My progress...

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Weight Loss Tools

Monday, September 27, 2010

Wherein I geek out about the Polar FT7...this will probably get boring.

Suffice to say, I really, really love having a heart rate monitor!  I have been using it to turn myself into a bit of an algebra problem, and I have had some surprising results!  Initially, as detailed in my last post, I planned to do four days of "all day" wears of the HRM to gauge my calorie burn.  I was planning to do one day at work, one day at home all day, one day at home with a normal gym workout, and one day at home with my yoga/pilates class as part of the day.  In thinking further about this, I decided that two days would actually be work day and one home day.

The first day was Saturday, which was a day that I worked my usual 12-hour shift as a nurse (I work in the NICU, for those who don't know that already).  I put the HRM on in the morning when I got up and took it off when I felt myself falling asleep that night.  I ended up wearing it for sixteen hours total, and I then gave myself an estimated calorie burn (100 calories per hours) for sleeping the other eight hours of the 24.

I didn't have any real idea what the results of this little experiment would be.  Recently, I have been cutting back on the calories I was eating because of this plateau I have been on, and I figured that this might confirm that this was the way to go.  I did some quick math to decide that a 500 calorie deficit per day should result in roughly one pound of weight loss per week, with a 750 calorie deficit leading to 1.5 pounds and a 1000 calorie deficit leading to two pounds lost.  I sort of thought I would burn somewhere around 2600-2800 calories in 24 hours on a workday, and this would lead me to aim for 1600-1800 calories of intake per day for a 1000 calorie deficit.

Well, I was a little off there.  I did burn about 2600 calories (2640, to be exact), but I burned all that during my 16 awake hours.  On a day like that one, eating 1600 calories resulted in an 1800 calorie deficit.  NOT enough food!  A one-way ticket to "starvation mode," really.  It was shocking to see, but I was so glad to have that information!  Based on that day, I have decided that my calorie goals for a workday will be about 2400 calories.  That is roughly a 1000 calorie deficit, so even if I am overestimating the calories I burn while I sleep (which is information I found on several different websites, so I tend to believe it's close to the true amount), I should have plenty of a deficit to lead to weight loss.

In further thinking about measuring my calorie burn on a non-work day, I decided that I would wear the HRM for eight hours to get an estimate of my calorie burn per hour while hanging out at home, and then I would double that to allow for 16 hours of awake time, still allowing for eight hours of sleep at 100 calories per hour of sleep.  After seeing how many calories I burned during my workday, a lot of which involved spending time sitting at a computer and charting, as well as sitting by my patients' bedsides for a good portion of the day, I really thought I would see some major calorie burn, even at home.  However, I spend a lot of my time at home sitting, either on the bed while watching TV or reading or at a table with my netbook open in front of me.  And the results of those eight hours really showed how different that is!

In eight hours this morning, I burned, according to the HRM, 867 calories.  Doubling that and adding in the 800 calories for eight hours of sleep suggests that I burn as my base on non-work days roughly 2500 calories in 24 hours.  This is more what I was expecting for my base calorie intake!  Allowing for a 1000 calorie deficit leads me to aim for a 1500 calorie intake as the base on my non-work days.  Going with this plan, I will also eat back most, if not all, of my workout calories on these days.  Today, I burned about 750 calories during about an hour and ten minutes of cardio (including cool downs and transition time from the Arc Trainer to the elliptical), so adding that to the 1500 calories led me today to aim for 2250 calories of intake for a 1000 calorie deficit.

So there's my plan.  I am going to aim for about 2400 calories per day on the days that I work a 12-hour shift, and I am going to aim for 1500 calories per day, plus the calories I burn in my workouts, on the days that I don't work.  I am hoping that this will jump start my weight loss and start me on a downward journey once again.  I am finding that it is a little difficult to hit these calorie goals for me so far because I am so used to restricting myself throughout the day, but I am sure this will get easier.  I am going to continue to try to clean up my eating as well, which will definitely help.

The only other question I had for myself is what I would do about these calorie goals once I started losing weight.  I decided that I would take some cues from the Weight Watchers program on this one.  Back in the day, when I first did the Points program on WW, every time you lost 10 pounds, you ate 2 Points less in calories each day.  Assuming each Point is equivalent to 50-60 calories, I am going to lower my calorie intake goals by 100 calories per day for each ten pounds I lose.

It feels so good to have a plan that has some sort of concrete information behind me!  I am a little concerned that I might find myself gaining a little weight as my body gets used to getting more calories, but I am feeling confident that my body will start dropping weight again soon.

I have also started setting some fitness goals, but this post has gone on (and on and on and on) for long enough, so those will be saved for another day.  Make it a great day, everyone!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Next Level

After talking about it for months, I finally went and bought a Polar FT7 heartrate monitor (HRM) today!  I am so excited because I love gadgets, and I had high expectations.  I am happy to say that the HRM met all my expectations and then some!

Set-up was a breeze, and I tried out the chest strap at home to make sure I knew how to use it.  The strap is for sizes M to XXL, and it looks like it can be adjusted to fit a variety of chest sizes.  And it was easy to position.  I pushed the start button on the watch, and after a moment, it indicated that my heartrate was being measured!  I turned it off then because I didn't need to measure my calorie burn for lunch eating and internet surfing, but I headed to the gym soon after lunch to test it out during a workout.

The first surprise I got was when I climbed on the Cybex ArcTrainer at the gym.  The HRM was able to sync with the machine so that my heartrate was displayed up on the monitor.  I loved that!  I didn't have to keep looking down at my wrist to see what my heartrate was, and this made it so easy to stay in a target zone.  I was trying to stay at the top of the cardio zone, and I was able to achieve that without much problem.  I was dripping sweat from the intensity of the workout!

After I had done 30 minutes on the ArcTrainer, I climbed on a Precor elliptical.  And once again, my heartrate came right up on the display on the elliptical!  I was so excited about this because it meant that I could keep track of where my heartrate was on the elliptical and work to the level that I needed to stay again at the top of the cardio range.  I definitely worked harder on the elliptical than I usually do, and I felt it!  After a total of 1 hour and 10 minutes (including cooldowns and transition time), I had burned 739 calories!  I am so excited to have a concrete number for my calorie burn because it will help me figure out how many calories to eat back on the days I work out.

I was interested to see how the HRM measured my calories vs. how the cardio machines at the gym do.  On the ArcTrainer, I put my weight in before working out, and on the elliptical, I put my weight and age in.  Neither asks for gender.  It turns out that the ArcTrainer was overestimating by quite a bit how many calories I was burning, while the elliptical was underestimating by a small to moderate amount my calorie burn.  The science nerd in me is super excited to have the HRM to tell me exactly what I am burning at the gym and at my yoga/pilates class as I work toward my fitness and weight loss goals.

My plan for the upcoming week is to wear the HRM one day when I am at home for the entire day, one day when I am home for the day and then have yoga/pilates, one day when I am home for the day and go to the gym for my usual workout, and one day that I am working my 12-hour shift at the hospital, all for all my waking hours (I will estimate 100 calories per hour burned while I am sleeping, based on some information I have found online), in order to get an idea of how many calories I burn during the day in all of these instances. This will give me concrete calorie goals for 1.5 pounds of weight loss a week...and here's hoping it will get me off this plateau I have been on!

Make it a great day, everyone!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Back in the right direction...

Today, when I stepped on the scale, I weighed 233.5 pounds!  That is the lowest I have weighed on this new scale, and it's represents a total of 41 pounds lost!  Earlier in the week, I was weighing in at 237.5 pounds (Hello, water weight!), so this is represents movement in the desired direction!  Look out...I am BACK!

This was a very stressful weekend at work...perhaps the most difficult stretch of time I have had at work since I became a nurse.  I let that stress get to me in a way that manifested itself in fast food for dinner on Saturday and Monday nights on my way home from the hospital.  On Saturday, I stopped at Sonic for a cheeseburger and cheese tots, and on Sunday, I stopped at Sheetz and ate cheese fries and a Cuban flatbread.  On both days, I stayed within my calorie goals for the day (because I didn't really have time during the day to eat as much as I usually would have), but there is no way that I should have been eating that stuff at all, let alone at the time of day I was.  Grocery shopping is scheduled for Thursday (after I get paid), so it's time to fill the house back up with healthy, whole, clean foods so that there is something to eat at home on nights like that.

Last night, I started a new yoga class with a different instructor (due to the fact that my previous instructor didn't have a class at a location that worked for me).  I really like the new instructor, and once I get used to the difference in the class, I know I will really like it.  It's an integrated yoga and pilates class, and it was definitely a challenge!  However, I also found during it that I could do things that I didn't think I was able to!  For example, one things we did was start from downward dog, lift one leg as high as we could behind us, and then swing our knee through our arms to do directly into pigeon pose.  I didn't think there was any way I would have the upper arm strength to do this, but I was able to do it without a problem!  I also was able to go from pigeon pose back into down dog without a problem.  Both pose changes were challenging, but they were not impossible for me!  I also found that I was able to go directly from cobra into down dog by just lifting my hips back, without going through a hands-and-knees position first.  It was the first time I tried that, as I assumed I couldn't do it, so this was a great feeling!  When I started taking yoga a year ago, I could not even do downward dog for very long because my strength was so bad, and now it is one of my favorite poses!  Love it!

Today, I am heading back to the gym for the first of three cardio days I have planned this week.  I don't go back to work until Saturday, so I am planning to spend some time with my friends the elliptical and the arc trainer for these three days.  At my gym, we have two different ellipticals.  We have one type that has an adjustable crossramp, which also has fixed arms.  I have usually used this one because I was not a big fan of the arm motion on the elliptical, and there were some interval workouts that I liked that varied both the slant of the crossramp and the tension on the leg motion.  Well, a few weeks ago, because I was watching an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress" while on the arc trainer, I decided to use the elliptical directly behind the arc trainer I was on.  This elliptical had the moving arms, but it had a fixed crossramp.  I assumed the programs on it would be similar, but instead I found a sort of random program that involved some major changes in the resistance on leg motion.  It was SUCH a challenge, to the point that at some portions of it, I could not move my legs through the motion very quickly at all, and the next day, I had plenty of soreness in all my leg muscles.  I also felt soreness in my arms from keeping my arms moving on the handles for most of the workout.  This gives me some new plans for my elliptical workouts because I thought I was being challenged more by the other type of machine, but it really wasn't true!

I think I have officially become an enormous gym nerd after that paragraph.  Oh, well...make it a great day, everyone!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

What's the hurry?

I am a big fan of instant gratification.  There is just something so great about setting a goal, working just a little bit, and achieving it almost immediately.  Unfortunately, weight loss is not an instant gratification sort of thing.  Nope, losing weight is all about delayed gratification.  And this is why it can be so frustrating.  It's natural to want to make changes and immediately see the results of those changes.  Unfortunately, with weight loss, that doesn't really happen.

This is what I keep reminding myself as I hang out on this little bit of a plateau that I find myself on.  I have lost about 40 pounds in the last seven months.  Unfortunately, at the six-month mark, I had also lost...about 40 pounds.  Hmmm...another month in and not much to show for it on the scale.  However, I have kept up my healthy habits.  I have continued working out.  I have even challenged myself by adding the arc trainer to my routine at the gym.  I have realized that running isn't for me right now (thereby listening to my body), and I have replaced the C25K program with other cardio exercise that I enjoy.

When all is said and done, my ultimate goal is to lose about 100 pounds.  When I started out, I had no idea how long it would take to do this.  I sort of had a pipe dream that it would be a year-long effort, but I didn't really know this.  It was just sort of an idea that I had floating around in my head.  I know now that it will take longer than that.  And I think I should want it to take longer than that because the longer it takes, the most realistically I lost it.  And the more realistically I lose it, the better the chance that I will keep it off.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately because I have read a couple of blogs where weight loss of 100 pounds took two or even three years.  And I am starting to think that I have been measuring myself up against an unrealistic goal.  Therefore, for now, I am going to stop thinking of things by way of time, and I am going to start looking at the little progresses I make each day.  If it takes me two years to lost 100 pounds, then that is the right amount of time for me.  If it takes three years, that is still the right amount of time.  The important thing is reaching my's not all about how long it takes me to get there.  And this is something I have trouble remembering because I want it to happen NOW!

Make it a great day, everyone!