Revitalized and Excited for the Future

For those of you who have been following my disjointed journey, I’ve been struggling for the past five years with post-workout fatigue, food allergies, and lots of various minor health maladies. I say minor not because fatigue or allergies are small things. But for me, compared to bigger things like cancer, heart disease, or anything else I may not have been able to work out with time, in hindsight, these are small things. I think my struggles all hinged from burnout at work. I ran my body into the ground, and was surprised when it finally revolted. Actually, that’s not true at all. But I was surprised despite the revolt, “fixing” me wasn’t simple.

Note: Just looked back at my stats. Things started to go awry in late 2010/early 2011. And really came off the rails in late 2011/early 2012 (it makes me sad to see the “WHY?!” that I was noting waist size increase, no weight loss, etc.), but I didn’t accept it until later that year and beyond. I remember that year was the year I went paleo, and I was able to glean some weight loss because of the (lower carb, switching up my workouts, etc.). But you’ll be not-so-happy to see my stats now. I’m trying to stay NOT FOCUSED on that. It’s going to be a 40lb gain. Work to do, but I’m more excited for endurance and strength than weight loss.

It was a complex combination of learning to sleep normally again, avoiding allergy foods, using AAT (Advanced Allergy Therapeutics) to fix a magnesium allergy, finding a vitamin C that worked for my body so I could absorb iron, and using B-12 almost excessively, but D-3 sparingly. I also went through a phase of food obsession (ever heard of orthorexia?), let the pendulum swing back to horribly unhealthy eating out of frustration, and now have settled into a more sustainable way of eating. I went almost five years with no real workouts to speak of. This was the worst part for me.

I’m a weirdo who loves working out. I get satisfaction from sweat dripping down my face. I relish in next day (or two day later) muscle soreness. I sleep better when I’ve worked out, but also wake up better, and have a more positive perspective on life. I also more naturally make healthier choices when I’m working out. For me, working out was holding some of my life together – especially during the stressful times. And when I COULDN’T workout because I was so tired post-workout, I would need days to recover. I’d sleep on and off for 48 hours after a workout. If I’d workout on a Saturday, I’d sleep all day Sunday and still struggle into Monday. I tried to get back in the swing of working out over a 3 week break I took around the holidays only to sleep away most of the vacation and net no improvement.

And I think the combinanation of vitamins, minerals and sleep somehow came together. I spent the last year on and off doign T-Tapp workouts, which I also credit for keeping me sane, and learning to respect my body’s limitations. I found a support group among T-Tappers I credit for such a positive approach to life. I struggled to stay focused only on T-Tapp since I craved more. But, honestly, I think if I would/could have, I’d be in a lot better shape now. And maybe wouldn’t even feel the need to get back to more vigorous workouts.

But here I am. Respecting my body. No fear, T-Tapp. You’ll always be in my aresenal, and will be part of the next 90 days!

So, what’s the plan?

For the next 90 days, I’m doing a Firm rotation calendar. Just like the “good old days.” Even though my “good old days” aren’t the TRUE “good old days” of Firm. I started Firming in late 2002 when BSS1 came out. I loved The Firm from the first workout. I remember telling my dad, “This is the hardest workout I’ve ever done!” I got the strongest (in a well-rounded way) I’ve ever been. And in the best cardiovascular shape of my life (barring maybe preparation for volleyball “Hell Week”). I was able to do things I had never done in high school – run an entire mile, serve a volleyball overhand, “real” pushups. I still went in and out of commitment in phases. But the last time I went “out” of commitment it was because my body gave up, not because I did. And this time, I’m hopeful I have enough variation in my aresenal, I won’t quit. I have Firm workouts, Cathe workouts, T-Tapp workouts, most of a weightroom, outdoor walking and running, biking, and yoga.

Fitness is at a level of interest like I’ve never seen before. When I first started Firming, no one I knew did workout videos. And only two or three of my friends went to the gym regularly. Now almost everyone I know has a fitness obsession.  Whether it’s running marathons or 5Ks, biking, Crossfit, boxing, martial arts, power lifting, olympic lifting, Rucking, HIIT, Beach Body, a personal trainer, or something else I’ve forgotten, almost all of my friends workout. Part of that might just be my age, but it feels like fitness has taken hold like low-fat dieting in the 90s. Only I think this is for the good of everyone. Maybe extreme workouts aren’t good for everyone (I know I’d hit burnout pretty fast again). But overall, I think it’s great to see people so interested in staying active.

The next 90 days

Over the next 90 days I’ll be working out five days a week with one full rest day and one yoga/stretch day. My five workouts will be at least four Firm (or Cathe) workouts with one optional T-Tapp (if I need it), and one stretch/yoga day. As the days get warmer, I’ll be doing outdoor yoga one day a week. Until then, I’m allowing myself the freedom to do an online yoga, or any other stretch/mobility workout. I’ll also be getting into the spring/summer yard maintenance time, so that will keep me active as well. I am measuring myself and tracking my weight.

For food, I’m working toward a loose “anything goes” eating plan where I try to stay around 500 calories per meal (at least 25g protein, less than 40g of carbs). With a goal of less than 1800 calories a day, but no stress if it’s closer to 2000. I’d rather be full and be able to maintain the healthier eating than be hungry all the time, lose faster, then gain it back. I’m trying to limit myself to two meals out per week.

What do I expect?

  • When I first started Firming back in 2002, I had minimal strength/muscle mass. I worked out for several weeks and gained 2 pounds. I stopped weighing myself and in a few months was down 20 pounds and my clothes were falling off. When I’ve restarted in the past, I usually weigh myself until I get frustrated. Stop until my clothes fit better, then start weighing again. I am weighing myself semi-regularly right now. And I’m going into week three of Firm workouts. I’m reminding myself even if I don’t lose, I’m gainging strength and endurance. Weight loss – I’d love to see myself down 20-25 pounds by the end. Not sure if that’s realistic. But it would be fantastic.
  • I’m struggling so much with endurance right now. I’m lucky to make it through 25 minutes of a Firm workout. I want to see myself easily getting through an hour workout by the end of the 90 days.
  • Right now I’m using 3, 5 and 8lb dumbbells. And in some movements (leg presses), no weights at all most of the time. I’d love to also increase these weights by the end of the challenge.
  • Related to endurance is my blood pressure. It’s on the high side of normal right now. I’d love to see that firmly in “normal” range again.

Longer term goals:

  • I’d LOVE to get back to running. I don’t want the cart before the horse, but it’s on my longer term goals. My guess is if I can do 60 minute Firm workouts, I’ll be able to do some jogging. Depending on the weather, I might postpone worrying about this until more into the fall timeframe. So I’ll put it in long-term goals.
  • I want to lose 50 pounds for a wedding in October (essentially 180 days away). Again, cart and horse. I know I’m lucky to be able to workout at all. And my body will benefit regardless of weight. I got a little bit excited when I lost about 5-8lbs during my move.

It was also during my move that I noticed I could do more than before without being excessively tired. And after it was all over, I was down 8ish pounds, and hadn’t done anything with eating. I haven’t lost anything since. But now I’m doing spurts of 25 minute workouts, whereas my “workout” during moving was longer stretches of workout (pack and move boxes, unload dressers, sort through stuff), rest/recover, then go again for an hour or so a night. I’m not surprised I lost weight during that because I’d work up a sweat. But that’s hard to recreate daily. That was my entire night most nights. I’m hopeful now that my workouts are nearing 30 minutes that I can get to the 45 minute range fairly quickly and really start to reap some rewards.

I also know that I’ve been sore often enough that I have to be building SOME muscle. I think that will start to catch up to me soon. When I first started Firming I read somewhere that 5 or 10 pounds of muscle resulted in an uptick in metabolism similar to running one mile. I think that’s why when you lift weights you burn less during the workout, but far more after. That’s how I became a lifting addict. And I think that’s why I got more into power lifting. Now, though, I’d be happy with a well rounded body that might move less weight, but is more developed everywhere, with a good, sturdy metabolism. And be happy this time with a not-quite-perfect body (not perfect enough has gotten me every other time around).

I feel like the struggle through not being able to workout has made me appreciate working out. And the struggle of gaining weight when I’ve done nothing for it to happen. Or the inability to lose weight (working out or not – even when I starved  myself) will hopefully make me more aware of this weight loss, and more likely to maintain it.

So, what?

I keep telling myself – appreciate the gift your body’s given you. The gift of better recovery without the fatigue. The ability to do workouts and feel GREAT after (rather than lousy). And the ability to build up endurance, potentially get my blood pressure under control, and gain back some strength I’ve lost. THOSE are the reasons I should be excited. I DO want to lose weight. I do want to feel like I look pretty for the first time in years at this wedding where there will be pictures and friends I haven’t seen in awhile. But, mostly, I want to appreciate health. And finally understand people who say health is a gift. And it’s far less annoying when you understand the sentiment.

What about you? What’s changed since we talked last? Any recommendations or feedback for me? Tonight I’ll do as much as I can of a more cardio-centric Firm. Tomorrow I’ll do something with cardio/weights balance. I’ll rest Wednesday. And Thursday will do a strength based Firm. Rinse and repeat!


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