Sunday, July 27, 2014

PIYO Challenge Diary: Week 3 of 8

This week's workouts:
M: PIYO Define: Upper Body - Bright idea to arrange my 2 yoga mats in a '+' configuration, so when side plank series happens, I can swing sideways to face the TV and get a better view; hopefully that will help me get the hang of it.
T: PIYO Buns - Kicked my butt and I loved it!
W: PIYO Core - Not sure those side plank series + roll ups are getting any better?
F: PIYO Define: Lower Body - last time! Switched to Friday, because we met up with friends for dinner Thursday evening. Had a pretty frustrating workday on Friday, and this was the first time since starting PIYO that I really didn't want to do it, but I ignored my bad mood and got it done.
S: PIYO Sweat - Getting the hang of this one...which means I am working harder.
S: PIYO Strength Intervals - New one! Intense, but short. Had my shoes on for this one, and decided I had enough left in me for a short treadmill walk; may have been a mistake.

Let's talk about food...

JavaChick food facts:
  • I prefer to eat vegetarian until dinner time; if I am on my own and don't have to worry about feeding Husband, there is a good chance that dinner will also be vegetarian. This is partly ethical, and partly personal preference (I don't like meat that much, and eating a lot of it doesn't sit well in my stomach).
  • Breakfast is optional. For a long time I tried to force myself, because 'thou shalt eat breakfast' is one of the healthy living commandments. Thing is, I rarely feel hungry first thing in the morning and I don't like forcing myself to eat. Now I try to go with how I'm feeling.
  • I am a picky eater. There are a lot of things I just don't like. Fortunately, I do love salad!
JavaChick and the official PIYO eating plan:
  • Follow a formula to calculate a calorie range; from there you count servings of food. I like this idea in theory. 
  • The food categories are Primary Vegetables, Secondary Vegetables and Grains, Fresh Fruit, Lean Protein and Healthy fats. 
  • Secondary Vegetables and Grains is where I ran into trouble; in my calorie range, I get 2 servings. They include quinoa, beans and legumes in this category. Being vegetarian-ish, I tend to  consume these things with whole grains for protein (Fun Fact: if you read the Shakeology bag, they include Quinoa, Amaranth, and Pea Protein in their protein blend). Also? If you want almond or coconut milk in your smoothie, it comes from this category.
  • This made me feel frustrated before I even started; possibly it is me just being whine-y, I don't know.
  • The plan also has you eating 3 meals and 2 snacks - I've tried this before and I don't find it works for me, though I know many people swear by it.
  • To be clear: I don't necessarily think this a bad eating plan, it's just difficult for me with all of my little food idiocyncrasies. I just want to dump quinoa on my salad and count it as a protein darnit!
JavaChick's main healthy eating goals:
  • Cut out most of the processed stuff. There is a lot of snack food stocked in our work kitchen. When they first started with that, I avoided it...but gradually, over time, I gave in. I was finding that I am eating popcorn or chips (small bags) every day, whether I'm actually hungry or not. I know I can stop, because I have before; I just have to state with certainty that I am giving it up...So that's what I am doing at the moment.
  • Still not loving the Shakeology, but sticking with it for a bit longer to see if it does anything for me.
  • Lots of healthy stuff, watch the portions, pay attention to hunger cues.
Honestly, if I can stick to that last point, I have found that weight will start coming off - slowly, but without my feeling like I am on a diet. It's the paying attention that is not always easy.

How things are going:

Went into this plan just as I was coming off vacation. Toward the end of our vacation, we were eating a lot of crap. I felt ready to get back to normal eating. My weight was a couple of pounds higher than the high end of my usual range.

Week 1: I started with determination to make the PIYO plan work. I also wanted to make sure that I was not tempted to get into the snacks at work. So, I was bringing a shake for breakfast, salad + protein for lunch, and then fruit + nuts, veggies + hummus for a snack. I felt like I was eating all day. I felt stuffed all the time.  I realize to some people, that might not sound like it should be too much food, but it was definitely not working for me. Plus, the counting for the  plan was just not working for me. I can't get past the 2 Secondary Vegetables and Grains...

Week 2: No change in weight from Week 1. I'm feeling like I can't make the PIYO plan work as is. I look at calorie counts for things I would normally eat and see if I can swap some things around. But then, that's not really following the plan is it? Maybe I could log my food in myfitnesspal just to make sure I stay in the range...Basically, I was all over the place and ended up doing nothing! I just ate the way I would normally eat. I had shakes Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

Week 3: Weight is back down in normal range. I can see the difference in the mirror. I feel better! Had shakes for breakfast. Tracked in myfitnesspal, up until Thursday when we went out for dinner. Husband brought home Cheetos on Friday. I ate the Cheetos. I did secure agreement not to do that again next weekend.

I was really happy with the first part of this week, and it came easy. Things tend to go off track on the weekends, and I need to work on that.

So, goals for the coming week:
  • Repeat first half of this past week!
  • Stay on track as we roll into the weekend! 
  • That might be a challenge, now that I think of it, as we do have friends coming to visit...
  • No Cheetos for breakfast! How is that for a goal? 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

PIYO Challenge Diary: Week 2 of 8

This week's workouts:
Monday:        PIYO Sweat
Tuesday:        PIYO Define: Lower Body
Wednesday:   PIYO Core
Thursday:      PIYO Define: Upper Body
Friday:           REST
Saturday:       PIYO Sweat
Sunday:         PIYO Core
I am picturing myself googling 'PIYO' to find out more about it. What kind of workout is it? Is it within my capabilities? Will I enjoy it? So I'd like to try and answer those questions, but I find it a little difficult because we all have our own point of reference.

I think this is the best I can do as a short summary of where I am coming from:

I'm not super-athletic, I've always thought of myself as kind of wimpy. I did have a gym membership for a few years, but the majority of my exercising has been done at home. I am not a runner. I love Zumba. I prefer a circuit type workout, because I feel like you can get more out of a shorter workout. Over the years, I have worked out in front of my TV with the likes of Kathi Smith, Ellen Barrett and Jackie Warner; there have been others, but those have been my favourites and my "go-tos". I tried 30 Day Shred and I hated it. I  am in no way an advanced yogini, but I do prefer a yoga workout where I actually feel like I am working...Though there are times when a gentle stretch is just the  ticket.

And this is my take on PiYo, two weeks in:

PiYo is described as a Pilates and yoga inspired workout, with the speed cranked up. That's pretty accurate; the workouts are short (at least so far), but definitely challenging. Thanks to my history of yoga and Ellen Barrett DVDs, a lot of this has felt very familiar (sun salutations, warrior flows) and some of it still feels very hard:

  • Side planks - something that I have a hard time with and knew I wanted to work on before starting PiYo. So it's good. But at the same time, you don't really spend a lot of time working on side plank in this workout - it's part of a sequence. For sake of comparison, I've done other workouts that include similar moves, and I usually modify the plank; I think the difference here is that everything goes so fast, and I haven't quite got the feel of them yet. Maybe the downside of the short workouts - there's not a lot of time to demo moves, you just jump right in.
  • Pilates roll ups. I've never been able to do them. PiYo does offer a modification, which is helpful. But after a few of those sequences, I kinda feel like I'm just flinging myself around, trying to keep up with the flow; again needing time to learn the routine likely has something to do with it.
  • Core and Upper Body both include side planks and roll ups, so doing Core on Wednesday,  followed by Upper Body on Thursday was tough.
  • Crouching Pushup or Crouching Crow. A few years back, I was doing a workout program that included something called "V pushups"; basically, you get in a downward-dog-like position, and do pushups, working your arms, but keeping your legs still. With the PiYo crouching pushups, you are doing a similar thing, but bending your knees; watching it on the screen, it looks like they are drawing their knees in, and tucking themselves into a little ball, while doing the  pushup with their upper body. Having done the V pushups before, I thought I should be able to get this, and I was getting really frustrated that I couldn't....Until I figured out that I needed to adjust the position of my feet; I was trying to keep them too close, and needed to move them to more of a downward dog distance. It's still hard mind you, but at least now I feel like I'm getting  somewhere.
There is probably more, but those are the things that stand out in my mind so far. The Define: Upper & Lower workouts are quite short. I finally feel like I am getting  the hang of them, and they are about to disappear from the schedule. One issue I did notice in the Lower Body workout - they repeat the warrior sequence twice on the right side, but only once on the left, which bugs me. Keep the sides even people!

I haven't actually been sore from any of these workouts yet, but I had swapped my rest day last week, so by Thursday I had done 7 days  in a row and I was feeling ready for my rest day on Friday. I do feel like my pushups are improving already!

In summary: I like that it's not taking up a lot of time, I feel like I am getting a good workout, I can't do it all, but I am improving a little bit each time, and I'm enjoying the program.

I want to address the food side of things too, but I should probably leave that for another post since (a) this post is already long enough, and (b) I'm still thinking things through. I thought I would talk about Shakeology though, since Angie asked about it, and because it seems to be a big part of the BeachBody program.

First I should mention that I am not a protein shake or smoothie fan, so I'm probably a bit of a hard sell in this area. I prefer to eat my food, rather than drink it. That said, there are times lately when figuring out what to eat just seems like too complicated, and the idea of downing a dose of superfood nutrition in a shake starts to have some appeal.

I was seeing quite a few mentions of Shakeology from people who were trying out Beach Body programs, and they all seemed to include the word 'delicious', so when I ordered my PiYo, I opted to include a bag of the Vanilla Shakeology as well.

I tried it a couple of times before the official start of the PiYo challenge...The word I would use is: tolerable. I don't like stevia, and it definitely has that dinstinctly unpleasant stevia aftertaste; I also find it a little gritty.

The first week, I did drink it every day, from Monday - Friday, then gave msyelf a break on the weekend. This past week I had it three times.

I have been adding fruit to it - strawberries, frozen cherries, peaches. I make sure to add something tart or bitter, to try and offset the stevia taste - plain yogurt, lemon juice, lime juice, cocoa, black coffee. Sometimes I add more vanilla.

Tolerable. Not delicious.

However, I'll continue to give it a try, to see if I notice any benefit from all those superfoods and antioxidants.

In non-PiYo news, it took the cats all of a week to discover the gap along one corner of the fence, where they can crawl right under. We need to get on that cat proofing! The upside, our fenced in area is a bit larger, and now that the fence is back up my garden is safe again.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

PIYO Challenge Diary - Week 1 of 8

So I'm trying this PiYo Workout. I feel like I need a bit of a kick in the butt, and this looked interesting to me.  I feel somewhat sheepish about the whole "BeachBody" brand - I  find a name like that hard to take seriously. However, their workouts seem to get lots of positive reviews for being fun, challenging, and effective.

Of course, there is a lot of emphasis on transforming your body in a given time period - in this case, 8 weeks. I have found that "dramatic transformations" do not happen for me...I am trying to find a balance between taking this seriously - because I do want to put in the effort and get the best results I can - and not getting my hopes up. It feels tricky.

Sunday - Prep Day
I am participating in a Facebook group, so will be doing the program along with others. Official kickoff is tomorrow (Monday, July 7), so I've  known this was coming and, and I've known that I need to do some planning. The workout plan is easy enough - they give you one, and I will follow that (as well as I can).

There is also an eating plan which is causing me more of a headache. While I don't expect Husband to follow the plan with me, it will effect our meals, so I've been tried getting him to look at it; he said "Oh, this is a calorie counting plan" and tossed the booklet away. It's a calorie counting plan in that you calculate a calorie range, but then you count servings of types of food, which is similar to the one plan that was ever semi-effective for me. But I'm finding the planning to be a little frustrating, and I feel like I am not getting off to a good start. I think that it is going to require a bit of trial and error to figure this out.

Also, since I want to take this seriously, I decided I should do before pictures (so that I can see evidence of my dramatic transformation), and it seemed like it would be easier to get Husband to take them for me, even though I feel really silly doing it. But of course, nothing involving having my photo taken can ever be easy. It's done, let's leave it at that.

End of the day: Find balance; I can take this seriously without putting too much pressure on myself.

Monday - Day 1
First day on food plan, first workout. Survived! Definitely have to tweak the food plan; I eat slow; I felt like I was eating all day which I do not like.

Also first day back to work after vacation. Just finished trying to deal with my overflowing closets, so many clothing items that no longer fit or that I don't love but can't make myself get rid of, and I walk through the mall looking at pretty things and thinking maybe I should shop. The problem is not my clothes; the problem is I am not happy with how I look. 

End of the day: I need to get to a place where I can be happy with me, and deal with the current clothing avalanche before I think about shopping.

The Rest of the Week
Well, I had good intentions.

What can I say? Evenings are short when when you come home from work, do a workout, practice piano, make dinner and prep next days' lunch, clean up and make time for Husband and felines.  And then hopefully crawl in bed no later than 10:30. I like earlier if I can, so I can settle in and read for a while.

Anyway, PIYO is going pretty well so far. I was apprehensive going in. I was afraid it would be too hard. And some of it is very challenging - there are moves that will take me some time to master. Yet, it's not that much harder than the yoga classes used to attend, and that I liked so much; indeed, some of it feels very familiar, especially since I've been doing a sun salutations workout fairly regularly for the past little while. The workouts are short - it almost feels like cheating somehow, that they are over so quickly. Whether they are going to cause any amazing transformation remains to be seen. I will be happy if I can see an improvement in my upper body strength, since that seems to be the most challenging area for me.

As for the eating plan, I think I need to make some adjustments. I like it in theory, but some if it is not working for me. Haven't quite figured this out yet, but will keep working on it.

End of the day: Keep on keepin' on!

Miscellaneous Ramblings
What else has been going on a Casa Javachick? Well, Husband called the fencing company on Tuesday to see if he could get a ballpark idea of when they'd get around to us. They said they'd look up our contract and get back to us...And a short time later called back and said: "We'll be there tomorrow."

Raise your hand if you think they forgot about us...Yeah, that's what we think too.

By the middle of Friday afternoon, phase one of our new fence was complete. We still need to do the cat proofing bit, but we had to wait for the fence to be installed so we could see exactly what we need to get to finish everything up. But for now, we do have a fence, and so far the cats have not found a way out. I have finally found a little motivation to go out and start cleaning up my garden beds which are in sorry shape.

End of the day: One step at a time!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Vacation: The Way Life Should Be

Somehow it became July when I wasn't looking! I used to try and at least post at the turn of the month, because I like doing a little summary. Lately I have been missing them - I think [with my end of vacation relaxed perspective] that I have been overwhelmed a lot of the time lately. Can't say that makes me look forward to going back to work (not that I am ever in a rush for vacation to be over).

This time, my excuse is that I was busy being on vacation. We've had a week and a half, and it's been glorious! We were in Nova Scotia visiting the families for the first part. My baby sister was home for a visit  - Yay! Then we came home to relax, and try to get some things done around the house. We've had perfect weather, up until today's hurricane-like rain and wind. Of course, today would be the day that we had an appointment to take the felines in for their annual check up and shots, but we all survived (though the cats were not too happy about the whole thing and gave us the cold shoulder for a while once we got home).

Along with vacation relaxation, there has been vacation eating and drinking...lots of fun, but that has to stop on Monday; I'm okay with that.

Feeling like it is time to get serious for a while. I've been goofing off a lot lately. So as of Monday:
~ Starting a new workout plan
~ Going to focus on clean eating

Husband is in agreement with the clean eating thing, though we will see how things go; his ideas of healthy eating tends to be a bit different from mine. But it's a work in progress, right? Sometimes we do well, sometimes we don't, but we are working on improving.

See, how relaxed and positive I sound? So ready to jump in and make the effort? That would be the relaxed and rested end of vacation state of mind...I wish I could figure out how to keep that forever!'s to getting back on track, and in a week or two when I'm moaning about keeping up with it all, remind me of the fact that I am wanting to do this and seeing it as a good thing!

Vacation Photos

We went to Peggy's Cove!

And Lunenburg! On the same day! I was tired.

Enjoyed the bird watching at my in-laws.

Caught up with aunts, uncles and cousins at a family barbeque (yes that is me in the green shirt, making it obvious that I need to get back to the healthy living thing and drop a few pounds).

Watched my sister chase chickens that had escaped from their coop.

Went for a walk in the woods with my brother and sister.

Brought home peppers and rose bushes to plant - thanks Dad & Mom!