Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Look Mom! I have abs again!

DISCLAIMER: I am not a Beachbody coach. I am not trying to sell you anything! Yes, I have friends who are coaches but they did not convince me to buy this program. It looked like a simple way to get control back in my eating life. And it was. My friends wanted to know EXACTLY what I was doing so I wrote this blog post for them! xoxo  

     I finally did it! I dropped the excuses. I stopped settling. I went after what I wanted! No compromises! And guess what? Along the way I also learned some pretty big lessons too!

     After a fabulous 3 weeks in Boston, I came home ready to start fresh! I knew I needed a change! Ever since my marathon at the end of February, my life as far as diet & exercise was concerned had hit a huge downward spiral! Now, I am not going to say that this was a miserable spiral. I enjoyed every crepe in Paris, every new beer & restaurant with friends in Jax and every, single bite of lobster in Boston! But my body - well, that was a different story! It was changing too and not for the better! For the first time in my 40 years I developed a "muffin top." This made me truly disgusted with myself and I knew I needed to clean stuff up!

     While I was in Boston I started the planning of how this was going to be done. I had purchased the 21 Day Fix from BeachBody prior to leaving for Boston. I read Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald while I was in Boston. I came home and spent another week reading nutrition books, cookbooks on clean eating and prepping for the challenge ahead! I had noticed several things happening besides my muffin top. I had become slower and more sluggish in my running. I hurt when I ran. My knees hurt after I ran. All of this was a really bad sign to the athlete inside me. I had to shape up and lose this weight! I had gained over 15 pounds since February! THAT was why my running was suffering! I can't carry around that extra weight and expect to have the same goals or get any faster!

The set-up - containers, workouts, & guides
     And so it began! I cleaned up my life, my fridge & my pantry! I finally said no to ALL the things that were bringing me down! Now, I had never really been a horrible eater. I ate healthy most of the time. But between March and June there had been Paris, Boston (twice) and a whole lotta nights out for dinner! I'm a homebody by nature. I'd rather stay home and cook a beautiful, tasty meal with ingredients I want going into my body! So BOOM! Change! I began my 21 Day Fix on June 28th. It ended (round 1 anyway) July 18th. And here is how it went...

     Now I can here my RD friend in my head saying, "Marcia, you don't need a diet!" But don't worry, Marni! I'm treating this as a lifestyle change. A way to look at things differently and a reboot to healthy! Prep became a large part of this change for me - having things ready to go and portioned out to grab and go for work & long days out. Using the containers from the 21 Day Fix to learn what a real portion size should look like really helped - especially with carbs, fruits and veggies!

Veggie Prep
Protein Prep

     In most of my readings on runner nutrition, carbs were obviously noted as important, but two very important points continued to shine through. One, that I really already knew, was that whole grains need to be the focus of our carbs, and the other which I had never thought about, was the timing of carbs. Most of the authors agreed that carbs should be reserved for the day and should be limited or non-existent at evening meals. Now when I say carbs, I mean the whole grains because obviously there are carbs (sugars) in our fruits and veggies we eat at night along with protein.

Some of my meals portioned out for work
     Another important part of this change was going back to writing down what I was eating and really looking at my food intake. The 21 Day Fix meal plan is based on the calorie consumption you want so then there are prescribed amounts of each type of food using the portion control containers. So in my mind I could see where I was focusing or needing to focus - Oops, not enough veggies today! Double up tonight at dinner! Or I had all my carbs for the day, just veggies and protein for tonight. For me it helped. Everyone I've ever heard talk about weight loss or management has said how successful food journaling is. They're right!

Or more like tracking, for me!
Meal Planning


      I must admit I was not completely faithful to every single portion and type of food I was supposed to eat. Did that affect my results? Heck yea it did! But the knowledge that I was tracking my food intake and seeing everything - yes, everything, dinner at the Columbia while in Tampa, Manhattans with mom... - on paper, made me more accountable. Each day I tried to do my best. Did I take my containers out to dinner with me to measure my food? NO WAY! Did "life" get in the way sometimes? Yep! And I just let it. Knowing that each meal was an opportunity to do better.

     Now what about workouts? Well, being me, I thought I was smarter than the average bear and doing just fine! I kept up my running and my regular weights (40-45 min) & yoga (50 min) routine for the first two weeks. The last week of the 21 Day Fix you could do a "doubles" week to add that extra pow to the end so I thought, hmmm, I'll try out these workouts finally! Well! Let's just say silly me for waiting till the third week! The doubles week was tough but I loved ALL the workouts! The best part was that each one was only 30 minutes long! Two reasons this is awesome: 1. I can fit in a workout almost anytime and know I'll be done & get a good sweat session in quickly 2. I can tell myself "it's only 30 minutes! You can do this for 30 minutes!" (Because some of the workouts are pretty tough!)
     I am now in Round Two, Week Two of my 21 Day Fix. Why did I continue? Because I wasn't finished. Because everything was not a habit or a natural way of thinking. I am two pounds away from my weight back in February. I've lost some inches but nothing dramatic. What is dramatic is the tone and the cut that I am getting back in my arms, back and abs. THAT was truly a goal of mine. I feel stronger and healthier. I look stronger and healthier. My focus is also on my body fat percentage not just my weight. Body fat versus muscle can mean all the difference in your training & speed. I have reduced it but still seem to struggle with it. It is all about what you eat and the timing of that food. I still have a lot to learn and a lot of work ahead, but I am happier than I was a month ago with myself! I have many goals for my body, this is just part of the steps I am taking to become stronger, faster & healthier!