Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Four Weeks Into a Fitness Routine


Four weeks, roughly. 27 days, exactly. Part of me feels like I should wait a little longer to post this, but most of me is just really excited to share. For those of you starting this journey yourself, I wanted to let you know what I've been doing specifically, something my doc recommended, and the results I've seen so far.  I'm shocked by the results I see in my body and my abilities. I didn't realize it would be this fast, engrossing, or addictive.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I jumped straight into a 200-minute per week routine after I visited a cardiologist for a preventative appointment and I've stuck to it religiously. I run Couch to 5K intervals with the C25K FREE app three days per week (Monday, Thursday, Saturday) as prescribed, with additional walking tagged onto the end of each workout to flesh out a full 40+ minutes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I walk a full 40+ minutes. I make myself take Wednesdays and Sundays off to make sure knees and ankles stay in good form. I don't really like taking Wednesdays off--Thursday seems like it would make more sense--but I work fairly late (for me) on Tuesday nights, so I'm always super tired on Wednesdays. Oh well!

I still post a lot of pics like this on the hard days!
In addition to eating mostly "real food" (low sodium, little processed) I've also been taking a combination of supplements my doctor recommended to boost metabolism: two teaspoons of soluble fiber in the mornings in my coffee (take it in whatever you like), a B complex, and a pro-biotic. I also tack on some extra vitamin C (about 1,000 mg per day) since I need the extra C to absorb more iron and avoid anemia.

Just...wow. The first two and a half weeks I thought I was going to die every walk and run. My knees and ankles hurt. My legs hurt. Muscles I didn't know I had hurt. But then suddenly last week...it got better! It's still hard...don't get me wrong. It's work. But it's not as painful as it was, and I know I'm getting better at it. It's always difficult to step up to a new level on the C25K program, but nothing hurts like that initial handful of weeks. So far I've spent about two weeks on each level of C25K since I started from absolutely nothing--no running unless a Rottweiler was chasing me. I find it takes me about that long to get comfortable with a new set of intervals, and I'm totally fine with that.

I do find that on the days I walk, I actually have to work pretty hard, push significantly, to really feel like I'm getting enough of a workout. I've also learned that I have to take fairly short, quick (prissy) strides to keep my feet and ankles from cramping. It's a pain in the ass (ankles), but it's been a problem for me as long as I can remember running and walking for exercise...even when I was younger and lighter. Hopefully I can nail down some stretches or exercises that will help with that, too.

Through reading up on running, and chatting to my running friends, I've realized the importance of strength training to accompany my regular workouts. I've been doing squats, crunches, and planks to help strengthen my core and elsewhere. The strength training is where I need to layer in more routine so I'm not just doing it willy-nilly. That's next.

I'm kind of shocked by the change I've seen in my body at this point. I've lost inches overall...I look noticeably smaller...and I feel much, much stronger. I'm down about four or five pounds, and I'm pleased with that progress. Also, I didn't really think of this when I started, but my skin is freaking fantastic. I'm sure part of it is shucking off a lot of the stress that was following me around when I was working my full-time job, but my skin is also smoother and brighter. Huzzah!

This post is getting fairly long, so I'll tell you about my shoe-buying experience soon and report on some running books I've been reading! Some have been hits...some, big misses.

Bottom line: I feel damn fine. 

If you're working on this journey, I'd love to hear more about what you have going on!


65 comments:

  1. Andi, this is so awesome!! I'm so happy that you're feeling good and enjoying this process. It becomes addicting, and there's nothing like the feeling after working out.

    When I started my journey 2 years ago, I had been seeing a dermatologist for horrible adult acne. And nothing they gave me was working. Once I started eating better and working out, my face cleared up almost immediately - it was amazing! I kept thinking I should've tried that earlier instead of sinking all the money into a dermatologist. Oh well, live and learn.

    It's so good that you're taking rests days every week, and starting to work in strength training. The strength training is where I struggle the most. I would much rather run 6 days a week than take the time to do those exercises, but I know they are important. I've been trying to get into a routine of doing them at least twice a week, even though I hate doing it. ;)

    I love reading about your journey - keep it up! You're doing so great!!

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    1. Ack! I just replied to this post and it didn't "stick" apparently. Thank you for your support, Brandie! I can't wait to go spelunking back through your blog to read more about your journey. I think I'm also going to join #FitReaders. Woo! As far as strength training, I think I'm going to have to start doing it on my "off" days so I can compartmentalize it!

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  2. Strength training helps so much!
    A few years ago when I was training I worked Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred into my routine. I mostly stuck to level one and I didn't do it daily. Maybe twice a week? But with that and running and a bit of yoga (and some bonus foam rolling) I was probably in the best shape of my adult life. You can get the first two levels for free on YouTube via the Lionsgate Be Fit channel. It's hard. It will make you love running more. ;-) (Wear good shoes if you do it. And Kelly has a great post on Stacked that's a few years old now about her advice after doing it for awhile. It's excellent.)
    YouTube overall is one of my fitness secrets except not because I keep telling people about it. The BeFit channel has TONS of video and for yoga I usually do Yoga with Adrienne.

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    1. Thanks, Karen! I will definitely check out BeFit and those 30 Day Shred videos! I bet they will make me love running more! lol I'm finding I really like Yoga with Adriene (the core strengthening video, OMG). Keep the tips coming! I'm only just starting to look into foam rolling! So many new things to learn!

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  3. Congratulations!! I think the best part of reading this post was hearing you say you feel stronger! What keeps me going is the feeling of being in shape, not as much the pounds or appearance part. It's kind of an addictive feeling.

    And I totally agree with the advice you've gotten on strength training. Core and glutes are important for running. I try to strength train twice a week and generally do classes at my gym b/c I'm terrible at doing an all encompassing strength routine on my own. The classes ensure I change things up and push me harder than I'd push myself. I usually try to do one conditioning/boot camp style class and one Barre or Pilates Bootcamp class per week. The Barre or Pilates class also opens up my hips and includes some deep stretching.

    Keep us posted on how things progress!

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    1. YES! Feeling good and strong is definitely the best part. The appearance stuff is totally secondary (or lower down the totem pole). I'm still trying to gather good strength or yoga videos to do the strength training at home. Don't want to spend on a gym, though I do think it'd be more encompassing and push me harder. Will definitely keep ya posted!

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  4. This makes me so very happy!!!!!

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  5. I'm so happy for you! You've always looked amazing, but I'm glad you're noticing a difference and are liking the changes. I don't know if I'll do C25K, but I do need to get into a routine (and stay there). Can't wait to read more as you progress through the journey. :)

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    1. Totally! And the changes are absolutely the cherry on top. The feeling good and achieving is the best part. I like C25K simply because it gives me some guidelines, a decent pace to strive for, and I can stretch that out as long as I need to. I'm sure there are other great programs, this one just seems like the one I hear most about and is really accessible. More posts to come! I'm so stoked, I just wanna write about it!

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  6. I've walked six days a week for years but have recently added sit ups and planks to my routine and my abs are killing me. I sure hope it pays off! Keep up the good work!!

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    1. Planks are deadly. DEADLY! lol I know it will pay off for ya!

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  7. This is wonderful Andi! It's so good to read such a positive post and hear that you feel so well. I feel inspired to keep going with my beat the injury routine.

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    1. Oh, I do! I've always complained about exercise, but I am all in now! Good luck to you as you're coming back after injury! <3

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  8. You might look at Chi Running by Danny Dreyer. I'm starting to read it now. It's about form, and tiny steps. I ran a half while you hosted a readathon and I swear it was tiny steps that kept me from injury (I was going into it with shin splints.)

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    1. I took a Chi running clinic and found it hugely helpful! I have to consciously think about taking short, tiny steps (and a lot of them) rather than long gaping strides, and I've found it's made me more efficient, faster (not that that was my goal!) and waaaay less sore in the knees.

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    2. I will definitely check out Chi Running! I never realized how important tiny steps are until I was taking too-big ones. lol BIG DIFFERENCE in the comfort of my workout and thus the sustainability. You kicked ass in your half, Lisa!

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  9. Yay! I'm glad you're over the hump. I noticed my skin got better when I started running too. The increased blood flow? Sweating out the bad stuff? I don't know. (I do have to watch for bacne though.) Strength training is the best!

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    1. I googled the skin thing and yes to all of the above! I doubt my pores have time to get clogged these days! Ha! What do you prefer to do for strength training, Chris?

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  10. Bravo, Andi! I've told you before that I'm crap for running (although maybe if I tried C25K I could get into it?) so I'm astounded by your awesomeness. I think exercise is about finding a routine that works for you. I've fallen hard for the Les Mills classes offered at my gym. That first Body Pump was brutal, I could barely walk for days, but now I look back at how far I've come and I'm like "I am so badass." If you're looking for strength training though, Body Pump! (Start with super super low weight though, because wowza.) High five to you madam!

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    1. I like C25K because there's a very clear trajectory of progress, you can tailor it to your abilities to some extent, and the apps are readily available. Although, gotta say, I'm real scared of my next C25K level. Oy! I hear great things about the Les Mills workouts! I'm glad you love 'em. I think falling in love with a workout is the most important thing. And feeling badass!

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  11. Congratulations Andi! You're simply kicking ass! Loving these posts, they make me feel less afraid about working out (I'm in camp I hate running and I'm also afraid to run because I'm so intimidated), slowly but surely working towards it. This is very encouraging, you're awesome!

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    1. Thank you, Janani! Running is fucking scary. SCARY. But I find an interval program like C25K (and others) far less intimidating since it's not a solid block of running that looks like failure. lol I'll cheer you all day any day! Keep me posted on how it's going.

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  12. Hooray for you, Andi! Great progress :-) I have a love/hate relationship with strength training. (Well, and with cardio, to be honest.) I hate it because God, it hurts, and it usually involves SO MANY SQUATS. But I love it because you can really see the results - I LOVE feeling strong and looking more toned.

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    1. LOL re: squats! They doooo huuuuurt. They better be doing some good! Amen to strength!

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  13. So happy to see you happy. As I told you on Twitter, it's amazing to feel stronger. I started working out (for real) about 6 months ago, wanting mostly to get more upper body strength and focus on my cardio, since my family has a history of cardiac issues. I still don't "love" going to the gym but boy do I like the results. I think the first time I felt like I was needing my workout was last week. I didn't make my step target at all because I spent almost the full week sitting finishing my Thesis draft. And while I am super happy I killed my deadline...I was feeling the low energy creeping back and when I finally went for a run afterwards I could feel my body telling me how much I needed this (mentally and physically I mean). So hooray for getting in shape in a healthy way and keep the amazing job!!

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    1. Thank you, Carolina! It's amazing how quickly that low energy can creep up, isn't it? I feel squishy when I don't work out, which is one I crave getting out there and doing it. Thank you for the cheers, and I'll be cheering you on, too!

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    2. Oh it's my pleasure! Let's kick that low energy's ass ;)

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  14. Yessssss! I love this so much! So glad you're over that hump... starting out is the hardest part. But my favorite part is that you're feeling strong. Which you are.

    I'm working on finding some home videos for strength training myself, as I tend to get lazy about strength training when I'm upping my mileage, so would be happy to share whatever I land on if/when I find it. I actually started doing YouTube pre- and post-run stretching videos because I found the discipline of someone else telling me what to stretch (and for how long to do so) was helpful, so I'm hoping to find that same discipline in strength training options.

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    1. Definitely share what you find/like for strength training! I'm hoarding info right now. lol I like the idea of pre- and post-run YouTube stretching. I need some guidance in that area, too, and I totally project the videos on my big ole living room TV with my Roku! Ha!

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    2. I do the same thing with the Chromecast. And our living room windows look RIGHT out into other house's windows, so I suppose I look like a crazy stretching fool, but I figure I don't need to care too much about what the neighbors think. ;-)

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  15. You look damn hot. And inspiring. See you at the top of the list. :P

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    1. Wheeee! A couple of people are kicking my ass and it's getting on my nerves. Might've gone out for an extra walk today. Ha!

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  16. Get it, girl! I've done Couch to 5K a few times and I'd never been able to even run a mile before...now I do a 5K at least once a week! Taking the first step is the hardest part, but it sounds like you're going for it and that's awesome.

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    1. That's awesome, Gabby! I can't wait to get to a point that I can run it all and not have to walk it! #LifeGoals

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  17. I am still struggling with my ankle not doing what I want it to do... And waiting to hear from my surgeon to help with that... So, I mostly just do the treadmill at the moment. I would like to branch out more, but still working on walking without limping. :( I think my next step will be to add it yoga, but the one day I tried to do it Mackie thought it was a weird game and was in my face... So, need to put him somewhere and try again!

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    1. Gah! I hope your ankle will get its act together, but I also know how persnickety those joints are. I've broken and generally busted up my ankles a ridiculous amount of times over the years. In fact, when I started out on my run this morning the first thing I did was twist my ankle. Oy. Luckily I was able to shake it off this time. Daisy has gotten old enough that she's not interested, but she used to try to put her tongue in my nose while I was doing crunches. lol

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  18. Andi, you are rocking it! Keep it up!! You are definitely inspiring me to put on my sneakers and just go for it :) Thanks!!

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    1. Thank you, Nadia!!!! It's WORK, but it's so so good!

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  19. You are awesome! Good work!

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    1. Thank you so much, Rachel!

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  20. Congratulations, Andi! I should have this post tattooed onto my skin so that I can look at it every time I make poor food choices and skip walking. Keep it up, girl!

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    1. LOL, well I sure haven't eradicated iffy food choices (HELLO, CUPCAKES), but I am on the workout bandwagon. I hope that earns me some flexibility. We'll see!

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  21. Great job!!! You are doing amazing!!! Not quite the same thing, but today I am on Day 30 of a 30 day yoga callenge. I've been doing yoga at least 20 minutes per day for the last 30 days. The goal was to relax, de-stress, and help with anxiety. I'm excited to report it's made a HUGE difference. And I've lost a couple pounds, my body feels leaner and stronger....so many good things! Yay for making healthy choices!

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    1. That's awesome, Lori! I really want to get more into yoga. I had a tail bone injury when I was a kid, and it still haunts me. Most of all when I'm lying on the floor, so I've been a slow starter to yoga. Yoga with Adriene is easing me into it. lol

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  22. So freakin awesome! Welcome to the running club! I'm very happy for you and am glad you are seeing, and feeling, results.

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    1. Thanks, Carl!!! It's so much more fun that I ever imagined!

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  23. So glad you are doing this! I know many people who've had great success doing the C25K.
    I can't run, but I'm trying to get started back up on my walking after a season off. It's hard going if I wait any later than 9am - I'm just a lightweight in the heat and humidity that we've been having. I've started kicking my younger two out the door to run, though, and that helps. And my son has been volunteering to walk with me when I'm not feeling motivated (even after he's already run), so that has really kept me moving more. Now to switch back to healthier food in the house!
    Keep up the good work!

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    1. I can't handle the heat either, Susan! I can walk in it to some extent, but for running, I just can't. That's awesome that your son is walking with you! Definitely helps with motivation. <3

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  24. SO MUCH AWESOME!!! Gosh, I don't even know what to say; I am just SO FRIGGIN' PROUD OF YOU for committing to this journey and sticking it out through the tough parts. You are right, it's never really easy because you get stronger and then, in turn, challenge yourself more; however, the reward is always fantastic. There is no better reward than feeling good and the feeling I always have after a run/tough effort is worth all the work. Also, just FYI, don't look at the pictures/videos of "elite" runners; short strides are preferred and the best way to prevent injury. You're already doing it, which is awesome; many people have to "re-train" themselves because they've been guided by this myth that their legs should fly out like fucking gazelles, due to media, etc. KEEP IT UP!!

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    1. YAY! I was hoping for Tara cheers! lol I'm just amazed I'M DOING IT! Do the thing you fear. That's my motto these days! I'm definitely more of a weenie dog than a gazelle. Short legs, short strides. lol

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  25. That first photo cracks me up, because I'm pretty sure you've posted a couple pics of Grayson making the exact same face. LOL!

    You're kinda inspiring me to get back on the fitness wagon... dammmnnnn youuuuu! ;)

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    1. Oohhh, you are so right about that! LOL Sorryyyyyy re: inspiration!

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  26. Bravo, Andi!! You're my inspiration! I need to stop making excuses and get back out on that bike trail and ride, walk or run (slowly). I can not wait until Rod retires and we make our move to Oregon so we can both get into a regular exercise routine with strength training and healthier meals. Definitely going to look into the C25K, as well as supplements to help boost my metabolism. Keep these posts coming!

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    1. Thank you, Les! I know how much you love the bike, and you're so so good at it! Will definitely keep these posts coming!

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  27. You're doing amazing, and I'm so happy for you! I've been getting back into running lately, but I'm finding it impossible to stick to a schedule -- especially for strength training. You're an inspiration!

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    1. Thank you, Leah! <3 Miss you!

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  28. You feel amazing you look amazing that's amazing :)

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  29. This is fantastic. I love working out and am generally very good about it. Or at least I was through January of this year. I'm having a few health issues right now (combined with work stress) and I've fallen off the workout wagon. Hard. Every time I read one of your fitness posts, I'm like maybe I can get back there. So thank you for the inspiration.

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    1. I'm sending you good wishes for improved health, Rory! I hope you can get back into it!

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  30. You are awesome and so inspiring!

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