LLCJ W11D3: Sea bass love

Our anniversary dinner last night was great! I have to count it as a cheat meal due to the presence of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia and Coffee Heath Bar Crunch ice cream at the end of the meal. DH made broiled Chilean sea bass (with a store-bought Asian fish marinade instead of using the miso glaze recipe since he couldn’t find any miso, but at least he seasoned it with something), garlic mashed potatoes, and an apple spring mix salad with Jamaican mojo dressing. Dessert was the aforementioned ice cream — one small scoop of each variety.

If it weren’t so hideously expensive at $20/pound, I think I could happily eat sea bass every day for the rest of my life.

Those of you familiar with our Total Money Makeover quest to be debt-free except for the house by October will be happy to read that DH paid for the meal ingredients by taking the contents of his pocket change piggy bank to a Coinstar machine and getting $72 back for all of the coinage.

We made it to the gym this morning and DH hopped on the elliptical while I did the scheduled LLCJ incline HIIT run for 20 minutes. I padded the workout with 15 minutes of GGCW boxing when I got home, unlocking more clothes for my avatar to buy in the virtual store, a new outfit for my trainer, and two new female trainers. Such geeky joy!

I will get in some yoga tonight to make it a solid 60 minutes of exercise for the day.

– HIIT Incline Run (2% incline; 3.5 mph for 60 seconds / 6-7.5 mph for 60 seconds; 20 min total)
– GGCW Advanced Ducking Combo (16 min)
– Yoga Conditioning for Athletes (250 min)

M1: 53g Kashi GLC, 1/2 c. light soy milk, 1 scoop protein powder, 1 c. light soy milk, 1/2 T. cocoa powder
M2: 5 oz. Creole seasoned sutchi filet, 1/3 c. (dry) oatmeal, 1/2 c. stir-fried water cress
M3: 1/2 oz. almonds, 1 apple
M4: 1 c. yogurt lassi
M5: 4 oz. roasted skinless chicken thigh, 3/4 c. peas, 3/4 c. stir-fried cabbage
M6: 2 eggs over easy, 1 c. five flavor eggplant stir fry

LLCJ W6D4: Stay away from the spreadsheet…

I didn’t work out this morning because I stupidly fired up the laptop when I woke up and got sidetracked by Microsoft Money and YNAB, and I am an obsessive-compulsive bean-counter. I got totally sucked into updating my May and June budget numbers for the household, and er…no workout.

Will complete tonight after work and do an extra set of ab circuits as penance.

On the positive side, my various registers are now balanced and we are now just 4 months away from being debt-free except for the house.

LLCJ W6D3: Rolling On

LLCJ said I only had to do 30 minutes of MISS cardio today, so I decided to dust off my inline skates and hit the big loop around my neighborhood for a comfortable skate. It’s 3.6 miles around, and took 27 minutes to complete (~7.5 minute mile). I added another 3 minutes to round off the workout by rolling around my own street a few times.

As usual, I felt it in my shins for the first five minutes or so, but after that, my legs were fine. I LOVE skating–all the cardio benefits of running with none of the gasping, joint stress, or general awfulness of running (for me). And more glute engagement, too.

This is probably the cardio I was born to do.

The gym is only 1.5 miles from the house, so I expect it to take only 10 minutes or so to skate there tomorrow morning for another round of weights. I was secretly worried that I wouldn’t be up to snuff with my skating to roll to the gym this week, but today’s skate convinced me otherwise.

The only negative: Given that I just did a heavy leg workout yesterday and skated today (not to mention that Aunt Flo is visiting), my hamstrings and quads are totally engorged with fluid today, and all of my stretchy pants are in the wash. I’ve been yanking down the legs of my pants all day when I stand up because they keep getting stuck on my thighs, hah!

Can’t wait until the fat loss starts to outpace the muscle (re)gain in a few weeks. I’m feeling fantastically fit, strong, and energetic these days, but dang…I miss seeing my muscles.

May Makeover Challenge Plans

For the May Makeover Challenge over at Pink Dumbbells, I am going back to basics with my program.

As of this week, I am doing the program outlined by LL Cool J’s Platinum Workout book (LLCJ) with a week of Red Carpet Ready (RCR) workouts while I’m away from my home and gym on a trip to see my sister. This will get me through the “Bronze” phase of the LLCJ program.

Week 1
M/W/F: LLCJ Full body machine circuit (1 circuit x 15 reps each; 30 sec. rest between exercises) + 15 minute incline walk or HIIT

Week 2 (Trip to California)
M/W/F: RCR Action Hero Babe workouts with Valslides, resistance tubing, and bodyweight

T/Th/Sa: 20 min. HIIT Run or 20 min. Gold’s Gym Cardio Workout cardio boxing with the Wii

Week 3 (3 x 12 rep straight sets w/ 1 min rest between sets)
M/Th: Upper Body + 15 min cardio @ 60% MHR)
T/F: Lower Body + 15 min cardio @ 60% MHR)

Week 4 (3 x 8 rep straight sets w/ 1 min rest between sets)
Mon: Upper Body + 20 min cardio @ 55% MHR
Tue: Lower Body + 15 min cardio @ 60% MHR)
Thu: Upper Body + 20 min cardio @ 60% MHR
Fri: Lower Body + 15 min cardio @ 65% MHR)

I am going to keep calories close to maintenance this month at 1800-2000 calories per day. I’ve been off program with exercise for so long now that I’m confident that just adding the extra calorie burn back in while eating at the same level will cause me to drop fat and build some muscle back up without resorting to calorie restriction. The meals in the LLCJ book are calibrated for males, however, so I’m going to look at the New Rules of Lifting for Women and Muscle and Fitness Hers 12 Week Makeover meal plans for my recipes.

– 1800-2000 calories/day
– Macronutrient ratios: 40-50% carb / 30-40% protein / 20-30% fat
– 5 meals per day on non-lifting/rest days, 6 meals (due to added PWO shake) on lifting days
– 16 cups water per day
– Supplements: multivitamin, calcium + D, 6 fish oil caps, l-glutamine, creatine/l-glutamine pre-workout

There are almost too many things I want to fix up around me, but I’m going to keep this realistic and choose my living room and patio as my makeover victims for this month.

The patio houses my weight bench and Powerblock weight set as well as some extra pairs of free weights, a small round outdoor dining table, lots of resin chairs, two wicker novelty chairs, and DH’s grill. It has no discernible style at all, and now that it’s getting warm again, I find it too stifling to work out in there.

Our living room has decent couches, but it’s a mess at the moment with one of the sofas commandeered as Yarn Central for my crafting hobby. We have a very tall wall in there thanks to the vaulted ceiling, so there is a lot of vertical space to fill up. Neither of us loves what we have going on up there now, and I really want to put up the set of four Chinese scrolls my sister brought back for us from Australia last year.


Gym and Kitchen Reset

Chris is in CO this week for five days of corporate inprocessing and indoctrination at his new company, so I am taking the opportunity to toss out the crap in the fridge and pantry and get myself back to clean eats. In some ways my good habits have rubbed off a bit on DH, but in the process some of his bad ones have rubbed off on ME. So he is a little better than he used to be, but I am a little worse when it comes to diet. Pfft.

I’m resetting myself this week, and poor DH will just have to deal with it when he gets back on Saturday.

So, like Kyra, I think I’m giving up on the Chalean Extreme DVDs for the time being and going back to the old training notebook and TV-less workouts I know work for me. I am tired of smothering my dislike of DVD workouts to do this program just for the sake of doing it, and frankly, I don’t like the exercises. I don’t think that the combination moves are as effective for me as non-competing supersets or straight sets. With the hybrid moves I don’t seem to concentrate on the targeted muscle groups as well as I could with more traditional lifts, especially those that are supposed to work my lower body. What it boils down to is that I feel like I am only putting 50% of my attention and effort into each half of these combination moves, and therefore only (literally sometimes, because I am so quad-dominant that I need to really THINK about engaging my hamstrings and glutes in lunges, sumo squats, and squats) half-assing them.

I also can’t get into the two included cardio workouts, but I’ve already mentioned that in an earlier log.

Jillian Michaels’s 30 day “Making the Cut” book was recommended to me a while back by one of my blog readers, and I think I will give it a go starting Monday. I’m going to take the next three days to familiarize myself with the exercises and do 20 minutes of HIIT daily before launching into a full Monday start on 3/23. I’ve been slacking off enough on CLX that just about any regular program and cleanish eats should start sloughing the fluff off pretty readily.

In somewhat related news, I had my annual GYN appointment yesterday where I discussed the possibility of switching from the low-dosage Lutera/Alesse pill I’ve been on for the past few years to the copper-based Paraguard IUD. Alas, since I have NOT had kids yet and tentatively plan to try spawning a mini-me sometime next year, my doctor said that she recommended against it for both financial (it would cost more than a year supply of pills) and medical reasons (heavier TOM bleeding, possible issues when I decide to have kids, etc.). I am seriously bummed because I’d really like to try a cutting cycle without the influence of BC to see if progress is faster without the extra chick hormones in my system. And I’d get to take one less pill in the morning with my 2 fish oil capsules, multivitamin, calcium + D, and digestive enzyme. I do admit that I’m not really eager to have all the myriad joys of a Pill-less menstrual cycle back, though.

I guess I’ll just have to do my spring cut the old-fashioned way and simply work my butt off!

– 10 familiarization reps each of all of the exercises in Day 1 and Day 2 of the MtC plan
– HIIT run (20 min)

M1: 60g oatmeal and raisins, 2 whites/1 whole egg omelette with 1/2 c. spinach and 1/2 c. tomato slices
M2: 3/4 c. yogurt lassi (4 fl. oz. plain yogurt, 2 fl oz. water, 2 packets Splenda and 1.5 t. sugar)
M3: 6 pork and leek dumplings, 1/2 c. brown rice, 1 c. broccoli & cauliflower mix, 1 T. spicy garlic soy sauce
M4: 1 hardboiled egg, 1 egg white, 1 apple
M5: 3.5 oz. chicken breast over 3 c. spinach, baby greens, and tomato salad, 2 T. balsamic vinaigrette
M6: 14g almonds, 1 scoop protein

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

I miss the gym.

I really do.

ChaLEAN Extreme is a decent workout now that I am up to my old accustomed weights, but it’s just not the same as going to the gym and lifting heavy chunks of iron surrounded by other people doing the same. For one thing, the $5 bargain mirror I use at home to check my form isn’t nearly as motivating as the wall to wall mirrors at the gym. For another, I don’t get the joy of outlifting some of the guys and most of the gals.

I’m going to continue with the lifting circuits for the remainder of the 12 week program, but I am dropping the Burn Intervals and Burn It Off and Recharge workouts in favor of cardio machine intervals at the gym so I can at least WATCH the other people lifting weights while I haul ass on the treadmills, ellipticals, and bikes. I will keep the ab workouts in my rotation, though, since I am easily bored by ab exercises when I have to think up a sequence on my own.

This change is also based on my observation that fancy pants, at-home cardio workouts of any kind really aren’t as effective for my body type as regular old cardio intervals that just involve moving forward very fast for short bursts. I don’t want to think about where my feet need to go or memorize choreographed moves. I just want to GO for 20-30 minutes with the Guitar Hero playlist blasting in my ears and my lungs heaving.

Oh, and for extra kicks, I am going to bring some of my crochet gear with me the next time I have some steady-state recumbent bike time scheduled. With a Discworld audiobook in my iPod and a custom doll project in my hands, I could probably pedal for 2 hours without feeling the time go by. 😉

– CLX Burn Circuit 2 (40 min)
– Yourself Fitness yoga (15 min)

M1: PWO Protein bubble tea
M2: Curry rice noodles with tofu and veggies
M3: 30g almonds and raisins
M4: Better Whey of Life strawberry banana yogurt
M5: Chicken jambalaya with 1 c. (cooked) brown rice
M6: 3 egg white and veggie scramble

– Hair and custom Sackgirl eyes for Ulala doll
– Finish mask and assemble classic Sackboy

CLX Burn W2D5: Mixing It Up

I’ve been a very poor guinea pig for Chalean Extreme so far, electing to just go outside and skate or firing up my familiar Yourself Fitness on the Xbox instead of sticking to the CLX workout calendar. I fully admit this and promise to do a better job going forward. That is why you see “W2D5” in my post title instead of the week 4 or 5 that should be there. Counting up the total sessions of the program I have completed so far in my workout log book, that is about how far I’m into the program.

I have maintained at around 140-141 for the past month with minimal effort and only cursory attention to diet except to make sure that I’m eating primarily healthy choices and getting in enough vegetables and water, but it is time to re-focus and really give this program the effort it deserves.

There is only one catch: I also promised to go to the gym with Chris three times a week to get him back in the workout saddle, and he is starting LL Cool J’s Platinum Workout
this week. In truth, he would probably be content doing the 30 minute machine express circuit at Planet Fitness that he has tried a few times in the past, but I just got the LLCJ book a week ago, and I steered my husband into giving it a try since the first three weeks also use a full body machine circuit before transitioning to free weights in week 4 and beyond. So far I have been doing the same workouts with him to show my support on my non-lifting CLX days, but I know this is not optimal for either program since my body won’t be resting fully between strength training sessions. I’ve tried to mitigate some of this by going lighter on the machine circuits and keeping the pace fast to make the workout more like a cardio session with some resistance than a true strength training workout.

The CLX Burn Circuit 3 is my favorite workout so far with its emphasis on shoulder work. This is a difficult area for me to improve, so I am glad that the program addresses it with so many exercise variations. I’m not as crazy about the number of calf raise combos in the same workout, but hey, I already HAVE huge, muscular calves and don’t need to work them as much. CLX Burn Circuit 2 focuses more on back/triceps/biceps in addition to the usual lunge, squat, and deadlift variations in all of the workouts. I really like the slow lifting tempo on the arm exercises as I feel that I am getting a lot more adaptation and hypertrophy out of it than I do when lifting on my own, where I have a tendency to use a little momentum to curl my weights up.

Speaking of weights, I am already using the same weights Chalene selects on 75% of the exercises and just one step down on the rest. I don’t doubt that I could go heavier on the leg exercises, but I think I will keep those loads no heavier than Chalene uses and limit my weight progression to the upper body exercises to try to balance out my body a bit. I can maintain my leg muscles with little more than bodyweight exercises; it’s my arms, back, and shoulders that need the heavy work to bring on change.

I still roll my eyes a bit every time she performs her 3-4 (out of 12) reps of each exercise, then puts her weights down and admonishes the rest of us to “continue, continue!” while she walks around and hangs out with each of her four CLX crew members, pointing out proper and improper form, LOL. (For the exercises where I am still lagging behind her in load selection, I console myself with the knowledge that I, too, could probably use 27.5 pounds on that exercise if I only had to complete THREE reps.)

The only other gripe I have with the series so far is that the four other people in the videos performing the exercises look like they are suffering a little too much during the exercises given how little some of them are lifting. Seriously, one woman is using medium resistance tubing (red), and the “newbie” girl rarely breaks 10 lbs with her dumbbells. I know the producers are trying to emphasize that these weights are supposed to be very challenging, but I come from an Army PT, “suck it up and drive on” exercise background and don’t think anything more than a silent grimace of effort and some gritting of teeth is necessary unless you are seriously under physical stress. The moans and groans are a bit too much when you are only curling 12 pounds, don’t you agree?

I would rather see a quartet of total badasses lifting as much as Chalene does and pumping out push-ups like machines so I actually have something to shoot for.

– LL Cool J Bronze Body Workout Week 2 (machine circuits)
– 10 minute interval run
– CLX Burn Intervals and Ab Burner

M1: 3 egg white/1 whole egg spinach omelette, 1/2 T. ketchup, 60g oats and raisins
M2: 3 oz. Korean BBQ sirloin burger patty, 1/2 WW pita, 1/2 slice pepper jack cheese, 1 T. ketchup, 1 c. green beans
M3: 2 chocolate peanut butter protein fudgsicles
M4: 14g almonds, 1 Pink Lady apple
M5: 4 oz. chicken breast and 2 c. veggie stir fry, 3/4 c. cooked brown rice
M6: Something made from 1.5-2 oz. silken tofu, veggies, and spices 🙂

CLX W2D1: Burn Circuit 1 Impressions

This morning I did the ChaLEAN Extreme Burn Circuit 1 workout for the second time. I had originally started the program mid-week a few weeks ago, then discovered that it totally throws me off to lift weights on Tues/Thurs/Sat instead of Mon/Wed/Fri, so I’m resetting my weekly start day to Monday this week.

Hey, I know it’s a small, stupid thing, but I’m apparently an incurable Monday starter.

Burn Circuit 1 is set up as a giant circuit of exercises that are performed for 1 set each of 12 very slow, heavy reps. The workout, including warm up and cool down, lasts just 35 minutes and leaves me feeling strong and energized, but not dripping sweat. The reason that the workout can be so short is that each individual exercise is actually a unique compound move that usually combines a lower body exercise and an upper body exercise into the same rep. For example, Chalene might have you deadlift a pair of dumbbells, pause when your back is at a 45 degree angle, then perform a posterior deltoid raise from that position before continuing to stand up, or squat and then perform a leg lift on each side that hits the obliques in a single rep. This way of smooshing two exercises together into a novel new compound move allows you to get twice as much work done in the same amount of time. The exercises in Burn Circuit 1 target the chest, quads, glutes, hamstrings, obliques, and posterior deltoids.

A lot of the exercises still feel very awkward to me even though I have been lifting regularly (and heavily!) for the past 5 years. I’m just used to doing one exercise at a time or supersetting two different ones, not putting them both into a single move. I’m sure this will get better with familiarity.

I also notice that while I don’t find Chalene overly perky as I do in her Turbo Jam workouts, she does have a tendency to call out a pretty heavy weight for herself (compared to most chicas I know) for each exercise…and then perform just 3-4 reps before putting said weight down, telling us all to “Continue, continue!” and walking around to point out the correct and incorrect form being used by her four-member workout posse. (Her posse–my word, not hers–consists of one fit-looking male in the back who uses pretty decent poundage, Chalene’s younger sister, who usually goes about 5-10 lbs lighter than Chalene, a tall, thin gal who rarely cracks the 10 lb dumbbell barrier and is used to show off modified moves, and a 60-year-old woman in awesome condition who looks about 35 and demonstrates the proper form for those using resistance bands instead of dumbbells.) I am just starting out with these workouts, but I’m not exactly a newbie, so I generally go one step down from Chalene’s selected weight as allowed by my Powerblock adjustable dumbbells, mostly because I do ALL TWELVE REPS and want to make sure I have the proper exercise form down pat. So when Chalene says she is using 25 lbs, I go with 20 lbs, and when she is doing 20 lbs, I go 17.5 lbs, and so on.

After my first Burn Circuit 1 day, I did feel some DOMS soreness in my hamstrings and glutes, but otherwise didn’t feel any lingering effects. Overall, I like the variety of exercises in this workout and REALLY like the brevity of it.

I’m also trying to find a balance between work, exercise, eating more vegetarian-style meals (at least during the work week–I had a delicious run-in with some Smokey Bones pulled pork and BBQ chicken this weekend), posting in my blog, and keeping up with the demand for custom dolls. In my typical uni-tasking, OCD way, I have been doing a terrible job of it so far, with the workouts, blog updates, and food prep losing out to the awesomely fun, new challenge of crafting toys. The positive side of things is that I am eating less overall and not really noticing it since both of my hands are occupied holding yarn and a crochet hook, but the negative side is that I’m not making as much progress as I COULD because workouts have been haphazard and inconsistent. It *is* nice to finally have an activity that I can do at home that is so engrossing that I don’t just give into boredom in the evenings and weekends and start digging around the pantry, but I really do need to start my day off with a workout each morning to get the full benefits of consistent exercise on top of the automatic caloric restriction.

– CLX Burn Circuit 1