I’ve been looking forward to shifting my focus to new fitness goals following my training cycle for a while. I’m thrilled that I can finally make it happen! I’m calling my new focus Operation Lean and Strong and am excited to share the details with you.
In January 2011 I achieved my lowest weight as an adult after struggling with my weight since high school. I lost 35-ish pounds (it varies based on when I count my highest weight) and dropped from a size 12/14 to a size 4/6 (depending on brand). I credit that loss to strength training, a plant-based diet, and Weight Watchers. In the past five years of attempting to maintain that loss, I’ve gained and lost some weight but settled into a healthy range that I could maintain. For the first time in my life, I started to love my body. I loved being toned and feeling strong. Most importantly, I loved how my body surprised me by tackling challenges like running and yoga I never imagined I’d do when I was younger. Last year when I started following the Hansons’ plan and running a lot of miles, I stopped doing a lot of strength training and started eating a lot more than I usually do to fuel my runs. While my legs got leaner from all the running, flab formed where it hasn’t been in five years. I’m now 10 pounds over my goal weight and a size 6/8. I’m not happy about that!
While I want to get back to a shape that I’m happy with, I’m not basing it on the scale. I’m not going to set an arbitrary number for how many pounds I want to lose or what I want my goal weight to be. I’ll make my goal weight whatever shape I feel good about, and I’ll then work on maintenance to ensure that weight is realistic. I learned that my lowest weight I reached in 2011 was not possible to maintain, and I have no desire to get back down to that weight again just to fit into my size 4 jeans.
I’m setting three months to get firm and lean, from April through the end of June. My next training cycle starts in July, so I want to be in my best shape before training starts.
The biggest shift will be away from running and toward strength training. There’s a saying that to drop a dress size, do cardio, but to get the body you want, do strength training. That’s really true for me. If you noticed my stats at the beginning, I lost 35 pounds but dropped four pants sizes. Usually you drop one size for every 10 pounds of weight loss. But because I focused on strength training, I got very lean and toned, which made me look slimmer and made my clothes fit better. That’s what I’m going for again. Of course, I’m not going to give up running! I’ll be running to keep up my fitness and my sanity, and I’ll also be doing speed work to help shed the flab.
I’ll be doing three different strength training routines each month. For April, I picked a routine from Women’s Health Magazine that includes various routines based on 12 exercises. Each exercise works multiple muscle groups to up the metabolic burn, and the routines include some cardio moves (like burpees and mountain climbers). There are five different routines that take between 5 and 40 minutes. I like that I can choose the different routines to suit my overall schedule and time constraints. I plan to do strength training 4-6 times a week in my home gym. Only one of the five routines is available online, but here are some photos of the routines and exercises.
You know I love my Weight Watchers, and I’m going back to the program. While I’ve considered quitting it because I don’t need all the education that those new to healthy eating do, the tracking component is my best resource. I know that there are free food tracking tools, but once I get back down to (or declare a new) goal weight, the program will be free for me since I’m a lifetime member.
When I told my family I wanted to improve my diet this year, they asked, “How the hell can you improve your diet? You only eat vegetables!” Well, what I meant was reducing my sugar. I was pretty successful at that this year, and though I didn’t notice many tangible benefits and felt the same, I do know it’s healthy to reduce sugar. I’m going to pretty much continue eating the way I usually do–focusing on vegetables and fruits, whole foods, and watching how much sugar I eat. Now that I’m not spending a lot of time training, I also want to cook more and make more foods from scratch.
While I do believe a plant-based diet is a main reason I’ve been able to lose weight and maintain that loss, I should explain. I have evolved to the point that the foods I restrict are foods I do not want to eat. I eat everything that I want (in moderation), and nothing I don’t. I know that restrictive diets don’t work in the long term, and that’s why I think my diet has worked so well for me–because I don’t see it as restrictive. In fact, when I went from vegetarian to vegan, my focus shifted from restricting meat to eating more of the foods I should eat to be healthy. While I will never tell anyone how they should eat, there’s one thing that I will always shout from the rooftops: Eat more plants! There are a lot of different reasons to eat more plants, but speaking strictly from a weight-loss perspective, they fill you up so that you don’t have room for much else. It really helps!
I’ll be using this blog to keep me on track. As soon as I lose a few pounds and start fitting into clothes better, I tend to not be motivated to continue. This time, I really want to get into great shape. I’ll be weighing in each Wednesday and will record losses and gains. I’m also taking all my measurements now and will do that again at the end of the three months.
Sharing Best Practices
Each Wednesday, I’ll do an update post and will share tips and ideas that are working for me. Weight Watchers is really big on community–of members helping and supporting each other. I’ve learned so many tips from meetings and articles over the years, but there’s always something new to learn. I’ll share in hopes that it might help others and, of course, I always want to hear tips and suggestions!
So that’s it–a new goal, a new focus, a new plan. Here I go!
Anyone else focusing on shaping up this spring? If so, how are you tackling it?