Of course you do!
Join me for a 2018 goal-setting challenge on Facebook and Instagram – play on both and you’ll DOUBLE your chance of winning! The challenge starts 12/26 and will run until 12/31. I’ll post some goal-setting tips, you’ll set a goal, and someone will win this beautiful goal-tracking planner/journal by The Simple Elephant and a set of Papermate Inkjoy pens!
Like Dietitian on a Diet on Facebook and follow Dietitian on a Diet on Instagram for all the details!
Can you believe we have been goal-getting for a month already? It’s crazy! Here’s how we’re doing:
Goal #1: Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
• Use my daily food group checklist to stay within recommendations and get enough food from each food group each day.
How I’m doing: I have been using my food group checklists (and loving them – they are so quick and easy!) and I’ve lost 5 lbs so far. Only two to go! The checklists make way more sense for my lifestyle right now than using a food tracker like I have in the past. They give me plenty of flexibility while still keeping me accountable. I think being home a lot makes it easier because I usually have access to something from all five food groups.
Goals #2-3: Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges and increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
• Complete 40-60 minutes of cardiovascular exercise (heart rate 115-155 bpm) 5 days per week
How I’m doing: I’ve probably averaged 4 1/2 days per week but I’m hitting my heart rate goals and I’m enjoying the cardio options I have selected. Most often, I’m doing Youtube cardio dance videos because they are convenient and so much fun, but it’s been beneficial to have alternatives for the days when I’m just not feeling the dancing.
Consequentially, my resting heart rate is normal! I haven’t had my husband check my blood pressure or re-tested my cardio yet, but I’ll do that at the end of the plan. The lower resting heart rate is a good indicator that my cardiovascular fitness has improved – plus the workouts are getting easier!
Goal #4: Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles
• Complete tailored yoga practice 5 days per week and strength training program 2 days per week
How I’m doing: Again – I’m probably more often hitting 4 1/2 days on the yoga than five, but I’ve done pretty well. The strength training is pretty quick and simple so I’ve been incorporating that more than 2 days per week. I took a comparison picture – not expecting too much difference only one month in – and I was really impressed with the improvements!
My head is higher and not so far forward, my spine is in better alignment, and my hips are further back. My pelvis tilts less (still have a ways to go) and shoulders still roll forward but not quite as much!
Goal #1: Lose 20 lbs/Button wedding pants without “sucking it in”
• Track intakes with My Fitness Pal, aiming for goal of 2000 kcal per day.
How he’s doing: Charlie has been faithful with his tracking and though I don’t think he loves the discipline of doing it, he does love the accountability it gives him. He tracks as he goes and makes decisions for the rest of the day based on where he’s at. So far, he’s lost 11 lbs!
I swear I did not intentionally make the “before” photo have poor lighting!
Goal #2: Increase cardiovascular fitness from “Excellent” to “Superior”
• Follow the P90X workout program to do 60 minutes of exercise daily.
How he’s doing: He’s working out like a boss! Charlie has been doing P90X daily and if he feels like one of the videos was too easy, he tosses in a second cardio video and does two-a-days! He’s insane, but it works for him and he’s enjoying it. He’s definitely noticed that the videos are getting easier as he goes along.
Goal #3: Improve flexibility from “Good” to “Excellent”
• Do some yoga each day.
How he’s doing: Charlie has compromised to doing yoga three times weekly, and has definitely noticed a difference in his flexibility. He can put his hands flat on the floor in a forward fold now!
We’re excited about getting our goals! If you’ve got some goals you’d like some help getting, check out www.impowerednf.com for more information about meeting with me to set up your wellness plan!
We are about three weeks into our goal-getting and we’re cruising along pretty well by now! Though I have to admit that the first week was rough. Holy moley.
Improving your fitness is tricky, in a way, because your body is trained for exactly what you have asked it to train for. If that is running 3 flat miles regularly, you’ll be trained for that and it won’t be tough. But add in an unexpected hill or try to push to 4 or 5 miles and that will be tough. Your muscles and cardiovascular system are simply not prepared for it. If what you’re trained for is couch surfing, you’ll be trained for that and it won’t be tough. Anything more though – climbing stairs, lifting boxes, or going dancing with your sweetheart – might be pretty tough.
So when you set a goal to improve your fitness, whether it’s cardiovascular or muscular, you can bet you’re going to be dealing with some discomfort.
Exhibit A: Becki and “The Stairs”
It was a cold, January morning. I had a “brilliant” idea.
“Charlie,” I said, “do you know of any long flights of stairs locally?”
“Sure,” he replied. “The 2nd Ave stairs. Why?”
“I was thinking I should start running stairs to up my cardio, ” said I.
Why? Why did I say that? I should have my head examined.
So off we go, to “The Stairs.” I in my new jewel-toned, patterned leggings thinking I can conquer the world, and Charlie in his excellent cardiovascular shape and 45-lb weight vest. Sickening, isn’t it?
So off I trot up the stairs, jogging all the way. I make it to the top with minimal protests from my quadriceps. Down the stairs I go. Lap one done.
Charlie is wisely pacing himself.
I, however, am feeling so good I immediately (no rest, who needs it?) turn right around and jog back up the stairs. Halfway. Until there is fire all throughout my chest and I think my heart is in imminent danger of fatal explosion.
“Am I dying? Is it all over? I must have some kind of undiagnosed heart condition!”
So this is what it’s like to have “fair” cardiovascular endurance. I gotta tell ya, I’m not a fan.
I slogged (no more trotting) up the rest of the way and managed to go down, and up, and down, and up and down once more before my lungs, heart, and quads could not take it anymore. Meanwhile a 50-something lady in excellent shape has been lunging the stairs two at a time since before we got there, and continued after we left. Impressive.
We walked back to the car and I flopped in the passenger seat, my inner drama queen insisting that I truly was going to die and that I should make sure my husband knew how much I really love and appreciate him.
The fire in my chest lasted for a painful thirty minutes, during which torture I had a succession of three different thoughts:
- “Man, I really, really, REALLY need to improve my cardio.”
- “I totally get why people quit exercising after the first day or two. This is horrific.”
- “I should write a post to help people get through this and get to their goals.”
So I decided to write up a few tips for others who are facing a fizzling New Years’ resolution in the face of a difficult new exercise program:
- Remember your finish line. What is your purpose? Why are you doing this? It usually has to be something bigger than the way you look to stick, so think bigger and in detail. Think health – how will your body feel when you are fit? What health issues will you not have to worry about? Think abilities – how will it feel when you can climb any set of stairs or take on any challenge with ease and confidence? Envision it in detail to yourself before you hit the gym (or the road or the stairs, etc) and keep that picture with you when it gets tough.
- Difficulty = progress. To an extent, anyway (caveat below). If it’s not at least a little tough, you might not be pushing hard enough to see improvement in your abilities. You don’t have to kill yourself, but when you push past what your body can easily do, that’s when the training comes in. You’re telling your body that the cardiovascular or muscular capabilities it’s currently trained for are not enough to meet the physical demands you’re putting on it. So when it rebuilds, repairs, or builds new cells, it will make them better. They will be more easily oxygenated or stronger or whatever is necessary to be more trained for the activity you’re asking your body to do.
- Work up to it. I was probably a tad too ambitious – power mad with the confidence of a new pair of leggings – to go trotting up those stairs like I’d been running them all my life. It didn’t have to be so hard. Some exercise is way better than none, so start slower and gradually increase to prevent some of the (very literal) heartache I experienced. It can be tough to admit that you’ve lost some edge or abilities you once had (oh, how the mighty have fallen!), but it’s better than quitting after 1-2 days and giving up on achieving your goals!
- Be patient. The first 4-6 weeks of a new exercise program (one you’ve never done before) produces mostly neural and cellular changes. That means that you’re building new nerve pathways. That also means that you may or may not feel a difference, and you also may not see any difference. That does not mean that you are not training your body. Does anyone have a guess as to the length of time the average person sticks with a new exercise program before quitting? 4-6 weeks. People are quitting because they aren’t noticing results, but that’s because their bodies are building the foundations for the results they are looking for! Hang in there – don’t give up!
It took me about three stair days and three days of other cardio before it wasn’t really miserable to climb those stairs anymore. All in all, remember that when you start any new exercise program, your body is totally unprepared for it – take it easy, push gently beyond what is comfortable, and be patient. You’ll get there!
My Assessment Results: In case you missed the last post (or forgot!) I’ll remind you of how my body composition and fitness assessments turned out.
|Weight||+ 7 lbs from my normal|
|Body Mass Index||Normal|
|Waist-to-hip Ratio||Low risk|
|Body fat %||Average|
|Muscular endurance (push-up)||Very Good|
|Muscular endurance (curl-up)||Excellent|
My body composition overall is pretty good, with the exception that I happen to be up 7 lbs from what is normal for me, and I happen to know that it is not muscle gain.
My muscular endurance and flexibility have hung in there pretty well, but my cardiovascular system is asking for help!
My elevated resting heart rate and blood pressure are showing that my body is having to work harder to move blood throughout my body by beating faster and generating more pressure than it should have to. Definitely an area I want to improve!
My Story: I’m suffering from desk job-itis!! I have worked at a desk job for the last 2 1/2 years and it has definitely taken its toll! For most of the last 2 years I have made it a point to go for a 30-minute walk at lunch at least 3-4 days per week, but it clearly wasn’t cutting it for keeping my cardio up to snuff. I’ve tossed in yoga and weight lifting along the way, which makes sense in my results, as my muscular endurance and flexibility are still okay.
The last 2 months or so have been particularly bad for my inactivity, because I was still working full-time at my clinic and spending out-of-work hours preparing to open my practice. I made the choice to temporarily prioritize that over my fitness and now that I’m no longer working full-time I’m ready to turn that around.
My other concerns: As part of my desk job-itis, I have developed some postural issues from muscle imbalances. It’s hard to “stand naturally” when posing for a picture of your posture but I tried here.
See how my neck and shoulders tend to roll forward a lot, rounding my upper back? My chest muscles are tight and my upper back muscles are weak from all of my hunching over a computer screen (and phone and books).
The other notable issue with my posture is that, because of the weaknesses in my back, I tend to let my lower back arch forward. The midline of my hips should be further back, nearer to my spine so that my spine is a bit more neutral to protect my back.
On top of this, my hip flexors (the muscles in the front of my hips) are tight from all my sitting and lack of moving, so they are causing my pelvis to tip forward and down. They need some stretching.
These are all things I would like to make goals to address!
My end game: I often ask clients to describe their “end game” – what are you going for? Describe what life looks like when you’ve met all your health goals. How do you feel? What do you do?
For me, I want to be strong and healthy. Strong enough to push and pull my own body weight and then some. Strong enough to surprise other people, but mostly surprise myself. Capable to protect myself. I want to be healthy in that my lifestyle supports my body in what it needs to function well – nutrition, sleep, movement, and flexibility. I want to be healthy to do my part to prevent risk factors or chronic conditions. I want to be healthy enough to “go out and do.” By that, I mean that no matter what opportunity I’m given, I’m able to take advantage of it and am not held back because of my lack of health, lack of strength, or lack of endurance.
Using the information above, I have created the following goals:
- Lose 7 lbs to return to my usual body weight
- Decrease resting heart rate and blood pressure to normal ranges
- Increase cardiovascular fitness from “fair” to “good”
- Improve posture by stretching chest, hip flexors, and decreasing anterior pelvic tilt, while strengthening back muscles.
In part 2, I’ll show you how I turn these long-term goals into a plan!