Catching Up, Part 1

Part of the problem with being a perfectionist — and I am, no matter how I try not to be — is that I like to be orderly about my posts. I feel like I shouldn’t just dive into writing about current stuff without mentioning what happened in the past 3 months (when I wanted to be writing about my progress but didn’t have time). Maybe no one else cares about that kind of detail but me, it’s hard to say, but that’s how I am and I’m unlikely to change that part of me at this point.

If I were simply talking about general life stuff, I could probably skip it and not worry about it. But because I’m trying to express myself during an experiment in fitness, I feel like I should at least ‘sum up’ what’s been going on since I started at the end of January.

Just a little quirk that makes me special, I suppose. No idea if that’s ‘special’ as in ‘delightful,’ or ‘special’ as in ‘let’s reserve her the next available white room and notify the authorities.’ *GRIN*

Nevertheless…

Catching Up. Month 1 of 3.

A quick refresher: I’m experimenting with a Tracy Anderson workout that’s meant for pregnant women. I’m not pregnant, but I think the workout might be a beneficial first step for non-pregnant, larger-sized women who can’t immediately jump into a more intense workout regimen. That’s the theory, anyway.

The program includes 9 separate workouts, one for each month of a woman’s pregnancy. Again, since I’m not pregnant and my needs are a little different, I thought I would take them out of order. Instead of doing months 1 through 9, I thought I’d start with the gentler months first (9, 8 and 7), then switch to month 1 and go forward from there. (If you’d like to read more about my goals and approach in this regard, please check out this post.)

I started this experiment on January 22, 2013.

According to my calendar, I stopped doing my regular 6-days-a-week workout last summer around July 21 or 22, only doing a few days here and there in August until I realized the pain was too much and I had some injuries going on. Which means when I embarked upon this new experiment, I had not exercised seriously in about 6 months. Yikes!

Let me tell you, this may be a program for pregnant women, but I was FEELING this workout! My butt was still sore several hours later, in that ‘ouch, yeah, I definitely worked it’ muscle-weary sort of way. It’s been so long that during the final stretches at the end of the workout, I had to pause my DVD, drink some water and breathe very carefully because I thought I might throw up. I think it was a combination of dehydration (always make sure to stay hydrated while working out!), needing some food fuel (probably should have eaten a little something before starting for the day), and the consequences of such a long break between workouts.

The next day, I was still sore. It’s like when I first started Tracy’s Metamorphosis workout last year — those first couple of days, I was sore all over. I felt every muscle.

Likewise, with this new experiment, the next day I could still feel it in my legs, butt and abs. My body wasn’t used to it and let me know loudly. But just like last year when I started Metamorphosis, my body adapted quickly. After a few days I was feeling better.

While it’s a challenge every day to do the workouts, I find my muscles adapting and getting stronger. My body is feeling more balanced. This is why I think that even though it’s a workout geared toward pregnant women, it’s still beneficial for other women, especially those who are larger and need to take a slower, gentler but still challenging approach.

A Broken Heart = Serious Distraction

A little less than 2 weeks into the experiment, I got some terrible news about the death of a close friend.

I was just gutted. She had become one of my best friends. Though she lived all the way across the country and I hadn’t seen her in person in a few years, we emailed each other a lot. About so many aspects of life, and about family, and personal issues, and about creative writing (something we both loved), and web design (something we both did), and about everything from television shows to cooking to taking walks and taking photographs around our neighborhoods. In fact, one of the things I looked forward to most about finishing school this upcoming year was that I would finally have more time to get back to our ‘epic’ long email conversations, about so many topics. It kills me that we won’t get to do that. We had so much more to talk about.

She was an amazing friend. One I could count on anytime, to tell me the truth, to give me perspective, to encourage me creatively, to talk with me about any topic, to discuss so many fun and interesting things. Everything was unconditional with her. Like family to me, only without the ‘family baggage,’ you know?

After receiving the news, I found my emotions (unsurprisingly) moving in waves, from trying to focus on school and general life activities, to thinking about my friend, to crying and mourning the loss, and then thinking positively about all the wonderful things that I loved and appreciated about her as my friend. Those thoughts and emotions went up and down throughout the days.

That first week after I found out, I wasn’t going to work out. I felt depressed, distraught and listless, but I needed some distraction so I decided to exercise anyway.

It was tough, especially that first day. My thoughts were all over the place. I had to stop a little more than halfway through the workout, to allow myself to think about my friend and get caught up in that for a little while when certain memories came to me. Then I went back into my workout to finish the final 15 minutes. I suppose the increase in endorphins made me feel a little better at the time. Not much, under the circumstances, but a little.

Throughout this first month of my experiment I struggled and procrastinated a lot, dragging myself to it and often getting it done at the last minute before needing to move on to other parts of my schedule. Every day I felt sluggish and it took everything I had to do my workout anyway. I guess it just goes to show that you don’t have to enjoy the workout every day in order to get it done.

Overall, it wasn’t an easy time. I didn’t want to work out, really didn’t feel like it. I found myself not caring about my own physical progress, not while feeling so down, but ultimately it did help my focus. I wasn’t in the best mood to exercise, but I will attest to the fact that it gave me some energy and positivity amidst the deep sorrow, and it did help to even out my moods.

The Careful Approach

Because I rejoined a workout routine after 6 months of healing from injuries, I wanted to be very careful. The last thing I wanted to do was reinjure myself and end up stuck doing nothing again.

At the start of the experiment, the areas of my injuries still felt tentative so I dialed things back a bit at first. I did 15 reps instead of 20 for all the leg exercises, paid very close attention to my pacing, form and how my body was feeling, and as a result skipped one leg exercise right near the end because I could feel pulling and tension in my groin and didn’t want to injure myself or exacerbate what was already feeling tight and slightly sore. I excluded that one leg exercise the entire month and worked my way up to 20 reps on each of the remaining exercises.

I think that’s one of the benefits of doing this Pregnancy Project workout instead of regular Metamorphosis right now — it may be a slower pace than Meta (which can probably seem frustrating if you’re used to the quicker tempo of everything), but that slower pace allows you to be more careful. You’re able to control your pace better and as a result you’re able to watch your form more and make sure you’re really doing it properly. If it were any faster, I think it might be too difficult for larger women, whether pregnant or not. If it went faster, you’d be rushing through the moves, simply churning out the 20 reps rather than concentrating on form and making sure you aren’t going to injure yourself. At least, that’s how it felt for me.

Another area where I started out smaller was in the weights I used. Since I hadn’t done a regular workout in almost 6 months, the first week I started out with using 1.5 pound hand weights instead of 3 pounds, just to ease in. What’s interesting is those first few days still felt very challenging because I hadn’t been working out, so I still felt soreness in my arm muscles and back and sides even with just using 1.5 pound weights.

After a week it felt like the 1.5 pound weights became super-easy again, so I increased to the 3-pound weights. Though I suppose if one wanted to continue to ease in, they could increase their weights in smaller increments, perhaps going from 1.5 pounds to 2 pounds, and then from 2 pounds to 2.5 (if they have that), and then finally switch to the 3-pound weights. But I felt okay with switching to 3 pounds. I could definitely feel the difference and it was challenging, but I felt ready for that switch.

There was one crazy busy day during the month where school projects and other appointments left me scrambling to get everything done AND do a workout. Because of that, I almost skipped my workout that day. However, in thinking it over and calculating available time, I thought I might be able to do a portion of it, but skip the leg exercises. I really wanted to get at least some of it in, so — with one eyeball on the clock at all times — I did the whole workout. In order to shorten things, I lowered the number of reps I did, completing 15 reps instead of 20, for each leg exercise. That seemed a fine compromise, to do some of it instead of either ‘all or nothing.’

Results After 1 Month

I didn’t see much change scale-wise. Pretty much no change, in fact. While I definitely want and need to see those numbers drop, I’ve found it’s also important to see inches lost. The scale does not rule all or give a complete measurement of progress.

I didn’t eat as well as I should, but I did keep a food log (more on that in a separate post). After studying it carefully, I will be able to work harder at the areas (stressful days = increase in food volume) or times of day (late evening) that need the most help.

Even without eating as well I could have, I am amazed to see that I did have some change in measurements. That gives me hope that I’m on a good track.

After 1 month, I lost 5.5 inches.

The Breakdown:

  • 1 inch off my bust (given that the fullest part of my bust was 51 inches, this is a good thing)
  • 1 inch off the area directly under my bust (the band portion of my bra measurement, I suppose you could say)
  • 1 half-inch off each bicep
  • 1 half-inch off each thigh (more of that, please!)
  • 1 inch off my waist (yay!)
  • 1 half-inch off my hips (definitely more of that, please!)

My Observations, After 1 Month

It’s a challenge no matter what you do, and either way you just have to do the hard work, find the time for it and try to get it done. Whether it’s Pregnancy Project or Metamorphosis, I have to find it within myself to stick with it and just keep at it, because I want results.

I was able to complete Meta the first time last year (with great difficulty because of my size), and I have no doubt about being able to stick with Pregnancy Project just the same. Either way, it’s difficult fitting it into your life and schedule, but you have to find that ‘just do it’ Nike philosophy somewhere in your brain, I guess. If you want results, ultimately you have to put in the work, no matter which program you’re following.

That being said, I do think — at least based on doing Month 9 so far, and from viewing the other months of the Project — the Pregnancy Project is a better pace for someone my size to start out with. Which probably makes it easier for me to want to stick with it, or at the very least feel like I can physically stick with this program. At least, until I lose more weight and my body can handle more physical challenges like Meta or Dance Cardio or the increasing challenges that come with Continuity or other workouts. But for a starting point, Pregnancy Project’s approach feels more appropriate and encouraging for me.

The pacing and the way Tracy Anderson describes things feels more inclusive to someone my size. Obviously, it can be a little weird when she’s talking about pregnancy-related stuff since I’m not actually pregnant. But sometimes the way she describes a move in relation to pregnancy can also fit in describing a non-pregnant, largely overweight woman.

For example, there’s a leg move she does where she brings her knee in and then extends the leg back and up, and during the move she points out that when you bring your knee in, if your belly gets in the way it’s totally understandable and you can modify the move by doing it ‘this way’ (and she demonstrates the brief modification). While she means the belly may get in the way because the exerciser is pregnant, I can also hear it as it relates to me — that I’m a larger-sized woman who has a belly that occasionally gets in the way of certain moves, so it’s comforting to be included and to be given a modification that can be done to compensate for those types of issues. It feels far better than not being given any consideration or modifications, and instead being expected to simply keep up with intense pacing when in truth it’s not necessarily something my body can be expected to keep up with when it’s, say, 280 pounds. It feels safer for my body’s needs to be given more options until my weight gets down to a more reasonable size.

I’m very curious to hear more about what new things Tracy is working on; one of the moderators on her web site posted a link to an article that talked about a more ‘basic’ workout in the works that sounds like it might be similar to what I’m trying to use Pregnancy Project for: a more ‘beginner’-type of workout for people who have a lot of weight to lose (like me) or have not worked out regularly before coming to Tracy’s program (not me, but definitely some women out there).

Until that comes to fruition, I’m happy with continuing my experiment with the Pregnancy Project because I feel that it is a bit safer for someone my size. The pace is slower, so I can concentrate on my form and make sure I don’t injure myself, trying to wield all that weight to do the moves. That’s a key piece for people like me who might otherwise get frustrated with ourselves, trying to keep up with the regular programs and feeling like outcasts because there’s just no way. I like the slower pace for certain moves; it makes me feel like I can not only keep up but do it correctly and do all the repetitions, thus getting more benefits from doing the work.

As for cardio, I’m not currently doing any. I wanted to start the Project just doing the exercises Tracy provides with the Project DVDs and eventually incorporate cardio. Personally for myself, I’d like to add cardio to the routine after I’ve lost another 20 pounds or so, because it’s definitely a helpful and key piece in losing weight, and I think I’d benefit from adding it in to my daily routine.

But I wanted to start out just doing what Tracy offered with the Project DVDs, to get back into a routine after so many months away (because of my summer injury), and because I want to get my weight down a little more first so that I can try using a mini-trampoline for my cardio when I do incorporate it back in. I’d feel more secure jumping up and down on a rebounder if I weighed around 250 pounds or less. But when I do add cardio, I’d like it to be the rebounder because I feel at this weight that might be the safer choice — it would still give me a strong workout (I already sweat like crazy just doing the Pregnancy Project workout), but it would be gentler on my joints, which is probably a good idea given my previous injuries and given that all that jumping around on the ground would be harder on my body and is highly difficult for someone my size.

Plus, there are many women following Tracy’s muscular structure workouts who have gotten great results from doing rebounder-only cardio, so it would still be beneficial for me. It is my hope that by the time I finish the Pregnancy Project (and any added rebounder cardio), I’ll have gotten down to a manageable enough weight that I’ll feel that I can physically handle moving on to re-doing Metamorphosis and trying the dance cardio that comes with Meta (and maybe substituting rebounder workouts if I prefer them or still find them better for my joints, no matter what size I am).

Anyway, that’s my thought process about it all after completing Month 9. How did Month 8 turn out?

Catching Up, Part 2… coming up next!

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