Friday, June 29, 2012

Four weeks in the books

Hi all. As is often the case, I must start this entry with an apology. I did promise to blog twice a week, and I indeed hope to follow through with that promise. But I started a new job at Children's this week (more about that next week), and had some complications with my browser blocking Blogger. All is fixed now, and I'm here to tell you something super exciting (multiple-exclamation-point exciting, even)!

Boot camp is done!!!!

Yes, there has been a major victory in my war of remembering I'm no longer the girl I used to be. That girl quit boot camp after less than two weeks. This girl? Finished it, with minimal (oh, who am I kidding?) whining.

Four weeks of 5 a.m. wake-up calls, thousands of push-ups, more miles than I've ever run in my life, and too many bear crawls, crunches and squats to count have led me to today--a sense of pride I haven't felt in a long time.

Here's a little story I don't think I told you. When I was in high school and we had to take the required P.E. class, I became a rebel. Now, mind you, I'm not really the rebellious type. In fact, I'm kind of a rule follower. I use crosswalks. I never skipped school. I only snuck out of my house once as a teenager. I floss. I've never even had a speeding ticket.

But as a junior in high school, I started an anti-running rebellion. We had to run a mile, of course, and we had to do it in an allotted time to pass the class. I decided to make a big deal about the fact that not everyone is supposed to be a runner, and they shouldn't make us do it, and I was going to write to the principal, the school board and the U.S. Secretary of Education.

See, the truth is that I was afraid. Afraid to fail. Afraid to even try. Afraid to show my weakness. So I walked around that track (slowly). And I gave my poor teacher (Sorry, Coach Cagle) a heck of a time about it.

That fear is why I quit boot camp all those years ago, too. And I was determined not to let it hold me back again. Though I wrote an earlier blog about being disappointed by the scale, I soon realized this experience was about SO much more than that. This was something I had to prove to myself. I had to prove I could try. Even if I wasn't the best or the fastest, I succeeded and won just by making it through.

Oh, and did I mention I signed up for another month? Yeah. Old Erika who?

Today we did our post-test. I was pleasantly surprised to see how much I improved just in four weeks. Here's the comparison:

June 5, 2012

Mile run: 12:54
Assisted push-ups (on my knees. I didn't even try for the regular ones): 33
Tricep dips: 15 regular (legs straight out) and 20 assisted (legs bent)
Sit-ups: 22
Bows and toes (holding a plank position): 47 seconds

June 29, 2012

Mile run: 11: 42
Regular push-ups: 10
Assisted push-ups (on my knees): 38
Tricep dips: 25 regular (legs straight out) and 29 assisted (legs bent)
Sit-ups: 31
Bows and toes (holding a plank position): 1:52

And a couple of pictures from this morning:
With Paul, my best friend's fiance and boot camp buddy.
With Ryan Byers, our awesome instructor from Step it up Fitness. Every Friday he tells us "Week one (or two, or three, etc.) is 'in the books.'" My entry title is a shout-out to him. Thanks for your encouragement, Ryan!

Friday, June 15, 2012

June favorites

It's time for another favorites entry. People seem to enjoy these more than anything I post, so I'll try to be more diligent about writing them once a month. I don't always have new favorites (this one even has a repeat or two), but I'll try to keep a list. As always, make sure you fill me in on your current faves.

First, some food stuff:

Hearts of palm

I wasn't very familiar with hearts of palm. Maybe I tried them in a salad once or twice, but I sure wasn't aware how to buy them or even eat them. During Memorial Day, I went to Jacksonville to see a few of my closest friends. We spent the day at the beach and had late dinner plans, but were starving. We didn't want to eat a big lunch, so my lovely friend Leigh laid out a virtual smorgasbord of yumminess. "Let's eat like we're European!" she said. (I love her) We had olives, hummus, goat cheese, avocados and hearts of palm. I've been buying them ever since. I like the whole ones, but I think they're harder to find. So I buy cans of the sliced ones and dip them into hummus as a snack. Yum. They remind me of artichoke hearts in consistency and taste. So good.

I'm not a coffee drinker. Y'all know how I feel about Diet Coke. But my friend Tina got me hooked on skinny cinnamon dolce lattes. I don't drink them every day, but it's nice to have a little treat. For my fellow  Weight Watchers, a grande is just three points.

A new recipe from Weight Watchers
One of the great things about WW is being able to use the e-tools on my iPhone. I can track my points and my activity, and check out new recipes. This week, I made this five-point one:

Quick beef with Greek yogurt sauce
Photo courtesy of


  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, garlic, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring often, until browned, about 3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together yogurt, cucumber, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
  • Serve beef topped with yogurt sauce and sprinkled with mint. Yields about 1 cup beef and 1/4 cup yogurt sauce per serving. 
It was super easy and super yummy. The yogurt sauce is especially good--a lot like tzatziki sauce. I think I'll make it a staple in my weekly recipes. I think it would be good on chicken, fish and turkey burgers. For this recipe, I stuffed the beef (I also added a little cinnamon to the beef, which really upped the flavor) into a one-point pita and topped it with tomatoes and reduced-fat feta.

Speaking of which...

Reduced fat feta
This might be my favorite favorite right now. A little feta goes a long way. I always put it on my salads for a kick of flavor. I can't get enough of it.

Hebrew National 97 percent fat-free hot dogs
This my repeat. I love these things. And at just one point per dog? They're a perfect (and very tasty) snack.

A couple of nonfood things:

Apple cider vinegar 

Once upon a time, I introduced some of you to my beloved coconut oil. I am still using it religiously. But now I've started using apple cider vinegar on my face, too. I use it just like a toner and it's really helped my skin stay clear. You just have to get past the strong odor, but it's worth it.

Boot camp
If I had a love/hate category, this would be at the top of the list. You've already read a lot about my first couple of weeks, so I won't repeat myself. But today, having finished my second week (halfway through!), I feel a little invincible. Strong. Determined. Accomplished. And that's an amazing feeling to have. There have been some mixed comments in my entries about boot camp. I'm grateful that you are reading and taking the time to post thoughtful responses. I always welcome your opinions.

So there you have it. My favorites of the moments. Also? Two blog entries this week, as promised. Ta-da! Make sure to tell me what you're loving right now.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Scale of tears

I should have listened to him.

On our first day of boot camp, our instructor spoke loud and clear: "Ladies, you might want to stay off the scale. You'll probably gain. You're turning your soft tissue into muscle. Your pants will feel looser, but the scale might not reflect that."

I should have paid more attention to him.

Instead, I stood on the scale this morning at Weight Watchers and promptly burst into tears when I found out I had gained .8 pounds.

No, .8 isn't a lot. But guess what? Last week I was up .8, too. I'm sore and tired and have worked SO hard, that to see that scale go up felt like a major defeat.

Maybe I am gaining muscle. Sometimes after a tough workout, my body really retains water, too. I don't know. But I know it was discouraging, despite the logical part of me who gets it.

I've been struggling a lot with discouragement lately, just in my life in general. Bless my friends who have been patient enough with me to deal with my sudden bursts of tears and general moodiness. I am trying so hard not to let my sadness and loneliness affect my food. For the most part, I'm doing OK. But I'm also wondering when the heck I'm just going to snap out of it. I'm trying.

I'm hoping eventually this hard work will pay off. For now, I'm going to keep sprinting and bear crawling and jumping up stadium stairs and crunching. I'm doing some mental exercises for my disappointed, discouraged heart, too.

I just wish I could be the positive person I think I used to be. It feels like it's been so long since I've seen her.

Start changing your life today

Just a quick blog for those of you who work at the Children's Office Park. Today, from 11:30 a.m. to noon in Classroom 2 of the Learning Services Building, is our Weight Watchers Open House.

If you've even thought about joining, just come and listen. You don't have to make any decisions today, but at least make a commitment to get some information. When I walked into my first Weight Watchers meeting at Children's more than two years ago, I felt pretty defeated. Definitely hopeless. Today, I'm 130 pounds lighter and working my way toward my ultimate goal. It may seem overwhelming now, but with support from your fellow members and the accountability of the program and our AMAZING leader, Dee (seriously, ask anyone. She's the best.), you really can change your life. I promise.

Hope to see you guys there!

Friday, June 8, 2012

One and...not done

My shins are screaming. I say “ow” every time I sneeze. My hands are still red from the bear crawls across the AstroTurf we did Thursday. I could barely lift my arms to wash my hair this morning. Speaking of hair, I’ve not managed to do more than put it in a clip all week. I’ve left little pieces of rubber from the football field in my car, my shoes and my carpet.

But I made it. I’m done with my first week of boot camp. It’s been the longest week of my life. My alarm goes off at 5 a.m. Then I drive, half-asleep, to the high school where we meet. There we are greeted with sprints, crunches, pushups (so many pushups), suicide drills, more sprints, lunges, mountain climbers, more sprints, more pushups, more torture, etc. I even got stung by a bee on my first day. Seriously.
Bear crawls by an actual bear. I look like this, just less furry.
I’ve whined a lot. I’m good at it, if you haven’t noticed. But the real truth is that I kind of love it. When I drive home at 6:30 in the morning, there is no question I worked my butt off. And I can’t help but feel pretty darn good about that.

With that said, here are a few favorites from my first boot camp week (next week, look for a real favorites post from me):

My eye mask
So, I’m going to sleep while it’s light out and waking up when it’s dark. It kind of throws off one’s body clock. Luckily, I recently purchased a sleep mask. I have this one, but it’s pink (duh). It blocks out the light and helps me tune out the world.

My boot camp instructor suggests taking your body weight and dividing it by half to get the number of ounces of water you should drink every day. For me, that’s…a lot of water. But honestly, I can’t get enough of the stuff. I think yesterday I drank about six 32-oz. cups alone.

Workout gloves
As I mentioned, the AstroTurf is killer on my hands. Doing pushups on the field, tricep dips on metal bleachers and the torturous bear crawls across the turf was almost harder on my hands than my body. Yesterday, I hit Target and bought these gloves. This morning, those exercises were a little easier without the additional pain. Plus, they’re cute and girly and kind of make me feel like I’m a Serious! Athlete!

A buddy
My best friend Rebecca’s fiancĂ©, Paul, was kind enough to sign up with me. It’s nice to have someone to hold me accountable. I know if I’m not there in the morning, he’ll check in with me. That’s enough to keep me motivated. Also, I have a bridesmaid’s dress to wear for their wedding in March. He’s a good reminder of that.

Post-boot camp nap
I get home around 6:45 every morning. This week, at least, while I’ve been getting used to my new schedule, I’ve laid down for a little 20-minute nap. It’s done wonders for my soul.

Some people can exercise on an empty stomach. I’m not one of them. But I also can’t eat a lot before such a tough workout. Thank goodness for bananas. They give me a little energy boost to help me through the hour.

Here’s a video from my boot camp company, if you want a better idea of what I’ve been doing every morning.

I’d love feedback from those of you who do tough morning workouts. What do you do for soreness? How do you keep your hunger at bay during the day? What keeps you motivated?

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend. I know I’ll enjoy sleeping past 5 a.m.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

G.I. Jane

A million years and at least 100 pounds ago, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone. I signed up for a boot camp.

I was terrible.

I guess you could argue that the very fact that I got up for this 5:30 a.m. boot camp made me not so terrible. At least I tried. For a little while, anyway.

I had such high expectations for that boot camp. I thought it would change my life. I pictured losing 50 pounds in a month. Becoming strong and invincible. Of course, none of that happened. My first day, I remember the instructor just yelling "Run!" I honest-to-God thought there might be danger of some sort. I mean, where was the easing into the program? Just run? No, thank you. I ambled up the hill, out of breath and miserable. By the time everyone finished, I was dead last.

There were a few of us who were in the back of the pack. Little by little each one dropped out. I was the last hold out, and eventually I quit, too. Hundreds of dollars and several early mornings down the drain.
 Fast forward from 2004 to 2012. This past weekend, I got an email from Groupon offering a month of fitness boot camp for $39. I don't know what came over me, but I bought it. Yay spontaneity.

I signed up for the 5:30 a.m. class and was thrilled when my best friend's fiancé decided to sign up, too. It's always best to go to these things with a buddy. Today was our first day.

When my alarm went off at 5 a.m., I seriously questioned what I had gotten myself into. I'm so not a morning person, and in my nervousness about today, I hadn't slept super well. Thanks to tips from my friend, Laura I laid out my clothes the night before, so getting ready, at least, was a breeze.

We meet at a local high school's football field. I walked tentatively from my car to the crowd gathered on the track, terrified that I would be least in shape person there, like I was last time.

After a brief orientation, we began our pre-assessment test. This consisted of push-ups, sit-ups, tricep dips, planks, and the scariest of all--running a mile.

Full disclosure--though I started running not long ago, I've kind of gotten off track (surprise, surprise). I got sick, went out of town and just kind of slacked off on my couch to 5K program. So I was freaking out about the run. The last time I ran a mile around a high school track, I WAS in high school. And that was a long time ago.

I set a goal for myself. A mile was four laps around the track. I committed to running at least one full lap. And for my personal satisfaction, I just wanted to not be last. Even if I were second to last, I'd be OK. Just not last. 

I'm happy to say I did much better than I thought I would. I did run an entire lap. After that, I'd walk half a lap and run half. I finished my mile in 12:54. By far the fastest mile I've ever completed. Here were my other stats:

In a minute: 

Assisted push-ups (on my knees. I didn't even try for the regular ones): 33
Tricep dips: 15 regular (legs straight out) and 20 assisted (legs bent)
Sit-ups: 22 (eh)
Bows and toes (holding a plank position): 47 seconds

Not too terribly bad. At the end of the four weeks, they'll test us again to see how we've improved. And unlike the last boot camp I tried? I plan to actually be there.