just shut up for a moment, the universe usually tells us what to do. Problem is, our thoughts are usually talking too loudly to actually hear it.

Feeling sorry for yourself in this place is just blasphamy. Yet, I did this morning, and in turn beat my self up even more for feeling sorry for myself in this place.

After hearing about the special treament he is getting (without an ounce of solicitation on his part), I cried a little to my husband. I cried because I was desperate to relax, to have the ultimate experience and it wasn't working! I cried because this is my chance to recall what living in the moment and loving myself was and it wasn't working!

I tried all my old tricks, run on the treadmill, lay by the pool, long long dinners. Yet, I was still too tired and beat down to even take yoga this morning. Frustrating. In my head all I could hear was "I am going back the same person I was when I left."

Then I shut up and listened.

I tried the treadmill. I listened to my body and got right off. I decided to head to breakfast. With nothing to read (I have read 5 magazines already and had none left). I had no choice but to listen during breakfast. Just sitting and thinking I decided since I couldn't even relax and handle yoga, I would head to Stretch Class.

Simply Stretch.

Me and the grey haired men. We stretched. The instructor, in a gorgeous Aussie accent, said silky smooth words like "surrender, delicious and delightful." I did, and it was.

10:00 am on Saturday and I finally smiled, relaxed and just enjoyed. Then, instead of the Boxer's workout or Beach Conditioning of my previous trips. I finally committed to Buff Booty Ballet. A class I have drooled over since my initial trip but have never taken.

Nothing like that same Aussie calling us "beautiful ballerinas" (that was a stretch). Add that to a choreographed routine to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" and this middle aged mom of two was giggling with joy.

What has worked in the past was not what I needed this time. This time I needed to just laugh, slow down and enjoy. I am enjoying myself so much now that I tried to to book an extra day and change my flight. It isn't economical but it's my Eat, Pray, Love moment of-it's finally working, I need to savor.

I go to change my flight. She couldn't find me on the 10 am flight I thought I had booked. Turns out, my flight is at 10 pm. This was not intentional but considering my state of mind when before I left, not surprising.

The universe is telling me, I am listening. Instead of incurring the extra cost of a flight change and another night of the room, I have now found an entire extra day that I didn't expect.

I hear you! I promise to use my remaining time wisely. Only doing classes that feel right and good. Taking pressure off of myself to make this a complete workout and relaxation trip and make it a mindful trip. Rescheduling my facial I had to cancel for today for tomorrow at the same time I thought I was to be on a plane home.

The facial thing makes me feel slightly spoiled, but when you proudly wear throw up from head to toe (literally) everyday for 6 months, the fact that this reschedule worked out is heavenly.

So if we just be quiet for a moment, the universe will usually work things out for us. If we listen.

The fact that it was in an Austrailian accent didn't hurt either.