Day 4 (11/23)
Today was a kickboxing cardio class. Lots of punches, kicks, lateral runs, sprints, and jumping jacks. Then crunches. Remember how I said Day 3 was the hardest workout I’ve ever had? Well, Day 4 is a very close second. Lots of muscles are sore, including many that I have never known existed.
Day 5 (11/24)
More strength, resistance, and balance training with tubing, balance discs, and fitness balls. Have you ever heard of the bridge exercise on the fitness ball with a heel dig? I haven’t. Until Day 3. This exercise works your glutes and forces all the little muscles in your abs and back to kick in action. Then today, we did it again. And maybe I imagined it but I could’ve sworn that I was stronger than Day 3. For a lot of the exercises, I had to stop briefly to just let myself rest a little or grab a sip of water. After the workout, my thoughts were: 1. every muscle in my body is sore. 2. I have really, really weak arms.
**Day 4 was also my first weighing / measurement. Every six weeks, the trainers will weigh participants and measure their waist and hips, and body fat percentage using body fat calipers. These are small clothpin-like devices that measure skinfolds to calculate how much subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin) a person has.
My initial measurements are:
Body fat as a % of weight: 29%-30%
As a note, I am barely 5’1 in stocking feet, and am considered small-boned.
I am not happy with these numbers, and frankly I was a little dismayed at my high body fat percentage. Depending on which body fat chart I look that, 30% body fat is either on the edge of the acceptable / optimal range or has already crossed over into the too-high range. I shouldn’t be surprised though – all those years of no exercise and eating whatever the heck I want (which usually includes fried foods, oily foods, and lots of sugar and sweets) has caught up to me.
Given my petite build and my weight history, I know somewhere in the mid-to-upper 90s is a healthy, happy, and maintainable number for me. Through the end of high school I was always a steady 96-97 lbs. And I certainly have not gotten any taller since high school! But my primary focus won’t be on the scale. Instead, I am looking to lose fat to bring my body fat percentage down to 23%-24% and to lose 2.5-3 inches on my waist and 2 inches on my hips. If I meet those goals, the weight will come down naturally. Basically, I want to be my high school shape, but with more lean body mass and less fat.
It’s not just about vanity
A toned midsection is nice, but vanity is not the only reason I want to lose the belly (although I’d be lying if I said aesthetics doesn’t matter at all). Abdominal fat is especially dangerous because it contributes to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, and certain types of cancers. According to a Harvard Medical School article: “Abdominal, or visceral, fat is of particular concern because it’s a key player in a variety of health problems — much more so than subcutaneous fat, the kind you can grasp with your hand. Visceral fat, on the other hand, lies out of reach, deep within the abdominal cavity, where it pads the spaces between our abdominal organs.” I need to be especially vigilant because the women in my family tend to carry excess weight around the stomach and the hip region.
Hello balanced meals, we meet again for the first time
Exercise is only one part of the equation: I DO know that my eating habits ave to change. I read somewhere that to change one’s appearance – even small changes in tone, definition, losing a few inches here and there – is 70% diet and 30% exercise. It doesn’t matter how much I work out if I just go back to unhealthy eating habits after ward.
Through my boot camp I have a nutritional plan that put my daily caloric requirement at 1,200-1,447 calories a day. I almost cried when I saw that range – it is so small!! I will definitely swing towards the higher end of that range. And, as I hate the feeling of hunger (or even just a nibble of hunger), I will have to be very smart with my food choices and get high density foods that is filling but healthy. I might even get an iPhone app to make sure I am meeting all of my nutritional and caloric requirements through 5 small meals a day.
Slowly, I am coming around to the concept that eating healthy is something I have to do permanently. Every day. For life. As someone who have been able to eat just about anything she wants, as much as she wants, with little “visible” consequences until a few years ago, that realization was a little depressing. I know, I know, the world’s smallest violin is playing for me right now.
The bottom line
In six weeks it will be the start of 2011. In previous years, I would greet January by making an easy-to-break New Year’s Resolution to get “healthier” and “more fit” without any action to back it up. But if I keep up with my boot camp and learn to develop healthier eating habits, I will already be on my way to a healthier lifestyle by January 1, 2011. And that would be pretty great.