Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Beginning the Fitness Journey!

So I've always loved exercise. Riding horses, yoga, hiking, running, going to the gym etc. but I've never had a routine or a goal I was really striving for.

In Colorado we lived close to a trail so I started running (I've always been awful at it) and started progressively getting better at it. CSU also had a gym that I would go to once in a while but I would always just randomly use machines. When I first moved to Hawaii I was struggling with what to do with my time (having graduated and all) and was needing to blow off some steam and anxiety. I started going to our fitness center on base and have been progressively working towards goals since!

Learning to work out has been fun- and I still have a lot to learn. Pushing for goals is very insightful because you really get to understand how your body works. For example- it is really difficult for me to burn fat. I also compensate a lot of my weight lifting because I've been so used to protecting my bad knee. My digestion is awful and I'm always bloated. Among other things these have been my biggest realizations that I'm still working with! 

I started working out a couple times a week in February with goals to gain more upper body strength. I really want to be able to do unassisted pull ups some day (I was never even able to do the monkey bars when I was a kid because my arms were too weak and my joints are very loose and spongey!) I spent some time figuring out all of the different machines in the gym and what I liked or didn't like and my routine has definitely changed over a couple of months.

(The pictures on the left are when I started in February. The pictures on the right are the same swim suit now in May!) 

Pardon my awful shorts tan line haha.

 I'm happy to see a little bit of progress! Subtle changes are small win <3

It is important to keep a record of what you are lifting and how much so that you are always improving- other wise you go into a plateau and your body just kind of sits where it is at.  I have not been on the quest for weight loss at all, but I've been focusing on trying to tone and build muscle. 

I've also learned how important it is to take pictures of your progress because the scale can be extremely discouraging. I got one of those scales that measures muscle mass, water weight, and body fat and it makes me crazy because I fluctuate so much. 
Over this process I've actually gained about 4 lbs, which I would be fine with if my other numbers were where I wanted them as well. (Apparently my body fat has gone up and muscle mass has gone down!) but then I look at my pictures and I'm very happy with the progress that I see. 

As of right now I go lift weights every other day, run the days in between, and go to yoga once a week. I do assisted pull ups, curls, some core work, and I love squats (with the bar) I'm proud of my results at this point in time, but now I'm making these my new beginning mark so that in six months I hope to have made even more progress (part of my deployment goals is to be able to lift and run certain amounts!)

Here are the biggest keys that I've learned about fat loss:
1. Balance cardio and weight lifting. Too much cardio can actually give your muscles a softer appearance, while as too much weight lifting can make everything look bigger if you aren't losing fat at the same rate. You have to have muscle in order to be able to make it look more defined, however, if you aren't losing fat as quickly as you are building muscle you may just feel "bigger."
2. Diet is everything- as it always is. Eat several smaller meals a day to keep your metabolism boosted. Try to cut back on carbs and sugars and eat a lot of protein- protein is what will help you build muscle. Don't ever go hungry!
For example- I've made some changed such as brown rice instead of white rice, whole grain breads, low fat yogurts, etc. I try to pair and wheat carb that is slow burning paired with a protein. I'm trying to get more veggies in my diet and have fruits for snacks, and most importantly drink more water!
However, I don't short myself when it comes to certain things. Yes I make changes for a healthier lifestyle, but I am not as determined to be some of those people that never ever have sweets or carbs. (I'm at starbucks as we speak. Hah!) But I do try to keep things in moderation. I've definitely cut back on alcohol and almost never have soda if I can help it. I've replaced regular milk with almond milk- all these things make your body feel a lot better.
If you stop buying things like chips and sweets (which I love tremendously) then you can't eat them. If I do get ice cream I try to get a healthier option, such as Fro Yo, or as of recently I've been getting the flavored Yoplait Lights and adding a little granola. (Peanut butter granola and boston cream pie flavored yoplait is the bomb.)

Now I do all of these things, but I've actually gained a little weight and my body fat (according to the scale) has not budged, or goes up a little bit. The last thing I've learned is this:

3. Inflammation and survival mode
When your body is under constant stress from work outs your muscles undergo a lot of inflammation, which can cause your water weight to shift, and the body fat scale to read differently. Survival mode is when your body goes into stress and starts storing fat to "live off of" this is particularly the issues with women- our bodies are biologically made to store fat at all costs (go us. we can survive in the wild longer.) But it sucks when you are trying to lose it! The more we work out and diet, the more our body starts to panic and won't let go of that fat.

I'm thinking this is where I'm at because I work out almost every day and have a pretty decently healthy diet. I'm trying to incorporate a little more rest time, as well as cut down on carbs (I have a hard core carb craving in the evenings, which is a huge no no.) So I'm still working on all of this and figuring out- it makes you so much more aware of your body and how easy it is to not take care of it! 
So far we are week 1 into deployment. Let's see where I can get to in 6 months!