I wanted to take some time to debrief this whole process and celebrate why I think it worked so well.
The ChallengeIf you remember, the goal was to do the circuit two times per week, with a third time as a bonus. The plan was to just go and do it. And I didn't worry too much about doing it perfectly or making it too hard. I just wanted to get through at least twice every week.
What Happened Along The WayThere was a slight learning curve of course. I had to learn how to set the machine to fit me and remember what a good weight would be for each exercise, while also trying to challenge myself with each new workout. Most days I incorporated the cardio steps in between, but there were a couple times that I didn't. And I liked that. It gave me a quick workout and wasn't just another cardio workout. Some days I would go through the circuit twice. Some days I was really good at pushing myself...some days I took it a little easy. There were days I was completely sore from the workout and other days I wasn't.
I'm sure I wasn't perfect at using the machines, but I think I got better as time went on. Today, for example, I was on the ab machine and a Planet Fitness employee (I actually think he is the owner as he is always there in the morning and I have talked to him a few times, especially when I managed to spill an ENTIRE bottle of water in the circuit area) came over to help me adjust the machine so that it was right for me. I've always felt a little intimidated by trainers/health gym employees, but I wasn't at all this time and I really appreciated the help. And it made me think that maybe one day I will actually have a trainer or do something like cross fit.
The ResultsI wouldn't say I notice a HUGE change, but I do notice some difference in how I feel and how I look. The pictures below aren't great...I took them with my phone and in the gym. I'm wearing pretty much the same thing, my tops are both UnderArmor t-shirts, same size, just different colors. (You can see more attempts to take photos of myself here.)
I feel more toned and stronger in some ways. My core seems stronger and I feel like I have more control over my body. Today, I especially noticed how my upper body has gained some strength. When I first started, I would reach a point where I just couldn't lift anymore with my arms. Usually very early on. I never experienced this with my legs quite the same way. I would reach a point where it was really hard and really burned, but I still felt like I could push through. When I first started, I couldn't just push through with my arms...they just couldn't do it. BUT! Now I can push through. I feel the burn and I keep going. So I know I'm getting stronger...and that's a great feeling.
I think my body is more toned...more firm anyway. Things seem to be sitting a little higher...and my posture feels better. My weight is still high (186 this morning) but I knew that when I decided to get serious about this I would probably get heavier before I got lighter. I think this has always been a reason why I shied away from weight training in the past. The results took awhile to see and, AND, the scale would start moving in the wrong direction. My clothes seem to be fitting better. I was back in my size 12 jeans yesterday...they were tight, but definitely wearable. And my other jeans are feeling looser.
Why I Think This Worked
- I set a clear goal: Do the Planet Fitness Circuit two times each week, shoot for three if you feel like it. I didn't just say that I wanted to get stronger or that I wanted to get more toned. I set a clear and attainable goal.
- I didn't have to be perfect: I'm a recovering perfectionist and when I feel like I can't do something perfect I tend to give up on it. Here, I gave myself permission to not be perfect. I just had to do it.
- I focused on one thing: There were days I was like: This is going so well, I should try the kettlebell dvd again...or I should try the other machines or something else. But I'm glad I didn't. I feel like I have gained some confidence in seeing this through to the end. Confidence I hope to take into future workouts. And it made it easier to just get up and do it...I knew exactly what was ahead of me.
- I didn't care about the scale: For part of the time it was easy not to think about the number on the scale, cause I wasn't weighing myself, but the second half of the month I was. I forced myself to focus on how I was feeling and how my body was changing instead of being unhappy about the number on the scale.
- I kept a progress chart: I printed out my goal on the top of a sheet of paper and all the weeks in March and kept track of my progress. I hung it in spot where I would see it all the time. It really kept me motivated. I liked to cross off completed workouts and it made the month much less intimidating, cause two days a week didn't look so hard once it was all laid out.
- Annie Thorisdotter: She is amazing. Check her out here. When I wanted to whimp out I would think of her lifting up really heavy things and how awesome she is. And how maybe, one day, I could be that awesome too! But also, I heard once that it helps to imagine yourself doing the exercise and what that looks like. It does help me.