Group Ex, I love you!

When I go to the gym, the majority of my work-outs are Group Ex classes.  For those who don’t know, Goodlife offers Les Mills group exercise classes at all gyms, at various times during the days.  Aside from learning basic things like how to do a plank, how to do mountain climbers properly or how to endure 60 minutes of sweating, there are “soft skills” that Group Ex has given me.  They are listed below in no particular order:

1) How to work in a group – this one should be something I learned in elementary school, but I always avoided groups and I abhor group work in university.  However, when doing a group class, you end up working together with the people around you.  In BodyCombat, you do alot of moving around and shuffling to the right or left.  You have to move together with the people next to you or you end up hitting each other (I’ve been kicked in the face before, it hurts!).  You end up being able to work together with the ones around you.

2) How to follow directions exactly – when you do a group ex class, the movements are constantly changing.  You either 1) memorize the track or 2) listen to the directions the instructor is giving you while you’re moving.  It’s surprisingly hard to follow what the instructor is saying while you’re doing a high knee run or a walking plank, etc.  You get really good at listening while doing something else.  It increases your abilities to multitask (listening, doing, and wishing it was over).

3) Awesome time management – if you go to the gym to do activities like weight-lifting, running on the treadmill, etc., you are only bound to working out during the hours the gym is open.  When you do group ex, you have to be there during the time the class runs.  So, if you get off work at 5pm, and want to go to a 5pm class, you can’t.  Instead, you have to make a work-out schedule that can suit your life.  I’ve gotten really good at making a work-out schedule around the group ex class schedule at several gyms, and ensure I do a variety of classes.  This sort of leads into my next point…

4) Respect for other people’s time – the instructor shows up on time, YOU show up on time.  You don’t arrive a few minutes late and sneak into the back of the class and make people nearby move around to accomodate you.  No, you respect the instructor’s time and you make it there when you’re suppose to.  It’s actually a pet peeve of mine for people who continually arrive late at classes that are already a bit crowded.

5) How to connect with total strangers – I’m not the most social person, but at the gym I find it’s so easy to connect with the people in my class.  I have several friends in every class (I couldn’t tell you half of their names) and it makes it feel like a more close-knit class.  The people I connect with are of all ages (anywhere from teen to 60s), and various races and languages (most of them have poor English skills).  It makes the class more social and more fun with you can connect with those around you.

6) How to inspire others – this seems a little self-indulging, but I always have newbies coming up to me and telling me how awesome it was that I helped and encouraged them through the class for the first time.  Since I’m a bigger girl (well, a size 12), it seems that people are more comfortable asking me something rather than asking the skinny, Lululemon wearing girl.  I’m okay with that 🙂

7) Speak in front of groups – I hated speaking in front of groups or others, but now it doesn’t bother me.  I have no problems being front and centre in a class.  I have no problems speaking in front of them if a question is asked.  I am less shy in general, and that has been carried to other areas of my life.  Public speaking doesn’t scare me anymore.

Group Ex isn’t for everyone, and for the first year I was a member, I avoided most of the classes.  I was shy and thought others would judge me, but that was an unfounded fear.  I’ve increased endurance and have become more outgoing and confident.  Annnnnd have lost weight on the way 🙂

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My Limitations

I’m watching My 600lb Life, and I can’t believe how sad the stories of some of these people are.  It makes me think back to when I was 275lbs and the physical limitations I had.  Mind you, they were nothing compared to the limitations someone at 600lbs weighs, but they were still limitations.  Below are a list of things I can do now, and could never do at 275lbs, before I started my weightloss journey:

  • Climb on the monkey bars with a kid
  • Push a stroller for more than a few minutes
  • Walk from my car in the campus parking lot to my class without getting out of breath
  • Walk briskly up 4 flights of stairs and not be winded
  • Carry a toddler on each side of my hip and walk up a flight of stairs
  • Bend over to tie my shoes
  • Carry more than 2 grocery bags
  • C lean my apartment without tiring
  • Sit on the floor and roll around with the two babies
  • Fit comfortably into plane seats, theatre seats, etc
  • Eat in public and not be embarrassed
  • Feel confident and comfortable with myself
  • Walk into a clothing store and not have to go to the plus size section
  • Go horseback riding
  • Prepare healthy food

I didn’t mention or list all the gym activities I do, because that would have never have happened.  No matter what the limitations are, there ARE ways of changing them.  I’m proof of that.

The Good, The Bad, and the Medicated

UPDATE TIME!  I know you’re all uber excited.

It’s been a very hectic few months.  I started school again in September and I had a hard time adjusting to adding that workload to my life.  I work 40+ hours a week, go to school full-time, and go to the gym 5-6x (minimum of 5!) days a week for around 1:45+ time.  I’M.  SO.  TIRED!  Words cannot accurately express how tired I am.  I catch up on sleep on the weekends (I seriously go to bed at 6pm on Sat night and sleep until 9am the next day) but it doesn’t seem to be enough.  I’m tired all the time, but 5 Hour energy shots keep me alert enough to focus on school.

Speaking of school, despite all this work and working out, I’m managing to hold my A average again for the fourth year in a row.  GO ME!  I have tutors for classes I struggle in, and it’s the best use of my money (aside from buying boxed wine, of course).  I’m very fortunate that my job is being flexible for me to finish my degree.  I’ll be graduating in April 2014 with my Bachelor of Public Health, and I’m so excited to be done.  

Now for the “medicated” part… my asthma worsened considerably, and I had to be put on a new kind of inhaler.  It’s a corticosteroid AND bronchiodialer, so it’s a pretty new inhaler that hit the market not long ago.  It’s marketed as Zenhale in Canada (Dulera in the US?) and it’s EXPENSIVE.  I called a few pharmacies and checked online and it’s $200+ for ONE inhaler.  My dosage is the highest it can be, so I go through one of them really quickly.  I am fortunate to have awesome doctors at my campus health clinic that give me free samples, since I have no health coverage (stupid Brock won’t give it to me since I’m only taking 3 classes there and the rest online 😥 ).  Luckily, this medication is working very well; I have no more obstructions or restrictions when I do my spirometry tests, so it looks like we found something that works!  Which also means I can go “beast mode” at the gym 😉  I’ve been working out much harder and it feels nice to be able to breathe again!

I changed my eating habits a bit as well.  I’ve been known to fangirl over popular fitness gurus (HI JILLIAN MICHAELS <3), and the host of Extreme Weight Loss, Chris Powell, has a really good “diet” called carb cycling.  Basically, every morning you have a carb for breakfast, and then for the rest of the day, you either have no cars (on “no-carb” day) or carbs on the “carbs” day.  It’s the easiest “diet” in the world!  I’ve started to feel my pants getting loose on me, and I FEEL better.  As a vegan though, it’s a bit of a struggle coming up with carb-free things to eat.  Let me tell you, I eat a lot of hummus and veggies!  

I’ve been up since 5am, and need to be up at 5am tomorrow, so perhaps I’ll turn in for the night.  I have a ten-hour workday tomorrow followed my BodyAttack, CXWorks, some cardio on the treadmill and then weight lifting until I’m exhausted (which, sadly, doesn’t take long!).

Hello WordPress, my old friend

It’s been a while.  But between working and gym-ing (it’s a word!), I haven’t had much time.  However, I’m watching one of my favourite shows (Extreme Weight Loss) and the woman on there, Cassandra, is 364lbs.  At my heaviest, I was 275lbs, and I thought I’d never reach anywhere close to 200lbs, let alone UNDER 200lbs.

I love watching these shows, but at the same time, they’re sad to watch.  I KNOW how sad the person behind the weight is, I KNOW the struggle they have with food, and I KNOW how depressing it is to have that body.  But I also KNOW that it’s possible to change that person, and change those feelings.  

An interesting point in this particular episode is how Cassandra gained all the weight.  She got divorced and gained more weight, even though she was already heavy.  I was the total opposite; I started losing weight after I separated from my spouse.  I guess that’s because I wasn’t crying my eyes out into a pizza or a bucket of ice cream… I was busy at the gym, lifting weights with the idea that I can be physically stronger than my abusive ex, and I’ll never allow myself to feel weak again.

 

Enough of negative stuff, time for some positive: no weight loss to report but I AM able to do more at the gym.  I can do two cone-hour classes back to back and not tire as easily.  I can do the highest options in the class, and I can keep up with the instructor and the more fit people in the class.  THAT is what I’m aiming for.  Hell, if I stayed a size 12/14 but gained more stamina, I’d be ok with that.  My goals have switched from “weight” to “ability”.  I want to run marathons, climb mountains and enjoy being an able bodied person.

I’ve also started eating a lot of tofu.  I found an inexpensive, non-GMO tofu and I’ve been making lots of tofu tacos, tofu and chickpea curry.  My boss gives me a funny look everytime I warm up my lunch at work.  I offered some to the toddler and he looked horrified and said “NO” so quick, lol.  Guess he won’t be my tofu eater.  There’s still hope for the boy infant, since he is such a good little eater and we all assume he’ll be that kid that eats everything.  

I better get to back to this episode, and this big basket of nectarines that I’m consuming 😉

My Motivations

Since starting at the gym in Jan 2012, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in many many MANY (did I say many?) fitness classes, and a 6 week bootcamp.  I’ve learned a lot, but more than anything I was given a lot of motivation and hilarity by some very awesome instructors.  Below are some of the things that were said to me, or to the entire class….

Instructor: PICK UP YOUR FEET AND MOVE.  This isn’t a Sunday stroll!

Fitness manager: Did you sign up for all 3 classes?
Me: I did
Fitness manager: Oh well, wow!

Instructor: *to me* Do you ever go home?  

Instructor: I believe in you guys!

Instructor: You’re here, that means you’re making progress.  You’re doing better than all the people who aren’t here!

Instructor: Are you sweating?  Oh I’m gonna make you sweat.

Instructor: *during a really hard ab work-out* Oh, you’ll feel that tomorrow.

Instructor: Anyone here try the new release?
*I raise my hand*
Instructor: Well I figured you did, since you do so many classes.  How many do you do a week?  I’m assuming all of them.

Gym employee: *showing a new potential member around* And over here we have Tammy, one of our stars who never leaves

Step instructor: show me some attitude!  Work it, baby!

Pump instructor: Isn’t lifting weights so much better than ice cream and pizza?  Or is that just me?

Instructor: how do we get sexy legs and buns?  Not by sitting on the couch!

 

So, anyone have any weird things that were said to them that motivated them to try harder?  Even a few words can help pick me up, and make me drudge onwards.  We all need that pick me up, that motivation, someone saying “Hey, you’re doing good.  Keep going.  You’ll get there.”

Push it, push it reaaaaaaal good

I’m terrible at updating this!

 

Last Saturday, I had what every formerly-obese-and-now-in-decent-shape person fears happen to me… I had some heart issues.  And by heart issues, I mean I had tachycardia to the beat (heartbeat that is) of 140.  That’s very, very high for resting heart rate.  And it wouldn’t go down for 30 minutes!  I was just starting a BodyAttack class and kept waiting for it to come down (I was in the change room), and I foolishly decided to do the class anyways.  BIG MISTAKE.  My heart rate started climbing higher and higher, and within a few minutes the left side of my chest was really tight and it was hard to breathe.  So I stopped, and drove myself to a walk-in clinic to see what they’d say.  By that time, everything was better.  Aside from an erratic heartbeat (which could be contributed to a heart murmur I was born with), my blood pressure was ok (bottom number was high though).

 

After all that, I was given a sheet to get bloodwork done, and was referred to a cardiologist. I have to avoid all stimulants until everything gets figured out.  What was the likely cause?  Over the counter supplements, specifically a thyroid supplement I was taking to boost my thyroid.  I don’t have a thyroid “problem” by medical standards, but have had it tested and its on the low side of normal, but nothing that requires medication.  I figured a supplement was safe enough.  NOPE!  It kicked everything into overdrive and my body wasn’t prepared for it.  I was also taking ephedrine (I know I know, I’m awful) to help reduce my appetite and give me energy.  The two of these combined are damn near lethal.  

 

What did I learn from all this?  You can’t cheat your way into good health.  I go to the gym 5-6 times a week and burn a minimum of 1000 calories during my time there, I eat a very good (and strict!) diet, and I now get adequate amount of sleep (my hours at work switched to 8:30-4:30).  I was doing everything right, and it was silly of me to try to make results happen quicker.  I’ll be a size 8 someday!

 

Speaking of diet, I’ve been doing this for the past 3 weeks and it’s awesome:

Breakfast: protein shake made with Progressive vegan harmonized protein and quinoa milk

Snack: Banana

Lunch: One of the following: 1 .5cups of pasta and a side of veggies, large bowl of bean veggie soup, medium bowl of a brown rice dish (usually mexican rice), medium bowl of chickpea salad. Also consumed: glass of V8 juice, and some veggies with a few tbsps of hummus

Snack: glass of V8 juice and some fruit

Dinner: See “breakfast”

It’s a little on the low side for calories, but it provides a good balance of healthy fats, high-fibre carbs, and complete proteins.  I’m not all that hungry, and I’m not tired.  I do get junk food cravings from time to time though, but those are easily cured with a Fruit To Go bar, a smoothie, or, if all else fails, a falafel salad from Pita Pit 😀

Oh, and why I chose that title… I have a super-mean-military-style BodyAttack instructor on Thursdays, and that was our push-up song for the class.  She is one of my favourite instructors and she will come over to us during the class and show us how to do something more safely, or show us a better form for a move.  But now everytime I hear that song, my arms and chest start aching.  

 

But enough about me.  How are you?

I’m only human

As I write this post, it’s 6:21am, I’m running on 5 hours of sleep, and I have a very long day ahead of me.

My job has recently had a bit of a change.  I am a Nanny, and the family I work for previously only had one toddler (he just turned 2 years-old this month), and they’ve now added infant twins (born in mid-April) to the mix.  Having never had any experience with infant twins before, I was thinking “Big deal, can’t be THAT much extra work”.  Never have I ever been so wrong!  

My day has gone to planning educational games for a toddler, to planning educational games for a toddler while ensuring the twins gets adequate sleep.  Feeding a toddler?  No problem!  Feeding a toddler while two infants are hungry at the same time AND WANT THEIR BOTTLE RIGHT FRIGGING NOW?  It’s a little more difficult.  Luckily my employers have awesome extended family that come over and help, but even with me, the mother, and a grandmother helping, it’s a circus.  Today I’m going to take the toddler to storytime at the library while the infants sleep at home (with someone there, of course!); the need for outside-the-home activities is even more important with him now, because if he’s kept busy, he doesn’t notice that a lot of our time is spent with his new siblings.  I have a contract with my job, and it states that only light housekeeping (doing the child’s laundry, tidying up the kitchen and playroom, etc) is expected, but I also feel a growing need to keep the house tidy and organized for my own sanity.  And doing the laundry of a toddler and two infants is insane!  I’m going to be married to their washing machine soon.  My hours have also changed from 9am-4:30pm to a very early 7:30am-4:30pm.

So, back to the title of my post… I’m realizing that, since the change in work, I have less energy when I leave at the end of my day at 4:30pm.  And by less energy, I mean A LOT less energy.  At that point, I’m up for 11.5 hours, probably only slept about 6.5 hours the night before and have worked a 9 hour day with children.  I haven’t been doing less at the gym, but I feel like I tire more quickly.  Yesterday, for example: I did a pump class, and then a combat class.  About 10 minutes into the combat class, I started to feel very tired, and didn’t regain any energy.  I kept going though, and burned the minimum 1000 calories that I demand that I burn every time I go to the gym.  I have no plans on changing what I do at the gym, but I am realizing that hey, I’M ONLY HUMAN, and I can’t be expected to have endless amounts of energy.

Now, with all that said, despite having less energy for the gym because I expend a lot of it at work… I don’t think I’d change anything.  I’m absolutely in love with the twins (and the toddler too!), and I’m happy to have found a job that can keep me so busy that I probably burn lots of calories while I’m at work too 🙂

And now, I must be off to my commute to work!