Thursday, November 11, 2010

Deserted for the Y

All my gym friends are abandoning me......for the YMCA.

There's a new Y opening up a few miles from my gym. It's the direct competion. My gym (the Wellness Center) is affiliated with Huntsville Hospital. It's really big, has tons of classes, great instructors, childcare, nutritionists, a pool (complete with sauna and hot tub), high quality trainers,, and all the equipment is always clean, working, and nearly always have openings. I've been very impressed with the quality of this gym. And everyone I see every day and have built relationships with were happy too.

Until the Y opened. The Y is very snazzy. It is way more kid friendly. Instead of having TV's that you just pick which station is the best (or most tolerable), each machine has it's own screen with cable, so you can watch whatever you want while you work out. The pool is amazing, and even has big beautiful sky-light and some really cool kids water areas. They have racquet ball of the only places in all of Huntsville (and the only one on this side of town).

And here's the kicker. They stole one of our favorite aerobic instructors. And at the Y she'll be teaching classes everyday instead of just 2 days a week at the Wellness Center.

Nearly all of the people that I've become friends with are switching within the next week or so. I'm still debating. They're both about the same cost per month, so that's not really an issue.

On the one hand, the Wellness Center has become my second home. It has, surprisingly, becoming my comfort zone. I know how to push myself there. I know all the people. I know that people see how hard I work out and respect me instead of wondering why there's a fat girl at the gym. I like my classes. I like my instructors. I have a feeling of loyalty there. This gym is what helped me lost 35 pounds. And, it's only 1-2 minutes away from my house (depending on if I make the stop light or not!). It is absolutely SO convenient, so I never have any excuse to not go.

But on the other hand, I have learned which instructors push me...which is what I need. And the one that switched, oh my goodness she will kick your butt (and your abs, triceps, quads, calfs, etc etc etc) every single time. I would love to have a class from her every day. Also, I really would love to play racquetball more. After my last experience, I'm kind of hooked on wanting to play more. I love the idea of having fun and not realizing that I'm burning tons of calories. And, there is something to say for that I love having friends with me working out that I know expect to see me everyday. And they will now be at the Y. The one downside is the distance. It's about 10 minutes away.

I'm not sure what I'll do you. John and I are going to visit and get a tour on Saturday, and then we'll probably decide next week.

What factors do you find most important in picking a gym?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I felt like an absolute beast today.

In a good way. :)

I had pretty much the most awesome workout today. I made the gym cower to me!

Here's what I accomplished:

Burned 2150 calories!

Ran 2.0 miles straight!

It still seems pretty crazy to me!!! I think this qualifies as beastliness.

Here's what I did to burn all those calories:
90 minutes of high-cardio step classes
30 minutes of yoga (though I didn't were my heart rate monitor, so that doesn't add into my calorie count)
45 minutes of intense (i.e. feel like I'm going to die) running/walking
30 minutes of getting my butt kicked by trainer Dave

For my running, I was supposed to run either 20 minutes or 2 miles for my workout for the Couch-to-5-K program. Saying I was sceptical about it is a gross understatement. I gave myself about a 40% chance of running 2 miles, 70% odds for running 20 minutes. Earlier this week I've only been running 1.5 miles total, and that has been with walking breaks ever 1/2 or 3/4 mile. 2 miles? Yeah right!

But, I started. I ran the whole thing at 5.0mph (which is slightly faster than I have been running). I put my towel over the display so I wouldn't agonize over how much further I had. I was watching Price Is Right to distract me. At the end of every commercial break, I would let myself peak under the towel to see how much I'd done so far. The commercial breaks are the hardest to push through, because they're so boring. Except for the Big Bang Theory commercials....those are still funny. I love that show. :)

I felt like I was going to die at 3/4 mile. And then again at 1.15 miles. And then again, and again, and again. But every time when I wanted to walk, I had another reason I told myself why I could go just a little bit further.

The very last time when I felt like quitting, when I had gone 20 minutes (2 miles took me 23:30), I wanted to walk for just 20 seconds so badly, and almost did. But then I told myself, it's not worth it. As in, I was going to run 2 miles for the very first time. And if I walked for 20 seconds right at the end, every single time I told someone that I ran 2 miles, I would have to qualify it with "well, almost straight. I walked a little bit once." And I decided those 20 seconds wasn't worth it. I wanted nothing to cloud my victory of running 2 miles.

And so I kept going. The last .10 mile I pushed my speed up to 5.5 mph because I just wanted to be done so bad already! And I finished!!!! It took me 15 minutes of walking until my heart rate calmed down....but hey, more calories burned, right?

I'm so proud of myself. I'm actually thinking I may be able to run the whole 5K on Thanksgiving afterall!

And by golly, I better have lost a good number this week....I burned over 1/2 a pound just today, and that doesn't even include my deficit from eating! I'm really feeling good about this week. :)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vibram Five Fingers

So, I have officially gone crazy. I think I've become a fitness nut, disregarding all my social and fashion sense pursue my fitness goals with reckless abandon.

Okay, maybe it's not that bad. BUT, when I bought these shoes,


I pretty much though that's what it had come to.

See, when I first saw VFF's, it was back in May, right before I flipped my life upside down to get healthy. That was the unhealthy-fat-lethargic-mousey-Diana. I saw those shoes with John, my reaction was:

"Those are absolutely hideous, and I would never want you to even try them on!"

And now....just six months later.....I have them on my very own feet. Yes, go ahead and mock me now.

So, here's why I went from laughing at them to wearing them:

It started as I became more and more aware of fitness in general, and how our bodies are supposed to work. It's been a long process of learning for me, because I was treating my body like trash in pretty much every way at the beginning of the summer.

Here in Huntsville, these have become pretty popular. The first person I talked with who had them was my Pilates instructor. She absolutely loved them, and told me about how great they are for your posture and how they allow your foot to move and support your weight the way your foot was made to to do. She is a very cute, hip, fit person, and so that started to change my perception of that they maybe weren't so bizarre after all.

I saw more and more people wearing VFF's, and everyone loved them. By the end of the summer, my gym shoes were starting to wear out. Which, by the way, is pretty much awesome, seeing as I completely wore out a pair of good shoes in 4 months by working out so hard!

So, I told John I would be interested in doing some more research and trying some on. Here's some stuff I found on the Vibram website about the theory behind these weird shoes:

Many experts believe the shoes we wear not only cast the foot in a protective form, but also weaken our foot and leg muscles, leaving them underdeveloped and more prone to injury. And while there are many occasions where traditional footwear is essential for protection, safety, and security, it is equally important to stimulate and exercise the foot in a more natural state on a regular basis.

That’s why we recommend wearing FiveFingers for exercise, for play, and for fun. Stimulating muscles in your feet and lower legs will not only make you stronger and healthier, it improves your balance, agility and proprioception. 
Vibram FiveFingers is different than any other footwear on the planet. Not only do they bring you closer to your environment, they deliver a number of positive health benefits—by leveraging all of the body’s natural biomechanics, so you can move as nature intended.

6 Reasons to Wear VFF's:

1. Strengthens Muscles in the Feet and Lower Legs - wearing FiveFingers will stimulate and strengthen muscles in the feet and lower legs, improving general foot health and reducing the risk of injury.
2. Improves Range of Motion in Ankles, Feet and Toes – no longer ‘cast’ in a shoe, the foot and toes move more naturally.
3. Stimulates Neural Function Important to Balance and Agility - when wearing Vibram FiveFingers, thousands of neurological receptors in the feet send valuable information to the brain, improving balance and agility.
4. Improves Proprioception and Body Awareness – those same neurological receptors heighten body awareness, sending messages about body mechanics, form, and movement.
5. Eliminates Heel Lift to Align the Spine and Improve Posture – By lowering the heel, our bodyweight becomes evenly distributed across the footbed, promoting proper posture and spine alignment.
6. Allows the Foot and Body to Move Naturally, Which Just Feels Good.

So, that was enough to intrigue me. I mean, it makes sense to let our foot use every little muscle instead of encasing it in a running shoe. Also, I go barefoot and wear flip flops a lot anyway, so I thought the transition might not be too weird.

So, I took the plunge.

I've had them for a week now. I must be honest, it hasn't been an instant success. But, supposedly some people need up to a few weeks to fully transition. 

One thing I can notice a difference in is the way it uses my muscles. Like, OH MY GOSH MY CALVES!!!!! I've been wearing them every other day, and the evening and day after I wear them, my calves are soooooo sore. Which is awesome. Because, well, I want rock hard calves. I guess that I just use the balls of my feet a whole lot more, and that's why my calves get a crazy workout. Also, after I've been wearing them for a while, my little toe muscles --like the ones I never knew I had-- start getting really tire and somewhat sore. Hopefully after another week my muscles will have caught up.

Another thing I didn't realize is that my toes are funny lengths. I had never realized this, but my 4th toe is way shorter than it should be. Instead of having a gentle slope from my big toe to my pinkie toe, the 4th one is actually only a teenie bit taller than the pinkie toe. Not a big deal, something I'd never noticed....until I wore FiveFingers. Now all of a sudden, it's like a glove where I'm missing half a finger! I can move all my toes, except if I try to move that little 4th one, it feels like it could slip out of it's little toe spot! Not good. I think it's just something to get used to and won't cause a problem. I think it's funny that I never had noticed that about my toes until the VFF's. Oh well, learn something new every day!

So far in the gym it's been good to use them. I really enjoy running in them; it's more of a barefoot running style --running with a midsole strike instead of a heel strike. My shins haven't hurt as much either when I'm running with these.

One thing that's weird about them is feeling different sensations. Like, in my step classes, I can completely feel the texture of the step, but even though it seems like I'm feeling it with my foot, the sensation I get is that my foot is rubber. That seems confusing, but it's the best way I can explain it. The grip is also something to get used's a lot more grippy than tennis shoes.

That's my analysis for now. I'll let you know how they hold up when I run my 5K in the frigid cold of Montana. So far though, I think I'll like them.

Go ahead and judge you think the VFF's are weird?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Playing Pretend

Lately I've been playing pretend.....pretending to be an aerobic instructor. No, not just for fun (though I have been toying with the idea of getting trained once I am close to my weight goals), but because I'm going to be in my home state of Montana for 9 days in two weeks.

Now, I am intensely happy ecstatic about this trip....I will get to see my entire family (which only happens about once a year), I will enjoy the *hopefully* snow covered mountains of my beloved Rockies, as well as just enjoying the festivities of Thanksgiving.

BUT, there is a downside: I will be without my gym. Now, my whole weight loss groove has been hinged on my consistency with working out at the gym. I have made it my second home. The gym is absolutely my comfort zone. I don't work out outside. Ever. I absolutely love my aerobic/cardio classes, and take 1-2 classes a day, and do yoga 3 times a week. I don't sweat or push myself around people I don't know unless I'm at the gym. These are things that will need to change eventually, since I will want to develop more of a lifestyle of activity. But for now, this is the way I do things.

So, how on earth am I going to not gain while I'm at home without my gym, with all the delicious temptations that I grew up with, and with my family not being naturally athletic? 

I'm going to create my own workouts! I'm trying to take my comfort zone of my classes with me. :) And, since my family is also taking strides to a more healthy and active lifestyle, I'm going to use them as my guinea pigs and have them join me too! *obviously, only if they want to (Family: don't freak out if you're reading this! I won't force you! lol). My sister Angela has already said she'll join me, and obviously John will work out with me (he's my biggest cheerleader ever).

I planned this 45 minute cardio circuit taking cues from some of my favorite classes. It was difficult to plan since my constraints are that I can only use minimal equipment and we'll be working out in my parent living room (Mom, if you're reading this, hope that's okay! :) It was so much fun to plan! We'll do a circuit of 15 stations, alternating one cardio, one strength, and we'll repeat it twice. After that we'll cool down, do some abs, and stretch.

John and I tried this last Saturday. He said he had no idea that you could get such an awesome workout in the livingroom! I was pretty happy that I was able to push him to get a good sweat on since he's so fit already. And, what about my workout? Oh, I'm not concerned about if I'll be able to keep my heart rate addition to doing all the stations, I have to keep talking to make sure everybody is doing the exercises right and telling them how much longer to keep going!

Talking while you're working out hard = bumping up your workout to a whole new level. So that's all good.

So hopefully, I'll do that circuit workout 2-3 times while I'm in Montana, and I will lead a yoga class 2-3 times as well. My whole family is running our first 5K on Thanksgiving day (Huffin' for Stuffin'!!), and I'm going to make sure I take a walk around the neighborhood whenever I get the chance.

With these plans, hopefully I'll not only just not gain weight during the infamous holiday, but get under the 200 lb milestone while I'm there!

And, I'll get to see if I'm cut out to be an instructor. :)