I gained weight.

One thing I’m struggling with right now is the fact that I am gaining weight.

About 8 pounds.  I know…you’re thinking 8 pounds…hmmm.  That’s not a lot.  But for someone who started this fitness journey at 100 pounds, this weight gain is really freaking me out.  I guess it’s because most people measure their fitness achievements in weight loss.  Maybe I didn’t have anything to lose?

I know that I have been eating really healthy, have cut out alcohol-ish (except on special occasions), and have kept my daily caloric intake between 1300-1700 calories.  I also workout about five times a week, and this isn’t the typical “get on the elliptical and sweat a little” workout; if I’m not doing Les Mills BodyPump, BodyAttack or CXWorks, then I’m running at least a 5k or lifting on my own.

I’m not 100 percent sure, but I’m pretty sure that this weight gain can can only be attributed to muscle growth.  And maybe because I’m working outside for a few hours everyday in the heat – I’m drinking more water and I feel like my body is swelling…can a person’s body swell from warm/hot temperatures?

Anyways, aside from trying to eat healthier and in a way that will fuel my activity level, my workouts have intensified in the past year.  I know I’m gaining muscle; the way my body is cut is very different than it was last summer.  I actually have abdominal muscles now, which protrude a bit on my tiny stomach.  This is new.  When you go from being skinny and having no stomach to having muscles grow where they have never been, it’s a little weird and I’m not exactly sure how to feel about it.

My body has changed (and is changing) into what I can only describe as an “athletic build”.  I was never “cut” before, and now I can really make out the definition in certain areas without flexing.  During BodyPump, I look at myself in the mirror and ask, “Is this the girl who used to despise fitness?”  She is now obsessed.  She now has definition.  What happened to this girl who was afraid to sweat?

I’m also so much stronger and faster.  I never thought I would be capable of doing some of the things I do in the gym or on runs.  And to be quite honest, I didn’t even know this level of fitness existed.  Now, I’m really getting intense in my workouts and pushing myself to the max.  And I love the way it makes me feel.  I love being fast.  I love lifting challenging weight in BodyPump or not taking a break and going all out during Attack.  The pool of sweat on the floor is proof that I’m working hard.  It’s like I’m proving that I can do what once wasn’t possible.

But I’m still adjusting to the changes I see in my body.

If I showed you a before and after photo, you might even think, “Hey she looks BIGGER after“.  So I have this dilemma because I don’t feel like I’m being a good fitness example.  Sure, I’m strong and my endurance is great, but I feel like there’s nothing to show in terms of weight loss.  I’m also not eating like a rabbit, because I am a foodie, and I workout to be able to enjoy good food (yes, like pork belly and fried things).  This means that I’m not all muscle because my dietary habits aren’t all carrots and celery.  You get what I’m saying?

So that’s my dilemma.

Question: Are there any tiny people out there who have put on weight and muscle since working out?  Did it bother you?  Was it visible?  Did you change your routine at all?

On a more positive note, at least I could probably reach the required weight to give blood now – 110 pounds!

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Run, run to the treadmill, as fast as you can!

I’ve been trying to get my workouts done in the AM so I can go home in the evenings and relax/get things done/cook, etc.  This morning, I woke up at 4:45 am (I was already weirdly awake and couldn’t get back to sleep), and headed down to the gym.  The place I moved has workout facilities, which are really like one treadmill, a stationary bike, and some weight machines from the 1970s.  It sucks when you want to use the treadmill and someone is on it, but usually I can find it free.  The other apartment buildings in the complex have workout rooms, but the treadmills are on uneven ground and they make a horrible noise (the one in my building is on carpet).  It’s so convenient to be able to go down to the basement, or run on the W&OD trail right near the apartment when the weather is nice.

Here’s one issue:  There’s this older lady with a severe attitude problem who, when she saw me enter the workout room this past Monday morning at 6 am, told me that ‘nobody ever comes down to the gym that early except her, and she needs to use the treadmill and walk for an hour because she has an injury’…and implied, ‘don’t try to use the treadmill in the morning’ between 5:30 am –  7 am.  If she didn’t have such an attitude the first time she spoke to me, I maybe would adjust my workouts, to fit her needs, but,  I, too need the treadmill in the morning.  If I get the treadmill first, I’m going to use it until I am done.  You snooze, you lose! Wow, DC has turned me into a biatch, huh?  I kind of felt a little bad because I was on mile 2 when she came in…she asked how much longer I would be just as I was hitting my runner’s high, and I told her 10 minutes, and it ended up being 20.  Hey! I was having a good run that turned into 4.25 miles!  I figure that if I can start my run at 5:15 am, she can use the machine at 6 am, which was when she started using it the first time I saw her.  Oh, and can I also say, she brings in a radio with a 2 foot antenna that has to be plugged in.  Classy.

Anyways, I’m trying to do this morning thing because I’ve been lacking some serious willpower to spend another 2 hours in the gym after a long workday; my energy levels are really low, and I also have a problem with feeling nourished enough to have a satisfying workout.  I also am a huge grouch at the end of the day and the gym feels like a huge chore.  But this morning, once I started going, I felt so calm and clear-minded.

I’m also training for the Monument Ave 10k, which is my favorite race ever! It’s seriously so much fun, and this year, I’m starting in a 58 minute seeded wave.  Hopefully, I can beat my PR from last year, but if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world.

Kind of unrelated to this morning but…I  have an extreme love-hate relationship with running.

Running is so awesome.  I love a good runners high around mile 2.5.  I love that I can listen to my own music and jam out during a run!  I love that I can measure my improvement by speed and distance, and I can see visible changes both negative and positive.  I love when I can run outside and in nature…looking at trees and flowers, or shops and pretty houses.  It makes you feel strong and healthy and can be exhilarating at times.  And when you are done, all is good with the world.  Races are so much fun, all the supportive people cheering you on, the chance to run for a good cause, free goodies…and you get to compete against yourself – be your personal best.

Issues I have with running:  Hard on knees and ankles; seasonal (I just want to run outside in the mid 60s!); some days are good and some days really suck and you can’t be fast; treadmills are dreadmills;  can get boring; for some reason, it makes my stomach hurt so I have to watch what I eat before I run.

Anyways, do you workout/run in the morning? How do you motivate yourself to get up and going? How would you deal with the old grouchy lady (talk to her, ignore her, make some compromise, get to the treadmill before her)? What are your favorite songs to jam out to on a run (right now I’m loving some Armin Van Buuren!)?

My “Skinny-Fat” Days

Before I get into posts on this “I’m doing INSANITY, Yay!” topic, I think it might help for readers to understand my fitness journey.

Whenever I tell people that I’ve got to get to the gym, or I shouldn’t eat these french fries, a lot of people are like, “You’re so tiny…You do not…What is your prooooblem?”  And true, I’ve always been very tiny, 5′ 1″ and never more than 110 lbs.

But it’s not even about weight to me.  I don’t need to lose weight, but I do need to focus on wellness and strength.  What you might not know is that I was obese in my Freshmen year of high school.  At 107 lbs., I was obese because I had more fat than muscle.  Completely mind blowing!  How could this be possible?  I was probably the smallest girl in my class, wore a size 1/2, but I was obese.  Appearances can be deceiving.

So this, along with a family health scare a few years before, was a huge wake up call.  Everything started in middle school when my dad had a couple of heart issues.  Not a full blown heart attack, but high blood pressure and a blockage that he had to spend some time in the hospital for and could have been way worse if not caught.  We joke that it was caused by working late nights at the office and stopping by McDonald’s on the way home for dinner at 11 pm.  Well, this was partially true, and did happen.  We, as a family, ate a lot of fast food (probably 1-3 times a week), went to the buffet places a lot, and didn’t buy the healthiest products.

After this happened, my parents joined a gym and fast food became non-existant in our house.  My parents became healthier, but the real results were seen in my mom’s drastic weight loss.  It was weird, because the weight seemed to come off and nobody noticed until she dropped from a size 14/16 to a size 3/4.  She lost all her weight by working out and portion control.  AND she did this all while teaching 7th grade English.  My mom was in insane shape and I’m really proud of her accomplishment!

While my parents were getting fit, I still hated the idea of exercise.  I was a huge theatre kid and never did any sports growing up so I didn’t see the need to be sweating when it wasn’t necessary.  In high school I would go to the gym every now and then, would get on the elliptical, and sometimes do a few crunches, but that was it.  I was just like “meh” and didn’t push myself.  When we had to complete the mile run in Phys Ed class, I always tried to miss class for some reason or another, and when I did run it, I completed it in 12 minutes, feeling like I was going to throw up at the end.  I was so out of shape.  So I graduated in 2007 from high school a “skinny fat girl” who didn’t like exercise and wasn’t going to push herself because when she looked in the mirror, she didn’t “see” a reason too.

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Here’s a pictures of Mom & me when I was about 16 (and dessert to the right!) – I was a little heavier…and never worked out

When I got to college, everything changed.  Part of the change involved an ex-boyfriend of mine who was a college athlete.  He wasn’t in the best shape, but definitely better than me.  And so I started going to the gym, getting on the elliptical, doing the machines I could figure out, and jogging a little on the treadmill.

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Me in high school (I’m on the left) – sure hope that’s diet coke…

So, slowly, but surely, I started logging hours in the gym.  I started challenging myself with, “Okay, just jog 5 minutes on the treadmill without stopping.” And I started to build on that.  And it was really, really hard.  Like, “I want to throw up now” hard.  Some days I wanted to quit because my endurance levels were horrible.  And some weeks I didn’t make it to the gym at all because classes and assignments took up a lot of my time.  It wasn’t easy balancing a healthy, active lifestyle in college, but I did my best.

And then, in 2008, I did something life-changing and crazy.  I signed up for the rec center biathlon.  I went from not being about to run a mile to signing up for a mile swim, followed by a 5k.  At this point, I knew I could complete the swim, as I had been a lifeguard in high school, but I wasn’t sure I could run the entire 3.15 miles, however, I was going to see how far I could go.  This was the start of my personal challenge.  Putting myself out there for others to gauge my athletic abilities.  And I was scared.  I mean, aren’t we all when we do something for the first time?

The biathlon went really well and I surprised myself by running the entire way.  I wasn’t the fastest runner, but I completed it, and, yes, dying at the end, was so incredibly proud of myself.  I did something I never thought I could or would do in a million years.  And thus became my love affair with fitness, running, pushing myself and seeing just how far I could go.  And I have come a very long way.  Throughout college I have run multiple 5k and 10k races, logged many hours in the gym, started spinning and Les Mills classes, and, even though I also have a love affair with food, have tried to eat healthier meals that will give me the energy to keep going in my workouts.

In the past four years, I’ve become so much stronger and faster!  I went from that 12 minute mile to being able to run a sub-nine minute mile.  In 2012, I was able to run a 10k (6.2 miles) in 58:10, which is a pretty good measurement of how far I have come.

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So strong now! I got up here by myself!

 Though my weight hasn’t changed much, there is a visible difference in my body composition, endurance levels and mindset.  And I’m ready to take it to the next level by training for a half-marathon, completing the INSANITY workouts, and making fitness a bigger part of my personal and professional life.

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It is great to be strong – yay for abs!

The amazing part about fitness is that you have complete control over what happens.  There are so many things in life we don’t have control over, but each of us has the opportunity to change our bodies and health.  Sure, you might have setbacks.  For example, I injured my knee during a run and had to take running out of my workouts for a while.  And it isn’t easy.  There are weeks where I dread going to the gym, or days where I’d like to come home and nap instead of doing INSANITY.  There are nights where I’ve been out late with friends, had too many drinks and ordered a jumbo slice of pizza at 2 am.  It happens – no “body” is perfect.  We all have setbacks, but it’s about getting “back in the saddle” to keep going and putting healthy practices into our lives.

So there’s my fitness story.  And it is far from over.

Happy Sweating!

Adventures in INSANITY

Fitness is a huge part of my life.  It really affects my overall mood and I don’t know what I would do without it.  In the Fitness tab, you can find my progress in workouts/race training/and nutrition.  And here I will start with my adventure into INSANITY.

I’ve discovered that working full-time and long commutes in the NoVa area leave me little time or motivation to make it to the gym.  I still love the gym, and still will be going because I’m a huge fan of Les Mills classes, however, I have been looking for an alternative workout routine that I could do outside of the gym.  If I go to the gym after work, I don’t get home until around 8 PM and after making dinner, it’s time for bed.  I don’t like doing this every day of the week.  I do like to have some sort of life outside of work and gym.  And I surely don’t want to wake up super early to commute to a gym, shower there and then go to work.

So after hearing some good things about INSANITY, a Beachbody program taught by Shaun T. (Who is Shaun T.?!?), I decided to give it a try.  I’m usually not a huge fan of fitness DVD programs (Are they gimmicks? Will I really see results?), but I figured I’d give it a try after one of my friends started the program.  Side note: I tried P90x with Tony Horton, but he kind of annoyed me!  P90x is probably a great program, but when your instructor annoys you…I digress…so as a positive, Shaun T. does not annoy me, he pushes you, but he’s really sweet and is quite attractive!

INSANITY starts with a Fit Test, which sets a bar for which you can improve upon every two weeks.  After doing the fit test, I was drenched in sweat, my heart rate was super high after the 3rd exercise (there are 7) and I had to take a break.  So I like to think I’m in great shape, in fact, I had a trainer tell me I was in better shape than like 99% of her clients.  I know I am in good shape.

If you are in good shape, INSANITY will challenge everything you thought about yourself.  It’s a lot of plyometrics and challenges you by elevating your heart rate to really high levels, which I guess builds endurance and burns calories.

After the Fit Test, I had Day 2: Plyometric Cardio Circuit.  Let’s just say I’ve never sweated that much in 45 minutes, not even in cycle class.  The sweat was literally dripping off the tip of my nose.  It’s really challenging, especially the exercises you do in plank position; my wrists are really weak (I have really tiny wrists and pretty small bones), so I had to take a few breaks to stretch them out.

So yay! I’ve done two days of INSANITY and I’m looking forward to everything else it has to offer.  Just to note, even if you are in excellent shape, this will challenge you, you might have to take a few breaks, and that’s okay!

I’m hoping to track my progress weekly, and I’ll be adding some pictures of progress as I go.  If you’ve gotten into INSANITY adventures, tell me how you’re doing – I’d love to cheer you on!  WISH ME LUCK!

Happy Sweating!