My fitness story, part two

After a two months of running and tracking my progress (in miles and in pounds lost) I was down ten pounds. On days I didn't run, I used the elliptical or the treadclimber at the gym, instead of walking. After running, trying to walk for an hour was boring and felt pointless. I liked being able to move faster and feeling stronger. I also started lifting weights. I found weightlifting moves and tips in magazines and books and adapted what I could for myself. I started keeping a log of when I exercised, what lifts or cardio I did, how many sets, reps and weight of each. I had a notebook I took to the gym and I tracked everything online at It makes things in to graphs and charts so you can see your progress and you can share your info with other people.

Here are some of the things that helped me change my ideas about fitness and to become more involved in my lifestyle change., which I briefly mentioned above. SparkPeople is a free website that has everything you need to make substantial lifestyle changes. It has a calorie tracker, fitness tracker, goal setting tips and charts for your progress, an option to create your own SparkPeople page, forums, articles and a lot more. The best part for me was being able to chart what I was eating and how much I was really working out.

Oxygen Women's Fitness. It's a fitness magazine for women, but it's not boring diet tips and endless crunches like you'd get from Shape or Fitness. This has serious diet plans geared towards women who want to push the limits of what their body can do and who are willing to work hard to do it. I learned amazing moves for lifting, saw women who had transformed their figures and got more practical, useful tips than I ever got in any other magazine.

Roni's Weigh ( Roni is a fitness success story. She shed 60 lbs and ran a marathon last year and held a fit blogging conference this year. Not only is she a great fitness role model, but when she blogs, it feels like she is talking to you, honestly. Roni is the real deal. (Plus she is sweet enough to answer some of my questions on Twitter and to give support. Thanks Roni!)

Body for Life. Mys sister talked me into doing to Body for Life challenge, which is taking the book's exercise and eating principles and following them for twelve weeks to see results. The workouts are based on intensity and utilize cardio and weights. The eating plan was the best part for me. I learned about planning food in advance and to eat a protein and a carb together at every meal. It was a great way to find foods that are good for me and that will help me achieve my fitness goals.

I'm not perfect about what I eat or working out. I try to hit the gym six days a week. Some weeks I make it, some I don't. Some days I get 40 minutes of intense cardio, some days a moderate 20 minutes is all I can handle. You have to be flexible and listen to your body, but you also have to remember not to sell yourself short. Sometimes my not wanting to go to the gym isn't about the gym, it's about my emotions or laziness or a million other things. Usually by the time I get to the gym and get changed, I remember that I didn't want to be doing this, but by then it's too late, so I do it anyway. That's pretty much my philosophy. Acknowledge my feelings (good and bad) then do it anyway.

My fitness story, part one

My fitness journey really got started last year. I had been going to the gym for about two years, yet managed to maintain my 174lbs. I would walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes, thinking I was getting in some good exercise and wondering why the scale didn't movie. When I decided I wasn't getting enough exercise, I bumped it up to an hour.

The problem wasn't the amount of exercise I was getting, it was the quality of exercise. I walk all day, every day. For me, walking isn't enough exercise to change my fitness level. I was in some pretty good denial back then. I told myself and other people that I didn't run because my legs were too short and I just wasn't built for running. That was complete crap. Almost everyone can run. Unless your doctor has told you that you physically can't run, you can. The problem with running, or doing any vigorous exercise is that it's hard. Really hard. And things that are hard aren't always super fun. Plus, you're probably not going to be very good at it when you start out. Since running was hard for me, I didn't like it and I assumed I couldn't do it. The truth was, I didn't really try to do it because it was a lot more work than I thought it would be and it was something I could fail at. I really don't like to fail.

When I decided to really try getting into shape, I found a website called Couch to 5K. It had a training plan that started out alternating running and walking. At first, I could only run a minute at a time, and that whole minute sucked. A lot. And after a week or so, I could run two minutes. After three weeks, five. In three months time, I could run three miles in about 37 minutes. (Hey, I'm not super fast, but I'm out there doing it.) I, she of the body that wasn't built for running, ran my first 5K in 11 months after I made the choice to get fit. It was awesome. My whole family came, people I didn't even know were cheering for me when I crossed the finish line. It was one of my greatest victories.

I'll go into more detail about my eating habits and other lifestyle changes in my next post.  Here's a graph of my weight loss last year.