Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Fit Files: Friday installment (a day late)

OK, this is just weird. I decided to keep track of my weight on a weekly basis; it will help a bit with accountability, I think (my conscience is supposed to do that, but somehow it's easy to let infrequent lapses become habit and lo, you've regained your losses and lost your gains). When I stepped on the scale on Friday, I was down by another 2 pounds (since Wed!?). As I say, weird... but I'll gladly take it.
My first major goal is to have the official designation of "Overweight" removed from my medical records at my doctor's office, and I need to lose about 10 lb (4.5 kg) to get there.

After having finished the 30 Day Shred on Tuesday, I took a break from exercise on Wednesday. I was soooo tired, having had a series of poor sleeps over the past couple of weeks. Thursday I was back at it, working several hours in the garden: unloading a huge pile of mulch from a truck (pitchforking, shovelling, sweeping); more weeding, mulching various flower beds (loading, dumping, raking and spreading several wheelbarrow loads) and transplanting some flowers. The yard is looking less like a weedy wilderness by the day.

Yesterday morning, I ran 5 km on the treadmill in just under 40 minutes (I usually aim for 45:00 or thereabouts). Felt MUCH better afterwards than when I did my last treadmill-5K run (early June). My knees did not hurt at all, but my hamstrings felt pretty strained. I did the same stretches for cooldown that Jillian uses in the Shred workouts, but I went at a much more leisurely pace. That's one criticism I have of the Shred workouts: the cooldown stretches are done much too quickly, which kind of defeats the purpose, if you ask me. They need to be really slow and relaxed in order for one to gain maximum benefits. These workouts have really helped me in that regard: during the sitting "split stretch" (which, trust me, in my case is nowhere near a split), I can now touch my forehead to my knees. I could not have hoped to do that even a month ago. So take heart in your quest for improved fitness (even in middle age): a little effort will take you a long way!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

30 Day Shred: the End and the Beginning

Summer goal: skort, size 7 and cargo pants, size 6

OK, time to wrap up the 30 Day Shred thing, and ponder some life lessons. This morning I weighed myself and the grand total of what I lost on the scale was... (wait for it!)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shred Day 30: No, we will not "see you tomorrow."

That's usually what Jillian signs off with: "See you tomorrow." But I won't. What I will see tomorrow is my scale, and my measuring tape, and (only if I feel like it), my treadmill or my mini-trampoline, or just a long, long walk (provided it's not raining and the mosquitoes aren't too bad). I don't like Level 3. At all. But since it's still a challenge, I may go back to it in a couple of weeks, just to make sure I'm not losing any of the gains I've made in terms of strength, stamina, etc. But I'm looking forward to doing other fitness activities, like running. I kid you not, after Level 3 of Shred, doing 5 km on the treadmill is going to seem like a walk in the park. Without mosquitoes.

I did my 30th Shred workout this morning about 9:00 a.m., which was a good time. I hadn't done enough housework to be tired, and the caffeine from morning coffee hadn't yet worn off.  After a workout, I am also less inclined to eat things from the naughty list--probably because I am less inclined to eat anything: the ab exercises make my stomach feel as though it has been turned inside out. But given that it afftects my eating habits for the better, I should probably do my exercising earlier in the day than 9 or 10 at night. If only life cooperated all the time.

I was able to keep pace with the Shred Level 3 today, but still could not perform all the "difficult" versions of the exercises. Especially that jump-lunge thing in Circuit 2 (above), which is just insane. But I keep improving: the first time I did Level 3, I could not even do 2 of those in a row, and by the end, I could do 10-12. (Natalie the demo-girl, who is not called a "badass" without reason, does about 20, but I never actually counted.) The human body is an amazing thing: fearfully, wonderfully, made and all that jazz.

And now, on with my day. It was raining when I got up, but it's sunny and breezy now, so maybe I can get a bit more work done in the garden. The veggie patch really needs weeding too.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 29: Hoeing, digging, clipping, weeding and shredding

We had a sunny day today. The first one in weeks. So I had to weed my favourite flower bed. Just. Had. To. It was completely overgrown: a mass of weeds and every plant had grown into the next one. It was an awful mess, but I haven't been able to get to it all month (school, music, travel, writing deadlines, exams, RAIN). So today was the day. I'm so proud, I'll probably post a picture (was not savvy enough to snap a "before" shot so you'll have to be content with "after.") But it was HOURS of work, and four wheelbarrows full of weeds and culled overgrowth. Four. After that, I truly did not think I had it in me to do today's workout. But the little girls (I still call the two youngest that, and probably always will) gave me a break in that they let me drive them to the swimming pool (10 miles away) and sit in a lawn chair for about 90 minutes to rest up while they splashed.

I did my workout at 9:00 pm so I was still pretty tired, but I more or less completed it. I still can't keep up with the whole thing. I really think it would take a couple more weeks to get into good enough shape to do all the exercises.  The pace seems really fast in Level 3; moreso than in other levels, and I find it harder to get up/ready in time to start the next move/exercise.

But here we are, just one day from completing the entire 30 days.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day 28: The Shred must go on

What a tiring weekend. We did our three-hour road trip to my home town yesterday and visited with my Ma and Pa, and some assorted uncles, brothers, sisters, SILs, nieces and nephews. We attended the First Communion and Confirmation of a niece and nephew and a good time was had by all. Pursuant to my Day 26 Shred post, my eyes did prove to be bigger than my stomach, but my stomach did a shameless job keeping pace. No, I did not stuff myself--not once--but I ate more than I needed to. Which really doesn't take much, since, being overweight, I need very little. We traveled late today, and did not get home till 9:30 pm, at which point we still had to unpack and all that jazz. So I didn't get to my workout till after 10 pm. I was dead tired from not having a good sleep last night, and having a painful flareup of the chronic problems in my neck and upper back. But skipping the workout was not an option. I continued with Level 3, but did not even attempt some of the harder moves. And I went back to the 3 lb weights (the mere thought of doing jumping jacks with 5 lb weights in each hand was slightly more than I could bear tonight). And I must be a slow learner, but I'll say it again: no higher-fat foods in the evening. I'm going to repeat that mantra until it actually sinks in.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Shred Day 27: ballerina arms

Alas, I don't have them, and never will. And that's okay. I realized something rather shocking today, which goes to show that no matter how often you read a book, see a movie, DVD, etc., you can always expect to see something new. Today when I was doing the Shred workout, I noticed (during the warmup) that the uber-fit "difficult" level helper gal, Natalie, does not have ballerina arms either. She has legs like a track athlete (how she can do those jump-squat-lunge-things in circuit 2 is beyond me) but during the arm-cross part of the warmup, her upper arms flapped. Flapped. Just like mine. I had never noticed that before.

Which means that you can be more fit than 99% of people on the planet and still have excess skin and/or fat on your arms. Which is kind of depressing, but also kind of consoling, because it makes you realize that no matter how hard you try, or how obsessive you become, you can never have that "perfect" body. Which is a good thing, and if you have sense, you just won't bother getting to the level of obsession. You will just do the best with what God gave you and focus on generally doing the duties of your vocation, and getting to heaven and helping your loved ones get there too. And maybe, instead of making fun of (or scorning) women who are addicted to compulsive dieting, exercise, or cosmetic surgery, to pray for them instead.

Level 3 is getting easier, though I still can't keep up with all the quad exercises. I have moved up to 5 lb hand weights, because the 3 lb ones were not doing anything for me anymore. I don't have ballerina arms, I have my grandmother's "big strong Slovak girl" arms.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Shred Day 26: Like that guy said in that book

Or was it the movie? "I'm afraid we were making rather merry, yesterday, Mr. Scrooge, Sir." A good time was had by all at the birthday party. The Butterscotch Chip ice cream turned out well (if you don't mind eating frozen butterscotch chips), and Miss P made a good gift haul, as little kids are supposed to do in those years before birthdays become a burden rather than a blessing. But I've concluded one thing: Lay's Smokey Bacon potato chips are going to the top of my "not worth it" list. I didn't eat a lot, but I still felt kind of sickish during the night. I just CANNOT eat fatty foods in the evening, or I pay for it later.

Did my Shred workout at about 10:30 or 11 this morning. I'm getting stronger every day, though I still can't keep up on all the Level 3 exercises. But the list of moves I can't complete is down to about 2 or 3, whereas before, it was... well, all of them.

Going away again for the weekend (more family events), this time a First Communion/Confirmation. The partying never ends when you have 12 siblings and 40-some nephews and nieces (yay, Catholic family life!). We are visiting the home of one of the best cooks in the family (though you are all awesome cooks, ladies, and I have to say so even though very few of you read this blog), so I hope I am able to follow Mom's timeworn advice: "Don't let your eyes be bigger than your stomach." (As if. Sigh.)

Generic internet photos of my Slovak SIL's specialty:
 the best poppy seed roll on the planet. 


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shred Day 25

I didn't think I'd be saying this anytime soon, but Level 3 is getting less impossible. Not easy, mind you, just a tad easier. I did my workout at noon today, which made more sense (energy-wise) than doing it after ten at night. I was able to do a few of the advanced level exercises, but not all. And I still had to pause or stop a rep or two early. One big achievement: the very last cardio move ("rock stars," which I hate)... I was able to complete an entire set, at the same speed as Jillian and her helpers (mind you, I did the easier version) but I still did them. I need something to keep up my spirits, because this has been a long haul, and it's really only the beginning. In order to lose the weight I need to lose, I'll be at this for months, not just weeks. This is just a kick-start to better lifestyle habits. Because this is sort of still where I'm at:


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Shred Day 24: so close and yet so far

It was another crazy day. (I think I may just change the name of the blog to that phrase.) Day 2 of window installation, so all is still chaos around here. Even more fun, the internet still had not come back on as of noon, so I actually had to leave my home and travel to another town in order to send an email--this is Progress!! My column was thus 24 hours late--so good to have an understanding editor.

 I also had to drop some tests and other stuff at the local school board office, so that meant a 75 km drive (45 miles) to the nearest city, where at least McDonald's had free WiFi (though the drinks cost me $8; everyone seemed in a mood for something more expensive than the Dollar Deal Drinks). I took some kids with me, because they wanted to do some shopping for an upcoming birthday and other sundries. So after some emailing and frantic shopping, it was back home so that Miss P #4 (now working a summer job as a lifeguard) could swim her weekly laps, and so that Mom could cook dinner and start on the birthday menu. First request: homemade Butterscotch Chip ice cream (I had to make up the recipe; hope it doesn't flop).

Did my Shred workout at about 9:30 tonight. I don't understand how I can NOT complete the Level 3 workout moves and still have sweat pouring off me. I know I only have 6 more of these workouts left, but something tells me my pride is not going to let me quit until I can keep up with this Level and not feel as though my quads are going to burst. Muscle tone in several areas is improving, but not around my middle: that still looks like I'm trying to smuggle a pool noodle.

Time to go aquacize with the other "mature" ladies in the morning...


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Shred Day 23: still cheating on Level 3

Our windows DID arrive, and so did the guys to install them (Callooh Callay!). They were hard at it all day, which was hot and somewhat humid. What a difference a few new windows make!  I might post some pics if I have time. But what a busy day. On top of that, I had to supervise the last of Miss P#7's year-end testing. On top of all that, I had to get a column in to The Record. On top of that, I had to do my Shred workout. On top of that, the hot humid day was followed by a thunder and lightning storm in the evening, which was sure to knock out our internet (which it did, hence I am posting this Wednesday, and backdating it for Tuesday, because I'm a_____ retentive like that). On top of that, I had so much pain in my lower back (more on the right side) that I could barely walk all day, and did not see how in tarnation I was going to get a workout done.

The pain subsided a bit by evening, but did not disappear completely. I finished my column (but could not send it in, due to having no interent) and then went to do my workout at 10:30 pm. I did Level 3, but again, could not keep up. There were some moves I just couldn't do because of my back, but I was surprised at how much I could do, and also surprised by the improvement (in strength and endurance) there was from my first attempt. I do not like Level 3 exercises though. I just don't. Too punishing on the quads.

My life in a nutshell

Doing Morning Prayer (online); get to the part that says "Sacred Silence," which is what you'd think (time to reflect and listen to the voice of God) and at that exact moment, the phone rings and it's the hardware store telling you they are going to deliver your new windows in less than an hour. (Hint: this involves tidying, de-cluttering, and possibly moving furniture near and around the windows in every room. In. The. House.) We've been on standby for this for well over a week, since this is now the third attempt by our reno guy to install the windows. So the major work has been done, but there goes the morning's silence.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Shred Day 22: total slump day

I felt so tired and lousy today. I did not have a good sleep last night. I have chronic pain in my neck, shoulder, and sometimes upper back (cause unknown) that has been there for nearly 18 months, and regular exercise is not alleviating it, as I thought it might. My lower back was also sore today. I have a weird blister on my finger that I think is infected (yet it's so small that I'm embarrassed to see a doctor about it). The kids were cranky (doing year-end testing; you'd think they would be happy to be so close to being finished school). I am sick to death of mosquitoes (you have to spray yourself head to toe in toxic repellent and wear a mesh hat if you want to do any serious weeding, and my flower beds are languishing...)

And it's Monday, which is reason enough.

I took my measurements this morning, and lost another 3 inches and a bit. That means I've lost 11 (eleven) whole inches since I started this Shred thing 3 weeks ago. I'm getting stronger and more streamlined, and yet I STILL feel depressed about being fat. What's up with that? Must be the curse of womanhood (or vanity) or plain old concupiscence. I need to be spending more time in prayer and less time obsessing about weight loss, or fat grams, or home renovation, or homeschooling, or gardening, or writing, or any of the multitude of things that consume my daily life.

I did not have time to exercise earlier in the day, so I (reluctantly) dragged myself to do the workout at 7:30 this evening. I "did" Level 3 (that is if, à la Bill Clinton, we can agree on the meaning of "did"). What a killer of a workout. I could not keep up even with the "easy" versions, and just cut down on the number of reps or just gave up on certain moves altogether. I have my work cut out for me with this Level. Maybe by Day 30, I'll be able to keep up with the whole thing (easy version). Probably not a good level to begin on a day when I was already feeling lousy. But those days will come (whether we're talking fitness or just life in general), and you gotta push through them.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Shred Day 21: last day of Level 2...I think

It was a long day. Had to be at church 20 minutes earlier than usual (which is quite a feat for us, I assure you) because I had to lead the rosary before Mass. Since it was Father's Day, I did a lot more cooking than I usually do on Sundays. Mr. P usually takes the helm for Sunday brunches, God bless him, but we tried to give him a break today. It was also a celebration because our two eldest daughters were able to join us, so the family was together for the first time since Miss P#2 left for Germany, back in April. We had a good visit and a couple of entertaining slide shows of travel photos, and even made time for an afternoon nap. Thus, I did not get to my workout till 10:30 p.m. So I did Level 2, one last time. It's still a challenge, but less so than when we began doing it. Also, I am tired of certain moves (and certain annoying banter), so I hope to try Level 3 tomorrow. We're in the home stretch!

Happy Father's Day, Mr. P!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Shred Day 20: at the two-thirds mark

Wow, it really feels like the time is flying by. I still have a long way to go (well beyond Day 30, I mean), but I'm feeling optimistic. Clothes are fitting better, and I feel great. It helps that I've not overeaten in a few days. We came home today, so that entailed some last-minute visiting with relatives this morning, packing, and about five hours of driving, with a "rest" to get groceries and pick up Miss P #2 at the airport, who has been in Germany for the last six weeks. (So great to have her at home!) I did my workout at 9:30 tonight, and I felt surprisingly springy (for having been so tired). I guess having a bit more muscle mass (and staying power) than 20 days ago must be helping.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Shred Day 19

We stayed in a hotel last night, and it was horrible (I dislike hotels as a rule). Took forever to fall asleep and various things kept waking me up: police (or ambulance) sirens outside; funny noises in the hallway; funny noises coming from the room's vents etc. Got my best sleep after 6 a.m., so slept in this morning.  We had to check out by 11:00 a.m., so I did my workout at 9:30. Did the lowest impact versions of every exercise, because I didn't want to make too many thumping noises (we were not on the ground floor of the hotel, and I didn't know how much, if any, sound would carry through to the floor below.) The hotel room was also hot as Hades; we had the heat turned down and the A/C on all night, but still couldn't moderate the temp. So now I think I know what hot yoga might be like and I would probably hate it. Give me a cool workout environment every time. But I feel good about  being able to find the time and energy (and space, in a relatively small room!) to get the workout done. It makes me realize that even against various odds, you can continue to exercise, if you are motivated enough.
In other news, my nephew's grad was fun and I'm having a great time visiting with relatives. And I did NOT overeat at the grad banquet, even though the buffet was to die for. Not worth feeling sick over, however. The hotel-room insomnia (which I get nearly every time I stay in one) was enough to deal with.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Shred Day 18: moving right along

Did the workout at 8:15 this morning. We're off on a 5-hour road trip, culminating in a grad Mass, banquet and dance, so I know I won't have time later. The workout went well, but I had to brace my left knee again. Also, during the last ab move (a plank twist thing) my right hip was making funny clicking noises. Oy vay, it's no fun getting old. But getting old 30 pounds overweight, and in poor physical shape, would be much, much worse.

I have an elastic brace (left), but I want one of these cool neoprene thingys (right).


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shred Day 17: some resolutions for the weekend

I had a really tiring day today: drove 45 mi. to nearest city (with three youngest girls) for Miss P#6's vocal exam, and also did some shopping, errands, and some of us got haircuts. Home just in time to cook dinner, wash dishes, start packing for an upcoming weekend trip. By 8 p.m. I was so tired that I just wanted to curl up on my bed and have a nap. A 14-hour nap. But I realized (groan) that I hadn't done my workout yet. Do you know what inspired me? Seeing the picture from yesterday's post. That got me right out of my chair. 

The workout went well, and I was even able to do some of the "hard" versions. But I felt horrible, both during the workout, and after-- because of having had fattier-than-usual food today (we went to Burger King for lunch--Miss P got to choose the restaurant) and probably for eating a bit too much both at lunch and supper. (Next time, I won't hesitate to throw away 1/3 of a burger if I know I've had enough. Either that, or just order LESS FOOD.) 

There is no food on earth worth feeling lousy for. So I hope I will have the discipline to eat sensibly this weekend, and also to find time to do my workouts.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Shred Day 16: it's not my imagination

I am beginning to see just the tiniest bit of muscle definition, on my upper arms (where heaven knows I need it), and even on my midsection.  Mind you, before I will see any serious Abs of Steel around here, I need to get rid of a lot more Abs of Raw Bun Dough.  (Have you ever googled the term "Muffin top" in images? Don't. Gee, I wish people would wear clothes that fit them! Or just wear clothes, period. Get a bigger size of jeans and cover up that skin! I even saw a doctor recently --female-- who, whilst on the job, wore jeans that were too tight, and a top that was not long enough,  exposing a four-inch wide swath of muffin top across her back. Unprofessional, just a bit? Hint: a nice lab coat will make you look a little less like a carnival worker.)

Miss P #6 joined me for my Shred workout today, and good on her! She jumped right in to Level 2, without having done any of the workouts before (but she found it difficult.) So do I, and I've been doing this level for six days already. Today was better than the previous five attempts at Level 2 (though I am still doing the easier versions of some of the exercises).

In other news, this morning when I woke up, the furnace was running. And that's not a metaphor of any kind. It was the furnace, blowing hot air. In June.  Because it was about +10 degrees C outside, and not much warmer in the house. (That is just ten degrees above freezing, people of Fahrenheit persuasion). The weather was horrible yesterday too: cold, rainy, windy. In fact it was only +6 C yesterday. The only upside is that these conditions are (please, Lord) killing at least some mosquitoes.

Generic Internet Picture

Monday, June 10, 2013

Shred Day 15: halfway there

Having completed the second full week of the 30 Day Shred, I took measurements again today. I was not expecting a big number and was neither surprised nor disappointed. I lost just over 2 more inches, bringing my two-week total to 7.5 inches.

I was looking at this sewing site not long ago, which tells how to measure oneself properly, and had to chuckle at this line:
Depending upon body proportions, there are two possible waistlines: a natural waist or, for people who do not have a naturally indented waist, a de facto (chosen) waist, where the top of skirts or trousers sits.
Yep, that's me all right. The one with the "de facto" waist. And mine will never measure 25 inches, unless my "chosen" spot for my waist is around my forehead.

Today, Miss P was writing a final exam (correspondence course) at the local high school so we could not do our workout in the morning. I felt the need to burn off some stress, so I got on the treadmill once again and started running. I did 3 km at a good pace (for me) and then decided to slow it down a bit, but still  kept running. In all, I did 5 km and it more or less wiped me out for the better part of the day (duh). My knees and hips were not loving me by late afternoon. I had to do lots of dashing about (ie. driving) today: taking kids to exams and music lessons (last one before exam on Wed!) in two different towns, besides the usual stuff at home. By time I finished the supper dishes, I didn't know how I was going to find the energy to do workout #15. However, I girded my left knee (it's clicking more than usual) and did the workout. Surprisingly, it went better than any Level 2 workout has gone so far. I feel encouraged to plug away with this and see it through the last two weeks, but I won't be doing another 5K on the treadmill (or anywhere else) any time soon.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Shred Day 14: energized

I felt the need to burn off some restless energy today, so after finishing the brunch dishes, I hopped on the treadmill. I'm not sure how far I ran, but it was at least 3 km (about 25 minutes or so). I say "or so" because I was attached to that goofy emergency shut-off thing, and I accidentally hit the cord with my hand and shut off the machine, wiping out all my info and having to start over from zero for the last part of my run. I took a bit of a cool down recovery period, and then did the Shred workout Level 2 about 45 minutes later. It was still really hard (and will be, I suspect, for a while yet). I don't look forward to doing the workout; it still feels like a chore. But the exercise is having a positive impact on my energy level. I find it easier to do my other work around the house; I don't procrastinate as much, and I seem to get it done more quickly. Or maybe the adrenalin high is just giving me hallucinations. Oh well, at least they're good hallucinations of tidier rooms and cleaner kitchen countertops.

Last night I allowed myself a few fatty/salty treats again, and I think it was a mistake. After having a lousy sleep and feeling slightly unwell upon waking,  I have come to the conclusion that if I must snack in the evening,  it won't be on junk food like potato chips and stuff like that.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Shred Day 13

I knew going in that I was not going to enjoy today's workout. For one thing, I was tired even before we started. I have been doing heavy housecleaning (and moving furniture) to prepare for new windows being installed next week. For another thing, I ate too much at lunch (we exercised at 3 pm), and that put a psychological damper on things. I made the mistake of moving in view of a mirror for some of the exercises, and that put even more of a damper on things (I would much rather look at the super skinny demo girls than the Michelin Man spectre of myself in lycra).

I did the easy versions of many of the exercises, and thus barely survived Level 2 once again. As we near the halfway point of the 30 Day Shred, I feel vaguely disappointed that I don't feel in better shape overall, but doubtless my expectations are unrealistic. After all, I'm no spring chicken, and it takes time to get fit. By my calculations, it will take me roughly 14-16 weeks to lose the weight I feel I need to lose, so I don't know why I'm expecting miracles after only two weeks. Too many Reality TV weight loss shows, not enough reality.

"The love child of Wikipedia and crass commercialism"

Ha ha. MercatorNet's Michael Cook reviews Dan Brown's Inferno, in which one of the main themes (and dire warnings) for the 21st century world is the imminent danger of --wait for it-- OVERPOPULATION! As Mr. Cook asks, "Has Dan Brown been living in a bunker for the last ten years?"

If so, he didn't have a thesaurus or a dictionay with him. Mr. Cook wonders:
[H]ow did the word “enormity” slip through, as in “the staggering force of [the cathedral’s] enormity” and “the David’s [Michelangelo’s statue] sheer enormity”? Enormity means, according my Oxford dictionary, “monstrous wickedness” or “dreadful crime”, or “serious error”. We can speak, for example, about the enormity of Dan Brown’s English, but not about the enormity of a cathedral.
Never mind Inferno's plot twists and villains:
[A]s I descended deeper and deeper into Inferno, I began to regard the real villain as Dan Brown’s editor, whom, out of what little compassion I can scrape together, I shall not name. His only credible excuse is that Dan Brown is one of those nightmare celebrity authors whom editors tremble to correct. 
To sum up:
Brown will never be described as a literary giant, but there is one technique in which he has no peer: product placement.
High praise indeed. Inferno, for sale, by the case lot, at a Costco near you. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Friday night baking

Made 10 dozen potato buns today.

Dough was very soft, so some of the buns got a little squished when I took them off the pans.

Miss P #7 helped me make the buns, which accounts for some of them having a unique shape.
(I love my clay bakeware. This pizza stone came from Pampered Chef.) 

This square stone was a gift from a friend. Tried my hand at hamburger buns today. 
They turned out pretty well, I must say.

Shred Day 12: weightless

686 cubic centimetres of sirloin steak weighs more than 686 cubic centimeters of lard.
A pound of sirloin steak weighs the same as a pound of lard. 

Miss P and I did our second workout on Level 2 at noon today. I had to pause partway through (bathroom break, mybad), and I modified (did easier versions) a lot of the moves, but overall, I think today was better than yesterday. I didn't feel as though I was dying--quite so often.

I know that yesterday I made fun of the notion of one's mind "making" you fat (sorry, only OVEREATING does that), but I realized today that I don't 'feel' as fat (and ugly) as I have felt for the last while. And that's worth something, even if it doesn't burn any actual calories. Positive thinking can lead to positive action, and so it is worthwhile, even if not efficacious on its own.

I have no idea how many pounds (if any) I've lost, since I've decided to quit weighing myself, at least until the end of the 30 Day Shred. This is for the following reasons:

1) The last time I started the Shred, a couple of years ago, I lost six inches (SIX!) in one week, but lost no pounds on the scale. Not one. The next week, I lost a few more inches (maybe 3?) and still the pounds were not coming off as quickly as I'd hoped ("Lose 20 pounds in 30 Days!" Jillian promises. Yeah, what's in the fine print--when accompanied by diet restrictions and liposuction?)

Anyway, what do you think I allowed to discourage me? You are correct... well that, and sheer laziness. I did not complete the 30 days. Which is pathetic, because I was getting results, and we all know that muscle is denser (not heavier, LOL) than fat.

2) Like lots of women, I allow the bathroom scale inordinate power over me, and this, needless to say, is destructive and sinful. My digital scale weighs to the nearest 0.2 pounds (just over 3 ounces) and it could make or break my day if I was a fraction of a pound heavier or lighter than expected/hoped. So I'm giving myself a break from the scale, and praying (as always) not to be so foolish and obsessive.

Now...what to make for dinner tonight. Too bad it's Friday. Suddenly I have a craving for bison sirloin steaks and cherry pie.

Be still, my Kick Drum Heart

THE AVETT BROTHERS ARE COMING TO EDMONTON! I must remain calm. Absolutely calm. And figure out the logistics (and the finances) of getting to Edmonton on August 11, when I am already booked to see Paul McCartney in Regina on August 14. Let's see: my birthday is in August, and Hubby has for some months been promising me a weekend to Edmonton, and I still haven't collected on my 25th anniversary trip (or for that matter, my 10th anniversary trip)...

Is it Photoshop, or is it Tammy Wynette's hair?

Just in time for Friday. Inspired by the Prancercise lady, whose hair is the biggest thing about her, next to her heart.

But you'd better not stand too close, lest the fumes from your hairspray overpower him. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shred Day 11: where "ouch" takes on a whole new meaning

Miss P and I started Level 2 today, not because we are so fit, but because we were tired of Level 1. And hey, we're a third of the way through, so it seemed mathematically apropos, somehow.

The kindest way to describe Level 2 is "fairly challenging". A more primal expression might be, "Aaaaaggghhhh! We're gonna die! Make it stop, Lord!"  (You have a slim chance that God will make it stop, cuz Jillian won't.) I could not keep up with the cardio circuits, and had to modify them, and stop for the occasional 5-second breather (which Jillian allows). A word of caution about the ab and strength moves. Before starting this level, you might be advised to just sit and watch it, pausing the DVD where necessary, and trying out the moves/positions in order to get them to where you (at least to your satisfaction) are doing them correctly. The last ab move did nothing for me. I felt it absolutely nowhere, which leads me conclude that I was not in the correct position and not doing the move properly.

Today's good news: my left calf (while still faintly sore) felt well enough for me to exercise. We did our workout much earlier today, which I think is essential for this level. Today it was 2pm but tomorrow I might try for morning.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Shred Day 10: ouch

I gotta stop doing these workouts so late. Miss P and I did the 10th Shred workout at about 9 p.m. this evening, and I have felt like a wreck ever since. My knees hurt and it is difficult getting up and down all the crazy staircases in this house (five levels! Ye gods, what ever possessed architects to dream up the concept of multi-level-split homes? Too much LSD around in the 70s, methinks.) To make matters worse, our staircases are too steep, and (so my builder dad informed us) would not pass code today. How nice, knowing you have stairs that may one day claim a limb (or  life) of a grandparent or toddler because some dopey contractor wanted to save a hundred bucks on materials. But I digress.

It was not a great workout. In the very first cardio circuit, my left calf started cramping. We paused the DVD for a few minutes so I could try to massage and stretch it out, but it never really stopped hurting throughout the entire workout. Which meant that I was able to do some of the exercises, such as the ab circuits and some of the strength moves, but I was pretty much phoning it in for much of the cardio. However, I still got my heart rate up and worked up a sweat, so it can't have been a waste of time.

Maybe I didn't drink enough water today; Miss P tells me from her lifeguard training that cramps can be caused by insufficient water intake. So I'll have to be mindful of that. And maybe tomorrow do the workout earlier in the day when I have more energy. One thing is for sure: after these workouts, logging 5 km on the treadmill is going to start looking easy and fun.

Oh, OK then. Think thin!

Today on Facebook, I saw an ad in the sidebar that disappeared before I could click on it. (Which is kind of strange, but I guess the ads have to change from time to time.)  But the caption was "Your mind makes you fat." Who knew! So then all I have to do is wish and hope the weight away? I googled those words and came up with lots of (wishful thinking) sites about the power of positive thinking--or negative thinking, or just plain fat thinking, as the case may be. Maybe "thick" is a better term, under the circumstances.

Your mind can make you fat in only one way:

MIND: Hey, let's go eat the rest of the chocolate chip cookies in the jar!
WILL: No, that would not be good.
MIND: But, as Augustus Gloop says, "It tastes so goot!" And you know you want them.
WILL: Oh, all right. Come on Body, let's go.
BODY: Okay.

The Philosopher Butcher

The thing about being Catholic, whether we are butchers, bakers, or candlestick makers... or moms or seamstresses or doctors or professors or used car salesmen or CEOs of multinational corporations, we are all supposed to be, at some level, philosophers and theologians. I don't know if this guy is Catholic, but he sure talks like one. And he gets the meaning of food. It's sacramental. Weight loss gurus who say "food is fuel" (and I have heard even Catholic ones say this) are puritans. I once said it, but I know better now. In fact, I knew better many years ago, when my dad told me that food was sacramental. I was a teenager on a wacky diet but that is a story for another day. Maybe it will go into one of the books I've been writing (not) for the last 20 years.

And suddenly, I want to go to Italy and drink wine and eat marinated meat... but not raw.

H/t my niece Mrs. R.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Shred Day 9

It was a long day: up at 5:30, and loads of stuff to do, including a trip to the city for an orthodontist appointment for Miss P#5. We got home much later than expected, and I still had to submit a column to The Record. Oy. At 8:45 pm, it dawned on me that I hadn't done my workout yet, and I was sooooo tired. Miss P#4 had done the workout earlier, so I carried on by myself.  I'm finding the cardio portions  easier now, but the strength circuits are still very challenging.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Shred Day 8; the first week's reckoning

So I've been at this for a week now. Time to get out the measuring tape (I'm using fat/inches loss and not weight as an indicator; more on that later). After 7 workouts, I've lost just over 5 inches on my overall measurements (not just the usual three 'hourglass' places that ladies measure, but eight areas, including upper arm and thigh circumference). My torso is the area of greatest concern, because I am an "apple" shape, and women who pack fat around the midsection (and hence visceral organs) seem to be at a greater risk of heart disease. So I am happy to say that I lost 2.5 inches off my waist this past week. I don't expect the results to be that dramatic in the coming weeks, but I am certainly encouraged by this.

Miss P and I did our 8th Shred workout at noon today (we are still on Level 1). I knew right away that it was going to be difficult, because I felt really tired during the very first (of three) cardio circuits. Afterwards, I felt shaky and dizzy and even a little nauseated. I don't know what's up with that... maybe there's some kind of nutrition/sleep/caffeine imbalance going on. Or maybe I'm getting a migraine headache or maybe my body is just rebelling from being pushed so hard. (It's not as though I'm 25 years old--does Jillian have a senior's fitness video, I wonder?)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It was only a matter of time

Comment on another Prancercise mock video: "The prance is strong with this one."

Oh that poor lady, but I guess she had it coming. The moral of the story: do not, under any circumstances, post your wonky exercise video on YouTube. Especially if you are wearing white leotards.

Shred Day 7... setbacks

OK for those of you who read my "wiser food choices" post from Friday night, be assured that I have not achieved Moderation-in-Eating Sanctity and am ready to be assumed into Biggest Loser heaven (however that may be defined). Yesterday we were in the city for provincial piano competition and Miss P#4, who was competing, got to choose the restaurant. I should have had a salad and lean protein, regardless of where we ate, but... ASIAN BUFFET. Ye gods. I think I sampled from only 10% of the dishes on offer, and my plate was still... Way. Too. Full. (As was I afterward.) Mea culpa, and I don't mean that ironically; gluttony is a deadly sin.

Let's just say my only justification (well, no, I wouldn't even call it that--it was more like an excuse) was, "Hey, this way, I don't have to eat any more meat or seafood  (or rice or noodles or assorted fried things or desserts) for the next week month." And then to cap it all off, when we got home (very late, several hours later) I ate three chocolate chip cookies which Miss P#5 had baked while we were away. (She complained of having "burned" them, so I had to sample them to assure her that they were just fine. They were not remotely burned, just extra brown and crispy--still delicious).

So...Sunday morning. Yes, Virginia, after overindulging on Saturday, you CAN up at 6:00 a.m. to exercise. But first, you should say your prayers. In my case, Morning Prayer (and part of the Office of Readings) from the Liturgy of the Hours (did the online version, which still feels like cheating somehow, since I wasn't fiddling with ribbons and all that...).  I will try to complete the Office later, but I was pressed for time, since I squeezed in coffee with Hubby as well, and still have to shower and get ready for a nearly 3-hour drive to another city in another province for Mass at 11:00 and a celebration of my niece's First Holy Communion. This is life with a large extended family.

My workout went OK. I was pretty played out from yesterday, but still made it through with a tiny stop here and there. And so, on with the day.

"A unique and abiding consolation"

And don't we need that pretty much...always.

St. Thomas Aquinas on this glorious feast of Corpus Christi, from today's Office of Readings:
O precious and wonderful banquet, that brings us salvation and contains all sweetness! Could anything be of more intrinsic value? Under the old law it was the flesh of calves and goats that was offered, but here Christ himself, the true God, is set before us as our food. What could be more wonderful than this? No other sacrament has greater healing power; through it sins are purged away, virtues are increased, and the soul is enriched with an abundance of every spiritual gift. It is offered in the Church for the living and the dead, so that what was instituted for the salvation of all may be for the benefit of all. Yet, in the end, no one can fully express the sweetness of this sacrament, in which spiritual delight is tasted at its very source, and in which we renew the memory of that surpassing love for us which Christ revealed in his passion.
 It was to impress the vastness of this love more firmly upon the hearts of the faithful that our Lord instituted this sacrament at the Last Supper. As he was on the point of leaving the world to go to the Father, after celebrating the Passover with his disciples, he left it as a perpetual memorial of his passion. It was the fulfillment of ancient figures and the greatest of all his miracles, while for those who were to experience the sorrow of his departure, it was destined to be a unique and abiding consolation.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

More political incorrectness from

Why men really do need a cave. Why, this article seems to assume that men and women are different! Ye gods, what would 1970s era sociology professors say? Especially about an article that begins with sexist terminology and assumptions (women ladies are emotional/hysterical)? 

"Calm down, ladies," writes author Mitchell Parker. Calm down! What do you mean, Calm down! I...
Oh wait, what were we talking about again? Oh yes, men need their own space. Even the lady female designers agree.  
“There’s an old saying that a man’s house is his castle" says Ginny Snook Scott, chief design officer of California Closets. "No. A woman’s house is the castle. The garage is the man’s castle.” 
To this day, I feel guilty that Mr. P converted our double attached garage into living space. My only consolation was that I was agin the idea, but he insisted (it ended up being cheaper than building an addition). I was sorry enough to lose the garage (unloading groceries and babies in the rain or snow?) but I'm sure he suffered greatly too. 

For some time, he had no place to call his own, except the furnace room, and that's just sad, if not downright Dickensian. (Though I never heard him croon "Where is Love?" whilst he was puttering down there.) A few summers ago, he put up a small garden shed, which also serves as his shop, and he spends many happy, productive hours there. I go in there too occasionally, because that's where the  garden tools are stored. But now I realize I ought to have no say in how they are arranged. Mr. Parker writes: 
When it comes to designing and outfitting a man cave... it's extremely important that there is no compromise. (Shall I repeat that, ladies? No compromise!)
Again with the ladies! OK, message received. 

Shred Day 6

I did the workout alone this morning; my exercise buddy wasn't feeling up to it (I don't blame her; she has a high-level music competition later today). During the first circuit's strength segment, I was able to do MEN'S pushups (but to be honest, I didn't sink all the way down to the floor with those). Anything that challenges the major leg muscles is still tough, but getting progressively better. The workout seems to be getting shorter and shorter, which is a good sign. I think that when I move on to Level 2, it won't be because Level 1 is too easy, however; it will be because I am getting weary of Jillian's instructions and monolgues. (A further irony is that she teases her demo girls about being tired, and they actually do the entire workout without stopping, while Jillian just does one or two moves and then meanders around talking). Oh well. I am seeing results, and that is what counts. Plus, there is always the 'mute' button.