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Power 90: Habit Building

Nothing to report on the Weight Watcher front this week.  I’ve been up slightly for over a week despite being fully on plan.  I haven’t missed any workout days in March yet.  However, the scale might not be cooperating, but I managed to get into a size smaller in jeans!  Still “women’s” size but another smaller size makes me very happy.  I’m still wearing several of the higher size too – especially my Old Navy drawer pair.  Which honestly are fitting me a little better since I first started wearing them.  Less junk in the trunk!

Another reason I committed to Power 90:  a concrete time frame.  I told myself I could do anything for 90 days.  At the end of the first round, I’m hoping that the habits I’ve formed will continue — which is why I’m not quitting this round exactly at 90 days but continuing until I leave for RT in April.  When I return, I’ll have to decide what my next workout goal will be and what time commitment I’ll make.  Most likely I’ll do another 30-60 days of Power 90 with increased weights, and then see if I’m ready to make the jump to P90X.

After 75 days of Power 90, I think I’ve almost got the habit of exercise engrained in my head.  My preferred time to work out is over my lunch, but I’ve worked out as late as 8 PM to fit it in.  I’ve also gotten up early on the weekend to fit in my routine before the family was up.  Yes, I gave up my only day to sleep in to work out!  Shocking I know.

But I keep waiting for it to get easier.  When there’s no question in my mind that I’m going to do it, even if I don’t feel like it.  Oh, I still do the routine, but I wish I didn’t have that moment of dread.  Especially on cardio days.  Ugh, they really wipe me out.  I keep waiting for the day when my legs don’t feel wobbly.  When I don’t have to bring my arms down and rest a little bit.  Or when I don’t lose my balance in the taebo portion (because I’m so tired) and nearly fall over.  Or when I’m not slow to roll out of bed because I’m a little sore.

Then I realize:  it’s NEVER going to get easier in that regard.  Why?  Because I’m always pushing harder.

If I can do 15 pushups now for each set, then in another 30 days I ought to be able to do 20.  (And I started doing a few from my toes this week, which are really killing me.)  If I’m using 10 lb dumbbells for most everything now and can get all 15 reps in, then I should go up slightly and make it hard again.  When the squats and lunges became easier on my knees, what did I do?  Throw some weight on my shoulders to make it harder.

And yes, on those cardio days when I’m gasping for air and dripping sweat, Tony says push harder, don’t give up, this is it, you’re almost done…  and so I push through even though I can’t see and my legs are burning.

It’s never going to get easier because I’m constantly raising the bar higher.  That’s a good thing, even if it doesn’t always feel like it as I crawl up the stairs.

I dream about being LIGHT on my feet.  Agile.  Strong.  Where I can walk/run a 5K and still have gas in the tank or hang with Middle on the basketball court.


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Power 90 Level 3/4

As I said in my update, I decided to move up to level 3/4 as of March 1st, which gave me 60 days on the beginning level 1/2.

Boy am I glad I waited that long.  (Some people start on level 3/4 as early as 30 days into the 90 day program.)

First up, the strength/scupt portion.  Most of the same weight lifting moves I’ve been doing are included in this level; however, there’s an additional fourth round at the end with all new exercises.  There are two main differences:

  • Speed
  • Max sets.

The first obvious difference is the increased speed.  I mean, I was seriously pumping hard to keep up.  I’m glad I had 60 days of concentrating on form before!  The other huge difference are the “max out” sessions.  Instead of sticking to 8-15 reps, you’re supposed to burn through as many as possible.

Believe it or not, I managed 20 (!!) pushups and 25 squats…AFTER doing all the other sets.  I was so stunned that I was able to do that much!

Today I tried the sweat/cardio portion.  Again, with the speed – it was insane.  Thankfully all the exercises were the same.  The power yoga warm up wasn’t any longer than usual (thank God!) but the rest of the mini sessions went from 2 to 3 rounds.  Man, the sweat was just pouring off me, but I made it all the way to the Taebo kicks and punches.  There, again, the speed was… Whew.  I had the form down after 60 days, or I never would have been able to keep up.

Here’s another reason I love Power 90.  I would NEVER push myself that hard alone.  I need someone to make me go harder and faster, and Tony does it without screaming or that annoying jock attitude that some “famous” celebrity trainers have.

I will admit to saying, “Tony you SUCK” when I realized that while there were only two sets of kicks…there were THREE sets of punches.  I’d pushed hard through the second, thinking maybe a new phase would follow (I could see one more bar of exercises – I just didn’t know what it was), only to find out that “last” set wasn’t really the last at all.

I’m sore again and my thighs were tired enough I didn’t try to add any additional walking today.  I might not be able to for awhile until my body adjusts.  For Activity Points (AP) on Weight Watchers, I was counting level 1/2 as “moderate” intensity – but I counted 30 mins of “high” intensity for 3/4 and the rest as stretching.  By how tired I am and how drenched my shirt was, I think I earned those higher APs!

Two months ago, I would have probably had a heart attack.

Now, I made it all the way through without having to pause for breath or stop altogether.  I’m still stunned that I did it.  Amazing!  I really think I’m going to be able to work up to P90X this year!

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Why Power 90?

I was talking to my boss at the Evil Day Job the other day and she sounded surprised that I was doing Power 90.  She said something like, “Isn’t that for men?”

Tony has both a woman and a man (young – he calls them “the kids”!) behind him for the Power 90 routine and she looks darned good.  Firm and toned, yes, but not muscular like a Russian weightlifter or something.  None of them are bulky that way.  Even Tony doesn’t look like a massive weightlifter.  These are not exercises to bulk up.

But it got me to thinking about WHY I choose to do Power 90 and why I like it so much, so I thought, hey, another blog post.  :lol:

When you diet, you inevitably lose muscle along with fat (unless you’re exercising to counteract it).  When you cut the calories significantly, your body will attack muscle first and hoard the fat cells.  When you crash diet a lot without exercise…and then gain it back…this is bad, obviously.

Everything you gain is fat.

I’ve been doing this for years and years and YEARS.  So my number one priority is to regain some muscle — which will improve my overall health as well as my metabolism, which has slowed to a snail’s pace.

I’m over 40 now.  Losing weight is harder than ever.  My metabolism is only going to slow down even more if I do nothing about it.  My flexibility and strength are going to deteriorate.  With That Man’s problems (hip and back plus he’s diabetic), he can barely get around most days even with weekly chiropractor visits and medication, and he’s not even 50 yet.

I don’t want to join him there in pain and constant doctor trips.  I want to be able to play basketball with the girls or horse around with Middle (even if she kicks me in the knee!).

I don’t want to have to go to a gym and use equipment.  While I do LIKE lifting on fancy machines, it’s much more likely that I won’t go if I have to find time to leave the house.  I can do Power 90 at home over my lunch or after dinner each day with minimal equipment.

I simply like lifting weights and always have.  I was a charter member of my high school’s strength club about a hundred years ago.  I even got up early to be at school by 6:30 3 times a week to lift weights before class, even though we’d lift more in PE during the day.  It got hard to find an exercise I hadn’t already done when it came time to lift in class.  These were free weights too — just bars and weights locked on the ends.  I could out-squat most of the boys in my class, easily squatting more than my body weight.

But when you lift that much…and then stop…where does all that muscle go?  Sigh.

So an exercise routine that involves strength training is perfect for me.  I used to hate to work out – especially cardio.  So I didn’t want that to be the ONLY thing I was doing, for fear I wouldn’t stick with it.

Plus, I just like how I feel doing Power 90.  I feel STRONG and dammit I need to feel strong in my life.  In my workout, I can punch and kick and pretend like I’ve got one badass right cross and left upper hook.  (In reality I’d probably suck in a real fight but while I’m working out, it feels great!)  I’d probably love a boxing or taebo class but I don’t know of any around here.

There is a deep tiredness I get from the strength days that’s hard to explain.  I always wonder if I’m going to be able to finish.  I’m lifting to the point of muscle failure, and that’s not always a comfortable feeling.  But it’s also exhilarating in a way.  To push myself that hard and work out until my arms are shaky and my knees don’t want to carry me up the stairs.  For someone who’s been so overweight most of my life, it makes me feel GOOD to do something I know I couldn’t do before, and conquer it.  Every single day.  I need that too.

I need it bad.

I need to feel strong and invincible at least for awhile.  That’s what Power 90 does for me.

I can only imagine how P90X would make me feel.  Maybe I’ll tackle it later in 2012.

As Tony says, “Do your best and forget the rest.”

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Power 90 Update: Day 60

(Power 90 Update: 30 Days)
I can’t believe I’ve made it 60 days!  I’ve never EVER worked out so consistently in my entire adult life.  If you check out my calendar in the picture, I only missed two days in February (Sat is usually my rest day).  One I made up by walking almost 3 miles on a Sat.  The other I took off because I was afraid I’d hurt my knee.  Otherwise, I earned all my stars!

(sorry, some of them are wobbly because my arms were shaky!)



I’m stunned at how far I’ve come.  When I started Power 90, I:

  • couldn’t do a plank from my toes.
  • couldn’t do more than 4 pushups (on my knees) for each set.
  • couldn’t do the jumping jacks or any of the high impact moves.
  • couldn’t do dips.
  • couldn’t do 10 full reps of most of the ab exercises.
  • could only lift 5 lbs.
  • couldn’t do the quad stretch (grabbing ankle behind me)
  • couldn’t wear my “drawer” jeans.

After 60 days, I’m now:

  • Able to do all the power yoga from my toes. The only move I still need to cheat on a little is the downward dog to runner’s move, but I don’t have to go down to the floor or my knees to make it.
  • Able to do 10 pushups for the first 2 sets (still on my knees but I’m getting there). This week I was able to do the “7-7-7” reps of wide, close, and regular pushups for the first time ever.
  • I’ve started doing some of the jumping jacks (I’ve had 3 kids, if you know what I mean!).
  • I’ve moved up to 10 lb dumbbells for most of the exercises except over the head (e.g. military press) and tricep extensions.
  • When I do the sets with lunges (the first two), I hold the 5 lb dumbbells on my shoulders.
  • Started doing the “easy” version of dips (with my legs under me to help, instead of stretched out straight in front of me).
  • Started wearing those drawer jeans!
  • Added additional leg exercises for toning.
  • Added additional walking sessions of 30 mins at least 2-3 times a week.
  • I can do 10+ reps for all the ab moves except the full-body crunch, but I’m very close there!
  • I can grab my ankle easily for the quad stretch.
  • My oldest daughter didn’t recognize me as I walked across the street the other night. (That Man and I were in separate cars on kid pick-up duty and we met up at Subway for a quick dinner before Upward awards.)
  • I’ve ordered dresses in sizes smaller than I’ve worn in about 15 years — and returned one because it was too big!
  • I’m wearing sizes smaller now than I did at my all-time low weight, even though I’m about 4 pounds away…

In February, I lost  6.6 pounds, bringing my total since Jan 2011 to 69.4.  Still on Weight Watchers, the most significant food change I made this past month was eating more.  I eat anywhere from 3-7 points over most days and still lose.  I also lost the following inches (totals since Jan 2012):

  • Waist:  -1 (-3)
  • Bust:  -1 (-3)
  • Hips:  -2 (-4)
  • Arms:  0 (-.5 each)
  • Thighs: 1 (-3 each)

Today I’ve decided to move up to Level 3/4 for the rest of my 90 days+ (I’m going to continue doing Power 90 up until I leave for RT in April).  I hope it doesn’t kill me!  I have no idea how much harder it is – I’ve never even watched the routine.  Wish me luck!

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Weight Watcher Update

I’m coming up on 60 days of consistent exercise using Power 90 on Feb. 29th.  I can’t *wait* to take my measurements and see where I am.  Okay, okay, I cheated a little and measured last week and I’ve seen another inch gone in several places (waist and bust!).  I haven’t seen any big losses on the scale lately, but I’ve been happily surprised and unfortunately frustrated in the shopping department.  (more below)

I’m down 66.2 pounds.  Thanks to Power 90, I’m wearing a size smaller than I did even at my low weight 12 years ago (even though I’m still 8 pounds away) and on the verge of going down again.  I held a plank for 30 secs the other day — after doing my full workout.  Two years ago, I didn’t even know what a plank was – I sure couldn’t do one!  This week, I’m adding more leg, hip, and butt exercises to my Power 90 Strength days to hopefully increase toning on my bottom half which has been the slowest to respond to weight loss.  I’m still reaaaaallly bottom heavy.  :oops:

I’ve begun the RT shopping!  I need several dresses for the evening events and plenty of cute things to wear during the day to the panels and workshops.  An excellent excuse to shop!  However, I’m right on the cusp of moving out of “Women’s” sizes down into regular sizes.  Woot!  Grrrr!

I mean, that’s great and all, but finding things that FIT is a problem.  (And of course I can’t shop too much too early – because I’m still losing.  I would be so annoyed if I spent a fortune on new stuff and it doesn’t fit by April.  Not kidding – my Dec. gift card items are already getting too big in places, especially around the waist.)

I tried on several things at Fashion Bug over the weekend and was thrilled to get into a 1X dress easily.  However, the style and color didn’t really suit me (according to my fashion critic, Littlest Monster).  The skirt I tried on was ridiculously big in the waist.  Nothing else attracted my eye on the plus side of the store, and I don’t think I’m quite ready for the other regular side.  Not yet.

I ordered a dress online in a size I haven’t seen in… Gah.  I can’t remember when.  It’s still a W but down another size from where I am now.  I have no idea if it’ll fit but at least it’s a start.  I have a feeling I’ll be ordering several dresses from Kiyonna (I adore this dress but I don’t know that I’m brave enough to wear something so form fitting), but I was hoping to save a little $$ and find some other alternatives…but I may not have a choice.  I love their styles and they have the sizes I think I need while still looking fabulous.

At this point, I don’t even own a pair of pumps.  Nope, not kidding.  One of the joys of working from home for over ten years – I rarely go anywhere that requires something nicer than tennis shoes.  (We even wear jeans to church.)  I’ve had feet problems for the past few months, too, so I’m going to have to invest in some really nice shoes that support and protect my feet while still looking cute.

I only own two dresses today:  one from over a decade ago that is really outdated and not something I’d wear to RT; the other I wore to a funeral and is 2 sizes too big.  I was holding on to them for emergencies until I get a new dress.

As you can see, my wardrobe is in dire straits.

So lots of shopping in my future!

*crossing fingers for next week’s WI – I’m .2 from hitting a new decade on the scale!*

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Eating to Lose

Or why being anal about counting points or calories is not necessarily a good thing.

In my Power 90 update I admitted I was getting pretty frustrated with the scale.  After all this exercise, why was I gaining?!?  I was eating within my points.  I’d cut out this and that.  I’d buckled down really hard.  I was controlling everything in my mouth.

What’s that beginning to sound like?  A diet.  A diet that becomes impossible to stay on because it’s not liveable, because it’s becoming deprivation.

In a way, I was punishing my body for failing to lose when I expected it to.  My first instinct was to cut back even more.  I should eat less cheese.  I should cut out even more whole grains.  I even tried cutting out my half and half to replace with almond milk in my coffee.  (Gag, it made for a nasty chunky sludge.  I love almond milk but NOT in coffee, not even at 40 cals a cup.)

But a friend from Romance Biggest Winner said hey, maybe you’re not eating enough.  I’d already thought that in passing once or twice – especially in regards to protein – but her words made me really stop to think.  The WW point calculation is based on a complex algorithm (that only they know) but a good rough estimate is 40 cals per point.  So by staying religiously under my 33 point – 1320 cal – limit, and exercising 30-60 mins a day, 6 days a week….

Yeah.  I wasn’t eating enough.

Now I could have kept buckled down that low and eventually I probably would have started losing again, but I decided to shake things up.  I’ve been earning those extra exercise points for a reason.  Why not try eating them?  Not in junk food, obviously, but 3-5 extra points a day might just be the ticket to wake up my metabolism and get me losing again.

I even let myself have a few things that I’d cut out – deprivation – because I had the points now.  Like I enjoyed one of Princess’s homemade oatmeal cookies.  Just one.  One night I also carefully measured out 1 oz of Fritos for taco salad.  Oh, my, it was so good.  So wicked and indulgent.  I was afraid, sure.  That opened bag of chips in the pantry was dangerous.  But I kept to my one serving and put the bag out of sight out of mind back in the pantry.

And I lost.  Not just a .2 or .4 loss, but immediately a pound.  The next day, another .6.  The next, .8.  It was crazy.  I was losing my weekly averages (on a good week!) each day, just by eating a little extra.  Enjoying a few things I didn’t think I could have.

Living a normal life.  And isn’t that what this is all about?  I don’t want to have to eat a plain salad the rest of my life when the family is eating taco salad.  I don’t want to miss out on my daughter’s baking experiences (Granny, watch out, I’m teaching her all your old favorites!).  And I don’t have to.

In one week, I lost 2.6 pounds, something I haven’t seen from the beginning of this journey over a year ago.

Obviously, I don’t expect to lose that much each week.  I don’t expect to be able to eat 5 extra points every single day and still lose.  I’ll still have ups and downs.  I should still eat around my daily point limit a few days.  And then “splurge” a few days to go over.  In this case, change is definitely a good thing and keeps my body guessing.

The lesson I took away from this for myself:  sometimes cutting back is NOT the best way to see results.  Sometimes you just need to let loose a little!

65 pounds gone forever.  When I lose 8 more, I’ll be at my lowest weight in 12 years since Princess was born.  After that, VFT (virgin fat territory)!

[This entry typed while wearing that pair of jeans that was too small at Christmas.]

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Power 90 – After 30 Days

Today’s the 30-day mark for my Power 90 commitment started 1/1/2012.  Just a reminder about where I was before starting:

  • I lost 62 pounds last year on Weight Watchers.
  • I was only exercising minimally – an occasional walk, etc.
  • I tried Power 90 two years ago but quit when I’d only lost 3 pounds in 45 days.
  • I’m still on Weight Watchers.
  • I’m doing Phase 1/2 of Power 90 and probably will do so for another 30 days before trying to move up to level 3/4.
  • I’m using 5 lb dumbbells.

So I admit I was pretty discouraged by the scales news this morning.  I’m beginning to suspect I’m the only person who has this much to lose, exercises, and GAINS weight.

I’m up again for absolutely no reason.  Yesterday I was up 3 pounds (TMI, it’s not related to my monthly cycle).  Today I’m only up 1.6 pounds.  But that wipes out this entire month’s loss to only .4 according to my WW tracker (although my official WI day isn’t until tomorow).

Woo.  See me losing like a turtle.

(That’s the bad thing about only losing .4 a week – it gets wiped out really quickly.)

Trying to think positively here, I know it’s not a “real” gain.  I’ve eaten on plan the entire month.  By that, I mean I’ve eaten within my Daily Points (DPs) or only gone over slightly into Activity Points (APs) or Weekly Points (WPs), all there for me to eat if I need to.  A few days I did dip into my APs but not significantly.  I only rarely ever eat my WPs (anniversary dinner at Mythos, for example) anyway.  I tracked every single day.

Other than an occasional Dove dark chocolate and Princess’s homemade oatmeal cookies yesterday, I haven’t had ANY sugar.  I’ve also been cutting artifical sugars out and switching to either honey, pure maple syrup, or none at all.  (Except my WW smoothies – they’re artifically sweetened.  I’m still looking for a natural protein/meal replacement.)  I haven’t had a Diet Coke or Cherry Dr. Pepper in over a week.  I’ve been drinking my hot green tea plain.

Last week, I even started adding a bit more cardio (via Walk It Out on the Wii) to my strength-only days.

I went from earning 0 APs to 104 this month (not counting today!).

While I’ve still got two pairs of jeans in this size that stubbornly refuse to fit, I’ve lost the following inches:

  • Waist:  -2
  • Bust:  -2
  • Hips:  -2
  • Arms: -.5 each
  • Thighs: -2 each

So I *am* losing, even if the scale is lying to me.  I won’t let the unreasonable increase in poundage derail me this time.  Here’s to another 30 days of Power 90 and I’ll hope for better news next month!

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Power 90 Update

So I’m into my third week of Power 90 and I had a funny moment I wanted to share.

But first, let me tell you what Power 90 is all about.  Tony Horton & BeachBody put out this “In-Home Bootcamp” series around 10 years ago.  Since then, he’s come out with several variations and improvements, which you might know as P90X, P90X2, etc.  That Man had his eye on P90X after catching a late-night infomercial, but I *knew* it would kill us.  I decided to start at the beginning with Power 90, which is a good starting point for people who aren’t really at any sort of decent fitness level.

Power 90 has two levels:  1/2 and 3/4.  I plan to stick with level 1/2 as long as it takes, even if that’s all I do the full 90 days.  I exercise 6 days a week, alternating “sweat” and “sculpt.”  Even the sweat portion involves power yoga and taebo, so it’s still very strength-inducing not “dancing”.  The sculpt days I use 5-lb dumbbells and my own body weight to complete three sets of weight/strength exercises, including pushups, squats, lunges, biceps curls, etc.  Basic moves, no special equipment, and all something that I can do, or modify slightly to do.

(E.g. I can’t do dips yet, so I just do an extra set of triceps kick backs)

So after I completed the sweat portion today, I jumped in the shower.  I reached down to scrub my feet and felt this hard…thing… in my leg.  It was weird, hard as a rock.  In my lower leg.  I ran my hand over it and then laughed.

It was muscle.  My calf muscle.  Haha.  So that’s what a muscle is!

Okay, it might have actually been cramping a little because it’s still aching, but I definitely felt that nice hard ridge in the side of my leg!!