Archive | February, 2010

Sunday Funday

28 Feb

It was a gorgeous day in Chapel Hill today and we had a great time visiting my sister Jillian. I ate 2 meals before we left the house, and had Meal 3 at a cute Italian place on Franklin Street called 411 West, where my sister Kate worked when she went to Chapel Hill. I got a spring salad with walnuts, grilled onions, and chicken. It was so good I almost felt like I was cheating! (Is that a sign I’ve officially going crazy on this diet?!)  I had packed a protein shake and almonds for Meal 4, but ended up eating it at home.

Me and Jillian @ 411

Since we were going to be sitting in the car for 4+ hours today, I woke up and did a yoga DVD before we left (Yoga Zone Fat Burning), along with my abs exercises. I’ve been doing one 20-minute yoga session from the DVD 2-3x a week. I didn’t plan yoga as part of my diet, but I love the way the deep breathing and movements make me feel, and it helps balance a long week of heavy cardio sessions.

In the dorm room!

The hubs

Jillian

-Steph

*Watch me do it!*

Day 49, End of Week 7

27 Feb

My alarm went off at 6:15 this morning, and I was out of bed and doing my abs exercises by 6:30. A few hours later, I was taking the Business and Environmental Concepts part of the CPA exam. When I took the Auditing and Attestation part of the exam last November, the first questions were pretty easy and then got more difficult as the exam progressed. Not for this one – I opened the first question, read it, and immediately thought “uuuuuh???”. I’m not sure if I passed or not, but I gave it my best shot.

I was exhausted after my exam, but had ordered some fresh scallops and striper bass from a guy who sets up at a local farm on Saturdays, so down the road I went to get my seafood. From there, I headed to the gym because I knew I had a long workout and wanted to get it in before I let myself decide that taking a nap was a better idea.

I did an hour of cardio like I usually do on Saturdays (stationary bike + incline walking on treadmill), but I also did chest and tris, which I usually do on Sundays.  I moved up chest and tris to today because tomorrow we’ll be in Chapel Hill visiting my sister, who’s a freshman there. (Yay!) The gym is only open from noon – 5pm on Sundays, so I doubt I’ll be able to make it back in time for a workout. I’ll make up the 30 minutes of cardio I would have done tomorrow by tacking on an extra 15 minutes to a couple of cardio sessions Monday and Tuesday.

I feel better than I did a few days ago, although I realized that I’m going to have to wean myself off the fat burner. Going cold turkey was no good. I’m reducing my intake by 50% for a week, then by Week 9, I’ll be fully off of it.

I’m liking how I look, and even over the past few days I’ve really started to see some more noticeable changes happening. It has been kind of fun to watch! I am at the point where muscle separation is visible in my arms and back when I’m stationary. The goal now is to make those cuts deeper by continuing to lose body fat. My lower half, where I carry most of my fat, is also trimming up and I’m happy to finally see that going away!! The dedication to building my abs is paying off too – my obliques are really showing through and I’m getting a nice line down the middle of my midsection.

So, here at the end of Week 7, with 5 weeks left to go, I’m satisfied with my progress so far and thrilled to finally see some really nice changes in my body. I’m entering a stage where I’ve never really been, so everything here on out is new for me. Just seeing the changes happen is all the motivation I need to keep going.

I’ll post a few progress pictures on Monday. I’m going to try to get an airbrush tan that day, so there’s a good chance I’ll look a little (a lot?) orange, but the tan should help the camera pick up on the muscle definition.

Steph

*Watch me do it*

Moving quads to tomorrow

25 Feb

There is a reason people only take on a diet like this for 12-16 weeks. It is both mentally and physically taxing, especially when considering the time spent in the gym. I’m doing 8.5 hours of cardio per week plus lifting 4 days a week. It took two full weeks of 2-a-days at the gym, but it finally came – pure exhaustion.

I knew it would happen, but hoped I could get as far through the diet as possible before the signs of over-training showed up. For me the signs include a feeling of lethargy, a runny nose and slightly sore throat. The supplements I’m taking (including L-Glutamine and Vitamin C) both help to boost the immune system. But the body is not used to such drastic changes, and it is bound to push back.

THE Champion (isn't he cute?! *sigh*)

So what do I do now?

First, I know that I must be smart about what I do and listen to what my body is saying. Today’s AM cardio session was tough. I didn’t want to be there and that’s very unusual for me. So, I’ll probably take a rest this afternoon and go in for my quad workout tomorrow. Although Fridays are typically a full rest day, I think this will be for the best.

Second, anyone who has done a diet like this knows that the last few weeks on the diet aren’t meant to be fun. They are meant to get results. I love this Arnold quote. He was talking about lifting here, but what he says can apply to all areas of bodybuilding:

“The last three or four reps is what makes the muscle grow. This area of pain divides the champion from someone else who is not a champion. That’s what most people lack, having the guts to go on and just say they’ll go through the pain no matter what happens.”

-Arnold Schwarzenegger

So I will push on, focus on the end goal, and have a fantastic quad workout…tomorrow!

Steph

*Watch me do it*

Going off the crack

24 Feb

I have been taking a fat burner every day for over 7 weeks now but I think it’s time to wean myself off of it. I used to take a fat burner with Ephedra called Stimerex, but I decided to go Ephedra-free this go around and went with VPX Meltdown.

Searching for a fat burner is a little overwhelming. I bought mine at www.bodybuilding.com, and you can go through a list of over 250 products, all that promise to increase thermogenesis and accelerate your metabolism to get you “extreme” and “hardcore” results.

I try not to even look at the ingredients. Stuff like “4-Methylsulfanylbutanoic Acid” and “Synephrine HCL” just seems scary. (Although Syntrax Fyre has an ingredient called “Velvet Bean Extract” which I’ll leave you to make your own conclusions about.) I ended up with VPX because I’d tried a few samples before and honestly, I think I’d see about the same results from any product that I chose.

I take 2-3 capsules of VPX every morning and I can’t say I don’t like the feeling – its like an instant buzz and it helps me to wake up, especially for early morning cardio. But, I can tell the effects are wearing off because it used to curb my hunger but does not help with that anymore. I also think that anything like this should be cycled. It helped me to start the process and now that I’ve got the momentum going I can finish without it. I’ll still drink lots of green tea during the day, because I’m a big believer in caffeine for fat burning.

So goodbye VPX for now. I will start to take NO EXPLODE along with my other supplements, which I could not take with the fat burner because I wasn’t able to get any sleep. The main thing I’m going after in the NO EXPLODE is the L-Arginine, which helps to repair muscle tissue, but the product is also good for an energy boost.

I’ll post a new picture next Monday (March 1). I am thinking about getting an airbrush tan because my husband insists that having some color helps. I agree with him, but I refuse to sit in a tanning bed, so I’m still unsure what I want to do because I don’t want to be orange or overly tan. I’ve tried the tinted lotions but those don’t give you a very deep color. Decisions, decisions…

Steph

Watch me do it!

Crossroads

23 Feb

Trudging through 3 months of dieting can be tedious and sometimes the expectations are so high it can seem like a lost cause. I’ve found that having a diet journal comes in really handy when you feel like you are forgetting why you started a diet in the first place.

I think most dieters hit a point that defines the success of a diet. It is a time when you either muster the willpower to stick with it or say “screw it” and return to your old habits. I’m there right now at the crossroads. I hit it a few days ago when I felt like progress wasn’t coming fast enough.

This morning I decided I had to make the decision to follow through or not. The worst thing for me would be to go back to Square One. So, not wanting to do that, I’m forging ahead. Reading my earlier posts from January helped me in making my decision. I was in a really good place then, and it brought back that optimism I had when I started out. Here are some of my favorite posts from the past that motivated me and reminded me why I love doing this!

The power of willpower (1/25/10)

Mr. Easy (1/21/10)

Staying Motivated (1/20/10)

My Short Term Goal (1/16/10)

Steph

*Watch me do it*

Homemade Larabars

22 Feb

I’ve been searching for a good energy bar to make for my sister Jillian. She’s in college and needed a healthy snack to eat during long, late-night labs or to grab between classes. After looking at a few recipes that all seemed to have too many ingredients for my intermediate cooking skills, a friend suggested Larabars, which are fantastic and have very few (often 3 or less) ingredients. The only problem is that they are pretty expensive. (The lowest price I’ve seen is $1.29 at Trader Joes but I’ve seen them as high as $2.00).

So, I did a little Googling and I came across an amazing blog called “Enlightened Cooking” and found a recipe for homemade Larabars. The link to the blog and the recipe is here:

Enlightened Cooking – Homemade Larabars

These bars have 2 main ingredients – dried fruit and nuts. If you have a food processor, you’re in business. I made three kinds, one with dates and cashews, one with dates, cranberries, and cashews, and one with prunes and cashews (yes, prunes sound disgusting, but you’ll change your mind about them after you’ve tried these bars).  The best thing is that I made the bars super cheaply. I bought the dried fruit for $1 a box at Walgreens and the cashews (unsalted, not roasted) at Trader Joes for $4.99.

3 Ingredients = Awesome Energy Snack

Although they are really good, I can’t say I’ll be eating many of these on my diet — the sugar in the fruit and the pretty heavy fat content from the nuts doesn’t make them ideal for rapid fat loss. Cashews are a pretty fatty nut, so almonds or walnuts are probably the better choices if you are on a diet or closely watching your weight. But, they are great for travel and if you are pretty active and hitting the gym hard, I don’t see any reason why they can’t be eaten on a daily basis on a “maintenance” diet. You can also cut them in half or into thirds for a sweet, but healthy, dessert at the end of the day.

If you happen to make these, let me know how they turned out!

Steph

Watch me do it!

3 Kinds of Homemade Larabars

Imma be rockin’ like this

22 Feb

It’s amazing how being on a good diet and a regular training routine helps you get up in the morning. I definitely notice a difference from the times when I am not eating so well and sort of wimping out on training (especially cardio). This morning I woke up at 5:15,wide awake and ready to get to the gym to do 45 minutes of cardio before Meal 1. I really like running now because it makes me feel so good afterward. I ran 3 miles and then walked to make up the rest of the time.

The days are starting to blur together, although I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing since the minutia can kill my patience. I like being in a routine so I can focus on the bigger picture. It helps me to relax a little and look toward the longer-term goal. (And focus on other things like studying for my CPA!)

I have changed one thing. Since I’ve been lifting the same split for 8 weeks, I decided to switch it up this weekend. Here’s what I’m doing now:

Sunday: Chest/Tri

Monday: Back/Bi

Wednesday: Shoulders and hamstrings

Thursday: Quads (this has not changed)

Before, I was doing arms together and shoulders with chest. But I really want to focus on my shoulders and continue to focus on my quads, so that’s why I’ve separated them into their own days. Separating legs into two days is the best thing I’ve ever done. Although it spreads out the often-dreaded leg day over two days, I find it to be a lot less stressful because I don’t get as exhausted.

I am still doing cardio only on Tuesdays and Saturdays and I’m doing my 2-a-days Monday – Thursday. My new favorite song to listen to during cardio is Imma Be from the Black Eyed Peas (hence today’s post title). Love it!

Fergie looks amazing. She's clearly worked hard for this body!

Steph

Watch me do it!