3 months on, 3 weeks off

Back in May, G and I went to the states for a couple weeks to celebrate a number of events. One being our first anniversary and two my college graduation. Two very big deals, if I may say! I never imagined that I would graduate from college…let alone at the age of 35. I’ll save that story for another day, but visiting family and friends plus enjoying all the celebrations led to a near 10lb weight gain for me.

I’ll backstory that because truthfully, I did not gain 10lbs in 2 weeks. I did, however, not help the ever-growing weight gain in those two weeks either.

Over the years, I’ve had neck problems. In short: I got injured at work 12 years ago which has resulted in a lot of problems. Fast forward to two years ago and those problems increased to finding a lesion on my spinal cord – thankfully NOT M.S. – but it has limited me drastically in my ability to workout.

Neuschwanstein Castle Germany
Neuschwanstein Castle

Then last July, while we were visiting Neuschwanstein Castle, I injured my foot so badly I couldn’t walk for two+ weeks. How did I injure it? By walking downhill.. yes, just by simply walking… To this day, I still have trouble with it, with the doctors saying, ‘I dunno’ when I ask what’s wrong. Add this on top of my many neurological problems I have with both feet (that forced me to medically retire from my career six years ago), and this brings us to February! I did silly ol’ jumping jacks, and my neck got so angry, I couldn’t work out for months, which brings us back to May!

Phew! Quite the backstory.

Now you can understand how 10lbs began creeping on, because despite eating healthful meals each and every day, not working out was beginning to take its toll. Add two weeks in the states with all the delicious American foods, and before I knew it, I couldn’t breath in any of my jeans anymore. Sitting OR standing!

I felt terrible and knew I had to push past the pain and begin working out again. Though I have access to gyms, I’ve never felt comfortable in them. I wander, get bored, and admittedly intimidated, so, instead I committed to working out for 90 days at home.

Call me crazy, but I’m a big P90X fan (absolutely not a rep, just a fan). I have the original and the newest version, P90X3. I had already done 3 the year before, and was d-o-n-e by the end of it (aka couldn’t stand to do one more workout) so, I grabbed the (much) longer P90X and did the “lean” version.

Let me tell you, it’s a commitment!

My brain prefers 30 minute workouts and these were sometimes almost 1 1/2 hours long. I had to gear myself up numerous times to get through them, but I stuck with it.

After phase one – 4 weeks of working out 6 days a week – I asked G the all important question: “Can you tell a difference??”

His answer: no.

Dang.

Truthfully, I knew the answer, because it was the same as mine. I didn’t see a single change in my body. My weight was almost the exact same, and my clothes were still fitting extremely tight. But I pressed on into phase two.

I asked G again at the end of phase two, now 8 weeks of 6 day a week workouts, “can you tell a difference??”

His answer: yes.

Whew! Progress was being made; slow, but it was there, and I was starting to notice it too! Even though my weight had only dropped two pounds, my clothes were fitting better, and I wasn’t feeling so bleh. — I should note that G said a lot more than “yes” but I’m giving you the cliff notes version. 😉

At the end of phase three, I was singing praises for being done, but also for the results. I was leaner, had more muscle, and fit back in all my clothes again…comfortably! Hallelujah! Though I had only lost around 4lbs, it didn’t matter. I could tell, and definitely G too, that there were major changes from working out, and I was happy for it.

One downside of the lean version we both noticed is it doesn’t do anything for the legs. So, while my arms and abs toned nicely, my legs seemingly got softer and flabbier.

I wonder had I chosen the “classic” and not “lean” version of P90X if I would have had more full-body results, but I’m not quite ready to dive into the hour+ workouts again to find out. They’re smart for keeping it at 90 days, because you truly get sick of it by end of phase 3. Instead, I relished in a three week break and have just started a new 5-day-a-week workout I created to target my legs: 3 days legs/abs, 2 days arms. I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

So! What are your favorite workout programs? I’m always up for a fun, muscle-building at-home workout program!

Are you a gym-goer or home-worker-outer (that’s a word, promise) 😉 If you haven’t done P90X, I’d definitely say give it a go. X3 is only 30 minutes each and well worth the effort, but I found P90X incorporates more hand weights which gave me greater muscle growth in my arms. I’m definitely all about toned and defined arms, so bring on the weights! But would love some other recommendations.

p.s. is it possible to write a whole post about working out and NOT have a “workout” photo?? Well, I’m making it possible. 😉 

German waves

Gullfoss Waterfall in Iceland
Gullfoss waterfall

I started writing this post Tuesday, and already its Friday! My days seem so short this week, and that’s probably in part because I’ve slept in every.single.morning! Completely unlike me, but I’m going to blame it on my husband.

Likely reason… He’s sleeping in too, which makes me have zero desire to get out of bed earlier, so, I’ve enjoyed the extra hour I’ve been getting. It’s funny though, even though it’s just one extra hour (I’m waking up around 8), it throws my whole morning off! Is that the same for you? I secretly look forward to waking up earlier again, so I can feel like I’m not wasting my days away.

Since being in Germany, my desire to learn German has gone in waves. I get really determined, take private lessons and press through the overwhelming feelings as I learn a new language, to completely uninterested (mostly due to those overwhelming feelings), and don’t think, touch, or even attempt to speak German.

These waves usually last months, and I’m just now coming off the “uninterested” wave and ramping up to want to learn it all. I know enough to order and ask for things, but beyond that, whenever someone speaks outside of those common phrases, my mind (and face) go blank. I’m finally tired of not knowing more than I do, so, this week I’ve been fully immersing myself in radio, podcasts, and youtube videos. Because of that, I haven’t sat to write! German takes 110% of my concentration and writing in English isn’t conducive when listening in German.

So, that’s what I’ve been up to this week. I hope to start German classes this Monday, and I’m nervous for it to start! It’ll be the first time I’ll be in a class setting – I had a private tutor before – and this will be a whole new experience for me. I hope, though, it’ll help me overcome my fear of speaking in front of people. I usually break out in a major sweat when I need to speak.

I wish I were joking.

I promise to share my progress, and if the class was more or less helpful than my private tutor. ..something I’m really wondering about.. It’s 2 days a week for 5 weeks, so, if nothing else, it’ll get me out of the house!

Beyond this week, we’ve done a bit of traveling, and over Labor Day weekend, we went to Iceland!! I’m excited to share all about it, because it was a last-minute trip (something we do often…and don’t recommend!) and a lot of fun.

Did you travel for the holiday? I realize that was already a week ago, but indulge me!

 

 

Meal planning for the overwhelmed

meal planning tips

I was the overwhelmed. Technically, I’m still the overwhelmed, but I found after meal planning/prepping/doing for the past five weeks that it’s actually quite simple.

That’s what everyone says, right?

“it’s a breeze! just do this and that, and you’re all set!”

But, in reality, its far from simple, because that person who’s sayings it’s a no-brainer has been doing it for years. And the person who can’t get over the overwhelming feeling of where to start finds the “expert’s” advice far from helpful.

That, I think, is what makes meal planning so complicated. It has to be tailored to the individual doing it. Though there are thousands of methods, ideas, and plans to follow, (I really like Lindsay’s meal-prep posts), if they’re not foods you’d typically eat, you’ll fail every.single.time.

That’s how I felt.

I’ve wanted to do weekly meal plans since getting married, last year, and have attempted it several times. I even went so far as to interview a seasoned monthly meal planner for the Arizona Farm Bureau, just to get ideas for myself! Yet, despite that, I still couldn’t overcome the loss of where to begin, making each and every weekday and night miserable as I agonized over what to make.

Maybe you’ve gone through the same things?

So, after much stress – typically brought on by myself – I decided to take action! Here’s what I learned, plus how I overcame it all to “successfully” (I use that term loosely) meal plan.

The first week WILL BE STRESSFUL!

It didn’t matter that I had the entire week planned out from breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two daily snacks, including the grocery lists and recipes, I still felt way over my head. On Sunday, I cooked non-stop for six hours straight, running back and forth from stove, to fridge, to chopping, to washing the mounds of dishes. It felt endless and too much to ever want to do it again, but I was determined to prove myself. To whom? – No idea, but I was too deep in it to quit.

Come Monday, as I was sipping my morning coffee, the realization set in. I didn’t have to cook… for the whole week!! I practically did a dance right then and there. I didn’t have to think, stress, or worry over what to make for dinner. It was already sitting in the fridge ready to eat. I thought if all it took was six terribly stressful hours of cooking on Sunday, it was well worth it to have the whole week of freedom.

But here’s the thing.

The second week: NOT as stressful!

I will give this caveat: I followed a pre-set meal plan for three weeks in a row. Was it the exact same foods each week? – Yes. Did they lay out what to eat, cook, and provide the grocery list and recipes? – Yes! Is that considered “cheating” in the meal planning world? – Heck to the no, no!

I think for someone who IS overwhelmed, its the absolute perfect solution to overcome the stress of meal planning. Simply because it gives you a starting point. It did take me a long time to find the right pre-set meal plan, but after diligently searching, I found one that fit our lifestyle.

By the third week, I was on cruise control. What took six hours the first week, took less than three. Even my husband commented on how cool, calm, and collected I was while preparing everything. It wasn’t lost on me either. I was loving knowing it didn’t stress me out like before.

Though I don’t follow that specific meal plan any longer, I have used what I learned going forward with our weekly meals, and find it so much easier now. Life has gotten SO much easier now.

So, if you’re anything like me, someone who has always wanted to meal plan but couldn’t get past the crippling feelings of being overwhelmed, then here are some useful tips for you!

  • Find a pre-set meal plan. ie. Let someone else do the grunt work for you. (this may take a bit of time, but give yourself a solid hour to search through varying plans to find the right one)
  • Commit to at least two weeks of meals. I say this because that first week is rough, but I promise it gets 1,000x easier as the weeks go on.
  • Know the first week will be crazy and stressful, but press through! Chant “just keep swimming” if you need to make it through.
  • If doing it all on Sunday is too much, break it up into two days. Just make sure you have Monday’s and Tuesday’s meals ready.
  • Believe and know it WILL get easier! By the third week you will see it is considerably easier guaranteed!

If you’re a new or seasoned meal planner, let’s hear your methods!
How do you meal plan and what got you started wanting to meal plan?