Archive for April, 2009


April 30, 2009

Sort of…

After two weekends of intense pain I slacked off from going to the gym on Tuesday (as planned). Wednesday was a triumph of backwards logic. After the Tuesday debacle I decided I would go to the gym Wednesday after my morning meeting. Morning meeting was cancelled, and thanks to some mental gymnastics this meant that I now couldn’t go to the gym as I somehow magically erased the two hours free time I had for the gym and ignored the extra two hours I was given…

So, I guilted myself back into the gym this morning. Yay me! Totally unplanned by the way.

I think it is now time to admit that I have taken on too much at the gym. I really like the New Rules of Lifting program and it is an intense work out. I can also feel how much is taken out of my body after that work out. So much so that doing a HIIT workout seems dreadful afterwards.

The double workout is also taking me much too long. It takes me two and a half hours from deciding to go to the gym to stepping out of the shower.

So… here is the new plan: TA DA!!!!

NROLFW up to three times per week. NROLFW must be spaced out by at least one day (i.e. M,W,F or T,TH,ST…. not M,T,W).

HIIT workouts up to three times per week. HIIT cannot be done in the same work out as NROLFW. Alternate between HIIT and NROLFW workouts so long as there has been a full day from the last NROLFW work out.

Three days per week at the gym = success (at least until the end of this 12-week period – June 27th, 2009).

So, my possible workout combinations could look like this:

Most Likely:

Monday: NROLFW
Tuesday: None
Wednesday: HIIT
Thursday: None
Friday: NROLFW
Saturday: None
Sunday: None


Monday: NROLFW
Tuesday: HIIT
Wednesday: NROLFW
Thursday: HIIT
Friday: NROLFW
Saturday: HIIT
Sunday: None

Too Ambitious

Monday Morning: NROLFW
Monday Evening: HIIT
Tuesday: HIIT
Wednesday Morning: NROLFW
Wednesday Evening: HIIT
Thursday: HIIT
Friday Morning: NROLFW
Friday Evening: HIIT
Saturday: HIIT
Sunday: Mental Breakdown

In general, assuming I keep my head about me, I think this is a better program, it will allow me to get the HIIT in and I could get it in on a NROLFW day, but later in the day if I want to. It also has the added benefit of shortening the actual gym time which will be necessary when I start my new “actually need to go into the office” job.


Mood Swings

April 28, 2009

There are a lot of studies out there that deal with mood, exercise and diet. I know that when I’m eating well and exercising that my mood tends to be more positive than when I’m not. Weather can also be a influencer for mood.

Something is cross-wired in the mood department this week.

Yesterday, brilliant sunny day, I was friggin’ depressed almost to the point of paralysis… which was put to good use doing my companies audit files.

Today, rainy, rainy, rainy and I’m bouncing off the walls singing 80’s songs.

I feel like I should go to the gym today, but I’ve planned for Tomorrow and Friday and it will allow my back (which has been killing me) to get those last little aches and pains out before I abuse it some more.

She’s an uptown girl
She’s been livin’ in a downtown world
And la li laaaa la, la la la la la la la laaaa
Lala uptown girl
lala lalala downtown world


April 27, 2009

No, I was wrong, I should have waited the day before writing the last post. I now realize that while the advice to alternate and mix up workouts is likely correct as your body does not adjust as easily. It also means that I got to go through the ‘OMG I’m in pain because I haven’t worked those muscles in 12 weeks’ routine yet again.

My back was a total mess this past weekend, I think mainly do to TOM, but also the upper back, which was definitely a muscle cramping issue.

I’m still not 100% so I’m waiting to tomorrow to go to the gym this week and leaving it at two trips to the gym this week. Hoping that neither will cause the kind of pain I’ve experienced for the last two weeks.

The new goal for this weekend: not to spend weekend in lots of pain.


April 24, 2009

I just finished my week 2 day 2 workout, planned here. It really showed me how much changing up my workout can knock me out. I was thinking that once I was past the pain of the first workout from last week that I’d more or less get into an even keel, pushing myself but not really concerned about the workout.

Part of it was being over ambitious:

The dumbbell shoulder press had too much weight on it. I wasn’t able to complete either set fully. But I came close so I’m keeping the weights at 20 lbs for next week.

The wide grip lat pulldown I had originally set at 60 lbs, reduced to 40 lbs and then when I tried 40 at the gym it was much too easy so I put it back up to 60, I probably would have done better to go 50, my form was really sloppy and I wasn’t getting the weight all the way down. Still I was close and finished both sets so I’m leaving it there.

The lunges nearly killed me. I’ve done lunges before, but I’m obviously out of practice, I couldn’t hold the weights, my grip was gone, so I dropped from 40 lbs (20 ea.) to 24 lbs (12 ea.) and was still panting like a dog and feeling a wee bit dizzy after these sets. I took and extra minute recovery time before doing my crunches.

By the time I got to the HIIT it was the first time in a planned workout I was really wondering if I should go on, I felt pretty beat at this point, but figured the HIIT is what takes the fat off so I’d better.

The elliptical was longer, and I made it, but my sprints weren’t as fast. On Wednesday I was going about 200+ strides/min on the sprints, today was 185 – 200 max on them.

The one-leg deadlift wasn’t bad, but I’ve got terrible balance: hello! Core, where are you? Because of the balance I was only getting 3-4 reps per set.

I set the row at 9-pegs on the slidy-barbell machine thingy (no idea what that’s called – an olympic bar set on a vertical slide). This was actually fairly easy at the end with 5 reps / set. I will leave it there for one more workout and then drop it.

I’m still feeling pretty wobbly and quite tired. The good news is that I’ve been having a lot of personal stress lately and it’s really hard to be stressed out when you work your body this hard. Yay exercise as distraction! Whatever gets me into the gym, right?

There are a few must do’s as I continue this plan:

1. Find out how to eat protein right after work out instead of hours later. Consider protein bar or something – watch out for carb loaded protein bars.

2. Planning workouts when starting new job may require more days at gym for less time, or splitting between morning & evening workouts. Right now the work outs themselves take 1hr 30 min, and with getting ready, shower time it’s 2 hrs 20 min. I don’t have that much time in the mornings… or well I won’t when I start my new job.

Past the Pain

April 22, 2009

It took me until Sunday to really feel normal again after Thursday’s workout. Sleeping was difficult my muscles hurt so much and walking was really bad. I did however make it through my social night, not with grace, but still standing.

I repeated the workout again today, in a slightly different order, with much better results.

I began with the New Rules of Lifting for Women weights work out and finished with Health Habits aerobic HIIT work out and then anaerobic HIIT.

This pattern proved much less painful, and more productive. I can increase the weights on my Barbell Squat and Seated Row (also increased to 50 lbs for this workout), the 45 degree push up is ready to be lowered. I increased the weights and the number of steps for the step up and will leave it there for at least one more work out.

The Prone Jacknife however is unbelievably difficult for me. I have a small moment of saving grace in that I accidentally thought I had to complete 15 reps, and it was only 8, but they were painful and in poor form nonetheless. This one will take some work.

The Aerobic HIIT on the elliptical was much harder after completing the weights work out, but the overall work out was much more manageable. Not bad on squats or push ups for anaerobic.

I did use proper waiting times between sets and a better warm up this time for a total work out time of 1 hr 20 min. I can feel the work out in my legs and lower belly, and mildly in my arms but not the debilitating ‘hurts to breath’ of the last work out.

NROLFW is supposed to be done three times a week, so I’m not considering myself ‘on’ that program until I actually get to three times (likely next week) but I am following the Health Habits HIIT program since it started with one work out per week.

I’m planning a return to the gym on Friday, with this B-side workout. The HIIT will change as I advance through it, once I get to three times a week the NROLFW parts will be the same alternating workout A (last entry) to work out B exercises for sixteen weeks.

NROLFW – Deadlift
Planning 45 lb bar + 40 lbs total. = 85 lbs.

NROLFW – Dumbbell Shoulder Press
Planning 20 lbs per arm
This exercise is very difficult for me as I smashed up my shoulder a few years back.

NROLFW – Wide Grip Lat Pullown
Planning – 40 lbs
(yes, I picked this video for the accent)

NROLFW – Lunge
Planning – 20 lbs each arm = 40 lbs
(if you can get past the first 10 sec of this video it’s actually good, except for the ugly product push at the end)

NROLFW – Swiss Ball Crunches
Body Weight

HIIT – Elliptical
12 min, 10 sec sprint 50 sec recovery
I did notice I’m only supposed to be doing one aerobic HIIT per week, but I’m comfortable with one per work out, so when I get to two per week I’m simply going to add a new machine.

HIIT – 1 Leg Deadlift
Body weight
(they seem to look different when you get weights, but this looked reasonable for a body weight exercise)

At some point if I ever get a personal trainer I should ask them about form in the videos I select. The variety of videos on youtube is astounding, and for a novice like me it’s really about selecting which ones give me confidence. That, and I try to select as many as possible with women, for well, a female perspective.

Timex: Interval Timer Review

April 16, 2009

As I mentioned in the last post the gadget that I ‘had’ to buy before I could in good conscious start my work out was an interval timer. A count down timer that can time at least two different set times in a row.

In my case I wanted to set a short time interval (10 sec) so that when I hit start it would count down ten seconds and then beep, then count down my recovery time (60 sec) then beep and then I would reset for the next set.

After doing a bunch of online research here is what I found:

1. Stop Watches are not interval timers. The purpose of a stop watch is to allow someone to do an activity (laps in the pool say) and then find out how much time it takes them to do the activity. Almost every single box store and convenience store carries stop watches, they are however useless if you want to tell yourself when to stop, not how long it took you.

2. If you type in interval timers generally into most store searches you will get a large listing of home security, and sprinkler devices.

I was about ready to buy a kids watch with a basic countdown timer when I came across the Timex site and read through some of their women’s sports watches, several of which have interval timers. Thank you Timex!

I got the Women’s 50-Lap Ironman Triathalon Sleek 59201.

Calls to four Zellers stores (3 out of stock) and $60 (CDN) later, I was trying the watch in the car. I figured I’d better find out if it was too difficult to program, beeper works and so on, so that if I had to return it I could do it right then.

It was really easy to program, the instructions were blessedly clear.

The chime was loud enough in the car, so I proceeded to the gym. Testing the timer along the way (bad driver, I know!) and figuring out I could set, hear the two intervals, reset and restart without having to actually look down at the watch once. Bonus!

The only drawback is that in the gym with the music going, it was more difficult to hear. I was really worried about disturbing other people, that will not happen with this timer. However I had to get used to listening for it and in the first few sets missed the 10 second timer.

Overall I’m not sure if it was worth the $60 just for the timer, but keeping in mind that I don’t currently have a watch, it’s got lots of other features, and it was a major barrier in me getting off my butt and into the gym, I think purchase well worth it.

I hurt, oh how I hurt!

April 16, 2009

I finally made my return to the gym. I would (yet again) like to thank the folks at King West Fitness for being non-judgmental. It makes it so much easier to show back up at a gym when the staff still remember who you are and act as if you were just there yesterday, instead of noting the gaping 12 week MIA.

Going back to the gym for me involves breaking all of the barriers for why I haven’t been in the longest time.

1. Schedule gym time.
As soon as I stop going to the gym regularly there is no chance I’m actually going to go back unless I put it in my calendar. I will not get up early enough. I will not magically find time in my day. No, need to make a decision and put it in writing. I was an hour off my planned time today, but I still made it.

2. Buy the gadget
I’m a total gadget freak. The last time I had to go back to the gym I decided I simply couldn’t go until I had a better gym bag, and new better, proper running shoes. This time, it was an interval timer. I wanted to try this HIIT training I’ve been reading so much about and decided I simply could not do it without a timer. I’ll review the time in my next post.

3. Leave time for girly wardrobe changes & grooming.
If there is a guy reading this post I’m sure he’s rolling his eyes right now, some girls likely are as well. I’m super uncomfortable about myself at the gym and how my flabby body looks bouncing around on the machines, so there’s no way I’m going to show up without my legs newly shaved, and in clothes that I think look like crap. Yes, I realize the irony…. and if I didn’t my partner pointed it out to me today when I asked if the small brown stripes on the arms of my hoodies clashed too much with my black yoga pants. That being said, it’s a barrier, and it needed to be addressed.

The Work Out

After reading a tonne of information from Health Habits, and New Rules of Lifting for Women, I decided that I have been committing most of the exercise sins… or common mistakes. Hours on the cardio machines at a moderate pace, barbie weights, bizarre awkward crunches. I feel a bit embarrassed about this, but not too much. First off, I’m apparently far from alone in these common mistakes and secondly, they did help me loose 6 sizes so it wasn’t all bad.

I decided to start with Health Habits HIIT aerobic, followed by his HIIT anaerobic, and then following it up with workout 1 from NROLFW

Workout looked like this:

Elliptical resistance 8, height 10
5 min warm up
10 min HIIT with 10 second sprints, and 50 second recovery.

HIIT Squats – 9 ‘super sets’ (no idea if that word is right)
10 sec sprint
60 sec recovery

HIIT Push Ups (done at 45 degree angle) – 9 super sets
10 sec sprint
60 sec recovery

NROLFW Barbell Squat using 20 lbs
15 reps
2 sets

NROLFW 45 degree push up (see above)
15 reps
2 sets
(I alternated between this exercise and the step ups to reduce recovery time, may have been a mistake)

NROLFW Step up 3 steps, 24 lbs
15 reps (each leg)
2 sets

NROLFW Seated Row 40 lbs
15 reps
2 sets
(I alternated this exercise with the prone jack knife to reduce recovery time, may have been a mistake)

NROLFW Prone Jack Knife
15 reps
2 sets

Comments / Mistakes

1. HIIT before NROLFW

I didn’t find the HIIT series too challenging, I know that I can progress through that work out. The big difficulty came when I tried to do the barbell squats after doing the HIIT workout, there was way too much burn in my thighs and they were really really painful. As I got through the set they got easier, which I suppose is not supposed to happen. I think I can likely do more weight on the barbell squat but I’d better do them before anareobic HIIT.

2. NROLFW Prone Jack Knife WTF??!!!

I had a lot of problems with the prone jack knife and really wish I had watched this particular you tube video before trying them.

Part of the problem was this description from NROLFW:

Get Ready

  • Grab a Swiss ball and set your shins on top of it, with your palms flat on the floor.
  • Carefully walk your palms out until your body is in the push-up position, forming a straight line from your ankles through your neck.
  • Lift

  • Pull your knees towards your chest, allowing your torso to shift diagonally so your hips rise towards the ceiling and your head tilts down towards the floor
  • Keep your arms straight, and your neck in line with your torso.
  • Your toes will end up on the top of the ball, with most of your weight now shifted to your hands.
  • Return

  • Roll the ball back to the starting position, so your shins are again on top of the ball and your body is aligned from ankles to neck.
  • Basically the drawing and this text gave me the impression that the end position was butt high in the air, head between the shoulders pointed at the ground so that the back was vertical.

    All the youtube videos however stress how important it is to keep the back horizontal and in line with the floor. Which, after trying the exercise seems a bit easier and less awkward than the how to get my head between my shoulders pointed at the floor while on a swiss ball.

    3. Damn I’m sore!

    This is not going to be the workout where I say it feels great to have done it, I feel really really sore, and I expect walking will be a challenge tomorrow morning.