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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Clothes Make the Woman

When it comes to exercise, it's crucial to have the right equipment -- right down to what you do and don't wear.

I've learned this firsthand. Shoes that are too wide or too long rub blisters on your feet and can cause ingrown toenails. The only thing worse than shoes that are too big, in my opinion, is clothes that are too big.

Let me explain. When you're sporting a less-than-perfect physique, it's only natural to want to hide that in baggy sweats and shirts at the gym. However, those fabrics aren't usually breathable and all the loose fabric can impede your mobility.

On a WLS post-op, however, loose fabrics can even be dangerous. Unless you've had reconstructive surgery, there is a fair amount of extra skin with which you need to contend. Depending on your rate of loss, starting weight and body type, your excess skin can be concentrated in one area or spread all over. Regardless, you're either going to have loose, floppy skin around the abdomen, thighs, upper arms, buttocks, or back -- or a combination of some or all of those areas.

Loose clothing combined with intense exercises and explosive moves (e.g. jump rope, burpees, etc.) can cause heat rashes, skin tears and even blistering. There is nothing worse than finding yourself increasing in physical stamina only to be hamstrung by a skin injury that sidelines you for a few days.

With that in mind, it's wise to invest in quality workout apparel, particularly compression clothing. Under Armour is known as offering the best compression around. I picked up a pair of the Women's UA Authentic 17" Capris at Sports Authority over the weekend. At first, I wasn't impressed. They don't feel any tighter than the pants I was wearing before. But after one workout, the difference was impossible to ignore. First of all, there was no pain at any point of my workout from skin pulling or tearing. Second, I don't even feel like I've broken a sweat. When I got home to change, my entire lower  body was dry -- that's how good the fabric is at wicking away moisture.

I think UA is a fairly affordable brand and worth the money (my capris were about $38) spent, especially if it's going to save me from visits to the doctor and prescription ointments.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Body Fat Benchmark: 24.2%

I had my body fat measured a couple of weeks ago as a benchmark. It's 24.2 percent. Up until now, I have told two people. Funny thing has been their reaction: "Are we happy or sad about that?"

I just laugh. Given where I've been, I find it amusing that anyone would think I could be emotionally tied to any number. The scale doesn't upset me. Why would I give that control to a skinfold caliper?

I get it. Most women live and die by some number. It may be a number on the scale or even a clothing size. Whatever it is, these numbers tend to hold a lot of power over women. A small number can send a woman jumping for joy, while a large number can be depressing.

Fortunately, I am not one of those women. I use the scale, my clothes and even this most recent skinfold test as nothing more than metrics to help me track my progress. I have to know where I'm at if I'm going to track where I'm going. That's what my numbers are about. To make them mean anything more or less steals my attention from what's truly important, which is my goal.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Upping the Ante Yet Again

I've progressed to four days of weekly exercise and this week, I hope to take it to five. If all goes according to plan, my week will look like this:

  • Monday -- Cycle & Strength
  • Tuesday -- Bootcamp
  • Wednesday -- Interval Training
  • Thursday -- OFF
  • Friday -- Pilates
  • Saturday -- Ultimate Conditioning
  • Sunday -- OFF

I'm working out hard enough to be sore every day, some days I'm even hurting in places I didn't know I had. But the results are worth the pain. I am definitely stronger. Lily is easier to lift and carry, especially upstairs. I have more stamina, and I'm sleeping better at night.

None of this is easy, but it becoming more fun.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Worked Out

I added a third day of intense exercise this week, and I am feeling every bit of it. My core muscles are so sore that it hurts to laugh. That's a good thing, right?

I started my week with a combo of cycling and heavy lifting on Monday, then did interval training on Wednesday and a combo of cycling and rowing yesterday. Tomorrow, I'm picking up a yoga class to see how that goes. Hard to believe that six months ago, I had no clue what kettlebells, TRX, burpees, tabata sets or mountain climbers were. Now, I'm doing each of those 2-3 times a week and living to tell the tale.

I don't like exercise, but I like seeing the results of exercise. I like noticing that I did better with jumps on the stationary bike yesterday than I did last week -- and even better than when I first started in January. I also like sleeping through the night -- a lifelong challenge for me. My progress is my motivation, and I need a big motivator to keep getting up at 4:30 a.m.

But again, it's worth it. The best part isn't even how my body is changing, it's who is watching. When I come home from the studio in the morning, my sleepy-eyed daughter gets wide-eyed and animated. She wants to know all about Mommy's exercises and then she wants me to watch her exercise. Her "exercises" are doing jumps and flips on my bed, but it's still cute and it's proof that what I am doing right now is making an impression on her and who she is becoming.

That makes everything I am doing right now worthwhile -- the early mornings, the sore muscles, the failed attempts at advanced exercises. And it's why I look forward to doing it all over again next week.