I’m Back…And Getting Better Than Ever!

No, you aren’t seeing things. I’m actually posting for the first time in ages! Sorry for the hiatus, everyone. I’ve had so much going on (you’ll see here in a minute) that I have failed to update in a while. I have a lot to share, though. Where do I start….

Back at the beginning of January I started considering how to change up my workout routine to produce better results. Prior to that I was hacking away at the gym generally 3-4 days a week with cardio AND running 3-5 miles one day per week. Who sees the problem there? I didn’t. The most I did to strength train was a 1-hour cardio weight lifting class 2-3 times per week. Although it was great, that was not what my body needed to get where I want it to be. A friend of mine, who is a fitness guru in my opinion, and incredibly knowledgeable in the area, created a training plan for me based on my goals. She even went so far as to create a meal plan for me too. It all rocked. After week 1, I decided I needed some help learning my way around all these weight machines. And even more, to force me into the free weight section that I was so dearly afraid to venture into. You know, the area where all those sculpted beauties and meatheads are? (I say that with love, y’all. I do.) So, I decided to start working with a personal trainer. I’ve stuck to this workout plan for about 7 weeks now. Let me first of all tell you, strength training is ADDICTIVE. And secondly, it produces results. Want proof? Ok. But let’s start at the beginning. I’m going to give you some before and after photos. This is not an easy thing for me to share with so many people, but I know that the proof is there and many others like me need to see it and learn from it. So, here goes.

First, on the left is me pre-paleo back in October 2013. This is me after losing 40lbs over the previous couple of years. It in no way represents the beginning of my journey (I would have never taken progress photos of myself back then), but it’s a reference point for you. On the right is a photo of me in mid January, probably 2 weeks into my new training plan. Two things to consider here – change of diet for the first couple of months as well as the change in training plan for a couple of weeks.

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Now let’s break it down. Next is a before and after to show the difference in the first two weeks of the training plan. On the left is me after the first week of the new training plan, and on the right is after the second week.

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See the difference? That’s the difference of ONE week, y’all. Ok, one more thing I have to share, because I never thought this was something I’d be able to do or see on myself. I had no sculpting to my upper body at all really, before January. Check this out. The before photo on the top was taken some time in October 2013. It’s not the same angle or whatnot as the one on the right, but it is a clear representation of the change in muscle sculpting. Below that is me yesterday. I never thought I’d have muscles to show! I’m very proud of my shoulders, and that bit of bicep, too.

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Ok, enough of the photos. You get the idea. So, what is my training plan? Well, I could lay it out for you, but what works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for all of you, or any of you. Basically, what I do is cycle different muscles each day of the week, doing legs two times per week, and allowing for rest days. Then I always do 20-30 minutes of cardio after strength training. This is important for fat burning! My personal schedule generally looks like this:

Sunday – Heavy leg lifting day, followed by 20 minutes of cardio (I generally like the Stairmaster or Precor machine, or a combo of both)

Monday – Back & Biceps, followed by 20-30 mins cardio

Tuesday – I initially was using this as a rest day, but have recently started adding a run or sprints here. Loving it! Active recovery.

Wednesday – Chest & Triceps, followed by 20-30 mins cardio

Thursday – Leg day #2. I do something different than I did on Sunday, and today I’m trying out some plyometrics here.

Friday – Shoulders, followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio

Saturday – Rest!

I also incorporate abs into here on various days. I’ve learned that abs are like any other muscle though, you dont’ want to train them every day. So, I try to do them 2-3 days per week.

If I could share one more thing with you about this experience thus far, it would be to tell you not to be afraid of lifting heavy. I don’t care if you’re a woman. There is absolutely no point in lifting 2lb dumbbells. Start with what you can do and increase as you get stronger. Don’t be afraid. There is power in lifting heavy, power and change. But don’t say I didn’t warn you about it being addictive.

Until next time! And I promise it won’t be so long until then!

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Change…It does a body, mind, and soul good.

Read this. 

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Now read it again. Read it yet again and understand that not only can your mind be stretched, but so can your body. We, as human beings, are creatures of habit. We get stuck in our daily routines. We even get stuck in our habits of what we like and don’t like. That is normal. Most of us think that if we didn’t like the taste, texture, or appearance of a food or drink at one time previously in our life, that that will always be the case. Not true. Our taste buds change as we grow. Not only do our taste buds change, but given the chance to adapt to new things, your body can learn to like things that at first bite, you may think it doesn’t. My fiance brought this up a few weeks ago as we first embarked on our gluten free/paleo journey together. He said something to the effect of, “when you taste something new, it may not be that you don’t like it. It may be that your body just isn’t use to it and you have to adapt to that.” So very true. This has been the case with a lot of things over the past month during our transition. Certain substitutions can never be quite the same as the “real thing”, but know that the paleo versions of pretty much anything are more “real” than the, well, real versions. That didn’t make sense to you, did it? With paleo, everything is natural – no artificial sweeteners, chemicals, or preservatives. That’s how everything is more real. This means your body can break it down so much easier and deliver the nutrients where they need to be used. So, stretch your mind today by trying new things. Then, stretch your body by allowing it the chance to accept what is new and be open to change. Without new things, without change, life is dull and boring. Without change, we deny ourselves the ability to experience so many amazing things in life. 

Let me share a little bit about what my first 30-ish days on Paleo have done for me. Energy – it’s unreal actually. I have had issues with energy for quite a while, partly due to my hypothyroidism, combined with deficient B-12 (which I am on medications for both, but still). Prior to paleo, I would be fine until after lunch, maybe even 2-3pm. I would get tired, and not have the energy to do my workouts many times. Part of this was just the energy itself. Part of it was my body crashing from carbs and sugar. This has been eliminated completely for me. When I eat now, even if I eat a large meal, my stomach doesn’t feel so bloated and huge as it use to. I’m not saying that’s necessarily from the paleo, but I do attribute it to the lack of gluten at least. I have also been able to eliminate two supplements I had been using – Osteo Bi-Flex (for joint pain) and Align probiotic (for digestive issues). The lack of gluten alone has compensated for the removal of the Osteo Bi-Flex. But since I removed the Align, I added in what some people call a paleo superfood – kefir. Kefir, although a milk product, is generally 99% lactose free, meaning that those with lactose intolerance can have it in their diet without issues. It’s got lots of good probiotics in it. I drink about 6-8oz per day.  I’ve heard you can even make your own, but I haven’t ventured there yet. Probably one of my biggest changes since starting paleo is my strength and ability of my muscles to recover quicker. I do strength training 2-3 times per week. Prior to paleo, I was only able to fit it in usually twice per week, because my muscles would still just be too sore to get that third time in. Now I’m finding that not only can I get that third day in each week, I’ve also increased my weight in every single area as well. I’m still sore the next day (LOVE that feeling, well, once I’ve been out of bed for about 5 minutes and it’s not quite so painful!), but my body loosens up and takes on the challenge again in plenty of time. This is great for me because although I want to lose weight, I really want to tone and be lean. I’m not afraid of lifting like many women are. I love lifting. As far as weight loss, I’m at a total loss of about 8lbs for the month. This is taking into consideration that I was out of town for a whole week for work, as well as Thanksgiving celebrations starting this week. Not too shabby. One more thing I have been completely astonished with in this past month is the fact that I no longer really want bread. What? Yeah, go back and read that again. I don’t want bread. I am a girl who loved bread and carbs in every form I could find them. While out of town and at a restaurant, I ordered a burger with a gluten free bun. By the time I made it halfway through the burger, I had picked off the bun and didn’t even want it. It wasn’t the fact that it was gluten free (although gluten free breads do tend to be thicker and more…chewy), I just didn’t need it or want it. You start looking at things like that, and it really can be interesting to see your body adapt like that. 

So here’s what I have to share as far as recipes go. It’s been a bit of an adventurous week for me. I made a fantastically popular Bourbon Pumpkin Cheesecake for our work holiday shindig. You can see that recipe HERE. It’s not strict paleo in that it incorporates dairy, duh. But it is gluten free and low carb. If you wish to do paleo and incorporate dairy from time to time like I do (because I cannot imagine a world without cheese), then there ya go. Everyone who tried it liked it. Solid. I also saw Elana from Elana’s Pantry post THESE Primal Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies on her Facebook page the other evening, and immediately hopped off the couch and popped half a batch in the oven. They were SO good,especially while just a smidge warm still, with a small glass of cold almond milk on the side. Lastly, I made Paleo Cocoa Puffs cereal from PaleOMG’s post HERE last night, to have for breakfast this morning. This takes patience, y’all. Rolling all those tiny individual balls. But if you have the patience, or someone to help you, it might be worth it, especially if you like chocolate. They were sweet, but not as sweet as store-bought cereal. They do stay crunchy in milk too! Just realize that you aren’t going to eat a huge serving of these like you would a store-bought cereal. They are higher in fat and protein, so you will not need as much. Man, all 3 of my recipe shares for today are sweet ones. Must be that time of year. I promise next time I will share something savory. Perhaps it will be tonight’s dinner – bacon wrapped cajun shrimp with some veggies on the side. Can’t wait for that! 

Until next time…

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