30 Day Fitness Experiment

What can you do for your body in 30 days?

Pilates Book Giveaway 2010

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There’s been lots of jabber here on 30DayFitnessExperiment about Pilates, and even about Pilates instructors, and it’s high time for a giveaway, so here we go.

What’s up for grabs: A copy of the book Pilates for Weight Loss by Lynne Robinson.

How to enter: Comment on this post and tell me: 1. What one small change you’re going to make this month in pursuit of better health and fitness 2. What factors have affected your current state of health and/or fitness, i.e. I used to have a job where I was on my feet or physically active; now I work in an office or I had a baby and haven’t gotten back into shape or I used to play on a team and now I don’t or My mom used to cook for me and now I’m on my own so I eat fast food… You get the idea.

The fine print: You can enter up to 2 times, once by answering #1 above, and once by answering #2. Please include your email address when you make your comment (in the form, not in the comment itself, for your privacy), or your Twitter @name, so that I can let you know if you’ve won! If the prize is not claimed within 48 hours of the announcement of winner, we’ll re-draw.

The deadline: Enter by the end of Sunday, June 6th, Eastern Time.

Have fun! I hope you win!

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May 28, 2010 Posted by | Giveaways | , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Six Ways to Measure Your Progress Without a Bathroom Scale

The Long Walk
Image by l.gence via Flickr

Thursday Check-in Time!

I gained .5 pounds this week. Yep, I’m half a pound heavier. Documenting this (and not feeling sad about it) got me thinking about metrics: what is the best way to measure progress?

That depends partly on what your goals are. If you’re in a body building program, you probably expect to gain weight.

In this project, I’ve stated my starting weight and measurements. I’ve also stated my basic, loose goal: Lose 100 pounds. Here’s how I got that number: I did not enter my height, sex, and age into an “ideal body weight” chart. I did not wake up one day and shriek: “Oh no, I’m fat! I’d better lose 100 pounds!” I did not research a celebrity, find out her weight, and make that my goal.

What I did was this: I thought back to the time in my life when I was most fit. I tried to remember what my lifestyle was. I’ve never gone on a diet or been involved in a sport, so what I came up with was this: I was physically active, I avoided fast food and junk food, and I ate lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The physical activity I participated in so regularly was using my two legs to get me places. That’s it. At that time, I weighed about 100 pounds less than I did at the beginning of this project.

That’s why I’m using 100 pounds as a basic gauge. If, however, I find myself physically fit and active but over 120 pounds, I am not going to take extreme measures to get myself to weigh less. See, the pounds in themselves are not the measure of my progress.

Six Ways to Measure Fitness and Weight Loss Without a Bathroom Scale:

  • Waist to Hip Ratio: This is a measurement of the distribution of your body fat. People with a lot of abdominal fat are at higher risk for heart disease and other maladies. How to do it: Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. For women, the number should be 0.8 or lower. For men, 1.0 or lower.
  • Vital Signs: Your blood pressure and cholesterol levels speak volumes about your health, including your risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • Resting Heart Rate: The fitter you are, the more efficient your heart becomes. To calculate your resting heart rate (RHR), count your pulse for one minute, before getting out of bed in the morning. Take an average over three days. The normal range is between 60-80 beats per minute, but the average rate steadily declines among people who are more physically active.
  • Endurance: The more you exercise, the easier it becomes. Find a way to log your mileage if you walk or bike. Compare what you can do at the beginning of the month with what you can do at the end of the month.
  • Body Composition: Your body composition can be measured by a doctor, or at a gym or university. There are several methods of testing. What it tells you: A body composition test tells you what percentage of your body is composed of fat. 32% is considered obese for women; 26% is considered obese for men.
  • Clothing Size: The good ol’ dress size test. If you can fit into clothes you couldn’t before, you’ve improved your body. You don’t need a bathroom scale to tell you that.
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April 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Experiment: Integrating Physical Activity Into the Daily Routine

Jogging on a bright November morning
Image by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

I’m so ready for the 2nd 30 Day Fitness Experiment!

The goals are: 1) Integrate physical activity into my daily routine and 2) use the car less.

The reason for using the car less is partially and environmental one and partially a personal health and well being one. The less I use the car, the less I pollute the earth, and that makes me happy. Also, the less I rely on using the car to get me places, the more likely I am to choose physical activity when I have the option which is a wonderful habit to get into. I think I am also more likely to shop and do business locally, which is another wonderful thing.

So, how to translate these goals into a measurable experiment…

I will use the car less by committing to walking or biking to work. I will also not drive to the grocery/drug store, or to the Farmers’ Market (even though it’s a couple of miles across town). “Not driving” also means taking public transportation. Ok, Cool.

I think these methods of using the car less fulfill the other goal of integrating physical activity into my daily routine. Perfect!

I’m leaving my job at Indiana University on 7 May, so that only leaves twelve days to walk or bike to work. We’ll also be traveling to California for nine days, and we’ve committed to not renting a car. We’ll travel by air, train, bus, and airport shuttle. We’ll also do a lot of walking and possibly some biking, so we’d better pack light!

This 30 Days’ Hypothesis: Through limiting use of our car, I will lose weight, build endurance and muscle/strength, and keep my blood pressure down. I hypothesize that I will lose another 10 pounds, drop another dress size (lose 1-2 inches everywhere), and maintain an average blood pressure no higher than 125/85. Strength is harder to measure, since I’m not climbing or lifting weights anymore. To see if I build endurance, I’ll clock my bike rides (mileage and maybe time) and see how much farther I can go at the end of the 30 days compared with the beginning.

And we’re off!

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April 22, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How Much Can You Do For Your Body in Just 30 Days?

Walking to church
Image by cheerytomato via Flickr–One Step at a Time

It’s Day 30! We Made It!

Twenty-nine days ago I set out to make some positive changes in my body size and shape by cultivating a few simple habits: Eat real food, Drink water, Be physically active every day.

Here is a summary of the results:

Weight: I lost 10 pounds (from 220 to 210 pounds)

Bust: Lost 2 inches

Waist: Lost 2 inches

Hip: Lost 3 inches

Thigh: Lost 2 inches

Bicep: Lost 1.5 inches

I’m so happy with these results! I can’t wait to see what the next 30 Day Experiment brings!

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April 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How I Got a “Free-Trial” Bicycle

My Bike in the Back of my Volvo WagonI’ve been reading a lot about the biking culture lately, and I’ve wanted a bike for quite some time. Now seems like the right time because 1) I’m trying to simplify my life and reduce my carbon footprint, 2) I need to get in shape in some organic way (integrated into my daily routine, not using money), 3) Bloomington is a great place for bicycling, and I should take advantage of that.

It’s been so long since I’ve used a bike- the last one I had, my dad bought for me when I was in school. I don’t know anything about bikes, really, so I’d see them for sale all nice and shiny in a row, and I had no idea what style would be best or what a good price or brand was.

The other reason for putting off purchasing a bike is that we’ll be moving soon, and I don’t know if we can fit a bike into the van with all of our other things. Knowing about how there’s never a perfect time for anything, I went out and searched for inspiration.

I found that inspiration in this article by Everett Bogue of farbeyondthestars.com. He explains how to “rent” a bike in any city for free. For starters, it seems that a good, usable bicycle will cost around $150 on Craigslist. $150 is not a huge investment, and it would give me the opportunity to try out a certain type of bike without too much commitment. Because, you see, when I leave town, I can either take the bike with me or sell it on Craigslist for $150. Perfect! Free bike!

I found a really cute Schwinn Cruiser for $90, which we actually got for $70 since it needed a little tune up. Not wanting to invest a lot of time learning how to tune up a bike (which I’m sure I will do eventually), I dropped it off at the local bike shop for $50 worth of service. That still puts my total investment at only $120.

The only down side is that I have to wait several days to get the bike back from the shop. But I think that’s better than waiting three months or more to get settled in our new place and then try to get used to riding again.

Besides, it’ll come home just in time for my next 30 Day Fitness Experiment!

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April 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How I Got a "Free-Trial" Bicycle

My Bike in the Back of my Volvo WagonI’ve been reading a lot about the biking culture lately, and I’ve wanted a bike for quite some time. Now seems like the right time because 1) I’m trying to simplify my life and reduce my carbon footprint, 2) I need to get in shape in some organic way (integrated into my daily routine, not using money), 3) Bloomington is a great place for bicycling, and I should take advantage of that.

It’s been so long since I’ve used a bike- the last one I had, my dad bought for me when I was in school. I don’t know anything about bikes, really, so I’d see them for sale all nice and shiny in a row, and I had no idea what style would be best or what a good price or brand was.

The other reason for putting off purchasing a bike is that we’ll be moving soon, and I don’t know if we can fit a bike into the van with all of our other things. Knowing about how there’s never a perfect time for anything, I went out and searched for inspiration.

I found that inspiration in this article by Everett Bogue of farbeyondthestars.com. He explains how to “rent” a bike in any city for free. For starters, it seems that a good, usable bicycle will cost around $150 on Craigslist. $150 is not a huge investment, and it would give me the opportunity to try out a certain type of bike without too much commitment. Because, you see, when I leave town, I can either take the bike with me or sell it on Craigslist for $150. Perfect! Free bike!

I found a really cute Schwinn Cruiser for $90, which we actually got for $70 since it needed a little tune up. Not wanting to invest a lot of time learning how to tune up a bike (which I’m sure I will do eventually), I dropped it off at the local bike shop for $50 worth of service. That still puts my total investment at only $120.

The only down side is that I have to wait several days to get the bike back from the shop. But I think that’s better than waiting three months or more to get settled in our new place and then try to get used to riding again.

Besides, it’ll come home just in time for my next 30 Day Fitness Experiment!

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April 20, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Listen to Your Body: 6 Ways I Know My Health Is Improving

power lifter
Image by greg westfall. via Flickr

It’s Day 28 already, and the pounds have stopped falling off of their own accord. Actually, I have eaten too much refined flour (white bread pita, bagel chips, etc.) in the last couple of days, so that might have something to do with it.

Wednesday will be the final weigh-in and measurements for this first 30 Day Experiment, but here are a couple of things I’ve noticed or accomplished.

I got rid of my “fat jeans!” I bought a couple of pairs of new, inexpensive jeans that really fit well, and got rid of the two pairs I’ve been wearing since last summer. They did hold their shape pretty well, but they had elastic waist bands that not only made me feel bad, they also didn’t provide any kind of signal that I was gaining weight. You know you’ve gained a couple of pounds when your jeans are feeling a little tight, but these had so much stretch I couldn’t even tell.

Walking to the grocery store (a couple of blocks away) doesn’t leave me out of breath! I can actually carry on a conversation with my husband all the way there and all the way back. We don’t speed walk, but we don’t stroll, either.

I went to the doctor the other day and my blood pressure was much closer to normal. There was no discussion about pre-hypertension, etc. Yay! (I also check it at home.)

My posture has improved noticeably, and backaches are few and far between.

My calves are changing shape (in a good way).

The number one joy of the moment: I didn’t expect this, but maybe I should have: My skin has cleared up quite a bit. I had stopped using a popular acne treatment because it dried out my skin so much, and I was almost ready to give up. But I have had no painful breakouts in the last three weeks. What a relief!

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April 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Simple Living Sunday

it's alive!
Image by massdistraction via Flickr

Do you have a lot of Stuff?

Does your Stuff take up a lot of your time and energy?

Do you spend so much time with your Stuff that you don’t have time to be physically active or cook healthy meals?

It’s easy to develop “Too Much Stuff Syndrome.” Maybe maintaining all of our Stuff is what leads us to working over time in jobs we may or may not hate. Maybe we feel we need to acquire even more Stuff than we already have.

I engage in a volunteer work that takes me from door to door. I am always amazed at the neighborhoods with the gorgeous, expensive houses with a three-car garage, beautiful gardens, and a swimming pool out back. The amazing part is not necessarily the beauty of these homes, but the fact that no one is ever home to enjoy it. Not even on the weekends.

If you are suffocating under the pressure of all of your Stuff, what can you do to break free (whether you have a big gorgeous house or not) and focus on the things that are really important to you? It begins with your state of mind, and a conscious decision on your part. Read how two women on opposite coasts, Tammy and Kelsey, began their journey toward breaking free: Tammy’s Story and Kelsey’s Story

What’s your story?
If you haven’t yet begun your journey toward simple living, answer this: Where would you like to be twelve months from now? What will your life look like next year at this time? Will you be stressed out, unhealthy, inactive, and surrounded by stuff?

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April 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Three Weeks to Healthy Habits

Hamcation 2008: Junk Food
Image by PrincessFroglips via Flickr

Day 22: Revelation of the Week

I had a revelation this weekend, a personal Aha! moment, and I want to share it with you. It involves a boring day at home alone and several pieces of sour cream cake on display in the privacy of my kitchen.

My husband was out of town, and I was spending the weekend cleaning up my work room and studio. When I went downstairs to find some lunch, I found six or seven fat, glistening slices of sour cream cake. (It’s like pound cake, kind of, but with icing and, apparently, sour cream.) Mr J had brought it home from a work day at the amateur radio club.

It’s been a long time since I’ve had anything like that in my house. I’m not a big cake person anyway, but it did look so delicious, and I had worked up an appetite cleaning and organizing upstairs. What shocked me was this thought: “Ooh, that looks so good! Now what shall I eat for lunch?” I was amazed that I could see the cake, think “Oh so delicious,” and then move on! Later, when I did have some, I cut a couple of slivers off one of the huge, gigantic pre-cut slices and I savored it. I was amazed how much I could taste, the richness and the cream and the fat in it, and that was all I wanted.

Here is the Aha! part: Years ago when I lived a dismal life in a dismal home in a dismal town, I used to eat junk food like this a package at a time. I would eat it, but not taste it. And I would still feel hungry. At that time, I did not think it possible to eat a little bit of a rich food like this and be satisfied. I believed that people who just took a little piece and said “Oh, delicious!” and moved on were either lying, or had tremendous will power and were just torturing themselves by eating any at all.

The thing I’ve just discovered for myself (although I’ve read about it many times and not believed it), is that my body has become accustomed to eating fresh, nourishing, whole foods, and it has let go of its obsession with high calorie, high fat comfort foods. I realize that I could become accustomed to those foods again, and that it isn’t necessarily smooth sailing from here, but it is encouraging.

On that note, here is today’s Tuesday Weigh-In: Actually I am away from home right now, and I don’t have my scale, but my most recent result is 211 pounds! That means I’ve lost a total of 9 pounds in these first three weeks. Yay, me! And Yay, you!

If you’re using the Lose It! App on your iPhone or iPod touch, add me as a friend: fitness at thelandlockedsailor com

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April 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shortcuts to Portion Sizes

Baby Acapulco's Soup in Paris (before)
Image by austinevan via Flickr

Day Twenty-One: Three weeks already!

We’ve been talking about making small changes and forming good habits, and in order for something to become a habit, it has to be intuitive. You could get into the habit of weighing and measuring all of your food so that you’re sure to eat a reasonable portion at each meal, but you probably won’t. Instead, you might start off weighing and measuring, just to see if your idea of a portion size is in line with reality, and eventually you’ll get used to seeing what a portion looks like and use that mental note to guide you in the future.

Associating a new idea with an old, familiar one is a great memory aid, so in addition to whatever you’re doing already, remember these guidelines from the April 2010 issue of Glamour magazine:

  • A serving of carbs like whole wheat pasta or brown rice should be about the size of your fist.
  • Lean meat, fish or tofu should be about the size of an iPhone (or a deck of cards).
  • A tablespoon of a condiment (like peanut butter) should be no bigger than a Ping-Ping ball.
  • A serving of ice cream should look like half a tennis ball.
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April 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment