Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hammer and Chisel - Last week

I haven't updated in awhile.  It seems as though my days seem to run together.  I am fairly certain the winter blues are getting to me, and I am just lacking motivation.  Despite that, I am still committed to my Hammer and Chisel workout calendar.  Today is Day 52 of the program.  Tomorrow is rest day, then 3 more days and DONE!

So what are my results gonna look like?  I am sure the scale has not changed (or changed much).  I have been avoiding the scale because with a strength training program, the scale does not like to move.  I am building muscle.  Muscle is much more dense than fat.  A pound of muscle with take up far less space than a pound of fat. Although I clearly know that fact, because of the weight gain I have experienced over the past year due to health related issues, I get easily frustrated by the numbers on the scale.  Turns out that if I don't step on it, I don't get frustrated...problem solved!  I will step on the scale next week for my final weigh in, but I don't expect it to be a good indicator of my progress.

What I CAN tell you is that I have REALLY toned up!!  Even though I still have the annoying belly fat lurking around, I can see where the beginnings of a six pack abs are.  There is definition along my obliques!  It is probably not very visible, my the strength in my back and shoulders has increased tremendously!!  In the past 8 weeks, I have gone from being able to do only a few push ups on my toes before dropping to my knees in order to still STRUGGLE through a minute of push ups,  Now I can hold out for about 7-10 push ups on my toes before dropping to my knees....AND I can complete that minute of push-ups.  My legs are SOLID.  With previous programs, I often ended up bulking up my thigh muscle with the leg exercises.  With Hammer and Chisel, my leg muscles are solid, but not bulky.  They are not quite long and lean, but I am loving my leg strength!!  I was really able to challenge myself with my weights for this program.  For most upper body exercises, I use a 12-18 pound weight.  With any type of reverse fly or tricep kick back moves, I can only manage 8 pounds for a full minute of exercises...but that is up from struggling with only a few reps holding my 5 pound weights.  With most leg exercises, I find myself using between 20 and 35 pounds.

 Over all, I just FEEL stronger.  My clothes are fitting more comfortably (most days).  I was following the Hammer and Chisel meal plan for month 1, and then kind of followed my own plan for month 2.  Why?  While the Hammer and Chisel meal plan is generally a great way to help someone find a good, well rounded approach to healthy eating, I have found that the approach does not work well for me.  When I HAVE to get in a certain amount of containers (Hammer and Chisel uses the portion control system) each day, I end up overeating at the end of the day to fit in all of my containers.  In addition, I find myself making food choices that do not mesh well with my food intolerances (too much dairy and gluten), which make me feel bloated.   I know there are ways to adjust my eating to make the containers work, but I just find the calorie counting a little easier.  That being said, I STILL follow the idea of more fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and a few healthy carbs.  I am mindful of where my calories are coming from, and I strive to stick with better choices.  The portion control system DID help me get back on track with my eating.  I NEEDED that.  Being clearly back on track with my eating got me to a place where I can modify to meet my specific needs.  
I have also continued to use the Beachbody Performance line - especially the Energize, Hydrate, and Recovery.  I truly believe that the Recovery drink has helped me to avoid muscle soreness after workouts, so I can still put in 100% to my next workout.  On really tough workout days, I also use the  nighttime Recharge.

I am really excited to take my progress pics and measurements next week, so that I can really see what kind of progress I have made with Hammer and Chisel.  Stay tuned for a post next week!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

4 weeks in

I am officially on week 5 of my Hammer and Chisel program.  I really like this program and the challenge of the workouts.  It really is a great lifting and strength training program with a little cardio mixed in.  I truly feel challenged during these workouts, and I feel like I am able to grow with the program and challenge myself even more each time I do a workout.  I also love that there are so many different workouts in the program that I went a solid 3 weeks without repeating a workout!!  For month 1, I followed the Hammer and Chisel eating plan (which uses those nice color coded, portion control containers - Portion Fix) and I felt great.  I found a great routine with my containers and it was easy to stay on track.  I also supplemented my workouts with the Beachbody Performance Line or products.  I used the pre workout Energize drink, during workout Hydrate drink, post workout Recover drink, and nighttime Recharge drink.  I have never really been one for supplements like this, but these REALLY have improved my performance.  The Energize gives me a  boost of energy to push harder during my workout.  The Hydrate helps keep my electrolytes in balance during my workout (imagine a healthy version of Gatorade).  The post workout Recover helps to repair muscles post workout, and REALLY cuts down on the soreness.  Recover is my FAVORITE of all the products....if you deal with a lot of "next day soreness" with your workouts, this will REALLY help!!  The Recharge is also a gem!  It does the same thing as the recover, but you drink it right before bed, and it works all night using slow release proteins in casein to help repair your muscles.  Because of these products, I truly have not been very sore during the past 4 weeks. It makes me feel like I really got 100% out of my first few weeks of this program.  And of course, I haven't missed a day of my Shakeology this year.

OK, so what results am I seeing?  This is a tough one for me.  I was really hoping to see the scale drop with this program, but as I am learning it is not common to lose much weight (or lose weight quickly) during a weight training program.  I am OK with that.  I can tell you that I am losing all the flab in my legs and arms....and slowly in my belly.  As of this morning, I have lost 7 inches off my body with Hammer and Chisel....4.5 of those inches in my waist and hips.  I knew my clothes were fitting better, but I didn't really realize that I had made that much progress until I took some progress pics.

I am excited to see what month 2 will bring.....