Losing 10 lbs. seems harder than the first 50

I haven’t lost my desire, nor will power to lose 10 more pounds, but it feels so much harder right now. I’m motivated, but not charged. I’m only in the gym like 2-3 times a week, I really need to amp that back up to 4 – 5 times. I’m about even from my goal, sitting steady at that 220 mark. I really want to get down to 210.

I think I need to challenge myself more…. I think I need to establish a new goal. I need to find a run to train for, and keep running. I’ve only been running once a week, I think capturing these ideas from my brain here are going to help me.

I find myself making excuses, or allowing things that I wasn’t previously allowing to distract me. I’ve been crazy busy at work. Excuse. I’ve had lots of things going on in my personal life. Excuse. I’m starting to see that I need to re-focus my energy.

I know I’m capable of getting to my next goal, I just need to reset my expectations and realize that this one is going to be harder than my first one. It sounds crazy, but I already know that is how it’s going to go. I need to establish a bigger goal (aside from losing the 10 lbs.) and allow that goal to push me into my smaller goal. I think running a 5K or maybe a 10K is where I need to go. I think the Shamrock run is approaching, maybe I need to register for that, and set a goal to finish in a certain amount of time.

 

Planning is Key

PlansOne of the things that continually throws me for a loop is unexpected things that happen in life. It’s the mundane, unplanned, and necessary things. Unplanned child pickups, work running later, emergencies, these are the things that can screw up your plans for the day. It’s ok to miss a workout here and there, but for me, I need to stay focused. My old track record is a series of events like this; getting sick or injured, being busy at work, or a busy home life. These are things that have traditionally derailed my success in the gym.

Now I’m trying to not allow these type of small setbacks be an excuse for failure. It all goes to where I’m at mentally. I have to realize that life happens, and I need to try to make sure I keep focused, and don’t let these things allow me to create an excuse for failure. So when I’m planning to hit the gym after work, and I have to do some unplanned thing, I’ll often try to go later at night when things have calmed down, or work out at home doing some sort of cardio.

Time isn’t the only thing you have to plan. Planning what you eat is crucially important too. There’s been days where I forget to bring my (calorie planned) lunch to work, and I just assume that I’ll go to Subway, or get some grilled chicken, or a salad. But days get hectic, and before you know it, lunch has passed, and the day is closing. Now I’m hungry, and not thinking clearly. These are the times when I make poor decisions. Decisions based on emotion.

It’s important to plan for these type of things. I usually try to keep some protein bars or other “quick-grab” things to eat. Where I work we have a little vending area that has the ubiquitous selection of chips, frozen pizza, candy, and other unhealthy options. If I don’t have anything to eat at my desk, I’ll go down and try to grab a yogurt, or some fruit – something. I look for a balance of satisfaction, measured calories, and something that’s better than fast food.

Remember, life doesn’t always go as planned, make sure you think about things in a way that you will ultimately be successful. If you have an “all or nothing” mentality (like I tend to) make sure that you approach situations realistically, with a plan, and a mindset that shit happens. Just make the best of what you can.

About a week ago, I had several (3-4) days of weight gain, not a ton, 1/2 a pound here, 1/2 a pound there, but I was wondering if I was going to hit the dreaded “plateau”. I was mentally prepared for this, but it was a bitter thought. I was doing everything right, eating right, exercising, so I was a bit confused. I realized a couple things, I had slacked a little here and there on a handful of cheerios, or a small amount of corn chips. I had almost started slipping back into old habits. I went back to my regimen, and over the next few days started to see the predictable weight loss I had been experiencing. I also realized that some sort of wall is coming, and I don’t know when it is. Several days of no weight loss, or even weight gain, are very normal in this process, just stick to what has been working for you.

If you encounter more than a week or two of a stalled plan, you may have to start changing things up. I don’t think I’m at that point yet, but I feel like I could be getting close. I’m so close to my first goal, a goal I’ve set many times and never achieved. But this time I will achieve it, failure is not an option.

Work Out at Work

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth pointing out, that a lot can be accomplished during a lunch hour. Take your lunch to work, and when you’d normally go out to eat for an hour, go for a run. If you’re lucky, your work may even have showers and locker rooms. My office has a small, but decent gym, so when I know I won’t be able to make it to the gym after work, I make sure to try and squeeze a work out in during the day.

Even getting outside to just walk for an hour is a great thing to do. You don’t have to become a sweaty mess. At a decent pace, you can easily walk several miles, and burn a few hundred calories. Eat your lunch at your desk when you’re back to work!

Another great thing to do at work is stairs. Sure you may get some weird looks, but remember you’ll be getting fit! A good set of stairs is a great workout, up and down, burns a ton of calories. Set a goal of 25 flights of stairs, and then go for a small walk to cool down. If you have a large office, chances are you can find a low traffic area.

The point I’m trying to make is plan ahead. If you know your normal gym night is a busy one that won’t let you get away, find a way to cram something into your day, whether it’s before work, during work, or even later, make sure you don’t let it slide. Even if you’re not doing your full workout and calorie burn, get something in, you’ll feel better, and it’s a mental win.

The Gym as a Tool

Quite arguably the best tool in the arsenal to lose weight is your local gym. While it’s possible to lose weight and gain strength without one, I think that most people feel the need to have a gym at their disposal. I joined a gym years ago when I lived in Seattle that was acquired by 24 Hour Fitness. It worked out great for me, I have unlimited access to the majority of 24 Hour Fitness gyms for a mere $10 a month now. It’s a monthly fee I’ve often paid years for when I have never even used it. But now that I’m living close to one, and they seem to be more prevalent is the area I live, I don’t regret that the years of non use at all.

Most gyms are broken down into several distinct functional areas:


Weights/Free weights/Machines
– The main floors of most gyms have a free weights section comprised of dumbbells, weight benches, bars, and other types of interchangeable weight systems. They typically also have all the machines that can take weight plates and racks for doing squats. Weight training is good for burning calories and for building muscle.

Cardio Equipment – These consist of the machines used for doing cardiovascular training like treadmills, elliptical  stair masters, stair climbers, and rowing machines. These machines are great for cardiovascular training and fat burning. Cardio machines typically are a great way to burn a high amount of calories with the right type of workout.

Spin Bikes – Although technically cardio equipment, I like to break spin bikes out into their own category, as most gyms keep them all together. They are typically located near the other cardio equipment, but you’ll often find gyms that have rooms full of nothing but spin bikes. These spin studios are used for spinning classes and bike related workouts. Spinning is a great workout, and is ideal for almost anyone as they require no special skills to use.

Zumba/Pilates/Aerobics/Dance/Yoga Studios – Another thing that most gyms have is some sort of dedicated studio for Yoga, Pilates, Aerobics and Dance type of workouts. These type of workouts are great for people that like to work out with a group of others, and change up the monotony of being stuck on cardio equipment.

Pools/Sauna/Steam – The pool is one of the best low impact, high calorie burning workouts you can find. Swimming laps takes a significant amount of energy, and can be a very challenging workout. A lot of gyms also have some other pool related amenities available like Sauna, Steam Rooms, and hot tubs, which are all great after a tiring workout. They’ll make you sweat, and the heat feels great on sore muscles.

Basketball – Playing one on one, or traditional basket ball is a great way to raise your heart rate and burn calories.

Stretching/Floor Areas – There are typically multiple areas where you can do stretching and floor exercises like push ups, sit ups, and exercise ball work.

A lot of gyms also offer low cost day care that you can take advantage of for those times when you have your little ones with you. Finding the right gym for you is important, as if you don’t like the gym, you ultimately won’t go. Why would you want to spend your hard earned money each month for nothing? I know that memberships at my gym start at around $40 per month for unlimited access to that single location.

Watch for sales, and deals too. Costco is a great place to check, but make sure you read the details, some clubs have different service levels, you don’t want to buy a 2-3 year membership at a discount to find that it didn’t work for the primary location you were considering. Be sure to do your homework and ensure that the membership you purchase works for you. Also keep in mind that there’s generally some wiggle room when it comes to joining a gym. Be sure to remember you can negotiate some, if they won’t come down on monthly fees, or waving initiation/joining fees, ask for a few free personal training sessions. The gym should be able to do something to win your business!

Finding a gym with all of the things listed above is a great step in having the tools you need to create a workout routine that will lead to your weight loss success!

Working Out Mentality

Establishing the mentality to lose weight and workout is hard. It’s probably harder than going to the gym and doing the actual workouts. There’s several components that I have to drill into my thick skull on an almost daily basis to ensure that I’ll continue to keep at it. Ensuring that I keep these things in mind helps me a great deal!

Dedication – Realize that losing weight takes dedication. If you don’t dedicate yourself to the process, the process will not work, no matter how half-assed you go at it.

Never take No attitude – Don’t let yourself become victim to excuses. Beat your brain into submission, that you will be working out a lot, and that you will be good at it. Don’t let your life be the excuse to hinder your progress.

Don’t settle – Don’t settle for less. Remember that you’re worth the hard work, and you shouldn’t settle for anything less.

Push yourself – For me this is key. If you’re not physically drenched in sweat at the end of your workout, my opinion is your weight loss is going to take way longer. I’m drenched in sweat at the end of my workouts, and I continually try and push myself further.

Try new things – Trying new things at the gym, or for your workouts will help you progress in your weight loss journey. I’ve tried running, spin class, and kick boxing.

Measure your calorie burn – Measure what you’re burning. You’ll feel a better sense of accomplishment and appreciation for what it takes to lose weight. Remember you typically have to burn roughly 3500 calories to lose a single pound. You’ll also develop a sense of how hard you have to work to burn several hundred calories. I try to burn 500+ calories at least four days a week. A good week I’ll see five days of workouts.

Know you’ll fail at times – Know that there will be setbacks, but don’t let them beat you. Fix the problem, and move on. Realize that some amount of failure is inevitable, don’t let it consume or beat you. It’s ok to cut yourself a little slack sometimes.

Tech Review – iPhone Nike+ Running Application

This is the second Nike+ running application that I have reviewed, you can read the previous article here. What’s different about this application is that it requires no external sensor in your shoe, it uses the sensors and technology built into your phone that the application is running on.

The application is very basic but works well. There’s several different ways to start a run:

Basic Run – A basic run is just that, no time, distance or speed constraints or goals.

Distance Run – Set a goal of beating a certain distance, the application will even note your furthest and average distances.

Timed Run – The application will stop at the end of the duration of the time you choose. It will also tell you how long your last run was, and encourage you to run longer.

Speed Run – Choosing a speed run will give you options of beating your fastest 1K, 5K, or mile, once you’ve established some runs.

Location – Allows you to specify your location, outdoors, indoors, etc.

Music – Let’s you choose if you want random music, a certain playlist, or none.

Get Cheers – If you elect to share that you’re starting a run on Facebook, anyone that “likes” or comments on your run, you’ll supposedly hear cheering during your run, I don’t think anyone has done that during my runs yet.

Once you’ve chosen a run type, and start your run, the application gives you a three second countdown, allowing you to put your phone where it needs to go. Any time while you are running you can look down and see your pace, distance traveled and the current song that’s playing. There are also controls to go back and forth between songs. There’s a power song button that will play one of your power songs that you setup in the application settings. The power song is helpful for when you feel like you’re about to run out of energy. You can also lock the screen to prevent any accidental changes being made during your run.

During the run, the application will audibly alert you at 10 minute increments of your time.

After the Run

There are several great features that you can check out after you’re done with your run. The achievements system in Nike+ is better than I’ve seen in almost any application. At the end of your run, it’s possible to get achievements based on your performance. There’s also celebrity athlete voices that will congratulate you on your new achievements. It’s kind of fun to get the recognition and unlock new achievements. Note the awful bug below, that shows my fastest 5K was 44:17 on the iPhone app, but login to the Nike+ website, and it says 30:08?

After any run is done, you can drill into your historical run, and see your pace on a graph, you can see areas where you ran faster, vs. slower, see your overall pace, and calories burned. If you want to track your mood, type of run, and what shoes you used, and any notes you may want to write. You also have the option to share the data on many social networking sites.

Nike+ Running is connected to your Nike+ account online, and run data is uploaded to Nike. The application displays your cumulative mileage total, number of runs, total calories burned and overall average pace. Turning the phone to the landscape position reveals a bar chart that shows runs on a graph, clicking any of the bars takes you to that run’s detail view.

The Good
The application is simple to use, shows all of the data after the run I like to see, and works well considering it’s using the built in hardware of the iPhone vs. a sensor in the shoes. I like the social media aspects of it, and think it would be cool to hear cheering while I am running.

The Bad
Overall the application is very good, I don’t like the fact that I have to dig it out of my pocket to see the distance, and pace. Pressing the “home” button on the iPhone does nothing during your run. The other Nike+ application announces time, distance, and pace whenever the home button is pressed, I really like that a lot better.

Conclusion
I probably won’t use this application much during the run. I will however use it after the run is uploaded from my other Nike+ running application. I wish the other application I use had the social media integration, but the fact that I can’t audibly hear my distance, pace, and time is a deal breaker for me.

Racquetball

Playing racquetball is one of my favorite work outs that I do at the gym. The tough thing about racquetball is that it requires depending on another person. Another challenging thing is most gyms don’t have racquetball, I’m lucky that my gym has one court. I typically have to play later in the evening, but generally it’s easy to get in to play.

The game keeps you moving all the time. The thing I like about playing it is the competition, my good friend and I play at least once or twice a month. I also like the fact that it mixes up my workout, and keeps things fresh.

During a one hour session of racquetball, I’ll generally burn at least 600 calories. It’s so fun that I don’t even realize that I’m working out. I’m just playing a game with my friend, trying to beat him at it!

It’s not a very expensive sport to break into, all you really need is eye protection ($10 – $20), a racquet ($20 – $$$$), and a can of racquetballs! The courts usually have a place inside that you can store your wallet and keys/phone during the game. It’s pretty hard to have a conversation when you’re playing, as the sound bounces all over.

If you’re interested in how to play check out this out, the rules are seriously simple, you can learn them in this video, that’s just over one minute.