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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fitness Program update: Sucking wind and why the Exerspy is my new BFF

Sunday was the official halfway point for the fitness program I'm doing at my gym. It's been an intense and fun 4 weeks and I'm working really hard not only during the workout sessions, but also at keeping my food in check.

When we signed the contract for this program, it stated that the workouts were going to be "intense and extreme." She wasn't exaggerating. The circuit and cardio interval sessions she has put together are some of the most intense workouts I've ever done. None of the moves are particularly difficult, it's just that they're done back to back with no real break inbetween - save for grabbing a sip of water, wiping the sweat off your face and then getting right back to sucking wind. There are a handful of trainers that are doing the program, too and when they look like they're about to keel over, you know it's tough. I'm really enjoying the group camaraderie and think I might actually miss the workouts when the program is completed, as crazy as that sounds. While I still think that the official workouts are insanely hard, I have noticed that other classes I used to think were difficult at the gym are now a bit easier. My cardiac fitness is definitely improving as is my overall strength.

As for the food bit, well, it's going well, but in many ways it's a more difficult transition than the workouts. I'm used to tracking my food and counting calories. It's not a big deal for me. However, it's been gently suggested to us that since the workouts are on par with what athletes do and since we're trying to lose body fat while maintaining lean muscle, we should really cut out all grains from our diet for duration of the program. Now, before folks start screaming about how it's not healthy, I'm still eating plenty of carbs - they're just coming from fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, etc - sources that typically offer more nutritional bang for your buck, since every calorie needs to count. Bread, rice, pasta, flour, and all that tasty stuff have been pretty much cut out. I still eat a grain in the AM (I just can't quite give it up!), but otherwise, they're more or less gone from my diet. Sadness. I've gotten incredibly creative with my meals and have actually found some new recipes that will stick around for the long term. I've also been surprised at how I've been able to work in some of our favorite Batali grill recipes into my meal plan without completely sabotaging it. I fully plan on adding back in some grains when this is over, but I also don't think it's been a bad thing to have figure out other things to eat instead of just relying on rice and pasta for a meal to feel complete.

Of course, the other part of this is knowing how many calories you burn in a day to ensure you are in a calorie deficit so you will lose weight. For that, we've been using Exerspy devices. Anyone who has watched The Biggest Loser knows that the contestants wear body buggs to track calorie burn and this is a similar device. I was a little skeptical at first, but after the first few days I fell in love! After years of tracking calories and then guessing what my calorie burn is during the day, it's amazing to finally have the other piece of the puzzle at my fingertips. I wear it from the time I wake up until I go to sleep, just taking it off to shower. By the end of the first week, I didn't even notice it anymore. I upload the data to my computer in the evening to make sure I'm on track to hit my minimum calorie burn for the day, but data can be uploaded whenever you want and multiple times a day. [The minimum is determined based on the parameters you set - how much weight you want to lose, in what time period and your baseline activity level.] Most days I'm over my minimum calorie burn and can either stick with my recommended calories for a larger calorie deficit that day or eat a little more. The thing that has been amazing is that my weightloss has basically tracked along with what the program says I should be losing, based on the food I've entered and the calories I've burned. It's really taken the guessing game out of stepping on the scale each week, which is still amazing to me.

{Wearing the Exerspy. This is what I look like post-workout, even after cooling off for 30 minutes. Yes, I turn 18 shades of red when I hit the gym. No, this does not stop me from wearing pink workout stuff.}

The only downside is that even with the crazy workouts, I burn fewer calories a day than I had hoped, thanks to a desk job. That was a bit disconcerting, but also really drove home just why it's so darn easy for me to gain weight, even being a bit of a gym rat. Maintainence is something that is usually difficult for me and while I'm currently using a loaner device, I plan to buy one at the end of the program. I have a feeling that maintaining this loss will be easier by continuing to use the Exerspy device even after the program is done.

So, after all of this hard work, what is the scale showing? I'm down 7lbs in 4 weeks, which is absolutely insane for me! I'm pretty thrilled with that number and happy that it's not just the scale that has gone down, but that my body looks so much more toned and fit. It's so nice that the hard work is paying off.

4 more weeks and then we have the final weigh-in and measurements. I'm feeling good about the next few weeks and am hoping to get even stronger and a bit leaner. If anyone has any questions about the program, the Exerspy device, my meals, etc, feel free to post them and I'll answer them in my final program update. :)


  1. so proud of you! keep it up! how is it that you still look cute even if you're red & sweaty?! not fair :-)!

  2. What a great learning experience. When your program is over you'll have a new body and be armed with lots of info to maintain. Looking forward to more updates.

  3. i thank you quite enthusiastically for working out enough for the both of us.

  4. So awesome!!! Great results so far, and you don't look seven shades of red in your photo - you look healthy and gorgeous :)

  5. Girl, sounds like you are doing fantastic! Keep up the great work!!

    As for pink obsessed? I just did a neat post on pink chairs I think they'll really like!

  6. Congrats, sounds like you are doing great!

  7. What a great post! I agree with the others - you look cute in your pink gear (with the red face. lol).

    I'm glad you mentioned the Exerspy device. I almost bought the body bug and then didn't. I will compare the two and put it back on my list of Must Have purchases.

  8. I'm glad you're hard work is paying off. (Back in the days when I exercised (ha), I used to get super red too. So embarrassing, especially being around people who barely break a sweat.)

  9. How do you manage to keep up with all this exercise and sewing and working and cooking?? You're a super woman, my friend.