Progress Pics

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Monthly Progress Report ~ And Muscle Info for Greta

I'm calling this a "monthly report", but it's actually only been 2 and 1/2 weeks since I posted my December stats. The reason: I am participating in a 6-month women's fitness challenge and I need to have photos and body stats posted no later than Monday, and then I must post updates the first Monday of every month.

I've been posting my progress here around the third week of the month, so I thought it would be good to get these in sync, even though that means I am not really posting for a full month in January.

On Monday of this week, I had DH snap some pics of me and I recorded my measurements, weight and other stats to start the challenge. I've only lost two inches since I last measured in December-- one inch off the chest and 1/2 off both my waist and hips. All other measurements stayed the same.

Since this only represents a little over two weeks and covers both the Christmas and New year periods (with all of the parties), I am not displeased. Also, I weighed in on our scale Monday at 285 pounds-- representing a loss of 145 pounds since March 2009.

I have been taking pics in spandex exercise pants-- which have a slimming effect, and sports bras that I bought at the beginning that are now too loose on me. So this month, I decided to "let it all hang out" with some shorts and a new bra that is actually a little tight-- but that is intentional-- as we'll see how the fit changes each month.

My new weight lifting program is going well and other than that, I don't have much to report.

Greta over at Big Bottom Blogger asked me a question the other day about progressive resistance and I thought I would address that here.

Greta, I have not read the particular book you mentioned, but I am familiar with the principle and how/why it works. I am counting on it working as it is the approach I am using.

When I was doing ChaLEAN Extreme, we did 12 reps the first phase of the program; during the second month, we had to up the weight so that we could only complete 6-8 reps-- and this is progressive resistance.

Now with the NROL4W it is the same thing, except every other week, the reps per set decrease by two or three and the weight is increased as much as you can.

Why? Well, I'm gonna tell ya! LOL

Not all muscle fiber is the same. In any task, whether it is weight lifting or cooking dinner, the first muscle fibers pulled into action are the smallest ones.

When your body realizes that the effort needed exceeds about 25% of your strength, it activates your IIa muscle fibers. And when it sees that the effort requires more than about 40% of your strength, it calls up the IIx fibers.

Think of muscle fibers as soldiers in an army. Just as individual soldiers are members of platoons. muscle fibers are arranged in groups called MOTOR UNITS. Motor units, like the fibers that comprise them, have capabilities ranging from low threshold to high threshold.

Your body keeps the highest threshold motor units in reserve for the toughest tasks. That is why anyone who's trying to build muscle must eventually work with weights that require an all-out effort. Otherwise, the highest threshold motor units would never get used. And those are the fibers that are not only the biggest ones, but also the ones wth the most potential to get even bigger.

Your body will call in the most elite troup of fibers when you work at about 85% of your capacity. It would NOT BE POSSIBLE for you to work at that capacity and do 12-15 reps of an exercise. Your body will give out long before then-- and that is a good thing, which brngs you closer to the body you want.

Here's another thing to know. Muscle is metabolically expensive tissue, and your body won't want to add it unless there is some pressing reason to do so. (Pun intended, insert cheesey laugh track here).

Muscle adds to your body's daily nutritional needs because with a regular strength training program, your body also increases the bones, ligaments and other connections, not just the muscle. Six to eight weeks into a good weight training program and your bones will actually start to thicken. (another reason to do those squats!)

Your body wants to be efficient and won't add excess tissue unless it has to-- so consistency in weight training is important-- and so is diet. Your body needs protein to build this new tissue.

This is why it is so silly to hear women say that they don't want to weight train because they don't want to get "bulky". They are severely underestimating the effort it takes to achieve a muscular body.

People with really muscular bodies have worked out at 85% capacity over and over again for months or years and have paid meticulous attention to their diet and protein intake. Their hard work is trivialized when some overweight woman actually thinks that this could be achieved with mega reps with a ten-pound pink dumbbell and a diet of Lean Cuisines and Special K cereal. Not gonna happen!

High reps with low weights is really just glorified cardio, you might put on a bit of muscle in the beginning if you were out-of-shape at the start, and things may tighten up for you; but that's not enough of a challenge for your body to call in your muscle's version of the SWAT team.

Here's more info-- some people are genetically predisposed towards having more of these elite SWAT team muscle fibers just waiting to be activated. How can you tell if you do?

If you have tried to become a fast runner but can't no matter what you do, you are probably built to be strong, not fast.

If you put on weight easily, whether it is muscle or fat, you probably are meant to be sturdy, not willowy. Starving yourself and doing cardio till you drop may have contributed to your getting fatter and fatter over the years because that is not a way that that style of body can lean out.

My husband and I are both 6'3". He is built for speed and endurance, I am built for power and strength. DH thrives on lots of carbs and maintains his weight of 230 pounds eating 3,500 calories a day, or more.

I cannot eat that way. I need protein and I have to watch the calories. I'll always come in last when running. But ya know what? I kick my husband's ass in the gym!

I am just getting started and can do overhead presses with 20# dumbbells and bicep curls with 25 pounds. My Dh CANNOT do this. He tried. He can barely eek out 2-3 reps. This is a big, 6'3" guy too.

And my strength is not related to my height either. Because of the fitness challenge I just got involved in, I went and read the training journals of the other women there. Some of them competed in last year's challenge and have already completed one round of the New Rules of Lifting for Women program. There are plenty of little gals on there who are a foot shorter than me or less and who weigh 125 or less, yet they can overhead press more weight than me or my big, strapping husband.

I am convinced that a lot of fat women are genetically-gifted strong women in disguise. I am convinced that if I knew the above information years ago and honored my body and took it down the right path, I could have spared myself years of grief and obesity.

All of the years of trying to make my naturally thick, strong and slow body into a fast, willowy one using carbs and cardio, I am convinced, totally f-ed me up and turned me into the blobby mess I was at the start.

I have come to believe that putting carbs in a peson like me is like putting gas in a diesel engine-- it is not going to work.

Notice that I set up the beast (my weight bench) in my living room. I exercise in front of a sofa. Why? Because I lift so heavy that I often must drop the weight at the end, I cannot place it on the floor or put it back in the rack because I used up everything I had. THAT is how hard I work.

And this for me is working more than anything else I ever tried! I have lost 51 inches in the last 6 months and gained a ton of strength. I have totally committed myself to giving this an honest, increased effort over the next six-months to see where that gets me. Since I will be posting everything here, you'll all know how things progress.

Anyway, Greta, this is why your Russian friend tells people to lift heavy or get the F out. LOL



  1. After reading this I am going to crank up the weights at the gym tomorrow. I am built for strength, no doubt about it.

  2. P.S. Your progress is inspiring!

  3. I think you and I are singing from the same hymn sheet! Our bodies are fairly similar in height and weight, but quite different in their fat distribution (right now) but in principal they are very similar - I will NEVER be able to run fast, but I can lift heavier weights than a lot of men my size...

    Looking forward to reading about your successes!

  4. Interesting stuff, as always, Loriann. I can't wait to see where this journey takes you over the next 6 months. I'll surely be watching and very possibly be following in your foot steps.

    Go Awesome Amazon Woman!!

  5. You are kickin some major booty! Keep up the great work! You will get there! One book that I have read, sevral times, is Body for Life by Bill Phllips. It really helped me learn about food and how to eat right.

  6. Lori-Ann - I have to say, you look absolutely fantastic. I am so inspired by your progress.

    You have just shared very valuable information in this post. Even though I tend to move towards cardio and yoga right now, I KNOW that weightlifting is the best thing for me (once I've elongated my muscles again).
    I am fast metabolizer and MUST have protein before any carbs and do not do well without lots of it. I am short but I am muscular. I always shake my head when I see pictures and scale weight of some ladies and they weigh the same or less than me but look "bigger" than I do. I'm convinced that I'm heavier because I have such a muscular frame (with lost of padding right now). I need to build it up more/better but I'm waiting until I can lengthen them out because I obviously was doing it wrong in the past to cause the issues I have now.
    I agree with you on the cardio - in the past I couldn't figure out why after doing hours and hours of cardio, I seemed to still gain weight or just maintain and then when I started the BFL in 99 and lifted weights, I dropped 50lbs.
    Somedays I keep forgetting that and keep going back to cardio... Thank you for the reminder.
    I love this post... :)

  7. I need to do a whole lot more weightlifting than I do. Yet, it's still one of those things that I know I need to do but have only done half heartedly. You are inspirational though!

  8. you are rock'n the photos!! Can't wait to see the next ones! :D

  9. go Amazon Runner!

  10. I love your analysis of the body types. I think I was meant to be stout, strong, and powerful, not nimble, agile, and quick.

  11. Thanks LoriAnn! Good info and good food for thought! My brother brought the "real" weights over today....they are down in the basement. Mostly for my teenagers, since I have been lifting at the gym...but I will likely get down there a bit, too.

    When I started doing free weights mid December (switching from the machine-weights) I could only bench press the olympic weights on it. It is 45 pounds. I felt pretty But, I moved up to 50 and now 55 pounds. It is great to be making progress. I also started with just the bar on the can squat 55 pounds for 3 sets of 8. It will be interesting to see what my body is capable of in a couple months. The progress fascinates me. I can also hammer out some serious deadlift-clean-military press reps with a 45 pound bar. I need to add in deadlifts this next time. I tried some last week with a 70 pound bar but I think I can do was crowded at the gym and I did not get a chance to add any weight. I am going to try 100 pounds, tho...just for fun...and see if I am able to deadlift that for starters. (my legs have always been much stronger than my arms) So....thanks again for the motivation and the information! Let's get strong(er)! :)

  12. You have inspired me to set my focus on strength training and toning this year instead of cardio and miles. Your progress is amazing Lori-Ann. I am inspired and motivated to kick up my routine.

  13. Great job! You know your stuff. :-)


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