Morning Exercise Has Changed My Life

I finally figured out how to make myself go to the gym: Working out in the morning.

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This was a very unexpected circumstance for me. I am emphatically not a morning person. Like, not at all. I also don’t like working out, I don’t like eating late dinners, I don’t like skipping happy hour so I can go to the gym. I did join a gym, but at best I can drag myself there maybe one or two days a week. At most.

I often have a hard time sleeping, so it seemed impossible that I could ever become one of those people who gets up at 6:00 am to hit the gym. But then I tired it one time. And it was awesome.

Sure, I felt like crap when I woke up. But I always feel terrible in the morning. On my way to work I felt great. Even though I hadn’t slept very sell that night, I felt shockingly focused and awake at work. After trying this out for a few days, I started noticing that my focus and concentration at work were sharper than normal. When I hit the gym after work I don’t feel any different. Just tired and sweaty.

Now that I’ve started going to the gym in the morning, I actually feel pretty good during the day-definitely better than days when I don’t hit the gym-which makes it a lot easier to feel motivated to exercise.

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Interestingly, there’s a little bit of research about building better habits. Jawbone, the fitness tracker company, recently released some data showing that morning exercisers tend to be more consistent than people who workout in the evening.They tracked over 1 million people, and determined that the folks who worked out at 6:00 am were the most consistent exercisers.

I have to eat before working out, or else I get nauseous and faint, but there’s some research suggesting that exercising before breakfast can seriously help people lose weight, especially around the holidays:

“So, unpleasant as the prospect may be, set your alarm after the next Christmas party to wake you early enough that you can run before sitting down to breakfast. ‘I would recommend this,’ Dr. Heilbronn concluded, ‘as a way of combating Christmas’ and those insidiously delectable cookies.”

I guess the takeaway I have from this post is that if you’re trying to find something that works for you, you really do have to try different things. There’s no way I would ever have anticipated that I could ever become one of those people who wakes up at 6:00 am to get to the gym, but if I hadn’t given it a shot I would never have known.

At this point, I’ve been going for about a 25 minute spin on the elliptical about 3-4 days a week. Usually I get about 2.5 miles. I’m hoping to switch over to the treadmill soon, now that I’m feeling a little less bad at exercise.

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And Now Week 6

Wow this Snatched journey has whizzed past. I am actually really sad for it to be ending. I’ve decided to stick with my plan and do 2 classes/week at Mark Fisher while keeping up 2 days a week at Blink. It’s slightly less than the 5 days I’m doing now but I am fairly certain it’s sustainable.

What I’m more concerned about is how nutrition factors in. We’ve been doing 2 week check-ins with Mark and he hasn’t adjusted any of my macro-nutrients even though I’m experiencing MINIMAL weight loss (I’m losing inches though!). So I’m not sure when it STOPS working what I do… Presumably if I’m still a member at Mark Fisher Fitness I can ask him for advice — he prides himself on being open/available to all his ninjas.

Last class was fun! We bought some ninja masks and all wore black and it was a silly good time. It kind of turned into a 50 Shades of Grey thing but … what doesn’t? This is our class picture and I LOVE them. I will really miss these silly people after next week. ALSO tragically — I am missing our last class due to a handbell festival. So I’m trying to figure out nice ways to say goodbye to these guys on Thursday.

Karen came over and we cooked a bunch this weekend as always. I am hoping to try and keep up some of this recipe planning for the time to come as it’s been infinitely helpful to me.

We made

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Everything was really tasty and I’m glad to have stuff for the week as always. This will be a busy week. I am thinking maybe I should’ve roasted a big bag of vegetable to go with lunch though as I don’t have any greens today. But so goes. Might be able to work that out tonight.

For the two weeks after snatched I was thinking about participating in Buzzfeed’s Clean Eating Challenge. I think I’d beef up the protein portions a little but it looks fun/easy enough to follow. I might see if Randall will do it with me. (Or any of you? Any takers??)

I am a little concerned I’m not going to get my 5th workout in this week because the bell festival is taking up my entire Saturday and Sunday. I may see if I can get an appointment Saturday evening because I think that’s my only shot so far.

Anyway — the end of snatched nears  my anxiety goes up. I think that’s normal. I don’t want to lose the momentum that I’ve worked really hard to maintain! There is a “Life after Snatched” workshop that I will attend so that’s good. And I’m sure Mark will have good tips on continuing to live your best life after snatched.

I’ve also really enjoyed having this blog space so thank you all for your encouragement and listening! I’ve been really moved by my friends who have popped up to say they’re reading and offer their own thoughts and feelings on my journey and theirs! Keep on doing everything in your control to live your best life! You can do it!

Week 4 is here!!

Wow! Already half done with Snatched. They keep saying weeks 3 and 4 will be the hardest and while I can’t say I’m discouraged, I am feeling tired. Last week my hip started hurting and that was a moment I was really glad to have the personal trainer at Blink. She took the time to really stretch me out and massage my hip and it’s feeling close to normal now. I even did kettle bell swings last night without it bothering me. I am also sitting on a lacrosse ball at work which is helping massage it for me. Nothing like a nice butt massage while working. #multitasking

I’ve been really busy with the workshop of the play on the weekends so our cooking parties have been abridged — but still happening. I’m realizing that when I get busy (even if it’s not an all-life-consuming kind of busy) it’s harder to stay focused on health and hotness. My teacher at Snatched last night said that at a certain point you have to stop thinking about it — like when you’re learning piano, at first your focused on every single note but after a while you can’t focus on the detail or you’ll lose the whole piece. Practice practice practice. I’m not sure if I’m communicating this well but it stuck out to me as something to work towards. Letting the workouts, the eating, become second nature to the point of really being able to see the big picture.

I am feeling vaguely discouraged based on the numbers on the scale. This entire journey I’ve fluctuated between 1 and 2 pounds lost. I feel like I’ve made some pretty massive behavioral shifts (eating much better — gym 5 days a week) and I’m not seeing that number go down. Part of this expectation is that I’ve gained a lot of weight pretty quickly and I always thought that it should be easy enough to take off and I’m not finding that to be true. I am losing inches. I emailed the Snatched team and they did not seem too concerned with the lack of weight loss as I’m losing inches (about 3 inches off my hips and 1.5 off my waist as of last week). Here’s what they said “According to these numbers, we’re not seeing tons of weight movement, but spectacular waist and hip inches movement. This likely means we’re burning fat, but also retaining some water from the training and inflammation (not a big deal, as it’s really only affecting the scale and you’re getting demonstrably smaller).”

Mark Fisher in his infinite emails says that people who have chronically dieted have messed up metabolisms and tend to see weight loss slower than the rest of people. I have literally been dieting on and off since age 11 so I’m not surprised to find myself in that category.

On the other hand, I feel strong. Like gun show strong. I still have fat around my muscles but you don’t have to push as far to get them. The Snatched classes are progressing in difficulty and I feel like I am able to keep up and run my own race. My personal trainer is pushing me harder with heavier weights and I feel like things that were hard for me when I just started are getting easier. She’s piling the weight on and I can feel my shoulders and back gaining strength. It’s cool.

The nice thing about doing this for ME and not for AN EVENT is that the pressure is a little off. It’s not like Oh I really hope I fit into THAT DRESS. Or how will my back look with people STARING at it. Instead I really truly feel like I’m able to run my own race and to do this for me. I want to do my best but there is no reason to put pressure on the process. I am going to try really hard and not weigh myself for the time being and focus instead on just doing a good job.

I am still planning on taking my Week 4 progress pictures to see if there are larger shifts visible in comparison to the beginning. I read some blog about annoying things people trying to get fit do and one of the items was take before/after pictures before there’s significant change. SORRY (not sorry) IF THAT IS ANNOYING!

Week 4! Let’s DO THIS!

Why do SMART people fall for DUMB scams?

1) I am going to admit to you here that I would love to lose 4lbs a week without adjusting diet or exercise.

2) I also know this is not going to happen for me.

3) I also may click some ad promising 1) even though I know 2) to be true.

WHY?

New York Magazine published a really interesting article for why this may be. I tend to do a lot of reading/research on food and diet and so Google and Facebook — while monitoring my web usage — constantly target me with ads using some random clip from Doctors or Dr. Oz or HOW DID JESSICA SIMPSON LOSE 10lbs OVERNIGHT? The more I’m exposed to these scammy articles the more it gets into my head and the more I want to click. How DID she do that? (Spoiler: She didn’t. She probably killed it on Weight Watchers with dieticians and trainers.) ImageAlso perhaps the more I’m invested in an outcome of weight loss the more I want to believe that whatever miracle lotion will actually rid my body of cellulite.

The article presents a few ways of reviewing weight loss plans to make sure your expectations are in check when potentially facing a scam. It also links to a Bureau of Consumer Protection article that really clearly lays out some things to avoid as well (mostly for advertisers but still) and is a pretty short but interesting read.

What I want to add is a terribly over-simplified yet truthful article from Business Insider. The advice they have is simple: the way to lose weight is to eat real food. And while weight loss certainly is more complicated than that, I found that in my two week pullback I lost weight and did not worry too much about calories or fat grams or portions. Instead I ate real food that fill you naturally and managed to shed a few pounds. Now maintaining that is the issue (always, right?) but the idea rings true. Whatever fad diet rages, if you eat your vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats — you’ll lose weight no matter what you call it.

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Little Reminders

I just got back from my college reunion this weekend. I was close to my all time highest weight by the time I graduated college and it was no mystery to me how that happened. In fact, aside from seeing Alex and other friends, the thing I was most excited about was the FOOD. There is a Mexican place that has insanely cheap and strong margaritas and nachos with a flat fee for unlimited toppings. There’s a bar with $3 well drinks and beers, the best tater tots you’ll ever have and amazing burgers. There is a place that has pancakes that are slowly cooked and puff up about half an inch before it gets to you.

And believe you, I ate all of this. I tried to keep moderation in mind. Desperately. I was fairly successful but came home to an expected weight gain.

I follow New York Times Well and I love it and of course, the first feed I open is cautioning that women with Type 2 Diabetes are more likely to have heart disease than their male counterparts. I am someone who sometimes struggles with high levels of A1C which is a predictor in diabetes. It has gotten better with weight loss but I am still on the higher end of normal. And I had to reflect back on my weekend and ask myself if I had to indulge as much as I did. Is it worth it in the end?

I need to start learning how to ask myself these questions in the moment. I am going back to the diet I outlined in my last post because that diet steers you towards foods that have a low glycemic index which basically means they don’t spike your blood sugar, making it a healthier diet for most people and especially those who are predisposed to diabetes.

I will leave you with a photo of Alex and I being silly at a thrift shop. She bought those glasses because all is right with the world.

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