Thursday, September 30

Around the World

M and I headed back out to 24 Hour Fitness this morning for another trip around the gym.  Both of us were feeling a little tired/sore/achy/unmotivated/wishing we were still snuggled beneath the soft warmth of bed, and so it took all the strength and pep-talking we could muster to get to it.

Luckily, once M STOMPED ME at a game of Around the World in 24 Hour Fitness's full-sized basketball court, she suddenly picked up steam and away we went!  We tried out some new machines today that even M hadn't tried before, working out our backs, deltoids, biceps and the back sides of our thighs.  We managed the strange "I'm-going-to-fold-you-in-half-and-eat-you" ab machine, and then I tried the crunch station with a 10lb weight (I'm not now sure why I thought that was a good idea... but it sounded good at the time).  We also made it over 10 minutes on the stationary bike, which is roughly 10 minutes longer than any bike ride I might have taken in the last year!

Now I'm less sleepy but physically tired, sore in more places than I was this morning, not as achy, slightly more motivated to tackle the rest of my to-do list and somehow have managed to talk myself out of going back to bed.  Working out with M is both more fun, and more intensive than the workouts I sampled at Curves and I'm glad that I'm getting the opportunity to try out some new machines and routines because I was starting to get bored with the 30 minute circuit.

Now it's just a matter of time before my body starts changing some more.  *News Flash* This week I had to tighten my belt a notch when I noticed my pants were starting to sag!

CamelBak BPA-Free Better Bottle with Classic Cap,Grey,1 LiterNALGENE Tritan Grip-N-Gulp BPA-Free Water Bottle,Slate BlueNathan Stainless Steel 700 ml Flip Straw Bottle (Black Matte Soft Touch)

Tuesday, September 28

24 Hours to Fitness

This morning began 24 free days at 24 Hour Fitness.  I met up with M this morning and she took me on a tour through the gym, one machine at a time.  It was great seeing her in the role of "teacher" since she's been working out there for a few weeks now, and I'm really proud of how far she's come in her fitness and self-confidence.

We spent about a half hour playing Around the World on the basketball court (I'm not as good at shooting hoops as I used to be!) and then headed out on the floor to work our legs, abs and then spend some time spinning on the exercise bikes and walking on the elliptical machines.  By the end of the two hour visit, I was sweaty, tired and already looking forward to when we meet up again on Thursday for round 2.

24 Hour Fitness Three 50 Minute Training Sessions

Saturday, September 25

And Around The Track We Go!

Just a week and a day away from the Great Columbia Crossing, and I couldn't be more pleased with my progress getting prepared for this 10k.

The first 10k that my husband and I did together we hardly did any training to prepare for, and the second one we only trained for about 3 weeks ahead of time to try to be in shape enough to survive.  This time around though, I have been active all summer, and I've spent the last couple of weeks testing my endurance and working up to the 6 1/2 mile distance that the Great Columbia Crossing will cover October 3rd.

While last week I walked/jogged 4 miles, this morning I upped it to 5 and hit the track with as much fervor and enthusiasm as I could muster for 8a.m. on a Saturday morning.  I forgot headphones this morning, so instead I gave myself a series of pep-talks and kept verbally pushing myself to keep a steady pace and not worry about checking the time on my cell phone until I was done.  I have a really bad habit of wanting to time every single lap when I train, and while that might be helpful if I was doing a sprint, it is really just unnecessary micro-management over such a long haul.

This morning I was able to complete right around 5.5 miles in 1 hour and 40 minutes.   I'm really excited that even though I lengthened the walk a mile and a half further than what I did last week I was able to maintain an 18 minute per mile average.

All this work has really paid off and I can't wait to get to the starting line on the 3rd and push myself to finish ahead of the big yellow bus of doom.  I have truly proven to myself this summer that hitting personal goals, while never easy, can be done if you just put one foot in front of the other.

In other news: My reward for finishing this 10k is a new pair of running shoes.  Hooray!

New Balance Women's WT572 Trail Running ShoeNew Balance Women's WR740 NBx Running ShoeNew Balance Women's Wx812 Training Performance Shoe

Thursday, September 23

My Final Day At Curves

(Yesterday) My third workout with Curves also marked the end of my week trial of their gym, and it was with a mixture of excitement and determination that I went into my workout feeling like I had no choice but to make the most of the workout.  I pushed, pulled, huffed and puffed my way through my final 30 minute circuit; halfway through realizing that my shoes were dirty and were leaving a trail of sawdust and paintball residue from walking the indoor field at Warpaint International on Tuesday... (oops)  And then I continued on working out as hard as I could without stepping, kicking or jumping too hard in an attempt to keep more gunk from falling off my shoes.

By the end of the workout, I had solidified that while I can see the value in the "sisterhood" at Curves and their ability to cram a low-impact total body workout into 30 minutes, I don't think that their gym is for me long term.  I get bored of exercise easily, and so I need a wide variety of activity to keep me engaged and willing to stretch beyond the comfort of my couch.

I do applaud the women at Curves for their dedication to changing their lives through exercise, and the people who have created the workout circuit for finding a way to help women get over the "scariness" of beginning a workout routine.  I am sure that I'll head back to Curves to visit in the future since I have met some great ladies there, and hopefully we'll all be a few steps closer to our weight and lifestyle goals!

(Today) The weather seems to be... maintaining... for the moment anyway.  Showers are in our future, and hopefully they will hold off long enough for M and I to spend some time in the garden.  K and I should be walking again tonight too, and I can't wait to hear more about the 10k she completed a couple of weeks ago!  Nothing makes you feel better about your decision to exercise than meeting physically challenging milestones head-on and coming out a winner!

The World Has Curves: The Global Quest for the Perfect Body

Monday, September 20

Round 2 At Curves

I found myself with a very busy day ahead of me, and an appointment at Curves at 10:30.  I was determined to not reschedule the workout even though I worried it would impede me getting back for a business meeting on time, and left 15 minutes early in hopes that if I started a bit early I'd get back in time to get down to business.

Sure enough, there was a slot for me in the Curves circuit to get started a little early and I dove right into the workout.  I've decided that the benefit of the structured 30 minute workout routine that Curves has set up is that it's always only 30 minutes.  I can see how the program would work well for someone who has a busy schedule and doesn't know how they'd spend hours and hours at a gym each week between jobs, husbands, kids and regular "life" activities.  Cheers to Curves for carving out a program that's perfect for women on the go!

I did try to push the equipment as hard as it would let me go today, after some assurance from one of the trainers that "you can't break it".  I was able to really put my muscle into each of the machines and get my heart rate up within just a couple of minutes of starting, and maintain it throughout the workout.

Now that I've got the workout out of the way, it's time to hit the desk and crank out some projects.  Yay work!

Curves Fitness & Weight Management Program

Sunday, September 19

Endurance? How The Heck Did THAT Happen?

Since the 10k I am committed to doing is inching ever closer, I decided that I should start pushing my walks further and faster than I've been doing over the course of the summer.  I figure one of two things will happen; either I'll be really prepared for the Great Columbia Crossing October 3rd, or I'll be estimate just how far I'll make it before the big yellow "Get-Your-Ass-Off-The-Bridge" bus comes to collect me.

If this morning's walk is any indication... not only will I be able to finish the walk without being picked up by the bus, but I should also be able to thoroughly destroy my last 10k finish time of 2 hours 4 minutes.

This morning I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed to hit the track.  I decided to time myself walking 4 miles, roughly 2/3 of the 10k distance I'll be walking in just two short weeks.  For some reason about a half mile in both my legs started aching (probably residual soreness from Curves yesterday) and I began to second guess myself.  I started to think that maybe I wasn't in as good of shape as I thought I was... and maybe my third 10k would be my undoing.

Luckily, I pushed through the doubt and worked out the stiff pain in my left calf and right ankle because before I knew it I had hit a rhythm and was truckin' through each quarter mile with more ease than the one before.  From lap 6 onward, I was even able to jog down the backstretch of each lap!  2 miles in I really felt great and knew that I could do 4 miles, and although it wouldn't be easy it also wasn't going to kill me.

I finished the last lap of my 4th mile with a mixture of feelings of accomplishment and nervousness.  I just hoped that I had finished in a quick enough time that adding two more miles to the circuit on the 3rd wouldn't put me over the allotted finish time.  With one eye closed and the other eye cautiously peering through closed fingers I looked at the clock.  1 hour 12 minutes!

Although due to the added distance I wasn't able to maintain the 16 minute miles I did earlier this week, I still averaged about 18 minutes which is a winning number as far as the 10k is concerned.  To finish a 10k (approximately 6.5 miles) within the recommended time of 2 hours, a person needs to average 18 minutes 28 seconds per mile or better.  Although it'll be a close race for me I should be finishing right on time!

If you're interested in joining me for the Great Columbia Crossing, check out their event site:


Saturday, September 18

Aha, Curves! I got you!

So on my third trip to Curves, now that introductions and paperwork are out of the way, I had the pleasure of being introduced to the Curves workout machines and 30 minute circuit.  Stacy (my lovely morning Curves trainer) showed me around the small gym and gave me a demo of each of the machines, helping me to get my stance and form correct and showing me that hydraulics are man's best friend when it comes to changing machines ever 30 seconds.

The gist of the Curves circuit is pretty simple.  They have 13 strength training machines, interspersed with "recovery stations".  You use each machine for 30 seconds (music in the gym includes a timer to tell you when your time is up), then move to the next machine or recovery station.  The combination of the machines gives you a workout that reaches your entire body, and the recovery stations give you a chance to walk, dance or jog your body loose between exercises. (Click here to see the circuit for yourself)

I was more than a little skeptical about the effectiveness of the Curves machines initially, wondering how they could give an effective workout to women of varying fitness levels since there is absolutely no adjustment to weight, resistance, height or depth of any of the machines.  Stacy explained that Curves' machines work entirely on hydraulics, so the harder you push against the machines the harder they push back, and so you manage the intensity of your workout yourself.

Some of the machines were familiar to me from my experiences at gyms in the past, and some of them were new contraptions that had I not had instruction on, I may have never figured them out.  In the end, all of the equipment was easy to use and I had a healthy sweat going by the time my 30 minutes were up.  In addition to getting my workout done, I felt like I got to know a couple of the ladies at the gym and I can already tell that it isn't just a place the women go to work out; it's also a place that they go to escape judgement, catch up with friends and take a break from everything going on in their lives.

I look forward to my next two scheduled workouts.  We'll see where they take me!

Curves Freedom Fitness 1

Friday, September 17

Curves and... 10k's?

So I went to Curves today expecting to get my socks knocked off by their friendly staff and a killer workout that promises to burn (up to) 500 calories in just 30 minutes.  I was a little let down the last time I went in when the lady I met with was injured, but expected today to be different.  I was ready to grab the gym by the horns and let my inner Workout Panther out... RAWR!

Sadly, although the lady who I met with today was super friendly and did a great job of guiding me through what Curves is all about while filling out the "I will not sue Curves if I decide to do chin-ups without the use of hands and thus hang myself accidentally" paperwork, as it turns out the first day you go to Curves... you don't work out.  Instead, you sit down with one of their staff and spend about 30 minutes setting goals, telling Curves what it is that you expect to get out of your time there, and covering any medical history that they should know about before you start bustin' moves.

The experience showed me that Curves' start-up on their program is perfect for women who are just starting their fitness journey, and especially those women who don't know what they are really expecting short or long term from themselves or their gym.  Part counseling session, part pep-talk, their intake really makes you feel like you CAN do the fitness thing and helps you to set realistic goals for yourself so that you aren't discouraged by the end of your third visit.

So, tomorrow morning I have my official first workout at Curves and I'm looking forward to seeing how the workout routine goes.  From what I've seen (other women have been working out both times I've been in) it looks like the workout is going to be very structured, and we'll see if that's something that I will love... or if it will drive me crazy since I'm such a "free spirit".

Since I wasn't able to get my calorie-burn on while I was at the gym, when I got home I picked up a couple of poop bags, some headphones to listen to tunes on my HTC Droid and asked Pooch if he wanted to go for a walk. He sure did!!  We headed out the door and I made sure to check the time before we started so that I could know how on-track I am for walking the 10K I am participating in October 3rd.

As it turns out, on our 2.5 mile loop around the neighborhood we averaged 16 minute miles the whole way!  I'm really excited that I was able to complete 2.5 miles in 40 minutes; it is probably the best time I've made all summer and is a testament to how well my body is rising to the challenges I put before it.  Especially since I was able to jog about 5 blocks of the loop this time, more jogging than I've been able to do all year.

It's been a good day ;)

Curves: Permanent Results Without Permanent Dieting Curves on the Go

Wednesday, September 15

God Bless The Cloudy Days

I headed out early this morning to my local Curves to get set up with my 7 day free workout trial.  Unfortunately, the lady who was supposed to get me set up was injured and couldn't give me the initial consultation so I'm rescheduled for Friday afternoon.  I did poke around the gym a little, and was really surprised at how small the gym is.  I'm looking forward to getting set up and seeing how Curves changes women's lives.

In the meantime, I came home and headed out to the back yard for some early morning berry picking turned landscape overhaul.  Initially, I was just going to pick some more blackberries and weed the vegetable garden.  Luckily it was early enough that I was able to get to about 90% of the berries before the bees arrived.  Our property is just on the edge of town and we're surrounded by farmland, and during the late summer when the trees in our backyard bloom thousands of bees come off the farm to pollinate.  The bees aren't aggressive, and you can stand on the patio and watch them but picking the blackberries from under the trees is a little nerve wracking because of the number of bees and the loud buzzing.  The buzzing is actually loud enough at times to be heard inside the house!

Once I had filled my biggest salad bowl with yummy blackberries, I went to weeding the garden.  The mulch and bark have done a good job keeping the weeds down though, and so after about 15 minutes I was done.  I wasn't finished working in the yard though, and really wanted to work up a sweat so I headed into the shop and pulled out a couple of shovels and rakes and started digging, breaking up and leveling out the area that will someday (soon) be a second patio.

Two hours later, I have a mostly level plot of soil that is now begging for pavers and fire as well as having burnt over a thousand calories making my yard look beautiful!

CobraCo FB6132 Round Cast Iron Copper Finish Fire Bowl with Screen and Cover Walks, Walls & Patio Floors: Build with Brick, Stone, Pavers, Concrete, Tile and More

Sunday, September 12

A Long Anticipated Reunion

It has been a long, long time since I attempted a Billy Blannks workout.  This morning I was having a really difficult time getting motiviated to get up and go though, and as I pondered what I might do to get a workout done, I decided to check out YouTube to see if anyone in this great wide world had uploaded any of Billy's workouts.  Lo and behold, they have!  And not just excerpts of workouts, but full versions (paired down into chapters).  God bless the internet.

I was suffering the double whammy of not only feeling unmotivated this morning but also feeling a bit sluggish and lethargic.  So I was sure that I'd be able to start the workout, but didn't expect to finish it.  I figured, an attempt would be better than nothing though, and so I started the TaeBo Cardio Billy Blanks workout.

True to my initial thoughts, I made it through part 2 of the workout and felt like I was ready to quit.  One thing about TaeBo is that it REALLY gets you sweating, and so after about 20 minutes I felt like I had gotten a complete workout.  But there were three more chapters left, and so I pushed through my workout wall and kept going.  And I'm so glad I did!!

Not only did I make it through the remainder of the workout, but I was able to do it without taking more than two breaks for water and to catch my breath.  This summer of working out has really been building into my body responding to challenges and coming out swinging, and I'm amazed with myself when I try something new (or go back to something I used to do when I was super-fit) and am able to succede.  Although I still haven't lost a bunch of weight (still hovering around 194 these days...) there is no denying that my stamina and strength are drastically improved from what they were in May.

I am glad I made it through the end of the workout, and had forgotten how encouraging and uplifting Billy is at the end of his programs.  He does a great job of doing a full cooldown, something that is lacking in most workout videos, and of speaking very heartfelt and sincere words to let you know you've done a good job and he hopes you'll be back to work out with him again soon.  Even on tape, Billy is an inspiration to exercisers and I encourage you to give his workouts a shot even if all you do is fast forward to the end when you need a little pick-me-up.

Billy Blanks' Tae-Bo Cardio

Saturday, September 11

Never Stop

Before I go on about my exercise routine, first I would like to say that today is a sad day for America and I appreciate the sacrifices that so many have made in response to the 9/11 attacks.  Lost but not forgotten, I hope that time continues to bring peace to the hearts of those who lost loved ones.


Today was a beautiful day outside, and I met K this morning for a couple of miles around the track.  At some point at Dragon*Con (I was too delirious then for me to remember what day it was now) I tweaked my knee walking around downtown Atlanta.  After an afternoon of bandaged support and a night of rest, I thought the pain had gone away and that the pain was more a symptom of exhaustion than an actual injury.  Until today, anyway.  The knee started acting up this morning, and so although K and I made good time on our first two miles (just under 45 minutes) I wasn't able to continue on.

I did come home and do some of the ab exercises that I learned last month during the 10 Pound Slimdown Challenge, and I'm pleased to say that my abs ache as if the ExerciseTV minions attacked my midsection.  I'm hoping that keeping a focus on the abs will help to tone it up and make zipping up my "almost fit" jeans a little bit easier!

On the writing & exercising fronts, I have been given the opportunity to join Curves for a week to write a review on their gym, and so sometime next week I am going to get that started.  I'm looking forward to trying something new, and seeing how it adds to the workouts that I've done thus far.  Every time I try something new, I learn a little bit more about myself and my capabilities and I can't wait for this opportunity to keep growing mentally and shrinking physically!

I hope that you all have a peaceful day and as you reflect on your perhaps not-all-perfect physique, please do take a moment to remember that our battle with the scale is small (fat-free) potatoes compared to what is going on in much of the world today.  We are blessed to have the luxury of worrying about our waistlines instead of wondering how and when our next meal will come and all things considered, it isn't the worst problem for any of us to have.

Flag - 9/11 Cover Sports Illustrated Magazine September 24, 2001

Thursday, September 9

Taking It Easy... One Step At A Time

Still not feeling totally up to par, I spent most of the day cuddling with Pooch and getting as much sleep as possible.  I got to a point this evening where sleep was no longer an option, and my stuffy nose and sinus headache had left the building so I suited up and headed out to the track with M and K (and Pooch too).

While I have been proud of my progress so far this summer, M has really taken the weight-loss bull by the horn. She announced when I stopped off for a visit yesterday that she had dropped another two pant sizes!!  Truly great results, and a wonderful example of what someone can do when they are focused on getting in shape.

K, M and I took a leisurely hour long walk this evening, getting two miles of track out of the way without pushing ourselves too hard. This gave us a chance to get caught up on what's been happening in our respective lives over the last week, and for M and K to get a first-hand report on Dragon*Con.

I realized tonight that the clock is ticking, and it's time for me to start ramping up my walking to prepare for my upcoming 10K October 3rd.  I hope that this head cold doesn't linger so I can get rocking!

Run Fast: How to Train for a 5-K or 10-K Race

Wednesday, September 8

Back from Dragon*Con, and Under the Weather

I wasn't able to work out yesterday or today due to a bit of a head-cold that is starting to wreak havoc on my poor body.  But I wanted to come back to the blog and let everyone know how the trip went!

The weekend we spent in Atlanta at Dragon*Con was a lot of fun, activities and more walking than I've done in years!  We got a hotel just over a mile away from where the convention was held, and rather than taking the bus or train back and forth our group opted to put some miles in our shoes and hoof it!  In addition to just getting to and from the convention, Dragon*Con is spread across five different hotels in downtown Atlanta and we logged thousands more steps just moving from event to event.

Happily, all this activity kept us from gaining a bunch of weight, even with the changes of climate, time-zones, humidity, salty/fried/gooey foods and plethora of carbonated and alcoholic beverages we consumed at the Con.  It showed all of us that staying active (and keeping our metabolisms primed) while travelling is important  in keeping our waistlines trimmed and proper.

And as promised... here is a photo of my progress.  I was able to get trim enough to fit into the Lara Croft costume I put together for Dragon*Con and it fit great!!

BEFORE:                                  TODAY:

Thursday, September 2

One Last Walk Before Victory!

In just a few short hours I am boarding a plane to Dragon*Con to meet up with friends and other like-minded geeks to celebrate all things awesome!

K and I headed out to the track for a couple miles of chit-chat and last minute calorie burning before donning the Lara Croft costume this weekend.  I'm excited to get out of town and am so proud of the progress I've made so far!  I'll be off the blogosphere until Tuesday, but check back next week for progress photos!

Wednesday, September 1

I WILL Have Incredible Abs!!

Although I am getting trimmed and toned all over, my tummy is a fatty zone that I inherited from my mom's-mom's-mom's-mom.  It's always the first area I gain weight, and the last area I lose it.  It's one of those tummies that periodically inspiresd strangers to come up and say, "Oh, you're expecting! When are you due?"

To those happy "I'm going to touch your belly even if you do look like you might amputate my arm for the inconvenience" people I say: I am not pregnant.  I am just curvy and unfortunately, all of my curves mingle around my belly button like interns 'round a water cooler.  And even if I were pregnant, I would not want you to touch me.  So DON''T pat my fat!

Because this has been an ongoing issue for the women of my family for many millennia, I'm always focused on finding ways to fight the bulge.  Tonight, I returned to a workout that M and I did during the 10 Pound Slimdown Workout called Incredible Abs with Cindy Whitmarsh.  Although 20 minutes of constant ab exercises can be (and is) excruciating, Cindy's routine left me with an awareness of every abdominal muscle I have.  Even those hard to reach lower ab muscles that never seem to do any thing but wave at people passing me on the track got a workout!

Luckily since I started working out in May the whole "pregnancy" conversation happens a lot less frequently than it used to which is a sign that things are starting to look a lot less round in the abdominal area.  Either that, or enough one-armed ladies have accumulated in town that word's got around that I'm not to be mussed with.  Both possibilities are a good thing in my book.

In other news, I purchased two pair of rockin' spandex shorts to keep friction from stalling future workouts.  I'm happy to say that they are comfy and do a good job of reducing thigh-rubbing.  Two big thumbs up!

Womens Pro Bike Short in Black XLARGE