Tuesday, January 8, 2013

T-minus 1 Month - And Counting!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen - in exactly one month today I have just woken up in our hotel, located at the fabulous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil! 

Times sure flies, it feels like we just started to plan the trip and it was still sooooo far in the future. Well, not anymore! Suddenly I feel like hitting a panic button when I'm trying to figure out everything we need to get sorted and done before the trip. Luckily I noticed well in time that my passport would have expired during the trip so I got it renewed a week ago and I don't have to worry about possible delays in that process. All of the flights between Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls, Salvador and Imperatriz have been booked, accommodations have been booked... I'm getting so excited!

Since there's just one month to go until I will be somewhere warm enough to strip down to my bikini it's also time to get busy with exercise! Yes, even busier than before. Unfortunately I haven't managed to achieve a Brazilian bikini body I was hoping to achieve, since my body needs way more work for that. But I can still challenge myself to go for one final push and see what I can do in the last remaining month.

I guess one part of my countdown project can be called "Kettlebells At Dawn". In other words I'm challenging myself to a duel every morning by doing a good round of abs training with kettlebell weights as soon as I'm out of bed. Yes, before breakfast, first cup of coffee, shower (obviously) or anything else. Said training includes waking my abs up gently with planking - which they really don't appreciate that early in the morning. Then follows some pilates style abs training with an added kettlebell lifts for tease the arm muscles, russian twists with a lighter kettlebell and finally pull over double leg extensions, using the kettlebell as a counter weight of sorts.

I'm sure I didn't get the terminology right, but that was the best description I could come up with. These exercises were something that my Personal Trainer included in my training sessions and they were really hard! My abs hurt for a few days afterwards so they must effective. Hopefully they will produce some results soon, too.

Now it's time for some fat burning exercise, I'm off for another Nordic walk!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Happy & Healthy 2013!

Well well well, I think it's about time to return to blogging after a longer-than-planned break. I didn't realize that the time before Christmas was going to be as hectic as it was - and then again there weren't that much news to share with you you anyway, since a prolonged flu kept me away from the gym and most of other exercise for almost a month.

Quick recap of December: struggling with above mentioned flu, painting a few walls at home, installing some Ikea furniture, Christmas shopping, cleaning the whole house for the festive season, visiting friends, spending Christmas together with family, inviting relatives over on Boxing Day, welcoming one of my husband's best friends' to Finland for a holiday, celebrating New Year with family and friends... And that was just the spare time and holidays, of course I had plenty of work to do at the office, too. 

I did manage to squeeze in a little bit of alternative exercise though: clearing our approximately 300 m2 driveway of snow for 1,5 hours at a time (I don't even know how many times I did that thanks to repeated snowstorms), going for walks with our friend's dog Lilli when we were dogsitting her for two long weekends and downhill skiing in a nearby ski center. I went to the gym a couple of times during December but not as often as I had planned. Not. At. All.

Anyway, after enjoying some Christmas and New Year treats and being forced to have a longer break in regular gym and cardio training it's time to make this year a year to remember in fitness and health. From tomorrow on I'm going to give myself a big push in both exercise and diet and see what comes out of it. I'll tell you more about it later. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Weekly Workout Report (46)

Since the Personal Trainer project is now over and done with and I don't have to report my weekly workouts or what I have eaten to Sanna anymore I still need someone to keep an eye on me. Well, that lucky person is YOU. Congratulations! I'm sure you can't wait to see how many times I have exercised each week and how much calories I have burnt. Every. Single. Week. Oh yes, I can already sense your excitement.

I figured the easiest way to share my weekly totals is to take a screen shot from polarpersonaltrainer.com service since I transfer all the workouts from my Polar RC3 GPS heart rate monitor there. The only thing I have to do is to name the exercises, all other information is there automatically. So, here's my exercise totals from week 46:

I have decided to concentrate first in building muscle mass (well, trying anyway) and teaching my body to burn fat (easier said than done, I've noticed!) before returning to long distance running training. That's why my workouts include mostly gym exercise and Nordic walking instead of running for 10 km or more. Long distance running and the minus calories don't seem to help in the muscle mass department at all but for some reason it is not doing me any favors in fat burning either. I guess I will have to experiment a little to see which combination works the best with my illogical body.

Even if I have decided to put the long distance running at the end of the exercise priority list for a while I would still like to maintain (and improve) my running fitness level too. Dilemmas, dilemmas. I want it all - and I want it now... I'm planning to have at least one high-intensity interval training session in my weekly programs and do a bit more cardio at the gym and hope that will do the trick. Fingers crossed!

Normally I have done my interval training by running but on Sunday afternoon I had other things to do so I didn't manage to go out running before it was dark. So, I decided to give it a go on a home trainer bike instead. Oh yeah, that works! I managed to get my heart rate up to the desired level, it was really exhausting and I was absolutely soaked in sweat afterwards. Good to know that I can actually get that done indoors and at home, too.

Next week I'll travel to Wales and England for work, so that will make exercise a bit more challenging and will most likely concentrate in jogging or walking. Let's see how it goes.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PROGRESS UPDATE (week 19): Personal Trainer Project Summary

Right, back to blogging again. I didn't even realize I haven't posted anything for such a long time! Want to hear my excuses? No? Didn't think so.


The 4 month long project with my Personal Trainer Sanna ended a week ago when I did the last fitness level tests and got the results of my latest Body Composition Analysis. The fitness level test results in squats, sit ups / crunches and push ups had improved again and were on a good level. PP Ergo cycle test gave similar results as well as the fitness test I did with my Polar heart rate monitor. Excellent stuff, ongoing improvement!

And then there was the Body Composition Analysis, which I have started to hate lately. This time my weight had gone down as much as it had gone up the previous time, but the most worrying and annoying thing for me is that my body still seems to be eating the gained muscle mass instead of my fat. I can't even begin to tell you how frustrating that feels since I have been working really hard at the gym. I guess I just have to work even harder... Sigh.

Weight: -1,4 kg / -0,5 kg / -2,0 kg / +0,9 kg / -0,9 kg = -3,9 kg in total
Body fat percentage: -1,8 % / -4,2 % / +0,7 % / +0,3 % / +0,6 % = -4,4 % in total
Body fat mass: -2,2 kg / -4 kg / +/-0 kg / +0,5 kg / +0,2 kg = -5,5 kg in total
Muscle mass: +0,8 kg / +3,4 kg / -2,0 kg / +0,3 kg / -0,9 kg = +1,6 kg in total
BMI: -0,4 / -0,2 / -0,6 / +0,3 / -0,3 = -1,2 in total 

In other words the four months results could have been better, especially for someone with very limited patience. But: the most important result was that I have gone from a couch (well, more like computer chair) potato to someone who exercises 5-7 times a week. Exercise has really become a daily routine and it doesn't feel like something I have to do anymore but something I really want to do, every day. I absolutely love going to the gym, pushing myself there and feeling absolutely wiped out afterwards. LOVE. IT.


Personal Trainer's support was really important especially in the beginning and during the frustrating sick leaves. Sanna also kept changing things up in our mutual training sessions so I got to learn a lot of new tricks for using new and effective equipment and generally getting the most out of my training sessions. In addition I got good pointers for revamping my diet and planning a well balanced weekly training program for myself. I honestly don't think I would have gotten this far just by myself.

Thank you Sanna for kicking my butt and showing me the way to healthier life!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Winter Time Challenge

Well, here we go - the Daylight Saving Time is now officially done and dusted for this year, Winter Time (as we Finns call it) is here again. Blaah. I may have mentioned earlier that I'm a summer person and the sunlight is something that makes me feel alive, so this darker period of the year is always challenging, to say the least. I also hate being cold, living in the country where the temperatures can drop to -30 °C or even lower is pure torture sometimes. Luckily the normal winter temperature is quite a bit milder, around -5 °C or so. Oh yeah, we just got our first snowfall of this winter a couple of days ago. Even though the snow is not expected to stay yet it's still the first reminder of what's ahead of us, once again.

Outdoor exercise becomes even more challenging during the winter months. My good workout routine has come to a hault
so many times before when the days become shorter and the weather colder. Now it's time for me to accept the challenge and keep going through all the four challenge levels, if needed:

Level 1: Darkness
Challenge: It's dark when you go to work in the morning, it's dark when you leave work in the late afternoon. In my opinion running or walking is so much nicer when you can actually see the road. Really. Also, seeing other people and their dogs from a bit further away than just 1 meter is quite nice too, unless you are hoping to get a heart attack. There are no streetlights where we live (well, just 1 km stretch a few hundred meters from our house) so when I say it's dark it really is dark.
Solution: Finding a well lit outdoor track somewhere further from home. There are quite a few well maintained and lit outdoor tracks and paths around my home town so that should be doable. Also going for a walk or run somewhere in the town centre right after my work day is another option, though my knees and shins don't really appreciate running on asphalt.

Level 2: Darkness + ice 

Challenge: OK, so you are running somewhere on a road or path which is nicely lit so you can see where you are going. Imagine having that covered in ice - or as a bonus, first having a good layer of ice on that road and then some water or a really thin layer of powder snow on top. Then try to stay on your feet - rather than on your behind, potentially breaking one of your body parts while landing.
Solution: Buying proper winter running shoes that have good spikes on them. And are warm, too. I have read from some running forums that the winter running shoes might not be the most comfortable to run in, hopefully I'll be able to find a good pair. Nordic walking poles help with the balancing act too, but they can't really be used for running... or can they?

Level 3: Darkness + ice + snow

Challenge: When you have found a perfect well lit outdoor track for running it will eventually be covered with a good layer of snow. What happens to those well lit tracks in Finland then? Most of them get turned into cross-country skiing tracks, of course. And what happens then? You are not allowed to run or walk there anymore, since you're going to ruin the skiing tracks.
Solution: Find yet again another well lit outdoor route, probably somewhere in the town center area, on those asphalt roads (ouch). Well, I still have to get my running training done...

Level 4: Darkness + ice + snow + cold weather

Challenge: Being able to breath without getting your nostrals, throat and windpipe frostbitten. According to the doctors I'm prone to asthma and I get bronchitis very easily so going out in extreme temperatures is not advisable. Going for a 10 - 15 km run in -15 °C or even colder temperatures isn't a good idea.
Solution: There's still that ice hockey arena I told you about earlier, which has a 261 metres long running track. The air is considerably warmer, even though the ice rink still cools the arena down quite a bit. Running that 261 metres 38,3 times just to reach 10 km (or 80,5 times to reach 21 km) sounds so incredibly boring, but I guess it needs to be done.

Luckily I didn't have to try running on challenge level 2 this weekend, since my Personal Trainer gave me a week off from running. And next weekend I will do my running training in Madrid, Spain! No ice, snow or cold weather there, yay!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

PROGRESS UPDATE - (Week 16) Banging My Head Against The Wall


I bet you can guess why I decided to add a quote like that to my blog post? Yeah. I had another Body Composition Analysis last week - and another one this week, mostly to check if the results from the previous analysis were really as bad as they were. You see, I was expecting to get really good results since I had finally had several active workout weeks after the sick leave in early September and had managed to follow my workout program as planned.

When I saw the first results, it looked like it was good news since I had lost another 2 kg in the past three weeks. Wrong! The next thing I noticed was that my body fat percentage had gone up. Whatta...? I had lost 2,0 kg but my fat percentage had gone up? Oh no, that could only mean one thing: I had started to lose my muscle mass! Nooooooooo! I had worked so hard add the gym to gain muscle mass and all of a sudden I had lost 2,0 kg of it. That if something was disheartening. 

I guess both me and my Personal Trainer were hoping that the first results were just some technical or momentary glitch but unfortunately that wasn't the case. This week the results were even more confusing - the muscle mass loss had stopped probably thanks to all that extra protein I had added to my diet but I had suddenly gained 500 grams of fat? Even after burning over 3000 kcal last week just by working out? So... not... cool.

Weight: -1,4 kg / -0,5 kg / -2,0 kg / +0,9 kg = -3,0 kg in total
Body fat percentage: -1,8 % / -4,2 % / +0,7 % / +0,3 % = -4,7 % in total
Body fat mass: -2,2 kg / -4 kg / +/-0 kg / +0,5 kg = -5,7 kg in total
Muscle mass: +0,8 kg / +3,4 kg / -2,0 kg / +0,3 kg = +2,5 kg in total
BMI: -0,4 / -0,2 / -0,6 / +0,3 = -0,9 in total

So, my dear body has figured out that it's an excellent idea to use the muscle mass I have gained instead of all the excess body fat. There is plenty of fat left in my body, all 30 kg of it. Why, for the love of God does my body decide to use my muscles instead of all that fat? WHY? Both me and my poor Personal Trainer are baffled. My Basal Metabolic Rate is more or less 1800 kcal and I eat about 1600 - 1800 kcal per day. So that should already be OK. Plus I workout 5-7 times a week, burning around 2500 - 3000 kcal per week. According to which logic am I not getting rid of my fat mass? Apparently that would be the very own logic created by my body...


After these latest results I really didn't know should I laugh or cry. I felt (and still feel) like I'm banging my head against the wall. Have I not eaten enough? Am I eating wrong food after all? Why was it working before but it's not working anymore? Should I go back to easier workout routine? Am I running too much? Am I not running enough? Sigh.

The contract with my Personal Trainer is on its last stretch and when I look at the results I can't help but feel a little disappointed. But then again, when I think about how exercise has become a daily routine for me and how I just ran 11 km with a reasonable pace last weekend I realise that I have come a long way. That lazy girl who didn't work out for weeks or months is a thing of the past, thanks to this project. Now I enjoy exercising. I enjoy going to the gym and that burning feeling in my muscles. I love the feeling at the end of a long run, when I have reached a new goal I set for myself. I enjoy going for those long boring Nordic walks, because I know they are a bit easier workout sessions but still help me burn fat (eventually, I hope). OK, I still hate the interval running training, though...

Oh yeah, one more thing, just to make it perfectly clear:


 Sooner or later I will find a way.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

RUNNING LOG - Failure And Success

Whoops, I haven't updated my run log for a bit longer than I was supposed to - seems like I have been so busy lately that posting some new blog entries just hasn't been doable.

The weekend a week ago I went to Tampere so I knew it would change my normal running routine and route. I was hoping to find some non-asphalt roads to run on so I headed to Pyynikki, recommended by my brother. Well...
Attempt number 1: Lost in Pyynikki. I tried to find my way in Pyynikki area, since I knew there would be some good jogging paths there. The run started "really well" when I noticed I had forgotten to attach the heart rate transmitter to the belt, but at least I still had the GPS function in use. But: after running for a while and trying to figure out where I'm supposed to go (three different paths, which one to choose?!) my determination hit an abrupt wall - all 200 metres of horribly steep uphill. It was time to change from running to crawling and abort the 11 km mission.

Attempt number 2: Tired, hungover, hungry. The thought of trying to run the 11 km again didn't seem tempting at all after constantly dozing off during the entire 3-hour ride home. Still, I knew I would feel disappointed if I didn't go for the run so after we had arrived home I changed into my running gear and off I went. I really wanted to run 11 km but... no. It felt like my legs weighed a ton each, I was really tired, thirsty, hungry... Maybe the long run wasn't such a good idea after a hint of hangover the same morning, not sleeping enough the previous night and not eating enough during the day. I forced myself to run 8,5 km and then my legs just stopped moving. It was like they had a will of their own and decided to stop right there.

So, after the run I felt a bit like I failed my mission, since I didn't manage to run the 11 km that I wanted to, but I was pleasantly surprised to notice that I had run 8,6 km with a pace of 6:58 min/km which was quite a bit faster compared to my previous runs. Not bad! First time the average pace was under 7:00 min/km, too.

This weekend was a normal home weekend for us so I managed to prepare myself a bit better for the weekly "long distance run". I've had some issues with shin splints (ouch to the max) and also with my calves and my knees lately, for example the interval training on Thursday was so painful that I decided to take time for stretching well before going for the longer run. I also massaged the lower parts of my legs as well as I could the previous evening. Careful preparation seemed to help since running felt easy enough time and woohoo, mission complete: 11 km done and dusted! Average pace was a welcome bonus since it was the best ever on these longer runs. Very pleased with the result, indeed!

I really need to keep on stretching well and also keep massaging my legs regularly, hopefully it will help in the long run, too.

Date Distance Time HR Pace/km Speed/km Kcal
21.10.2012 11.1 km 01:13 164 6:40 min 9.00 km/h 960
14.10.2012 8.6 km 01:00 163 6:58 min 8.61 km/h 781
6.10.2012 10.5 km 01:15 164 7:08 min 8.41 km/h 1016
29.9.2012 10.1 km 01:11 163 7:08 min 8.41 km/h 912
21.9.2012 8.3 km 01:04 156 7:43 min 7.78 km/h 775
2.9.2012 8.1 km 01:01 153 7:34 min 7.93 km/h 666
26.8.2012 7.4 km 01:00 149 8:09 min 7.36 km/h 632