Less Whining, More Butt-Kicking!

It’s now the first week of March, and now that the initial spark of motivation from our New Year’s resolutions has faded, I’m starting to see and hear the same tired old excuses trickle back into the online fitness communities.

“I’m too busy at work/school/home.”

“I was too sore/tired from xday’s workout to do my planned workout today.”

“I was soooooooo hungry/bonked out/PMS’ed that I couldn’t resist the chocolate/cookies/Twinkies/ice cream/pizza at work/home/my parent’s house.”

“My (fill in the blank with body part of your choice) hurts!”

Well, boo hoo hoo. I guess it is now time for my annual spring ass-kicking motivation rant.

The thing about an effective cut is that it will never be comfortable or easy if you’ve moved past the adrenaline rush of uninformed newbie enthusiasm. Once you are in decent shape and have acquired more knowledge about nutrition and exercise, losing fat means your belly will always want more food, your muscles will always be somewhat tired, sore, and worn out, and your now over-educated brain will overflow with excuses to justify extra food and more days off for recovery/improved performance/lean mass preservation.


I hate to tell you this, but the fact of the matter is that with very few exceptions, most of us just aren’t that elite. Yes, that includes me AND you, dear readers. (Ultra marathon runners like Julie and MarathonP can ignore this last statement.)

This is simply what happens when you are working out intensely while at a caloric deficit, and, alas, a caloric deficit is the only guaranteed, scientifically-proven way to burn off the fluff without resorting to surgery. And when you are already close to goal and have cleaned up just about everything in your diet and are posting some decent weights and speeds at the gym, guess what? You will need not only any old caloric deficit to get even leaner, but strict compliance to VERY clean and consistent eats indeed and workouts that push you harder (and very possibly longer) than the ones that got you to 20% body fat.

At some point we all have to ask ourselves if it is worth eight or more weeks of feeling less than 100% in order to achieve our fitness goals, because we all know where cheating on meals and skipping workouts will take us:

Exactly nowhere.

If looking like a fitness model were as easy as eating 50% clean and working out in a half-assed way for 30 minutes 2-3 times a week on the rare occasions when we weren’t feeling tired, out of sorts, stressed out, sore, bloated, or otherwise not absolutely perfect, don’t you think there would be more Monica Brants sashaying around the gyms, malls, and grocery stores?

As Tom Venuto so aptly put it:

“It’s not supposed to be easy. Disciplined people succeed; undisciplined people don’t…Nothing changes by doing what’s fun and EASY.”

So to all of my fellow fit wenches and future fit wenches out there who feel themselves slipping off the path to summer bikini goddesshood a mere two months into 2008 — I say it’s time to bitch up, knock off the wussy girl excuses, and get back on the clean eats and workout wagon 110%. Set your goal and don’t stop until you get there.

Remember, it will only get harder as you age, and the last time I checked, every last one of us is getting older by the minute.


3/7/08 Log: It’s all about the eats

Still hanging at 140.6 today, but my top 4 abs are coming out more each day and I look leaner all around while still muscular and strong. My legs and glutes are sore from Wednesday, and I opted to do Yoga for Athletes this AM instead of TT or HHA. I tried a warmup set of deadifts but my lower back wasn’t awake enough to perform them safely at a challenging weight. I may end up swapping Friday’s TT/intervals workout with Saturday’s intervals/HHA workout depending on how late I have to work tonight. My gym closes early at 9 pm on Fridays.

I thought the week went by fast! I have been so busy that it’s just a blur of sleep, exercise, eating, driving, and work work work. I look forward to having some downtime this weekend to garden and work more on my wardrobe contest pieces. The challenge will be to stick to SGX meals without the structure and limited pantry access provided by the work day. I’ve been very consistent this week with food, coming in at 1530-1560 each day and following the macronutrient ratios in the plan carefully. I think that 139 lbs and 20% bf is doable by Monday if I can just keep it up through the weekend.

No more Sunday pancake brunches for me until this challenge is over.

The sad truth is that, for me, this challenge will have to be won by diet more than exercise. I can exercise until I collapse, but my body is so efficient at maintaining homeostasis even at high, intense activity levels that I see no progress at all unless I hit the nutrition just as hard as my lifts and intervals. That’s just one of the side effects of being:

A) female (our bodies don’t like to give up fat because we are designed to incubate babies for 9 months through feast or famine), and

B) physically fit (what’s impossibly strenuous for a sedentary person is just a vanilla workout for our bodies).

My 100% ban on “cleanish” trigger foods for the rest of this challenge has already saved me from cheating more than 5 times this week. I’ve looked at the trail mix jar, the box of Kashi Go Lean Crunch in the pantry, DH’s evening bowl of popcorn, the mint choco chip ice cream, and the deli meat drawer so many times this week, but since they are all completely off limits until I hit goal (even on cheat meal days), I didn’t touch any of them.

– Yoga for Athletes (20 min)
– HHA Fat Burning Cardio (30 min)
– Either TT Mass Fusion Workout C + Bodyweight intervals, OR just the bodyweight or bike intervals

SGX menu (Meals 5 and 6 will be determined by which workouts I choose to do

3/6/2008 Log: The healthy care and feeding of a non-fitness geek on P90X

No workout this AM because I had to take photos of DH lying on patches of dead lawn and weeds outside the house for use as reference for a mini-game interface I’m working on today. He got a kick out of posing as an injured soldier in his camouflage paintball pants (formerly MY authentic summer weight camo BDU pants before he appropriated them for himself).

Weigh-in was 140.4 lbs after 3 days of perfect SGX eats at around 1550 calories/day and only one missed interval workout session. Bike sprints, another interval run, and HHA Total Body Burn, Hips/Buns/Thighs, or Forza to follow after work.

I am feeling a bit more sluggish on day 4 of SGX, and since I got in between 7-8 hours of sleep last night, I know it’s not due to lack of rest. I’m hoping that a combination of coffee in my two protein shake snacks today, massive quantities of green tea, and random bursts of bodyweight squats, jump squats, and push-ups on my breaks will pep me up. I’m sure that part of my drowsiness is due to the lack of AM workout.

Speaking of workouts, Chris got back on the P90X wagon this week. He’s giving the new P90X+ program a try using the P90X+ “Classic” schedule. To encourage him to keep up with daily exercise, I printed out a combined workout calendar for the next 12 weeks with both his program and mine on it and stuck it on the fridge along with some metallic foil star stickers so we can keep track of our completed workouts. I also moved the Powerblocks to the living room for easy access and showed him where all four levels of resistance bands are stored.

The next sneaky step is to create a weekly menu of healthy, faux Mexican and Asian meals for him to heat up for himself when I’m not at home to get him to eat clean without actually realizing that he’s doing so. He’s one of those laid-back people who doesn’t possess enough vanity or competitive drive to motivate him to put effort into a regimented, self-directed eating plan, and as a natural ectomorph whose weight never shifts more than 3-4 pounds from his baseline of 150 lbs no matter what he eats or how much he slacks off, he just isn’t that interested in the nuts and bolts of clean eating.

Basically, if you cook it (healthy or not) and put it in front of him, he will eat it, and that’s the end of it. He’s more likely to absentmindedly forget to eat than to overdo it.

(I know…I can’t understand it either.)

Fortunately, 99% of the food shopping in the household is done by me, so I’d estimate that 80% of his meals are pretty clean by Western standards. I can’t vouch for his lunches on the road, but HE claims that he sticks to chicken salads and sandwiches most of the time.

Time to break out the Weight Watcher’s Take Out Tonight for good ethnic restaurant recipes and The Sneaky Chef for creative ways to sneak vegetables into his meals!

– HIIT run (20 min)
– Bike sprints (15 min)
– HHA or Forza (30-40 min)

Swolegenix non-training day menu

3/5/08 Log: Negative Boobage?

140.6 lbs this morning and hopefully on my way down again. Amazingly enough, I didn’t have problems sticking to yesterday’s SGX meal plan even though it was a dreaded non-training day with only one starchy carb meal. Apparently doing the harsh HHA 6-day Slim Down as a crash course in giving up my usual carbs at every single meal did have the side effect of making SGX a lot easier for me psychologically.

Funny side note about the loss of inches: Curious about my new size in regular bras, I plugged my under bust measurement and full bust measurement into a bra size calculator online, and it gave me an error because the cup sizing formula gave them a negative number.

(under bust + 5″) – full bust = # used to determine bra cup

30″ + 5″ – 34.5″ = -0.5″

I had to fudge it a bit and put in 29″ as my under bust measurement to even get an answer.

34A or 36AA if I think I have a broader back–which I suspect I do.

Who even makes 36AA bras for under $40? I’m just going to continue to live in my high motion control Champion C9 sports bras from Target.

I got in a HHA Fat Burning Cardio workout this morning, and just finished my TT leg workout and a HIIT treadmill run at the gym after work. It’s squats, lunges, and similar work, and I would rather have access to the heavier Olympic plates and squat rack at the gym for those instead of making do with a lame max of 135 lbs at home. I was hoping to get over 200 lbs for my working sets like I did a few weeks ago, but my two weeks off from heavy squats and my SGX-induced, carb-depleted state really put a dent in my strength levels. 🙁 I had to settle for 185 lbs.

I was also too pooped out to do both the HIIT run (a make up workout from Tuesday) AND the scheduled bike sprints, so I’m bumping the bike sprints to tomorrow morning. I’ve been able to deal with the carb restriction outside of the PWO window pretty well during the work days this week, but it’s seriously cramping the intensity of my workouts.

Mentally, I’m in a good place with this month’s challenge. With my two contest deadlines coming up at the end of the month, I am finding it a lot easier to comply with my meal plans, especially given the example of my co-worker Jon who has lost a whopping 30 pounds and over 10% body fat in 7 weeks! Yes, he’s a boy, and yes, he was completely deconditioned before we started, but that is still an incredible transformation. He started out with a decent amount of muscle already (one of those short, stocky types who used to wrestle in school), so he will probably be 300 jacked by the end of our 12 week office challenge. I’m very proud of him and am thrilled he is on my team…but dang, I am also insanely jealous and competitive, and now MUST be totally ripped in 4 weeks even if I have to give up all cheat meals, add in up to an hour of extra activity daily, and do strict SGX until April 7.

Forget supportive comments and encouragement; I have always found competition to be the best motivator.

– HHA Fat Burning Cardio (30 min)
– HIIT run (20 min)

– TT Mass Fusion Workout B (40 min)
A1) Squat (3×8 @ 185 lbs)
A2) Stability Ball Crunch (3×15)
B1) Barbell Split Squat (3×8 @ 135 lbs)
B2) DB RDL (3×8 @ 30, 35, and 45 lbs)
C1) DB Bulgarian Split Squat (3×10 @ 40 lbs)
C2) DB Standing Calf Raise (3×8 @ 40 lbs)

SGX Training day menu

3/5/08 Log: TT Challenge 8 Week Stats

Week 0 2 4 8 12 Change
1/6/08 1/20/08 2/3/08 3/2/08 3/30/08  
Age 32 33 33 33 +1 year
Weight (lbs) 145.8 142.8 142.0 141.0 -4.80 lb
Neck 13″ 13″ 13" 12.75" -0.25"
Shoulder 42″ 41.5″ 41.75" 42" 0"
Chest 36.5″ 35″ 35" 34.5" -2.00"
Waist 27.25″ 27″ 26.5" 26" -1.25"
Abdomen 29.5″ 29.25″ 28" 27.5" -2.00"
Hip 39.25″ 38.75″ 38.5" 38" -1.25"
Thigh 23.5″ 23.5″ 23.25" 23" -0.5"
Knee 13.5″ 13.5″ 13.5" 13.5" 0"
Calf 15″ 15″ 14.75" 14.5" -0.5"
Ankle 7.75″ 7.75″ 7.75" 7.75" 0"
Bicep 12″ 12″ 12" 12" 0"
Forearm 9.5″ 9.5″ 9.5" 9.5" 0"
Wrist 5.75″ 5.75″ 5.75" 5.75" 0"
W-H Ratio 0.69 0.70 0.69 0.68
SF-Thigh (mm) 15 14 12.5 12 -3 mm
SF-Tricep (mm) 13 10 10 10 -3 mm
11 12 12.5 12 +1 mm
15 10.25 10 9.5 -5.5 mm
SF-Bicep (mm) 6 4 4.5 4 -2 mm
BF% Omron 24.9% 23.8% 21.8% 20.4% -4.5%
BF% Navy 25.95% 24.95%
BF% Durnin-
26.96% 24.51%

As you can see from the table above, I have been slowly but surely making progress in my spring cut. Of course it would be nice to see more dramatic numbers, but I console myself with the fact that although I have lost 2″ in both my chest and waist, my shoulder and relaxed bicep measurements are unchanged and my strength is still increasing steadily, which indicates that I am not losing any lean mass from my upper body on this program. I am nursing the hopeful dream that I may actually NOT have Skeletor’s bony chest when I reach 17% body fat this time around.


I didn’t have time to take pics due to yesterday’s late night at work, but I’ll get some up by Sunday.

Diet and workouts were both 100% yesterday, but sleep was a bit on the low end at only 6 hours. I attempted to do my run intervals outside this morning, but my lower back just wasn’t having any of it. I had to stop after only 6 minutes and take a rain check on the workout. I’ll be doing today’s workouts after work (when my body and back in particular should be warmed up) at the gym and at home, then hitting the sack with something exceptionally boring to knock me out — like the final Harry Potter novel, upon which I had previously given up around page 118 due to its gratuitous surplus of words combined with a noticeable shortage of action.

– Interval Run (20 min)
– Incline Walk (10 min)
– Hip Hop Abs Total Body Burn (40 min)

M1: 2 whole egg/3 egg white omelette with 1/2 c. mixed veggies
M2: 1/2 c. light soy milk, 3/4 scoop protein powder, 1/2 T. cocoa powder, 3/4 oz. walnuts
M3: 1 c. chicken and veggie in red sauce stir fry, 1 double-size granola chocolate chip protein cookie
M4: 1/2 c. light soy milk, 3/4 scoop protein powder, 1/2 T. cocoa powder, 1 T. Naturally More ANPB
M5: 1.5 c. chicken and veggie in red sauce, 3/4 oz. walnuts
M6: 1 scoop protein powder, 1/2 T. Naturally More ANPB

Supplements: 1 multivitamin, 1 vitamin C, 1 vitamin D + 500 mg Calcium, 6 fish oil caps

3/3/08 Log: 4 Weeks of TT left!

141.0 lbs, 20.4% bf according to the Omron at work.

I am confident that I am actually in the 140.x range, but yesterday was pancake breakfast day with DH, and we also went out to Bahama Breeze for dinner with his mother. I ordered the Red Pepper grilled chicken breast with crispy yucca and veggies, which wasn’t that bad, especially since I only ate half of it, but I also had some of the after-dinner Publix mint choco chip ice cream and coffee with half and half, which WAS bad since it totally bloated me up with lactose. Blargh. No more ice cream or dairy creamer for the next 5 weeks. It’s not worth the recovery time.

Besides, I only really like Breyer’s ice cream anyway.

I didn’t quite make it up at 6 AM for my workout, but I was at the gym by 7 AM, and got everything in. I started the TT Mass Fusion program today with a heavy chest and back workout. I have decided to flip flop the order of the sets a bit in this workout to get in BB bench and wide-grip seated rows first instead of in the third non-competing superset so I can push more weight. I know I can go heavier with dumbbells–probably up to 50 pounders–but not without a spotter to help me get them up into position.

The best part about being back at the gym was looking over to the left and seeing two regular-size guys (e.g. not super skinny or unfit looking) doing many of the same exercises that I was…using 5-10 pounds LESS weight in each hand. I LOVE that.

I also found out why they moved my precious squat racks into the dim, unventilated corner and fenced off 1/4 of the weight room floor: my Planet Fitness now has a Curves-style “PF Express” 30-minute workout circuit set up over there. I saw three people use the area this morning, and I admit to being a bit curious. I might explore it myself this Saturday after my intervals on the treadmill. I didn’t really look at the shiny new purple and yellow machines, so I don’t know if they are real cable/weight equipment or those lame hydraulic ones used at Curves. There ARE some nice 1.5′ – 2′ tall boxes set up there that would rock for step ups, elevated pushups, and box jumps, though.

Anyway, I did 16 minutes of bike sprints after the weights, then went home and hit 30 minutes of HHA Fat Burning Cardio. And now I am all set for workouts for the day and can just chill when I get home tonight…

Oh wait. Never mind. I just remembered that I am working late tonight until at least 9 PM.

I guess I will just be passing out when I get home, with no chill time prior to getting my zzzzzzz’s.

I’m officially only 4 weeks out from completing this challenge, and after some experimentation with the 4-day splits in the Get Lean, Gain Mass and TT Ultimate Mass programs as my work, gardening, and social schedule have gotten busier, I’ve decided to go back to a 3-day TT program to allow for more interval work and shorter workouts on Tues/Thurs/Sat. There’s also the issue of nutrition–I’m going to be carb cycling for the next 28 days, and weightlifting gives me such raging carb hungries that I’ll blow my 90% compliance within 2 days if I try to stick with 4 days of lifting. 🙂

I have Week 8 stats and will take pics tomorrow morning to post. Despite taking a full week and a half off and only hitting workouts about 75% last week, I still lost some girth in various spots and strength levels are actually BETTER than before. I guess there IS something to be said for giving the body a rest while still eating clean.

4-week plan for the final 28 days of my challenge:

Program: TT 8-Week Mass Fusion (Weeks 1-4)
Nutrition: Swolegenix

MON: Mass Fusion Workout A + Bike Intervals
TUE: Run Intervals + my choice light activity (30 min of yoga, Yourself Fitness, Hip Hop Abs, Forza, or skate)
WED: Mass Fusion Workout B + Bike Intervals
THU: Run Intervals + my choice light activity (30 min)
FRI: Mass Fusion Workout C + Bike Intervals
SAT: Run Intervals + my choice light activity (30 min)
SUN: Rest

And most of my team is still kicking ASS in the office fitness challenge!

– Mass Fusion Workout A
C1) Bench Press (3×6 @ 105, 110, 110 lbs)
C2) Wide-grip Seated Row (3×6 @ 97.5, 97.5, 105 lbs)
B1) DB Incline Press (2×8 @ 35, 40 lbs)
B2) DB Fly (2×10 @ 20 lbs)
A1) DB Flat Press (3×6 @ 40, 45 lbs)
A2) DB Row (3×6 @ 35, 40 lbs)

– Bike Intervals (16 min, Level 15-16 hard/Level 8 recovery)

– Hip Hop Abs Fat Burning Cardio (30 min)

M1: Granola chocolate chip cookie (PWO)
M2: 30g oats, 30g raisins, 1/2 c. veggies, 3 oz. marinated chicken breast
M3: 2 corn tortillas, 3 T. salsa, 3 oz. chicken breast, 1/2 oz. part-skim mozzarella
M4: 1 scoop protein, 3/4 oz. walnuts
M5: 3.5 oz. marinated chicken breast, 1 c. veggies, 3/4 oz. walnuts
M6: 1 scoop protein, 1 T. Naturally More ANPB with flax seed and flax oil

Supplements: 1 multivitamin, 1 vitamin C, 1 vitamin D + 500 mg Calcium, 6 fish oil caps

Wardrobe Refashion 2008 6-month pledge

Wardrobe Refashion 6 month pledge

I, Maggie, pledge that I shall abstain from the purchase of “new” manufactured items of clothing, for the period of 6 months. I pledge that I shall refashion, renovate, recycle pre-loved items for myself with my own hands in fabric, yarn or other medium for the term of my contract. I pledge that I will share the love and post a photo of my refashioned, renovated, recycled, crafted or created item of clothing on the Wardrobe Refashion blog, so that others may share the joy that my thriftyness brings!