RCR W1D1: Demonstrating Restraint

It was strange waking up and not going to the gym to lift this morning after all these weeks of strength training six days out of seven.

It was also strange setting up my makeshift Red Carpet Ready gym in the home office (DH and one of his buddies were having a guys’ night in to watch The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Heroes in the living room): one stability ball, a light resistance tube tied into a loop in lieu of a Valband, a heavy fireproof file box to take the place of a 12″ step, two copies of that crazy Obsession DVD that everyone in the nation was mailed last week for use as my Valslides, and just the inner handles and four 2.5 lb adder weights of my trusty Powerblock dumbbells instead of the full 50 lb per hand set.

And you all thought I was joking yesterday when I said I’d be doing this program ghetto style.

Muahahahahaha!

So let’s talk about the first workout from the Red Carpet Ready Program. I did not modify the workout in any way today because I wanted an accurate Polar log of the calories burned as well as a true impression of the workout’s difficulty level. I performed Workout A-1 today plus the movement prep warmup. The entire set of 4 circuits took me 67 minutes to complete, but this included a few quick pauses to review the ebook on my computer screen for exercise form and order. After a session or two more to familiarize myself with the exercise sequences, I expect that the workout will be completed in 50-60 minutes.

The Good:
– I burned 503 calories during the 67 minute workout and definitely broke a sweat. Das ist sehr gut!
– The lunge kicks and Valslide planks with alternating knees pulled in were pretty challenging.
– The single leg reaching lunges were all right, too.
– I didn’t get bored.

The So-So:
– Single leg step ups to balance didn’t do much for me. I have been doing 30 lb total weight step ups to full bench height as recently as last week, though, so an unweighted, lower step version can’t compare.
– DB press on stability ball with 10 lb dumbbells….Er. Yes. Um. I’m sorry, but I may have to substitute push ups for these from now on. I got NOTHING from this exercise at all between the low weight and limited range of motion caused by the width of the stability ball. (Last week’s bench press numbers for me were 12 reps x 95 lbs and 8 reps at 110 lbs. My front-lean-and-rest weight with my hands on a scale and my body in plank position is 100 lbs–and I currently do nearly 70 push ups on my max test. I cannot downgrade to just 20 lbs.)
– Shoulder press with 5 lb dumbbells — same problem as the DB press above. I didn’t feel any real muscle engagement from this after 5 weeks of doing Arnold presses with 20-25 lbs. I will try a minor increase to 7.5 lbs next workout and see if that works better for me.

Overall, it was a decent workout though not in my usual heavy lifting style nor in the old boot camp style of my Army days. I don’t think I will experience any DOMS from it, but who knows? I’ve been surprised many times before.

I’m looking forward to my HIIT session tomorrow at the gym. I just hope I can resist the temptation to sneak over to the squat rack and bench press station.

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TODAY’S EATS
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1. 60 g dried cranberries, raisins, and oatmeal; 3 egg whites
2. 1/6 chicken pot pie, 1 c. green beans, 1/2 microwaved apple
3. 10 almonds, 20 g raisins, 1/2 apple
4. 1 boiled egg, 1 pear
5. 4 oz. lean sirloin steak, 1.5 c. Brussels sprouts
6. 1/2 c. light soy milk, 1/2 c. Diet V8 Splash Berry Blend, 3/4 scoop citrus limeade gemma protein

Water: 16 cups
Supplements: multivitamin, calcium 600+D, 6 fish oil capsules

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TODAY’S WORKOUT
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* 100 Push Ups W3D3 (15 min; 30/22/22/20/40 reps)
* 3/4 mile walk (15 min)
* RCR A-1 (67 min including breaks to check the exercise descriptions to make sure I was doing everything right; 503 calories burned)

On the over-muscled leg phenomenon among women

It’s one of the most common questions on any female fitness or fat loss forum:

“I bulk really easily in my legs. What kind of exercises should I do to reduce the size of my thighs? HELP!”

I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here and observe that in most cases, when a woman is complaining about thigh circumference, it isn’t because her legs are 99% muscle with just a paper thin layer of skin over them. Most of us who profess to have muscular legs also have an obvious medium to thick layer of squishy padding over them. I know I do unless I am very clean with my food and consistent with my cardio–I swear that there is a symbiotic relationship between strong legs and a convenient supply of nearby fat cells to provide nourishment.

When we are lean and our legs are defined, we don’t mind the muscle so much because random strangers will come up and tell us they look amazing, but when we have been naughty with our eats and sloppy with our workouts, we cry, “Wah! Bulky! Woe is me! Where did these heinous Quadzillas come from?! O Magic Thigh Fairy, save me from my monstrous legs!”

Unless you *are* at the stage where your thighs literally don’t jiggle when you land from a jump knee tuck, I think that diet needs to be of higher priority than the nitpicky details of what kind of cardio to perform or which leg exercises to avoid.

But consistently performed cardio certainly can’t hurt either.

Six Long Weeks of Pink Dumbbells, Oh My!

No workout today; I am reviewing the exercises from the Red Carpet Ready program so I’ll be ready for tomorrow. Up until Friday I was still wavering on whether I’d join the RCR 6-Week contest since my training preferences and physique goals are so different from Val’s program, but based on a purely objective analysis of the photos I took Friday morning, I really need to burn off the surface fat over my muscles at this point and see what I actually have already, not attempt to put on more while I’m still (for me) so annoyingly fluffypants. Let’s be honest–it’s not nearly as fun to watch yourself shoulder press 27.5 lb dumbbells when all of your muscles are obscured by a 1/2″ layer of fat. I believe that RCR’s circuit-style workouts might just do the trick, and I’m curious to see if the program really can lean out someone with my body type–not just firm up a naturally skinny ectomorph–in just six weeks. I don’t actually care if I get a longer, lighter look or not after 6 weeks; I am 100% focused on body fat reduction. From prior experience, I know that is the real key for me.

So me and my little blue (not really pink, sorry!) 5 lb paperweight dumbbells and adjustable Powerblocks will indeed be taking on this challenge. I will do my best not to sneak my weights upward too often, but I’m going to complete the Hundred Push Ups challenge no matter what. I have three more weeks to go on it, and I’m already up to 70 reps. I refuse to give up on it when I’m so close to hitting 100! And lest you all fear that the effective Muscle & Fitness Hers program will be forgotten, don’t worry–I am going to pick it up right where I left off in Month 2 right after the RCR challenge ends on November 3.

I don’t actually have the Valslide or Valband needed for some of the exercises in the RCR program, but I think I can make do with my lightest green resistance tube tied into a 24″ circumference loop and (How frugally ghetto is this?) some plastic grocery bags over my shoes in lieu of the Valslides until I have a chance to get the real deals. 😉

Food has been pretty decent today though not as clean as it tends to be on weekdays. I might actually be under my target because I’ve been so busy. My friend Colleen came over today at 10 to do a trial once a month shopping and cooking session–a sort of DIY Dream Dinners experiment with healthier recipes and ingredient choices. We each brought $25 to spend on ingredients, and after checking for the best deals on protein sources in the grocery flyers and browsing through the Don’t Panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer cookbook, we decided to go with three different chicken entrees based on the super duper $1.49/lb boneless, skinless chicken breast deal at Albertsons.

For $25 apiece, we each made:

(2) 9″ Chicken Pot Pies (8 total servings)
(4) 4-serving bags of Cranberry Chicken (16 total servings)
(4) 4-serving bags of Oriental Sesame Chicken Strips (16 total servings)

Altogether it was around $0.63 per serving, which I think is pretty darn good for lean protein portions fancier than the basic nuked chicken breast. We would still have to add a carb and a veggie to the cranberry and Oriental chicken, but that stuff is a lot faster and cheaper to prep.

Assuming 30 days per month and two servings needed per day per person (lunch and dinner), DH and I would need 120 servings each month, or three times the amount we made up today.

I figure that would be $75 for those entrees, and then we’d only have to buy veggies, fruits, oats, grains, eggs, and a few incidentals on our weekly grocery trips–maybe $20 per week.

Right now I’m just waiting for a whole chicken to finish roasting and my first chicken pot pie (ever!) to finish baking. My weekly batch of 21 steam boiled eggs is already chilling in the fridge. I am sticking to my resolve to cut out dairy and wheat as much as possible in my diet, too, so I’ll need to come up with some alternatives to two of the snacks I’ve been relying on for the past month: WW turkey and pepper jack pita and 1/2 c. cottage cheese with fruit or cocoa powder. I did place an order on Friday for 5 lbs of Dymatize Elite whey in Rich Chocolate (the BEST tasting protein I’ve ever found when mixed with just water, and trust me, I’ve tried a LOT of them due to my lactose intolerance and sensitivity to artificial ingredients and flavorings) from Bodybuilding.com, and according to FedEx, it should be waiting for me at the office tomorrow. If my imagination fails me, I can always go with the old Fruit + Whey combo on Monday.

Oh, and my Internet has been repaired at last! The cable guy gave us a new modem (which the last one should have done), and now things are zipping along quite speedily. No more lost posts due to random connection drops!

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TODAY’S EATS
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M1: 2 slices turkey bacon, 3 white/1 whole egg scramble, 2 buttermilk pancakes, 1/2 T. honey
M2: 1.5 c. shrimp and veggie rice noodle stir-fry
M3: Fiber One Bar
M4: 4 oz. lean sirloin, 1 T. ketchup, 3/4 c. shrimp and veggie rice noodles
M5: 12 almonds, 2 t. raisins, 1 c. light soy milk
M6: 2 boiled eggs, 1 egg white

M&F W5D6: Cardio and Karaoke

Sorry I didn’t post up earlier. DH and I woke up reaaaaally late. Like 11 am late, haha. I was actually up around 8, but I crawled back into bed when I discovered that our Internet still no workie.

I did a yoga DVD to stretch out my hip flexors, glutes, and hamstrings, then snagged DH when he got back from some errands and dragged him to the gym with me. I did a HIIT run and some incline walking while DH went through the 30 minute express circuit and finished up with some intervals of his own.

I think he will be sore tomorrow.

Food has been on plan, and I’m now ending the night at a karaoke club called Big Daddy’s in downtown Orlando with a posse of singing friends. (Yes, I’m thumb typing this post on my Treo. Never say that I don’t love my handful of blog readers!) I’ve got the following tunes on my list:

Just Like Jesse James – Cher
Separate Ways – Journey
Mambo Italiano – Rosemary Clooney

Dante, Ed, Eric and Dorothy from Gran Cru, and several of Dorothy’s friends all came out to light up the stage with me, so a grand time is being had by all. (Where is my dear husband, you ask? Sigh. He had a previous engagement with a D&D or Mechwarrior table. Yes, I somehow managed to find and marry a man who is dorkier than I am.)

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TODAY’S WORKOUT
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– Yoga Conditioning for Athletes (45 minutes)
– HIIT Run (3.5 – 9.5 mph; 20 minutes)
– Incline Walk/Run (5% incline, 3.3-5.5 mph; 30 minutes)

M&F W5D5: Leg Workout (Month 2)

I got on the scale out of habit this morning and was pleased to see 146.0 on the display. It looks like the consistency in food and exercise is starting to pay off. I was hanging at 148-149 for a while.

I am still debating the RCR contest. The M&F program seems to agree with my upper body. I am looking a lot less squishy in the arms and midsection after 4 weeks, and I have even built or at least restored some muscle. I still have at least 5 more pounds of subcutaneous padding to burn off before I really start to see definition, but I think that will happen within 4-6 weeks if I stick to my current workout program and keep the diet clean.

So…I don’t know. My main goal at the moment IS fat loss, so the temptation is definitely there to give a circuit-based program a shot. It’s just that I LOVE hardcore lifting so much, LOL.

PART EXERCISE SETS REPS WEIGHT
LEGS Squat 5* 10-12 115 lbs x 12 +
Reverse Lunge 3 10-12 25 lbs x 12
Seated Hamstring Curl 3 10-12 105 lbs x 12
Step Up 3 10-12 15 lbs x 12 +

(*) Includes 2 warm up sets at 50% and 75% of final work set weight
(+) Denotes that I need to increase weight in the next workout

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TODAY’S EATS
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1. 60 g dried cranberries, raisins, and oatmeal; 3 egg whites
2. 3 oz. cracked pepper turkey breast, 1 slice pepper jack cheese, 1/2 WW pita, 1 c. mixed broccoli and green beans
3. Fiber One bar
4. 1 whole/2 whites boiled eggs, 1 plum
5. 1/4 c. 2% cottage cheese, 1/2 T. cocoa, 1 packet Splenda, 1/2 T. chocolate chips, 1 boiled egg
6. TBD – Most likely 4 oz. salmon or flounder, 1 c. Brussels sprouts, and 1/2 oz. walnuts

Water: 16 cups
Supplements: multivitamin, calcium 600+D, 6 fish oil capsules

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TODAY’S WORKOUT
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* M&F Legs (45 min)
* 3/4 mile walk (15 min)
* Yoga Conditioning for Athletes (30 min)

Red Carpet Ready Club 6-Week Contest (Free to enter!)

Now for some news…I’m loving my M&F 12-week program, but I’m toying with the idea of doing Valerie Waters’s Red Carpet Ready for the next 6 weeks as part of the contest going on at the RCR Club membership site. I signed up for the 2 week free trial last Tuesday, and I had planned on checking things out then cancelling before the trial was up, but they are running a 6 week challenge starting this Monday and have offered to extend the free trial for the duration of the contest if you decide to participate.

If you are interested, you can still get in on this. You will have access to the RCR Club forums and membership site which includes a downloadable copy of the RCR 1.0 ebook ($77 value) and the video 2.0 edition of the program when it is ready.

The major downside to the program is that it uses light weights.

Like, REALLY light weights–we are talking 5, 8, and 10 lbs here, or–gasp!–none at all.

This could be a bit psychologically challenging for those of us who have been conditioned to train as heavy as we can stand for the past few years. How am I supposed to intimidate the guys at the gym if I’m only squatting with 10 lb dumbbells?

Valerie trains female celebs like Jennifer Garner, Kate Beckinsale, Elizabeth Berkley, Poppy Montgomery, Cindy Crawford, and Jennifer Biel, so her program is geared toward that type of physique versus the more buffed out look of figure and fitness. The sticking point for me, however, is that those clients weren’t exactly in bad shape when they started working with her in the first place–she has successfully turned out a lot of “toned but not bulky” Hollywood physiques, but they were all sort of waifish ectomorphs to start with, you know? NONE of those women were particularly fluffy OR carrying much muscle, so I’m not sure what the effect of her program would be on those of us who are more mesomorphic or endomorphic than her famous clientele.

Needless to say, I am approaching this with a healthy dose of skepticism. I am willing to give almost any training model a try for a mere 6 weeks, but I’m not interested in losing any of the lean mass I already have–just dropping some subcutaneous fat. I’m all right with not putting on more muscle at the moment as long as I can increase definition and decrease my overall jiggle factor.

The RCR strength program is circuit-based with reps in the 10-20 range, with most of the exercises falling into the 10, 12, and 15 rep categories. The workouts are around 60 minutes long according to the book, and are performed three days a week. My initial impression of it is that it would act more as a calisthenics/cardio blend for me than a true strength workout, but hey, that is not necessarily a bad thing when your primary goal is to lean out.

The cardio is interval style, three times a week for 30 minutes.

I’ll leave it up to you gals as to whether this holds any interest, but just be aware that you need to sign up before Monday to get the full 6 weeks for free. The prizes have not yet been announced.

If you do want to give this a try, you can sign up for the Gold level membership at http://www.redcarpetready.com/club/

Once you enter the 6 week challenge on the forums by posting an entry thread and submitting “Before” photos, Ryan, the friendly neighborhood admin, will extend your trial for the full duration of the contest. Participants are expected to post regularly in the 6-Week Challenge forum to keep everyone abreast of their progress. If you do decide that the membership is not for you before the 6-week trial/contest is over, just drop Ryan an email at rcrfeedback@gmail.com to cancel.

M&F W5D4: Back/Biceps/Ab Workout (Month 2)

Here’s the Month 2 Back/Biceps/Ab workout from the Muscle & Fitness Hers March 2005 12-Week makeover plan and the initial weights I’ve chosen to use:

PART EXERCISE SETS REPS WEIGHT
BACK Wide-Grip Pulldown 5* 10-12 85 lbs x 8
One-Arm DB Row 3 10-12 30 lbs x 10
Seated Cable Row 3 10-12 85 lbs x 10
BICEPS EZ Bar Curl 5* 10-12 30 lbs x 12 +
DB Hammer Curl 3 10-12 12.5 lbs x 8 +
ABS Plank 3 45 sec. 45 sec. x 3
Reverse Crunch 3 15 BW x 15

(*) Includes 2 warm up sets at 50% and 75% of final work set weight
(+) Denotes that I need to increase weight in the next workout

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TODAY’S EATS
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M1: Everything bagel, turkey sausage patty, scrambled egg
M2: 1/3 Atlanta Bread Co. apple cranberry muffin
M3: 4 oz. sesame-crusted salmon, 1 c. broccoli, 1/2 apple, 1/4 c. dried cranberries
M4: 2 oz. cracked pepper turkey breast, 1/3 c. dried cranberries
M5: Fiber One bar

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TODAY’S WORKOUT
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* M&F Back/Biceps/Abs (Month 2)
* HIIT Bike Sprints (20 mins; 6 sets of 60 seconds @ Lvl 11 + 90 seconds @ Lvl 8)

M&F W5D3: Chest/Shoulders/Triceps Workout (Month 2)

Chris and I are headed out to Tampa this afternoon to attend a Tampa Rays vs. Boston Red Sox game at Tropicana Field as part of a huge eHarmony couples contingent. There will be 125 couples there tonight who were matched through eHarmony like we were.

😀

I did get in my first workout of Month 2 on the Muscle & Fitness Hers 12-Week Makeover program. Check it out below.

PART EXERCISE SETS REPS WEIGHT
CHEST Bench Press  5* 10-12 95 lbs x 12
Incline DB Bench Press 3 10-12 25 lbs x 12
Incline DB Flye 3 10-12 20 lbs x 12
SHOULDERS Arnold Press 5* 10-12 20 lbs x 12
DB Lat Raise 3 10-12 12.5 lbs x 12
Bent-Over Lat Raise 3 10-12 10 lbs x 11
TRICEPS Lying French Press 5* 10-12 15 lbs x 12 +
Seated Overhead Extension 3 10-12 25 lbs x 12 +