Changing The Workout Routine

sleeping peekabu

Peekabu demonstrating how I physically felt after being back with a personal trainer after just two sessions.

This weekend I was sore from head to toe — shoulders, arms, chest, back, hips, gluts (oh, man!) legs — and it felt awesome! At my husband’s urging, I’m working with a personal trainer again. I wasn’t happy with my last trainer. Her aversion to both sticking to our scheduled appointments and using free weights soured me on personal trainers. I loved my first two trainers, but her attitude left an indelible impression with me.

Plus the hubby and I carved out a little area in our basement for workouts. Why should we spend the money on a trainer?

The hubby made some strong arguments for going back to the gym.

  1. Despite my 3 muscle workouts a week, the husband noticed no difference in my, strength, attitude or stamina. He didn’t see how I could meet my fitness goals for the year.
  2. While diet has more to do with my menopause symptoms, what I was doing in the home gym (yoga and weight training) wasn’t having an impact.
  3. Soreness…or lack of it. In his view, I wasn’t pushing myself as hard as I could.
  4. Most importantly, I was happier when I was going to the gym than I have been working out at home with all the distractions.

He’s right, of course. I’m not pushing myself. I certainly feel good after I workout, but the overall boost in energy just isn’t there. While I agreed with his arguments, No. 4 really hit me.

When I’m at home I find there is so much to do and so little time. So everything becomes a choice. Go for a walk in the cold or clean the kitchen? Do yoga or get a jump on laundry?  Get 20 minutes with the dumbbells or try to fix the dishwasher?

Yet those 18 months I when I belonged to a gym, I never chose chores over working out. Back then working out was a habit, like brushing my teeth. It was never an “either/or” decision.

Finding The Right Fit
After I agreed to go back to a trainer, I thought the challenge was going to find the right person. The Gold’s Gym near our home wasn’t the one I quit more than a year ago. I was leery of going back to Gold’s. But my husband assured me we’d ask a lot of questions to  find the right trainer.

Turns out, not all Gold’s are equal. Some are franchises (my not so great experience) and corporate (my new gym). The corporate Gold’s are all about free weights. Yes they have weight machines, yoga, spin and HIIT classes, but free weights are their focus.

My new trainer had no problem starting me with barbells.  During our first session he evaluated what I could do: planks, push ups, crunches, dead lifts, presses, squats, rows.  Immediately he spotted that my hips and lower back are problem areas (something my physical therapist told me to work on).

Actually my whole core is weak. I haven’t really focused on them post-surgery. Right now I’m about 75% healed, so I’ve been nervous about pushing myself. The problem is I’m not pushing myself at all. So my schedule is upper body on Tuesday, lower body on Thursdays, and rebuilding my core for 20 minutes on both days.

Setting 3 Month Goals
Afterwards we talked goals. I’ve signed up for 3 months (two 1-hour sessions a week). We discussed target goals by the end of that time.

  • 60-second plank
  • Standard push ups (no knees!)
  • Strengthen my core (includes back and hips) which is pathetically weak after surgery
  • 10-15 pound increase in bench press
  • Recapturing some of the definition and tone I lost post surgery

All are very doable if I’m willing to put in the work…and I am.

For the first time in more than a year I’m really excited about working out. Yes, I was sore over the last week. But I’m asking my body to do things I haven’t done in a while.

Pelvic Floor Strength Thru The Roof!

Pelvic floor muscle

With my hysterectomy, I have too much room down there and organs can start shifting, causing major problems. And my radiation treatment left me with a bit of incontinence. Good news there is an exercise to fix me.

After a three of months of doing pelvic floor exercises 6 times a day everyday, I’ve officially graduated from physical therapy. No cap n’ gown were involved, but I made great progress and no longer need therapy. My pelvic floor strength was off the chart. Awesome considering how bad I was before I started.

I figured I was making progress about a month ago. After one sneezing frenzy nothing leaked out of my bladder.

Yes…it’s the simple things that make me happy these days.

Nonetheless, my therapist suggested I do my pelvic exercises 3 times a day to build endurance and maintain strength. Important now that my uterus is gone. Also she wants me to work on building hip strength.

Between my yoga, squats and Fitness Blender routines, my hips should feel the burn in no time.

Now it’s time to work on the rest of me.

Be Happy, It’s Saturday!


I woke up actually feeling like Espresso Owl. Why? I finally had my first awesome night’s sleep in about a week.

I feel like a weight’s been lifted. My doctor gave me the all clear to start working out again.  My healing is moving along nicely. I just have a few sutures that haven’t dissolved yet.

While I still need to take it easy, I can resume my training for a 10k and start lifting weights. Heck I’m even allowed to go swimming or take a bath.

I haven’t done anything for 7 weeks. Ugh! I’m so happy I’ve made a habit out of being active. I just can’t sit still anymore. It won’t be difficult to get back into the swing of things. The hard part will be the slow and gentle pace. My inclination is to go as hard or fast as possible. Not too bright. Last thing I want is an injury or screwing up my still healing abdominal area. I must be the turtle, not the hare.

But this weekend I’m focused on food prep, making meals for the week and a special project with the husband (minds out of the gutter!).  I’m spending part of this beautiful morning gearing up to run the gauntlet that is Saturday grocery shopping. May my Espresso Owl energy stay with me.

Which morning owl are you?

Weekly Weigh-In: Sore & Swollen Muscles

weekly weigh in april 25

My new workout routine caused lots of sore muscles all over. Which means up up ever so slightly this week.

Last week I jump started 2 workout routines — running and resistance training. My arms, abs and legs are feeling the burn as they say. Thanks to that soreness (a.k.a. swollen muscles), I’m up a a whopping 6 ounces. My guess is sometime this week that will fall off and I can expect better results next weigh-in day.

Why Resistance Bands & Not Barbells?
Turns out the local rec department I planned to use twice a week for weight lifting got rid of their free weights. Ugh!  Who does that?

Anyway I figured I’d just dig out my resistance bands, load up the Fitness Blender YouTube vids and workout. Turns out my old bands were lacking the resistance I needed. So I gave those to my mom as she wants to start building muscle (yay!) and picked up some new bands.

That doesn’t mean I’m giving up the dream of working with barbells. Turns out my parkour gym offers weight training classes. Once I go through the initial class, I can come in anytime and workout with the free weights. I’m hoping to hit the newbie class this Saturday.

Running Again
I stopped running because I was freaked about what I read regarding cardio exercise and IVF success. But it turns out that’s more related to over exercising. That doesn’t mean I won’t stop once we start treatments. That’s a very real possibility. But for now I want to run.

Rather than trying for a personal best, I’m just doing intervals to help me get back into the swing of things.  Last week I did 1 minute run/2 minute walk for 21 minutes. This week that flips to 2 minute run/1 minute walk for 30 minutes.

While my first run was awesome, the next 2 were more challenging. My legs were so sore from squats, lunges and mountain climbers. My leg workouts are the day before a run so my poor legs never got full rest. If that happens again this week, I may have to rethink the timing of my leg workouts.



Upper Body Workout: Resistance Is Futile

resistance bands, upper body weight exercise

Thanks to my new found commitment to weight training I’m sweaty, sore and feeling pretty dang peachy about myself!

I’m exhausted, sweating up a storm and my arms feel like jello thanks to a new upper body workout compliments of a great video I found on YouTube.

Up until this morning I’ve used the images in a booklet that came with the resistance bands that show the exercises as my guide. It gets rather dull and it’s hard to tell if my form is correct. So this morning I hunted for workout videos on YouTube. Most only show one exercise and I didn’t feel like stopping to switch out videos. And you really couldn’t see the exercise because someone didn’t use a camera with a zoom lens.

After about 30 minutes I found a video by a group called Fitness Blender. I don’t know who they are, but I absolutely loved this workout.

The Fitness Blender video is 27 minutes in length and you complete each set of exercises in 3 rounds. The video is easy to follow and challenging. Also the voice-over provides clear directions on form as does the video. Another nice feature – rather than jumping from one exercise to the next, the video also provided about 10-15 seconds in between exercises to give you time to adjust your bands. And between rounds there’s enough time for a short water break.

I did hit the pause button a lot during round 1. After last night’s push-up debacle, I continually added resistance during each exercise.  And each time, it was too much weight. So after wasting about 10 minutes switching out bands, I settled down and hit my rhythm during round 2. I did skip one exercise – the lateral pull. My room is too small for me to lay on the floor and get enough tension in the bands.

I found that by round 3, my arms turned to limp noodles. I hit the wall during the overhead tricep extension. I could only muster 9 at the end. On number 10, my forearm stopped midway up. I actually let out a small yell as if to will my arm up over my head.  My tricep decided to go on strike. It was awesome!

After my workout, I decided to check out Fitness Blender’s YouTube channel.  I hit the mother load!  I found a ton of full length exercise videos. From yoga to strength training to Pilates, you’ll find what you need.

I plan to mine their channel for workout gold.

What’s Your Exercise Type?

This morning I played with Weight Watchers’ eTools checking out the fitness section. I discovered a fitness quiz designed to build a personal activity profile and training guide. A quiz? Fun.

The first time through, I’d answer the questions honestly to get my profile. Then I’d run through the quiz multiple times to see the different types of personalities I am not. Why? I’m a marketer. It’s what I do.

The multiple-choice questions were pretty simple: last time I exercised regularly, do I like working out with other people, outdoor vs. indoor workouts, and am I competitive.

From what I can tell, quiz takers fit into one of five categories: competitor, explorer, individualist, joiner, and perfect partner.

(You can take the activity profile quiz if you are a subscriber to Weight Watchers eTools. Otherwise, take the poll to choose your exercise type.)

Well, it turns out I’m an (drum roll, please)…Individualist!

I can see that. Working out is a time for me to clear my thoughts. Also if I’m exercising with friends I’m more likely to socialize than get a great workout. I know my limitations!

As for the suggested workouts, some I’m already doing like hiking, walking, yoga and strength training. But some suggestions intrigued me: biking, hitting balls at a driving range, water workouts (suggest exercises for the pool), and inline skating.

The last time I rode a bike?  About 20 years ago.  Now I did buy a bike in 2010. Where’s that bike now? Sitting in a shed. How sad. Maybe this fall I get back on that horse.

There’s a pool and driving range near out house. Perhaps a couple of times a month I try swimming and hitting golf balls. It certainly breaks up the monotony of walking and yoga everyday.

As for inline skating, all I can say is “Yikes!”  I’d say that’s a big, fat no for now. Until I master the bike, no way in hell I’m getting on skates.  Now that doesn’t mean never. Maybe it’s something to try next spring.



Should I Up My Strength Training

lifting book coverI missed my Tuesday session with my trainer due to a nasty ear infection and stomach bug. Thankfully I bounced back for today’s session.

I’m tired as hell, but feel great. How does that work?

It really is amazing how I feel after each session. Yes I’m drenched in sweat. My legs feel wobbly. My arms are jello. Yet, I am very relaxed and have an overwhelming desire to go for a long walk. I’ve heard about a runner’s high, perhaps this is something similar.

Right now I’m strength training twice a week and speed walking the other days. But I’m starting to wonder if I should up my strength training. I came across an article in Women’s Health about the value of strength training over cardio. Two stats jumped out at me:

1. Just 21% of women strength train two or more times a week.
2. Two strength training sessions per week can reduce overall body fat by 3 percent in a 10 week span.

The article isn’t about choosing between one or the other. I don’t think I have a choice. I need to do both. It’s about the clear benefits of strength training and encouraging women to take advantage of it. I think women don’t strength train because they fear bulking up too much. Sorry ladies, but we just are not built that way. I promise, you won’t turn into her.

But I’m wondering if my strength training and cardio are out of whack. Right now I’m split 70-30 in favor of cardio. Yes, I do believe that as long as I continue to eat the right foods and exercise, I’ll lose weight. The difference is that with cardio I’ll lose weight, but that can mean fat and muscle. With strength training, I can target my problem areas and lose fat, not muscle.

For the time being, I’ll stick with what I’m currently doing. I’ll re-evaluate around June 1. By that time I should be working again and can see how realistic it is to add another session.

In the meantime, I’ve ordered The New Rules of Lifting for Women. Since I’ve added strength training, I noticed I need to make some adjustments to what I’m eating. I have noticed that my metabolism plunges a few hours after these sessions. Clearly I’m not fueling my body properly. My last couple of sessions, I came home an ate an apple and that seemed to help, but I need to really work in more protein. Problem is, protein is a high point item on Weight Watchers. So I really need to figure out the most bank for the buck without going over my daily points allowance. I’m hopeful that this book can shed some light on the nutrition front.

Adding Strength Training To The Mix

Image courtesy of artemisphoto/

Image courtesy of artemisphoto/

Yesterday I had my first session with John, my new trainer.

Yep, I’m sore. Tomorrow will be worse. That’s expected.

So this morning I hopped out of bed (yes, hopped), put on my workout clothes and went on a 2.58-mile walk. Not expected.

I feel grrrreat!

I’ve used trainers before and it was always the same. Work me like a dog and for a week I’m in pain. Every single frickin’ session. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Not this time. Yea, I’m sore, but I can actually function. Woohoo!

My trainer told me up front that people (especially women) are more likely to quit their trainers because they get destroyed by their sessions. He’s right. I hated that I couldn’t do anything without pain. That includes curling up in a fetal position to feel sorry for myself.

Training became an excuse not to do my normal routines because I need to recover from my sessions. Oh, and injuries always followed. Yikes.

So my new trainer, John, wants to focus on getting form correct (reduces the chance of injuries), do a full muscle workout each session and push me so that I have some soreness, but not to the point where I have an excuse to stop doing anything else.

I really like what he told me – “This is long term. Don’t think about losing weight. The weight training, cardio and diet will help reshape your body.”

I also liked that he took the time to explain what each exercise does, the importance of form for the each lift, pull, squat, and what food adjustments I need to consider now that I’m adding strength training. My past trainers conversations would be along the lines of “Give me one more,” “Hold the position,” and my favorite, “You can do better than that.”

The session was terrific. I was sweaty, felt great and discovered I had muscles in places I didn’t know existed. I go back for more tomorrow.